We were home one night. Or one day.
She was on our bed, setting up to skype with her parents. She was always skyping with her parents and I never was. This is how we were respectively brought up. I respect both schemes.
She was always briefing me before her parental interactions, even after 3 years together, when the rules were so ingrained in me that I wouldn’t even have the distance to judge them right or wrong. This is how things were. She always had to mention: “I am calling my parents. Don’t speak.” Just in case I would all of a sudden decide to squeeze next to her and wave at the webcam to introduce myself: “What’s up in-laws! Nice to meet you! I am the one screwing your daughter!”
I regret not doing it. I would have freed them all from a huge weight, and at least I would have given them a good reason to hate me, cause for all I know they had none. It would have been a cult coming out scene. I can be such a docile girl when it comes to affection.
In these recurrent occasions, I was like an elephant in my own house, because they subconsciously knew about me. Of course they knew. It takes tremendous organisation and concentration (and hypocrisy) from all parties to ignore something that big over so many years. They had an implicit agreement not to look at the elephant too closely to keep their wonderful family unity. If someone had to be beheaded for the unity to keep up, it had to be me.
The voice of her parents grew familiar to me as years went by. I was hearing it all the time. But I only ever saw their face in picture. I could catch fragments of their hellenic conversations. I could tell when they were talking about me, all declined in the masculine version. Her mum was nicknaming me “Parlez-vous”, most likely because she knew it was fucking nonsense to refer to me with my made-up male name.
This whole theatre piece was sickening. Over the years, not only was I exponentially suffering from my nothingness status, but I gradually lost respect for her. I even ended up despising her intellectually.
I have never met any other couple – gay or not – in a similar situation. I don’t know any closeted gays who live with their partner. It just can’t work out between 2 people who are at different stages or their coming out process. It is mathematical.
That particular day, she was getting ready for the family performance. She checked the background behind her to make sure there was no queerish hint. She stopped, looked at the poster of the sublime blonde woman on the wall. I had brought it back to her from my solitary Icelandic journey. It was the poster of an exhibition that I had seen at the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, a series of portraits of contemporary Icelandic women taken by Berglind Björnsdóttir.
She must have judged the sublime blonde too tendencious. She moved the poster up on the wall – literally 3 centimetres up. I was observing her in silence, fascinated in a bad way. I was trying to be in her head at that precise moment. What were her criteria to evaluate what was suspicious or not? How had she developed so many strategies in 15 years of her gay life to know what could betray her secret? Did she really believe that the 3 centimetres up or down the wall had the power to change the course of her life?
This is where my lost love was spending her plan making energy. Evaluating the centimetres to organise her cover and mine. Whilst she was measuring and micro-managing the practical details of her double life, how could she ever have time to think of happier questions such as: What do I really want to achieve? Do I love my life? What is meaningful to me? Do I want to be with her, or do I want to be like her? If we ever decide to have the family we’ve been talking about, how are we going to proceed? Stuff like that. The regular legitimate late 20s stuff. Not moving a fucking poster an inch up the wall cause there’s a woman on it.
This entire chapter of my life was so fucked up. I am grateful that I stepped out of it with no serious damage but a bruised soul and a devastated heart. I really would have had reasons to hit my head against the wall.
I will never grant to anyone the power to make me sink.
Picture by Berglind Björnsdóttir