Navigated the Bay Bridge interchange this morning about 8:15, car packed to the gunnels with the last load from Cathy Lane, stuff the new owners kindly stored for me. Although I know I will visit the bay area often in the future, it felt, symbolically, like a last goodbye. I'm a little sad, but what better timing than this historic week of affirmations for the GLBT community.
Part of my scheduling plan was to sit in on my old Lafayette writing group Friday afternoon. The prompt for this week's writing was "When I was a teenager... Its a great prompt. Just try finishing the sentence yourself.
Sharing a story was not on my agenda until the Supreme court ruling came down on Wednesday. Then I could not contain myself and immediately sat down and wrote the following, which my old buddies seemed to applaud.
When I was a teenager, my world was foggy grey, the permeating color of Seattle nine months of the year. Not just the shadow of World War 2, the abandonment of my mother, the sudden death of my father, the move to a log cabin with no electricity; not just the culture shock of attending a funky rural high school where scholarship was defined not in calculus but in the number of football touchdowns.
Daily with crumpled newspapers I polished the globes of our six kerosene lamps so I could see to read, which I did well into the night. What color are tears, as alone, in the pale copper glow, I turned pages of my confirmation class bible, looking for comfort, searching for answers to my losses and to my secret sexual identity? What color is shame? What color is despair? I gave up on God, keeping even that a secret.
Loneliness defined me, though I found comfort in nature. Sometimes, picking ripe wild blackberries in the old cemetery just down the dirt road, dark red juice would stain my fingers and fingernails. I’d plunge my hands into the cold running water of Bear Creek but the burgundy-blackish stains would persist for days. I guess they matched the circles under my eyes. It pleased me that the color seemed indelible; nothing else did. The following year the war ended and we were able to get electricity, but never running water. I could not wait to grow up and move to California, where indeed the sun shone on my life and I experienced the full spectrum of color. Gratitude abounds.
Next week I turn 83. Little did I dream that this week rainbow flags would fly over many city halls throughout this country and that the Supreme Court of the USA would affirm my existence. I rejoice.
I came across the old charmer above many years ago on a street near downtown Benicia. I painted it on the spot. I hope the flags still fly.