Prologue to Book II
“There’s no denying what feels right. Knowing that I’m gay makes everything else make sense now. I know it’s hard to understand, but I can make it work. I know I can really have it all. I know I’ve got limits. I give a little and I take a little and it all works perfectly in its own way. I just can’t go anywhere beyond making out with another guy.”
“No, GMB, I don’t get it. You’ve never even kissed someone. How can you make a judgment like that? Even that seems kind of out of the question to me. No matter what you say, I don’t think I’ll ever find anything compatible with being gay and being Mormon. We all have to choose.”
With each iteration of my explanation, Cole responded with a congenial “Okay, but…” or an skeptical, drawn out “True….” I felt as if I was wasting my efforts—that my inklings of faith and my bulwark of reason making perfect sense to me in that moment were somehow lost on him. He was always the one I’d depended on, the one whose faith I had envied. And now I was the strong one? I was the one who could cite scripture and soothe a blighted spirit with a torch of hope?
It was later than I care to admit that I realized you find true friends in the irony of these reversals. I was never there to save him just as he was never there to save me; we were there for each other, standing like two sides of an arch.
A year of life tugged away the gossamer shreds of naiveté. Attempts to reconcile a life of dating and devotion proved more than difficult than I’d anticipated. As the reality set in, so did a subtle I-told-you-so brand of irony in my conversations with Cole.
“Do you remember when we had everything figured out?” I asked him one night as we drove home from a performance one night. “I remember when we would all pile onto Jacqueline’s couch and muse about the future.”
“I remember that,” he said nodding in acquiescence.
“After a party, the energy would ebb out until just a few of us were left and we’d talk about our future. We all saw ourselves married off and doing fantastic things with our lives by the time we were twenty-four. The one thing that seems to have worked out the way we’d expected is that Emily, Serenity, Jacqueline, you and me are still so close. It’s only partially the fact that we’re all still single.”
Drawing out the realization that needed to be aired in the starry spring night, he vivified the memories with the details of our communal fantasy: “…all of us in New York City pursuing the dreams we’d made for each other since our sophomore year of high school. You with some Angela Lansbury-type actress and me with my gorgeous, violinist wife. The girls off working in theatre and high-class confections.”
There was a pause. A reflection in the disparity of dreams and reality—not bitter, not sweet, just ironic.
“We thought we’d be married,” I reiterated. “It was almost like a promise we’d made to ourselves. We really were kids back then. Those were our fairytales. Mormon boys are Prince Charmings who grow up and get married. We have children sometimes when we are still children ourselves. And sometimes when we don’t even find ourselves attracted to girls—”
I stopped and glanced at Cole, worried I might have salted old wounds mentioning his broken engagement. He was calm and resolute. I realized the wounds were now scars, scars that had taken two years to heal. Now I was the one bleeding disillusion and mourning lost futures.
“Why can’t we have everything we were promised? A wife? Children? Infinite, eternal love? Even respect seems unattainable. Even feeling is wrong to everyone around us. We didn’t choose this. Nobody wants what we have.”
“Yes, but remember what feels right, what seemed to be the answer to a prayer way back when. You told me this is the bit of you that made everything else make sense. There’s no denying that bit of truth and there’s no denying what makes you happy. We’ve always been taught to choose truth and happiness and right.”
It was a matter of picking up the shattered pieces of my past and making them make sense. Cole didn’t say anything I hadn’t thought on my own. He was my best friend in that he simply offered the perspective I needed as I readjusted my grip on the steering wheel and our minds reminisced a simpler time when we had it all figured out.