Lily’s College Lesbianage #5: Up on the Airplane, Inspired by Gravity

Preparing to Launch

Thirty minutes ago I ran into a girl from high school in the airport terminal; she’s on my flight back from Florida to New York City, where she’s also attending college. We said hi and then she launched right into telling me that she doesn’t want to go back, that New York is sad and lonely. I squealed OH MY GOD I FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY! as if it’s exciting that both of us are lonely (it kind of is).

So now I’m sitting on the airplane waiting for the anxiety-provoking takeoff which will segue into being suspended thousands of feet in the air for over two hours which is NOT my favorite state of being. I’m thinking about how actually every New York college freshman from my High School that I’ve talked too is just as nervous about going back. (My statistics are biased ’cause I don’t know many guys, so really it’s just all the girls who feel this way. Maybe the guys are doing just fine! I sort of doubt it though.) Could the loneliness & depression be related to the lovely statistic citing Florida as one of the happiest places in the United States and New York as the most depressed one. Probably.  But I’m not going to lie—I find comfort in the collective misery.


I tried to write this before I left home. I wanted to get this in ten days ago.

I attempted to write on the beach.

In my bed at home.

In my backyard.

By the pool.

In the sun.

It didn’t happen.

It’s not as if this little column of mine is so important that my words must be perfect enough to change the world (even though that’d be so awesome!!), but still I was hoping something of witty substance would transition from feeling to words and come close to being transformative. Then I thought,“How beautifully cliché would it be for me to write this mid-air in a literal limbo between home and school.”

So that is why I’m here, writing away in my illegible, could-be-mistaken-for-a-four-year-old-boy’s handwriting.

Portable Electronics May Now Be Used

We, the collective misery unit, don’t want to sound ungrateful for the incredible privilege we have in attending the best schools in a fascinating city. For some people it’s not even about the school. Or the city. Thankfully, it’s not even about being gay.

I’m sure others do feel/have felt/will feel this way about their first year of college, regardless of its location. I’m not sure that there’s a way to fix it but I think we can all agree that we never want to hear from anyone ever again that college was the best time of their lives.

Sure, it may have been (although peaking at 22 is a bit depressing, isn’t it?) for some people, and perhaps one day I will feel that college has been the best thing to ever happen to me but right now none of us want to feel like we’re doing something wrong because we’re not having “the best time of our lives.”

The Flight Attendant has a French Accent! So Exciting! I want to listen forever!!

OK so winter break…I was looking forward to a beautifully warm month long vacation in sunny South Florida. But um you know how it was exceptionally cold for a while where you live? Yeah well it was like that at my house too.  South Florida reached record lows and stayed at those lows for weeks at a time. Awesome. No tan for me. Winter coats should never be worn in the town where your grandparents move to for three months to escape winter.

Before Winter Struck South Florida

Would you like a beverage?

But the night before I went home to visit that strange Florida cold and mere seconds after I finished my last exam I found out that my roommate (my second try at a roommate, by the way) was moving out. I’ve genuinely liked both of my failed roommates and they both have (supposedly) liked me too.

So I’d like to know…why does no one seem to want to live with me??? Do I smell? Do I play too much Lady Gaga? Is my big, slightly scary poster of Janis Joplin a bit too much for these girls to handle?

But instead of losing myself in the ever growing list of reasons Barnard freshman don’t want to live with me, I decided to go out that night to celebrate the end of the semester. Unfortunately I had to get to the airport the next morning and had not yet packed… basically I didn’t sleep and I ended up packing the hour before I was due on the bus. Guys, I forgot to bring home so much stuff! (This is apparently an Autostraddle College Student Epidemic)

I came home to a holiday party being thrown at my house when all I wanted to do was shower and sleep. I had to tell everyone I was tired because of my exams and the plane ride and not because of staying up all night with um, you know, people.  Plus, I missed the first snow which is really sad because I wanted to play in it and throw snowballs and pretend like I was four years old! Ooooh well.

The Seatbelt Sign Has Been Turned On

I generally dislike the idea of New Year’s… it doesn’t seem like much of a holiday to me. By the time you’re counting down the seconds before midnight, the rest of the world is already in the year 2010. But this year I was surrounded by people other than my family and we made party hats and did other things that I can’t quite remember…so it was actually fun!

Yeah...I made that hat.

Although I remember thinking that night that there is something a bit weird about going home and seeing the people who are still there; the younger kids who are in awe over the fact that you live a big college life in the city, and the ones who are your age and haven’t exactly left yet.

As hard as school in New York has been, I wouldn’t trade the experience in for the world. Because as much as I love Florida, going home feels as if I’m slipping back into the confused girl I once was. I am not fully comfortable with myself at home. I’m not exactly sure who I am because I am different things to different people. But in New York everyone is new. Everyone knows I’m gay. I meet people with the personality that I have crafted throughout the years—the one I like best so far in my life. People in New York get to know the carefully cultivated me, the one I created, and I like that.

The rest of my time home was nice. My younger brother apparently had no idea I was gay until two weeks before I came home for break. My mother tells me that he went up to her and said “Why didn’t anyone tell me about Lily?? I feel so left out? Why did everyone know? It’s really cool, I just wish I had known.”

Honestly, I thought he knew! It was pretty obvious. Perhaps not in a superficial way ’cause maybe he was looking for signals like the way I dress… but c’mon, I publically dated girls in the high school we both attended, I’ve never had a boyfriend, and I go to a women’s college.

The kid is pretty oblivious… but he’s a sweetheart. I feel like we bonded during this break more than we ever had before—all because he was excited that we could check out girls together. Oh the simple pleasures.


(OK so I’m not actually writing this while the plane is landing because at that time I was having a minor panic attack. This should really be titled “Three days after I got back to New York and I’m in some cool girl’s apartment”)

I am hopeful for this next semester. It’s a fresh start—new (incredibly nice) roommate, new classes, new opportunities. I mean when your schedule includes a Tuesday/Thursday class load of “History of Sexuality” and “Philosophy and Feminism” well, I mean, how could you go wrong?

P.S. In an attempt to hang out with more straight guys (something I apparently never do) I tried to write this post in a sports bar while people watched some sort of sport that involved a bunch of sweaty guys in tights wrestling each other for an oddly shaped ball. Sounds pretty gay to me.

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Lily has written 29 articles for us.


    • Right? All my real life friends are straight girls and gay guys. And a smattering of alleged bisexuals who don’t actually date both sexes. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

  1. Were they watching Rugby mayhaps?? And yeah…it is pretty gay and one hell of a good time if I do say so myself.

    It has been cold down here in FL. I showed up expecting nice warm weather and it was below freezing when I got here. Not cool.

      • Exactly! By “not cool” I think I really meant “very cool.”

        I think the high today is right around 50…

        And about flying, I’ve done it so much, but every time we hit turbulence I kind of freak out.

        I also have a strange fear of having to be strip searched at the airport…am I the only one who fears that??

        • OMG that is deeeefinitely one of my biggest fears. Like I think about it until I get through the metal detector. It’s such a horrifying thought!

          • Exactly. I don’t even know why. I’m always afraid to go through security…the strange things we worry about.

  2. New York is an amazing city. It is a place where people come to find themselves and various other things, but it is also a place of anonymity. Sometimes the process of finding yourself in New York can be an incredibly lonely one. There are so many people in this city, but we all desperately struggle to make human connections.

    • This.

      I mean, I think this can be about a lot of major cities. It’s also sometimes how I feel about my life.

        • Wow. I feel like, this whole reflection is exactly how I feel. I’m in NYC, though from Upstate. And well…actually I just had a huge, it-probably-won’t-get-fixed, fight with the only lesbian friend I had here. And my roommate looks at me weird everytime before she changes, since the time I brought said friend to sleepover and she talked about being me being gay. This roommate is try number two for me, because I was in a triple, and the other two girls chose each other over me…and the one has spent time trying to prove to me she doesn’t hate me, she just had more in common with the other girl.

  3. I read this headline and was like, “Mile High Club? All right!” But then I read it and it totally brought me back … great post.

    • I am 99% sure the title is an Indigo Girls lyric. Assuming this is true, that is one of the (many!) things I love about this article. “KID FEARS” 4 LYFE

      • Alex: “Up on the Airplane? That doesn’t make sense. Are you sure this is the title you want?”

