Hi dear friends!
Second day of Jay’s interview!
Find the previous part HERE
When Jay nearly died at a tender age …. And where he is sharing with us something very private about coming “out of the closet”… Respect Jay!
Could you write your most memorable moment so far? Again like a scene from your books. Make me feel it! Be there with you 😊
Seriously, this is work. It might be fun, but I’m being forced to think here… I’m taking 5 minutes to come up with something… not editing it… and just going for random immediate train of thought here where it’s as though I’m relating a story to a friend with my very quaint and charming voice. So it won’t be amazing writing, okay? Good, we’ve got that settled…
My head barely reached the countertop, but I could still see the gray-haired woman leaning over the wooden surface as she flipped through pages on her broken clip board. She smelled like gardenias and I’ve been in love with the scent ever since that day. I stood in the basement of a JC Penney’s where we’d briefly stopped to place a catalog order… you know, the way they did back in the olden days before phones gave you all the options to order by product numbers. I don’t remember what we were ordering, but then again I barely remember much from my time growing up in the early ‘80s.
My parents argued back and forth over what color the table / desk / chair / shelf that they were ordering would be. I pushed a bright red gum ball the size of Pluto from one cheek to another and slurped its artificial strawberry toxins in my bored mouth. I know it was Pluto because that thing was nearly as large as the last planet which is no longer a planet from what I understand. I say that because it was almost that day where I was no longer alive after the JC Penney incident.
Bored. I was bored out of my mind, tired of being the 6-year old only child dragged from store to store in search of a thingamabob to put in the den for the umpteenth time. Just as someone yelled, “that’s the one,” I felt the gum ball slip across my tongue and drop down my throat like a pinball in a fancy arcade machine that lit up like gangbusters. It was at that moment I began to light up, too, when the gum ball got stuck and death approached. A scary death, not the good kind. And yes, before you ask, there is a good kind and it doesn’t involve loss of oxygen.
Choking at such a young age changes your life, especially when the last few moments of your life might be a musty, damp basement with two parents battling it out over something you might never actually get to see in the house where you wish you could be at that very moment away from the insanity that is your childhood.
I banged my hand against the counter, three quick slaps as though I was letting someone know I was at the front door. Even in my oxygen-deprived stupor, I still had to be a polite little Catholic boy, right?
“Stop it, we’re almost done.” I hear the words like an echo, but I don’t know which parent blurted them out.
“Grr, blegh, <>” That was all I could think of at the time. Who really considers what they are going to say when death is at your door? It happens only once for most people, I believe. There’s really never enough time for preparations despite being the organized bugger that I am.
A minute passed by. It felt like an eternity. I could see every individual grain of sand slipping through the Days of Our Lives hourglass, and as every single one fell through the narrow slit, I wondered if that was the exact number of seconds or remaining breaths I had left before I was all gone.
My beloved gardenia granny noticed I wasn’t just being a difficult child. “Is he okay?”
Someone turned to look at me, but the red bulges that were my eyes wouldn’t allow me to see anything beyond flashes of movement. I wondered if I scored on the pinball machine.
“Oh my God, he’s choking,” my mother yelled. At least, I think it was her based on the shriek that came with it.
…obviously, I didn’t die. But something happened that day that has stuck with me for nearly four decades. I have an intense fear of choking and when someone coughs or appears in distress at a meal, I feel like that 6-year old again waiting for death. Paralyzed. Fearful. Colorless as though all that’s left is the empty top half of the hourglass. All I see are the fingerprint smudges on the glass reminding me that life can be blurry in one instant but wholeheartedly empty in another.
… and that was 5 minutes of writing, so how was it?
Personal here!!! Would you say that you rather were like Brianna or her friend? Was it easy to come “out of the closet”? Or maybe your family kind of knew early on and was loving and understanding? How was it like being gay at that time (we are speaking of the 90ies I guess)? Did you face bullying? Or understanding?
My daughter has lesbian and gay friends and it’s all pretty “common” now. I raised my kids to have an open mind and understanding heart but we are in 2018 not the 90ies!
It was definitely not easy. I’d always known, but I wouldn’t acknowledge or accept it. “This will go away.” But just like I mentioned above that I’m a risk-taker every decade or so… this was another case of just jumping in. I’d been about to graduate from college never having allowed myself to act on what was going on inside my head… if I didn’t do it then before I went back home, I was afraid of the consequences more than learning the truth. It wasn’t easy at first, as I had never really been exposed to anyone else at the time, nor was my family. It took a few years, but eventually it was an easier time. I have always felt different, just never knew why when I was a child. It wasn’t that anyone ever said it was wrong, but my personality at the time (and often today) is to do what others expect of me and not be the center of attention. To be honest, some of the scenes and words where Brianna talked aloud about how she felt came from experience… that sense of being trapped between two things and never knowing which to take. That’s where it’s 100% personal for me.
That’s it for today!