Today is my 44th birthday. And yes, spending it in the Coronavirus lockdown is a bit of a bummer. The world is on a weird pause at the moment.
But I’ve seen this retreat, this isolation as a reason to step back and look at my life and reevaluate what’s important. For too long I’ve had it in my head that in order to feel happy, to achieve anything valuable in my life, I needed other people to tell me. I searched for validation in everything I did, and judged my success in how well it was received.
Then something changed. I started to see success as something I could achieve without the help of anyone else’s approval.
No longer do I see success in my life as being defined by how other people see me. I don’t hold on to addictions and behaviors as a way of guarding against the world that I’m convinced is stacked against me. I’ve learned that if you think the world is against you, guess what, it will be.
I sit in this quietness, and I feel overwhelmed by memories, by distances between myself and the people who I have known, who have been the people that have made me, taught me, loved me, shaped me into the forty-four-year-old version of me that sits typing this on his birthday, in a self-appointed quarantine, during a worldwide pandemic.
Who could have ever predicted this?
So what’s it all about?
Closing that gap. The spaces between us. And, ironically perhaps, it took a complete isolation to make me see it.
When I was eighteen I changed my name. I was born Edward Drewno. I was named after my father, who was named after his father. I never met his father because he was murdered in 1968. My dad had a falling out with his family, and from the time I was five-years-old, I never saw them again. I didn’t feel attached to my name, because it felt like an extension of a group of people that I didn’t know. A group of people my father didn’t want in his life.
I took my mom’s family name because I felt more connected to her family. More importantly, I wanted to feel connected to a family. I’ve always wanted that. But I also never wanted anyone to see my vulnerable side. Growing up gay, I learned early that I had to be guarded, I had to perform as someone I wasn’t, if I was going to survive. And I’ve carried this guarded version of myself into my adult life, into my relationships, and as a result, I’ve lost many people along the way. And I feel separated from nearly everyone in my family.
This is a project to reclaim them.
I want to create a sort of living community. A place where I can share and reconnect. We’re all isolated at the moment, but we don’t have to be alone. I have pages in here for stories, memories, photos and discussions.
Please leave comments, send me emails, send me pictures. Let’s all re-connect and create something we can share together while there’s still time…