Her Hometown

Posted by Censor Librorum on Nov 5, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

We spent this past weekend visiting family in my lover’s old hometown in western Massachusetts. We took the ferry from Orient, NY to New London, CT. Even though the height of the fall foliage has passed, we were treated to the scarlet, yellow-orange, rust, amber, and deep wine colors along the sides of the road for the rest of the trip. We realized again why we love Greenport-it is so much like New England.

Her hometown is an old mill town by the Chicopee River. In the 19th century Italians, French-Canadians, Polish, Portuguese, Irish and other immigrants poured into the area to work in the paper mills.

It is a town that is friendly, safe, and family-oriented; young gays and lesbians would have to compromise or leave. If they stayed it was suffocating. Many left the region forever to go to Boston, New York and beyond. Those who remained made-do with relationships full of unspoken longing, furtive or drunken encounters, kept company with a bottle or other drug to ease the isolation.

Those who stayed understood the choice they made kept them in the bosom of their family and community, but left a lonely hole inside forever–even with a lovely wife or wonderful husband, and albums full of children and grand-children.

Lori left. Along the way she ran into two guys who also had attended Cathedral, the diocesan high school. One she met at a Dignity NY event at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center; the other at a restaurant in Portland, Oregon. They got to talking then-bingo!–where they were from was the same. One of the men had been class president his senior year. The deceased partner of the gay male couple who owned our house before Lori and I bought it came from the Chicopee area, too. I wonder if he fled to NY after his service in WWII?

Like all hometowns, it is wonderful to revisit all your favorite places, see all the relatives, catch up on the news and get treated to your favorite dishes. But at some point in the visit you remember why you were frantic to get out as soon as you graduated from high school or college.

It might be sparked by noticing a particular photo is missing or hasn’t been added to family collection in the living room; or feeling pressure to not mention an event or person; or even overhearing an inacurate introduction of your lover as your “friend”.

Hometown visits are always tinged with a little sadness. Especially by the family you left behind who misses you, and can’t understand why you won’t come home.

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