        • Whenever we have a headline I don’t understand, I assume it’s a lyrical reference that I should know but don’t.

  4. Ah! I am ridiculously afraid of flying too, which is horrible because I LOVE traveling. I have to take medication sometimes. :(

    I definitely agree about how I don’t feel college will be the “best time of my life”. I love the experiences I have had here.. but I feel like I could be doing so much more outside the boundaries of a university. I am so ready to put school behind me and create a life for myself.

    • wordd. I can’t wait to be done school. real life here I come! (will regret this statement when I’m broke & unemployed)

      • I totally remember saying the exact same thing 2 years ago. Be prepared though, “real life” isn’t as glamorous as you might expect.

      • Haha, yes. I think another big part of it for me is that I chose the wrong school. Well, academically it is perfect for me. I needed to stay in state for money reasons so I wasn’t left many options. The location and community is not right for me at all though. It is incredibly conservative; my mindset clashes with most here.

      • I’m pretty scared for real life actually. College may suck sometimes but I do enjoy not doing grown up thinks…like taxes, haha.

  5. see guys, yet another reason science needs to get on that star trek teleporter stuff (and flying cars, and magic phone booths). that way us angsty lil’ student-homos wouldn’t have 6 hour plane rides. but until then, my personal anti-angst method is to watch really raunchy scenes from the L-word while in the middle seat. why yes, that lady is having sex with a wall, where are you flying to?

    • Hahaha! Definately took the train 7 hours to Montreal the day after buying season 2. I tried to tilt the screen creatively but the 70+ year old woman next to me prrrrrobably could see.

      Lily, “Going home feels as if I’m slipping back into the confused girl I once was… People in New York get to know the carefully cultivated me, the one I created, and I like that.”
      Very well put. I absolutely realte.

    • hahahah that is the most incredible thing I’ve ever heard. I can’t even watch a movie while sitting next to strangers because I’m afraid they’ll judge me. Perhaps one day though I will be as ballsy as you=)

    • Ohhh. I remember flying to atlanta once. And we had the little TV screens, and I was SOOO excited because one of the choices was the L word. so OF COURSE i watched it. and as fate would have it, a flight attendant walked by during this major sex scene between tasha and alice.
      i heard the flight attendant talking to another flight attendant through my headphones, and she said, “what is she watching?!” (referring to me). but i ignored it.
      but then she took it upon herself to TAP ME ON THE SHOULDER and ask me what i was watching.
      me: i’m watching the L word.
      her: are those two women?!
      me: why, yes. it seems as though they are. why, does it bother you?
      her: yes.
      me: huh, that’s too bad.
      *puts headphones back on*

  6. Great read. This is my last semester in college before I go to Florida for grad school and I feel the same way you do about a lot of those things. Its just a big transition time in our lives, I think. Anyway, I wish you and me very good luck!

    • Good point! College is like one big transition. I feel quite similarly to a lot of this article, but overall we learn and grow so much from the experience. Yayy

      • College is totally one big transition! I was able to relate to this whole article, it took me back to being 18 again, and then I thought about how every single year of college was better than the one before and yet so much harder.
        (Real world isn’t significantly better. yet.)

  7. Ahhhh college (cannot believe it was over ten years ago I started that adventure)…
    I didn’t wander too far from the homestead (only two hours down the road) but it was the best thing I ever did (that and do a travel assignment in Boston). I knew no one and had a fresh start.
    The first few months stunk. Then I got involved in the student activities board (concerts, activities, etc) and it was ON!
    It does get better. It is also a bit depressing. You can never really go home again, at least in my mind because it’s so different after that college experience.
    Best of luck with your next semester!

  8. This article is exactly how I feel about my college now. It’s scary and lonely but also I’m happy that I finally got to be myself. It takes away some of the loneliness.

