Featured Post

(Introretrospective) Weekend!


One of my favorite things for other people to do on social media is Throwback Thursday.  I’m sure you’ve all heard of it by now, but just in case we have readers who are otherwise hermits, the idea is that one posts an old photograph of oneself, with or without an accompanying anecdote.  I’ve rarely felt moved to join in, but what I love about it is the sense of history, of evolution, of continuity, that it gives to people I’ve maybe only known for a few years.  Where and when I grew up, most people still knew each other their whole lives, or they met for the first time in their 30s only to realize they were fourth cousins whose mothers grew up down the road from each other, or else they came “from away” and while they might be treasured, they were not known.

In exiling myself from that place, not once but twice, I have sometimes felt like I’ve chosen a life of always being from away, a life without history.  The people I love love me back, but for most of them, I might’s’well’ve sprung from Athena’s forehead full-formed at 17, or 20, or 30, or 35, or whenever it is that they met me.  I rarely look back on my own life, except in the most intimate of company.  I’m interested in their (and your) stories of the past, though – I want these people I’ve chosen to be as solid, as historical, as the people I was born to.

In the past year or two, I’ve done a lot of work on my own understanding of my past, and with that comes a deeper willingness to share it with other people – even strangers.  I’m still not ready to pick out a new old picture every Thursday, but it came to me the other day that music is both less and more personal, that while I’ve never stopped liking a song, my musical obsessions definitely have eras, and that maybe I could do a musical throwback Thursday once every couple months or so. At first, I didn’t know where I wanted to put such an endeavor. Facebook was too ephemeral, and my livejournal was too personal – I needed a little bit of distance, a little bit of an idea of an audience I don’t know all that well, to be able to tell these stories.  Then I realized that it was just about time to give Jaybird a weekend off from writing Weekend!, and, well, here I am.  Not sure if I’ll do another one of these or not, let me know if you like it and maybe I will. (AND PLEASE ALSO POST YOUR WEEKEND COMMENTS AS USUAL BECAUSE THEY ARE ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS, OKAY? OKAY.  Thank you.)



Hit play, why don’t you?


When I went to college, I’d already figured out I was bisexual.  I’d already been chased out of the house by my father when I came out to him by accident but also furiously on purpose, in the middle of an argument we’d been having about whether “they” deserved whatever right it was that he was claiming “their” morals proved “they” didn’t.  I’d already walked off that heartbreak, waiting for him to unlock the house doors yet again, and I’d already talked to my mom about how she loved other gay people, and she loved me no matter what, but she still thought it was disgusting, what gay people actually did together.  I’d already been warned that if I shaved my head, I would never find a job because everyone would think I was a lesbian.  I’d already spent hours alone in my room, looking back at the years before and noticing all the things I’d forced myself to not notice myself noticing even before puberty set in.  I’d already talked to my siblings about it, or rather I hadn’t quite managed to – but they’d seen the fight I had with my father, and all three of them let me know in one way or another that they knew what it had been about, and that we were fine.  And I’d already sworn to myself, a hundred times over, that when I got out of my small hometown, and started living in Montreal, my bisexuality would just be part of who I was, something that lived on the outside of my skin, no matter whom I happened to be dating at the time.

And then I got to Montreal, and I was living in a cluster of three other dorms with hundreds of other people who were mostly as young and as uncertain as I was, and I discovered that it was not as easy to be out as I had thought it would be.  I met an older woman, a grad student, who took me under her wing a bit, and introduced me to the GLB community on campus.  But that community was decidedly more G than L or B, back in the late 90’s, and I was confronted with a general consensus (not shared by my mentor, fortunately) that us B girls were only there on sufferance because they expected most of us to either go back to being straight, or ‘fess up about being Ls all along … and that *real* bisexuals were not anyone the lesbians there would want to date, or even hang out with.  I found queer activism on my own – this being the height of the AIDS crisis in North America, the activists weren’t exactly hard to find – and I did feel at home there.  But that was also mostly a community of gay men, and as a bonus, people kept dying on me before I could really get to know them.  (Sorry if that sounds flip.  I get flip when I’m trying not to remember despair, and heartbreak, and flinging ourselves at a society that really didn’t seem to care.)

