Five Octobers

In Honor of National Coming Out Day

imag001October 2009:

I was home recovering from hernia surgery. I gave him a drum for our tenth anniversary. I hobbled around. I leaned giant poster boards up against the walls in my home office, driven by concentric circles, visual attempts to map out my inner landscape, the worlds within worlds that were as intimate to me as own body and as unrelenting as children in their demand for my attention. I didn’t notice National Coming Out Day. I convinced myself in words that I was learning to settle myself, but my restlessness suggested otherwise.

National Coming Out Day 2010:

A few months after bursting out of the closet and a hellish summer, I began a full-time job after several years of self-employment. I was newly separated, couch-surfing on my nights without my girls, and in a relationship that still carried the intensity of an affair. The weight I’d lost hadn’t come back yet, and my nervous system was still mirroring the speed of light. The euphoria of being out was often eclipsed with grief and a sense of chaos that would take time to sift through and integrate. In a word: I was a mess. But it was a mess I had to move through after a lifetime of avoiding messiness.

October 2011:

I bought the house. Made ends meet. And wrote these words: Somewhere, in the desert, a woman I love but have never met grieves her mother, exposed to the sky her spirit fills. Unbeknownst to me, this woman I already loved but had not yet met would become my lover, my wife. My life.

National Coming Out Day 2012:

One year ago, I shared the last of the old journal entries, the ones that address the ubiquitous, curious question: “Did you know?” Me at fourteen–suffering, curious, crumbling, reaching upward. I didn’t keep the journals, and in the end, it was a clear choice. I was able to tell that girl she no longer needed me to tote her around in a musty book, in a wooden peach create, in a basement, in a closet. And that was that.

October 11, 2013:

The need to loop back, over, and through lessens with each passing year, month, week, day, moment. It is a habit, like questioning or talking myself out of my feelings, that no longer really serves much purpose, though I still do it sometimes. I remember where I am by looking out the window and seeing the fall colors, the same as they are every year and yet of course not the same at all but brand new, never before and never again. My first child turned eleven yesterday. It has been just over a year since we left Vermont, and life here has begun to have a shape that will keep on shifting and expanding.

Sometimes, I forget. I think I am the same person I was before I came out. And it’s not that that isn’t true; the difference is that I am both less tolerant — of the endless retrospective, of the shrouds of identity, layer after layer, of self-absorbed or simply abstract language, of experience that is talked about but not real, which isn’t experience at all, of romancing the past rather than loving the present — and more tolerant — of the fact that each and every one of us has our closets and our coming-outs, our gains and our losses, our initiations and our moments when life hand-delivers the invitation, takes us by the shoulders, and insists we surrender, once and for all saying yes to being what we were born to become: ourselves. To infinity, and beyond.

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