Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Evolution of Indifference (3)

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3: The Beginning

I was four. I was four young years old. It seems surreal to me that I was conscious of my own sexual identity at four years old, but Iwas. It probably would not have been such a big issue to me then if Iknew that all the sexual issues that intrigued me were *supposed* to intrigue me. But while I was developing an attraction to anyone and everyone who my four year old eyes found attractive, I was aware that I could only give and accept affection from girls.

One day I was at my aunt's house and she was baby-sitting some girl. So, naturally we ran around the apartment making noise like the freaks kids are. At one point, this girl started strutin' like she was doing her THANG on some runway. So, naturally, I did the same.


It came so naturally to me to walk that runway walk but my aunt, who saw me, fucked me the fuck up for it. Through tears of complete and utter confusion I explained to her that the girl had just done the same fucking thing. Her response made me cry even harder: apparently, she could do it cuz she was a girl, but i wasn't allowed to sink my hip into my walk because *I* was a BOY.

I didn't get it. Sure, my cousins would all point little girls out to me and such, but I was only half interested, interested enough to look, but never intrigued enough to approach -- so I never did.

They pinned me as shy, my entire family did. And I learned to be the epitome of everything they thought I *should* be. Well, fuck, I got smacked around less often, and they all found the timid little blonde Puerto Rican kid endearing.

But deep down inside, I was conscious of what I was stifling -- an extrovert, a care-free spirit, and all sorts of good things to say. I so LONGED to be all those things, I knew I *was* all those things (even at four) but I gave in to some sort of family expectation of me. It was just easier.

I got away with staring at grown men simply because I was pinned as the shy one. So, staring without saying a word became a sort of trademark of mine. When I stared at women, the adults would rant and rave about the new crush I had. My silence even when questioned proved to convince them I was shy.

I wasn't shy. I was a confused little boy who when he saw an attractive heterosexual couple walk along the street couldn't decide whether to admire the man or ogle the woman. No idea. Confused, not shy.

When I stared at a woman I had a crush on, I would feel all sorts of smiley when my family caught me staring and brought my crush to light. I felt like they understood me, and since I to this very day don't really know what that feels like I would flush red. When the issue wasn't a crush and they thought it was, it pissed me off and I'd catch major attitudes with people. Yeah, sure, family, I'm shy.

When I stared at a man I had a crush on, I would get all sorts of upset that I would get reprimanded for just staring when I should have something to say instead. The issue was always about timidity, not about the crush. God, I hated that. Can't someone just bring it to light and make me flush red? Can't someone understand? Why does everyone think that what I feel is so wrong? Why does my family refuse to understand? Why is it that ...

I figured it out one day. I was in grade school by this point, and had a serious crush on a boy in my class. A stupid crush. I was always careful not to let anyone know that I stared at him, so I usually did the deed during recess. No one ever knew. And what I learned was that the answer to all those questions was all the same --people don't love you if you have crush on boys.

And I so needed love.

It was destroying me, stunting my growth as a gay man because the identity that was at the very core of me made me need to feel loved so much more often than the average kid because I was entrenched in the machismo culture. It was destroying me, stunting my maturing process because the identity that was at the very core of me wanted to be let loose, and ached for the entire world to know.

But if they knew -- they wouldn't love me.

So, I needed people to know so I could be me and feel at ease with who I was -- because who I was brought me so much joy.

But I needed not to tell because I wanted family and friends to love me.

By the time I was in fourth grade, I had already decided that I could not feel that joy that would come with coming to terms with what made me different from everyone I knew. I opted, instead, to have people like me. That was my reality - be liked or be happy.

By the time I was in fifth grade, the chamber that was where my adam's apple now is was jammed suitcase-tight with unrealeased tension. I had by the age of ten decided that I could not come to terms with who I really was. I opted to feel a love from people for who I wasn't, rather than to feel the joy that comes with telling all.

I told nothing.

I was always miserable.

And I never REALLY smiled when I smiled.

But I always really cried when I cried.


Super Dave Van Buren said...

Can I count this book as my summer reading?

The Jaded NYer said...

hmmm... that ending sounds sooooo familiar...

*side eye*

Anonymous said...

Jack we should talk about this. Just from here(your blog) I can tell you're "above average" so in that frame you need to focus on what makes your story unique to you and not "just" another coming of age (out) story.

There's survival and healing in writing so I say regardless of how it is received here you need to memorialize your feelings for YOU. You'll be surprised just how much freedom will come as a result.

One Love,


JACK said...

JADED: That's right, I stole it. The way I see it, you didn't even know you wrote it until years later when I told you you did. And I do recall TELLING you I was gonna steal it. So there! (betchu don't remember that either) *returns side eye*

Super Dave: uhhh, sure. Go ahead.

Anon: I'm on chapter three - cut me some slack. If it's not unique, then so be it. But the title alludes to my indifference to the church, which is forthcoming. You are correct though that writing was an outlet for me; and that's this work's main function. I don't really bother to edit much - I'm not looking for perfection, just a data dump.

Anonymous said...

Jack, why should I cut you some slack? I'm just pointing out some things that will help this memoir -- if you plan to continue it -- reflect the quality person you are. It's not about perfection so much as it is about authenticity -- and yes, you can be authentic and steal lines from Jaded. :-)

Trust, I wasn't being critical for the sake of complaining -- I only read chapter 3 and know you have something important to say. Can you hear me now?

JACK said...

Anon - the flow of this thing exists in my head, I type to document shit and tie it all together as I write. It will all make sense.

And, um - maybe it woulda made better sense if you didn't start reading at Chapter 3. Who does that?!?

Seriously, though, thanks. You did give me food for thought and I appreciate it.