Ten Years Ago, Part 4 of 4
November 6, 2005. Mary carts trash and recyclables picked up on one of our walks.
On Christmas Day 1995, after visiting my friend Helen in the hospital, Mary and I had shared an hours-long walk in calf-deep snow by the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We celebrate December 25 as our anniversary -- our tenth this year -- but much had happened to prepare me for the journey.
Journal excerpts: December 1995, continued....
12/29/95 12:57 pm. Last night, at Grendel's -- M tells me his girlfriend has moved out, I tell him about Mary. Both of us are frightened.
He hadn't realized, until I told him, the impact the tapes have had on me. No reason he should have. I suspect he sees the intensity of his way of interacting as something common, experienced by a majority of people because the milieu of his social life is one of intensity and candor.
I say call if you need to talk. Being completely open and candid because I can do so without feeling threatened, because I can do so as a friend. At one point he removed his glasses and wiped at red-rimmed eyes. We told each other how we've cried over the past week.
When I told him of my own process, my reaction to his own, I said outright that I might be projecting at times -- that enough dovetails so that I'm not sure any more. This is new for me -- I don't tell people this. There is something so deep that I am in some ways fearless. I could tell him how I value our discussions for the emotional intimacy, and I could tell him how hard it is for me to admit, out loud, to that kind of need.
We were to discuss the abuse, and did so briefly; but instead we discussed spiritual connection. He is beginning to see the cyclical flow, the internal/external/joined quality of what he calls God energy. He still tries to define, to distinguish. I accept, and observe.
He'd sent out a New Year's poem to friends, including to me. Realizing that he can do this, can make this outreach. I told him I thought it was wonderful -- I look forward to getting it and replying.
We stopped at Bread & Circus -- he needed to pick up some food for a friend of his who is down with the flu. I went with him, served as tour guide for the aisles.
He knows he rationalizes his father's actions. ("Yes," I said, "I noticed that on the tapes.") Told him that when he forgives his father, it is equally, if not more important, for him to forgive and accept parts of himself. He thought very healthy my battles with my own father, wished he could have done the same with his own. I explained how I've needed to deal with my own father-within.
He'd invited me to come with him to his friend in Boston -- I declined because I needed to straighten up the apartment for dinner tonight with Mary. She called as I was picking up my apartment, the hymns of Hildegard von Bingen playing on the CD.
We were on the phone for an hour and a half, much of it somber. Too somber. I need to ask her what brings her joy.
We exchange information. There is a certain depth of communication that we have not yet reached. Something not there, or not yet there. And yet there is nurturance, and caring. I feel cared for. And so I need to take this one step at a time. Deal with issues like common interests. More and more I am seeing that I draw what I need from multiple sources -- there is no be-all and end-all person. At least, I don't think there can be one for me.
I feel pulled at by different forces both internal and external. And so I really need to take this moment by moment, let the sands shift and see where they are shifting. I need to probe, to ask questions. We need to get to know each other better.
12/31/95 10:27 a.m. Friday night was wonderful. Long talk, play with the cats, laughter -- finally I could see Mary’s lighter side and I like it a lot.
She’d brought a button for me -- “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood,” the same one I’d sent to my childhood friend E -- and The Secret Garden.
She’d grown up in a house filled with books. The whole family read science fiction. Music was largely limited to The Kingston Trio, but she enjoys classical, and I’ll try to get another ticket for the next Boston Symphony Orchestra concert in my series. She also likes to dance -- may join me for dinner and dancing next Friday.
She recited poems she’d memorized, including a very witty one she’d written in high school as an assignment, on teacher politics, that my mother would have gotten a kick out of. We talked until almost 2AM. She crashed on the sleeper couch -- we are both, after years of celibacy, taking this one step at a time. We hugged long and hard, kissed gently.
Saturday we visited Helen -- I stayed longer, after seeing Mary down to the exit door. Assuring Helen I’d be back. Helen now is eating at least a little solid food and hopes to be out in a few days. The next time I visit I’ll be bringing some polish to do her nails.
M’s poem had arrived: simple, joyous. With much love. Love pouring over and through and around me from all sides, wonderfully dizzying. I need to flow with it, trust it. I am, quite frankly, in a state of awe. That this is possible and that it is happening.
Now that I’ve become more involved in a same-sex relationship, I am that much more conscious of societal stigma and feel more of a personal need, in addition to my current activities, to support the community. At the same time, I’ve invited Mary to join me in my other, mixed gender activities, and she’s interested. So there is a twined process here: we are a couple and are going out as a couple, including among friends. And we are also a couple in a society of heterosexual privilege.
I had known, long before this -- in fact had known 20 yrs ago -- that as soon as I became involved with a woman I would be dealing with societal realities on a new level. In the intervening years I have dealt, to one extent or another, with being a woman in a male-oriented world, and being a Jew in a mostly Protestant nation that caters more and more to the Christian Right. I can only hope I am tough enough and soft enough at the same time. I feel there is more, now, that I need to protect.
Mary and I talk things out, which to me is very refreshing. We don’t rush, but our navigation is shared.