“Thomas! What is it, are you ok?” I stopped dead in my tracks; I could hear my friend’s voice reverberate with deep concern. Suddenly it dawned on me that 25 years ago I had stood in the same spot, with my wife beside me.
My former partner’s 40th birthday celebration, in Toronto, was actually a huge reminder for me of the road I had traveled. Not a “road less traveled”, but a road perfectly traveled.
In 1987, while married, I had created a startup business opportunity in Toronto with a natural spring water company. From the vantage point of sophisticated business plans, this one had no merit at all. At its core was a chance to escape the “gay” feelings I had in Calgary, thinking they wouldn’t be with me in Toronto. Oh, the power of denial.
As if frozen in time, while marveling at how life had moved me, the corner of Wellesley and Yonge, in Toronto, suddenly felt like an epitaph for me. “Here he had walked as a married man.”
Nearly to the day, some 25 years later, I walked beside a man I had partnered with for six years. He bore witness, as one of my dearest friends, to a secret I had lived for two years in Toronto.
In that brief moment three feelings coursed through the cellular memory of my body: fear, shame and confusion.
My friend knew of the time I spent living in Toronto as a “straight, married man”. We had watched a television show recently, shot in Toronto, and I had asked him to pause on a scene that panned the neighbourhood I used to live in. In that moment of time, on that street corner, 25 years collapsed into nothing and everything.
The expression, “Everything in its own time.” flashed through my mind and I could hear myself laughing. It felt immensely strange to be laughing and feeling fear, shame and confusion.
As I paused to share the memory with my friend I felt this wave of gratitude flood my beingness. The 25-year span represented a lifetime that I managed both to live and to let go of.
I had loved my wife on that corner 25 years earlier and this evening I sent her thanks for making room for my truth. I had no idea that 25 years earlier I had set in motion the life I’m immensely proud of today.
Life had moved in exactly the direction it needed to. The celebration in Toronto was both my friend’s birthday and mine as well.
I had birthed myself free of being afraid to be gay. I had loosened the grip of shame for lying to the world about who I was. Add to that, on this evening, there was not one ounce of confusion about who I was.
Lyrics from an Indigo Girls song resonate with my soul supporting my ability to trust that moment as being perfect. “Remember everything I told you, keep it in your heart like a stone and when the winds have blown things round and back again, what was once your pain will be your home. Everything in its own time. “
I’m looking forward to the memories and lessons, from many street corners, in the next quarter century.