It is the end of the day, time to head home and I remember: I forgot to call a client who left a message earlier in the day. A good client and more importantly a nice man who I have an easy relationship with; I will leave a voice mail so he will know I did not forget.
The phone rings and he answers – I am not the only hard worker. Sotto voce he asks if everything is okay at home, am I alright. My heart skips a beat – what does he know, how does he know. Silently I brace myself and ask what he means? A pause and then he reminds of the postponement of the wedding – he had been invited and therefore he had been uninvited.
Jubilation – I am not outed. My professional life will not collapse, at least not today. Gladly I share the story of the postponement, of the fiancée with the staying power of a bad penny. We commiserate, discuss some business and then it really is time to head home. But first I call Carrie – as I share the story her heart also misses a beat at the appropriate moment.
Later in the evening we talk and Carrie tells me the hard truth. Someday that call will come – maybe months and maybe years, but as sure as the sun rises some day it will come. Maybe a slip of a tongue, maybe someone noticing a lunchtime pattern, maybe an e-mail left open on my screen. The possibilities are endless but the result is quite finite.
Now it is not that people do not know: my family knows; some of our friends know. Add it all together and probably a dozen individuals. Having them know is not a bad thing – almost comforting, a land without pretense. But that is different from general knowledge in the community, in my workplace. Would my job be in jeopardy? No. Would there be snickers? I’m sure. Would Carrie find it harder to work on a MOM in the face of the judgments? Absolutely.
But ultimately it comes down to the emotion I felt hearing those words over the telephone: A sense of feral fear. The road ahead is long indeed.