Monday, August 11, 2003


I survived, more or less, my trip to the outer rim of reality, also known as Redding. I stayed pretty much on my diet (except for the sweet-potato casserole that almost proved my undoing), I didn't go completely nuts (I only had a couple of temper-tantrums on the highway), and nothing untoward happened (except for getting lost so many times that I now know the City of Redding like the back of my hand). I'm completely exhausted, though. The driving, the heat, the hotel bed, the constantly-on-the-go business, the people, the strain of shutting down whole portions of my mind for an entire weekend. It was draining.

It's funny, though... by shutting down portions of things that one might talk about, I also shut down my ability to experience and feel things. I felt very much like a spectator this weekend, even in my own conversations. By editing my outgoing messages, I was unable to process incoming messages, if you know what I mean. This sort of personality-editing is not fun, and I am beginning to think I shouldn't do it.

I mean, I have always thought of it as a sort of extension of my don't-ask-don't-tell arrangement with Grandmother... but somehow it's more trying when you're not-asking-and-not-telling with a much larger group of people. And, since they don't know where to stop asking questions, as Grandmother has been trained to do, I have to not tell things farther back in the storyline than I would with Grandmother — like, I didn't want to have to talk about playing a drag waitress in the Living Sober Musical, so I couldn't talk about my big singing debut, even though that would have made a great topic of conversation with my many singing cousins, one of whom was actually instrumental in encouraging me to take up singing in the first place. I could have lied about my role, I suppose (though I hate lying and am not good at doing it impromptu), or been very vague about it (at which I do excel), but it seemed better to simply not broach the subject at all.

Which of course begs the question of why I should try to edit myself in the first place. With Grandmother it's necessary for maintaining the status quo and allows us to continue to live together in a certain sort of harmony; our only other option is to not live together, and we need each other too much to really consider that option. It's an uneasy detente, but it works for us. With Grandmother's family, I would of course maintain a certain amount of that editing, because Grandmother is, in general, right there when I am interacting with them.

But it's more than that. It goes into the way I tend to edit myself when I'm around straight people... I can't bear to be treated like some exotic oddity, The Gay Friend that people trot out as a party favor or entertainment or proof of their open-mindedness. And while I know that there are straight people in the world who do like me, many who may or may not like me for who I am, individually, I spent too much of my youth being the token queen, the clown princess as it were, of a large group of straight people. I got sick of being My Gay Friend Robert, and so I tend to not give straights so much as a chance to do this to me any more.

Then of course there's the Christianity angle. Grandmother's relatives tend toward the more generous forms of Christianity, but are nevertheless staunch conservatives: they don't think one ought to burn homos at the stake, but they do believe that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexuals are doomed to go to Hell. And if there's one thing I cannot bear under any circumstances, it's to be pitied.

So as a result, only a fourth of the fabulousness that is Me was there this weekend. People think I'm wonderful, such a help to my Grandmother, what a nice boy... and I feel a bit of a sham. I am wonderful, I do help Grandmother a lot, and I'm very nice (though hardly a boy any longer); but I'm so much more. It seems a shame to not share all of my wonderful self with my family. But that's the way I've played the hand I was dealt. I might have done it differently, but I didn't.

And so now I'm home, and I'm so utterly worn out that I took the day off from work to recover. I got an estimate on the repairs for Miss Jane (three thousand dollars, one of which will have to come out of my own pocket), and then went to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (I really liked it, but I won't say it was a good movie... the whole thing went by too fast for me to judge its merits) with Caroline; afterward we went shopping in Bay Street, where I bought a pair of nine-dollar pants at Banana Republic and a pair of underwear and a tank top and a catalog at Abercrombie & Fitch (all I wanted was the catalog, but I didn't want to look like a total perv), and then had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen (I had the Thai Chicken Pizza and we were waited on by the cutest boy).

Tomorrow I go back to work. I got no rest at all on my vacation, I'll go back tireder than when I left, but back I go nonetheless. Gotta make them ducats to pay off Mister Visa Card. And the break in routine will, I hope, help me attack my various tasks with a fresher viewpoint. I doubt it, but one can go ahead and hope anyway.

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