Day 32: Guitars… or Cocaine
With my regular Gotham gig coming to a close, I’ve managed to cut down my New York City coming-out list to one final person. Well, technically two, but one of those people moved to L.A. So, if you squint real hard, it’s really only one.
Not too shabby for three weeks worth of work.
The last name on the list is the business partner of the Brooklyn dev shop guy I came out to last Friday. No cool nickname, just the one who was “inspired” and “refreshed” by my journey. I seem to have that effect on people.
It’s kinda funny. If you know me, you’ll know that last comment was totally self-deprecating humor. If not, well, I guess I could come across as rather grandiose. But what can you do? Potato, potahto.
Anyway, the dev shop bloke from this week clearly knows I have “news,” but I’m guessing he isn’t exactly sure what that news is. Probably thinking, gay, but probably also surprised that I would consider that to be a “thing” in this day and age.
We meet at the Brooklyn Roasting Company near his office and after a bit of small talk (not gay, not dying of cancer), I jump into my now familiar tale. The only problem is that this time, I’m not getting much of a reaction.
I mean, this is old hat to me. I know how this thing works, right? But not today. It’s like I’m talking to a sphinx. No bad reaction, no good reaction. No reaction at all.
As a storyteller, I tend to craft the story to my audience. Toss in a little more profanity here, add some sexual escapades there, and that’s just for the toddlers.
But nothing’s working. In the past, I would gloss over my stuttering to get to the juicy bits. But this time, the juicy bits are cutting it.
I realize I’m babbling a bit and shift to how he’s probably noticed how long my long fingernails have been over the years.
“Yeah, I always wondered about that, ” he says with a hint of a reaction. “I asked you once if you played guitar, and when you said you didn’t, I thought, well maybe it’s because you do cocaine, because, let’s face it, you are, at times, pretty hyper.”
Which is true. Very hyper. But it come naturally. Or with the help of my dear friend, Mr. Caffeine. Maybe not Robin Williams hyper, but certainly Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor hyper.
But I digress.
I can’t help but laugh in response, “Isn’t cocaine, just one long fingernail? Seriously, how much cocaine did you think I did.” Pause. “Can you imagine me on cocaine?”
We both break into laughter, because the thought of me strung out on cocaine is pretty scary thought.
The rest of the conversation is a lot more comfortable, as is our norm, but I get the vibe that he’s simply not as ebullient as usual. Not that he’s an ebullient person to begin with, but I think you get my drift.
We finally wrap our conversation (we both do, ostensibly, have jobs), and he tells me he’s happy for me. But again it’s a in a bit of a monotone, lacking in joy, lacking in enthusiasm. Something just doesn’t add up, and for the life of me, I just can’t put my finger on it, perhaps, because I don’t sense any negativity or pushback. Just a lack of emotion.
But, to each their own, right? Everyone responds how they respond. Chalk it up as a win and keep moving. That’s what you learn in therapy. Give people time.
I spend the rest of my time at work, and this being Thursday, I hop a train back to Maryland. But when I get home, I find a very pleasant surprise in my inbox…
Yo. I have a tendency to not visibly react much in the moment. This would help my poker game no doubt. I just wanted to say that I think it takes a lot of courage to push through all the shameful feelings and to open up and be honest when there’s a chance of rejection. I’m glad that you felt comfortable enough with me to go for it. I don’t have any idea of what journey you are on, but I think it’s incredibly important to be honest with yourself and to be honest with others about yourself. Having to hide a part of who you are seems like a near unbearable burden, and I can only imagine what it’s like to spend so long cringing. I’m really happy that you were able to overcome that and push through to the other side. There’s a lot more to it I’m sure, but I’m really happy for you and whatever this next chapter of “Dig-ness” becomes, I’m looking forward to seeing it all unfold.
I can’t help but smile, my eyes, perhaps, a little moist.
I feel so blessed. I had such fears coming into this, or perhaps, more accurately, coming out with this. Fears that I would lose every friend I ever had. And instead I find that these bonds of friendship strengthened at every turn.
While my therapist has exhorted me to give me people time, I think it’s time I add my own addendum. Give them time, for your friends will surprise and astound you. And in the process, lift you up to heights you didn’t know possible. Even if they are a sphinx who thinks you’re doing cocaine.