DISCLAIMER: While this blog does not contain crude language, it does deal with deep and controversial topics. Please be open to that if you decide to proceed.
I learned an important lesson this past weekend: memories are what you make of them in your own head. This means that the amount of melodrama associated with those memories is more or less based on how emotionally attached you are to them. I can attest to this on a purely personal level. When I graduated high school last year, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I would see the few people I still cared about. I knew that I would reunite with them at their graduation. Well, that night has come and gone, and what I realized was that I set my expectations too high in regards to what I expected from it. I looked forward to seeing those few people because I had a preconceived idea about how strong our relationship actually was. But nothing went the way I thought it would. It instead left me with an empty void that I am trying now to fill.
I’ll open this blog post by first sharing with you a heartfelt anecdote that has been alluded to in previous blogs, which will help to create meaningful context for the lesson I learned. In high school, I had two close friends. One of them was female; she was the only person I really felt completely comfortable around, as we did share everything together. I never fully trusted her because she has lied to me; this of course led to an eventual fallout that resulted in a fake friendship towards my high school end. Though, I was still enticed to see her because of how many hoops we went through together. After I moved to Florida, we continued to talk every other month because we still felt connected in a way. Though, after 2015’s end, she never contacted me. I called her multiple times, left her voicemails, and sent her texts. But I got nothing in return. At first I assumed that her phone service simply sucked (since our few phone calls were exemplary of that). But then I realized that I was being too naïve. I didn’t realize that her graduation this past Friday would have been the next time I’d be in contact with her.
My second friend, male, was not quite as open. We went through considerably more hoops because we didn’t start out as friends. In fact, we were enemies of each other because our parents were enemies of each other. This was in middle school of course, so it makes sense that our behavior was juvenile. After my year of home school, we gradually became friends even though it was a slow process. Each high school year was considerably better than the last, and by the time my graduation came he was only one of two people I would miss. I screwed up at one point, though, by breaking his trust early during my senior year. I left him alone for a while because I realized that I was wrong. By the time we had another personal conversation, I warned him not to trust me because of our history; this was because I wanted him to know that I was conscious of what had happened. Over time, I started sharing personal things too, so that our relationship was less partitioned. And when my senior year came to an end, we realized that we both made mistakes. But we didn’t dismiss our obvious friendship because of that. This person, by the way, is the same person I talked about in last year’s Black Flags and What We Become. So give those a read for additional context.
I left high school with unanswered questions between both friends. For her, I knew we had rough patches. But I never knew whether or not she truly respected me as a friend. And in case you didn’t know (which you likely did not), she was a big motive for writing my blog, The Things That Harm Us
. The reality is that she never treated me with the same respect that I treated her with. It was always about when it was most convenient for her. Sure, I felt comfortable with her, but that’s only because she was the only person from high school who knew I was gay (based on explicit confirmation from me, anyway). When she shared that she was bisexual, I felt like our friendship had blossomed. But I was wrong; she still made it clear that she was going to do what she wanted. Our final face-to-face conversation was the night of my graduation, a year ago, in which she lied to me when she told me that she was allowed to drive me to our reserved table at graduation dinner. This caused a fiasco since my entire extended family was waiting at the restaurant while I was caught in a situation that delayed the dinner for nearly thirty minutes. But yet again, I forgave her – doesn’t mean anything got resolved, however.
Now with my male friend, things were quite different. This was because we actually treated each other with mutual respect, as true friends should. By the end of my high school, he was the only person that reached out to me to let me know how much I meant to him. But this left an open-ended question: Would that change if he knew I was gay? My friend happens to be straight and very conservative. I am neither of these things. So then, why do I miss him so much? I never really cared about people’s political beliefs because I always gave people a chance. He and I have a particular history that exhibits the constructs of how true friendship develops. Our friendship did, however, confuse my family who still felt hostile towards the school (and his mom as a result, since she was the English teacher [discussed in Black Flags
]). It didn’t matter what my family thought though; I knew they would never understand the connection we shared. And I’m not saying it was perfect, either. But it certainly was one of the most genuine friendships I’ve had, which is why I needed closure so that I would know if I was just making that up in my own head.
I aimed to finally address both of these concerns at their graduation, this past Friday.
