I have never felt the impact of tragic events as acutely as I do now. I would guess it’s because now I am a mom. A mother who is not far from the days of sending her children off to school on a bus, trusting them to be alright in the world before swallowing them in hugs and kisses in the evening. There is a fear in doing that you know, even when stories of those who are unjustly killed aren’t flooding the news.
I keep thinking, “the world is an ugly place right now” and “the state of the world makes me sad.” But it’s not the world. It is people, human beings who are making these choices. The world is a beautiful place, but sometimes the people in it suck. And they suck really, really badly.
Now, more than ever, I don’t have to know your lost love to feel angered, and I don’t have to be a native of your country to be heart broken. I just have to be human. Yet, even as I write this I am aware of my sheltered place amidst it all. My moms were not in that night club. My friend was not killed for being black. My husband was not shot while on duty. My aunt was not hit by a truck celebrating in Nice. But they could have been, and that is enough for me to feel it. That is enough for me to mourn. That is, very simply, enough.
This post is supposed to be about the day my mom recognized her love for Mary. The day they kissed for the first time and felt something real, and beautiful. Something that has sustained them for 23 years. While there is a part of me that almost cannot allow the sweetness of it, I will write about it. Because I am a human being, and I am making the choice to focus on something good. Here is their story, in a nutshell (ironic metaphor, no?).
Diane is 33 years old. She has been married, had children (three in five years), and divorced. She lives with her boyfriend and her three children and is down to working only two jobs to support her family. She is slim and beautiful with her grey-blue eyes and short hair, which has been that way since the day two of her children cut it off for real while “pretending” to play hair cutters. In their defense, they were toddlers.
Diane goes to Waterhouse salon in New London, the only place she can find someone willing to cut, bleach, and eventually shave her head. She loves the people there, the Aveda treatment is swanky and she deserves the indulgence. Her stylist, John, recommends she volunteer for a small non-profit his partner is involved in. It is called HOPE, for Helping Our People Endure. It is an AIDS organization created by a small group of friends who were losing their loved ones to the disease.
Mary is 29, one of the original founders of HOPE. Her brother has been living with his partner, a hair stylist named John, for many years. Mary is striking with her mismatched eyes and dry humor, rivaled only by her sweetness and soft heart.
Diane and Mary meet for the first time. There is a connection, felt even in the simple handshake. They become friends. They realize they knew each other in passing once before. Strangers in a store, drawn to each other but never sought after. Now they speak easily to each other, they meet each other’s families. They meet each other’s partners. They all go dancing. They bring the children to HOPE fundraisers and AIDS vigils. Their friendship deepens.
Two years after they meet, Diane and Mary are at the beach. There is something undeniable in that summer evening air, like just before a thunderstorm breaks the humidity and lifts the oppressive heat. Their friendship is more than a friendship. There is an attraction that goes beyond the physical, but how do you move from here? How do you know where to go? Their solution is to kiss, because as Mary has always said, you never know how you truly feel about someone until that kiss. It can be empty, lustful, messy, impersonal, or confirm what you already think you know. Theirs was a confirmation. And the rest, as they say, is herstory.
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