Monday, May 31, 2010


She was the first real mother figure I remember, in my life between the ages of 4 and 12.  In many ways, it was Elaine who first started me on the path to becoming a writer.  She sat me down and read half "The Hobbit" to me.  I picked it up where she stopped and started devouring everything I could find to read from that moment on.  By the time I finished LOTR later that year, I knew I wanted to be an author.

She and my dad had problems I knew nothing about--thank whatever Gods there may or may not be.  They weren't the kind of issues children should know anything about.  But once they'd broken up for good--I think I'd just turned 13--it came to our attention that she was living with another woman.  Elaine, as it turned out, was gay.

This was in the late seventies, mind you, and in Central Oregon.  All these years I have to applaud her for her bravery for daring to come out in the first place.  It couldn't have been easy, particularly not after struggling so long with her identity.  My father, needless to say, was blown away and I believe, on some level, offended.  Rather than seeing her coming out as a lesbian to be her finally realizing who she really was, he saw it as somehow reflective of him.  "Oh, my Gawd--I turned her gay."

For many years I believe he resented her, though recent discussions have led him to realize that he may have been in error.  This is quite something for my father.  He's not good at admitting when he's wrong.  And, after all these years, I am probably the only person in the world who has a chance of getting him to see something from a different perspective.

I like to think she'd be proud of me now.  I lost contact with her years ago, after my father and I moved away.  I went back down to Oregon for a year or so and lived with some former friends of theirs when I was 15.  At the time I was trying to find something that I couldn't have, at the time, found anywhere on Earth... a place where I would be truly comfortable in my own skin.

I learned a lot there, as a matter of fact.  I learned the value of hard work.  I learned how to grow a garden, and even more about taking care of farm animals than I had as a child.  I also learned about homophobia.  I learned to hate it, because it stole from me a relationship that I should never have lost.

I spent a weekend visiting with Elaine, her girlfriend, and her girlfriend's father.  They were nice people, and it was probably the first time Elaine and I had ever bonded as something approaching equals, the first time I think she began to see something of the man I'd become.

But Bruce, the so-called "man" of the family, later told Elaine that it would be best if she stayed away from me from then on.  Something even my dad agrees that he had no right to do.  He was acting as my guardian, legally speaking, but he overstepped any authority he may have had by saying this to her.  She was, and is, my family.

Bruce didn't really have much moral high ground, though I suppose someone who actually thinks being gay is sinful rather than just "icky" might disagree.  Not that I give a fuck about that.  Bruce was a big-time pot grower, a Charles Manson lookalike, and a bully.  He could go from being the coolest guy you know to an abusive freak in seconds.

I finally left and returned to Washington to be with my dad.  Our relationship wasn't perfect, but it was better than living with that asshole.  Unfortunately, I lost all contact with Elaine.  And now, some 28 years later, I haven't been able to track her down.  I don't know what last name she uses, nor whether she stayed in Oregon or moved back to San Jose to be near her family.  I don't know if she's on-line (though I suspect she might be) or anything else about her this far down the line.

I never knew my mother.  Elaine was the first, closest thing to a mom I had growing up and I regret like hell being the vulnerable kid I was when someone who had no right stepped in and cut off contact between us.  This is one of the reasons I'm as anti-homophobia, pro-gay as I am.  I understand a little of what kind of courage it takes for people to be who they are despite all the forces lined up against them.

Bruce--you're an asshole.  I hate to think what you did to your wife's kids, or your youngest son, once I was gone.  I hope you got your just desserts in the end.

Elaine--If you're out there, or if anyone recognizes her from this description (I'm not so crass as to make this any more explicit than it already is) I'd love to hear from you.  I've sought you on FB and Myspace, but I have no idea if you'd involve yourself in either.  But maybe some of your friends have.  And maybe, just maybe, people will point you in the right direction to get in touch again.

I'd love to hear from you.

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