Sunday, June 26, 2011

Life, epiphanies, and the people who give them to us


Proceed with caution.

There are two types of epiphany in my book. Public and Private. A public epiphany is one where you realize something that has a profound impact on the world at large, and leads to a great discovery that helps people, communities, nations, or just your neighbors and friends. There is also the private epiphany. This epiphany is harder to grasp because there is less tangible product at the end of it. But you can feel it. I have had two such epiphanies in my life.

1. It's ok to be gay. Believe it or not, this one was the hardest to accept, and I spent close to seven years vilifying every other gay man I met because of my own self-loathing. This past year has been incredibly liberating, which leads me to the second one:

2. The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

I recently started a relationship with a beautiful, vivacious, and absolutely wonderful man. Because I like anonymity and delightfully archaic pseudonyms, I'm calling him Ovid. You can ponder why, but I guarantee it's not the on-the-surface apparent connection between my love for him and the fact that Ovid wrote love poems. There's a much deeper meaning that you will only grasp if you know the kid. But I digress.

I have spent the first month of our budding relationship feeling inferior, desperately seeking his approval because of a great iniquity I felt within myself. Here he is, someone that has made me feel in such a way that I have never felt before, looking at me with true acceptance of me as a human being of actual value when I don't deserve it. I have done more to fuck up my life than anyone else could have possibly hoped to do to me or themselves. I have done drugs, both soft and hard, I have lied and cheated and stolen, and right when I decided to get my shit together, I squandered the one chance I had to redeem myself in the university system. Now teetering on the bare minimum of my GPA and facing the end of everything I have ever wanted, I am finding out that love conquers all. And not just my love for Ovid, but love for myself.

It began with an HIV test. Ovid is perfect for me, and I felt this going in to this test. Friends will tell you how nervous I was about it. Having been sexually active far less over the past twelve months than I've ever been, you would tell me I shouldn't be. But in the weekend running up to last Tuesday, literally a week before our one-month anniversary, my anxiety was such that I woke up crying every day and used every ounce of strength to get through the day. Because Ovid deserved to know the truth, and as much as a positive result scared me, I had to do it if I love Ovid the way I say I do. So I did.

It came back negative. Though the counselor didn't see it, my heart jumped farther and higher than it has ever jumped before. I almost sang out loud. Why? Because a part of me believed, deep inside, that Ovid would leave me if I came back positive. But even if that was the case, if I loved Ovid the way I said, it was something I had to do.

Fast forward to Saturday night. This is the first time Ovid has spent the night in my bed. The tenderness of simply sleeping next to another human being, a human being for whom I have such strong feelings and such strong emotional ties, was beyond explanation. I was genuinely bittersweet that I had to take him back to Columbus so early the following day. But I get to see him Tuesday. And though I will only get to see him for a short time before I have to head back to Columbus for work, it will be absolutely worth it. Because he has taught me to love myself.

How did he do this? Well...I can't explain it. It was when I looked and saw that, after seven years, I will be graduating in June of 2012, that I realized all of my self loathing (see point 1 above) had finally melted away. Believe it or not, this realization has little to do with my graduation, but it was the realization that, no matter how much I've fucked myself, I am genuinely achieving what I set out to do that finally crystallized in my mind that I haven't done anything wrong. I may not have the GPA to jump straight into grad school, not by a long shot at any rate, but nothing will stop me from setting money aside to pursue another two year bachelor's in a related Slavic field. Nothing is stopping me from pursuing my research in comparative linguistic history. Nothing is stopping me from pursuing my dreams.

At the core of this is the knowledge that Ovid loves me. And I love him. And it is not that he is deigning to love me, but that he and I look at each other and see equals. We each see a person worthy of dignity and respect. Neither of us is deserving of scorn or reproach. My graduation just helped me see it a little clearer.

So here's to you Ovid. And here's to us. And here's to private epiphanies that wash over you and keep you on an emotional high like you've never known. Even when you're away, I am happy. I am so happy. And since I've started ending my blogs with appropriate Gaga lyrics, I'm going to run right to, to the edge with you, where we can both fall in love. I'm on the edge of glory and I'm hanging on a moment of truth, I'm on the edge of glory and I'm hanging on a moment with you.

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