Saturday, August 04, 2012

Joy and Paul

Me -1982 - Feel free to laugh out loud now.

We're human. Sometimes we get scared; we run.

This is my story. It's no more nor less than your own. The telling of the story is the lesson and the legacy. Share yours with me as I share mine with you. Let this not be a place where fear steals our voices. Let this not be a place from which we run.

This past weekend I had a visit; we met up on Salt Spring Island in the Gulf Islands between Victoria and Vancouver. This was a neutral territory of sorts as the visit was from my college roommate and her husband. He was her boyfriend when we were in college. While she and Paul have wandered through my heart and mind considerably over the years and, as life would have it, across my TV screen, we had not been in each other's physical presence for 30 years.

I had recently written and posted a piece here that I had dedicated to Joy as she was the first person to whom I came out at the tender age of 18. I wrote about this experience with her as her kindness and love at the time gave me strength, hope and courage.

So flash forward thirty years to me getting off the ferry at Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island and walking up to meet Joy at Patterson's General Store while Paul looked for a place for the car. I knew it was her from quite a distance by the way she stood and by her smile. It's elements such as our smiles by which people will remember us. When Joy smiles, her extraordinary eyes spark - even at great distance you can see it. Her eyes are the colour of the atmosphere between the realms of earth and space.

What I'm trying to say is, it was unmistakably her. Every cell of me recognized her without doubt or question and I felt connected and happy in that moment. A missing piece was found and placed in my heart. I have lived here on the west coast in the present - always in the present -which is good but something was missing. Most people only known me here, in fact, all that I actually see and with whom I share my time, have no connection to young Gillian, teen Gillian. The people here were not there when my mother went into care with ALS when I was 18, they did not see my struggle with ambiguous sexual orientation, full-time college and three part-time jobs. They weren't there then, plain and simple. This visit gave me the opportunity to share our past, our stories of who we were then - just kids in many ways.

Joy and Paul represent a home of sorts, a knowing of what I was, who I was, and who I am now. Only they have a true comprehension of the path I have walked and they give that path a truth and a history through their seeing, their acknowledgement.

When I first found out from Joy that she and Paul were coming, I was excited for they have lived and reported as journalists all over the world and I knew they would have an endless number of incredible and fascinating stories to tell. I would listen and they would talk. This is what I envisioned. I believed I had accomplished nothing by comparison (ah, evil comparison). It wasn't until they asked, "So what have you been up to in the last thirty years?", that I realized the incredible, beautiful, extraordinary and, at times, exceedingly painful and difficult path I have walked between then and now. Key words in my description included: agoraphobic, homeless, farmer, stand-up comic, jazz singer, surfer, die-hard romantic, lover and teacher. This is, by far, the abridged version.

It wasn't until I saw where I was when I shared the apartment with Joy at Yonge and Lawrence in Toronto and where I stand now, that I realized what an amazing and full path I have walked and how I have shaped and re-shaped my personal map to get to be the person I am today, standing where I am standing, taking a breathe and reviewing the landscape before continuing.

I am hugely grateful to re-attach myself to a healthy part of my past, beyond words in love with Joy and Paul for sharing this opportunity and so excited to maintain my newly restored friendship with them.

When I was younger, I ran from my past wholesale; a part of my childhood was terrifying and painful; however, now I can look back and reach out to those I loved then and ensure they know what a positive influence they have had on the woman I have become, ensure they know they are a part of me and, thus, a part of everything in this perfect universe.

Joy and Paul, you exist in my every fiber. When you look at me and smile, I am a mirror holding myself up to you to see the perfect wonder of your own selves. Thank you now and always for the perfect gift of your love and friendship.

-Gillian Cornwall, August 3, 2012.


Evil Genius said...

A lovely tribute to a lovely friend. Good for you, Gillian

Gillian said...

Thanks Bob - for reading this and for being present in my life again from way back in elementary school days. You, too, are such a blessing in my life and I'm so grateful to keep up our friendship through the 'magic' of technology. Let's hope we will get to cross paths in real life again one day. :-)

Cynthia said...

Beautiful writing. All 3 of you are very lucky people to have each other.

Gillian said...

Thank you Cynthia. I appreciate you reading my work and taking the time to comment. It's true. We are very lucky to have one another. Wishing you every joy and peace today and always.

nakedplanet2 said...

I have had a similar experience myself during the past couple of years: Reconnecting with people from long ago thanks to the "wonders of technology". Unlike you, however, I was shown how really little I have accomplished in my life and have been (hopefully) inspired to do more. This is a beautiful story/essay. Not a big surprise though, as I find all of your stories beautiful & inspiring. Thanks for being you - and thanks to Paul & Joy for helping to shape who you have become.

Gillian said...

Mary, you are such a blessing in my life and I'm grateful for every word and phrase of our communications. Perhaps it is of less importance to consider what we have done but how we have done it. I am so grateful for your friendship, your interest in my work and your absolute irreplaceability in my world.