I'm in the car with my father and my oldest brother, and they're talking about "the game" or something and suddenly I burst out:"I don't want to go to this wedding, I don't want to be in airports, I don't want to be in a friggin' Catholic Church, I don't know what to say to a woman I've never met who's marrying my brother...." and as I continue blathering, they continue talking about "the game." I supppose my father can be forgiven for ignoring me, he's been dead for several years, and then again, I should forgive my brother, 4 years older than me and 'still single' like me. Oh yeah, then I woke up in a sweat, turned to my hot partner next to me in my bed, and kissed the fluffy pillow passionately and went back to sleep.
Talking to my Mom several weeks ago (has it been 2 months already?), she told me my brother was getting married. I had already heard through my sisters that he'd been seeing a woman for awhile now, and she seemed nice and all. I haven't met her - I haven't seen anyone in my family in almost 2 years (Xmas 2001). He's been serious about other girlfriends in the past, but at 44, this is the first of them who's shared his desire to get married. So our conversation continued, the whens and hows, etc. Early November wedding, do I have a suit, can I get away from work, all that. As our conversation continued, my Mom mentioned something about the ease of getting his birth certificate, the license for the wedding, etc. I was a bit confused, and something she said cleared it up a bit after I said "What, it's a church wedding?" She laughed in a sort of annoyed manner, in a sort of "my goofy son in New York doesn't seem to know anything about ordinary things" way.
She continued talking, and I could feel myself getting very anxious, and even a bit angry. It was a peculiar feeling, and it was becoming somewhat overwhelming. I knew enough not to mention it, as I realized it was because it meant going to my brother's wedding would mean spending time inside a Catholic Church. After we said our goodbyes, I layed in bed, trying to figure out how to get out of it.
Even as I type this now, I am feeling a bit wobbly - the wedding is this Friday, and of course I am going. But back then, I started thinking, MY GOD I CAN'T GO TO A CATHOLIC CHURCH - they hate us! The summer of gay marriage and gay rights and gay gay gay gay gay which seemed to have freaked out a good number of str8 people suddenly was making me freak out. The Vatican's vicious pronouncements, the "protect" marriage Consitutional Amendment, the memories of going to an all-boys Catholic High School that were churned up because of the Harvey Milk School's expansion. And how do I explain this to them? THEM being my family, who is probably like most people - mostly unaware and certainly unconcerned.
Over the course of the few days following the announcement, I had a chance to talk to several close friends - all gay men (duh). Each understaood what I was going though, and understood why I might want to at the least just not go into the Church for the ceremony. But they all seemed to feel that it would be misunderstood, and perhaps even inapproriate; that even bringing up to my brother or Mom at this point my misgivings would just not get heard, and could come off as self-centered and selfish. They even brought up what I also think is the case - they (str8's) just don't take the Catholic Church as serious as we do. Like political parites, most people simply pick and choose which parts of the belief system that they agree with, and ignore the rest (i.e can you name a Catholic Supreme Court Justice who believes in the death penalty?) this of course didn't make me any happier - it actually made me angrier - why have a wedding in a place that stands for things you don't angree with? Grrrrrrrr! So I just got angrier that folks just prop up these institutions, not paying attention, not caring what's going on, blah blah blah.
And in the weeks that followed, my anger about the whole Church thing has calmed a bit (I still wish I could fake getting sick just before the ceremony, but I'll behave), but it's turned into misgivings and doubts about my relationship with my family. There's no great disagreements over big life things, and we all love each other, but it's just the distancing over time that is bothering me. And the scarey part is that I don't even know if I want to make an effort to do anything about it. I'm not moving back to the midwest; I don't have the money for visting more than once a year (which now is more like every other year), so I guess it will just be remembering birthdays, occasional phone calls reminiscing about childhood, and then the dreaded death in the family that will temporarily bring us together.
I realized just the other day that it's been nearly 25 years since me and my marrying-brother have spent more than 10 minutes alone together, engaged in any sort of conversation (and that was after a huge argument he had with Dad, and we went out drinking to discuss how awful Dad was). We know nothing about each other as adults, really, and in 3 days am I supposed to propose a toast to the happy couple? "Here's to the happy couple - a woman I've never met, and a man I've barely had a conversation with in 2-1/2 decades."
And I don't want to fly, either. It's not the obvious big scarey thing that you might be thinking, somehow I'm practical enough to know how unlikely that is. It's the airports, and having no control over anything about me and my body for several hours that freaks me out. Shoes off, shoes on, 'where'd that tiny screwdriver come from', why is this stranger trying to talk to me, etc.
And back to the family - I know deep down inside that the next big event is going to be a funeral; and if it's my Mom, who is nearing 70 but in fine health, it'll just kill me. I know this sounds self-centered, but we've become so close over the past few years, becoming such good friends as adults, even traveling to Italy twice together, that I know that my connection to the rest of the family will be gone. I hate all this churning up of my fears and worries. There's no where to go with it, just learn to live with it. I've got about 42 hours to get my act together, pack my hated-suit (I don't hate it, really, because I've gained weight and had to have it altered, but because I haven't had an opportunity to wear it since birthday #39, with the last boyfriend - the damn thing just stares at me and laughs: YOU HAVE NO LIFE!), buy a stupid card to shove an impersonal check into (I haven't a clue what to buy them, and the list for their Registration at the Department store is just so yucky!), get over my selfishness and think about the little nieces and nephews who always make me laugh hysterically. And for Pete's sake, realize that it's not my wedding, fer-cryin-outloud, there's no reason to be so nervous and uptight (and maybe even admit to myself, finally, that perhaps there's just a bit of envy there, too).