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how i came out of the closet and ruined my life (part 4)
marie gets up. i hear her mom come home. i stay in bed because i'm already dressed, and i'm not hungry, and i don't have to work early. she works at 10. and even if i can't sleep, i'm really tired. i lie there and stare at the ceiling and listen to breakfast and a shower. marie comes back into her room and i still watch the ceiling, but i tell her quietly, 'i messed up.'
'i know debbie,' she says, 'but my mom is here. we can't talk about it.'
i asked her last night if her mom would hate me for being gay. she hesitated, and then said, 'no... no, she wouldn't hate you...' but something was missing from that sentence, and i figured out what it was. her mom wouldn't hate me, but she wouldn't let her live with me, either. and she didn't want to say that because it's sort of hypocritical, to tell me to tell the truth to everybody i know... except for her mom.
so i don't talk about it anymore. i'm silent while she gets ready. before she leaves the room, though, she bends over me and holds my hand and says with a smile, 'just remember, stay in school. eat breakfast. brush your teeth,' and i smile back.
then she goes and does girly stuff, like make-up. she comes back in and touches me and says she needs me to move my car. i get up and refill my pockets from her dresser, except for she takes my allen iverson. she says i can have him when i get to work at 3. then she asks if i'm going home, and i say i guess i am.

she leaves for work, and i drive home. i don't really want to be there, but i need a shower. and i figure that it's early enough that i'm safe. nobody expects me to wake up before noon, so if they're going to call, or drop by, they won't do it now. i shower, and then i check my e-mail. i got a message from my dad. he sent it last night, after marie and i were done checking.
    Hi Deb--

    Wanted to talk to you on the phone, but you don't seem to be around - guess
    you are at work. Please send me an email to let me know when is a good time
    to call you tomorrow as I am going to bed now.

    Your notice was rather abrubt - don't know if you put much thought into it,
    or if it was a spur-of-the-moment thing because things aren't going well.
    It's hard to communicate effectively via email (refer to my recent lecture
    about your situation at Krogers - notice I got no comment - also no comment
    about how school was going), that's why I'd like to talk to you.

    In any case, no matter what, I love you very much.

    A few things - did Mom talk to you about your blood test results? She is
    sending your medicine (iron for anemia) down to Katie's on Sunday - hopefully
    you can get it there. Also, I put $750 in your checking acct today, but
    wouldn't plan on using it before the middle of next week.

    Remember - I love you - looking forward to talking to you tomorrow.



i cry. my eyes are so clouded with tears that i can hardly read the whole e-mail. my daddy loves me... he wants to talk about it, but he wants to talk about other stuff too. i thought he would be worse than my mom, but he's fine. he loves me...
and i'm still not ready to talk to him, or anybody else. i can't even answer the e-mail. i still wish i could take it back. i still wish i could just pretend again. i'm scared and i have to get away from here. i grab another textbook, and go out to my car. it's not noon yet, but i go to work anyway. i go to the break room and i spread out my homework and try to work on it, but all the stress, combined with the fact that i haven't really slept in 2 days, makes it really hard to concentrate. so i go up front to get my allen iverson from marie, and to tell her about the e-mail.

we stand in the middle of the front end, and we talk quietly. i tell her about the e-mail, and my eyes get teary all over again. she says that's good, and it's ok, and everything's going to be fine, just like she said. and that should be how it works, but i don't feel ok. i feel upset and scared and violated, like they stole my secret.
and then teena, who is behind the service desk, sees me. she calls, 'hey debbie, when we get our tax returns back, let's go buy some remote control cars and race, ok?'
i hear the words but don't process them, so i ask, 'what?'
she repeats herself, and i get so choked up that i can't talk. the last time i saw teena, i told her to shut up, and i ignored her all night long. but instead of being upset, she's being this nice to me.
she takes my silence as a bad thing, and she says, 'i mean, i just thought since you like toys so much, you would do that with me... because nobody else likes fun stuff like that...'
i manage to smile through the tears that are threatening to overflow, and i choke out, 'yes. yes, i'd like that,' and then i turn and run to the bathroom, where i lock myself into a stall and sob uncontrollably.

