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This is a spin off story from A Tale of Two Mothers. We first meet Stacey and Paula when Tess and Caroline are dating but shortly afterwards these two women get into a romantic relationship. Tess does describe seeing Stacey and Paula kissing on the couch and I decided to write their story from the perspective of Stacey.
The brain has been described many times as being a biological computer. It is capable of storing vast amounts of information, first in short term memory and then by some mysterious method these memories are transferred to long term memory. These can be recalled in an instant and often take the form of images, sounds, smells and touch. The mechanics of how it does so are beyond this short account but I thought I’d start this account off by sharing an image with you.
The first is seeing two women kissing on screen in Neighbours. I was seventeen years old and the only place I was allowed to watch Neighbours was at Bailey’s house, although any of my friends would have been only too willing to let me watch Neighbours. It’s just that Bailey was the only girl who thought it was a cool show. The image sticks in my mind because her parents were not Christians and seeing two women kissing on screen didn’t seem to bother them, although it’s got a G rating so it wasn’t exactly Pornhub style. Perhaps it was the music playing while these two women were kissing or the environment that I was in at the time, but it struck me as being an incredibly passionate and tender kiss.
Another image that springs to mind was many years later when I was half on, half off the couch in Paula’s house with my blouse partially undone. The pussybow ties were spread over the couch and my heart was literally jumping out of my chest. Paula and I had been kissing on the couch and she’d just stood up to unbutton her blouse. The image that rose in my mind at that moment was that scene from Neighbours, but as to how I went from a Christian upbringing to allowing myself to be seduced by my housemate is an epic tale and so let me begin with my background.
In the Christian tradition in which I was raised there were seven deadly sins; lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. My parents were Protestant, mum was Uniting Church and dad was a Baptist but sometime after I was born they fell into a Pentecostal church and thus their three girls were raised in the happy clappy crowd. My name is Stacey McLean. I’m the oldest of three girls, Tina is a year younger than I, and Wendy is five years younger than her. I can’t say my childhood was unhappy but I did feel a definite sense of separation from my peers. Religion in Australia is limited to a small proportion of the population. It’s okay to be a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist or whatever you want, but it’s not okay to ram your beliefs down someone else’s throat and the Pentecostal church loves ramming the bible down people’s throats.
However I was not like that and it’s not because I didn’t believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the promises in the bible. I was genuinely intrigued by the world around me, in high school I was even more interested, partly because I was hoping to get one of my girlfriends or some hot guy to come to a youth group function. I always felt drawn towards girls and it was not for the reasons you might think. I knew what guys were thinking when they looked at me. I was an attractive girl even as a somewhat shy teenager. I have long blonde wavy hair and green eyes, I knew if I got too close to them that things might get out of control and sex was one of those totally forbidden subjects unless you were married in the sight of God.
Sadly or perhaps not so sadly, none of my girlfriends were interested in going to youth group with me but they did invite me to their houses on a regular basis and it was there that I experienced a totally different style of parenting. They had fathers and stepfathers who drank but didn’t turn violent, mothers who freely admitted to having sex before they were married but there was no way you could call them sluts. They were really nice people and whilst there was conflict in one or two homes it was almost always resolved fairly rapidly. In short I discovered that non Christian parents were just as loving as Christian parents and indeed I found their homes far more entertaining than my own.
This created conflict in my mind, especially in my final year at high school because by then my mum had finally realised that her oldest daughter had come of age or perhaps she’d been avoiding the issue until it was too late. I remember the day she sat me down whilst my father and sisters were away and she gave me the birds and the bees talk. It was the most bizarre conversation I’d ever had with my mother because by then I knew just about everything about sex that I needed to know, as a seventeen year old. We’d had biology in school, sex education classes and of course the talk outside of school but here was mum thinking she was finally revealing the great mystery cevizli escort about sex. It was even more insane when you realise that by then I’d already decided to enrol in nursing college after I graduated from high school and as anyone can tell you, nurses have to experience nudity at least once every shift.
