Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Thursday, May 23, 2013

3-21-13  RMB They Know You Now
11pm…two letters in one day, a record, you poor woman to be so cursed by me :)
Dear Rita Mae Brown,
Our Writer’s Circle meeting became a Rita Mae Brown Forum. One member that has read these letters, would not let us begin, until I came out with the project. The two members new to the Dear Rita Mae Brown letters thought they knew your name, but couldn’t place from where or what. They know you now.
Some of the letters were read aloud, conversations filled the night about rights, what each of our experiences had been, what you did, how you did it. The contemporary that had read your work, she relayed her feelings when a peaceful demonstration turned ugly in Los Angeles. Busloads of police arrived. She realized what a disadvantage it was to have three children, because she could only carry two. She managed to get them all out of there before they were arrested, carted off, or worse beaten with night sticks as others were. It was the first time she saw a police uniform and realized they are not always the good guys.
I am fortunate to gather with this group of women.
Picking up where I left off this morning…there were distinct differences in this relationship. There were discussions in advance. There were promises, commitments to one another. There was a plan. My intuition told me “No!” My body said “Yes.” This was the first relationship for me where I knew I wanted to be close to another, physically close and emotionally close.  Because we took time to think about it, anticipation built. It was intoxicating.
I thought because I had experience in managing closeted relationships before, we could make it work. It was less of a double life, because people knew about me now, not a lot of people and they didn’t know about this relationship, but I did breathe easier. Now that the ones who truly mattered to me knew, I would be open about myself with whoever inquired.
For my first forty years it was hard to accept anyone’s attention, anyone’s affection or kindness. In the back of my mind ran the tape, “yeah, but you don’t really know me.” It was like hearing kind words from a stranger, because I kept myself estranged.
Now I had no fear of anyone knowing me and what I did behind closed doors was none of their business, or so I reasoned. Schedules were worked out, life settled into an odd balance, the best possible balance that was as close to what might be considered normal in our abnormal universe.
At first it was wonderful, we were together and that was all that mattered. Some parts of it were more than I ever hoped for, a strong connection, professions of love everlasting, I wanted someone else’s body and mine was wanted in return. I was deaf, dumb and blind with bliss.
After a few years stresses began to weigh us down. The plans we made were not working, our schedules were not meshing, our priorities were splintering. When I tried to keep us on track I was “demanding”, “controlling”, “manipulative”, “expecting too much”, “seeing everything in black and white”.
When life settles, for some it leads to contentment, for others it becomes dull. I was searching for contentment. I guess that was too dull in other eyes. She needed a thrilling life. I had been thrilling once, the forbidden fruit. She had reached the end of her ride and was ready for a new thrill. (As I read your memoir I felt you stood in a similar place, more than once) My presence transformed from a joy to a burden. One day we were together and the next we were not.
I rocked the boat this time. I yelled. I hit walls. I was angry as hell…at her, at the situation, and most of all at myself. I took it all out on her. I earned more descriptions “unstable”, “you need medication”, “you need to see someone about your anger issues”. Exactly how angry is one allowed to get when the promised everlasting love vanishes, when one finds out that what was pledged to be permanent was really only temporary???
It’s been about five years since she tried to walk out of her own house and leave me standing there alone, I told her to stay. It was her home. Once again I walked out of a house I helped support. Once again, I would continue to lend that support beyond days of being able to call the dwelling “home”. Although we had discussed it, I never gave up my own household. I retreated there, to my cave.
Fortunately, at this same time, I had become close to my friends with the three boys. I found refuge in the arms of a four year old. He and his brother’s healed me. When my friends promised me they could be “my boys” too, I doubt they envisioned me playing as big a role as I have, but I took that promise to heart and held on to it like a lifeline. The boys’ presence in my life means more than shows on the surface. It means some love is for real, forever, even if all love is not.
I am glad I know you Rita Mae Brown. Maybe I should say I am glad I know of you. But I think you want more than that of people and I think, through your openness and your candor, you have achieved it. 
Your friend,

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