The husband and I got back to our home in Virginia a short while ago and on the 11 hour drive home - it took 12 hours going north - I reflected on the long weekend and going back to a place that had held a special place in my heart for so many, many years. I am no longer the closeted gay teen who desperately needed to try to reinvent himself in order to cope with school bullying and a never ending sense of being different. And what I discovered over this weekend, one cannot recreate the past. It's gone forever and many of those who played important roles have either died or moved on in their lives. Yes, Brantingham Lake is still amazingly beautiful. But the true magic that it once held for me is gone. So many that I loved - my parents, one of my sisters, my grandparents and numerous aunts and uncles - are gone forever. Hence the bitter sweetness of the visit.
Will I ever go back? Probably not. My husband got to see places that were a part of my past and very important in my former life and learn also some family history. But my real take away from the long weekend - and I will admit, attempt to recapture the past - is that the real focus needs to be on the present and more importantly, the future. As much as I will always love the family camp, in many ways it has become more of a museum to the past than a home.
|The camp from the water|
I am blessed with a wonderful husband, three amazing children and now grandchildren. Of equal importance is the fact that I have at long last achieved self-acceptance and do not need others - or things or money - to validate me. All of us need be mindful of the past and respect our remarkable ancestors. But the focus needs to be on the future. The trip to Brantingham surprisingly was an unexpected reminder to me that home is where my husband is and with my children and grandchildren.
During my arduous coming out journey in mid-life, one of my fears was about the future which at the time seemed to be a black emptiness. I clung to the past which was comfortable and familiar even though it was over and never to return. What was once a black emptiness is now full with the husband, countless friends and a never ending whirl of social activities. Getting to this point took a great deal of work, including throwing myself into organizations in order to meet new people and rebuild my world. My advice to those coming out? Focus on the future and let go of the past. Don't forget the good of the past and honor it, but acknowledge that it is over. Your life now belongs to the present and the future. It took me far too long to figure this out.