12 Years

In  just 10 days, the anniversary of Annie’s passing will be upon me.

I find it impossible to face the fact that it has been so long. Not a day goes by that I do not think about her. The most mundane of things I observe at any given time will make me think of sharing what I am seeing at the moment.

I have read so many articles on grief and moving on, that at times my head spins. The hard truth of the matter is, I cannot move on. One result of not being able to deal with her death, is the fact that I gave up drinking alcohol in any form.

Failure to drink alcoholic beverages has managed to keep most of my demons at bay, except in the rare occasion where I forget and actually take a drink when out with friends. It only takes one. One drink and the depression and darkness overwhelms me and all I can think of is Annie, even while still being among other people. Immediately, my demeanor changes and I must find a way to graciously make an exit. When this darkness roars back, I am in no mood to engage with anyone.

Twelve years without her. Twelve years without intimacy because I am simply afraid that nothing and no one can ever replace what we had together. How could I ever share the baggage I carry with anyone else? Would anyone else care? Would anyone else not run in the other direction, should they find out? My silence, my darkness I find to be the safest of places.

Twelve years without her has made me into a different person. I don’t enjoy large crowds and most of the time I am quite content to be solitary and alone with my thoughts. I listen more than I speak, and I suppose most people think of me as rather indifferent due to my lack of engagement in what I perceive to be inane conversation. Just another piece of baggage I carry with me.

As the date gets closer, I will close myself off to more and more people. It is just what I do. Right now I will be thinking of her and make plans to visit one of the favorite places we shared together. Spending the day in one of her favorite places won’t eliminate my funk, but it will grant me a few hours of pleasure, just by reliving our mutual love for that place.

Many writers and other people just say to move on and get over it when dealing with this type of grief. In my case, the fact is I will never be able to get over it. I will never be able to get over the fact that Annie died without being able to experience what she worked her whole life to achieve. She was cheated out of the love that I have for her and the life we would have made together. In a world filled with hatred and dismissal of who she was, we had our own little bubble of safety and love that provided her and therefore myself with a peace that is lacking in the world even after all these years.

So here I wait for the anniversary of her death yet again, and I wonder how many more anniversaries I will see before I am able to join her.

Memories

Sometimes an every day observation can become a trigger of memories from the past.

Recently, I was out and about and happened to glance at a passing metro bus.

There was a young couple I could see through the window and it brought me back to a time when I had my first girl friend.

At the time, I was 15 and she was sixteen. I was a transfer student into a new school and knew no one. By the luck of the draw I entered into a biology class and was assigned a table and partner. 

I don’t think I grew up in a bubble, but the fact is that everyone I knew and saw at school was white. I didn’t know or have any non-white friends. Not purposely, but that’s where I lived.

So I was quite surprised to be paired up with an African American girl. As it turned out, we both hated the class and neither of us could grasp what the hell we were supposed to learn. 

She made the funniest faces constantly during class. Well, we hit it off and became friends. More than friends. I would walk her to home and school and we began to spend all our free time together. Within a few weeks we were inseparable.

We were young and naive and thought we were in love.  There were many trips around town on the bus together as neither of us were old enough to drive.

We loved to hang out at the beach and kiss and make out everywhere we went. This lasted well into the next  school year.

Laura was a petite little thing and while the teenage hormones raged in both of us, she never let me get past the heavy kissing part. I didn’t care, because all I wanted to do was be with her as many hours of the day as possible.

She never brought me to her house, nor did I bring her to mine.

A mixed race couple was taboo in those days and we knew neither of our families would approve.

So it happened one day that I went to meet her before school and she didn’t come out. No one answered the door. Not the next day or the next either. I showed up on the fourth day and was pounding on the door when a neighbor lady asked what I was doing there. I told her I was there to see Laura. The lady said matter of fact, they moved three days ago.

I was stunned and frantic. How could she just leave like that? Well, we had no cell phones, computers or Internet back then so it was impossible for me to find out what happened or where she had gone. She was just gone.

I would not see or hear from her again for over forty years.

When I met Annie I was so confused, I tried to do a little research and began writing a blog about our shared experiences. It became an outlet for me and Annie enjoyed reading it and then we tried to dissect everything we were experiencing. When Annie died, I decided that I could no longer look at all the things I had written and had shared with her. There was no longer any joy in those words.

It was quite a shock then, to receive an email from the blog only days before I intended to delete it all, from someone who claimed to be Laura from my high school days. Of course, I did not believe her for a minute, but in follow up emails, she told me things that in fact only she would know. So we began to correspond.

I had so many questions. Among them was, why was she reading my blog at all?  She said she had stumbled across it when doing some other reading, and after reading it all, she had a feeling it was written by me so she reached out.

Turns out, she was as lost as I was over her leaving. In fact, her father had seen us together more than once, and had decided without telling her that the family would move rather than let us keep seeing each other. I just could not understand and finally she admitted to me the reason. Her father feared for her safety and refused to believe I was a decent person. I continued to ask why and finally she admitted that she was transgender and knew this about herself for years before she met me. Not only did her parents not know what to do with that information, they tried to hide her away from anyone they did not know personally.

