Saturday, March 27, 2010

"It's the Things That Are Most Different About Us..."

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

"...That Make Us Most Interesting."

I've quoted this sentiment here before; it's my friend Richard's, and I think it's true. Earlier this afternoon, I was viewing a documentary on a woman I met more than 20 years ago at a lesbian dance-bar. She was telling her story for a gay history project and it touched me. I knew none of it, other than that when we met, she was still married and confused about what to do next with her life. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've written about her somewhere in this blog before, too, but prior to having any of the insight I gained today from the video.

She was stunning -- also dark-haired and blue-eyed and Jewish, but a number of years older than I. We left the club together and got into her convertible sports-car. It was summertime and she put the top down, but we never left the parking lot. I half-listened to her talk about her confusion, and meanwhile, was thrilled to have met a gorgeous, Jewish, likely lesbian woman of any age and tried to kiss her in response. She rebuffed me and I got out of the car, figuring, oh, well, she'll figure it out somehow, but not with me, I guess. I went home lonely and never saw her again...until six years ago, when we were at the same GLBT community benefit and I recognized her.

She was visibly older, but still beautiful, and I re-introduced myself to her as someone she had met nearly 20 years ago for just a single evening, and referring to the now-closed dance-club. She seemed not to remember me at all, and I guess that's what it's like to be unforgettably beautiful; you don't remember everyone who remembers you...or maybe she was chagrined to be reminded of that time in her past, or both. Either way, she was cordial, but I excused myself quickly, as I felt suddenly embarrassed to have failed at re-connecting platonically, despite our both now being in much more solid, settled places in our lives.

Humanity as a Revelation

The formerly married lesbian's story reminded me of how difficult it was for me, sometimes, to see others' humanity, and to reveal mine. In the case of our initial meeting, I focused on two of her features exclusively -- her beauty and her Jewish identity -- and didn't want to think about the rest, i.e., that she was tortured about being married at the time and (as I learned from the documentary) had 20 years more of life experience than I, plus an oldest child who was just eight years younger than I.

The other night on Facebook, I posted a link to a CNN story on people who lose a parent(s) when young, and prefaced it with:
I lost my dad of blessed memory to cancer when I was 17. The survey's sponsor reminds me of the grief group I went to for high school kids who had lost a parent(s) in Hartsdale, NY. I was so grateful that my mom found it for me. I went every Wednesday night from December thru June of my senior year of high school.
I was surprised at two comments in response by Facebook friends I knew in high school and after college, who both said they had no idea I had lost my dad. The first respondent said that she had also lost her father at a young age, which I never knew, and the other one was a heterosexual guy trapped in a lesbian woman's curvy body when I knew him, which I did not know at the time.

Why didn't I know about my high school classmate's dead father when we were in high school? Why didn't I know about my then-lesbian friend's gender identity struggle when he was in the midst of it? Why didn't they know about my father's (z"l) death till the other night? All I can say is that this blog and how I live today are reparations to myself for having been so closed off, and maybe the pendulum has swung too far in the self-disclosing direction. Still, I feel that I have been making up for what I experienced as lost time, when I was so self-contained that no one knew much about me, other than that I was typically nice, was funny sometimes, and while in my early-twenties, was ultra-amorous.

Fortunately, I have lived long enough and matured sufficiently to see the humanity of my high-school classmate; my post-college friend; and the gorgeous, lesbian mother...and to try to show them more of mine.

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