How was the SLGC Chorus Family Reunion Picnic awkward today? Let me count the ways!
1. It was hosted by my one-time friend, then one-time adversary from what has long been known as "Boobgate" -- which, honestly, remains mostly long forgotten unless and until I go back and read over those journal entries again. Even the most recent one tagged with it on my LiveJoural is from September 2006. Back then, being two and a half years away from leaving the chorus (and resigning from the Board, on the same day) seemed like a fairly long time past, which is comical now, considering that final journal entry was itself now from eleven years ago.
I don't feel at all like Shawna or I harbor any ill will toward each other, nor have I for many years. I saw her once at one of Laney's parties, probably itself over a decade ago, and she smiled and said hi to me. She did today too, twice in fact. I was thinking today that thirteen years is more than enough to bury the hatchet, and to the degree that we can, we have. But this particular and peculiar history seems to mean that things will always be in some way awkward between us.
She actually took the picture above. I look comically butch in it; I laughed out loud when I saw it. Shawna posted five to the Facebook page for Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus Alumni and I swiped them all, because I never took any photos myself. But I am in every one of these, and I still want photo records of today's event. The last SLGC event I have multiple photos from are of the final concert I ever attended after leaving, the spring concert in 2005 while Becca was visiting; I have maybe one photo each of the SLGC contingent in the Pride Parades in 2006 and 2007, and soon after that the chorus disbanded.
2. Plenty of people in the chorus are in various ways socially awkward already. I'm far less socially awkward than I used to be, by stunning amounts the longer back in my life you go to compare, but I still tend to take my cues from other people. If you're awkward, or even quiet, I have a tendency to respond in kind. It's not necessarily deliberate.
3. There was a guy there who is from SLGC and I see way more often than any of the others besides Laney, simply because I swear, half the time I go to the bathhouse, he's there too. He always says hi to me and I say hi back and that's the extent of it; I have no interest in playing with him as he's not my type. Still, it's sort of weird to see someone I know (kind of) both in that context and then again in the regular outside world. Laney told me on the way home that he's "very open about his sluttiness." He said hi to me when he arrived at the picnic today and rubbed my shoulder as he did so; later sat next to me to eat his plate of food. We didn't really talk there either though. As with anyone else there, that was just as much my fault as his.
There’s another question about all the awkwardness now, though: do I care anymore? Nope! I’ve gotten way too old to give a shit. This has been by far the most liberating part of aging. I mean, I’m not saying I would seek out awkwardness or that I love it. But there are certain forms of it, like the social awkwardness at this event, which was honestly pretty mild, that I can just comfortably sit in. It existed even with some of the people who were clearly happy to see me. With one guy, when we were saying goodbye, we had one of those awkward, hand-shake-or-hug moments, and I was the one who was like, “Let’s do this” and I gave him a hug.
I chatted a bit with a few people. Charlie and Brian both asked about Shobhit, clearly wondering why he was not there. Brian even asked if Shobhit was in Los Angeles. Some people are still behind on the news that he moved back to Seattle permanently in December. Shobhit simply had two different work shifts today, which was why I caught a ride to the picnic with Laney. Mitch came to give me a hug right before Laney and I left.
I was in the SLGC for three and a half years, joining in August 2000, getting elected to the Board in 2003, and resigning and leaving the chorus in February 2004. Between that and the two years betwen 1999 and 2001 when I worked at local gay newspapers, it's kind of amazing what a huge part of life some things seem when they're happening, and soon after they end -- but then over a decade later, they are but a blip in your life history, hardly meaning even a fraction of what they once did anymore.
I can hardly remember any of the music we sang. Others talked about specific memories of specific songs, and I couldn't remember any of them. Our concerts used to end with a song about being queer called "We Are Everywhere," which was much-maligned for its many versions and key changes, and a few people even tried singing the song when we all gathered for the group photo (see below; I can barely be seen behind Laney, who is leaving forward and her mouth is agape). I would not be able to recall the words, let alone the tenor part I once sang, to save my life.
That said, and the massive negativity regarding my departure notwithstanding, the impact being the chorus had on my life, and the friendships I made -- especially with Laney, the one enduring close friendship it spawned -- cannot be understated. I'm glad I was a part of it, and I'm glad I went to that event today.
There was a fairly small group that attended, and I recognized maybe three quarters of them, but that's okay. I was pretty bummed Julie, the other friend I used to hang out with way more than even Laney but that fell off after the chorus ended, was unabe to come, in the end. Maybe another time.