Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just a Shortie

I was thinking about someone today.  An authority figure from way back when.  She was great, had a real way with kids.  While I knew her pretty well, I pulled back rather than becoming truly close, because--well, because my sister fancied herself close, and every time I mentioned the woman's  name, I got a whole bucket-load of "I know her better than you do/I was more important to her than you are."  At the time, I was just a kid and still let that crap affect my choices.

Anyway, this woman was gay.  Absolutely, not a doubt about it.  At 17, my "gaydar" was finely tuned, and she set all the bells and klaxons to sounding.  Sadly, she'd grown up in Utah, and was firmly in the clutches of the predominant faith.  And so she was single for most of her life, though there was one sad, very short, failed marriage punctuating her middle age.

And then there was that period of time she broke free.

For a couple of years, she threw caution to the wind and moved a few hundred miles away with a GIRLFRIEND.

I was so happy for her!  I never said anything, of course, because she denied.  She insisted that the woman just a "friend."  But my crazy, late friend/ex-roommate lived with these women for half a year, and they were absolutely lovers.

I imagined a long, happy life for these women.  I imagined that finally, joyously, my old friend would have the existence she deserved--one where she got to be who she was, and got to be with the person she loved.

And then it ended.  I don't know how or why, all I know is that she's now a much loved aunt and friend and mentor who is . . . alone.  For decades, alone.  She's in her mid-sixties now, and she is firmly under the foot of that faith that, to be absolutely blunt, robbed her of her life.

Anyway, this isn't meant as a condemnation of the Mormon Church (though I'll gladly offer those up upon request, along with any other joy-sapping, cash-slurping, paternalistic ideological sinkhole mythology-house you wanna discuss), but rather a lament.  60+ years old, and never really free to be.  Does she regret it?  Is she angry?  Resentful?  Or worse, is she just completely cowed and doesn't realize that she could have shaken off the mythology and been happy at any time she dared?

Being who she is and and seeing how she was reared, could she have dared?

She was always a terrifically kind and concerned woman who made a career of doing what she could to help kids.  She deserved better.

So when you see another state fall to the "scourge" of marriage equality, think of her.  Think of what her life could have been, had she grown up in a culture that embraced and nourished rather than stomped down and constrained.  When you see another child being bullied by kids looking to enforce their parents' faith and cultural norms, remember her.  And imagine, like I always have, just how different, how wonderful, how kind and beautiful her existence could have been, had she not been trapped in a society full of bullies who, like grit in a tumbler, make it their life's work to grind away the edges and curves that make us who we are meant to be.

An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.

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