Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Life Copies: 10 cents.

In the past two years, six people that I have known personally have died, ranging from 19 years old to over 80 years old. On Saturday, it happened again.

My best friend in college, Eric Clem, died from a fatal heart attack in his home sometime between Friday and Saturday. His mother found him the next morning. I had traveled to Daytona Beach to go fishing with a friend who lives there. I had already caught one fish and was well into suppressing the demons that fight for my emotional state when I got the call.

Eric was the first one to have any success at breaking apart the shell I had created around myself. He taught me how to swear. I remember the conversation vividly as we walked across the campus grounds at Anderson University (also the International Camp Ground for the Church of God ministries).

Eric: "You wouldn't say shit with a mouth full of it! You'd say", in a muffled voice as if filled with excrement, "'Poo Poo!! I gaht poopoo ihn mah mawf!'"
Me: "So? What's the big deal?"
Eric: "So just say it! Say fuck just once."
Me: "No! Why should I?"
Eric: "Just say it!"
. (lots more protesting and antagonizing which eventually lead to)
Me: "Fine! FUCK!"
Eric: "See, now didn't that feel good?"
Me: "Actually, it did."

Eric was the only one of my friends from Indiana that I told about my desire to transition. He didn't understand, exactly... begged me to just accept being gay and that it was okay... but I wasn't ready for that level of understanding yet. I told him about it shortly before I left for Florida... 17 years ago.

Since then, I've been home a few times. The last time I saw Eric was last year when I went to see my brother David who was dying from esophageal cancer. Eric never changed himself or his love for his friends and family. He figured himself out a long time ago, and stuck with it. I loved him for it. I miss my friend terribly. But I am happy that he did not have to suffer a long battle with heart disease, too.

I've been spending a lot of time (almost 40 years now) trying to figure myself out. There were a few times when I thought I had it figured out... only to find out that I was wrong... and then only again to find out that I was wrong about being wrong.

I've been called a chameleon, a changeling, a copy-cat, a fake, all kinds of things... simply because I'm looking to find that which truly represents me; one simple persona that completely embodies me. I'm trying to be an individual in a world that both shuns and adores them. Yeah... I've been looking for my pigeon hole.
Then I realized that I was trying too hard to be an individual and forgot to "just be."

ALL this crap swims around in my head all the time, believe it or not... and it gets tiring. But I have stumbled onto a beautiful truth about myself that makes perfect sense. I am the individual already. All the things I have "tried on" and been labeled a copy-cat for, ARE part of me. I have never stopped being myself, not ever.

Part of Eric lives within me now. Not in a creepy kinda parasite way, and certainly not in an offspring way (which is creepier than the parasite idea). The best of him, the parts that made me laugh and smile, continue to live in me to make others laugh and smile. How can I be sad for that? How can I allow myself to feel hated when I know now that part of my role is to continue to spread his love to others?

Perhaps there's not much "originality" in me. If that is the case, I accept it and embrace it. I will not complain to my creator that I was not created like everyone else. For in that, I have achieved my own individuality.

Miss you Eric... Mirab, with Sails Unfurled.

Love Always,

1 comment:

Marti said...

Two things i can relate with... being from Indiana (Indianapolis, more specifically) and having people question my seeking out my own self as "fake." Bottom line is that I have a life that works for me and for that I'll apologize to no one.

Sorry about your loss.