After they moved, within months she ran away. Eventually, she ended up in England, finished her education and began a career. Here it was forty plus years later and she has a successful career and had been living in Japan for over a decade. Laura said she is happy with her life and the choices she has made, is still single and has no desire to ever come back to this country. But, she said, she would love to meet me sometime. I said that would be difficult as I never travel to Japan.

Laura said there might be a solution. She was scheduled to speak at a conference in Canada in a couple of months, and would I be interested in meeting there? Once she gave me the dates, I could see I had some free days from the tour and agreed to meet her there.

Our visit was so good. She is still as petite as she was in high school and just as beautiful, although with a few more wrinkles like the rest of us. We talked for hours, and in the end I was so happy that she found me before I could delete the blog. I told her all about Annie and she already knew most of it from the blog I wrote.

We have stayed in touch since she went back to Japan. She really wants me to visit there. She said once I see it for myself, I would understand what peace and beauty there is in that country, and why she will never leave to live anywhere else. One day, perhaps I will take her up on her offer.

She is happy in who she is, has found acceptance there, and her life is so much more in tune to nature and with peace. I could use some of that myself.

I guess I am glad to have seen that couple on the bus, because some memories are from a better time that might be past, but still a part of ourselves.

Grief

So often I sit and enjoy the beauty of nature and the city around me, only to have my mind turn to darkness and grief.

Grief, because I can no longer share the beauty I see with Annie. The anxiety  overwhelms me and everything I do.

During these times, I desperately want to travel to Thailand to visit her final resting place.

Yet, I am terrified of making that trip, because once I see her final resting place I fear for what I would do to allow me to stay with her forever.

This is my normal state of mind, and it is not a good place to be.

Anxiety

I have been in the dark for so long that out of the blue, I saw a sliver or glimmer of light.

A friend suggested one day recently that I should join him in a workout at his gym. Without saying as many words, I am thinking to myself…why in the world would I want to do that? Rather than insult him, I went along for the ride.

Surprised in the fact that I actually enjoyed the experience, I joined up and started to go regularly. But now I have yet another issue to deal with.

When I miss a day or fail to get my daily dose in, I find myself anxious to the point of panic. Now this is not healthy and I surely don’t need yet another mental challenge.

Just add this anxiety to the list of things I either cannot or refuse to deal with.

Waiting to see what will drop next.

I am always surprised how any little bit of light can quickly turn back to darkness.

My Darkness

Not that long ago, I was asked when the darkness started to be evident in my life. I couldn’t really put a specific time on it, although I suspect it was at a young age.
Like most families out there, mine was dysfunctional no matter which way you looked at it. I don’t recall ever hearing the “I love you or I am proud of you” words. Ever.
As an introverted young person, I kept to myself most of the time and grew to embrace the chaos and dark thoughts that started to make themselves known to me more and more often.
Music became my lifeline from a young age. When performing, those dark thoughts never managed to make themselves known. I always knew they were there, but in music, I was always able to keep them bubbling under the surface.
I might have been fooling myself, but I thought I had it under control for all those years.
While the darkness was always there in the background, it didn’t manifest itself in an all empowering force until I lost Annie.
Annie brought a light into my life that had never been there. For the year or so we were together, I did not have a single dark thought and I believed I had beat it for good. I didn’t even come close.
When Annie passed, everything I knew to be true died. The darkness that enveloped me was unlike anything before. The most difficult aspect after facing the fact that Annie was gone, was losing the music. My life up to that point existed solely for my ability to perform and to please Annie. Music was my only safe place, and now it was gone along with Annie. There was no longer any kind of lifeline left. I spiraled down into an alcohol fueled frenzy that I only survived due to a friend dragging me back from the abyss.
I still saw friends, although not as often, and I could tell they knew I wasn’t right, but I rebuffed all their questions and put up my walls. I no longer saw the point. They tried, but over time I pushed many of them away.
I have been a captive of my own special darkness for going on eleven plus years now. It rules everything I do and the walls are now impenetrable.
The real friend list is pretty short now and they, just like my many acquaintances have no idea what goes around in my head. The music is still lost to me, although I do go to a show once in a while and sit in a dark corner and try not to engage with anyone.
My darkness is now my security, and I am no longer afraid of it. No one knows, for the simple reason is I don’t trust anyone enough to tell them. Nor do I want to. I cannot imagine that I could possibly meet another person who could bring back the light the way Annie did.
This surely isn’t the way I planned to finish out my time, but it is my reality and I am ok with that.

Forgiveness

This post has been a long time in the writing. I have started it and discarded it so many times, I cannot count.

Many hours have been spent reading articles and trying to get my head around the concept of forgiveness.

What I have managed to accomplish is to think through the pain of happenings in my past, and even come to the point where I can forgive those who have done me wrong. I won’t and in some cases can’t face them to admit to it but it does give me some peace of mind when I think of clearing my mind and emotions that I have felt against those people.

