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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Escape, Part 5

Beginning of Beginnings

Ingles Abre Puertas

¡Hola, voluntários!

We’re excited to meet you in the coming weeks.  Remember that training will begin at Hostelling International on Cienfuegos in Santiago three weeks from Friday.  Training will take place everyday8-5 through the following Wednesday before you head off to your assignments.  We’re still in the process of tying down housing and teaching assignments, but don’t worry.  Everything will work out.  Again, don’t forget to send us your itinerary as we’ ll have someone waiting to pick you up. 

Léo

A sense of relief tugged at a corner of my heart.  Blanketed in the anxiety of building a new understanding of life, my chest had been in a state of static tension.  A tepid, undulating sensation rose slightly and slowly for a moment and receded like a morning tide over the beach.  Glimpses of hope for myself, for beliefs I’d lost and accepting the new life ahead of me lay in dates like the one I’d had with Charlie and with this opportunity to escape and find myself on another continent.  As in Canada the summer before, I felt I didn’t need to bring the metaphorical baggage of a year of identity-questioning torment.  I prepared myself to be me, but wondered just how much that was true and how much this conflict was a part of me

guy in contemplation

Moments of insight had been fleeting for months as questions inescapably hung like an albatross around my neck:  Have I really made the right call? Have I forgotten a piece of the greater picture? Is there a magic bullet solution for making my gay and Mormon parts of me work effortlessly in tandem?  Should I be as worried as I am about the possibilities of alcohol and sex as I am?  Was I right in the first place to prepare for a life alone?

My life was by no means a wreck, but my beliefs were.  Trust in yourself was the philosophy that tore people away from happiness according to what I’d learned in the past two decades of my life.  Why should I expect things to get any better in my own hands?  Are those glimmers of hope enough to abandon everything?

***

“That was the end of it.  I was prepared to do anything for him and then he faked a mental breakdown.  Everything seemed in reach.  Being a husband.  Being a provider.  Being a father to his kids….”

In a way, his monologue felt prepared.  He’d told the story before, emphasizing the same points, processing the trauma of the situation—the rejection, the anger, the frustration.  It was like an echo: pieces of the past faintly converging on the present, tempering themselves to the air, and becoming something else completely. 

japanese table

Dennis was going through a similar catharsis, which I considered as I fumbled around with my chopsticks practicing before I humiliated myself.  He’d lost his identity much as I had.  Instead of having a lover abandon me, I felt as if my beliefs had.  Emotional torment was nothing new.  I’d just finished a class on trauma in literature, which perhaps drew my attention to this aspect of my own pain.  He let me vent my own rejection, anger, and frustrations. 

Cross-legged at the floor table, he politely listened, meticulously preparing bites of steak, soy, and rice.  My concerns were nothing new.  He’d been in the same situation a year ago, and realized just as I had that we had much to offer one another in that moment.  We were more than damaged goods enduring one another’s stories so that we could get some action later.  He was intelligent enough to realize that and so was I. 

Perhaps that is why the date turned around quickly.  Once the painful was out of the way and once we knew we both cared, even the most embarrassing details of our life became endearing. 

“I’m the most unoriginal dater,” Dennis admitted.  “This is maybe my tenth first date here.  It just works.”

I looked across the table to his brown eyes, amber in the light of the lamps shaped like pagodas.  A befuddled smile appeared on his face revealing his notably large teeth. 

cute guy table smiling Dennis

“I’ve probably been on that many first dates this month,” I said as I felt the rippling sensation of a blush on my cheeks.

“Don’t worry.  We’ve all been there.”

Why would anyone want to hide those?, I thought to myself.

As we spent the rest of the night on his couch making out to the sound of John Hughes movies playing in the background, I asked, fearing I’d lose the chance falling asleep in the warmth and comfort of his arms, “When can we do this again?”

3 comments:

robert said...

"I prepared myself to be me, but wondered just how much that was true and how much this conflict was a part of me."


Was the preparation's veracity in question here? If so, were you preparing yourself to be in conflict?

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

I suppose what I came to realize here is the idea that "we are the sum of our experiences." Escaping the emotions of abandoning what seemed to be one of the main tent poles holding up my identity proved harder than I expected.

I don't think I'm communicating it very clearly here, but I'd underestimated the degree of this conflict in my identity. My preparation was in question because I was preparing to be a me free of this conflict when in fact it would remain a significant aspect of my identity.

A good edit is in store for that particular line when I revise and this series down the road.

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