Couldn't be more different than me

He couldn't have been more different than me in high school. He was outgoing and popular. We went to the same school and the same church, attended the same youth camps and revivals. He came with friends. I don't think I ever met his parents. My family was at the church every time they unlocked the doors. So much so that they finally just gave my Dad a key.

He was in the theater group and on the year book staff. He had a shock of white in the back of his otherwise dark hair about the diameter of a quarter. No dye would stick to it and he couldn't cut his hair to hide it. It made him different and easy to recognize from the back in the school hallways. Being his friend made me feel more popular, even though I really never fit in with the popular crowd I so wanted to be a part of.

After graduation, my church attendance gradually dwindled. I think he went away to college, so I wouldn't have seen him there anyway. He became a lawyer. I became a homosexual. And while those two things don't seem to be related, they did shape our lives and the men we would become.

He's married and has two grown kids. I'm not allowed to marry, despite our wedding rings, and have one growing kid.

We worked an awards ceremony together in our senior year. He was on the stage, doing a hilarious show. So confident. So funny. I was in the orchestra, running the sound system. He kept swinging the microphone by the cord (yes, microphones used to have cords) and causing it to short out. I kept handing him new mics and he kept swinging the mics and they kept going out. Don't remember how often it happened. Maybe once or twice, but I remember it like the scene from Father of the Bride when Spencer Tracy's pants stuck to the floor. I felt bad about it until later that night when my Dad explained that it was his fault because he kept swinging them around like a fan blade in front of his face. All part of his act, but too much for the old sound system that my typing teacher had borrowed.

I didn't hear from him for 30 years. Had forgotten about him. Like everyone else from the distant past, he remained in the distant past for good reason. That past was painful and it was dealt with. And, I had realized that as painful as it was, it was what made me who I am today. I would not be me if not for it. And, I'm pretty darn happy with who I am, so I had to accept the pain of the past instead of continuing to hate it and fight about it.

Now, through the miracle of facebook (may not sound like it, but that's just dripping with sarcasm) he has returned. I think he was a little offended when I told him I thought he'd grow up to be gay. After all, he was so dramatic and outgoing.

Now, he's back. And, he has questions.

I wondered if I should answer. Should I bother? Does it matter?

Actually, it does. In some small way, it's like facing down the demon of the past. A statement that this is who I am. This is what I believe. There is no shame.

I've only recently come to accept some of that stuff as just the way it was for me. I've forgiven those that called me names. Forgotten the hard things that were said. So now, I can write to him about them from a different perspective. Not so much angry about what happened to me and more willing to report on it from a distance. More willing to see it for what it is...the life of a person who is real and has been true to himself, despite the words that were said and the deeds that were done. Less of a story about personal hurt and more of a story about what it was like.

And, this blog has been a big part of that. I can write about myself and what happened to me and what is happening to me now with confidence. Partly because I know I can express it in an interesting way. And, because I know that I'm not unique. Each of us has gone through one or more trials and while mine might have been different in circumstance, each of our stories is about how we became who we are today. I can tell that without getting angry about it. Anymore. And, maybe, if I'm lucky, he'll share his story with me.

And, you get a double dose of way back Wednesday today.

This morning, I taught my daughter to make pancakes.

I don't remember when I learned to make pancakes. I do remember telling my Mom one day that I always burned the first one of the batch. And, she said "honey, everybody burns the first pancake of the batch." I don't usually burn the first one anymore, but before she started, I did tell Sydney that there was no disgrace in burning the first one.

We greased the griddle. I still make pancakes on my Mom's cast iron griddle that I borrowed in 1982 (possession is 9/10's of the law, Mom). I showed her how to pour the batter so it didn't drip and how to watch the pancakes for bubbles around the edge that indicate it's time to turn it. I showed her how to wiggle the spatula as you push it under the cake and how to hold the spatula so it is almost parallel to the griddle. And, how to flip them without leaving a stream of batter all across the griddle and onto the stove.

She learns fast and was very proud that she didn't burn one. She made very little mess and the cakes were delicious.

If only I could get her that interested in cleaning up.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane


Norma said...

