Monday, November 15, 2010

Surfacing (Emotions to the top)

Sometimes I think I feel too much. Recently, I've been feeling it all. My emotions have been running so high over the past few days; like a car running hot, check engine light glowing red.

It all started with Tuesday night's episode of Glee. The episode found Kurt, the gay character, at the end of his bullied rope. I can't imagine how it must feel to be the only "out" gay person in the school, office or town. I also can't imagine what it must be like to be forcefully pushed into a locker every day. I realize this is just a character on a television show, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen to someone somewhere on any given day of the week. The turning point for Kurt was finding the courage to confront the bully.

In case you don't watch Glee, let me set the scene for you. The beefy football player walks by Kurt - who is standing in the hallway reading a text that says "courage" - knocks the phone out of his hand then shoves him into the locker. That shove was the breaking point for Kurt.

KURT: Hey! (running after the bully; enters the locker room) I am talking to you.
Bully: The girls locker room's next door.
KURT: What is your problem?
Bully: 'Scuse me?
KURT: What are you so scared of?
Bully: Besides you sneakin' in here to peek at my junk?
KURT: Oh yeah, every straight guy's nightmare that all us gays are secretly out to molest and convert you. Well, guess what ham hock, you're not my type.
Bully: That right?
KURT: Yeah! I don't do the chubby boys who sweat too much and are gonna to be bald by the time they're 30.
Bully: (bringing his fist toward Kurt's head) Do not push me Hummel.
KURT: (looking at the fist) You gonna hit me? Do it!
Bully: (slamming his locker) Don't push me.
KURT: Hit me, 'cause it's not gonna change who I am. You can't punch the gay out of me any more that I can punch the ignoramus out of you.
Bully: (screaming) Then get outta my face!
KURT: You are nothing but a scared little boy who can't handle how extraordinarily ordinary you are.
(The bully kisses Kurt. Pulls away. Goes in for another kiss. Kurt pushes him away. The bully hits the lockers - confusion, pain and frustration writ across his face. Kurt is in shock)

I was alternately scared and exhilarated by the confrontation. Fear is a terrible thing. I still live with it in some instances to this day. What I was not prepared for was the kiss. The big, beefy football player was just acting out. He's confused about his own sexual feelings. So instead of figuring them out, he chooses to bully the only kid in school who might be able to help him cope. Fear is a bitch, man!

Let's move on to Wednesday night. It was the annual CMA Awards telecast. Any of you that read my facebook status that night know that I wasn't happy. All day long I had been looking forward to a glass of wine and performances from some of my favorite country artists. Well, Time Warner Cable was, of course, a digital glitchfest that night. I was angry. I was actually cursing TWC, but I continued to watch. I was determined to hear what I could hear and see who won what.

There were two performances, and a win, that proved important to me. Performance 1: "Hello World" by Lady Antebellum. From the first moment I heard the song on their album it moved me. Their performance on the CMA telecast let me know that they had released the song as a single. Performance 2: "If I Were A Boy" by Reba. Who but Reba could cover a song by Beyonce and actually make it work. I know there are people out there who thought the performance sucked, but for me, Reba's trademark voice gave the song a distinctly country feel. She fills everything she sings with emotion and this song was no exception. For me, the song crosses boundaries because I'm sure there are women, of all ages, in this world, for whom the sentiment speaks volumes. The win that holds significance for me: Miranda Lambert, CMA Album of the Year for "Revolution." She also won CMA Female Vocalist of the Year.

You might be wondering what the CMA Awards have to do with my emotional breakdown. Well, here it is. I bought Miranda Lambert's album. It is so good. It is country to the core. She has crafted and recorded some wonderful country songs. Songs that are bursting with emotion. The sentimental favorite for me is "The House That Built Me." It's about revisiting the house where she grew up. She tells the woman who lives there now about the that room in which she learned to play guitar, that the hand prints in the concrete steps are hers and that her favorite pet is buried under the oak tree in the yard. The story is tear inducing in and of itself, but what got me even more was that she just wanted to touch the place and try to remember who she was and where she's from. I've spent a lot of time running away from the small town where I grew up. I know that I can't live there, but that place, and that house, is the place where the basis for who I am was learned. It's important. It matters. I have to embrace it. When the song came on my ipod, I was at the gym. I had to keep myself from crying. I love a song that I can instantly connect to like that.

The Lady Antebellum song made me question if there is a video. There is. It is so emotional that I was heaving at my desk. At one point I was crying so hard that I lifted my hand as if to testify in church. The tears started as sadness, then turned to joy. The string section on the song evokes the emotion every time I listen to it.

In case you were wondering, I bought Reba's new album too. She never fails me.

Now, let's move on to Monday, November 15th, the sixth anniversary of my Grandmother's death. I had forgotten that it was this day. When I opened my computer, my icalendar alerted me with a pop up.

She battled cancer for four years. I was sitting in the airport waiting to bored a 6am flight home to see her. I called my Mom while I was waiting just to see how things were going. I could tell when she answered her phone that something was wrong. She couldn't talk. From her breathing she sounded as if she was running. She asked if she could call me back. It turned out that Mom was running. She was running to my Grandmother's room. The phone call I received just minutes later was from my sister telling me that my Grandmother was gone. I went to an angry place. The anger was because I could have flown home Friday or Monday. I chose Monday because of work issues. I didn't get to say goodbye. Of course, that is more about me than her, but I loved her so. I was the first grandchild; the only one for almost 8 years. My relationship with her was unlike that of any of my other grandparents. From what I understand, she had an attitude shift after I was born. A situation, full of sadness and embarrassment for her, changed to one of love. I never doubted for a minute that she loved me. I wish I could have had more time with her, but not at the expense of her living in pain. I wish she could have known me as I am now; the person who has grown so much in the past six years.

I didn't cry at the airport. When we boarded the plane, I sat in the last row. I had the entire flight to Nashville, TN, to brood about what had happened; to ponder how my life had changed. I slept a little. I listened to my ipod a little. When "It Feels Like Today" by Rascal Flatts came on, the tears began to flow. I cried for my Grandmother's pain and that she had died. I cried for my Mom's loss. I cried for my loss. To this day whenever I hear that song I'm on that plane.

It's no wonder my emotions have been running so high for the past six days. I wonder if subconsciously I knew the anniversary of my Grandmother's death was approaching. I wonder if that's why the music that touched me, touched me? My emotions are living on the surface like a raw nerve.

Happiness is also an emotion. I am happy that Kurt stood up to his bully. I am happy for the new music that graces my ears. I am also happy for the relationship that developed the day of my Grandmother's funeral between my sister, me and three of our cousins, Casey, Leah and Whit. We became more than just cousins that day; we became friends.

"It's okay now."