It was another night under the full moon for me. Last night’s full moon is also known as the Wolf Moon, because it was during this time when the hungry wolves could be heard howling in the distance. The wolf was out with me, though it wasn’t howling. Hell, there isn’t even any snow on the ground, but this is the Midwest–give it a week.
So there I was, driving along just after midnight–it was that time exactly when I left my friend’s apartment last night–and thinking and, as always, talking to myself. I do that, but I’m not really talking to myself, I’m usually speaking in the voices of characters that I’ve made. I know, that sounds strange, but it’s one way I work out scenes in stories. I’ll wait until no one is around and I’ll talk in their “voices” and see how a story should sound.
Last night I was with Kerry, my role playing character, and one of his instructors, Erywin. She’s actually one of my favorite characters, which, if you knew about the times I’ve spoken of her, then you’d know how I feel about her. I sort of see her as the friend I would love to have, but don’t.
She’s had a very troubled, tortured past. Erywin is a lesbian, and came out as such at school, as a young girl, in 1979. Not a good time to stand up and say, “I’m gay and proud,” and she ended up getting her ass beat not long after her pronouncement. Of course, said ass beating led to her meeting the Love of her Life, which eventually became a very good thing.
The conversation was a simply one: it was just Kerry and Erywin sitting and talking about Kerry’s and, by this time, his wife Annie’s, graduation from school. He was asking about when Erywin graduated, and it brought back a painful memory of how, in 1985, her girlfriend, the Love of her Life–who is a year younger–stayed around to watch Erywin graduate. When Erywin went to introduce her Love, Helena, to her parents, her father walked away, still refusing to accept that his only daughter loved another woman.
In the course of the conversation it was reveled that Erywin’s father died of a heart attack in 2003. He told her a few year before that he could almost accept that she was a lesbian, but he never apologized for the way he snubbed Helena. It lead Erywin to say:
“Friends say I have unfinished business with my father, and the only way I’ll put this behind me is to forgive him. But how do you forgive a dead man? How do you forgive someone who grew uneasy the moment you entered his presence? How do forgive someone who hated your friend, your lover, the woman I wanted to spend my life with? How do you forgive someone who never apologized for his hateful behavior, and now can’t?
“No, the business with my father is finished, well and good. I won’t forgive, but I don’t ever dwell. I’ve moved on. And so should everyone else.”
It is true: sometimes you have to put the past behind you, accept that things were never good, and keep going. Believe me, I understand where she’s coming from. And one should, at times, forget the past and keep looking to the future.
But I came up with something even more interesting from her. Something that applies to writers in particular. Because there was a question that Kerry asked a few minutes later. It was an innocent question, and one that he could ask as he is a good friend of Erywin’s. And at the same time, it’s one of those questions that, the moment it leaves your mouth, you wish you could recall the damn thing:
“Do you ever wish you were straight?”
Yes, 17 year old boys know how to bring the awkwardness. But Erywin likes Kerry; she likes him a lot. And her reply–as I remember it–was simple:
“Oh, now that’s a conundrum, isn’t it? Hum . . .
“I’ve never been interested in men. Never. When I was younger it was always the girls, and as I grew older it became women. But men? I can have them as friends–as I am friends with you–but as an object of desire? (shudders) It would be all wrong for me. The sight, the touch, the smell . . . the taste . . . (thinks for a moment) It’s so . . . alien.
“But most importantly, I couldn’t ever know how to love that person, not the way they should be loved. And without love, everything else is so empty. I can certainly love a man as a friend–as I love you, Kerry–but I can’t see how I would ever love beyond that.
“I could never wish to be straight, because how does one wish for something they can’t ever imagine?”
And there is a conundrum as well, because, as writers, you’re always having to imagine those things that, frankly, you may never know. How does one, who isn’t a lesbian, get into a 51 year old lesbian’s head, and imagine them thinking about something that is really kinda foreign to a man? As someone who’s written erotica and fetish fantasy fiction, how do you take something that’s truly alien, something that’s way, way, ’round the bend, and make it “real”?
For some reason I think this conversation will stay with me a while.
This is what I get for being out with the Wolves, howling at the moon when I should be sleeping.