Not sure how I found you, but I am glad I did. It is so interesting to watch your journey though life. Todays post was thoughtful and gave me a lot to think about in my day. If more of us looked a little deeper into who we are and why, we would be much happier.

So, from a almost 63 year old grandma (Nana) who sews fabric together now and then, thanks.........

Becky said...

I love your stories, Lane. Both of these are wonderful! Have a great day!

lw said...

You were much kinder to the high school acquaintance who showed up on facebook than I would have been. I would have filtered him.

I saw George Takei speak last Thursday at Northrop (he came to my work! How cool is that? And me the biggest Trekkie on the planet!) He brought his husband, who is very nice. They are legally married (due to that 6 month loophole) and are working and supporting the fight in California that we're hoping goes all the way to the Supreme Court. I didn't realize that he and his family had been in the Japanese internment camps during WW2. I hope he (and you) gets to see his marriage legalized all over the country during his lifetime.

Tammy said...

Hi Lane,
I always enjoy reading your blog. You have such interesting stories to share and you write very well. I'm sorry your life has been so difficult growing up gay in the Southern U.S. I will tell you that Canada is a much more open-minded and free thinking country. For instance, gay marriage is legal here, why don't you, Rob and Sydney travel to Canada get hitched? I recommend July or August as you southerners would freeze your tails off in January!

Tell Sydney to try adding a chopped-up apple or cup of blueberries in the batter and a hint of cinnamon for extra yummy cakes.

Canada Day tomorrow...Happy 143th Birthday Canada!

Coloradolady said...

Lane, what a post, and just what I needed to read today. I know you remember my own fb saga and well, after several months, I'm not really sure I feel better about letting those from the past back in my life. (with an exception of maybe one) I have found of late, the very same hurts, insecurities, and feelings I don't really care for surfacing involving one person. And just yesterday, I had to ask myself WHY??? Why walk this road again....I am not that person of 25 years ago....I don't need this in my life at this point. It is rather difficult. FB did open up a lot of closed doors, and I don't really know how long I will keep this up.....somethings in my opinion are better left in the past.

Great post as always!!! And by the way, I always burn the first pancake too!!!

Cynthia L. said...

I realized I was gay when I was 16. It was still a tough time to be gay. (It was in the forward thinking 70's!) It is still hard now and I get angry and frustrated at the inequalities. If Big were to die now, I wouldn'g get any of her retirement, yet we pay every month for it. I never had a lot of friends when I was young (partly due to the major amounts of moving we did) so I don't really know what it would be like to have someone come back from the past. I know that it must bring up lots of memories, both good and bad. It is good that you have Rob and your baby girl and that you are happy. It sounds like he would be happier with a differnt life.

Rhoda said...

You're right in that all of us have things in our past that make us how we are today. Some things have to be dealt with in order to move forward. I congratulate you in your self-confidence and reaching the stage you are in now. Becoming an adult and working through all those things are a good thing.

Shirleymac said...

There are many people from my past that I'd like to see again to show them that the only opinion that matters, the only one that ever mattered, is my opinion of myself. You sound so confident now and I'm glad. I'm so sad that you can't get married. Can you marry in another State and still live in Texas? I know some States won't even allow that and that is wrong, IMO. You are happy in your relationship now, I wonder if he can say the same?

Nancy said...

Was the fellow from high school one of the ones who was cruel to you? If so, how could he possibly not remember? Perhaps he wants an opportunity to apologize? It's said that all things happen for a reason, but often the reason is not immediately obvious - such as why a husband of 28 years would divorce a wife who became disabled. I will never be the person I was before being "thrown away and aside from things being tight financially, I am not sorry to be away from him, but don't particularly like the changes it has brought in me. I don't know that I will ever again take a chance on a relationship and hate thinking I will live out my days alone, but I will just keep quilting and catching up on TV, and thank God for my blogging friends and for the friends who have stuck by me, some since gradeschool, which was a LONG time ago. My uncle and a dear B-I-L were gay and were two people I loved so very, very much, for everything that made each who he was. There is nothing wrong with you. We are as God made us, even if we do not understand they why behind it. God bless you and your family.