I get asked all the time. How is your family taking this? How are your friends accepting … this?
It’s … complicated. No … that’s bullsh*t. I’m sorry, but it’s not complicated at all.
People seem to think they can reserve the right to stay stuck about a girl who was raised by wolves. They seem justified in believing that somehow, suddenly, I’ve become a pariah, that all of my accomplishments are wiped clean, and now that I look way cuter in a dress, they treat me as if I am no longer capable of feelings or worthy of their respect or, God forbid, their love.
Yeah, I know. Dumb as a box of rocks, is that notion. Stupid beyond belief.
And it’s a lot like the time in one of Mylove’s previous marriages, when the guy said, “It’s the dog or me.” And she replied, “Thanks for making it easy.”
(“Mylove” spelled as one word, for those of you new to me and us and “Raised By Wolves,” is my beloved wife of 27 years.)
It’s not hard to dismiss idiots from your life—they do a good job taking the chicken exit without any help from me.
But what is hard is the people whom I love and who love me saging that they are “supportive” when I come out to them, only to do what my friend, Monica, calls “the French fade,” and leave my life without even saying goodbye. They just stop answering the phone, forget to respond to emails and generally…
… fade from my life.
I describe it this way: Our hearts, yours and mine, have a golden wire that strings between us across time space and our own awareness, or lack thereof, and connects us to something deeper, richer, and more … human than the strangers who walk among us.
I know I’ve jiggled our wire. I know, I’ve rocked many a world. I tried for almost five decades to never twang this chord but always answer its vibration. I was the one who never tested friendships but always showed up, stood up and stood by. I answered this wire’s hum every time, which is why everyone was caught flatfooted when I not only plucked that power chord, but thumped on it like Geddy Lee’s bass run in “Tom Sawyer.”
Nobody saw it coming. I didn’t run in the conservative or liberal tribe; I ran in a plain ’ol run-of-the mill real life tribe. Some of us were gay, some are staunch religious folks, and yeah, mostly we were a cross section of America with everyone just living their what the rebuild an party would call middle class lives.
Until Scottie ripped her bass solo! And that wire got so twanged in some hearts that the string unraveled and came loose in the take-up.
Now, some amazingly beautiful and truly inspiring people immediately grabbed that wire and reconnected it without missing a beat (see what I did there?)—true friends (many of whom I wrote about in my book). Others, having read my book, have sought me out to tell me they have tightened down that wire.
But the troubling part is there are some very close friends and family who have no idea that the wire is loose. And they seemingly are saying … they don’t care. About us. About me.
They were cool when I came out. They offered words of encouragement. But then … crickets.
I want to ask them, “are you really letting go of my hand? Is this really the end?” And is this how they want it to end? Life is too short, and putting off saying I love you hasn’t been recommended by … well, anyone. So, is this a normal human failing, or … the big goodbye?
Here’s why I’m confused. I have always been the one who dipped my shoulders in a crowd, made the effort over time to call on someone, was the first to apologize when we fought. I rarely threw my toys out of the wagon with anyone in my life, tho’ I frequently rail against “them” and “they” and pick a fight with city hall about once a week on average. (My poor Honey has to endure these metaphysical tirades and complete exercises in futility.) So I will never know if they were just busy, or if they are truly letting go of my hand, and …
… have given up on tightening our wire.
I need to know. Am I weird? Okay, that wasn’t accurate, cuz we all know the answer to that. But what I should be asking is, “does this make me weird?” In other words, do others feel the same way? Or is this a product of maturing, and starting to count down in life instead of up? (I’m 54, and medical science is improving but let’s face it, 108 is unlikely.)
I went to a memorial service for a dear friend yesterday. So maybe it’s on my mind more than the next girl. I grew up with Theresa who was a beautiful, funny, strong, and glorious woman, and a mother of two equally amazing women. She fought cancer for almost eight years, and won every day. Seeing how she spent her last years made me see that we saw life the same way—it’s waaaaay too short to spend each precious day not-in-love with your family, friends and the world. She played her side of the wire with everyone in her life with virtuosity and she never stood for any slack in her wires.
And I try to follow her lead, the same way I did in high school. She was an amazing example of how to be gracious, strong, and loving, even in the crazy world of raging hormones and teenage angst. And maybe I need to get over the hesitation some people in my life are showing, and not take “no” for an answer. Theresa wouldn’t have. She would graciously laugh when those around her were acting up or acting out. She had such strength and gentle compassion for their stupidity, and confidence that they were, in fact, actually capable of feeling the slack in the wire, even if only eventually. But that never stopped her from keeping her side of their wires taught.
Maybe I need to steal my honey’s line here and remember that “God only gives us what we can handle. She must have amazing confidence in me.”
Pluck, Pluck, twang … opps … tighten, tighten … pluck … ahhh … much better.
Let’s make some music … we have no idea if we even have tomorrow.
Scottie Jeanette Madden
Screenwriter, Author, Cook and Lover. Author of "Getting Back To Me, from girl to boy to woman in just fifty years"