When you asked me if I wanted to go to prom,
I was filled with excitement, until you requested
if my date could be your brother;
my 1st and last ex-boyfriend.
I was confused, felt it wrong to have hope
that you’d be my date; I felt stupid.
All those letters we wrote to each other,
started with “Dearest My . . .” and ended with “I love you” written almost every class hour of 10th, 11th and 12th grade;
rekindled with on-the-hour hugs.
What did we truly mean?
And I don’t think I’ll ever know
being a Hmong lesbian and in high school then, in 1999.
I wanted to go to prom with you and not with him.
I didn’t know how to ask you, “traditionally” and “normatively” we aren’t supposed to.
I was trained to not choose
who I wanted to share my heart with;
enjoy that first kiss with;
walk down the school hallways hand in hand with; without feeling different, embarrassed and fearful.
I wanted to dance with you at prom
each time a love song came on, the lights dimmed.
I wanted to dance close to you, embrace you
with these warm, caring and loving feelings . . .
hoping to receive them in return.
I wanted to “Party Like It’s 1999” with you
like how the straight kids did with their dates, without fear. But I thought you’d think that
I was weird and be upset at me
so I danced with him instead.