It's been two years since Anna saw Rosie.
They dated for a couple months before breaking up. When Anna first saw the immense power that Rosie possessed, it left her nervous and unsure. It was the night they went for a walk on their first date at Navy Pier and some guy cat-called them. Rosie went silent as her eyes brows furrowed with rage and the man suddenly struggled to form words. His feet levitated off the ground and he floated towards Lake Michigan.
"Say it again," demanded Rosie as Anna took her hand, in fear, and dragged her away from the man.
Anna smelled like lavender and early morning dew, while Rosie rarely showered and embraced her natural scent, making sure the whole world knew she didn’t shave her pits. The two were polar opposites in behavior, but utterly similar in taste. They went to comic book conventions and punk shows together, always showing each other off to their friends and strangers. This was the first time Rosie ever dated a trans person, let alone someone as feminine as Anna.
Anna never knew how to manage Rosie, though. It felt as if she always had to cool her down, or quiet her when she was talking too loud. Like, Rosie was trying to master the ultimate “angry butch” stereotype that most queers hated. A lot of the time, they got into fights where Anna would stoop to levels so low that Rosie had to hold herself back, like an owner to a dog on a leash.
“You are acting like a straight man right now, Rosie,” Anna would sometimes yell, irking Rosie enough for her to stomp into the kitchen, only to dramatically chug a beer. Rosie hated that shit, but she understood. She understood that she could sometimes cross boundaries, sometimes be a little too close for comfort. Anna was right when she said that, Rosie just didn’t like being proved wrong.
The night they broke up, Anna had been trying to write a review on Birdman for an online publication, but Rosie wouldn’t stop bothering her about her demanding customers at work and how much they didn’t tip. Rosie works at a bar, so she always comes home a little bit tipsy, or drunk. Anna had politely asked Rosie to turn it down a notch, since she really wanted to perfect this review, considering she was getting paid for it. Rosie kept going, kept talking about Johnny at the bar, how he always hits on her and how she doesn’t like it, how she thinks about punching him right in the gut.
Anna couldn’t handle it, “Rosie, I can’t stay. I gotta go home, this is too much. You’re being too much right now,”
“What the fuck does that even mean?” Rosie faced Anna, inches from her, breathing heavily.
“It means I can’t do this, it means you aren’t respecting my boundaries. It means you only care about yourself.”
“Is that right?” Rosie got closer, as Anna began walking away from her and towards the bedroom door, “Anna, do you understand that I’m the only person that’s ever gonna love you?”
Rosie blurted, “Oh yeah? Because I’m trans?”
“No, because YOU’RE too much, like what kind of person has lists and lists of rules for their significant other? What kinda person has standards these high? God I feel like I’m always about to get a letter grade for how I act, like you’re some pissed off teacher and I’m the shitty student.”
“I should be allowed to want what I want, I shouldn’t have to feel like I am a teacher, or that I’m giving you a grade. You should stop being a shitty student.”
“What does that even MEAN” Rosie yelled, as Anna started heading down the stairs with her laptop safely in her backpack slung around her shoulder.
“Y’know Rosie, people always tell me to stop having standards so high, or to try to accept someone for who they are because ‘love conquers all’, but I feel like I am suffocating. I shouldn’t feel like I’m the one being conquered.”
Anna left, and Rosie knew she was right. Rosie knew that their time together was built solely on the things they enjoyed, which was nice, but there wasn’t any real chemistry. Not the kind that makes you love a person for their insides and their eyeballs; it was the kind that let’s you talk about your favorite Against Me! albums in order, or the newest comic from Image, but that’s all. Rosie always thought that this is what she wanted, a buddy that she could also kiss, but love is so much more inexplicable than that. It’s so much harder to make sense of. This seemed too simple and shallow.
It’s been two years since Rosie has seen Anna, since Rosie moved to the West Coast to start fresh and to avoid running into Anna at shows. She’s visiting Chicago because her mother is getting remarried, and of course the first person she sees as she steps foot into her favorite Logan Square bar is Anna. Drunk, happy, holding hands with a pretty blonde, she runs to Rosie,
“How the hell are you?”
“I’m good, I’m good. I started doin’ yoga!”
“To help calm you down a bit?”
“Nah, mostly for the hot moms,”
Rosie giggled, “You asshole,” Anna laughed back.
The pretty blonde came up to Rosie and introduced herself as Sarah, Anna’s current partner.
“She’s a doctor and hates punk,”
Anna blurted, “That makes sense, med schools have a no punk policy,”
Rosie replied, “She also thinks Marvel is better than DC, but she’s only seen Spiderman movies,”
Anna laughed as she kissed Sarah on the cheek, “I like the Food Network and Josh Groban, sue me!”
Sarah laughed, “At least she has a good sense of humor,”
Rosie snorted, “She’s not kidding,” Anna spit out, drunkenly cracking up.
Sarah laughed, but understood she should leave the two alone, knowing quite well who Rosie was from Anna’s previous rants.
“So you really found someone worthwhile, huh?” Rosie asked, sipping on a gin and tonic, something she normally wouldn’t be drinking.
“Yeah, the key is, try to not date someone who loves everything that you love. It’s crazy, I know, but it works.”
“Yeah, so that’s how it goes. Are you still tryna give out grades?”
“I gave up on doing that the minute I walked out your door. I dropped my education degree my Sophomore year of college, remember?” Anna laughed,
“Right right. That’s good to know. I’m happy for you. You’re a good person, Anna.”
“You are too, Rosie. You just have to keep reminding yourself that everyone’s got their own shit going on too.”
Anna and Rosie parted ways again, but vowed to keep in touch, since Anna’s friend group was becoming significantly way less punk and nerdy. Rosie left that bar, walked out onto Milwaukee Ave. and stared at the starless Chicago sky, as a man walked passed her and drunkenly cat-called her,
“Say it again,” she demanded, this time with no intention of actually hitting him. She does yoga now, y’know.