Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Trigger pulled...

I'm a mess, right now. As all writers are, once in a while. I guess. And it's all due to a phone call from one of my cousins. It's not the subject of the call, so much -- that my aunt was in the hospital for cancer surgery; it's that she was already coming home and everything looked good. In fact, she's probably home now.

Nice to know, right? But it jolted me back to when I lost that side of the family. In September 1987. I'd made plans to visit my sister in San Diego and mentioned them to that same aunt, and she talked me into changing my trip to come up to see her for a few days then go on to California. It sounded important, so I did. This was back when you could change your ticket without hundreds of dollars in penalties.

Well...turned out that trip was an ambush. I was still in the closet, back then, but my cousins had been told I was gay by someone we all knew, and they wanted to know if I had AIDS. I spent an extra $300 in plane fare so they could look in my eyes as I told them I was HIV neg. Some of them didn't believe me, anyway, and the whole atmosphere was so hideous, I came close to walking to the airport so I could leave. Which would've taken a while; it was twenty miles away.

I'd always thought of myself as being part of their family. I found out that I never was, really. And after I left, they stopped contacting me unless someone died. Like when the one cousin who was still cool about me killed herself. I was in Houston, and they let me know the day before her funeral. I was told that it wasn't necessary for me to come. Same message when my uncle died.

I didn't see them, again, until after my mother was buried. I visited my aunt to give her some photos and things. In truth, the only one I wanted to see was her, but she invited the whole family and their now-grown kids. They acted like nothing had ever happened and we ate homemade pizza and I left as soon as I could because I was getting sick from holding in my hurt and anger. I realized that in some things, I have the memory of an elephant, especially as regards being injured.

So once again I'm told about something important after the fact. Don't come. Not really necessary. And then, to cap it off, he said goodbye with the the nice, casual, stand-offish phrase of, "my friend." Not Cuz, like he used to call me. Or Ky. Just something polite. All but telling me he felt he had to let me know my aunt was ill, but now his duty was done.

My aunt is 85 years old. When she's gone, that side of the family will be dead to me. And I will not be sorry.

What a funny tragedy this would make.

No comments: