Joseph Shapiro, Writers' Retreat Fellow

Joseph Shapiro, Writers' Retreat Fellow



class of 2010 writers retreat fellow [Applause] [Applause] good evening hello but I'm going to read is a scene from a memoir in progress for a team title between two worlds and this is for Aimee mark and Emily it was two nights before my daughter Emily's 10th birthday party a Friday night I went to bed as late as possible hoping to avoid a scene with my wife but Linda was still awake and she had romance in mind I did not and I would not twice maybe three times she moved her hands slowly across my naked back her usual way of inviting me to embrace her but this time I did not respond when she tried once more time I turned on my side moving almost to a fetal position not surprisingly Linda did not take kindly to my continued rejection of her advances what's wrong she asked and then insisted on knowing I tried not responding at all my stomach was tightening and my face was turning red I'm just not ready for this confrontation not yet but she would have none of it and her interrogation continued he will not be going to sleep until I know what's going on she knows and she knows it I put a pillow over my head but too quickly yank the blanket down for my body and off of the bed I told her please I'm trying to sleep she turned on the lights so I got up and left the bedroom and down the stairs to our family room a recent addition to our our house Linda and her long flowered flannel nightgown followed me down the stairs she walked so close closely behind me that I could hear her agitated breathing and I felt it on my neck I sat down on the sofa when I got to the room and then she sat down right next to me or if I touch a moment her frizzy blond hair was usually tied tightly behind her head for sleeping but now it was as wild as the look in her eyes my blood pressure felt so high that I started to believe that a string was imminent still I had nothing to say I felt so pathetic and I come this far only to be defeated by my own lack of courage our game of captain mess literally went on all night long at 2:00 a.m. I was starting to nod off only to be awakened by her assistant no you are not going to sleep until you discussed this with me her long chat fingers were now point and her hands were shaken by three I am my wife how he moved to a reclining chair across the room was demanding to know if I was having an affair with another woman oh that must be if I said obnoxious sarcasm being are they discontents I have so many women lining up around the block to sleep over here that I have to hand out numbers now can we get some sleep soon the Sun was starting to rise and still no sleep then to look both exasperated and exhausted I was no nun that feeling on the edge above the physical and emotional collapse finally finally Linda looked at me painfully with resignation looking directly into my eyes and said well then maybe all of this is just because you're a gay I stared at her blood rushing to my head as my friend started pounding it was probably only seconds but it felt like hours I took a deep breath aware that neither of our lives would ever be the same and then I just sighed yes maybe I am gay the following hours are something of a blur she screamed and she cried and I cried and then she screamed and cried some more at some point the kids came downstairs to see what was going on and why we're both up so early and why we were in the new room with the door closed the wonder maybe both of us made sometimes a lame excuse and sent them away I report lying down in the car that facedown in front of our new fireplace under the newly plastered cathedral ceiling and just bet uncontrollably I'm sorry I'm just so sorry that's what I could say in my imagination coming out to my wife after the initial shock was always going to be followed by some lengthy and difficult discussion of the dissolution of our marriage plans would have to be made with regard to living arrangements finances and most importantly custody issues if never but it never not even for one minute occurred to me that there would or could be any alternative to separation and divorce for what was this all about is not the realization and finally acceptance of the fact that a marriage between him yen and the marina could not possibly make sense that that man is a homosexual it was therefore a breathtaking indeed almost a heart-stopping incident when Linda finally looked up at me with an expression that was both mixed with love and sympathy and said don't worry honey we'll find a way to make this marriage work now my head was pounding and all I could think was oh my god we'll make what marriage work you don't understand this is not about making this is about ending our marriage this is not about you're learning to live when that gay husband this is about the fact that your husband is gay this is about is need to live is real life for the first time this is about his need to live honestly that's why he told you this because he could not live in Tucson slavery he has to live he has to live his life and now you have to live your life my head was spinning I just been crying on the floor but now I was filling with rage I would not allow my life to be taken from me again for years I will have myself to be controlled by this woman in so many ways but perhaps I've even invited this controller after all wasn't bargaining what this marriage really have always been about and I not married this woman at least in part to control this deeply and profoundly unacceptable sign of my own identity had she not married the boy next or knowing that he was not like the other masculine or slugging boys that were in our high school class but now this bone had been exposed and it had taken every iö emotional and psychological energy that i could muster to admit to her that i was gay and now now she was going to respond by saying that's or like dear and I couldn't live with the fact that you're gay you know this was not going to happen the deal was over it was over in my bed last night our marriage [Applause] [Applause] [Applause]

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