I have a rare contribution to TBT. This pic is from the early 90’s. I don’t remember the exact date. I found it in the oddest place looking for a blank CD-rom. I have no idea how this pic got in the cabinet, but there it was.1
People never believe me when I tell them how skinny I used to be. Here is a prime pic of how truly scrawny I was. hehehe I no longer know the 2 guys in the pic so I didn’t think it fair to share their faces w/o permission. I barely recognized myself when I stumbled over this pic. But look at how damn skinny I was!
My body isn’t the only thing that has changed since then but I’ll get to that in a second. You can see the genuine smile on my face. The one thing I always had, even then, was my optimism. For a frame of reference for you long time readers, this was a few years after my near suicide but before my stint at being homeless. I didn’t have a pot to piss in and yet I greeted every day with excitement. Life was carefree and simple.
But to know me then was to know a contradiction. Maybe not the best term but it’s the best I can think of at the moment. I was so damaged and yet so happy to be alive. I woke up every day and eagerly ran out into the world. There was no fear of what might happen, just my determination to keep going. So few ever knew how truly conflicted I was inside. I think in part because I didn’t consciously realize it myself then.
Tangent/ If you look closely, you can see a black bracelet on one wrist and a watch on the other. The bracelet was a cheap piece of rubber but had so much sentimental value to me. It was the last thing M, my first love, ever gave me before he was killed and I wore it for almost 2 decades of my life. I’d also developed a knack for collecting cheap but unusual watches and probably had about 30 of them at this point. I wore a different one every week. This was all still pre-internet. /tangent
It should come as no surprise I moved around a lot. I was searching for a place to ‘fit’, a place to belong. I wanted it, but more importantly I needed it. I also tended to move-in with any guy who showed more than a passing interest in me. I was living in Galveston at the time but was preparing to move to Houston. I needed a place to put down roots so I could move past just surviving. Years later, when I got a chance to move to SF, I jumped at it. I almost fled I left so fast. SF gave me a chance to start over yet again but this time for myself. I didn’t move for a guy or anyone else. I moved for me. Without knowing it, it gave me a chance to stop and assess my life. Having a new place far away from everyone and everything I knew gave me a chance to dismantle the shell I’d built for myself. It gave me a chance to shed my coping mechanisms. I left behind not only a weak body but also a weak mind. I worked hard to get ahead in every way possible. And I’ve come so very far. I’d never have thought it even remotely possible back then.
Today, looking back on it feels as if I’m looking at someone else’s life thru my own eyes. I remember how damaged he was and how hard he struggled to survive. I remember how hard he worked to make sure no one ever knew how horribly inadequate he felt 24/7. I remember how he chronicled and buried his pain in journals. I remember how he hung onto any ounce of praise or attention sent his way. I also remember the few souls who truly befriended him, some who are still in his life today, some not. He was like a tumbleweed just blowing in the winds of life. And yet, all of that aside he was happy. (Ok, no more third party references to myself) A total contradiction. But, I had survived so much by then why wouldn’t I have been happy? Actually, I was obnoxiously gay and happy at the same time. *giggle*
In this silly picture I am reminded my past gives me strength to face my future. My past failings do not define who I am today. So while I remember that broken shell of a young man, he is not me today. I honor his struggle to move forward the best way he knew how. I rejoice at his silliness, his indomitable spirit, and his unwavering desire to survive. All of which is still with me today.