In a Tiny Little Boat

“He was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life. But he really looked like a girl. She was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen in my life.”

I float between two islands, in a tiny little boat that is twice as long as I am. I have no final destination – I have reached it. I am wading in it. This is where I live now. In a tiny little boat that is twice as long as I am.

Before this little boat, I lived on an island for twenty years. I liked it. But after twenty years, I wasn’t sure I could live there every day. Now that I’m in the water, I wonder if I should have been here all along.

I think back to all those times I was told I was a boy, and I didn’t mind. I think back to all those times I was addressed as ‘sir’ and I didn’t mind. I think back to all the times someone said ‘he’ and I didn’t bother to correct them.

I think back to all the times my friends were outraged – I’m sorry, but why did he think you’re a boy? You’re not a boy. Obviously. Look at your face, you’re a girl. Definitely a girl. Ugh, they were so rude! Why didn’t you say anything?

I think back to all those times, and now that I’m in the water, I wonder if I should have been here all along.

“She had the swagger of a girl. She blushed like a boy. She had a girl’s toughness. She has a boy’s gentleness. She was as meaty as a girl. She was as graceful as a boy. She was as brave and handsome and rough as a girl. She was as pretty and delicate and dainty as a boy. She turned boys’ heads like a girl. She turned girls’ heads like a boy. She made love like a boy. She made love like a girl. She was so boyish it was girlish, so girlish it was boyish, she made me want to rove the world writing our names on every tree. I had simply never found someone so right. Sometimes this shocked me so much that I was unable to speak.”

I want to be beautiful like a boy. I want to be handsome like a girl.


This post was inspired by Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy. Two passages are quoted in this post, both in quotation marks. They aren’t mine, but if you haven’t read the book, you should. It’s wonderful.

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