I flirted with women at concerts and festivals.  I even went home with a couple – but I bolted, back to the safety of my dorm hallway, before anything could happen between us.  I’m not sure, even now, what I was afraid of.  I suspect that I was afraid my father’s accusations were true.  That I was deluded in thinking I was bisexual, that I wasn’t really able to love anybody, let alone a woman. I was afraid that if I tried, I would prove him right.  It’s also true that I was kind of afraid of women back then, or at least I thought I was.  I thought of myself as “one of the guys” far more often than I thought of myself as a woman or a girl, and I was about a year away from starting to consciously question my gender identity.  So many of the things that seemed natural to the young women around me were utterly baffling inside my own head; so many of the ways they expected me to behave were so foreign to me that I very often felt like I was only passing as a girl.  I didn’t like not knowing what was going on.  I didn’t like having to muddle through.

But in the midst of all the confusion, my first year of college, there was also a lot of joy.  I had that one lesbian mentor, and while we were never even quite friends – we never socialized outside of the volunteer contexts where we knew each other – she was always kind.  And she told me stories about her life, about her partner, about the prejudices she faced and the things she wanted for her life.  Which were not the things I wanted – she was not a feral being, as I was then – but it helped me to understand so much about the world.  She was only 26 or so, but to me she was a wisewoman.  And then I found the HQ section of the library, and devoured everything I could find on the topic of sexuality.1  I went to gay clubs and danced with boys who flirted with me until they realized I wasn’t their type, and then we laughed together and kept dancing.  I found friends on the internet who were as alienated and as loving as I was, and we formed tight bonds.  And in the midst of all this, there was A Girl.

She was The Girl, really, for me, that year, and the fact that I swore up and down to myself that she was straight and I didn’t like her that way and she was out of my league anyway, and changed the subject inside my head whenever her The Girl-ness came up, made no difference in the end.  Whenever she walked into a room, my heart sat up and tilted its head to the side like an eager puppy – and that’s only the tip of the cliché iceberg as far as my feelings were concerned.

She played guitar – of course she played guitar – and she was the first one to sing the Indigo Girls to me, the first one to sing anything to me at all. We both loved Leonard Cohen, and we talked a lot about his lyrics, and she played me one of his albums, because she had an LP player in her dorm room, and we sat on her bed and told each other stories about our childhoods.  We sat on her bed and smiled at each other.  Sometimes we held hands.

I remember her hair like I’d run my fingers through it a hundred times.  I remember watching her eyelashes when she was looking down at something. I remember the depths of her eyes, even though I’ve forgotten their exact shade.  I remember her fingers on the guitar strings while she sang, and the heel of her hand resting on the body of the guitar while we talked.  I remember the long skirts we both wore.  I remember sitting on the quad together.  I remember sitting on the dorm hallway floor together.  I remember looking up at her, one day, as she stood at the top of the stairs, and making a joke, and being so happy to see her laugh.  And I remember one night when we were crowded into someone else’s single, watching MST3K, when she sat on my back and massaged my shoulders for hours, and I was deeply, infinitely happy.  I remember thinking to myself that it was lovely to have the intimacy of that, that it was better that she was straight, because for once someone just wanted to touch me and wasn’t even interested in having sex.  But I also remember being hyperaware of the weight of her pelvic bone, and its proximity to the base of my spine, and the way those two facts sent delight humming through every cell in my body.

We had other friends, of course, and among those many overlapping friendships we each had, we shared one circle in particular – her and me and my favorite next-door dorm neighbor and a pint-sized aikido black belt and a history major who was always, unfailingly, kind .. and another person or two I can’t remember anymore – and we’d all spend time together exploring the city’s restaurants.  It seemed like we’d always be friends.  It seemed like there was plenty of time to figure things out.

But then summer happened, and my fears kicked in, and there were all sorts of complicated stories about boys that don’t really matter to this story, but did make it harder to keep track of who I was and what I wanted.  When we came back the next year, it was so much harder.  I still saw her – we kept having lunch with our circle of friends for the first few months of sophomore year – but neither of us was the loud one at the table, and I was too bent on insisting to myself that we weren’t THAT kind of friends to allow myself to seek her out alone – and by the time my November depression came around, I hadn’t seen her in weeks.  She became a person I was happy to run into every few months, instead of a person I saw almost every day.

