Friday, October 12, 2007

Late to the Table...But it Sure Was Yummy When I Arrived

I was just writing a comment to Marl about her "7 Things" post, and I realized I actually want to write a whole post about it.

I'm very gay. It's one of the most very basic descriptors I use about myself. I'm 44, I'm gay, I have blue eyes, etc. But I didn't understand the fact of my gayness until I was 30 years old. Not that it didn't exist, but I couldn't recognize it for what it was. So I never really fell in love with men. There were a few that I loved, and I married a great guy, thankfully, who helped me produce these wonderful kids and then didn't hate me later...but I never fell into love with in that devastatingly swoony way where you can't breathe and can't think and can't really do much of anything except be in love. The kind of love in which love is an activity, instead of just a feeling.

So when I was young I just assumed I was emotionally defective from my weird childhood, and that that sort of passionate love was beyond me. I never considered that I might be intimate with the wrong kinds of people, just that that lackluster intimacy was all I was capable of.

When I was finally able to tell myself the truth about my gayness and began meeting women, I found:

A)...There were a lot of them to meet. Once you start looking for dykes, you realize you can't hardly swing a dead cat without hitting one.

B) That's why my skin never fit quite right. And here, finally, I found that kind of ohmygod love that I never thought I was capable of.

Okay...that's the back story. Fast forward to now. I work with a nice young dyke who sometimes says to me, "Why do all you older lesbians all have kids? Didn't you know you were gay??"

And when I cast my mind back, I don't think I didn't know I was gay as much as I didn't know the concept of gayness was an option for me. And looking back...I'm not sure why. I certainly knew lesbians. I remember being fascinated by them. But I don't ever remember thinking, "Oh! That's where I ought to be!" I didn't struggle to keep my gayness under control. My gayness was so completely under control that I never even knew it was there. It's like keeping your appendix under control. It's not a never are even aware it's lurking there. Until the day it makes it's presence known to you so strongly that you don't have an option about whether on not to acknowledge it.

So I try to imagine sometimes how much differently life would have been if I'd come out in high school. Although I might have experienced Great Love sooner, it probably would have been that same angst-filled love that young people have that makes them jaded about love when they're older.

And I never would have had kids, because I never saw myself as a person who would like having kids. And THAT would have been such a tragic loss to my life that thinking about it is like touching a hot stove...I don't want to go there.

So, while it's true that us "older lesbians" often tended to get married and reproduce for a few years before getting down to the business of being true to ourselves, I think most of us would say we're better for having the experience. I envy people with early self-awareness, but I don't regret the circuitous path it took to get to who I really am. I just hope I have enough years left to feel like I got my money's worth out of my tardy self-awareness..


Carrie said...

I finally fulfilled my meme obligations. Go to my blog!

Kwach said...

I'm so weird. I'm that mid-life lesbian everyone talks about. The one who had no clue until she started fantasizing about women out of the blue.

I think of myself as someone who was heterosexual until she switched teams and is now a lesbian who has no interest in switching back, ever.

My relationships with men never lasted long, but it wasn't because I didn't fall in love with them ... I did. We even had good sex. I always assumed I was just a bad chooser.

My life is actually chunked up in three distinct phases. My heterosexual years (which I count as roughly the 20 years from adolescence to 35, when I had my last relationship with a man), a ten year period of celebacy, and now a ten year period of homosexuality which I anticipate will last the rest of my life.

My ex had a theory that all women are really lesbians. In childhood we love our girl friends the best and we hold hands and giggle with them, then we some of us go off to lead heterosexual lives during our childbearing years in order to procreate. When we no longer need men to impregnate us, we go back to falling in love with women.

She developed this theory after seeing the elderly ladies in my mom's adult care home pair up, snuggle, hold hands and look for all the world like a bunch of lesbians, even though not a single one of them would ever have identified themselves that way.

Some of us just don't take the procreation detour.


Sharon said...

I've often thought about this very thing and wondered what it would have been like to have not taken the 'marriage to a man' detour.

I didn't have any children (by choice) and I don't regret that decision. But I do wish most days that I had skipped the hetero marriage. It was a bad choice to begin with. I continued making bad choices after I discovered women for a good, long while. Thank goodness I finally figured out what I was doing!

I find your attitude refreshing in that you learned from it and can appreciate what it taught you. So many people don't learn from their experiences.

Kwach said...

Sharon, my life has had some pretty appalling episodes. My mom (who was appalled) used to ask me, "Don't you regret doing so-and-so or such-and such??" and I would tell her that I don't. I sometimes think about my life in reverse and think, "what if I'd done something different at this point or that?" and I realize I'd have to have made different decisions at so many steps along the way that I would have ended up someone entirely different than who I am.

I'm the sum total of all the good and bad decisions I've made, all the good and bad experience I've had, and all the good and bad relationships I've engaged in. I like who I am, so I can't really say I regret any of what went into making me this.

Sure, there are lots of places where I wish I hadn't been a fool or wasted my time or gotten my heart broken or fucked up mightily, but I can't go back and change it now, so why carry a ton of regret? That was then, this is now.



Wow kwach -- your friend's theory/your comments/Sharon's comments/Ev's post are all awesome. I've thought about a lot about all this recent years,as I get older and ever older and meet more and more formerly heterosexual lesbians. It's so great to hear your thoughts and experiences. My mum is one of those elderly widows who's hooked up with another elderly widow and they're best, best snuggly friends like we all used to have in childhood. I'm so envious of her!

Suzanne said...

My friend I met when we were in 6th grade and last march went to India with is a lesbian and she has a kid with her partner. I mention this because you said that you wouldn't have kids if you hadn't married a man, so I am wondering if the whole artificial insemination option for lesbians is a more recent development?

Ev said...

Artificial insemination isn't a recent development, but generally LLLs (life long lesbians) have to have a fairly burning desire for a baby in order to tie themselves up in the knots required to make one. Contrast that to hetero parenting, where they just fall from the womb like flower petals if you're not studiously careful about NOT producing one.

I never had that drive to reproduce, but discovered both the desire and the aptitude when my birth control failed and Carrie appeared. I know me; I never would have bothered if I hadn't been in a situation where it was likely to happen anyway. And that would have been too bad, because my kids are such great people, it would have been a shame to deprive the world of them.