When she’d finished explaining the great mystery I thanked her for taking the time and took our dog for a long walk because I knew by the time I got back dad and my sisters would be back home and I wouldn’t have to risk mum telling me something else she’d missed. In hindsight I can clearly see that even at the age of seventeen I’d begun to ask serious questions about Christianity and God, amongst other things. But one thing I wasn’t questioning was the issue of sex, I was quite content to wait for my wedding night, until the night mum gave me her birds and bees talk. After that I know I thought about it more and more.
Nursing college had an optional residential focus, where you could live on campus and spend more time immersing yourself in your chosen field. I didn’t have to take that option but I was dying to get out of home and into the real world. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that my attendance at church was a bit hit and miss for the next couple of years, more miss than hit to be honest.
In nursing college I met women unlike myself, from all different backgrounds. Some were there on scholarship programs and would be returning to their own countries afterwards and it was also where I met Paula for the very first time. She was visiting a friend from Jordan, a Palestinian woman by the name of Rania. She was one of my room-mates and she’d introduced all of us to the eclectic Palestinian diet. Rania’s home was Amman, her parents were middle class but she’d been volunteering in the refugee camps.
Rania played a pivotal role in my Christian faith because she was Palestinian and my mother has always been a Christian Zionist and here I think I should explain this convoluted belief system that has enabled the Israeli/Palestinian problem to explode into violent and bloody conflict with tedious monotony.
Christian Zionism relies on a prophecy that the Jews will return to Palestine but eventually the world will turn against them and they’ll wind up surrounded by the armies of the world, all of them in a place the size of a postage stamp. At this point Jesus will come back and wipe everyone out, including the Jews because they were the ones who crucified him and he’s been carrying a grudge for nearly 2,000 years. He’ll save 144,000 of them though and no one ever explained why it was only 144,000 but maybe Jesus has amnesia, he’ll also save the Christian Zionists of course, and a few strays who happen to catch his eye. He’s going to be standing with one foot on the Mount of Olives and another on the River Jordan, so he’s probably the size of a city.
He’s going to suspend the laws of gravity for one day and only one day, if you’re not on the ball and ready to repent then so long sucker. He’s also going to raise the dead, even the dead whose bodies have turned to dust and make then anew. Then he’s going to wipe out the whole planet, not because he hates everyone, but because he loves everyone, go figure. This explains why Christian Zionists are so obsessed with Israel fighting yet another war because they’re hoping that this one will be the actual Armageddon. The only thing missing from this house of cards is the immortal Monty Python line, “and now for something completely different.”
Rania was the first to open my eyes to the truth about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but Paula was the one who really drew me further down the path of basic human rights abuses. Rania introduced us when I came into my room having just taken a shower to find her sitting with a woman I’d never seen before. Her accent marked her as Australian, she had light brown complexion and straight, brown hair that fell to the small of her back. She was wearing a blue and white striped blouse tucked into a brown skirt and they were both looking at a video on Rania’s laptop that showed Israeli soldiers arresting civilians in the West Bank.
They both turned as I entered and Rania greeted me with a smile.
“This is my friend, Paula. We met at the refugee camp and this is my room mate, Stacey.”
When Paula leaned forward to get up I caught a glimpse of her bra beneath the blouse and in the blink of an eye I recalled that episode of Neighbours.
We got to talking although it wasn’t for long. Paula was three years older than I and had just come back from Europe. She’d been nursing in the refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey, and Somalia before working for some time in an NHS hospital in England. When Paula and Rania finally left to go for a coffee I found myself going into fantasy land, imagining myself on the front line of medicine, saving people that society had rejected.
The next time I saw Paula was two years later, by which time erenköy escort I was a nurse at Maroondah hospital in East Ringwood but neither of us were in uniform. It was at a coming out party for Bailey, it was cunningly disguised as a twenty first birthday party on my invitation at least.
Financial circumstances had forced me to move back home again, although I was getting itchy feet and looking for rooms to rent, which is what I was doing on my laptop when Bailey called to tell me about her coming out party. I very nearly said no because it wasn’t my thing but she was one of my best friends from high school and more out of guilt I said yes, but with a caveat when it came to my invitation.
