I remember reading a break-up book for lesbians in a taxicab. It was my book, not something I found near the rubber floor matting. It was raining. I pulled my knees to my chest as we drove down fifth avenue. We was me, alone in the back seat, a cab driver taking me to work. We were stopped at a red light in front of The MET. It was too early for lines, just staff sweeping in yellow ponchos, a man pushing a pretzel cart opening his red umbrella. Pigeons hiding under benches. I was so numb, I could feel everything. I wanted to ditch work and sit at The Stanhope to drink tea and half-sleep it, upright. Maybe I’d meet a foreigner who’d offer me a tissue or a tea sandwich. Maybe I’d meet a mother who’d offer me her son. I wanted to heal; if a new prospect was in the picture, I was certain I’d heal faster. I know better now. Now, I just stick to the tea.
I bought the book because surviving a break-up as a lesbian is the same as enduring the ending of any serious relationship. Despite the years we’d been together, as man and woman, because we weren’t married, it somehow counted less to everyone else. It shouldn’t have. When it’s divorce, people pay attention and know it’s a big deal. But when you’re gay, too many people diminish the severity of what you’re dealing with. They don’t understand your partnership was as profound as any marriage. Even without the burden of children to consider, it’s still an ending. The book understood how hard this was for me, how acute my pain was.
"It’s a break-up; they happen all the time." With a trivial flip of the hand, your reality is fanned aside as you’re told, "you’ll be back at it in no time," as if that’s the good, healthy thing to do. It made me feel like a lesbian and anything but gay.