Hey, it’s National Coming Out Day! As I posted on FB and Twitter, coming out of the closet was a milestone I had to achieve in order to finally become an adult. Allowing myself to pursue intimate relationships opened up an emotional range that was… well, I’ve said this before, but there’s some old SF story I read where the narrator is a robot and at one point his owner replaces his black-and-white ‘eye’ with ones that can see color. That’s what coming out was like.
Thinking a lot about that sort of thing because I went to my 40th high school reunion last weekend, and memories of HS dredge up a lot of crap. Again, on FB, I’d posted “High school was probably the worst time in my life, but I went to the last reunion and had a surprisingly fantastic time. It’s very simple – all the things that made me miserable at that time in my life are gone or dealt with or obsolete. There is absolutely nothing riding on this visit except catching up with friends.” But I’d gotten the terror/angst out of my system when I went to the last reunion. When the guy you’d spent 4 years of homeroom in mutual loathing with offers you a ride to the train station, unprompted, you know that we’d all gotten past our HS shit.
Anyway, unlike 10 years ago, I decided not to pennypinch and took the Acela down. I love traveling and trains, but the car was full and we all had to wear masks, and I was by the window, so didn’t feel I could go get coffee or anything. (Didn’t stop my seatmate from scarfing down what looked like a delicious breakfast sandwich.) Planned to have lunch at Union Station, but it being the weekend almost everything was shut down. Oh, yum, Shake Shack is open! Oh, damn, I’m dieting and low-carbing. OK, I’ll have their chicken nuggets and that wont’ be too bad.
This time the reunion and hotel were both in Northern VA, but unlike last time, weren’t right next to each other. DC Metro out to Dunn Loring. I had misread my Google Maps – I’d thought the hotel was a three-minute walk from the train station, but no, more like a 3 minute drive, 20 minute walk. I could have done it, but with a suitcase… not a good idea, so summoned an Uber and that worked out OK. Hotel perfectly nice – it was the ‘reunion hotel’ and we had a group rate, quite cheap, and these were the sort of ‘temporary home’ hotel suites that are basically mini-apartments. I had a kitchen with fridge and dishes and cutlery and dishwasher, a living room, bedroom and bathroom. Two TVs, neither of which I watched, but cool anyway. Had some coffee, unpacked, chilled until time to get cleaned up.
Bunthorne Boy, coming in from Norway with The Viking, had invited me to have dinner with him and other friends at the reunion restaurant (PJ Skiddoo’s) a little before the reunion began, so I ubered out there. It’s been so long since I lived in the area, and we were far enough away from my home neighborhood, that I recognized nothing on the car ride. (NoVA is soooo built up from when I lived there.) Got to the restaurant, where they had outdoor tables set up in the parking lot, and there was a long table of about 7 ladies who, not surprisingly, were my classmates – one of them saw me and bounded up to say hi. So that was a great start and then BB and other friends showed up and we ended up making one long table and having dinner.
Anyway, there were lots of really interesting conversations with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time. (Me to Wanda W: “OK, the last 40 years… go!”) Lot of people with kids, grandkids. Several divorced, but not unhappy about it. People scattered all over the country (several people flew in from California). Quite a few still local. Everyone impressed that BB had not only come in from Oslo, but brought his handsome Viking (who wore a nametag of “The Viking” all evening) with him. Robert, my fellow bass player from orchestra, also brought his husband, and I would have brought mine if his leg weren’t so effed up right now.
More than one person called me out on my FB post about having been miserable in HS. More than one HS friend has pre-emptively apologized if “they were part of the problem”. (for the record, they weren’t. The people who were the problem probably wouldn’t even think of apologizing.) Becky D and I had a really interesting conversation about that whole thing, me trying to convey how awful it was in those years to be dealing with these strong (gay sexual) feelings that society and everyone is telling you are bad and sick and awful, and which you don’t want, but can’t get rid of. And how you’re bullied/teased for ‘being gay’, even though that’s more about you being nerdy and not-sportsy and having no social skills than you doing anything actively gay, or even admitting to yourself that you are. Or, from her perspective, being one of the ‘not-weird’ kids and having to actively maintain that ‘not-weird’ status rather than letting go and just trying things that might interest you. But I also was very much trying to convey that all that bullshit is over and done with for years and years and years and that’s why it’s so nice to reconnect with HS classmates as adults. I did have a short pleasant conversation with one of my bullies (he wasn’t my bully, he scared a lot of people back then) and that was fine. And certainly plenty of conversations with people who in HS thought I was ‘icky’ for whatever reason, but again, we’re all past all that crap now.
And I certainly had my share of reading people’s nametags, not remembering them at all, and then going back later and looking at yearbooks and seeing they signed mine, so clearly I did knew them at some point. OK, brain is deteriorating, so sad.
Loretta, the very sweet and wonderful classmate who’d taken the bull by the horns and organized the whole thing, drove a bunch of us back to the hotel. Sandy, one of the Californians, who’d been famous in our class for battling to be let on the men’s baseball (softball?) team and winning, had been passing out little airline bottles of booze, for some reason, and I got one, so bought a diet coke from the hotel self-serve shop and had a nice final drink before konking out.
So great, so glad I went!
Stay tuned, adventures as a DC tourist coming up.