Recently Deborah (Pittman) and my husband Pete’s freshman class wrote, and performed, an opera based on the book One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni. They do this every year using the CSUS One Book.The opera has become very popular on campus. After the show Pete asked people to share their own “one amazing thing”. I didn’t. It wasn’t precisely that I couldn’t think of one, it was more the opposite; I could think of so many that I couldn’t decide which was the one. It actually took me several weeks to ferret it out, and it wasn’t the story about smuggling my pet ferret to CA.
The story starts best the day my ex-wife Laurie found my gay porn magazines between the mattress. The excruciating irony of my ex discovering them while changing the sheets while I was out of town was beyond absurd. Anybody that knows Laurie will back me up here; Laurie does not clean. Especially if she was alone. I had a better chance of winning the lottery…and I NEVER buy lottery tickets. Believe it or not, that’s not my “one amazing thing”. That was merely the setup for the coming comedy.
When Laurie called me at her parents house where I was staying for the weekend I could have lied. I’m an amazing liar, closeted gay men and women have to be, and Laurie was understandably shaken. I don’t believe I could actually have convinced her that the magazines weren’t mine, or anything that Machiavellian. No, but I could have come up with a convincing enough story that we could have both chosen to ignore it, but I just couldn’t. It was stupid, and I just couldn’t do it anymore, and besides, Laurie deserved the truth. So I told her it wasn’t what she thought…well, it was what she thought, but not exactly what she thought. No, not an amazing thing yet…
When William and I got home and Laurie and I had a chance to talk, I told her I was “bi”. Which really isn’t a lie, but for me, it’s not completely the truth. Though I can enjoy being with a woman, it just isn’t what brings me passion, but she and I chose to pretend it was for a while. The irony is, the fact that Laurie accepted it so easily was what made it easier for me to start coming to terms with my sexuality.
That would come to determine my future two or three months later. William was about two, two and a half, and as days and weeks went by I kept asking myself the same question, “How can I raise William in a family that is a lie?” I dreamed of William growing up with happy parents who showed him loving role models. We wouldn’t be able to do this for 18 years, and then we would simply be buying his childhood by destroying his family identity as an adult. I didn’t see that as a good path, but how could I destroy the only family he’d ever known? Then my one amazing thing comes clear…
I remember the precise moment very well. I was getting ready for work. My usual black cloud followed me into the shower where I struggle every day not to let myself crawl back into bed. And it literally struck me like the voice of god, which I do not believe it was. No, my sub-conscious had simply put up with all it could, and said enough is enough. “I am gay,” I very clearly heard the voice say, and my world changed in that instant. Boom. That’s all there is, I’m gay, and after 27 years of living the wrong life, I had to fix it. I could get a divorce, and I could unravel my life, and unfortunately Laurie and William’s, and put them back together in a form that would show William what a truly loving family is.
I went to work that day euphoric. A weight that had followed me my entire life was gone. In those first hours I wanted to tell everybody I talked to. I wanted to be honest for the first time in my life. I came out that day for the first time ever. To a coworker who didn’t turn out to deserve the honor in the end, but that’s another story. Of course my jubilation couldn’t last, I hadn’t discussed it with Laurie yet. That occurred in the sometimes lonely, but brutally honest hours between goodnight, and sleep. Out of the silence of the dark room I heard Laurie very clearly. “What do you want to do?” she asked. It was one of the top 10 eeriest moments in my life. Why she thought to ask on this particular night I wondered, but never asked. Things had gotten less intimate, a little more “sibling-y” between the two of us, but nothing dreadful had occurred that I could remember. The only things we had ever fought over where Laurie’s house keeping skills, and that was never really personal. It had gotten to be almost a joke between us by the end. Now I consider it just one of her amusing quirks. So I was sure the question wasn’t coming with hostility. At the time all I said was, “I think we should get a divorce.” She said okay, and we went to sleep, or at least pretended to. We never believed in drama, but also had no true passion. One of them is a useless nuisance, the other you can’t live without.
From that day forward Laurie and I worked toward only one shared goal. Giving William the family he deserved.
I like to think that’s what we did. Which brings me to the point, in case you hadn’t guessed yet, William is my One Amazing Thing.