  9. oh, lily. you don’t know it. but you’re helping me out. i’m planning on going to new york for college next year. and i feel the strange pull in two directions. i love my school here in mississippi because it’s small and i know everyone. and everyone here knows me and likes me. and it’s been incredibly hard for me to sift through my identity in high school in front of everyone (my “coming out” experience was basically played out for my entire school to see). but i feel as though that’s why people love me the most. because i’m completely honest about who i am. and there’s no shame whatsoever. there are people that i know that i can count on. but then again…it’s MISSISSIPPI. and there’s absolutely nothing for me here. and once i step outside the liberal environment of my school, all that’s waiting for me is hostility and blatant hatred.

    and that’s where the other side comes in-there’s the pull to do so much more. because i hate social conservatism. and all of the stupid conservatives with their “traditional family” propaganda. so the best thing to do is leave, right? turns out, i kind of hate the idea of college. and traditional education, in general, really. i would rather hop on a plane and fly to amsterdam or brazil or somewhere and work with a non-profit. that will be my education. but i need money for that. and my parents don’t support me anymore. so what are my choices? work or school. and considering you can’t get a decent job without adequate schooling, i’ll choose school, thank you very much.
    but i digress.

    you’re right-it’s a fresh start. i may be bogged down with scholarship applications and homework and sports. and while i may be happy to get away from mississippi, once and for all in a few months, i simultaneously find comfort in the fact that when i leave, i’ll be able to really show people who i am without any kind of fear and in the fact that my connection to mississippi is firm, permanent, deeply-rooted. and i just can’t gainsay that.

    that’s my spiel for the day, i suppose.

    • What’s up. I’m from MS too. I second everything you said about living here. It’s hard because the South is like the worst place for queer people to live, but I’m from here and It’s home. Good luck with school. Hopefully, when you come home, you can show everyone how ambitious and smart you are, and they will realize that you would be a valuable member of the community. That’s the best way to change their minds I suppose.

    • First off…I’ve tried replying a million times and it keeps not working and I keep forgetting to copy what I write!!

      Ok now the real response…I am incredibly honored to write something that you believe helps you, it’s really an awesome feeling and although I don’t think I have all the answers (honestly I don’t really think I have any) it’s still very validating to hear that from a reader=)

      Your school in Mississippi sounds awesome!! In fact, you sound awesome! I really admire your bravery to be out and 100% yourself in high school…that is a very very difficult thing to do. As for the going to college/traveling the world in order to save it…I’m not sure I have any answers for you but I definitely understand how you feel. Perhaps you can defer for a year and get some traveling out of the way before you start college. As annoying as the “institution” is, college really is a unique experience that can really shape you as a person.

  10. Lily, your Tuesdays/Thursdays sound maybe even cooler than mine! I have Women, Art & Society back to back with Queer Theory, and it’s definitely the most inspiring 3-hour block of my week.

    Don’t worry about having the “best time of your life” in college. Most of that is people only remembering the good parts. College is really about finding yourself, and while that might not be FUN all the time, it’s still pretty great.

    This column gets better every time!

    • Thank you!!!

      and ah your Tuesday/Thursdays sound equally awesome. It truly is the most incredible 3 hour block of the week. I don’t even mind waking up super early for it!

  11. lilyflower, i love reading about your school life because even though i’ve been at college for three years, i keep going “gahhh that’s me! that’s how i am!” and you’re right, you know, there is something weirdly exciting about being lonely together.

    p.s. that one time when you were my roommate for 2 nights at the march on washington, you were the best roommate ever.

  12. I hate when people say college is “the best time of your life”. There is so much pressure to do well that I practically have a heart attack trying to remember all the things I have to do every day. Being a student is a full time job, then you have to have the cool internship that makes you look good on paper, then you have to do the home work, then you have to be involved in the school, and then some of us have to go get a part time job on top of it. Yea, I don’t have to pay a mortgage, but at least my 40 hour work week will end when I leave the office!

    College is stressful! And its lonely, even if you go to a school where everyone from high school went. Don’t worry, the second year it gets better. I applied to transfer last year because I was really lonely. But you do get to reinvent yourself, so that’s fun, and at least you’ve taken advantage of it.

    • A) Love love love your name
      B)You summed up how I feel EXACTLY. Right now I have about 100 sticky notes with things I have to do. It’s like “Apply for scholarships. Practice piano. Do financial aid. Interview Friday. Meeting Thursday.”
      etc. etc.
      It’s soooooo frustrating!!

      • Once you finally find the stuff you really want to focus on it gets a little easier. My freshman year I wanted to try everything so my time was split between like 5 different clubs and organizations. This year I’m only focusing on the domestic violence center I work at and realllllly learning French, so you don’t have to remember/commit yourself to everything. I mean, I still go to so many meetings for both things (one in 15 min and one tomorrow lol) but I only have to focus on two. It gets easier.

        My girlfriend just started an LGBT youth group. She worked for the one at Compass in South Florida and there is literally nothing where we go to school. So at least your lucky to have so many opportunities and organizations to pick from in New York!

  13. I am a sophomore from Taiwan, and I really like reading your articles (and Autostraddle too!) because I find college life in the US and Taiwan to be different.(I think) I have always been curious about college life in different coutries and also being a lesbian at that.
    One major difference in Taiwan is that it’s too small, so a lot of college students actually go to college near their homes (heck, my high school was way farther from home) So I don’t leave home and I probably would never live in dorms.
    I major in English and it’s mostly girls that I befriend and get to know, since guys are scarce.(not complaining though :D) Mostly everyone knows or guesses that I am gay because of my appearance.(okay, I have short hair and I dress in an androgynous way) There really aren’t any issues against me, at least I haven’t accountered any, yet. But I get this feeling that people just think I am going through a phase, and maybe being gay or looking gay is just a trend thing. This is a major issue in Taiwan because too many young girls (jr. high and highschoolers) are dressing up like men, I mean really like men. Some girls that I know even think that they’ll be mistaken for a butch after they got a haircut or something.
    Ah well, I could go on… just some thoughts from a sophomore in Taiwan :D

    • Thank yo so so much for your response! It’s really awesome to hear insight from different perspectives around the world.

      And that thing about girls dressing up like men…it totally makes me want to visit Taiwan!!!

      • I’m dead serious then, cause some of those girls are loads better looking than a lot of men!!!lol
        Taiwan is relatively friendly towards lesbians, I think. At least students at large pretty much accept lesbians and gays. Though they tend to have stereotypical issues about lesbians and gays, like lesbians should keep the hair short and doesn’t wear feminine clothing, or that gay guys are very stylish and skinny. It’s annoying sometimes, but I am grateful that it’s just plain annoying rather than hurting.
        But that is just in school, the society at large is still pretty conservative and homophobic. The younger generations are fine with us, but older generations like my parents and some teachers still can’t accept homosexuals.

  14. I know I know, I am so late to the game on this one.

    But Lily. Oh Lily. Hello. I have so many feelings about college and home and life and the balance of it all.

    However, I love flying and being in literal limbo. It’s the only time I have to just exist without having to focus my attention on one home or the other. [also there is a lot more I want to say here but I don’t have the time right now maybe I will edit this comment later or just comment again with actual feelings or something HELLO RUN ON SENTENCE HOW ARE YOU]

  15. SO TRUE, about the brother. That’s exactly how it happened with me and my brother. Checking out girls has been a major bonding experience in the past few months.
    Lily these blogs are awesome – I plan on going to college in New York in about a year and these blogs are great, honest in telling me what I can expect (not a supergay college heaven, but close enough :D) THANK YOU.

  16. Doll, I am sorry that your first year wasn’t absolutely stellar, but I have complete faith that you WILL have the best threeeee years of your life. I don’t care if you don’t want to hear it because it’s TRUE! Sure, not everyone can graduate saying that their college experience was amazatronic, but from the little I know about you from your posts, I don’t think you’re one of those people.

    You’re in a glorious city and although it may seem huge and overwhelming and fast and crazy, DON’T LET IT. You can make the city smaller and more manageable and YOURS by crafting it into what you want it to be. If you aren’t finding what you need to make you happy at school, step outside. Find the things about the city that excite you. Find some places to call your own: the places you find where you love to eat, relax, dance, meditate, people-watch… whatever. Take walks with no intent… just take it all in. Sometimes when I’m walking around the city, I ignore a lot of the wild hustle going on around me and I just let myself exist on MY terms. You don’t have to exist on anyone else’s terms (rushing, fast, loud, abrasive, etc…) and no one can tell you otherwise.

    Find friends that know New York well so that they can show you some of their favorite places, give you insider tips, etc.

    I hope this helps a little. I think the city is delicious, so I want you to enjoy it as much as I do!! xx

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