Join Prism Book Alliance® as Andrew Q Gordon goes Outside the Margins today.
This week I realized my 30th class reunion was happening in a few weeks. I’m not sure why I thought of it, or even why I checked and found out, but it had me thinking. I don’t keep in touch with anyone from my ‘old life.’ By old life I mean before I came out. For me, like many people, coming out was a multistep process. I told some people, but not many, then a few more, and finally it became all too obvious when I got married, had a kid and have their pictures in my office. Taking stock, I keep in touch with almost no one from high school, college or law school. Yes there are a few, but when you think back on all the friends you had in those years, even just the good friends, it struck me as odd I kept in touch with so few.
I did go to my thirtieth high school reunion, but most of my ‘close’ friends didn’t go. I saw a couple people I’d been friendly with and we chatted a bit. I barely knew them anymore, I had a drink, got tired, and went to my room before midnight. It was nothing like those scenes you see on TV or in movies where the classmates all show up and reminisce into the wee hours of the morning. Interestingly, I did meet my junior prom date. She was lovely. She was the same strong, beautiful person I knew in school. Kids, family, career. Talking to her was the highlight of my night.
Wondering what my old friends were up to, I went on Facebook. One of my two best friends in junior high and high school (I moved after 10th grade so that was destined to fade) died six years ago. He was riding his bicycle and was killed in a hit and run. The other third of our trio is married with kids, lives in Virginia and works for the government. He looks happy in the pictures. I didn’t say hello. We’ve not spoken in 30 years.
Next I checked on some of the friends in the school I graduated from that hadn’t made the reunion. My ‘closest’ friend looks like an older version of himself and his son is a spitting image. Glossing over his family pictures and thinking back, I don’t think we’d be friends if we’d stayed in touch. I’m not the same person I was then and he seems pretty much the same. That’s not bad, just what we had in common that made us friends, doesn’t seem there anymore. After that I quit. It wasn’t creating feel good moments. Quite the opposite.
That brought me back to my approaching 30th reunion from college. I don’t have a great fondness for my college. It’s a catholic school. I severed ties several years ago when the old pope was blasting LGBTQ people. I found it galling that he would talk about me so negatively, yet the school would keep asking me for money to help spread the catholic philosophy to a new generation. I reached out to the alumni office, explained that as a gay man it would be the ultimate act of self-loathing for me to give money to help them continue to persecute me. The unfortunate soul on the other end of the phone didn’t say much, but said she would honor my request to remove me from their data base. They haven’t, but I don’t respond anymore.
So why even consider going? People are not the institution. I’m probably weird in that I never formed a life altering bond to any school. I’m mildly interested in what happens, I even find myself ‘rooting’ for my college when they make some sport’s playoffs or tournament, but I don’t have this deep attachment to any. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t really there. I mean, the me that I am today isn’t who went to any of those schools. The person who went to those schools pretended to straight, to like girls, not boys; was going to have a wife and kids. Like I said, that isn’t me. I almost don’t know the person who graduated from those places.
That makes me a bit sad. I want to feel that way. I realize that for high school, that was never going to happen. We moved in the middle of my school career and I found myself torn between wanted to go back to the old one and trying to fit into the new one. The close friendships people make growing up weren’t going to happen in the new school. And because this was before the age of the internet, cell phones or even cheap long distance, I didn’t have the ability to stay in touch with those friends and we drifted apart rather quickly. At least I tell myself that even if I wasn’t hiding who I was, that would have happened anyway.
But in college and law school it’s different. Not being myself really did inhibit being close to people. I sort of recognized it at the time. I remember going out with people I didn’t want my friends to see me with, going places I didn’t want them to know. Like all relationships, trust is essential in a real friendship. That was lacking on my part. I never trusted them enough to know me.
Then when I mostly came out, I had new friends, people I didn’t have to hide around. I didn’t have time, nor did I make time, for my old friends. What’s that saying about needing to water a plant to keep it alive. I’d cut off all water to those friendships and they quickly withered.
Which brought me to whether I was going to go to my college reunion or not. I could at least reach out, be honest, tell them who I was, like I did with my junior prom date, and see if we could be friends again, real friends this time. Unfortunately, none of the people I was friends with have signed up to go. And to put the final nail down, we’ll be having ‘lil q’s 5th birthday party that weekend. The fates have aligned that I shouldn’t go.
I’m a bit sad that I’m not getting the chance to try, but then I remember I have this life, my real life, where I irrigate my friendships properly. Like most parents, my focus has shifted and my world revolves around a new sun. Knowing myself, however, the spark of looking into my past lit something that is going to smolder for a while. I have time to plan a bit better for the next round of reunions. We’ll see what happens in a few years.
Amy Lane, Kim Fielding, Shira Anthony, and I have joined forces to spread the word about LGTQ speculative fiction. We’re trying to reach out to the general speculative fiction market, by giving away the first book in four series for free.
But everyone is welcome to sign up for our newsletter and get their four free books. Click the link below for details:
~Andrew Q Gordon
About Andrew Q Gordon
Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.
He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of twenty years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.
On his website: www.andrewqgordon.com,
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/andrewqugordon,
On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,
Or just email him: email@example.com
Ashes of Life
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