Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Fence

Music, Music, Music, the new cd by John Barrowman was playing on the car’s audio system as we drove into the county of Cornwall. Our first sunny day since arriving in the UK happened on the day of one of our longest drives. We’d never been to Cornwall before and were looking forward to seeing a new part of the country. At times like this I get pulled into a kind of thinking that I try to stay away from. It’s not particularly healthy or helpful, but I couldn’t help it.

I began to think of my years at school, years and years of bullying and denigration. Years and years of my fear growing with every step taken towards the school. Years and years of believing the message that I was nothing, would amount to nothing and ultimately lead a life that meant nothing. And now here I am in a comfortable car, driving with a man that I love on a lecture tour, speaking to sometimes huge gatherings of people who come specifically to hear what I had to say. It’s hard to understand the road that brought me here. It’s hard to believe that this is all real.

Then, mirroring my thoughts, John (we’re buds only he doesn’t know it) began to sing ‘Through the Rain’ and I began to quietly cry. Why? Because I have been through the rain. I’ve stood tall on low expectations. Fatty Fatty Two By Four actually can get through the kitchen door, and into lecture halls and between covers of books and into places of honour, who’da thought?

I know that those who bullied me in school never think for a minute about me, about who I am, who I became. I know that the imprint I left on their fist has disappeared. I know that they happily live their lives without much thought of me.

But I think of them.


They said things to me that continue to ring through time. They did things to me that continue to bruise my self esteem. They took action and engaged in inaction in perfect synchronization to the beat of humiliation. Their words have become my words. When they aren’t there to call me stupid, I am. When they aren’t there to slap away dreams and hopes, I am. When they aren’t there to remind me that I’m a fat, bald, cripple who loves, but who has no beauty, I am.

And then the car turns a corner and a voice sings about being respected by others who, got rained on too ... and a little bit of my heart beats a bit stronger. That sense of aloneness that all who suffer at the hands of others feel becomes just a little less stark. Suddenly hope does not feel like the weak emotion of a simpleton.

If there are only six degrees of separation and if Barrowman ever surfs the net looking for references to his music, here’s a thanks from me. Today, driving on the other side of the road, I began to experience – fully the greener grass ...


Anonymous said...

The weak emotion of a simpleton? Far from it. Hope is terrible, beautiful, potent.

It seemed weak and foolish then, because we could not use it.

Anonymous said...

And: Kallistos Ware said, "If I know somebody well, in ten minutes ... I could perhaps say to them things so cruel, so destructive, that they would never forget them for the rest of their life. But could I in ten minutes say things so beautiful, so creative, that they would never forget them?"

You do.

wendy said...

I have no words, Dave...only a heart swelled with empathy for the boy you were and for the struggle to block out the voices of the bully echoing through the halls of time.

lina said...

If knowing you weren't alone then and you are not alone now helps, then you are not alone, not in your memories, not in your hurt, and not in the times you need to cry. More people than you know have been there and are there now. Your words really hit home!

Diana Troldahl said...

Hi Dave, I found your blog yesterday.
I have been struggling with writing.
I want to write fiction, but wanting isn't enough, I need to quit sitting on my fingers and DO it. It has been a puzzlement to me why I haven't. In other areas of my life I am not a procrastinator, I knit stuff for charity, design knitting patterns, send off gifts to pals, pay my bills,etc, etc.. Reading this it became crystal clear. As I have gained confidence in less important (to me) parts of my life, those old recordings I thought I'd banished found a tender place to hide. Right next to (and in front of) all the beautiful stories within. I here and now make the commitment that with the return of the sun, on Dec 22nd, I will let that light banish the dark voices from that part of me, too.
I WILL write. There may be people out there who need to read my words as badly as I needed yours this day.
Thank you Dave, glad to meet you.

Roia said...

Yes. Go Dave!

Ianto Jones said...

Thank you for writing this piece. And - John Barrowman sometimes reads (or the moderator forwards to him) comments left on his yahoogroup,

Would you like a link to this post to be posted on that group?

Others there, have posted gratitude for his songs, and have posted (actually somewhat similar - *smile* ) accounts of going about their lives while being affected by his voice and the lyrics he chooses.

I'm rambling in your comments; I'm sorry.

Just - yes, I think your words might please him.

I'm a fan of yours, and of his.
Both of you, make my days brighter.