An element of the trip that didn’t sit well was that of my family. Months preceding the trip, I made it very clear that I wanted to go alone because this was a personal journey for me. It was literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I would never get back, and therefore I didn’t want any distractions. On one hand, the trip would provide an opportunity for my family to see my extended family once more. Since we’ve lived in Florida, the number of times we’ve seen them has diminished exponentially compared to before. I understood that. But on the other hand, my family could literally fly up at any point of the year to see the rest. They didn’t need to piggyback on a moment I would never get back. And the truth is that they did interfere with it in ways that I resent. I’m not going to blame them, though, because I’m responsible for my own actions.
Earlier this month, my family brought back up the topic of my sexuality – something I try very hard to avoid. My mom asked me why I’m never open to her about anything. I was very candid with her about that, telling her that I will never feel comfortable at home knowing that she cannot accept the fact that I’m not straight. She did understand this, but she followed by reinstating her belief that she won’t be comfortable with it. So then it should be obvious why I watch how I move or what I bring home when she’s around, because I don’t feel safe being myself at home. The closure I received on this particular evening was that I never will – not until I move out. This event carried over into graduation night; I spent a lot of time contemplating whether or not I should tell my extended family knowing they wouldn’t like it (and believe me – they are much more conservative than my mom, who happens to be very conservative). I decided not to, given how much emotional weight I was already carrying what with my anticipations for the graduation.
I sat in the back of the church and watched the entire event unfold. By the end of the night, I did end up seeing almost everyone from both my graduating class and theirs, along with a bunch of other people. I didn’t exactly want such a spectacle, but I also recognized that this was graduation night – it was going to be a spectacle! But when I saw the people I saw, I realized that this was not a reunion. In other words, I was just an “Easter Egg,” if you will. They saw me, got excited, said hello, and left. I get that it was a busy night, and therefore I shouldn’t have expected much. But is it really too much to ask for a small conversation during the last time we’ll probably meet again? Even though I wasn’t there to see most of my classmates, I certainly would have wanted to talk to them, if for no other reason than to appreciate the people I spent many years associated with. Truthfully, the only real conversations I had with anyone were with my old teachers. Mind you, these went very well, but that’s not why I was there. Regardless, perhaps the best things can come unexpectedly, and I was quite open to that. In fact, the best conversation of the whole trip was with someone I hadn’t seen since ninth grade, and I certainly did not expect to see her. So you see there were plenty of things to be enjoyed on the trip.
Of course, I’ve neglected to mention my two friends until now. One of the best parts of the night was the way my male friend greeted me. When he saw me, he stopped and ran towards me. Then he gave me one of the tightest hugs I think I’ve ever received, ever – this lasted for at least 15 seconds. For a moment, this felt nice because it showed me that our feelings were somewhat mutual. But it was also unsettling because it made me more anxious to tell him just what he probably would not want to hear. As the night progressed, I talked to him a few more times, hoping to do so under a more personal setting while he wasn’t distracted by everyone else. We got pictures outside, and overall it was a fun time. But from a more intimate perspective, this was a disaster. There was just too much going on for me to even have a conversation with him and not be interrupted by someone. I tried not to focus on that too much and just enjoy what was left of the night, however.
My female friend was probably the second or third person I revisited that night actually, because she immediately came to the back foyer to take pictures. After casually watching that, her mom noticed me and we got pictures together. I did feel good for a moment because I thought that maybe this would be a chance to make up for lost time. She was pleasantly surprised to see me, even though I did send her texts and calls telling her I would be there. Regardless, I was happy to see her again. Our exchange did end quickly, though, much to my dismay. She had a reservation at a restaurant that she needed to get to, which I understood because I was in similar shoes last year. As she was heading out, she invited me to her graduation party which was just the next day. Since my flight didn’t leave until the evening following graduation, I would have been able to see her at her party! I told her to text me an address and I would be there; finally, at least I’d be able to catch up with one of my close friends!
But she never sent me an address. And so I realized that she really has moved on. The reality is that the whole world around you changes when high school is over, whether or not you want to face that (a topic of discussion I had with someone from my graduating class). Your friends will either be there for you or move on to new friends. In my case, my friends were temporary – I know that now. And I hate that I spent so much time thinking that our relationship was deeper than it was. Yes, it hurts like hell knowing that our feelings were not mutual. But that’s because I tried too hard convincing myself that they were. I didn’t have many friends, which is why I felt closer to the few I had. The relationships we built felt true and genuine because we focused on each other. But what I’ve learned is that nothing is meant to last forever. Everyone is part of an inner circle, and that circle neglects everyone else outside that circle. They don’t care about you, or me. They just care about each other. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to face.
