Every once in a while I watch a movie, usually a horror movie, on Netflix and I have the disconcerting experience of seeing a home where I lived a significant era in my life showing up as a bit player. This started with the first House Party movie but over the years the house has turned up several more times, once in a movie about a dead child’s ghost, once in a movie about a psycho stalker with ghostly old people.
I watch people or ghosts or stalkers walk in and out of my old front door, the door where my first lesbian lover stuck her large black Nike shoe to prevent me from closing it before she could kiss me for the first time. Star crossed lovers who are being stalked/haunted cling together in the front room where my children once fought and ran, and where my X husband used to play crusty blues on the old piano.
The house was a rescue near downtown Los Angeles, lovingly renovated by a group of gay men who were soon to be decimated by the plague of the 80’s, the place was a work of art full of dark wood and filled with a peaceful grace, a haven from the dirty air and complicated shenanigans just outside the door.
I lived there with my three young kids and one husband, the husband was often MIA due to traveling for work, so it was pretty much me and the kids and we lived our lives, very messy lives the way things are when kids and parents are both young, or anyway I assume that is how it is for other folks.
But this is also my coming out story, I was 30 and had tried to come out before my second child but couldn't quite make it, went back for more kids and a life that was ok for a while. As I said, I had a lot of freedom, free from husband anyway, and it made it all bearable, until I turned 30 and my own body and mind forced me to quit.
My next door neighbor was a lovely and cuddly Black gay man who I loved and who loved me. Perhaps inevitably, at his house i met my first woman lover, a tiny but aggressive woman with large feet and too much Scorpio. We were soon involved in an overwhelming, all encompassing affair, that ultimately blew up my family and life as we all had known it. All the conventional trappings of life were lost, and because once I was no longer married i became a poor person of course I lost the house. My X husband continued to live there for many years.
So now I gaze and gaze, my chest full of unnamed emotions, as the ghost creeps up that beautiful staircase that I once lovingly polished. That house that launched me out into the real stream of my life. That house where there was collateral damage, a lot of it. The house where I am still paying, still sorting out the details, shuffling through the detritus. One house of my birth.