I have never had much luck with weddings… I was hospitalized the first time I was in a wedding, with what turned out to be an allergic reaction to a medicine I’d been taking. Although they let me out in time to appear as my sister’s bridesmaid, I was still so puffy and swollen that I looked a pale blowfish stuffed into an ill-fitting $400 dress, and so drugged up that I don’t remember any of the ceremony (my sister tries very hard not to take this personally).

And then there has been the recent blow of discovering that I am a lesbian, and as such am forbidden to have a wedding of my own. While I was certainly never one of those girls who dreamed about her wedding like the rest of my friends did in college, I still find a few things about this a little disconcerting. For one thing, I have never been one who appreciates any forms of limits being placed on what I can and cannot do, and for another thing, I find it highly unfair that I will never gain back the hundreds of dollars I have spent over the past few years on lingerie that has doubtfully gotten much use and various kitchen supplies that may or many not have gotten marginally more use, depending on the extent of feminism upheld by the brides for which they were purchased.

All that to say, I should not have been surprised when, while stopped in rush hour freeway traffic on my way to the airport to be a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, I was rudely and abruptly startled by the sound of my Jeep’s back window shattering. Now, I was fairly impressed with the fact that I was able to remain relatively calm, accept the man’s apologies for rear-ending me, acknowledge his request that we not report the incident to our insurance companies, inform him that I would have to consult with my father before making a decision, and then continue on my way to the airport. In fact I held it together just fine, until the moment when I realized that I lost my driver’s license in the airport security line, and promptly began to near hysteria. “It’s just a driver’s license, you can still fly with out it,” a nearby policeman assured me, but I would not be subdued. It was not just a driver’s license… it was a driver’s license and a car accident and a broken back window of my jeep and a neck that was rapidly losing its range of motion even as we spoke and a mother who hadn’t called me back after my dad told her about the accident because she wasn’t sure yet if she could handle the fact that I had recently come out to her and a wedding that my girlfriend had not even been invited to attend and a ceremony that I would never get to have myself and….

This sort of snowball thinking is, I suppose, what my therapist means when he says that I need to be more mindful of my thoughts, and the way they affect me. But by the time I had slowed down enough to realize that about this particular line of catastrophic thinking, it was time to board the airplane. So I did my best to practice the meditation techniques I had been learning from an Australian podcast I downloaded recently, and promptly fell asleep.

In comparison to my journey there, the trip itself was fine, aside from the fact that I couldn’t really turn my head… my best friend apologized for failing to invite my girlfriend, I notified my insurance company of the accident and they assured me that even though I had removed collisions from my insurance policy just one week before, the incident would be covered by the other man’s insurance. The ceremony was flawless, the bride was breathtaking, and rather than feeling destroyed by the idea that all the beauty and celebration that was hers on that night would never be my own, I felt freed from the confines of tradition and able to ponder the ways in which I might create a ceremony of my own. My dress would be yellow, and my partner’s would be a color that equally reflected the unseen shades of her soul…my flowers would be daffodils… my cake would be made of ice-cream.

But coming home has been a bit of rude awakening. Take, for example, my girlfriend’s reminder that even a civil union would show up on our taxes, and consequently make its way back to the financial aid department of our seminary, who would almost certainly offer repercussions rather than congratulations. And then there is the matter of the accident. I recently received a phone call from the man who hit me, which started out with: “I thought we were going to handle this privately, I can’t believe you told the insurance company…” and ended with him hanging up on me. It’s been over a week since the accident, and the only thing his insurance company has done for me is inform me that according to the man who hit me, the accident was my fault. I am still wondering how it was possible to cause an accident while my vehicle wasn’t even in motion, and also pissed as all hell that he would lie after I was so damn nice to him at the scene of the accident. If I hadn’t missed my appointment with my therapist this week in order to take care of insurance details, I know my therapist would have pointed out that this is another one of my style of distorted thinking… expecting that people will be nice to me simply because I have been nice to them. I think it’s number five on the cognitions list he gave me.