“Just send me an invite to your twenty first,” I told her over the phone as I sat in my car in the carpark at the hospital, “that way mum can’t nag me about going.”
“How’s the house hunting going?” Bailey asked.
“I was actually looking at rentals online just now but they’re all asking for references. Ideally I’d like to just rent a room instead and forego the bond altogether.”
We talked some more over the phone and she promised to keep an eye out for me.
“You never know, rooms come up for rent come up all the time.”
Now because Bailey had come out and there would at least be some lesbians there, I decided to go all conservative and dress for the occasion. However that merely caught the eye of Paula, for the simple reason that the pale blue blouse and white jeans were exactly what I’d changed into that day in my old room.
No one was more surprised than I to find Paula and Rania sitting at one of the tables set up in the backyard. As it turned out though, Paula knew Bailey’s partner, Jenny. Rania had been brought along for moral support, not as Paula’s date. They were both sitting with Bailey’s mum, Linda who looked as if she’d already had a few too many.
“We met up outside a nightclub in King Street and because we were both going back to Croydon we shared the taxi fare, we’ve been friends ever since and when she told me her girlfriend was now and out and proud I decided to come along to wish them well,” Paula explained.
“And it looks like you did the same thing,” she looked me up and down, “so what’s your connection to the happy couple?”
“Bailey’s an old friend from school,” I replied, “mum doesn’t know she’s out, I told Bailey to just send me an invitation to her twenty first.”
“So, you have a homophobic mum,” she smirked, “what else can you tell me?”
“Where I can find a room to rent,” I rolled my eyes, “don’t get me wrong, I love mum but I’m twenty one myself, I need to get out and spread my wings.”
“A room,” Paula shifted in her seat, “I have two rooms, one’s taken but the other is free.”
“East Ringwood,” she replied, “and you are working?”
“Maroondah, so that’s perfect.”
“Wait till you see the room first,” Paula warned me.
She wasn’t joking. It was a small room with a view of a shed, the back yard was tiny but as I looked around the room I felt a distinct feeling of elation. It was tiny but it came with a single bed and a built in wardrobe. The house itself was located in Grey Street, not far from the Eastfield Road shops and a short drive to Eastland Shopping Centre, but best of all it was only a few minutes from work, I could practically walk or ride to work I remember telling her as she was showing me through the house but she did seem a little embarrassed at the size of the vacant room.
“I told you it was tiny,” Paula leaned on the door jamb.
“Yeah, but it’s cosy,” I turned to look at her, “but there’s one thing you should know about me.”
“What’s that?” Paula smiled crookedly, “you’re not in the closet are you?”
“Kind of,” I glanced at the wardrobe briefly, “I’m um, I’m a Christian.”
“Okay,” Paula straightened up, “I’m sure we can work something out.”
I moved in pretty much straight away and it was like a breath of fresh air compared to home. For a start, swearing was frequent and often quite colourful, and then there was the alcohol. Paula wasn’t a heavy drinker but she liked a drink, Caroline was a little younger than I and did drink more, but the mere fact you could drink was tantalisingly refreshing. I experimented with alcohol too and soon discovered my limit was about a glass and a half and that became my nickname.
Sexual mores however were the most dramatic change because whilst Paula was a churchgoer, she also saw nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage. Here I was presented with two different types of sex life. Paula took her affairs outside the house, staying overnight at a guy’s house but she never brought a man home and rarely talked about what happened between them.
Caroline was the exact opposite, she brought guys home and I got used to seeing half naked guys in jeans or shorts in the morning. It did cause some conflict between us because Paula esenyurt escort liked to think of the house as being a haven where you could do your own thing. Eventually Caroline did compromise and introduced her latest fuck to her two house mates and over the next six months she did see the wisdom in Paula’s approach.