when the tears subside, i take allen iverson, go to the empty break room, and try to get back to my homework. but then i see my dad's words again, in my mind, in any case, no matter what, i love you very much, and everything blurs together and i can't see and i can't think. i bury my face in my arms and cry. and then i hear people coming down the hallway, so i choke down the sobs, and squeeze my eyes shut. i won't let people see me cry. the people keep coming and going, into and out of the break room. i can't lift my head because i know my eyes are red and puffy, and my homework is soggy from my tears. so i just keep my head down while they come and go. nickolas asks me if i'm ok. i tell him i'm fine. and then marie comes back with ryan, a drug/gm boy. they're taking a break and they talk and i just keep my head down. then gina comes back, and then nickolas, and then marie says, 'debbie, since you're here, you could probably clock in at 1, and get paid for being here. some people called off, so we could use you.'
'ok,' i say, and my voice sounds funny and sad to me, and i wonder if they can tell that i've been crying. i think maybe they can, from the way that the room goes silent when i answer. or maybe they just thought i was asleep, or dead, and they're amazed to see that i'm alive. i don't move, and after a moment of silence, marie says, 'it's 5 til 1, now.'
'ok,' i say again. i squeeze my eyes shut and wait for them to start talking again. when they do, i quickly stand up and turn my head away from them, and go straight out the door and to the bathroom. i take deep breaths and wash my face and try to look normal. then i go to find a shirt, because i left mine at home. the place is locked, though, and marie has a key. so i go back to the break room, and the room goes silent when i walk in. i get the key and then go back to the bathroom and cry some more, because everybody in the break room is talking about me, and i don't want them to talk... i calm down again, and i go get a shirt and clock in.

irene asks why i got here so early, and why i came so early yesterday, and if molly is giving me trouble again. i get all teary-eyed again, because she's so nice and concerned, but i manage to say yes. i am pretty glad that molly and i aren't speaking. if not for that, everybody would be prying a whole lot more, but since they all know that molly and i hate each other, they just assume that that's the problem.

i go on register and this nice old lady comes through my line. at the end of the order, she counts out the change, and she tells me, 'i'm so sorry. i hate to make you wait like this. it's just that you have no way of knowing, beforehand, how much change you'll need. and i try to get it ready as much as possible, but you still end up waiting. i wish there was a way to change that.'
i think that this lady is very nice, and i get all choked up again. when i finish ringing up her order, i have to close off and run back to the bathroom to cry some more, and i hate that i can't stop crying...

kelly lets marie go home early. i am upset that she is leaving me, and i go to the bathroom and cry. she stops in the bathroom on her way out, but i don't think she realizes that i'm in the other stall, and she leaves. when she's gone, i cry even harder... nothing is right and i just want it all to stop...

for the rest of my shift, i manage. i talk to sam (the boy) and rashid a little. now that marie is gone, i'm coordinator, and i run the u-scan and get the breaks out early, so i'm ahead of things, and at 8:15, when all the breaks are done until 9 (when i was scheduled to leave), i ask kelly if i can leave early. she says she wants rashid closing the u-scan, and i had promised sam that he could do it. i tell her, 'sam has done it before,' and she snaps, 'i want rashid closing the u-scan!'
i have to turn away so she won't see the tears, and i mumble, 'can i have a till for sam?'
she asks, 'what?' because she didn't understand what i said, but michelle either understood or figured it out, because she gets me one.

i have to be back in to do tags at 2 a.m. i need to sleep but i'm scared to go home. so i go out to my car and crawl into the back seat and wrap the blanket around me and try to sleep. it's cold, but i'm so exhausted that i manage to fall asleep anyway, around 9. i wake up around 10, and i'm too cold to go back to sleep, but i'm still too scared to go home, and i'm really too tired to go back inside. instead, i think about the e-mail that my dad sent me, and i start crying again. my dad loves me. my mom evidently loves me. they're ready to love me and accept me, no matter what, and i can't even accept and love myself. and that's just wrong... why am i so afraid? what's wrong with me? why can't i deal with this? i know that there is probably no other lesbian on this planet that ran away for two days and slept in her car in the freezing cold, because she was scared of a perfectly good reaction... i cry until almost 11, and then i run out of tears, and i just lie there and shiver. finally, i get up and lock the car and go inside, to the break room, and i sit in front of the heater. at midnight, amit will arrive, and i'm sure he'll let me do a 12-8 instead of a 2-10.

