My morning ritual of checking my e-mail accounts was rewarded yesterday with words of Frank sharing his emotions: his first Thanksgiving since his separation. And I realized there is a small crew, both here in my Blog world and in my HOW group, of men “celebrating” their first Thanksgiving since separating – Drew and Troll, Frank and a wonderful bear named Thom. I offered my prayers for what must be a tricky day.
I am not part of that group – my marriage is intact, my day is with my family. It was a small gathering by our standards – eleven instead of our typical sixteen or more. It was a success – eleven worked well – we could all talk at the table and all sit around afterwards. Carrie of course knew things were a little different and so did my sister. To the rest: just another turkey, just another incredible meal. (Have I mentioned that girl can cook!)
Before the company arrives Carrie and I lay down for a few moments. We had a good nights sleep, a relatively relaxing day, yet we are both drained. Can you spell depression? When the family is gone and the cleaning is done, we lie in bed and watch TV. Carrie finds Pretty Woman on cable – a movie familiar enough to fade in and out of., a movie about fairy tales not coming true, until of course the end when it does.
We hold hands and when they talk of the fairy tale – Vivienne in the tower and the knight on the white horse – I feel the tightening, I know the thoughts. For after a life in the tower – a life of abuse, of the unspeakable – I was the knight and only during the last five or ten years has she believed I would stay. To say that belief has been shaken would be gross understatement. She is quietly teary and for the first time in over four months I can finally find the tears. I have wanted them, looked for them, but they have been hiding.
I remember the last cry – it was the day after our daughters wedding, the day after I chose Fields of Gold for our official parent’s dance, the day after the lyric “there are promises I have broken” put an end to our dance, to our evening. It was still months before the realization, or more accurately, the acknowledgement that the marriage as once was will never be again, the acknowledgement of my being gay.
So Thanksgiving became the first milestone in this new life and while not separated, I find I am not as distant from Drew and Troll, from Frank and Thom as I had believed. And I start to think of other milestones, markers on my journey. The next is clear: Christmas, a day Carrie is already bracing for. She recently wrote and asked what she did to have a lump of coal in her stocking. The image will stay with me and worse, I suspect with her. She would have liked to have gone away, made believe it was not Christmas at all, but we started too late and it is not the easiest week to travel.
Next stop New Years. Not so bad. It always was a strange night and our best friends – yes they know – have suggested the four of us, a restaurant. Not a year for parties. And anyway, what can be so bad about a night that ends with Auld Lang Syne, the perfect maudlin moment to end the “perfect” maudlin year.
Then, not a holiday: just the moment that could break it all in a heartbeat. Last May while in Chicago for a conference I met a man: a gay man, a sweet man. We had a brief e-mail exchange, it felt right, and we had a wonderful fifteen hours together. For the first (and only) time in my life, I was free to be a gay man even if I was still working so hard at being “bi”. We have since corresponded spottily – we are both busy and we both felt an emotional connection that would only cause pain.
So on the first Friday in January I will board a plane, I will be met at the airport and I will again see Jerry. I will see if the remembered fondness was him or if the circumstances colored my vision. And either way on Sunday, back to O’Hare bound for home.
But in order for there to be Chicago, there will be two moments. The first when I walk out the door on Friday morning, carry-on in hand. Carrie will need to sleep alone Friday and Saturday nights. And then, hardest of all, the moment I walk back in the door Sunday evening. We spoke of that moment earlier and neither of us can envision it. A weekend, no explanations required, no illusions, and no need for don’t ask, don’t tell. I will not attempt a kiss as I walk through the door, yet I expect to climb into her – our – bed.
The hope that I walk in and announce he wasn’t so nice, it wasn’t such fun: can I come home now? We both know that will not happen. And if it is a good weekend, good for me that is, what is the conversation. Some mono-syllabic answers – “Fine”, a little lie – “Okay”. And beneath it all the fear: the fear that the answer will be a desire for more weekends.
They call today Black Friday – a retailers term - and as Carrie and I gaze forward there are clouds are on the horizon and the palette is dark.