I’m one of the lucky ones. I could also write, “I guess I’m one of the lucky ones”, but guessing has nothing to do with it. When a statement is preceded by “I guess” it implies inevitability, resignation, a sense of fait accompli, fate; as if the other party, the one that changed your luck, your hand suddenly full of aces, had nothing to do with your happiness, existence, being. So, no, I was right to not write “I guess”.
But I am one of the lucky ones. When you read the letter my mother wrote to my father’s sister on the occasion of the birth of her third daughter (nine months my junior), you’ll begin to understand how parents, proud as they are of their accomplishment, still only consider the one outcome: their child will be just like them. There will be no variation from the script, no ad lib, no jazz scat, no flourish, no extra color, you will be just like them. At that young age, they are already defining the roles they naturally assume you’ll play (acting not yet your thing.)
What happens then when, one day—let’s say when you’re five or six, eight or nine, twelve or thirteen, the age doesn’t really matter–the sudden realization hits them, you are not quite fitting the mold they had prepared themselves for you to fit into? They most likely will set this discovery aside, for who could think such a thing of a young child? They’ll adopt a wait-and-see attitude, their minds racing back to the beginning of your time; what signs did they miss, what roadside attractions did they drive right by with you sitting in the seat next to them? “Impossible,” they’ll tell themselves; “this is just a phase,” they’ll reason; “why, there’s just no way that this difference could be true,” they’ll whisper to themselves as they turn their steely-blue gaze in your direction as you sit at the piano practicing your scales.
You, on the other hand, will continue on your way, blithely ignoring the scrutiny suddenly directed at your every move, thought, consideration; you might even think “what’s up with them?” in the most abstract of ways, “parents” you’ll harrumph should you be of an age to harrumph, and shut your bedroom door to read by the open window this one summer, the smell of honeysuckle and the click-clacking of cicadas your balm against the abrasion of their fear. Should it manifest itself in the sudden “let’s go hunting!” or “it’s time you learned how to change the oil in the car!” or “you’ll need to dig 50 post holes for the new fence we’re putting up [around your life] the backyard,” you’ll not understand their fear, instead you’ll pout and whine and do their bidding—they are, after all, your parent(s).
I was one of the lucky ones. For, in spite of every attempt to ‘make me a normal boy’ — all of which failed, BTW — my difference was never a topic of discussion between my mother and I. Regardless of the drama of being a gay child in a straight world and there is a lot of drama, I knew I was loved and that made all the difference. Parents are you listening? It’s such a simple idea, you’ll be surprised you hadn’t thought of it sooner. I never felt I had to ‘come out’ to my mother and I never said the words, “I’m gay” to her. And for her part in this existential stage play (so much waiting, so little arriving), she never asked, she never pushed, well, okay, maybe once or twice she might have said when I was a teenager, “do you have a special girl?” or “I’d like to have grandchildren one day”, but it was always done with such a light touch of amusement, that I never considered it a disappointment to her when I replied, “no, I’m lucky just to have you.”
Wurzburg, 16 Nov.
Dear June & 1,2,3,4.
It’s early in the morning. & I must go to commissary so will dash this off so I can mail it. We were so glad to hear you finally had a big baby girl. Of course, we were all for a boy, but girls are so sweet & nice. Butchie is sweet, but he’s so masculine. Right now he’s feeling pretty sorry for himself–he has a terrible cold–it’s loose–thank Heaven–but his nose runs & I know he feels miserable. He has 5 teeth & is trying to get more & of course that makes him fussy. He is so big he’s a handful to care for. I’m going to call the Dr. & see if he wants to see him or if there is something I can do more for him here at home.
Got a lovely big package from Mom the other day. All the little packages are wrapped so pretty & look so Christmassy. Seems like I can’t get the spirit until her package comes, but she sends it so early it’s an awful strain to have those mysterious packages around so long & not be able to peek.
Lee finally got home from school — he was gone 5 weeks & only home once in that time. It seemed like years. He is going back for advanced training but I’m praying today that he can’t go ’till January. Today is the day he’ll find out for sure. He left me the car today so I can finish my shopping & get my packages off. I know 15th was supposed to be the deadline, but I never can quite make it. Surely hope you don’t feel you have to dash around & work yourself into a fit to send us a box–after all you’ve just had a new baby & if you just send Best Wishes we’ll understand & be perfectly happy. We’re not putting out much this year–even one baby is added expense–don’t know what we’d do with 3.
My little guy just messed his pants so had better stop & get him cleaned up & my house looks like a cyclone struck it–it always does on Mon. morn.
We have a parakeet who chirps loud & long & Robert Lee sits 10 minutes at a time & shakes his head at him. It’s funny.
Love to you all–send pictures & data–name, etc.
Evelyn & family.