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we sip our drinks by the pool
as you tell me about your life:
how you moved from state to state
how this is the seventh time you’ll be the new girl
in a place you barely know —
how you play roles
just to see how people will react:
the shy one
the popular bitch
the tomboy
the ice queen
the overachiever
the class clown
here: maybe just yourself
you’re tired of acting

what it must feel like
to have all of those fresh starts,
my own fate was decided before birth:
finishing school, society debut
college: a formality
my real career goal is to marry well
and continue the family tradition —
this house
my clothes
those parties
that car
bars of a golden cage

but what about your transition? 
— puberty blockers
— hormones and surgery as soon as it was safe,
— not a soul acknowledging that anything used to be different

surely your parents can’t be too strict 
they don’t even know i’m here with you 
— they don’t need to be
— that’s what finishing school is for,
— entrusted to authorities to ensure the best outcome

but soon i will know
what it is like
to be someone else
in a university big enough that i’ll get lost,
stay lost
anonymous nobody in a sea of people

and then our drinks are finished
i chew on my straw, embarrassed —
but there’s only understanding in your eyes
as you raise the glass to your lips,
tipping it to get the last bit of pink slush
i can’t help but wonder how she got someone like you

you clear your throat
i’m sorry about the other day 
i really didn’t mean to invade your space like that — 
your house is just so cool that i couldn’t help but take a look around 

this time, i offer you my hand
how would you like the grand tour? 
i would be delighted, you reply
as you put your warm hand in mine
lead the way

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