High school has been over for me for a long time now, but I remember every moment of it. As strange as it might sound, some of my most vivid memories are connected with the graffiti in one bathroom stall.
My favourite washroom in eleventh grade was just outside the cafeteria. It had three stalls, three sinks, a hand dryer that worked, and an unbroken mirror. Girls wrote on the stall doors to each other. "Why is pee yellow?" A few weeks later: "You're not drinking enough water." It was my favourite washroom in the school.
One day in January, I went into the second stall and saw a new message on the back of the door. "Sabrina Collins is a dirty dyke!" It was in all capital letters. I stared at it as I did my business, and couldn't stop thinking about it after. I had known Sabrina Collins when she went to our school, but she didn't anymore. I had heard rumours about her while she was there. But I hadn't found her attractive, so the writing inspired nothing in me but revulsion at one stupid person's homophobia.
Months passed: February, March. I used the second stall of the cafeteria washroom from time to time. Each time I saw the large writing, it would make me a little sad. Then things changed. One day in April I went into the stall like normal and saw more writing with an arrow pointing to the first comment.
"Hey, I'm a dyke and I take offense to that," it said.
I thought my heart would stop. Why hadn't I thought of writing that? Why did I not stand up for my people? More importantly, who was this other lesbian? I had to find out. Whipping a pen out of my backpack, I wrote on the door, "I'm a dyke too and I agree with this." Was that good enough? Would it elicit a returning message from the other girl? I would have to wait and find out.
Scenarios ran madly through my mind. The other lesbian would write her name on the door and I would find her. She would write her phone number down and I would call her. She would write, "Meet me at McDonald's after last bell on Friday." We would meet each other. We would fall in love. I would lose my virginity to her in this very bathroom stall.
I waited and no reply came, although several straight girls declared their support. It had taken her bravery to spark the revolution against the original homophobe; she had changed the message of hate to one of beautiful tolerance. I was infatuated with her already. I pictured her face in my mind. I searched for her face in the halls. Could that be her? Could that be her?
One day in June, more writing was on the stall door. The arrow pointed to my comment. "Are you really?" it asked. "I thought I was the only one in this school. We should hook up!"
I nearly died. She remembered me; she liked me! Her not responding hadn't been a snub. She just didn't visit that washroom too often. But who was she? I wrote, "What grade are you in?" That would have to be good enough. I could ask her more later. I'd have to wait all summer for her answer, because I doubted she would visit that stall again in the two weeks before school ended. But I could wait, of course I could wait. I was patient.
It became my ritual before school let out to check that stall every day at lunch. My friends laughed at me and said I should stop drinking so much juice during the meal. Little did they know I was in love! But the writing on the door remained the same, with no additions. Summer came and I languished, lonely and unable to enjoy the season. I thought often of the girl, whoever she was. In September we would write to each other again and everything would work out fine.
September came. On the first day of school, I went to the washroom outside the cafeteria. I turned the knob. It was locked. I tried it again. Still locked. What was going on? I left for the sake of appearances and went to another washroom.
The next day, and the next, I tried the first washroom again. It was locked, locked, always locked. "They've closed that washroom this year," one of my friends finally told me. "They had to lay off some janitors and they decided that one wasn't essential. Just go to the one upstairs from now on."
I couldn't look at her. I nearly cried.
I tried my best to forget about the girl who wrote on the bathroom stall, but I still went to that washroom every few months and tried the door, just in case. I never got in.
I graduated. But I never forgot about that girl, or about what could have been.