Last year, I started getting antsy when one of my old school chums reminded me that we were coming upon our 25 year class reunion. Twenty five years, really? Where did the time go? I thought of all the kids with pimples and all the beauty queens and all the just-there teens who came, went, and never really made an impact (read: me) and I wondered where they all ended up. It was a passing mindful meander, because all those who I wanted to keep in touch with, I did. My best friend in school is still the gal I call on a Saturday night for a social event, she’s still the one I call when I need an honest, secret shoulder.
Yes. All of those who mattered to me are still in my life.
I lost touch of one particular friend shortly after high school. He was my gossip buddy, a lively fella who always had a smile, who always delivered everything he had to say with breathless excitement. Literally. Sometimes, I swear we had to remind him to take a breath. He knew everything. If someone had a secret, he knew it. He was master of secrets and he always made me laugh.
I missed him.
I wondered where he went. What happened to him. I saw him once, just one year after we graduated. He was working in leather somewhere in Toronto and had come home for a week. We all went out pubbing at our one and only late night bar. All I remember from that night is that we talked of purple leather.
Then I never saw him again. There was no internet, no Facebook, no MSN at the time. We lost touch. Once I decided to move onto FaceBook, I did search for him, but he never ever showed.
So I asked the reunion planner through FB chat of course, “Where’s Glenn, anyway?”
No one knew.
It would be a month at least, just a week or so before the reunion, before I had my answer.
He had passed away twenty years earlier.
But the news hit as if he had just died. The rawness, the shock, the grief was still there, it didn’t matter that he’d been long gone. I wanted to know why, what happened, and the word was chilling if it was indeed true: that dreaded ‘A’ word that terrified sexually active people everywhere in the 80s like the horrible ‘C’ word scares most everyone else now.
I wasn’t surprised to realize that my friend who gathered secrets like dust bunnies had one of his own, one he wanted to keep silent until he could get out of town into the anonymity of a big city like Toronto. But that was no secret, not really. There are no secrets in a small town.
Still, I grieved. I grieve. I think about him frequently. He would have died before he was twenty five. I hope he let that secret go before he did. I hope he didn’t die in anonymity, and if he did, I hope he knows now that there are people who think of him still. People like me.
It all makes me think about the need for secrecy for people who are other minded than the ‘norm’. It makes me wonder about the damage it does to a person’s psyche, their spirit, their sense of self when they have to be constantly fighting against the stream of bias and discrimination.
I didn’t write Anomaly for Glenn, especially, though I’m sure a little of him is in there.
I wrote it for me, so I could process all the strangeness of what we consider normal and how those of us who do not have to fight a battle that some wage just to get through the day affect others with our own baggage.
Because we all have some damage done somewhere inside that we need to process and assimilate; it doesn’t matter that Anomaly has a transgender character, the truth is J is a person first. Just like you and me.
We need to honor each other. Right from the school chums with pimples to the ones who are just there, doing nothing but living their lives quietly anonymous from your scrutiny.
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