Sunday, January 14, 2007

see through

When I was was seventeen--I don't remember exactly--my mom asked me to go somewhere with her, on some errand up in Montgomeryville. So I went. I had a very tense relationship with my mom those days. And my behavior was out of control. I stayed out all night. I cut school. I was a badass. On our way back from doing whatever it was she had to do, driving in the dark (it was almost winter) in her battleship-gray huge-engined Ambassador wagon with the posi rear (any good motorhead will know what that is), the engine thrumming and the enclosed air dense with the smoke from her cigarette, she was talking and out of nowhere she said "I have to ask you a question. If something were wrong, if you had a problem, a real problem, would you tell me?" I was surprised. "Yeah," I said, but I didn't mean it. "Why are you asking?" "Please don't get mad at me. You know how important you kids' privacy is to me. But I found your journal, and I read something in it that scared me. You were writing about harming yourself."

see through

I sat, stone-faced and silent. I was furious. I could not believe she had done that. The silence was thick. I started to yell and then she cut me off, said "are you gay?"

I almost exploded. "No I'm not gay." My words fell like stones. I didn't know I was gay. I didn't understand myself. I liked girls. I messed around with girls. I felt something about guys, but I thought, caught as I was in the crazed horniness of adolescence, that it was not attraction, just a response to the high-tension-sexual-atmosphere-at-all-times of my age. The only gay men I knew were freaks, outcasts, perverts, and pedophiles. They were readily identified, understand, but no one ever talked about it. Whispers, maybe. Like Mr. White, in sixth grade, with his photography club, all boys, the most popular ones, of course. Since I didn't respond to my mom's question, she went on. "It wouldn't matter to me. I would still love you. I would just worry about you, that you would have a hard life, a lonely life."

Now I think of that conversation, and I still feel mad. I know she meant well, but she wasn't really thinking of what would help me. She was thinking of herself. That's what she mostly did.