Tamika Wood’s Birthday Party

& Other Stories by Le Kendall

4 Everything is All Mixed Up


I’m glad you said that. I sort of assumed I would have to start at the beginning and I… don’t know how I could do that. I want to get to that. I know I need to. But it’s too hard… it feels much too hard.

But… I can start wherever I like. Something small, you said. Something I can talk about.

So, I want to talk about Sam.

It hurts to think about Sam. But it’s a manageable sort of hurt. So if it’s okay to start anywhere… let’s start there. With her. Maybe the least important of the women I’ve ever lost.

She was a girlfriend I had. About twenty years ago. The twins were just starting high school.

She wanted us to… have a life together. She loved the twins. She wanted us to… be a family. I wanted that too. But… I didn’t ever know how to let her in. She wanted us to… go to therapy together. Work on our relationship. She… I think she thought it was because of her issues. She had her own hangups, her own emotional baggage. I don’t think anyone who was queer in the 80s and 90s got through that in any way unscathed, did we? So we were both… broken people.

It was something she wanted to work on together. So that we could be together. And I… didn’t want to. I didn’t want to to talk to anyone. Not even to her. So I lost her. Because of all of the things I was too afraid to face.

Sam said it was clear that I didn’t want her to stay. That all she wanted was to know I wanted her in my life. And I couldn’t even give her that.

And it hurts. It still hurts so much to talk about. To talk about wanting her so much, and losing her, and knowing that it was my own fault and I could have fixed it. There was nothing stopping me. There was nothing stopping us. Apart from… everything outside of us. It would have been hard. It’s hard for Alan Sebastian and Scott even now. But we could have. We loved each other enough to have… at least given it a go. We could have tried.

I think I hoped she’d just come back. For longer than I should have hoped. I thought for a long time it was silly of me. That I still hoped for so many years that she’d call. To show up at my door and ask to try again.

I didn’t hold out hope for long enough with Cello. I’d given up hope, when she came back. That’s worse, isn’t it? I feel guilty about that. That it surprised me so much. I should have still been waiting for her. I should have been waiting for her.

It’s not like I miss Sam the way I missed Cello. But I do miss her.

Sam was so… easy. It was easy with her. She made everything easier. Just by being nearby. And there were so many little things. She taught me how to take photos. I’d been taking photos for so many years before that but I wasn’t any good. At all. I was awful. If I look through my albums I can see… oh, there’s where Sam came in. Even if I took out all of the photos she’s in. I’d still see where she fits. Where the photos get better.

That’s one of the things I like about photography. That you can see so much of what isn’t in frame. There are so many things you miss. You can’t capture everything. Nobody ever wants to photograph the awful times. But they’re still there. Even if you only pick the good things you can always see that something’s missing in the gaps.

Like Cello.

She’s there as a baby, and child, and a teenager… and then years and years where she doesn’t appear. And then suddenly she does. You can’t photograph someone’s absence. But you capture it, all the same.

Sam is there in the albums, for a year and a half. And then she’s gone. She left. She wanted what she wanted, and she didn’t want to settle for anything less. That was one of the things I loved about her.

Sam. Beautiful, sexy, calm and solid Sam. A woman I lost because of all of the things I was too afraid to face. All of the things I don’t talk about. All of the things that hurt me too much for me to talk about them.

I thought for a long time that I was the only one who was hurt by those things. I was the one who suffered. Which was okay. Because I was the one who deserved it. But I wasn’t the only one. I was hurting everyone around me too. I still am.

Scott told me that Alan Sebastian thinks… that he assumes something awful. About where he came from. And I don’t know how to correct that… because I can’t talk about it. I don’t speak about it, so he assumes it’s something unspeakable. I should have realised that. I should have realised that by saying nothing… I’ve said something even worse. I haven’t lied. But he thinks something that’s very far from the truth.

I hurt him. I hurt both of them.

And I hurt Sam. I lost her because of it. And it’s silly, because it’s not important really. She was wonderful. But not… important. That’s why she left.

She wanted to fight for us. She wanted me to fight for us. I didn’t. I just let her go. I look back and see all the things I could have said. And didn’t.

I was too afraid of saying the wrong things.

That’s what happened with Cello. That’s what always happened with Cello. Everything I said to Cello made things worse… so I tried to stop. I wanted to stop hurting her. But was saying nothing even worse? Did she just assume I didn’t feel anything? That I didn’t want her to stay? Of course I wanted her to stay. She’s my child. I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing. But saying nothing isn’t the right thing, is it? It’s not even in the ballpark of the right thing. Sometimes it’s even worse than the wrong thing.

Cello was the one who left but… really I abandoned her. I never wanted to do that to her. I never wanted her to feel what I felt when my mother just… left me. She didn’t care enough to take me with her. She walked away from me. She left me. She left me with him. Even though she knew. She knew what he was doing to me.

She left me. And Sam left me. And Cello left me. And I deserved all of that, I must have. Or else it wouldn’t have kept happening.

My mother. And Sam. And Cello.

And Shell… But I can’t even be hurt by that because I was the one who left Shell. I didn’t lose her. She lost me. I told myself I was saving her. Protecting her.

Maybe I was just trying to protect myself from losing her as well.

And I would have, I’m sure. Just like I lost Sam.

I loved Sam. I loved Sam… But losing her was nothing. Compared with any of that.

Sam said we should go to therapy. That I should go to therapy.

And I know it’s years later. Certainly too late to mend anything with her… here I am.

It took me a while. But here I am.

Here I am.

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2 responses to “4 Everything is All Mixed Up”

  1. Diane Avatar

    !!!! Gillian finally gets therapy ?

    1. Le Kendall Avatar

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