passing on the past

A person’s past may not define them in any current moment, but it certainly had a hand in shaping them.  The good, the bad and the ugly all began as signposts on the roads not taken, as well as the alleyways we skipped or slithered down.   I can only take credit for the successes once.  After that I need to move on to my next goals.  I can’t change the parts of my past that I am ashamed of or the mistakes I made.  And there are plenty of things that fall into those categories.

I’m not going to bore you with a cartulary almanac of achievements of my earlier days.  And as tempting as it may be, I’m going to fight the urge to spill my guts, air my dirty laundry and regale you with gory details of things that are better left buried in the recesses of my brokenness.  Suffice it to say, in addition to my successes, I was a colorful character in my 20s and I’m grateful beyond measure that there was no social media back then.  By day I was a (semi) respectable teacher.  At night I was a pool-playing musician, a casanova comedian, and every night was a new ride on the party train.  And while my daytime and my nighttime prosopopoeia were kept separate, I exuded a certain amount of clownish charisma such that the two were not exactly mutually exclusive either.  And if you’re a *playa*, people know it.

Most everyone at the school where I taught knew I was mischievous (bordering on sociopathic) and enjoyed hearing the salacious details of my evening exploits.  When my misadventures oozed into my work life, having affairs at work with straight married women, (when I learned the deep meaning of “don’t shit where you eat”), it was time to get the hell out of Dodge.  I left that world altogether (for lots of reasons, not the least of which was to be rid of the taint of the mistakes I’d made and to be able to start fresh), making a clean break.  I’ve grown and learned and changed a lot in these 25 years.  Those changes were fought for and hard won.  A result of finding a spiritual path and good deal of deep soul searching.  And a lot of therapy.

In my current incarnation I rarely think of those days.  They are less than a wisp of smoke of distant memory.  I live an antipodean life now and I’m glad and grateful for that.  But about a year ago, leaving a local restaurant with my family, I bumped into two former colleagues from *those days*.  I was genuinely happy to see them, the joys of youthful carefree times rushing back to me through the rose colored glasses of “the good old days”, and I greeted them with unfeigned enthusiasm and exuberant affection.  They are both deaf, so our conversation was in sign and literally took place in the doorway of the restaurant.  I was aware of how rusty my signing had become as well as the fact that my family was staring dumbly, not following or understanding the conversation at all and we were blocking the door.  The conversation was brief.  Something like this:

me: Hey!  Oh my gosh!  It’s been forever!  How are you?!  What are you up to?  Still teaching?  How are your kids/families?

them:  oh hi.  good.  good.  good.  yeah, we’re good.

me:  do you live around here?

them:  I live here but she (points to other) is in from out of town.

me:  it’s so nice to see you! wow, blast from the past.  we should get together some time.  hang out or something.

them: {pause} yeah.  I live out of town. nice to see you too.

me:  we should exchange phone numbers, right?

I gave them my cell number and the one who lives close by hesitantly gave me hers.  The ten-thousand pounds of awkward slammed into me as we were texting numbers back and forth.  They only know me for the bedlamite lunatic I was, not the respectable human being I have become and they were clearly uninterested in checking to see if I was still a whirlwind of wackiness.  I swallowed my discomfort and shamefacedly said goodbye without making further eye contact.

I spent the next several days wallowing in past-induced shame.  Trying to convince myself that I really have changed and that I am not a sociopath in sheep’s clothing.  Gently prodding the tender brokenness and cracks where {I hoped and prayed} so much healing has taken place.  And finally absolving myself, not for the first time, for my past idiocies and the fact that those who knew me then would be reticent to want to have anything to do with me.

Joita made the school basketball team again this year (hooray!) and the “welcome to basketball” meeting for parents to meet and hear from the coaches was last week.  Joita told me there was a kid on the team with deaf parents and asked if I would interpret the meeting.  Without giving it too much thought I said yes (I’m always happy to help out (even if my signing is rusty) and being a good person in the world in front of my kid is a bonus).  For those of you playing along at home who are quick on the uptake, you guessed it.  The kid’s mother was my old colleague.

It wasn’t nearly as awkward this time.  Last year when I bumped into her I had not yet started taking testosterone.  So I’m sure that factors into my current composure.  Also, not being taken so much by  surprise, I didn’t have the surge of feelings through the glory of yesteryear lens.  But probably more-so the testosterone.  I could feel the calm confidence emanating from me.  I chatted with her briefly enough to say hello, congratulate her on her daughter having made the team and to ask where she preferred I stand.  I interpreted for her (as best as I could) and I said goodbye.  I wasn’t unfriendly, but neither was I *chatty Cathy* and effusive in my engagement.  My own self-assurance and tranquility allowed me the benefit of not needing to seek her approval or prove to her (or myself) that I had changed.  Change is in the being, not in the telling anyway.  I don’t know if I will see her again, nor is it important.  I’m not naive enough to think I’ve completely made peace with my past.  But small steps are still to be celebrated.  And passing on shame (rather than passing it on) is one of those steps.  


About halitentwo

i am. god is. we are. as soon as i write something about me i change, am different, evolving. i am trans. i am a parent. i am a partner. i am a human. i am attempting to live a well-lived life in the spaces in between, beyond definition, fluid, dynamic, omnifarious and always changing. hopefully growing.
This entry was posted in everyday stuff, feelings, my own worst enemy. Bookmark the permalink.

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