Life at № 42
I’ve never used Facebook, not really. I’ve had an account for a few years, but it just sat there. Empty. My name incomplete. I’ve always thought Facebook blurs the lines. It doesn’t allow for proper compartmentalisation. The variety that has always been quite necessary to being me.
Everything has always been kept carefully separate. Night and day. Black and white. My first 20 years in a drawer. In the dark. Mostly forgotten. Well, there are flashes. Things that come back to me here and there. I prefer to only remember the better things. The beautiful things. Houses, boats, the views, the wonderfulness of being served. Sapore di mare.
The rest, better left untouched, I thought. But now, suddenly, I think that perhaps I’ve been wrong. That my impulses, the obsessions and compulsions, are all just an answer to the silences. My subconscious attempting to fix it. Angst, much angst. The perpetual search for beauty, for perfection. Painting after painting, vase after vase. More vases than you’d probably find in a shop that sells vases.
Vases and fear.
The horrendous fear of anything not being perfect. Of everything not having always been perfect. The fear of failure, of having failed, of not having been good enough. The fear of admitting to not having been loved. Of not being the good kind of animal. The kind that survives. The kind that’s wanted.
I decided to look up four names on Facebook. Only four names really came to mind. First two girls from school, perfectly benign. Then my first serious boyfriend, the Norwegian. He looks amazing, which is mildly annoying. I try to identify what he does and it seems he’s not career oriented in the way I’ve been. I smirk as I realise I might be considerably more successful. I immediately feel petty and cruel – still smirking though.
I get back to my initial quest. I search for LS. He was one of my first closer friends as a boy. Not close as in tied up in a sex dungeon close, we were little. Some of his pictures are a bit gay. Odd. No one ever thought he was gay. I certainly didn’t. I keep looking and the evidence mounts. I’m not sure what to do with this information. Did he know? When did he know? Did he think I…? What did he think? I try to think back; did he try to tell me once when we were a bit older? Maybe. Maybe it’s an invented memory. He probably didn’t. I was so focused on not even considering the possibility of homosexuality then, that if he had I would’ve told him he was mistaken. Yes, mistaken. Still, I have a lingering feeling.
What an unlikely turn of events.
I sent four friend requests. LS, the two girls and the Norwegian. They all accepted. One of the girls sends me a message saying it was outrageous of me to just disappear. It’s true, it was 1999 and I fell off the face of the earth. Twenty one years old, gone. I spent a lot of time in airports that year. JFK, O’Hare, Salvador, Rio, Honolulu, Charles de Gaulle, Newark (for a connection!), Madrid and finally Málaga. When I arrived in Málaga I knew I was home. Free. I could feel it in the air. I was also alone. Completely alone in the world.
LS doesn’t message me. I wait. Nothing. I wait. Nothing. I decide I must have misread the clues, he’s not gay. Any gay man would obviously click on my picture and send me a message. Immediately. Even if just out of curiosity. It’s late and I feel strange. I think about it and I feel for the first time, ever, someone might know what it felt like. What I felt. The weight of different-ness in an environment that was so unwelcoming to difference.
Mike keeps saying I have to have more friends, know more people. Only four potential Facebook friends probably proves him right. He worries if he’s ever not around I’ll be very alone in the world. He says things like that more these days. Probably something to do with the death of some of his former acting colleagues. Alan Rickman last year and Roger Rees the year before. Both in their late 60’s, just like Mike. I worry too. But mostly I try not to think too much about it.
I send LS a message. I try to make it amusing, he had great humour. It’s all a bit surreal. That both of us were living with something, hiding something, the same thing. For years. I wonder if the key is talking about it. If Edouard Louis and Abdellah Taïa are right? Is the right way to get something out of one’s system to put it all out there? To purge it? Reading both Louis and Taïa I held my breath at times at their bravery. I wasn’t brave – I’m not brave. No, my world has been one where I only allow pretty things. I don’t complain – I do drink. When someone writes down a bad experience, it seems that’s then theirs forever. I just don’t know if drinking and smiling isn’t the more suitable path. Can anything really be gained by self-flagellation?
And here’s a pretty painting as requested by Meeka