Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I had the great good fortune of meeting up with my aunt M and her partner M (M&M) for dinner at Broder’s in Minneapolis Sunday night, on my way to a business meeting the next morning. (And yeah, the butternut squash ravioli in a sage butter sauce topped with spiced walnuts was pretty much out of this world. Did I mention the sage butter sauce? Yeah. Blast off.)
I’ve been feeling so lonesome for family out here in the Midwest, and a little bit silly for forgetting that my aunt was right next door, but that’s been remedied, and it’s been *so good* to catch up and hang out and talk about things that matter with someone whose life intersects mine in one of those Venn diagram kind of ways -- shared family, places, and passions; different perspectives, variable angles, always illuminating.
The theme that we kept circling around over dinner like Io around Jupiter was the courage it takes to be yourself -- really really really be yourself.
M (my adopted aunt M, M’s partner) shared a story of a friend of hers who came out late in life. Prior to summoning the courage to leave her ultra-conservative husband and embrace what she knew to be true about herself, she wrote a little note and carried it in her shoe. I don’t recall the exact language, but the gist was declarative, something like: “I’m actually interested in women.”
She wanted it to be there, so that it would be found in case she died while living the life she found herself constrained in. A life that was not entirely true to who she knew herself to be. A life that imprisoned her.
In case she died, she wanted people -- anyone, “Goodwill even”, M said -- to know: “This is who I really am.”
And she carried it, wore it, walked on it daily. In her shoe.
Hearing the story leveled me. Living like that. Knowing what you needed to do. The silent calling out, hidden from everyone else, until you’ve summoned the courage to live out loud. And then, finally: doing it.
Without the payoff the story’s a tragedy. A scrap of paper that falls to the floor at the Goodwill.
With the payoff it’s just right.
Makes me wonder about the messages I've hidden in my own shoe.