(I'm not sure if this is an appropriate format for a landmark, but I think it works. I wrote this to a really nice guy who runs our local geeky computer gaming scene. I also felt it appropriate for a late landmark seeing how I'm moving to Vancouver soon, and don't plan on being active on these forums as much anymore. This is post 1112. Enjoy!)
It's a little strange that I'm writing this letter, considering how little I've spoken with you in the past few years. However, I feel compelled to share my story with you. To inform you, yes, but more importantly, to thank you.
“For what?” You may ask.
Quite simply, your unconditional generosity and support, in the form of hugs given at every LAN party I've ever attended. Amidst all the hubbub that one encounters at a party, you always made a point of greeting me warmly with a hug. I would like to describe to you how meaningful those small acts of kindness were.
I grew up a lonely kid. I had friends, but I never seemed to fit in with the “crowd”. I was different. The way I perceived the world was different from most kids it seemed. I was consistently told by my elders how bright and mature I was. Belligerent competition with my schoolmates always annoyed me. I just wanted to play, I didn't care about rules or playground power hierarchies, or proving that I was better than another person because I beat them. “Can't we just have fun?” I would always ask.
I've always been a dreamer. The world, despite its scariness, was and still is, ripe with potential. Anything was possible if it could be imagined. Life was filled with beauty, both light and dark, and the whole spectrum of experience in between.
A noticeable shift occurred however, when I was dropped from homeschooling into public schooling. It's what happens when someone conforms to fit in. I was sensitive, loving, and wanting to cuddle, but boys don't do that. Early on, I realized if I wanted to have friends, I had to change the way I acted. Slowly, throughout 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and into high school, I began changing how I presented myself. I started to act, not be, myself.
Our family was never too religious, or maybe they were and I just was busy, fascinated by the cracks in a windowpane. I don't recall being drummed with any belief system in my early years. Don't lie, don't steal, treat people with kindness, the usual. The rare Awana's meeting where I was more into the Nilla wafers than Jesus. When we converted to Judaism, I just took it as another way to identify myself. I am Jewish, whatever that is. “We're good folk, trying to do good things and live in a good way. Ok.”
I distinctly remember during conversion, thinking to myself “I'm not sure if I believe in all this, but it makes Mom happy. I have a feeling I'll be rethinking this later though”. And I did.
When I was about 14, I was at Saturday morning services, and people were still filing into the sanctuary. I looked over at the Goldberg family getting into their seats and talking with the people around them. Rebecca Goldberg was about my age, and quite beautiful in her own right. All of the Goldbergs had long eyelashes which I found enchanting.
However, I looked at her brother who was about a year younger than me, and I felt something in my chest. His eyes were beautiful with long lashes and dark, just like his hair. He looked sharp dressed up in a fine suit for morning services. I didn't know what was going on. I wasn't thinking about sex or anything like that.
Just a yearning, and a vision of a beautiful person and me, having fun, hugging, being closer than friends.
In Highschool I always hung out with the girls. I've always been good with girls, and never seem to have much trouble in developing a rapport. Later: I “noticed” the boy actor in the locally shot film, “The Basket”. He too was beautiful. “Billy Elliot” and his sensitivity, yet fierce determination. Tidus from Final Fantasy X. Meg Ryan, the male version. Strong, but "pretty" too.
The female figure, while beautiful, did not enchant me nearly as much as the male figure. The musculature's around the scapula, the shape of the pectoralis leading into wings that melded smoothly into the shoulders and arms. But mostly the face and eyes.
After 9 years, I finally accepted the fact that while I did find girls fun and beautiful, they weren't what my heart desired. For a long time I was in fierce denial. I thought that because I didn't swish my hips, or lisped, or dressed funny, or had an abusive father, or all the numerous ridiculous stereotypes about gay people that are out there, I wasn't gay.
I made up all kinds of rationalizations about how I had become “twisted” or “perverted”. I was homophobic, and very afraid of gay people who were open. I heard the gay jokes, the jabs, and I was even asked more than once if I was gay, and I replied “no” as calmly as I could. Close call! Whenever I told people (Spokanite Christians) I was Jewish, I could see them just putting this label on my head, or trying to squeeze me into their little concept of what “Jewish” was (and it was pitifully tiny) I was definitely not going to get the gay label applied!
I used to wonder how my life could matter, or what possible contribution I could make to this world. After all, while other people see their future with the careers and the house, wife and kids, and life...It seemed to me at the time that my life was like an island...and where did the endless ocean go? I could see my road stretching straight out to the skyline. Ambition was low. Self respect was low.. What'd it matter? My drive started out as “Yeah!” and quickly changed to “Meh.”. I switched majors 4 times, took 4 years to get a 2 year degree...not a waste, in retrospect, I learned a lot, but let's just say my “Focus” and “Drive” subsystems have, only now, started to come back online.
Until July 15th 2007, I was lonely, bitter, angry, and hollow. The product of years of acting what I thought would please others instead of myself, which ultimately left me dysfunctional, with addictions to computers, TV, porn, and other replacements for a healthy human relationship.
Yet in the midst of all that, there were moments of comfort. Moments of well-being and a sense of self-acceptance, sense of self-respect, and peace.
And those were hugs.
Sometimes from my Rabbi (when I attended synagogue, once a year), but more often, they were given at LAN parties. By you.
Thank you for those moments.
I'll never forget walking from a cold New Year's night, into a warm house, cords and cables, monitors and fans humming, and then "Timmeh" greeting me with a hug. No expectations, no demands, no strings. Just a warm, friendly hug.
It's easy in this world and these times, to think that our actions mean nothing, and perhaps that's true. Perhaps in the grand scheme of things, we're just little dust specks that don't matter. But us dust specks gotta stick together! We never really know how small acts of kindness can make a difference in a persons life, whether it's a huge impact, or just enough to keep a person going. So in a way, this is a response to those acts.
Thank you for making a difference in this dust specks life.
Posts: 1236 | Registered: Mar 2002
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Tim sounds like a nice guy. I never hug people outside of my family. Truthfully I think they'd find it creepy since I'm an introvert. But I think it's great that some people are so generous with hugging.
Posts: 4048 | Registered: Mar 2005
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