And all that year and the next, even as I was breaking up with my high school boyfriend, even as I tried to figure out gender and academia and love and danger enough to keep myself sane, even as I was meeting Jaybird in person for the first time and falling madly in love with him, even as I stopped thinking about her much with the conscious part of my mind …. I missed her.  I missed her so much, and I yearned for what we could have had.  And over and over again, I found myself singing Ani’s song about missed opportunities, even though it seemed silly to feel this way about a girl who would never have felt that way back.  She was still The Girl, and it still felt like she should have been mine.

(Hit play again, now, though you probably want to skip to 3:06 for the actual song.  The alchemy of covers, y’all.  It’s something else.)

As Jaybird and I fell more and more deeply in love, and got more and more entangled in dramas whose roots were buried very very deeply in my head, I completely lost touch with The Girl.  I still heard about her sometimes, because my next-door dorm neighbor had remained a close friend, and he saw her all the time.  He yearned for The Girl as much as I did. I mostly asked questions, when we talked about her; I kept my own feelings on the inside.  And as I rode the bus home after our visits, I would listen to this song, on repeat, without making myself admit why.

When my life came to a breaking point the following year, and I made the best stupid decision I ever would make, and decided to move to Colorado to marry Jaybird, I hadn’t seen The Girl in at least six months.  I had lunch with almost all my best friends before I left, one at a time, or in pairs, but never more at once than that.  I shocked them all – later someone told me it was like I just disappeared junior year, that they felt like I’d been normal one minute and non-existent the next.  But I did manage to say most of my goodbyes.  I asked my favorite neighbor to get in touch with The Girl and set up a lunch for the three of us, and he did.

The minute I saw her, it was the fall of freshman year all over again.  I could barely even speak at first; she was The Girl, and she was standing in front of me, and I forgot to forget what that meant.  We hugged, and laughed, and beamed at each other… and then she proudly introduced me to her girlfriend.  Who was marvelous – of course she was marvelous – and the three of us giggled and crowed and sparkled and flirted our way through a dinner that left our other friend a bit out of place, I think, but still happy to be with us.  And then after dinner, the two of them invited me to come along somewhere, but I needed to go home and do things.  Needed not so much because of practicalities, but because my flight instinct was just as strong as it had been two years before.

I had another reason to go home, though, an infinitely better one.  The minute Jaybird picked up the phone, I blurted out, “I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE WAS GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!”  “What a waste,” he said.  “Well,” I said. “Maybe if I’d realized, you and I would never have met.  So I guess things worked out for the best.”  “Hmm,” he said, and then we talked of other things.



As for this weekend, Jaybird and I will spend the next couple days getting ready for me to go to Paris, and then Saturday I’ll be getting on a plane.

What’s on your docket this weekend?  And what was on your docket 20 years ago?  I am deeply interested in both of those things.



(Featured image is Guitarist, by ? ?, under a CC-BY license.  Hurray for Creative Commons!)

  1. It gave me a special kind of satisfaction, a few years ago, to return to that library for professional reasons, and see some of the books that had been shiny and new when I first read them, aged and worn from a hundred readings now, and still there on the shelf and waiting to help some other girl figure out her soul. []

Managing Editor
Home Page Public Email 

Maribou is a voracious reader who also likes to watch, stare at, and listen to stuff. Occasionally she makes stuff, too. She works in a small liberal arts college library, and shares a house in Colorado with her husband Jaybird, five cats, and what looms ever closer to ten thousand books. ...more →

Please do be so kind as to share this post.

65 thoughts on “(Introretrospective) Weekend!

  1. Ah, what a story! I’ve a similar one. She was a classmate in high school and college and law school. Smarter than me, and unfailingly kind to me. We did many things together socially, consulted one another on our academic, romantic, and professional struggles. For a time, I was quite infatuated. But she was out of my league and I’d yet to summon the self-confidence to assert my more amorous interests for much of that time. So I never made a move. Instead, pursued others, and told myself she had never been for me.

    Fast forward fifteen years. She and her husband invited my wife and I to dinner. We’d each had our shares of success. They’d had two smart and quirky kids, and a gorgeous home. How pleased I was for her!