I did keep going to church though but even that had changed. Now if I went to my old church it was at night when there were more people my age in attendance, but I also varied my menu to take in different branches of Protestant churches, like the Baptist and Uniting churches. It worried mum because she thought her denomination had a monopoly on truth but she kept ‘praying’ that I would be protected from Satan. Apparently he hides as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, although I saw no sheep or wolves in these other churches, just people and the odd dog!
Caroline’s sex life took an abrupt about turn one Thursday night in July when she broke up with a guy she’d been seeing for the previous few weeks, Thommo was one of those alpha male types who thinks that every woman is just playing hard to get, to him no means just try harder and when he put the hard word on me one night Caroline slapped his face and ordered him out of the house. She apologised profusely the following day.
“I’m through with men,” she told us both over dinner, “they’re all bastards.”
Four weeks later Tess came into our lives when she came around to measure Caroline up for a dress. You remember what I said about memories getting triggered by something that happens in the here and now? The moment Tess stepped into the lounge room wearing a denim jacket, jeans and an off white blouse I remembered that scene in Neighbours and that was combined with more recent memories of Bailey’s coming out party. Oddly enough she hadn’t even outed herself and I thought she was straight, but in hindsight I can admit that the first time I actually admitted I found a woman to be attractive was when I saw Tess.
She only outed herself a few days later when she returned with the dress she’d made for Caroline and as I was admiring it she casually mentioned she’d made similar dresses for her two mums. When I looked confused she explained that her mother was in a civil partnership with a woman and then she grinned. “I’m out as well but my brother is as straight as a die.”
Paula saw the signs first, the knowing looks between Caroline and Tess. I was on my way out to work when Tess came with the dress but a few nights later as I came home from a shift I found Paula sitting on the couch with a thoughtful look on her face.
“What’s up?” I pulled the hair clasp from my hair and started taking out the hairclips, “you look like you’re trying to solve a problem.”
“Not so much a problem, it’s just something you need to know about Caroline.”
“What about Caroline?” I pulled the last hairclip from my hair, “she’s not gay is she?”
“Um,” Paula pulled a brush through her hair, “she just came out a couple of hours ago, she’s gone to the movies with Tess.”
“Oh,” I sat down suddenly, “her and Tess?”
“Yeah,” she eyed me, “she’s prepared to move out if it’s going to cause problems. I don’t mind but I have to run it past you as well.”
I looked past her for a few seconds.
“If mum finds out she’ll think it’s a contagion.”
“I’m not homophobic,” she replied, “and besides, compared to some of the deadbeats she’s brought home in the past Tess is like a breath of fresh air. I’m all for it but I just thought I’d give you the heads up in case it’s going to cause you grief. I want you both to stay,” she finished.
“So, what do we do now? Put a lock on the bathroom door? I’m not used to having a lesbian living in the same house.”
“It’s not like that, there’s no locks on bathrooms because we’re all women. Let’s just carry on and see how this pans out. She could just be experimenting, I know I was much the same when I was a year or so older than her.”
“You?” I stared at her, “have you?”
“It was in a Berlin massage parlour,” she looked up as she pulled hairs from the brush, “I was with my flatmate, Jackie on a weekend break in Berlin. We’d both been drinking but she was definitely more drunk than me and we decided to go to a parlour to try it out. I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to sit it out in the reception area and that’s where I met Gaida,” she smiled crookedly.
“Let’s just say that Gaida was very persuasive, she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse when she told me that if I paid for an hour with her she’d donate her share of the earnings to Medical Aid for Palestine.”
“Oh,” I looked past her, “that’s different.”
“Yeah, it was and when she asked me what my fantasy was I told her it was seduction and that’s about all she wrote,” Paula chuckled, “she seduced me and I had sex with a woman.”
“So, what happened after?” I asked.
“We um, well I realised that it wasn’t such a big deal. Jackie was okay with it too but neither of us wanted to take it further. Jackie had a boyfriend anyway and I just put it down to an interesting experience,” she propped her chin on her palm.
“Which makes me think that perhaps Caroline is just experimenting, but if not then we’ll build a bridge and get over it.”
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