Its funny how one thought leads to another, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart and soul. Of late I have been pondering if and when one tells children, particularly adult children. This has been of particular interest because Anna is twenty-six, residing under my roof and well aware of a certain stress level in the home – some of which relates to her erstwhile fiancé, but clearly there is more.
We celebrated Thanksgiving and as I have already written, the maintaining of a false façade, the putting on a brave face, took its toll on us. So I wonder why not tell Anna – I am not ashamed, or at least should not be. It is a fact of life. She is close with her Mom and this would explain all sorts of things. But there is the other side of the coin: her plate is full, she is still our child, not our equal: so my therapist questions who I am sharing for – her or me. The answer is easy – this would be for me, for my own guilt, my own needs. It is easy to step back and not pursue this.
Back from the therapist and there on my HOW group: an e-mail. Jasman writes of his choice not to tell his children, similar in age to my younger ones. His logic mirrors my own and I jump right in with my assent. Simple enough. A series of fifteen responses later, I am unchanged in my conclusion but deeply chastened and changed in my thoughts.
I have written of coming out – my siblings, some close friends, of course my wife. And most recently to myself, for when I came out to all the others I was still quite in the dark. But as I read the e-mails yesterday, I realized that I am not out at all. I have remodeled – traded in that little closet for a walk-in: quite roomy, well appointed, large enough to hold a few people. It cannot hold the entire group that knows because they are segmented, they would never crowd in at the same time. The whole crowd at once would almost be like being out – can’t let that happen.
Simultaneous with this, another thread, different yet really the same: I have Sam, my lunchtime squeeze. We get together, we talk, and yes we do more, much more. It works well. But Sam is more deeply closeted than me – his is not a walk-in – and our meetings are limited, stolen moments during the work day. Still not a bad deal and one Carrie seems inclined to tolerate for the moment.
So what does Nate do – he goes online, visits American Airlines and voila – a roundtrip to Chicago, a return to the “glories” of last May. First week of January: we are good to go. Now one can leave a spouse guessing as to whether today is lunch or “lunch”, even I can maintain a silence. But a weekend away – we have discussed it in these pages already: there will always be the leaving and worse, there will always be the return home.
The tickets are cheap enough – they can be burned, I can stay home. But it is too late for that: I have made a statement and frankly Carrie and I both want our lives to move forward. To skip Chicago now only to re-visit in six months – what does that really do for either of us? So Chicago it will be but it is now clear that when I return there will be a simple enough question. Is the trip to Chicago with its underlying premise of truly being out, if only for a weekend, a beginning or an end?
For it is now clear that upon my return I can remain in the newly built closet, have my discreet dalliances and maintain our home. Or I can choose to make return trips to “Chicago.” And if I choose the route of “Chicago”, even if the play moves to Broadway, there will be a price – a substantial price: the closet will be gone and I will find myself in uncharted waters.
Oh yes, the title: “That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball.” The thing is that none of our kids (at least not mine and god willing, not yours) are deaf, dumb and blind. And treating them as such carries its own set of risks: issues of trust and respect. Issues not to be taken lightly.