Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I had my children here for two-and-a-half days. I enjoyed every minute of it, in spite of a run-in with the son who resembles me most -- it seems he is as sensitive to the threat of my anger as I am to the threat of his sensitivity -- and just as likely to sense it where it in fact isn't happening. Well, he calmed down and returned to play cards with us afterwards, so things could definitely have been worse.

And things did get worse. I was invited out the evening after they left, so I didn't have to deal with the fact that they had left until the following night. I was trying to watch a movie that some well-intentioned person had recommended -- it turned out to have a gay couple that were portrayed as human, imagine that, but at the moment happy, young, masculine, handsome, accepted gay couples are about the last thing I need to have paraded in front of my eyes, even if I know it's fiction and they have been Hollywooded and air-brushed and...

Well, they meant well. As soon as the distraction of watching the movie was over, and I could pay attention to my feelings, however,
I just hit the wall. Who had had the bright idea of recommending a movie about how a family maintains its connection to its gay members and how the family comes together and stays together in the face of death? At the moment this feels about as far from my own experience as I can get, and the distance drove me wild with longing. All the things that were being shown as "normal" were the things that are furthest from my condition, and likely to remain so.

It's not just external circumstances; I have onboard "issues" heading for the red zone, too. I am on some sort of ghastly roll where my mouth keeps messing up every relationship and social situation I'm in. It seems that in the process of breaking down the barriers that kept all the "dark stuff" in the closet, I have also broken down all the other, entirely worthwhile barriers , like the ones that occasionally kept me from insulting people by saying what I thought without reflecting on what they might themselves think, or think of me once I had said it. When will I learn to shut up again? Will this nightmare never end?

New Year's Eve I was invited out by my friends with the view of the ocean, which meant a drive and a half, and a large party where I knew almost nobody. The drive was OK, and my friends were wonderful hosts. But the move from the dinner at their home to the dance at the town hall was more than I could take. I had no one to dance with, and no one felt the need to ask me. I didn't really feel like asking a woman who was not my wife to dance -- go figure -- and didn't really feel that any of the men would take an invitation kindly [working with the 6% figure would tend to make me think
not]. The music was OK -- DJs are an odd breed at best, but this was all pretty easy on the ear -- and I did OK myself during the fast dances. I could even go out and dance on my own a bit, and occasionally could get someone to pick up a move or two and stay in synch for a while. It was a little bit like having a partner...

But then, as inevitably as death, the slow dances. And watching all those couples dancing, and so many of them dancing like it meant something to them to be in each other's arms, filled my mind with all the years when I could, and did, do the same, with the same oblivious assumption of it being the most "natural" thing in the world displayed by all those whose innocent enjoyment of the music and each other was flaying me alive.

It was almost as bad as looking at the three days out of Christmas vacation that were allotted to me and realizing that some version of that ratio was likely to be my lot for the foreseeable future. Hadn't I gone out of my way to leave everything at their home intact? Hadn't I moved away to leave them all room to breathe? Wasn't there every reason for them to want to stay where they were at home, rather than here where even I am not?

I found myself getting grimmer and grimmer as the evening wore on, hanging back wherever I could find a hospitable shadow, and then pasting a smile on whenever someone from my friends' dinner came within view. I've never been very good at small talk at the best of times, and believe me, this is not the best of times, and that night certainly wasn't.

I was ready for any kind of kindness. All my good intentions of not inflicting my emotional mess on anyone would have gone up the chimney in a second had anyone even touched my arm with any kind of affection. Well, there was one person who seemed more than necessarily interested in me, actually, and who might have touched my arm -- or other limbs -- given half a chance. I may be making a gross assumption here, but he also had what seemed to me really bad breath.

So maybe I wasn't as desperate as I felt after all...
or maybe he is in fact what I have to look forward to.

Did I say anything about this not being the best New Year's Eve I have ever spent? It was a leg up on Christmas, I suppose, as there weren't any ancient family dramas being acted out under the guise of everyone getting along. [And of course, I had just seen my kids. Which beats not having seen them yet any day.] But it was still getting under my skin. So I did the champagne toast, I sang, and said goodbye. And I made it home in one piece.

I woke up pretty late the following morning and decided to spend the day in bed. That didn't last much more than an hour -- it never does -- but I did lounge around and read and listen to music and generally avoid all the five million things that are waiting for me to get my act together. Like the divorce papers... I do think I need to get some small part of my act together one of these days.

And in retrospect, here's what I say: it may not have been long, but I had all three children for three days. They all came, they all stayed, and we all got along, for the most part. It is early days for all of us, and they had just come from what was surely a difficult Christmas with their mother and her sorrows -- to face me and my sorrows. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. But they came, and they stayed. And they were nice to me.

Not everyone in my position can say that.
I will count my blessings, starting with the first three.
Pray for me. I sometimes think it's all that's holding me together.


  1. Having been through some of what you talked about - I can say be thankful that all three came, stayed and were a part of you and your life. I have two of my three that are not (at this time).

    Know that my prayers WILL be with you - and as we move along this path we call life, may yours contain only the best, with an abundance of laughter, joy and hope.

    >HUGE bear hug< ...

  2. That's cool that you had a decent time with the kids. I always have a odd feeling watching "normal" gay movies, not sure why. I think even if the NY party wasn't so great, it probably really wasn't THAT bad had you done nothing maybe? As long as they are willing to invite you, at least you're still on their A-list! :) The couples dances are the worst. Even if you had a partner, who leads etc? Anyways, I really like how you capture the moments here and what you're feeling too.