I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions – but with good reason. Permit me to explain by painting a picture of what they were like for so many years for me. There was a time in my life that I put great stock into them, though, thinking that somehow the turning of the calendar would magically transform my life – transform me. Fat chance. Go buy a Power Ball ticket (oh wait, they didn’t exist yet) the odds are better.
But this is how it would play out for most of these years: on New Year’s Eve, as midnight approached I’d somewhat anxiously count down the hours until the stroke of midnight, with the help of a few cocktails, and herald the onset of the New Year with the annual viewing of the ball drop at Times Square on television. I can recall most of those evenings being quite emotional. I would invariably find myself in tears about the prospects of getting another year off to a fresh start and leaving another behind. The beat goes on: lose a few pounds, start working out, be kinder to others, change my gender . . . . Oh wait! Whoa, did I say that?! . . . I can’t possibly do THAT!!! That is simply IMPOSSIBLE. To do that would surely end my life as I knew it: however fake it had become. I felt trapped, I can’t possibly keep – let alone make – a resolution to embrace my authentic self. In those days it was just not possible.
So I cried a lot on New Year’s Eve: yet another year goes by and I have to hide behind a mask, to continue to play a role that had become increasingly apparent to me was not who I was. Another year of living a lie, of putting up appearances and surrendering my life to be lived on someone else’s terms – and I didn’t even know who that someone else was. It was, I suppose, some vision of what I thought a man should be and how he should act; stitched together by my interactions with the men around me. If I took what I thought to be what the best qualities were of each I could somehow transform myself into this super, mega man that would ultimately drive out of my body these feelings I had that my current gender was not the correct one. But what I didn’t realize then is that one cannot simply cast out what is innately, intrinsically in your heart and in your soul.
Could I muster up the strength and the courage to keep the facade in place for another year? Heck, for another month, or another week? After all, I had gotten pretty darn good at it. But I convinced myself that it was the only means by which I could cope with the conflict. I was lost, too afraid to move. I would always laugh off the tears to others - like my ex-wife, for starters - as that’s just my being overly emotional. The fact is, there were times when I cried so hard that it was all I could do to stop myself from sobbing out of control for fear of drawing attention to this internal conundrum. I had tried to run from it, to “love” my way out of it, to immerse myself in hobbies and organizations that would take my mind off of the constant drumbeat in my brain that I was different. But none of them ever worked. Oh, perhaps as a temporary salve, but never all that long lasting. Such were the New Year’s Eves of the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s. At least I had Dick Clark, God rest his soul.
Fast forward to this past New Year’s Eve. My partner Mari and I are over our “brother” Noel’s house ringing in the New Year with cooking, music and wine – oh, and dare I forget the champagne! What a wonderful evening, we shared stories of our recent cruise together – the pictures of which I finally posted to my Facebook page – and shared the warmth and love of what family to us is all about. To be sure, we reflected on this year – for me a year of internal change and positive movement in my perspective on my life: my career, my contributions to the community and to the movement at-large and my relationship with Mari.
We were into the second movie of the evening’s double feature, Serenity (the first was the original release of Kinky Boots with Chiwetel Ejiofor playing an amazing Lola), when I realized midnight was fast approaching. Surely we were going to pause the movie and switch over to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve to see what antics Ryan Seacrest and Miley Cyrus were up to – or perhaps to see what bizarreness Kathy Griffin was subjecting Anderson Cooper to this year. But no . . . we were approaching the climax of the movie – another one starring Ejiofor (no, we did not purposely assemble a Chiwetel Ejiofor Film Festival) – and as the clock struck midnight we exchanged kisses and “happy new year” pleasantries without taking our eyes off the screen – or so it seemed to me. That was it! No countdown, no ball drop, no confetti flying in the air, no images of freezing people wearing Nivea hats partying at Times Square (where and when do they pee??!!). Nothing. Nada. Surely we can go outside and bang some pots and pans?? Nope.
I will admit to a slight case of “hoopla withdrawal”, but I was surprised to find that it passed rather quickly. How refreshing! No tears, no angst, no consternation. Just pure unadulterated gratitude for all that I have been blessed with in my life. It most assuredly did not happen overnight, rather, it was years in the making. Perhaps that’s what made it so cathartic to some degree.
As I leave 2013 behind and welcome 2014 I have no sweeping resolutions to share that I know I’ll never keep. Just a promise to myself to love more, write more, read more and most importantly, to hold life gently guided by an ever increasing confidence that God is looking out for me. Perhaps, just perhaps, that’s what following your heart is all about . . .
Happy New Year!