Imagination, Smagination…

Compared to reality, imagination is nothing. This hit me one rainy Denver night while I was sitting on a kitchen chair in my then boyfriend’s apartment. We had just been to the grocery store. Innocuous enough, right? But grocery stores are not JUST grocery stores, and that particular night, Peter had exchanged some meaningful glances with the cute boy who had been tasked with stacking oranges.

I was trying (again!) to wrap my head around our love relationship. That was impossible. How could two people love each other as deeply as we did and STILL have no chance at all ever? None of the stories I’d read up to that point had prepared me for THIS reality.

“I could never make this up,” I thought as my former cat — Agate — wandered back and forth from where Peter lay on the bed and I sat by the table. I’m sure she could feel everything in that room, the sadness, the anger, the love, the yearning, the “way-things-are” against which Peter and I had consistently pushed for the previous four years. We had, so far, not turned back, just went in another direction to find a breach in the wall, a weak spot. We broke up, met up, tried again.

“You think I chose this?” he asked from the bedroom. “Who would choose this? You’re the only thing that matters to me. Talk to me!!!” But I couldn’t talk to him. I got up, put on my jacket, and went home.

I didn’t think he’d chosen to be gay. I was sure about his choices; his choice was me, but… That night I knew that it was I who had to choose, not Peter. I COULD choose. I could choose this exquisite, literary suffering or I could choose something else. I had that power, something Peter had understood all along though I hadn’t.

I wrote about it, but I hadn’t lived enough life to make characters (finite, neat, believable) out of those two lovers, Peter and me. Though the end was in sight, we kept loving each other and I kept writing.

Above my work table is a photocopy of one of his last letters to me. It was written after we had physically split up (he was in Chicago, I remained in Denver) but were still psychically together. At some point, I sent him the story. He was a writer, had a PhD in Creative Writing. I wondered how the story would read to him, the prototype for the not-all-that-fictional male protagonist. “Yes, I like the story. It moves fast and smoothly,” he says, “Keep Writing!! Love, Peter.”



Ragtag Daily Prompt

RDP #3: Imagination

RDP #3: Imagination

15 thoughts on “Imagination, Smagination…

  1. Funny I am just reading a book “The One” by John Marrs about various people that are matched by DNA tests from an agency of some sort. There are some interesting characters, but suddenly two men (who are in normal good relationships with two girls) are matched to be together. They meet and the electric something happens. I am only half way through the book, but it reminded me a little of your one time situation.

    • There’s something to that electricity thing. Peter and I were great together except for that one “little detail.” Ultimately we both drifted off into “plausible” compromises. I really wouldn’t be surprised if DNA didn’t have an impact on what does and does not attract us.

  2. I felt heartbreak as I read through this post of yours, Martha. I could’t imagine being in that situation – two people wanting something to work out so badly, but knowing that it never could. “Though the end was in sight, we kept loving each other and I kept writing.” – very powerful. Thanks for sharing, Martha!

  3. My best friend for a dozen years when I lived in NY before I went to Israel was a gay man. It started as a friendship, but when I was divorcing Jeff, he asked me to marry him.

    I said it wasn’t going to work. He said he could change. I said I didn’t think so, though it was generous of him to want to try. He said we could do our own sexual “things” and we’d live a fantastic life together.

    I thought about it. I really did. Because for him to ask ME to marry him was … I don’t even have a word for it. I’m not sure he even had a word for it. I was also sure it would be a disaster for both of us, no matter HOW hard we tried. I left.

    He took it well or seemed to … but he was angry. I don’t know who he was angrier with. Him or me. But I guess for him to ask was such a leap and to then be refused was more than he could take. It’s not like the rest of my life went so well, mind you, but everything I understood about gay men was it wasn’t a choice and he couldn’t decide to NOT be gay. I was already in a hopeless marriage though I didn’t know it, I had one more to go. I didn’t see the point of putting myself in an impossible position in advance. I’m sure I was right, but losing him was painful. I think he understood me better than anyone ever did before or after. I swear he knew how I felt from the tone of my voice — on the phone.

    Some stuff … we’re just doomed to survive it, but it’s going to hurt no matter how we deal with it. So maybe I kind of DO understand this one. Maybe better than I wish I did.

  4. Such a strange thing, this business of connection. So many different levels and possibilities, some mattering considerably more than others. Trying to be who we wish we were and aren’t,
    Poignant story, and I admire your courage–not easy to name the truth and act upon it.

    • Thank you. ❤ Back in the 70s when being caught in any gesture of same-sex affection could mean jail time, it wasn't easy even for a person to acknowledge the truth about him/herself. As we see in the continuing alphabetical evolution of identifying human sexuality types, it's a spectrum and, I think, additionally, an individual spectrum. I always knew about Peter. He told me from the get-go. Friends constantlhy tried to help me by telling me about him and counseling me about what to do. Not one of those people imagined I had chosen to go forward because there is a lot more to any of us than our primary sex drive. Sometimes there's love and whatever information my friends were privy to, they were not privy to the intimate details of our love life. I wouldn't have missed a minute of it.

  5. I am sending a big virtual hug to you, Martha, although at this point I think I’m the one who needs the hug. There is so much love in that story – Peter’s love for you and your love for him. That’s the tragedy, isn’t it? He loved you so much, he would have sacrificed everything for you, and you loved him so much, you had to set him free. How shit is that! I can’t imagine this was an easy post for you to write.

    I have a friend, whose husband died from cancer. She is a quirky, wonderful person. She later came out as a lesbian. I asked her about this and she said it was more about an attraction to the mind. Since then, she has found kindred spirits in the LGBTQI community, and has felt included and loved.

    My very first post was about the case for supporting same-sex marriage. If you haven’t seen that but would like to, I can give you the link in a reply. I’ve got a lot more to say about this, but I need to wait until the rage dies down a bit.

    • I get gay marriage; I see the necessity for it and if anyone ever asked me I’d stand up for it, but what I think SHOULD be is the same thing I feel about racism. We’ll have come closer to achieving full humanity when we don’t care any more about who someone loves or what color their skin; when it is finally so minor and personal to OTHERS that we show interest in who the people are as people not in some biological accident of skin color or gender.

      Soon after I moved here and had time to think about my life and the people in it, I realized that the man I had loved most deeply, easily and truly was Peter. In the end, he couldn’t sacrifice his boyfriend for me. What’s more, he didn’t have the courage to tell me he was living with a man when he invited me to Chicago to talk about marriage. It’s so strange because IF he had told me and IF the man in question (funny his name was Paul) had been OK with me (he wasn’t — it was a four day knock down drag out fight) I’d have been able to accept that as a life. BUT… it was also the time when HIV emerged and it’s only by the grace of God that I was not infected because Peter was. He died in 1988.

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