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December 11, 2013 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-12-11

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E3 -. --edaD :-e 03/ Th ttmn

Holding hands
by Todd Needle

L ast March, I held a
boy's hand.
I held his hand
in broad daylight and we
walked straight through
the busiest part of cam-
pus. My heart beat faster
than I think it ever has
before and my palms
were sweating -which
was terribly embarrass-
ing. As he looked at me,
I whispered to him that
I had never held a boy's -
hand in public before. He
smiled and asked me if I
wanted to stop. And for a.
split second, I did. I igno-
miniously fumbled for g
my iPhone, pretending
that it had been vibrating
for the last few minutes.
I wanted to take the easy
way out and let go. But I
didn't. And here we are.,w
I've been holding my
father's hand since I was
a baby. My father's hand
was the hand I held onto when I've
"'felt the most lost in this world, and it's
the hand I wish I could hold onto now
as I write this. I haven't been able to
hold my father's hand in quite some
time because it seems like something
21 year-olds don't do. But I held Max's
hand that day. And I'm proud that I did.
I wouldn't change anything, because it
made me smile. Yet I felt like I owed it
to my father to hold his hand this time
and tell him who I really am. And I did.
And he smiled back at me.
That day in March, I apologized to
Max, butterflies still stirring like ner-
vous kindergartners in my stomach
long after we'd parted ways in front


of the Ross School of Business, and he
laughed at me. I was so worried that I
had offended him in some way, that my
journey toward self-acceptance was
somehow derailed by this one incident.
He told me not to worry, that we didn't
have to do anything I didn't want to do.
I sat in my room recalling the incident
and laughed nervously. Had I really
used my gruff, masculine voice when
I left him at the Business School? Was
that actually my defense mechanism?
My gravelly man-voice reserved for
frat parties? How fucking pathetic. I
was smiling through tears, because
somehow, this boy, in one day, and
in one head-turning (I expect it was
because he and I are so good-looking
and they're

School, and I wrestled with the fact
that I was holding his hand in public.
I wondered, and this was a question
my friends asked me later on, if I was
upset about the fact that we were hold-
ing hands, or upset about the fact that
it bothered me in the first place? That's
what made me so angry with myself -
it shouldn't have bothered me at all;
and after about half-an-hour of a slight
meltdown where I paced around my
room waiting for Max to respond to my
apology, I realized how important that
day was for me. I took a step toward
accepting myself both internally and
externally. I smiled the entire time we
walked together, despite my head spin-
ning out of control. I was also proud of
myself for being at least a little awk-
ward about it, because it meant I had
room to grow; still have room to grow.
Max is OK with that. I'm OK with that.
But Max didn't know that as com-
fortable as I was when I was around
him, and how happy he'd made me,
I still had one more hurdle to cross
before I could truly accept where I
was in my life. I had to tell my parents
about him.
I didn't know how it was going to go.
I didn't know if they were going to cry
or just shrug it off and say, "So?" like
I'd imagined for so long. The fact of
the matter is, as long as I'd known this
about myself, I'd never truly been able
to accept it and to take that next step of
sharing all of myself with my parents.

But I needed to do that
that day. I needed to tell
them who I am. I needed
to pick one of the sce-
narios I'd invented in my
head over and over and
go with it. Jay, one of my
close friends, told me
that if I just spoke from
the heart, the words
would come out right.
I think too much, but
maybe he's right. Maybe
-- I should just go for it
and see what happens, I
I couldn't shake this
feeling, though, that
they'd be disappointed.
My mom used to ask
me fairly often if I was
dating anybody. I'd get
every time she did and
I'd answer, "No, mom,
not right now ... " When
N MULHOLLAND we were in New York,
she made some comment
about how I was her last
hope of having grandchildren of her
three sons any time soon - as if our
other brother can't find a girl before
my mother turns 60. All I wanted her
to know is that it doesn't matter how I
do it, I'm going to be a father. I needed
her to know that. And I needed her to
know how much it hurt when she said
things like that, because I know that
it's never going to be exactly how she
pictured it.
Any of my best friends will attest
that I have nothing to hide. When I
*meet a boy, and I like him, and he likes
me, I tell them. They can tell when
I'm happy and when something good
is happening in my life. They ask me
if I like him, and I say yes. They ask if
he makes me smile, and I smile back
at them. They ask me if he's cute, and
I laugh at how awkward they are, but
really because they care so much. And
all they wanted to do was meet Max.
So there I was, 1:00 a.m. on a Mon-
day night, and I'd just had this epipha-
ny. I'm happy with who I am and who
I've become. I love myself, and I love
the people who love me. It's time for
me to deal with it and to move forward
with this adventure. And maybe next
time, my palms won't sweat so much.
Todd Needle is a Daily Photo Editor
and an LSA senior.

207tb t Atbw
morass 4nd women's
411 dothing
Mori =TNf%:i0_1,
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had finally
helped me
feel good
about who
I'd become.
true that
these little
make time
slow down.
We walked
from his
apartment to
the Business


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