Being a lesbian does not provide a shield from life, nor immunity to anything in life except perhaps the need for birth control.
But before we are lesbians we are, in scientific terms, that world-rocking genus known as Homo sapiens. In everyday language that means lesbians are people too, full-fledged members of the human race. All humans share similar life activities: we are born, we sleep, yawn, go to the bathroom, have a certain number of days and nights to fill, and then we vanish from the planet. All 6+ billion of us do this.
As members of this human race we find that during the course of our life, even though as lesbians we are a minority group within the human race, we are still faced with the wide array of milestones and life events that face all humans in any culture, regardless of gender or sex: first haircut, first crush, wanting independence, first love, first job, moving out of home, first heartbreak, moving in together, feeling grown up.
And so we navigate our lives, some of us living quite well, others quite modestly and many of us without fame or fuss; all of us living as best we can with what we have, to get what and who we want and where we think or know we want to be to do the things we wish to do. Along the way, every once in a while, some lesbians get lost. Perhaps by virtue of being different, we are a bit more familiar with being lost: it’s not like there’s a major group of lesbian wayfinders calling out the coordinates to the rest of us saying, “HEY! Jump over here!”
So some of us might lose our way for a while.
Some of us will get lost in high school, or earlier, for reasons we can’t or won’t say, getting lost will put us in the wrong place at a time when we need something good but choose something less than that, taking us along a scary path.
Some of us will get lost when we leave home for college. We’ll look to get found in drugs and alcohol and sex above the college norm, or the opposite of that, get lost in being a squeaky, noisy, militant queer separatist fundamentalist, or fundamentalist of any stripe, unable to tolerate otherness.
Some of us become lost when we get out of school and the economy falters and what we wanted to do, we find we cannot do.
Some of us become lost when at a career crossroads, when the thing we studied for, the thing we have practised to the point of mastery becomes unfulfilling, or we get downsized, rightsized, outsourced.
Sometimes life inevitably shows its opposite and hits hard. Illness, accidents, nature and biology take people we know and love away from us, never to return them except through memory or dreams. We can get lost then, too.
And if you are a closeted lesbian, in an environment that is hostile to all things LGBT and your partner dies you can become doubly lost, set adrift; no compass to guide you, to situate yourself in the new landscape; you are on your own, terraforming.
We get lost sometimes when we have kids and wonder what happened to our relationship in the process. Or we get lost when we realize we will not have children, will not be a parent. While it might never have been on that bucket list, to be a parent, sometimes the realization of that closed door pushes open the other door, the one of feeling lost for a while to grieve the loss of a thing you never had.
There’s that love thing too. A real mixed bag that; sometimes as much about being lost in it as without it and as much about finding her as it is about being found.
Some of us become lost by giving up heart, soul, mind, friends and family for what we think is love everlasting, but is simply unhealthy and harmful.
Some of us are lost to love forever, one broken heart, one disappointment sealing the deal: we’ll never go there again.
Or there’s that lost love, that passing thing that lasted a minute or two in the overall scheme of your life, that took your breath away and when the heartstorm passed you knew you’d never forget no matter how much you try. Oh, it fades but doesn’t leave, and so every once in a while, at odd times in your life, you will wonder how she is, what she’s doing and if she wonders about you too.
Some of us now are becoming lost in the reality of lesbian divorce, the dividing of a house, of a child or three, of dogs, cats, fish, birds, cars, of a business, of friends, of carving out agreements on how to manage assets and pensions, of how to have a civil conversation going forward.
We are lost when inspiration abandons us. No words, no images, no colour, no sound. Lost in the dark.
We are lost when our body betrays us: failing eyesight, broken bones, unable to even bathe yourself; when we get the dance care, CANCER’S HERE, STAGE FOUR! Or MS HERE and wants to see you in the wheelchair! Nothing like your own mortality to make you lose your footing.
We are lost when she leaves, when a home dissembles into being a house; four walls inside four walls.
Leaving aside lesbian drama and tribal debates, when we raise our heads, when we are outside the bedroom, we have a life; we work, we contribute to the world in ways we can. We live, we love, we laugh; we want to be healthy, to have a voice, to be heard, to be visible, to be free of fear, of being hated and hunted, discriminated, rejected and ignored. We want to live the life we choose.
The thing about life? It changes. As lesbians get lost, so do lesbians get found: by friends, by words, by pets, by love, by living, by being open. We are found by art; seasons, colour, music, sound, aromas. By life, by healing, by fighting back, by new work, by nieces and nephews and sisters and brothers and parents and sunlight, walks, forests, water, ice cream and by coffee.
Yes coffee. I’m with TS Eliot (yes, a male poet. I am an egalitarian) when he says, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
There is nothing fun about being lost. But 2-coffee days are something to look forward to.
Happily, it is not permanent state of being, this being lost. It’s a process. Lost lesbians will be found. It will be a moment that they weren’t looking at and not expecting. They will be home. And if they can’t be found, won’t let themselves be found from being lost, I’d wonder if they really ever wanted to be.
Sadly there are those lesbians, too.
And so, because life is circles and spirals, ladders and edges and because lesbians exist within the genus Homo Sapiens and because there is lost, wandering, wondering, landing and found and finally, because there is the power of place and space, the last word goes to TS:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started..”