In between ranting about the injustices of the insurance system and the ill-timing of this accident as finals week approaches, I’ve had just enough time to figure out what is really irking me about all of this. As is usually the case with situations that pull out in me a rare and unexpected rage, it has less to do with the situation at hand, and more to do with something that I failed to get appropriately angry about a year ago.

The thing is, the phone call from the man was almost verbatim like one I received at work from my boss almost exactly a year ago. “This was supposed to be a private matter between the two of us… I can’t believe you told on me…” and then a dial tone, followed by months of lies, lies, lies.

She asked me to take her to church with me. I did. She told me she assumed this meant we were dating. I told her it didn’t. She sent me flowers and love letters and work. I told her had to stop. And then, in a moment of panic brought on by a friend threatening to report what was happening if I didn’t, I turned her in.

This has not been one of those matters that is afforded clarity by hindsight. In all the meetings with lawyers and directors that followed, I played the straight girl for all it was worth. Or rather, I did nothing to dispel everyone’s assumption that the wide-eyed Christian girl in her accessorized little outfits was about as far as you can get from a lesbian. I did my best not to make it about the differences in our sexuality, and to stick to the fact that she was abusing her position of authority over me… that she had done it before and would do it again. But I didn’t have to make it about her sexuality, they did that for me. And I did nothing to stop them. On the rare occasion that they did ask me to identify my own sexuality, I answered as honestly as I could without revealing any of the confusion that was beginning to boil up within me… “No,” I would say, “I have never dated a woman.” Of course, I left out that I had also never dated a man.

Anyone who knew me then, and knows me now as a self-identified lesbian, has asked at some point for me to explain what really happened. And the truth is, I don’t know. The facts remain the same. But did I, as my boss insisted, flirtatiously lead her on? I don’t know. It is so difficult, in hindsight, to tease out what I may or may not have done with a sexuality of which I was not even clearly aware. Could the collision of our lives have been avoided if I had been more aware of my own sexuality? Maybe, but then again, I have since spoken with several other girls who knew that they were attracted to women, and whose lives she virtually destroyed after they rejected her advances. Does she still hate me? In all probability, but wherever she is, I wish her well. I wish her wellness and healing and all the wholeness she was so certain I could offer her, although I myself most certainly did not not possess it.

And so, in the wake of another collision almost exactly one year later, I am reminded of something I wrote last March:

“If we all knew the string of pearls and shit covered daggers that pulled us from where we have been to the moment we first make eye contact, exchange a few words, or crash violently into each other, would we still be capable of hate? Perhaps I could wrap my stretching fingers around the concept of an enemy if I did not have the profound gift/curse of being privy to so many people’s stories that led them to the places in which i encounter them. And yet still, we break each other and are broken, myself most certainly not exempted from this statement. We perpetuate the cycles into which we born, and in the absence of this, we somehow find ways to create our own.

I am terrified today, of what the coming weeks will bring. How does the very best intentioned movement toward letting a little light filter through a dusty covering of heavy-weighted darkness wind up this way, where threats fall like acid rain and lawyers replace light and hope as the primary mediators of every interaction? I would say more, but I am told blogs can be grounds for harassment, and my intention was always for healing, not harassment. It still is. But this matter, like most of its kind, has as many sides as a prism, with far less sparkling color to splash across the white walls it marks with innumerable, indistinguishable shapes. I would vote to rewind to the moment i said “I am making a conscious mistake,” and unmake it. But we can never unravel what we have done, for then we would certainly also be unraveling who we are, and who we have become, and what would we be left with then?

And so instead we move forward, not quite a choice, and yet so profoundly something we must choose, trusting that this glass reflection that appears to be pieced together so destructively, so devastatingly, is merely one side of a shape that together, as a whole, will throw light and color in all their many forms, in every direction in which we can think to turn. And trusting also that somehow, even in this, we will find grace, eventually.”

I wonder, reading it almost exactly one year later, if as I wrote this I somehow knew, even in my not knowing, that this event would be the catalyst that eventually caused me to begin considering my own sexuality. If I somehow understood that as I fled from this to the peaks of the South American Andes, I would leave behind the lawyers and accusations and tape recorded statements, and begin to find the parts of myself I had been hiding from all along. A year later, and yet in such a very different place, I wonder.

 

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