Last night KA and I awoke and asked each other that timeless question – Why aren’t you sleeping? Her stomach is bothering her; my brain hurts. There is silence and I fill it: I am writing a post in my head, a post about the prior evening. I tell her the basics. Two hours later the post is different, but I realize that is not true. The post is there: I just have another to add. So here is the post I was writing.
If I speak I the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Our daughter, my step-daughter of sixteen years, was married Friday. KA and I each brought children to our marriage and we each supplied one good kid and one challenging – okay more than challenging – children from hell. You have met mine already- twenty years old, out of detox and into AA.
If I give away all my possessions… but do not have love, I gain nothing.
So we sit in Church as Jane is married. The lead-up to the wedding has been difficult. The backdrop of my coming out and the foreground of bridezilla –a mantle she proudly wears.
Love is patient; love is kind.
There has been fighting this week – open warfare and stealth passive aggression: I have to my embarrassment engaged in both. I have not been alone. With Jane nothing goes easy. She is the center and she already knows all the answers.
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.
Jane and I have made our own peace over the years. We are similar. We are headstrong. We have egos forged of steel. We can fight and we can move on. We leave much collateral damage in the person of her mother – my wife. KA watches as we suck the joy out and then move on as if that is normal.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
For a smart man, I have blind spots. I hold KA’s hand, listen to the obligatory reading. Well, maybe listen is too strong a word: if I had been listening, I would have realized the words, our life, the damage and the hurt of the last many months.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Most men, men in our circumstances, would hear these words. They would have special, painful meaning.
Off to the party. And what a party it was. A grand success in the eyes of our families and friends. There were a special few there, a few who knew of our lives, our inner lives.
My gay nephew and his partner dance – wow, they can dance. Swing dancing, proper steps and twirls. Everyone notices. It is a good thing. This is a new world. It is a joy to behold.
KA is watching and I know what is in her mind. It is inescapable: she read my post Fifteen Hours; she remembers my talking of dancing in a gay bar in Chicago. The party is going fine.
I had met the DJ earlier in the week and we needed a song for KA and I – for the parents - our dance. The choice was easy.
I never made promises lightly.
As we dance she hears the words and stiffens slightly.
And there have been some that I have broken.
She hears the words; she pulls away; we will not dance again on this night. We will barely talk.
The wedding ends: a grand time had by all. We find ourselves in our bed – our marital bed if you would. It is late. KA has drunk a little too much, eaten way too little. She will not remember the details of this conversation in the morning – just the emotions. I considered hiding behind the excuse – it was the alcohol talking, but I knew what really happened. For a moment the defenses were down, the shell was removed, the truth was on the table. She ignored my first few entreaties – What’s wrong? Then she answered.
I remember it all – not in order, not in a fully coherent fashion, but I remember it all. She wanted to know what I expected. She has a husband who likes sex with men. She does not have a penis – she can never give me that. She believes me to be gay in denial. She does not really believe in being bi: she sees it as do many, including some who read and comment here, as a way station or a shield to hide the truth. She listened to the readings in the Church; they hurt. She watched my nephew and his lover dance – she points out they are the lucky ones: they have the whole package.
She tells me she will always love me. She is in no hurry; I should take six months or a year. But I should figure out who I am – who I really am and what I really want. I listen – what is there really left to say. Finally I mumble – me, so good with words – I mumble, I just don’t know. She thinks for a moment and says I have had fifteen years to decide. I will say no more that evening. Her words cut me to the bone. They cut not because of meanness on her part, not because of any ill will. They cut with the sharpness that can only come of truth. A dozen years after Washington, after spending my first night with a man and two and a half months after my fifteen hours with Jerry in Chicago, one would think that if I was ready to renounce my gay side, I would have figured that out. Fifteen years; it hurts.
Last night KA and I discussed it all. We are calm; we work on a plan for ourselves. It is another post for another day but I would be remiss in not adding just a little.
She talks of reading some blogs, e-mailing some spouses. I tell her she would get along with Ben’s wife. She says she knows: they both believed 1 Corinthians. And there in lies the problem. I suspect Ben and I believed it too. And it is so hard to reconcile what I do, who I am, with 1 Corinthians.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.