Those instances of forgiveness do indeed clear my mind of the negative thoughts associated with those people and actions and while I would like to think that I have made some sort of breakthrough, I am only fooling myself.

In the darkness of my mind, and the cloud that follows my every thought and action, there is something that I cannot ever forgive.

I can never, under any circumstance imagine forgiving myself for what I managed to do when Annie passed from this life.

When she explained to me that she intended to travel to Thailand for her surgery, I did not try and force the issue of my traveling there with her. She explained that she waited her whole life for this trip and she wished to do it on her own. I could have gone with her. I could certainly afford it time wise and financially. In the end I honored her wishes and stayed home.

That is the one decision in my life I will regret to my dying day.

I left her to travel alone and lay in a hospital in a country she had never been to, with no one by her side.

She died alone in that hospital without me by her side to show her how much I loved her or to be able to say goodbye.

There will never be closure for me.

I will never be able to forgive myself for not being there for her at the end.

My life will go on however, and it is a bitter life to face without her.

Singing Rocks

Annie and I  loved the beach, but not in the sun.

If it was a cloudy day and we were near a beach somewhere, we manages to take time from our work to just sit and enjoy the sounds and sights of the ocean. We also enjoyed sitting in the dark at night in those same places where we could just snuggle up together under a blanket and discuss our amazing luck in having found each other.

One night we found ourselves at one of our favorite beaches. We had brought a blanket and some wine and planned on an evening together enjoying the solitude and each other. Unfortunately, a lot of other people seemed to have the same idea.

We gathered up our stuff and decided to walk down the beach in a direction we had never gone before to see if we could find a quieter spot. In a short distance, the beach sort of curved around and we found ourselves in a nice quiet place. There wasn’t a lot of sand there and the beach was covered with millions of small rocks and pebbles.

We found a nice spot and while just sitting there the tide came up and the water started to rush up onto the pebbles. As the water receded with each wave, the sound of the water rushing over the rocks was amazing. We had never heard anything like this before.

The water would wash up in normal sounds and as it receded it was like the rocks were singing. It was mesmerizing to us since this was a totally new experience.

I can’t even begin to count how many times we came back to this same spot. We always checked to see what time the tide came in so we would not miss it.

I would love to go back and hear the rocks singing to me again.

But, I just can’t. It could never be the same again.

Forests

Annie and I loved to walk in the forest.

Neither of us were sun people. The idea of sitting and roasting in the sun for hours on end just did not appeal to either of us.

We preferred the shade and dappled sunlight of the forest. It seemed that wherever our travels took us, we always managed to carve out time to find a local forest for a walk.

In fact we did as much sitting as walking. Once we found a suitable bench or log to sit on, we could relax and sometimes spend a very long time sitting.

Silence is the key to enjoying the forest. The longer we sat quietly, the sooner the animals of the forest would make themselves known to us. We were fortunate to not run into any dangerous animals, but every other type of denizen of the shade would appear, usually one at a time. Either they did not see us, or recognized the fact that we were not a threat and therefore went about their business as we watched in surprise and at time wonder.

Some of our favorite times together began with picking up a blanket and heading out to the forests of the north. Cuddling together under the blanket, the silence of the forest could easily overwhelm. Enjoying each others’ body heat, we could sit and listen to the sounds of nature forever. The rustling of the animals through the brush and leaves on the ground, the sound of the wind breathing through the trees is mesmerizing if you just give yourself up to it.

It’s not the same anymore. When Annie died, this became another piece of life that died with her. I still go to the forests, but it is never the same as it was when we shared it together. The sounds of the forest are still there, but instead of wonder there is just an overwhelming sadness each time I visit.

Surprises

Most of the comments I receive are of the positive type and most of the questions are asked in a respectful way. But, sometimes a question comes across that simply throws me off my game.

One such question came from a male who while not subscribed to my blog, obviously reads it, and reached out to me recently.

He began by stating that he enjoys my writing style and the subject matter, and wanted to know what city I lived in and if I would be interested meeting for a date? He explained further that if I had such a loving relationship with a trans woman, I should be receptive to dating a man. Well, I politely shut that down in short order, but that then got me to thinking, which is always a dangerous thing to do.

Why would anyone equate a trans woman with a cis male? It is like comparing the sun and the moon. I have never had the desire to date a male and honestly, while I have seen a few very attractive men in my life, there has never been a desire to date or have any type of romantic relationship with a male.

It’s just not in my wheelhouse. The thought of such a relationship just never occurred to me and after thinking long and hard on his comments, I can say it most likely never will. Simply put, I am just not attracted to men or the male body. All that testosterone is a definite turn off for me.

So that brought me to part two. Will I date another trans woman?

How can I answer that? I didn’t know Annie was trans when I met her. I did not seek her out. We met organically, solely by being in the same place at the same time, and formed an instant bond with each other. I have grieved for her every day for these past eleven years and have no intention of ever doing anything to lessen my memories of the time we spent together.

Dating. Nope. Not in the cards. I could accept a serious friendship however.