Young Love Getty Images Entertainment/Vittorio Zunino Celotto
By Tatiana Pérez

I’m 20 years old. I’ve never had sex with a woman; I’m straight. I have long, dark hair. I’m short — 5’4” if I overextend. The kind of short that’s OK for women to be because men like to feel tall. I have long legs and eyelashes. And thin arms. I’m not muscular. I have small hands and feet and a 27-inch waist. Maybe 26 now that I eat less and my jeans from eighth grade fit again.

I’m 20 years old. I’ve wanted a boyfriend since I was who-knows-or-cares-how-young. I’ve never really wanted a boyfriend. I’ve wanted to be in love for a long time but I’ve never wanted a boyfriend. I bet I’ll tell my friends I want a boyfriend before I go to bed. I’m 20 years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend and I’ve never been in love.

I’m 20 years old. When I was 17 and a stranger to sex I thought, “I better have a boyfriend before I turn 20. Fuck. I better not leave my teenage years a virgin.” I’m 20 years old and I’ve never had a boyfriend and I’ve never been in love. At least I’m 20 years old and not a virgin so I can be 20 years old and comforted by my badness; corruption; disgrace; dishonesty; dishonor; evil; immorality; wildness; dirtiness; fornication. I’m 20 years old and I understand that the Internet only inventories those antonyms for “chastity” as they apply to me and you, assuming you’re still reading because you probably have a vagina, too.

I’m 20 years old. I wonder if there’s a neurosurgeon who can remove the part of my brain that still tells me if I make my hair longer and my waist smaller the right guy might love me. I’m 20 years old and I hate that I’m waiting for love like something that’ll happen to me, like fucking Cinderella when someone finally decides I’m worth loving. I’m 20 years old and it’s time I believe that the right love comes from two people and happens for both. I’m 20 years old and I’m hungry for love and my bowl is empty, and that’s OK because, damn, I’m only 20 years old; I’ve got time.

I’m 20 years old. I’ve suspected what it is to become a woman at least since I was four, when on the morning of Dec. 16, 1998, I went in my gold Christmas pageant dress to a warm room in Lenox Hill Hospital on 77th Street. There I met a little thing bundled in blue; a brother who I wished was a sister until I held him and — maybe this isn’t fact, but for me it’s true — I decided I loved him all the same. He’s 16 now. 16 years old and handsome, kind, and funny. 16 years old and better and softer than most guys I know. 16 years old and he’s already good and he already understands love. He’ll call me tomorrow.

Maybe next Feb. 13 — when I’m 21 — I’ll have longer hair, smaller jeans, and a boyfriend. Or maybe next Feb. 13 I’ll forget tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day.

Leave a Reply