at 5 til midnight, i go to the office to find amit. kelly and michelle are there, too. kelly asks if i'm ok, and i say i'm just tired. michelle asks if things with molly are getting bad again, and i say yeah. agreeing with a lie gets easier each time.

amit asks how long it's been since i slept, and i tell him about 2 days. he says that sucks, and then i clock in and i work. it's the first week in a new marketing period, so there are lots and lots of tags. amit does the big signs, because i'm too weak to lift them on that pole, and i do the tags. when he finishes the big signs, he helps me with the tags. we finish a little after 3, and he says he's going to take a break. i say i'm going to take one too, a little nap. he says i can nap for an hour, if i want, and we should still get done in plenty of time. he says i can go upstairs and nap in the back computer room, and nobody will disturb me. he'll come wake me up around 4 or 4:30, and i can help him finish walking the store. normally, i would feel guilty about escaping work like this. but the thought of actually sleeping in a warm place is too appealing. i say ok, and i go up there. i curl up in this chair, and i fall right asleep. i wake up at 4:35, and my legs and neck are all stiff. i go find amit. he tells me to go back upstairs and sleep a little more, while he finishes this side of the store, and he'll wake me up and we'll work together on the other side. i don't argue with him. i go back up to the chair, and i sleep until a little after 5. then i wake up, stiff again, and i go find him. i grab a second gun, and we finish up on the second half of the store. i take them upstairs to make the signs while he works on his own stuff. i do pretty well, but i find one that i can't figure out. it says 'grn frt smpo'. i figure out that the last one is probably 'shampoo,' but i've never heard of a brand that sounds like grn frt. 'green fart' is the first thing that comes to mind. 'green fruit' is second, but i'm pretty sure that's not a real brand either. so i just leave it as 'grn frt'. then i'm all done entering the signs, but i forget how to print them, so i call amit, and he says to take a break, and he'll be up.

instead, this produce lady comes up, and she needs to make signs. i ask her if she knows if there's a way to save mine, or if she knows how to print them by type, but she doesn't do her signs this way, so she doesn't know. i call amit, and he says, 'tell her she'll have to wait.'
i feel guilty saying that to her, like i'm bossing her around, but i say, 'he says you'll have to wait.'
she laughs and says, 'hmmm... sounds fun.'
'well it doesn't sound fun to me either,' i apologize, 'i just want to print them and hang them and go to sleep...'
she smiles and says, 'well ok, i'll just go back downstairs and work on some other stuff. do me a favor, and page me when he comes back upstairs, and you guys are done, ok?'
i think that was very nice of her to not get upset. i tell her i will, and when she goes back downstairs, i cry again, because people shouldn't be this nice to me when i can't even be nice to myself.

amit comes upstairs and i'm not crying any more. he still asks if i'm ok. i say i am, and i tell him about the grn frt shampoo. he suggests, 'maybe it stands for green fart,' and i smile, because that's what i thought. we print the signs and split them up by which side of the store they're on. i get the side that i scanned some of, and coincidentally, that's the side that terrie hangs tags on when she shows up at 6 a.m. i'm so sleepy that i don't even notice her. i park my cart by a big display at the back of the store, and start digging for all the signs that go on it, but when i see signs that go nearby, i walk away from the cart and hang them and come back. and it's not until i've been doing this for almost 15 minutes that i notice that the shape in the aisle that my cart is at the end of is terrie. tyrone comes by and talks to her, and then to me. he asks me what marie and i did last night, and i am amazed that it was only last night. it feels like forever ago. i feel like i've been crying for weeks. i tell him we watched seven and he talks about the movie, and how it was great. he asks terrie if she's seen it, and she says she has, and it was a good movie, but she would never watch it again. i am happy that terrie thinks like me. when tyrone leaves, terrie is quiet again, and i wander around with my signs. i find the grn frt shampoo. it's on a big green display in the aisle that terrie's hanging tags in. grn is green, but frt isn't fart or fruit. i forget what it is.

