Saturday, October 11, 2008

Channeling My Feelings Through Writing

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...No Matter How Naked I Feel

What if you were somewhat observantly Jewish, and at synagogue during Rosh Hashanah, you found out that one of your friends from another time and place was serving jail-time? Or what if right before Yom Kippur, you learned that another friend had killed himself in the past week?

Would you mourn the memories of the fun you had with these two friends, and then want to escape into fantasy? And what if you were also a lesbian, and serendipitously -- around the time you had this series of tragic news -- a girlfriend from nearly 20 years ago had contacted you through LinkedIn?

Just Like the Summer of '82

During my dad's last summer, and after his death, I wished I could escape my grief through affirming life (in this case, that's a polite way of saying, through sexual activity). I was 17 and managed wholly with another girl, and partly, with a boy.

Whenever I'm faced particularly with the death of a loved one, I want to leave the painful emotion for experiences that are more body-focused. Like now. Why did my friend lose all hope?

I hope tomorrow will be more fun than today. I hope to be recognized as useful and funny by nearly everyone I meet. I hope that 5769 (2008-09) will be a good year. I hope to be honest enough to write what I wish to write here (see below).

Dreaming at Night

Last night, I dreamt that I was going to be intimate with the woman who had found me through LinkedIn. Pat did not even exist in the dream. And in the dream, the object of desire and I had gone to the same nursery school -- not the case in real-life.

Since my mother wasn't home, we headed over to the house, where I grew up. We looked like we were in our 20s again, but we were our current ages.

Unaware of her daughter's and my desire for each other, her mother invited herself over to my mother's house, and then the woman's younger brother appeared at my mother's house as well. (I don't recall if she has a brother in real-life.)

Finally, we excused ourselves and went down the hall to the bedroom of my childhood, where we began to touch [each other] in earnest, and unfortunately, I woke up very soon after she and I were finally alone.


Usually, I call my mother on the way to work or while driving home. Yesterday, her line was busy in the morning, and so I spent the 60-minute commute mostly thinking about the LinkedIn woman. And then after I spoke with my mom during the commute home, I fantasized further about the woman I knew nearly two decades ago.

Her profile-photo was beautiful -- like I remembered her. She had hardly changed. We met on New Year's Day, 1989, if I remember correctly. She was a cellist by avocation, and played at my friend's New Year's potluck brunch. (Was there a more appealingly-shaped musical instrument than the cello, particularly when it was surrounded by her?)

She was tall, blue-eyed, long-necked, with wavy, blond hair to her shoulders, and a flashy, white, exciting smile. Even as I write this, she becomes an object for me again. In hindsight, I ended up feeling guilty at how I objectified her while we were together back then. Still, I see that she has remained more of a focus for my desire than a full-fledged human being.

When will I learn that packages are just that? The description of her that I just provided nearly matches that of another woman with whom I was involved while in my 20s, who was actually male inside; a number of years later, he transitioned to his natural gender.

The daydreaming did not include my above packaging reflection, though. It was strictly about replaying scenes from our ardent time together, like the sub-zero-degree, Chicago night when we stood by the lake and she took my hands out of my mittens and warmed my fingers with her mouth.

Recalling Our One Weekend Away

Something in her resisted being objectified, though, or maybe she was just being romantic and hospitable; right before we broke up -- my rolling stone was incapable of gathering any moss back then -- she invited me to visit her hometown for the weekend, to stay at her mother's. Her mother was kind to me, and -- in real-life as opposed to the dream -- was aware of her daughter's and my relationship. She heated Lender's frozen bagels for our breakfast, since she knew I was Jewish and thought that they'd make me feel more at home -- Wow, nothing like a wonderfully welcome reality-check in the middle of fantasizing:

It Wasn't Suicide!

Our friend's brother just called and said the doctor found that our friend had died of heart-failure. His brother, Pat and I had jumped to the conclusion that it was suicide, since he had been depressed perennially, but probably, it was simply a heart attack.

"Are you sure his brother's not just trying to make us feel better?"

"No," Pat said, "Heart disease runs in their family, his brother said, and that he's got it, too. He had just talked to him on Monday night."

He had died on Tuesday.

We're still not happy that he's dead, but a bit less stricken by the news.

Pat changed computers and didn't have any e-mail from our friend from before mid-2005. Fortunately, I had notes from as far back as 2001. Our friend was *so* funny. He once sent us a photo of himself in high school, with his prom-date.

Pat responded by e-mail, "The things we did to try and fit in. I have a few of these type pics myself. I definitely don't miss those days!!!"

He wrote back, "Yeah, but at least she was a top."

Trying to Borrow Some of Our Friend's (z"l) Sense of Humor

Our friend was hilarious, even when he was sad. Unfortunately, our friend didn't find a lasting love of his own in his lifetime. Pat always prayed to herself, at every Shabbat service we attended, after the silent Amidah, that he would find love. He wanted to find a partner, but wasn't lucky like Pat and me.

Wow, that really helps bring me back from fantasy-land -- appealingly distracting as it was when I wished to be distracted -- to remind me of my gratitude for Pat's and my 16-plus-year relationship. This isn't where I express guilt for having had my day and a half's worth of reminiscing about a past girlfriend. I could go on about her further, but now, I'm no longer in the mood, as reality's even better, all told.

If only the jailed friend turned out to be untrue! I pray that my friend's able to find peace, and yes, even laughter again ultimately, if not while still in prison.

Aren't I blessed, though? I mean, how lucky to have the luxury of thinking back to a time of delayed-adolescent behavior from the vantage-point of someone, who managed to become reliable and monogamous.

Do I sound authentically pleased right now? I'm not sure. I do miss the adventurousness of then, but not at all the loneliness before and after practically every experience with every woman I ever dated back then.

Our friend's legacy was that we should keep laughing. With Pat, I can do that. Pre-Pat, life was funny only when I was in the company of friends like the one, who went to jail. My other funniest friend, pre-Pat, died of AIDS. Nothing's funny about either one's fate...nor about our friend's -- the one, who just died -- but at least, it was likely a matter of nature, taking over, and not our friend, opting to end his life due to hopelessness. All we can do is keep laughing for as long as we last. Laughter is the voice of hope.

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