I would love to write a real story about these two someday. But for now, there's this:
CHLOE & CAMERON SKETCH
When I was five I chopped my hair off with a pair of garden shears.
Mom was pretty pissed. More about my hair than my using the garden shears, which in retrospect totally reflects her parenting skills. I remember her clutching my shorn locks in her hands and being all WHY, CHLOE, WHYYY? YOUR HAIR WAS SO PRETTYYY—and I'm sure I was just like, What? Why not?
Which is a pretty valid question if you're not concerned that your five-year-old's expressing prepubescent gender confusion. (The child therapist's words, not mine.)
I was five and I did it without a mirror, so it probably looked less than fabulous, but the point wasn't my hair, all right? It was for the sake of doing something different—which in a twenty-something is pretty conformist, fine, but in a five-year-old speaks of a badassery beyond my years. I guess I always had a flair for the dramatic, even when I was a little kid.
I don't really remember why I did it, but picture this: Chloe Reynolds, age five, sitting in the class circle at kindergarten. Coloring with colors. Blocking around with blocks. I looked like a pretty normal little girl back then; no dyed hair, no piercings, none of that yet. But at some point I bet I realized that all these other little girls kind of looked the same. Kind of like me: long straight hair, classic side part, headband or bow or whatever in some nauseating shade of pink, since that's about the age that girls wear pink and boys wear blue or else. And, knowing myself, I'm pretty sure that the whole deal… annoyed me. Not in a strong, immediate sort of way, since I'm also pretty sure that it wouldn't have been my hair lying on the floor if that were the case, but enough for it to occur to me that Dad never locked up his garden tools.
As if that was my fault.
Cameron was pretty horrified, too, if for a slightly more credible reason. He was five, too, after all, and I guess seeing your twin sister walk around with a shorn head at that age would be pretty jarring. He avoided me for a week or so. Every once in a while I would see him out of the corner of my eye, watching me warily from around a corner or behind a chair, but every time we were forced to be together he avoided my gaze and was just quiet. Like I was a stranger or something. That hurt. I don't remember too much about being five, but I do remember the ache in my chest when I was forced to play all by myself, like my heart was a soggy, water-loaded sponge no one wanted to squeeze. Loneliness is something that never changes, whether you're five or twenty-three or fifty-two.
But one day I was sitting in our room and playing with—God, I don't know, his action figures or something; he never liked them as much as I did—when I felt a touch on the back of my head, hesitant and feather-light, and the ache seemed to shudder and give way to a million brilliant fireworks zooming around my chest like it was the 4th of July. Through the whole thing I stayed real still, clutching his toys, and I don't think either of us moved until Cameron said, in his shy, goofy five-year-old whisper, "Your head's like velvet."
Yeah, Cameron was a little messed up over that whole episode. But now, you know, we're cool. He's over it, I think, even if he always kind of pauses and looks at me funny when he sees me dyeing my hair in the sink. (I see you, you fucker. Don't you think I can't.) We laugh together, we cry together, we love each other. We live together, if you can believe it. When we graduated from college and were looking for some new place to get the fuck away from our parents it seemed like the obvious answer to us. We'd always been there for each other. Cameron was there for me when I decided I wanted to do theater and kept fucking up my auditions. And I was there for Cameron when he started questioning his sexuality and stopped talking to his friends and nearly dropped out of school. Sometimes it can be really hard to see the people you love at their lowest moments, because they're not really themselves and they might not believe you when you say you're trying to help them. And sometimes you just need to punch those people in the face until they listen to you. It was hard going for a while, for both of us. But we got through it, because we kick ass. And not only do I have my first minor role in a professional production coming up, but it turns out that I like Cameron's boyfriends a hell of a lot more than I ever liked his slutty high school girlfriends. (I'm looking at you, Vanessa. You cow.)
Not that I wasn't giggling my ass off in the corner while Cameron was trying to come out to our parents at our graduation dinner. Because I was (the whole emotionally-wrenching experience sort of lost some of its impact because he kept pausing mid-sentence to try and shove my face into the potato salad. Eventually Dad made me switch places with him so we wouldn't cause a scene at the Olive Garden). And the irony is that my lovely mother didn't cry or scream or threaten a religious intervention the way she does every time she starts in on me for having short hair and refusing to care about the girly shit she still insists on buying me. No, she actually seemed really cool with it. Maybe she figured Baby Jesus had thrown her a curve ball due to my total lack of interest in anything overtly feminine. A shy gay son and a difficult, tomboyish daughter—that's got to add up to the little girl she's always wanted!
And people wonder why we never really fit in in school.
All things considered, though: I have my shit together pretty well. Well enough for someone who was unhinged enough as a little kid to figure mommy's scissors just weren't big enough. And Cameron—he's shy and slightly eccentric and a little bit of a lot of a neat freak, but none of that merits therapy. We're pretty good, the two of us. From what I can tell there are plenty of people in the world who fit society's every definition of normalcy and are beyond fucked-up, so hey, I figure normalcy's a pretty fucking stupid thing to live by.