The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Around This Corner

I was cruising along with my friend Beth Marie yesterday evening. We'd just been at Longwood Gardens because I had to do a little research there for the book I'm editing about Philadelphia (I managed to get myself and Beth Marie in for free--cool). Beth Marie's car was parked at the house of one of her friends in Hockessin, Delaware (Beth Marie lives in Delaware). Hockessin is a rather upscale little town where the roads are small, the houses are big, and there are rich folks as far as the eye can see. As we were driving along in my fabulous new car through the narrow, winding roads, I turned on my cd player, and out popped the tune "Around This Corner" by Sarah Harmer--one of my all time favorite artists (her cd You Were Here is just outstanding).

"Around This Corner" is a song about wondering what you will feel like when you bump into your ex for the first time after you break-up. Not the first time when you're still going back and forth or giving him/her their T-Shirt and picking up your CDs. But the first time when you haven't seen them or talked to them in a long time. The first time when you had left things hurting and raw and disappeared into a cocoon to heal yourself. And now you are healed, and it really is over, but you live in the same city with your ex, and one of these days...

I'll be coming around this corner
One day real slow
And I'll see myself reflected
In someone I used to know
And I may look away
And keep going home
And try to forget it before I get to the door

But how can I say when I don't know
If I'll feel loving or if I'll feel low

I really relate to this song because I have an ex where we left things raw and hurting, and I haven't seen her or talked to her since the "final" break-up (there were about 20 break-ups before that one). She lives in Delaware (as did I), and whenever I'm down there--which is quite frequently since my mother lives there as do several of my friends--I always wonder if one day "I'll be coming around this corner" and there she'll be. Strangely enough, in six years, it hasn't happened yet. I've only seen her once--and she was driving her car, and I was driving mine, and I don't think she saw me, but I saw her, and it just gripped me with panic. But that's the only time. Not really much of an encounter anyway.

But back to the story--I was driving in Hockessin, and the song comes on, and as I'm telling my friend Beth Marie all that I've just told you about the song, we come up to this four way stop of these two little roads in the middle of nowhere, and I think to myself, "I know this intersection." Instantly, my mind trips back to driving my ex's six year old son, William (not Bill or Billy--William), to karate lessons. The dojo was somewhere out in, yes, Hockessin, and we used to come through this four way stop on our way there and back.

I remember this one time we were driving back from his karate lesson, and he was talking about something that had happened to him at school. Somehow "gay" had come up. I was just listening to him ramble, saying, "Mm-hmm," and watching the road or listening to the radio, and then he said, "That's what you and my mom are, isn't it?"

The way he said it was almost like an accusation. There was anger in his voice, which was just covering up fear (he was a very angry/afraid child). His mother and I had never hid our relationship from him. We'd explained to him that we loved each other, etc. etc. etc., but I don't know that we'd ever used the term "gay" or "lesbian."

When he said that to me, I felt this great, momentous aura descending upon us. Here's where, just like in the sitcoms, William and I would have a profound discussion. I would be the wise, sage adult, and he the inquisitive child. We'd have, why yes, a heart-to-heart. Because of William's defensiveness, heart-to-hearts weren't easy to come by. I took a deep, satisfied breath, and said, "Yes, William, we are gay. Do you want to talk about that?"

He was silent, so I took my cue to continue the momentous heart-to-heart. I can't remember what I said, but something along the lines of "We love each other, and that's blah blah blah." I was blabbering on, filled with the light of imparting knowledge, of sharing this moment with him, and then he cut me off. To talk about something like action figures or Rugrats. Needless to say, my bubble burst, and I realized that this moment was only deep and profound to me. I took William's cue--the right one this time--and offered my commentary on whether or not Cartoon Network was better than Nickelodeon (a hotbed of discussion amongst William and his friends).

My cheerful chit-chat with Beth Marie tappered off as I relived this memory. After I dropped her off at her car, I followed her out of Hockessin towards her house, along the same roads that I used to drive back home with William from karate class. I realized that even though I didn't see the physical form of my ex, I had nonetheless run into her "around this corner." And this time, I felt loving. Not towards her, but to her son. He's 14 now. I wonder what kind of man he is becoming.


  • I don't much care for Delaware. Stupid bloody speed traps. I go up to New Jersey to visit friends at least once a year (I try to at least). I usually take the train but two years ago I decided to drive, which meant passing through Delaware. I'm going along this stretch of road where there seemed to be a speed limit sign every mile or so, each with a different speed. Each new sign upped or downed the maximum speed by 10 or 20 miles per hour. Along the way I must have missed a poorly placed sign or two and got pulled over. I was going 23 miles over the limit. The cop acted like it was nothing and had me back on the road in about ten minutes. Had to fill that quota.

    By Blogger Newell, at 3:20 PM, September 30, 2004  

  • Great post, Oz. I don't mind telling you, I wonder how he turned out as well. Our culture applies so much pressure to young men and women to conform to some ridiculous image of how they should act and think, it becomes unbearable sometimes. Young guys come into my store a lot and everything is "that's so gay dude," etc. It drives me nuts to know that they're thinking like that in 2004. I just don't get how anyone can treat other human beings differently at this point, when we have so many other problems to worry about.

    By Blogger Tim, at 7:29 PM, September 30, 2004  

  • Nice post, Oz. It is you, my blogging friend, who is the talented writer.

    By Blogger Dan, at 11:40 PM, September 30, 2004  

  • Newell, I know exactly where you're talking about--Route 13, yes? I drive that stretch when I go to visit my grandfather. Route 1 has helped as you're only on 13 for about 50 miles now, but it is still a pain. But I think you're wrong about the quota thing. It's more about the money. Those little towns get most of their income from traffic tickets. It doesn't matter what time of the day or month you drive through, chances are, a cop is there with a radar gun. So pay attention to the signs and go the speed limit. We've all learned that the hard way.

    Tim, Yeah, the phrase, "That's so gay," is a little distrubing. I was watching an episode of Ellen Degeneres's talk show a while back, and one of her guests--a young actress probably in her late teens--said that some dance was "so gay." Ellen said, "Well, then I guess I would be good at it." The girl's expression was priceless. Be careful. You never know who you're talking to....even when you DO know who you're talking to!

    Dan, Thanks. Just trying to keep up with you. :)

    By Blogger Oz, at 11:51 AM, October 01, 2004  

  • Nice post indeed. Believe it or not I have been to Longwoond Gardens while on vacation one year - very nice. I hope that William as grown up to learn that labels are not as important as the individual, but that is a hard thing to know at 14.

    By Blogger Diva, at 12:13 PM, October 03, 2004  

  • Diva, I worry about him a lot. The nature of the break-up with his mother did not leave room for continued contact with him, unfortunately. I don't worry about him in terms of having a lesbian mother. I mean, *I* want to be a lesbian mother, so I don't think there's anything inherently damaging about that. Slightly more difficult, yes, but not insurmountable. I worry more about him because his family was pretty fucked up. And when you're being raised by fucked up people, you are likely to end up fucked up as well, and it's hard to accept that possibility for someone you loved, and I loved him. If he showed up on my doorstep right now, I would take him in a heartbeat.

    By Blogger Oz, at 7:29 AM, October 04, 2004  

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