    And after several glasses of wine had been consumed all around, she says that she would have wanted to date me and why didn’t I ever ask her out on those terms? Or even “go for it” on those many not-quite-sober nights we’d been alone in her apartment? Hadn’t I found her attractive?

    In that moment, I felt precisely the way you felt when you met up with The Girl and her girlfriend. Not in the least bit not in love with my wife or unhappy to have married her. Nor a moments consideration of changing things, and sincerely happy for my friend at her successful and happy life. But… Damn it!

    Ah, mais c’est la vie.


  2. Fantastic story, Maribou!

    Twenty years ago I was still in the Air Force, preparing to leave England and the woman I was convinced was The One for a short tour in Australia. What I didn’t know is that I was about a year or so away from making my own “best stupid decision I would ever make,” which would lead me to meeting The Actual One, whom I’ve now been married to for nearly 17 years.


  3. “She played guitar – of course she played guitar –”

    I laughed out loud at that! Very fine narrative Maribou. It is one a number of friends I know could find similarities with.


  4. Little Marcus Allen (who I’m debating re-naming Baby Rodney Dangerfield for reasons I’ll explain in a bit) turns 1 tomorrow. Can’t frickin’ believe it!!! People always say, “They grow up so fast!” and “Blink and it’s over!” AND THEY’RE RIGHT! And that is even more true for the second one, since you are almost by definition more distracted during all the growing up and milestone happening and magical momenting. Even leaving aside everything else I’ve had going on in the personal life, I feel like I’ve missed so many moments from the little dude’s life. I can’t say what they are, which leads me to believe this is more in my head than real… but still! People I know with older kids say that you get that time back with the second one down the road… maybe I couldn’t fully indulge his first year of life because Mayo was too busy clobbering the shit out of me… but eventually Mayo will remove himself from the picture be it to be a too-cool-for-parents tween or normal teenager or just moves the F out and then I can indulge LMA/BRD’s 10th or 14th or 16th year in a way I won’t be able for Mayo… but that feels FOREVER a way. And while I’m sure each of those ages provides remarkable moments, baby moments are really something special.

    Thankfully, I have been present for most of them. But was I really present-present? :-/…

    Anyway, where was I? Oh. So Little Marcus Allen turns 1 tomorrow. And we have the big family-and-some-friends party scheduled for Saturday. So what happens? He’s sent home from school today with a fever, likely caused by an ear infection. This after having loose poopies and the subsequent destroyed outfits for the past week and a half as the stomach-bug-that-will-not-die continues to plague him. The poor guy is a little brother who spends 87% of his life getting ruthlessly pounded on by his adoring brother and he can’t even be in good health on the one way we look Mayo on the balcony and actually focus on whatever-his-name is. No respect! Hence, Baby Rodney Dangerfield.


      • Thanks! Fever broke today and he was mostly happy but he has not one but TWO ear infections. Seriously, man, who’d this kid piss off in a past life?

        I really shouldn’t complain. Yes, this is now his 3rd or 4th ear infection and he had coxsackie and a couple of stomach bugs, all of which have been generally miserable for everyone involved. But if that is the worst life throws at him year one, I suppose things could have been more challenging.

        At least his brother had the decency to wait until he was two to have his seizures. KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


        • coxsackie

          I had never heard of this, and now have something new to worry about. At least it has a comical-sounding name.

          The Boy has been home from school two days now because he has a really, really bad ear infection. We just started the antibiotics last night so hopefully by tonight things should start improving. It’s been a rough, rough winter around here.


          • Ugh. First, I’m never coming near either your kids or Kazzy’s, ’cause they seem to be just little disease vectors (to be fair, all kids are basically just little disease vectors)! Second, I hope everyone feels better soon and that everyone gets at least a few months respite.


          • It is also known as foot-and-mouth or hand-foot-and-mouth disease because you get blisters in those places. Also, blisters everywhere else, too.

            We should write a letter about disease names. Anyone have Doc’s address?


  5. I don’t think you can tell such an beautiful, wonderful story and then just pretend you didn’t by asking what’s on our docket this weekend.

    I have a couple of songs that have been intractably linked to heartache for me. I listened to them on repeat while feeling depressed. They are popular though, so I can’t really avoid them. I do mentally numb my hearing when they come on so I’m not tearing up when I’m busy trying to buy groceries or get an oil change.


