We make may choices in life from birth to death. Each choice alters the path we follow, a path that no one else CAN follow for us. We choose which way to go and must live with all the consequences of those choices. As we look back on those choices, such as that time with the landlady’s babysitter, we wonder what might have been different had we chosen some other branch at that point.
I am in mind of a hitchhiker I once picked up on Commonwealth Avenue heading in towards Boston. We talked and I actually gave her my phone number. I also told her she could call me if she needed help. I wondered, at the time, if she ever would but soon forgot her as the days progressed. One morning, 1am? 3am? I can’t recall now what time it was. My ringing phone woke me. A girl at the other ended started talking. I looked at the clock, being irritated at being woke up at such an early hour, and told her it was way too early and to call me back later. As I looked back on the call much later in life, and even now, I realize it was likely my hitchhiker. She took me at my word, even though I had forgotten it, and called me. I never heard from her again. How did my response affect her life? How might mine have changed had I responded differently to her?
It is unlikely that I will ever know and yet I can’t help wonder.
Life went on. I graduated high school and then went to technical school and achieved two electronics degrees. All set for work I ended up driving cab in and around Boston. My degrees, I was told, rendered me over qualified for many positions to which I applied. Others were unwilling to extend the experience to do well in their companies. I finally got work in the industry and did rather well for many years.
During my high school tenure my main transport was either my feet or my bicycle. I put many miles on that bike riding to Revere Beach or all the way to Salem to visit the girlfriend I met at church. I even worked part time for the church, mostly weekends.
One Sunday, between services, I was at the Library. In particular I was going though a section of books in Spanish. I was approached by a young man who invited me up to his place. I got the impression he was gay (we called them homosexuals then) and I politely declined since I was to meet my girlfriend shortly. Another one of life’s junctions.
Something came up between my father and I and he took it upon himself to talk to my girlfriend’s parents. The offshoot was we were to break off the relationship. Instead, being you and stubborn, we hung on and eventually married and had a son. We soon discovered he had special needs and tried to get what help might be available. Our marriage was somewhat short and stormy. She kept running home to mother. We tried counseling with out church pastor but his advice was to seek divorce. This, and other incidents at the church, pretty much turned me off “official religion.” We tried family counseling and after one session, she told me she had all she needed to know to leave me.
Ends marriage. Enters another girlfriend and later marriage and 5 more children. I eventually took custody of my first son and we did the best we could. This marriage also had its issues. My wife had a boyfriend she was seeing while I was at work. I managed to kill that relationship off but after her first child, she wanted nothing to do with me in bed. Still, as I said, we had four more children before that marriage also ended in divorce.
After three more changes of residence, during which time she had 2 more boyfriends, and even I stepped out of the marriage and had a girlfriend, my father passed away. As his only local relative I became executor of his estate, distributed his monies between myself and my younger sister, we never did connect with the older sister, and bought a house.
Having bought a damaged computer terminal from work, and repaired it, I bought an acoustic coupler modem and discovered online services. Dial-up service was costly, $3.00 per connect hour at 300 baud (anyone remember those pre-internet days?). Got involved in online groups, made numerous friends, many we actually met in person, and had a lot of, mostly, good experiences. It was during this time that my second wife actually replaced me with a boyfriend she met online and later moved into our house. Things went downhill from there and we eventually divorced.
During the time I was still living in my house, pending the divorce, a good friend introduced me, by phone, what a co-worker at a hospital in Las Vegas. I took some vacation time to visit my friend and her husband, met her friend, who later became my third (and, I thought, last) wife. She had children and there was instant trouble at the start. Still, we hit it off well and spend most of our courtship via telephone. Eventually I went to Vegas, married my love and took the family (she had 3 children) back to Boston. My new wife signed on as a traveling nurse but when she got laid off, one of the hospital facilities had a fire and they had to let people go, and the divorce was finalized, we left Boston for Arizona, then up to Vegas, then to Oregon and back to Vegas. In Vegas I finally got back to work.
While this was the longest and best of my three marriages, it was doomed almost from the start and this too ended in divorce.
During all this time I had been struggling to hide my femme side. My second wife knew, and even enjoyed it at first, but eventually I had to drop it. My first wife never knew and my last one may have suspected but never really knew for certain.
When this marriage ended, I took that side out of her hidden boxes, gave her a name, the one I now wear proudly, and let her come to be.
I have glossed over much in this synopsis, and left out quite a bit as well. Suffice to say there were numerous decision points along the way and each choice ultimately brought me to where I am today. For the last eight years, except for work of course until I retired in 2012, I have lived openly as Rosaliy Lynne. I am finally at peace with myself, balanced in life and enjoying retirement.
In the end I have chosen “to be” and, more importantly, to be ME.