Coming Face to Face With The Truth.
Traveling through Italy brought up some memories for me, including one that is bittersweet. I was 20 years old and going to college in England for a quarter. Along the way, I decided to trek to Florence to see some college friends studying there. If you can believe it, I wore my hair like Peter Frampton, long wavy curls (yep, I'd gotten a perm). I even carried a guitar with me, playing the role of the melancholy artist—my self-delusion of uniqueness.
I was a college athlete, lived in a fraternity, and had broken up with my to-be-fiancee the year before (my parents loved her). I was a straight dude haunted by his closet. Yes, I'd fallen in love with my high school best friend, which was made more problematic when we were recruited to play water polo at Stanford together. I did everything I could to divorce myself from the possibility that I was attracted to him or any other man. I had a full-time job as a chameleon with a ravenous need for approval.
Upon arriving in Florence, the first person I met was Lamott Atkins, a Stanford football star running back and the lead actor in our college theater shows. Having gone to a predominantly non-white high school, I'd always been attracted to black culture and the physical and emotional ease of my African-American friends. So, having not met Lamott back in Palo Alto before, I was a little awestruck that he wanted to show me around the Stanford campus in Florence and flustered why he was curious about where I was sleeping during my visit. I stuttered out something about staying with friends, and I did everything I could to avoid the flirtatious Lamott for the next 24 hours. That night, my cocktail hour stretched from 5 p.m. to unconsciousness. I cut my stay two days short and boarded a train back to London. I couldn't be face to face with the truth.
It was two years till I finally came out, and I carried a looming cave of emptiness where the past ought to be when it comes to that trip. What if I'd been bold enough to surrender to Lamott's romantic forays long ago? Ironically, almost thirty years later, Lamott and I reconnected in San Francisco and dated for six months before he moved off to Italy to be an ex-pat.
Somehow, we feel we can avert the truth when we're younger. But, as we age, we realize that the truth is a masterful private detective. It registers our every move and laughs at a few of our more embarrassing dodges.
What truth are you trying to outwit? What's stopping you from setting up a Tea with the Truth? An opportunity to liberate yourself from being a fugitive.
I know my life went from black and white to technicolor when I walked into Uncle Charlie's bar in Greenwich Village on July 4, 1983. Of course, your truth may have nothing to do with your sexuality, but you may feel just as caged as I did before I walked into a rainbow-bannered bar for the first time.