Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

3-20-13  7am RMB So Blind
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
I finished Rubyfruit Jungle. Thank you for writing this book, for getting it published, for sharing a life that showed a lot of somebodies something, thank you for enduring the threats and abuse to bring insight, humor and a way of life to light. That barely begins to state what I can not to find all the words to relate.
Today I started A Plain Brown Rapper.
Tonight is our monthly Writer’s Circle gathering. Three out of the five other members have read these letters. I am nervous about the others seeing them, even though one is the friend who is like family and I have known her for over twenty years. The other member I have known eight years, we worked together during a good portion of that, seeing one another daily.
The personal stuff relayed here doesn’t get shared lightly.
These letters are a departure from my normal conduct. I don’t discuss myself much, whether it is because of a secret relationship or because my world contains things others don’t understand, feelings, visions, insights, or because I was taught this is how to be or because of my own issues or a combination of all the above…I don’t discuss myself unless there is a darn good reason to do so.
At age forty I did sit down separately with two friends and two sisters and have individual conversations with them. I wanted them to know that I was considering dating again after my twelve year sabbatical and not to be surprised if I ended up dating a woman. I told them some of what is in these letters. I didn’t expect for them to be too surprised. I had often voiced my support of the gay community. I never worked to be feminine. I am a tomboy at heart and it shows.
I feared one sister’s reaction, the “adult” sister, because I have always been close to her son and daughter. Her son was twenty, already in college, but still coming home for weekends. He is a friend. He inherited my sister’s “adultness”. From the time he was a toddler, the family joked that he was the one babysitting me and keeping me out of trouble when we were together.
I called him first to ask him if he would still be my friend. I figured he would, but one can not ever be sure. I asked him to be there when I told his mother and father. His sister was much younger, only ten then. My biggest fear was that I would not be allowed to spend time with her. I drove to Orange County weekly to watch her soccer games. She and I bonded. I felt that even if we were separated, we would find our way back to one another when she became eighteen. It was still a big risk, I didn’t want to miss the rest of her childhood.
Don’t rock the boat. I considered leaving my own life on hold longer in order to stay close to this child. I was done with secrets, I had healed and thought I was ready to live again, but I would not begin something that would lead me into another double life. It is too mind splitting, spirit deflating and heart breaking. I would no longer deny half of my natural inclinations. I trusted my gut that it was time. I trusted my sister enough to risk it.
My nephew was surprised that I feared his mom’s reaction. I let him know that my own mom’s reaction over twenty years prior was a wake up call. She had never exhibited prejudice behavior before with anyone. I guess when it is your family, under your own roof, that is a different story.
The last thing on earth I expected was to be told to get out of the house I helped support. We only had one conversation about it after she saw me with my girlfriend and realized we were more than friends. She was sitting at the kitchen counter terribly engrossed in her meal. I sat beside her and waited.
“What you are doing is wrong.” No eye contact.
“It just is.” No eye contact.
“What’s wrong with it? Give me one reason why it’s wrong.”
No answer. I waited. I listened to the silence. It was Mom’s turn to speak and she didn’t. End of conversation. No eye contact. I got up and walked away.
In fairness to her, it was actually her boyfriend that threw me out shortly after that non-conversation. I called the police. They came. She could have had him removed. She told me to leave instead. I told her “If I leave, I am not coming back”. I left.
The next day she told me I should not have left. Memory loss caused by drink made her forget she had also told me to go too. “You didn’t have to call the police” she said “I would not let him hurt you.” I reminded her that she threatened to slap me when I raised my voice.
She said she would make him leave. I didn’t believe her. He moved out that week. I don’t know if she did that for me or for herself, we weren’t exactly communicating well. An angry part of me thinks she did it so I would come back and take care of her and the house. I couldn’t. I didn’t have enough strength to carry that weight. I had been through too much and I was not yet whole, not strong at all. I was a seventeen year old walking corpse. She didn’t see that. She saw a strong stubborn daughter.  
So twenty-three years later, I sat my sister, brother-in-law and nephew down at the kitchen table one morning and prayed for a better outcome. I told them much of what is here and more, the more I have not found the words to share with you yet, but I will eventually. If these words are of value to anyone than I know the others will be as well.
We had planned to go to a gathering at her in-laws that morning. After our talk and a few tears, my brother-in-law asked if I still wanted to go to the gathering. I had my things packed and by the door. I was prepared, just in case I was told to leave their home after our talk.
I asked him if he still wanted me to go to his parent’s house. “Of course” he said laughing. Over the next year, I would learn what a great guy my sister had married some twenty three year’s prior.
Both friends and both sisters were supportive, although I got the distinct impression from the Alabama sister that it was something we “ought best keep ‘tween us”.
Did I start dating? No…I met some people. Some were interested in me, but I found “I am what I am”, which is someone that never felt comfortable near anyone else, never wanted anyone else. Any person that started to get close to me was pushed away. The relationships I’d been in with the girls and the guys were all initiated by them. In all four cases, I thought they were friends…until they kissed me. God, I was so blind.
I did make more friends, including a special friend. I saw her life and thought it was safe to get close to her. She had a world of her own and she let me inside it. I was honored. I didn’t feel threatened in any way or like she would ever want nor need anything from me. It was safe to get close to her, because there could never be anything more than a friendship there. I let my guard down, trusted her, told her about my past.
One day she confessed she wanted to kiss me. She was nervous, worried about what that meant. I laughed, said I was flattered. I told her “So. I think you’re hot and I want to kiss you too, but that is not going to happen.” There was no room in her world for a girlfriend.
God, will I ALWAYS be so blind!
I fell into another closeted relationship, damn, damn, damn it all to hell!!!
Time to get ready for work, more later…

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