I wrote this poem to reflect how I feel regarding my male friend. Note that what I wrote in this poem isn’t what happened; it’s what I expected to happen. Titled Think Again:
I stopped in silence; I didn’t know what to do.
It all came at me at once; how could it all be true?
What first seemed like fate turned out to be false hope.
That’s one thing I hate; I didn’t know how to cope.
My time had a limit, and time was running out.
So I had to commit and dismiss all doubt.
I thought I could do it - made every chance to.
But all I could admit was that I loved you.
My heart sank fast; your eyebrows rose
I forgot what I had asked. You simply froze.
I knew you were straight. You knew I was gay,
But that didn’t negate what I was trying to say.
I didn’t mean it that way. I meant I would miss you.
But you turned me away. You thought I would kiss you.
I guess I was wrong about who you were then.
I’ve waited too long to think again.
This blog isn’t about telling you how it ended. It’s about me telling you that it didn’t end. The truth is that I never got the chance to tell him how I felt. I wasn’t able to get him alone and talk to him on a personal level before my time there was up (it was a busy night after all). I know what he thinks about gay people, because I was his friend. But I needed to know whether or not that would change if he knew that I was gay, or if he would turn me away and dismiss whatever we had because of his presupposed beliefs. Would I have been wrong to look forward to seeing him again? Was his friendship just a caricature of his own perception of me? I suppose I’ll never know. I’ll live the rest of my life not knowing unless fate brings us back together. Whatever expectation I created in my head is irrelevant, because all that does is hinder the life I have in front of me. But for once, I absolutely understand how people feel about needing closure.
So this blog does not have the typical, happy ending that most do. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This blog is about reflecting on a sensitive subject I’ve buried for years. And because of it, I’ve been erratic over the past few days, working through some unstable psychosis bullshit. I’m randomly remembering small moments with people who were part of my life both negatively and positively, and then reliving them. If I’m not focusing on something else all the time, I’m going through those memories. When I hear people talk in public, I hear the voices of the people I knew. When I smell something, I’m instantly brought back to a memory that smell reminds me of. One moment I’m really happy and motivated, but the next half hour that could all go to hell. I remember things that I wouldn’t have remembered before, probably because I’m desperately attempting to move forward without proper closure, not just with him but with everyone that never knew the truth. In the end, though, I’m simply wrestling with the reality that the positive expectations I created in my head were wrong, and I just wish I didn’t waste so much time believing they were right.
“Life isn’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward,” to quote Rocky Balboa. I may never have the same kind of relationship with anyone again; my time in Florida has made that evident. But whatever I had in the past isn’t what I have now, and the only thing I can do is appreciate what I have in front of me. I’d encourage you to do the same, because who you were doesn’t matter nearly as much as who you choose to be now. You have to grow up and realize that the only person who will ever always be there for you is yourself. Otherwise you’ll always be alone. As with last year, I won’t be blogging over the summer; this time, though, it’s because I probably need a few months to get my shit together. With much to think about and much to plan for, there is but a glimmer of hope that things might just change for the better. But I suppose we’ll have to wait and see where fate takes us.
I believe that we all have a destiny. We all have our place in space – our souls connect in a way that is divine, yet at the same time unbeknown to our conscious selves. We may not be what God hoped for, or what our ancestors intended. Our selfish spirits have split the way we view unity, both in this country and around the entire world. We think that we are the key to the future – that the differences we make mean something to our leaders or to the children dying of starvation. Everyone is relatable to someone we know because we are all the same, and to think otherwise is ignorant of the connection that we all share deep down. Our memories are based on what we remember from the people we met, but our fate is based on what we get from the people we will meet. A chance at reconciliation is but a reminder of what could have been, for what we dwell on wages both sides of the personal war we all fight.
I love you, but your attitude is like that of a shrew. Your options? Take a pill or be my kill. Might I suggest that you wear a vest. Perish in class or be banished to the land of bluegrass, where dreams don't exist as you'll be eternally pissed.
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