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 ...