The sun was full and bright through the lounge sliding doors this afternoon and I knew what I wanted. I came and sat down, crossed my legs and turned my palms upwards. It’s a good spot to meditate, there on the lounge floor. The glass doors look out over the deck and the houses below and up to the hills on the other side of the valley. In winter the sun sets early but wild, in a straight line across the roof of our house and onto the lounge floor. I sat in the sun and shut my eyes. And there it was. The peace that comes when I’m ready for it.
The sun was so wide and strong over me sitting there that I could see it through my eyelids. As if it were the middle of summer and I had flecks of sun-blur beckoning me from the corner of my eye. I felt like a trumpet-shaped flower just opened, a snap-dragon or an exotic datura flower, narrow and long with the stamen and pollen deep in its centre, the sun pouring through. As if for the first time the full blast of sun could reach its core.
It’s hard to describe how right now feels for me. But if you can imagine a flower just unfurled for the first time, you might get close. I’ve spent a lot of my life in a strange state of creative barrenness, whole parts of me curled up and hidden, far from the light. And yet in another sense I have been growing myself all this time. I have been growing myself in those dark and hidden places, and here I am. I am my own fruit.
I can understand why people might feel sad about our news. The news that I have realised I am lesbian, and that Pat and I are recreating our relationship. It’s the end of an era, the end of the relationship as it was. Certainly last November and December – the time immediately following my enormous realisation – are worth feeling sad about. Both of us in massive shock at that time, both in various stages of grief. Both full of fear for the future, and for each other. And yet if you saw us now, if you were sitting at the dining table this afternoon with a cup of tea while the sun streamed in, you’d realise we’ve got it pretty good.
All I asked for back in November was my own bedroom. All I could say to Pat was; I love you, I’m gay. Because at that point it was all I knew. Just give me time, I asked. Time to process what this means. He did. We started a long conversation about what it would look like for us to live in the same house and remain a family, even with us in different bedrooms, even just for a time. On a grey day we saw a house for sale over in the valley. Five bedrooms upstairs and an office and rumpus downstairs. We were prickly with each other, our words laced with anxiety, but I knew this house was something. Let’s give ourselves the chance to grow into something new.
Last weekend Pat moved downstairs. I call it his “man-burrow” because it’s dark down there at night, perfect for sleeping, and because there’s something magic about the idea of hibernation. An animal can absent themselves from everything for a time and survive, and then in spring return to a whole new world. He’s got a gigantic screen down there, a pool table and an office on the other side of the stairwell. He’s strung up fairy lights and arranged things just to his liking.
I went and bought myself a bed five days after I told Pat the truth. I was in a daze, hardly eating, hardly sleeping, functioning on instinct. I bought the kind of bed I’ve always wanted. And I bought a single bed. I couldn’t articulate much that week, but what I did know was that I was coming out as lesbian for myself. I wasn’t doing it to replace one relationship with another. I was doing what I needed to do to love myself.
When I wrote here on this blog that I was bisexual, I was elated. I was elated to be telling the world I knew I could love a woman, that I had loved a woman. Yet at the same time I felt a palpable regret somewhere deep, a regret that I had never given myself the permission to act on what I knew my heart was capable of. I wish, like I’ve never wished for anything in my life, that I got to come out at an earlier age, I wrote. I read those words now and feel the longing pour off them.
But those regrets are gone. I look back over the years now and see something which I can only describe as the miracle unfolding of life. Each moment or marker in time borne out of what I understood about myself at that point. The day I married Pat; one of the best days in my living memory. I’d spent the years leading up to it wading in and out of depression, with no real idea how to make a life for myself. Pat made me laugh, encouraged me to take risks, to dream and to adventure. Marrying him was my first real act of agency. A choice I made for myself. And in doing so I chose someone who would provide the fight I needed to grow, and who would love me faithfully as I journeyed home to myself.
I understand how breakups get toxic. I’ve watched us teeter on the thin line between love and hate over and over. I understand why divorce is brutal. Why it makes people bitter. I get how it is that the person we once loved can become a complete stranger. But somehow we’ve managed to come out the other side of crisis still friends. Good friends. Still able to look each other in the eye, still able to say I love you. I don’t know exactly how we got here. I think grace has something to do with it.
In many ways where we are now doesn’t look a lot different from where we were. We still eat altogether at our oversized table. The dog still lies on his side in the middle of the kitchen floor while we try to get dinner cooked. The lunches still get made, the music practice still happens, the girls still spend most of their waking lives running or singing or yelling. We’re a family.
That photo up there is a random one from last night’s Mid-Winter Carnival. We bundled the girls into the car and drove into town, nudged our way through the crowds and found a spot at the side of the Octagon. There we stood side by side in the freezing cold and took in the wonder of it all; the lanterns, the children carrying them, the bold shapes of light bright against the ink black sky.