    • I’m an old man so I repeat myself, but this song isn’t linked to heartache for me.

      Which is lucky, because this is one that still stuns me, all these years after I first heard it as a high-schooler. I still think it’s absolutely remarkable that someone made a pop song that’s as catchy as this one is, with no chorus – the “chorus” is that indelible shimmering, descending riff, which stopped me dead in my tracks then and still does, if I let it. For all that the Cure may have become a punchline in their Stoneslike old age, Robert Smith is one of the premier pop songwriters of my time; for a while there he was just touched by genius, capable of penning hooks upon hooks.


      • [Everything you said, but a said much awkwardly.]

        I didn’t know the Cure became a punchline. Well, I think there was a South Park episode where one of them says “Disintegration” was their best album, but what’s the standing joke?

        I did learn to play the song on the guitar, using the loosest standards possible. I was just playing the background chords and not the descending riff. I played it once for someone who wasn’t really into music, but even she couldn’t help but be disappointed by its absence.


        • I think that South Park is actually pretty complimentary. But I got grief back then due to their (perceived) “woe-is-me”/fright-hair image; an even some fans such as myself think they’ve basically been treading water for two decades now, just staying in their comfort zone and churning out more of the same for tours and the diehards. Hence my Stones comparison.

          And like the Stones, had the Cure hung it up after their best days were clearly behind them, no jokes would be made, and their legendary status would be unquestioned, IMO.


          • Bloodflowers was not that bad, all things considered, but it’s a “put it on and turn the stereo volume to 3 when you have company over for supper” album rather than the “okay, we’re going to alter our consciousnesses and listen to this album” experience that was Disintegration.


            • Well, I hate to touch that rail because of how beloved they are, but…yeah. Better to burn out and leave a good-looking corpse and all.

              Stick around and sooner or later you inevitably start to disappoint people, and that unfairly downgrades in people’s minds even your earlier, stellar work.


              • Which for them gets shunted into “Yeah, their solo work just isn’t as good”.

                Mozart, Schubert, and Beethoven went out on top (musically). Haydn’s rep does suffer a bit from “110 symphonies? They can’t all be good”, even though some of the late ones are still awesome.


                • Yeah, but solo stuff (or even starting a different band) allows people to mentally separate the stuff. Morrissey’s solo career has had its ups and downs, not to mention a few non-musical kerfuffles; but short of the revelation of some sort of Cosby-like serious crime, none of that can really taint the incredibly good work the Smiths did. That work and reputation remain perfectly-preserved.


          • Let me dig into Wikipedia. Wild Mood Swings was released in 1996, and contrary to critics claims, it’s awesome, and I think it holds up really well, and it certainly wasn’t it what I would describe their comfort zone. I actually haven’t heard the entirety of Bloodflowers (2000). This was the first track they released for radio, and if I recall it didn’t to do all that well.

            But there’s another track on Bloodflowers that is hauntingly awesome:

            Apparently in 2004, they released their 12th album, titled The Cure, and in 2008, their 13th album. I didn’t notice either one. What was I doing 2004-2008 anyway? Were these albums bad? Were they fan service?

            On the other hand, their page describes a bunch of touring, some of which was recorded and released, which definitely counts as fan service.

            So, at least as of 1996, they were releasing new and original stuff, contrary to your claim that “they’ve basically been treading water for two decades now.”

            Oh, shit. How long ago was 1996 again?


    • Yeah, there was a little bit of “look over there” to that, huh?

      But also I just really value our Weekend! threads and didn’t want to displace or divert attention from this weekend’s one.

      This song is one I listened to a lot too, but I associate it with Jaybird, since he’s the one who really drove me to get interested in The Cure, so I tend to get excited rather than numb.

      Maybe someday I”ll be brave enough to talk about the songs that I have to numb out, but today isn’t it.


  6. I was lucky enough to date a lot of interesting girls in my single days, although none of them were 100% right for me. I had even more crushes on girls where the timing was off. It’s interesting for me to play the ‘what if’ game in my head, especially now that Facebook allows me to reconnect with them so easily. As I play out how things would have gone I always assume we would have fizzled eventually but the things that upsets me more is when I consider that if I was dating that girl at that time, I might not have been in the right place to meet my wife…and that literally makes my heart hurt. So when you said this:

    “Well,” I said. “Maybe if I’d realized, you and I would never have met. So I guess things worked out for the best.”

