Thursday, 16 February 2012

About Me, Part 35: Loneliest House On The Block

I had found out about the bisexual social group through word of mouth. I had also stopped by their booth at the 1998 Pride Festival in Sunset Beach Park. Eventually, I got up the courage to go to one of the Friday cafe nights. The first was nerve-wracking; the second was still a little awkward, but after that I was comfortable. I was making yet more friends. It was fun and friendly, but with so many good looking women and men around, it felt to me a bit like a buffet. I was infatuated every night that I went out. It was only a matter of time before I met someone, in that case a woman who was a few years older than I was. We were dancing together at Denman Station one Friday night and started to make out. We started dating a few days later.

The relationship lasted about a month. At times, I felt almost high on infatuation, but as time went on, I felt my ancient neediness and desperation surface. I tried to ignore how mismatched we both were and how confused I felt; I felt very much like the "woman" in the relationship. I sensed that I was not what she had expected. I also knew that she, having separated from her husband in New York City (she was stalling on signing the divorce papers), was dating a few people at a time. Polyamory was something completely foreign to me, but again, I submerged how I felt just to have someone around.

In April, I performed in a talent show held in a school gym/auditorium organized by a few folks in the Mastery community. I had invented a drag persona, taking my stage name from a pet cat I had back in Montreal and a the name of my UBC residence during my first year: Miss Penny Fairview. My thing was lip-synching to classic soul from the 60s. I had gone out to buy a brown beehive wig, a green floral A-line dress, make-up, shoes and costume jewelry the week before. After work, on the day of the performance, I headed across town to Point Grey and spent a couple of hours getting ready backstage. I was a few acts in, so I waited until my turn. The sound man played a track from my Beg, Scream & Shout box set, Barbara Lewis' "Baby, I'm Yours". It went over very well. During intermission, my girlfriend brought me a bouquet. Some of the bisexual community was in the audience and I had also invited a couple of coworkers and an old friend from library school. It was a blast. After the show, I got changed, took my make-up off (felt strangely empty) and headed down to the cafe night, my girlfriend giving me a lift. We then spent the night and the following morning at her apartment in the Brentwood neighbourhood of Burnaby. She had plans with someone else the following day, but we also made plans to get together the following Saturday night for a movie and a dinner which I would cook. When that Saturday arrived, I was working that day until five, she phoned me at work. She said that she did not feel well and wanted to cancel that evening. I agreed, but felt the situation to be very odd. When I got home, I phoned a couple of times and there was no answer. I put the dinner ingredients away and had canned soup instead. I went to bed early and had a rough sleep. The following morning, she called me to say that she was on the way over to my place. I felt that sinking feeling one gets when one knows that the end of a relationship, no matter how ill-fitting, is near. When she arrived, I made to tea. She explained that she had lied about being ill the previous night; she had been with someone else. She was now dumping both of us. I cannot remember the rest of the conversation, but I recall feeling numb for the rest of the day, right through my Sunday afternoon t'ai chi class and dinner that evening.


The first weekend of May, I signed up to review (participate a second time or more) the Mastery workshop. My first time, a couple of years earlier, I had dealt with my grief over the loss of my mother. Now, I was dealing with feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. I expressed a lot of anger that weekend. My new support group, as well as my original one, both proved to be very supportive while I went through this. I had also joined the choir again and sang in the spring concert. But, bi community events began to feel tense and my feelings of dejection became much stronger. My ex and I tried to be friends, but to no avail. Sad, but it became a pattern with me as my resentment at being rejection seemed overwhelming, taking months or longer before I finally could see the other person's point of view. Not a quality that I am proud of.

To keep my mind occupied, I performed in another cabaret night, this time at the (pre-renovation) Vancouver East Cultural Centre. The event was divided into two halves: the first for an all-ages audience and the second with mature content. I was in the latter doing another drag routine, a burlesque to Nancy Sinatra's "Sugar Town". Then, as a "guy", I was in the group rendition of the strip scene from the movie The Full Monty. A great night, the fun as well as the green room camaraderie was priceless.

That summer, 1999, I found a new apartment, a block east of where I lived and upstairs with a few gigantic windows, beautiful hardwood floors and clean, white bathroom with a tub. The bedroom and living room were both huge. I invited friends from the Mastery community to help me on moving day, but in the end, much to my chagrin, only one showed up. Surprisingly (or maybe not, as I did not have much to move), we were done in a few hours. With more light in my new place, my mood brightened immediately. Just in time for a family reunion.

To be continued ...

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