finally, i leave from that spot, and i go over to dairy, to do all the displays over there. i meet up with amit at the other end of terrie's aisles, and we trade a few signs that i had split up wrong. i tell him, 'i found the green fart shampoo,' and i point down terrie's aisle. terrie laughs, like a real, deep, amused laugh, not just a little chuckle. she jokes, 'you found the what?!?! i bet that makes your hair smell wonderful...'
i laugh too, and then i move on and hang up some 7-up signs, but i'm still smiling. terrie was nice to me and i'm not crying; i'm smiling. i like terrie. she is a super lesbian. and i wonder if maybe she would be nice to me if i came out of the closet to her, and if maybe she could tell me something that would help me. because marie is talking to me from an 'i love you and i'll be there for you' perspective, but even if terrie didn't love me, or want to be there for me, she could talk to me from an 'i've been there and i've done that' perspective, and maybe it would help to have that perspective, too. but i can't talk to her now, because i napped for almost 2 hours, and i need to get these signs up.

we get rushed at the end. i think maybe we don't quite get everything done, and i feel bad, like maybe i should stay off the clock to help. but amit tells me to go ahead and go, so i do. i'm still afraid to go home. i drive to mcdonalds and i go inside and buy breakfast. i buy two sandwiches and a hash brown. then i take a bite and count to 60. then i take another bite and count to 60 again. by the time i get done, my food is cold and not very good, but i've wasted about an hour.

i need another shower. i'm scared of home, but i will not sacrifice personal hygeiene... so i get a shower and i check my e-mail. there are 5 new messages in my inbox. one from my sister, one from extra, one from alana, one from my mom, and one from my dad.

extra says:
    Debbie? Is this you? What made you come to this realization? How's DDR going
    for you? Is your psycho roommate talking to you still, or was it just that one
    night? I saw Rashid yesterday. Talk to you later,

i cry again, because he called himself 'extra,' and because he has more to say to me than his reaction, and because i'm still scared, and i can't answer him any more than i can answer the rest of these.

my mom goes on and on about how she talked to patty about this (there are lots of gays in patty's family, evidently), and that california is a good place to be gay and get a good job. she says california is 'very multi-cultural and accepting, and there are a lot of college educated gays in Silicon Valley.' then she closes with this paragraph:
    The past two years, you seem to have given up your drive to make something of yourself. This bothers Dad and I more than marrying a black, marrying an Hispanic, or being gay. To be capable of so much and to choose to do something with your life that is mindless is such a waste of your potential.

i cry again, because this time, i am frustrated. potential is stupid. i hate potential.

the email from my sister:
    interesting. you serious? is this like a secret, you decide who you tell, or im free to tell whoever i please.

that's it. it's another thing sort of like the first e-mail from my mom. i have to read it twice, because i expect there to be more there. there's not.

my dad says:
    Hi Deb--

    Are you there? Are you ok? Would be nice to talk to you. I'll be in and out today. Church at noon, Giant Eagle shortly thereafter, and Jake has a basketball game at 3 in Ellet. Should be home at 4:30 for rest of evening. Please send an email to let me know when a good time to call you would be.

    ALso, if you want me to do your taxes I need your W-2 form from Kroger. Think we had a problem with this last year. It hasn't shown up here yet - did you get it? Or maybe it will come to either place in next week or so. Just keep your eyes open & you may have to check on it the week after next if it hasn't shown up.

    Hope all is well. Love you,


he appears to be getting worried, but i'm still afraid to answer this e-mail. i'm still afraid to face them, and i'm starting to feel like just by sending more than one e-mail, they're trying to pressure me into something i'm not ready for. i am upset, and i am really tired, too.

the last e-mail is from alana, and it puzzles me the most.
    i was looking for pics of beavers and this page came up.. (look at "a small
    lego beaver")...i know you've been to a legoland, but you might enjoy these
    pics... you aren't online, that's why im emailing you..

and that's it. now, i sent the gay e-mail to her aol address, and this e-mail was sent from her school address... so it's possible that she never got the gay e-mail... but her boyfriend did. and they're together every other second. she has to have heard about it by now. and it's not like she hasn't thought of me, or hasn't got around to contacting me yet... she saw legos and thought of me and contacted me, even though i wasn't online... so why is she completely ignoring my e-mail?

i'm still afraid. i can't even remember what i'm afraid of any more, but i know that i need to get away from this place. so i get in the car again, and i drive. i need to find a nice, peaceful, safe parking lot, where i can take a nap. i drive to the mall. not the downtown one, because that one's scary. i go to tuttle, and i park sort of far away, but not so far away that i look completely out of place, and then i get in the back seat with my blanket. the car is pretty warm from the trip up here, and i'm exhausted. i immediately pass out...