    …I really identified with this and how it speaks to a romantic butterfly affect and how sometimes (hopefully) the universe puts the right person in front of us at the right time.

    Oh, and I really enjoyed this post.


    • Yeah, there are a few romantic what-ifs about which I feel more relief than anything, not because the person wasn’t marvelous, but just because I cannot imagine my life without Jaybird in it.

      This one is more of a … huh… would I even have met Jaybird? And how could all of that have possibly worked out?

      I’m glad you liked it. I love your more personal posts (about hunting, cooking, or anything else you’ve turned your voice to).


  7. Maribou already knows all of my stories.

    The ghosts that haunt me mostly revolve around my complete and total social ineptitude in high school mixed with nigh-crippling introversion and the whole “raised in a weird Christian sub-culture thrown into a group of secular folks” thing that result in such things as “HOLY CRAP, SHE WAS FLIRTING WITH YOU” realizations that hit me about 20ish to 30ish years after the fact.

    Though there was the “golly, I’m glad I got dumped by *THAT* bullet!” lynchpin girlfriend (who periodically asks for candy crush turns on the facebook) but she’s not a “what could have been?” as much as a “how much would my life be screwed up now?” thought.

    But, sometimes, I wonder what life would have been like if I hadn’t been socially inept, or introverted, or weird.

    And then I dismiss those thoughts.


  8. OH YEAH! This weekend!

    My spouse is going to Paris and I did all of my social stuff last weekend what with gaming and birthdays and people visiting friends from out of town and whatnot…

    And we did the laundry on Wednesday and Thursday night so we could have packing done by Friday night…

    So after a Friday evening of running out to the grocery store to pick up the right airplane snacks and make sure that we have the right travel toothpaste and whatnot, and dropping off Maribou at the airport tomorrow morning…

    Saturday night, it will just be me and the cats.



  9. Teenager is going to be at his mom’s house for the first time this year (long story). I came into two season passes to Six Flags, and gave him one on the condition that he take his brother, so the two of them are going with his mom. And it just happens to be the first weekend of SXSW, so I’m going to party like it’s 1999, except that in 1999, except that in 1999 I was 23, and could party a lot more than I can now.

    We are going to shows all day and night tomorrow and during the day Sunday. Then I’m going to sleep for two days, followed by two days of taking the teenager to his first SXSW shows, and two more days of going to the 21 and over stuff.


  10. I got bit young. The One knocked my socks off in kindergarten. It is hard to hold detailed memories for me, most are gone or grow blurry with time. She had big brown eyes and long straight dark hair. A tug on my hand and we were off on a tour of the room as she detailed what and where everything was. There was never a time she didn’t know my feelings for her.

    Over the next several years her indoctrination into conservatism meant a divide would grow between us, not that either of us knew anything about the intimacy of the sins we were supposedly being spared from. From there I did exactly the wrong thing. I sat down in the dead end of a maze I didn’t understand.

    My parents divorced long before this, and I settled into a life of drifting between my fathers stability, and moms nomadic lifestyle. It was either wheat fields and red canyons or the streets of a boom town that went bust five years ago.

    Along the way I heard this song:

    It captures the pain of the drifting years. Most guys talk about dodging bullets, hell most days I tried to figure out if it was a mortal wound.

    Amy pulled me out of that dead end. Pretty eyed, pirates smile, hair of gold and copper.

    Thanks for sharing Maribou, I usually am reluctant to open up about this part of my past, and haven’t told anyone of it.


  11. With little advance notice, my 2.5-year-old granddaughter will be here tomorrow. What can I let her do that I should have let her mother do? My car is really dirty — I’m thinking we’ll start with a trip through the fancy carwash, and while she has to stay in the car seat on the drive there, she sits up front with me while we go through.


  12. Just got back from dropping ‘bou off at the airport. Just checked the messages and she’s past security and enjoying breakfast in the little airport café that makes a surprisingly decent breakfast sandwich.




      FYI to any limited mobility travelers out there, I just had incredibly good service from the air canada phone service desk guy. It took like 5 minutes from dialing the number to everything being all set for my Toronto layover (on the way back next weekend).


Comments are closed.