And I don't know what to say, because this isn't how I’ve planned it. I wanted to invite them to Boston, spend a day together first, do something relaxing, appreciate anything we might have. Before confronting him.
And my mother's voice is different, panicking: Matthew, are you there?
I don't know what to say. Maybe I can just hang up, and pretend we got disconnected?
My mother's voice: Matthew, are you still there?
My voice: I'll be right back. I need to go to the bathroom.
I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror: fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck I don't know what to do I don't know what to do I don't know what to do. Should I confront him now? I have it all in my head, it's all there, I could do it now. I don't know if I have the energy. I sit on the toilet because suddenly I have to shit. I think about leaving the house, and never coming back. I think about rushing into the other room and smashing the phone with a hammer. I think about doing a bump of coke.
A bump of coke: somehow that sounds so completely wrong that it's perfect.
It's his fault, he's the one who brought it up. He could have waited. I wasn't even talking to him.
Oh, yes, little tiny diamonds, yes, this is the moment, bring me home. I look in the mirror again. I'm ready.
I am ready. I am ready. I am ready. Yes, that song speeding up in my head until it's just the beat, and I'm 6 feet off the floor.
My voice: Hello.
My mother’s voice: Matthew, oh, we were worried, is this a good time to talk?
It's fine. It's okay, I can talk now. I mean I wasn't planning to talk about this, but I've been thinking about it for a while. I've been thinking about it for a while, and as you know I've been in therapy and in therapy I've been talking, I've been talking with my therapist about everything, and to tell you the truth when I went to see him I said I'm here to get ready to confront.
My father’s voice: What do you mean confront?
Listen, I said I'm here to get ready to confront.
My mother interrupts: Maybe that's the wrong word, confront.
No, that's what I said – I said I'm here to get ready to confront, to confront — oh, you're making it so hard. Can't you just listen?
My father says: We don't know what we are listening to. We don't know who we are listening to.
What do you mean?
My father says it again, like it's a script, a script they've agreed upon: Karla thinks that you believe something sexual happened between us.
I'm trying to stay focused. Confront, what was I saying about confront?
I say: You know, I've been in pain for a long time, I've been in pain and I never really understood how much pain. I mean I never understood how out of my body I felt, I never understood until I was in my first relationship, or my first relationship with another boy, Zee, you remember Zee, right, when you visited San Francisco and we ran into him at Rainbow and he was so sad that I didn't introduce you. Oh, I mean I guess you don't remember. He was so sad, but I didn't want to introduce you because I didn't want to validate your place in my life like that. I never wanted you to know my friends.
And my father says: What does this have to do with what we’re talking about?
And my mother says: Matthew.
And I say: Zee would touch me in certain places and I would completely shut off. Anywhere near my neck. I would shut off, and I just thought that's what happened. I just thought oh, well he’s having fun, and I don't want to spoil it. Take this body, use it, soon we'll be done.
My mother says: That's another thing we're worried about. We're worried about your hustling.
And I say: I'm not talking about hustling. I'm talking about my life. I'm talking about feeling shut off all my life, totally shut off, out of my body, unable to let anyone in, always worried that someone would see my true self and they would realize I was evil, that I deserved to die, and that's why I always did so well in school, because I didn't want anyone to see what was underneath.
And my father says: I don't see what any of this has to do with…
And I say: Listen, I'm just trying to give you some context. I can't believe you won't even listen, you've never listened to me, I remember this time when we were driving on the highway and I was telling you about my day in school, and you just kept nodding your head and I knew you weren't paying attention. So I said: I'm just going to open the door right here and lie down in the middle of traffic. And you said okay, that sounds good.
And my father says: You were a kid.
And I say: I know I was a kid – I know I was a kid, but I never felt like a kid. I always felt like I was dying, like my body was broken. Adults would say enjoy it, enjoy it while you can, and I thought they were total fucking hypocrites, they liked it when I impressed them because I knew the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, right, they liked it when I would name the different kinds of cheeses or when you would tell them how good I was at math or English or how I was reading the same books you were reading, like that biography of Stalin, how I was so smart, precocious, I was destined for great things: Doctor or lawyer, which would you prefer? But still they thought I was a clueless little kid, that I didn't understand anything real, and inside I knew that no one would ever understand. No one. No one would ever understand me.
And my mother says: I'm not sure where this is going.
And I say: You're the one who started this. You're the one who started this, and I have a lot to say, even though I wasn't planning on saying it now. I wanted to get together and spend some time with both of you first, I thought maybe you would come visit me and I would show you around Boston.
And my mother says: We would love that, we would love to come to Boston and meet Abe and see your place. Bill, wouldn’t we, Bill?
And I say: I don't think that's going to happen now.
And my father says: Karla thinks…
And I say: Yes, do you want to say it again? Do you want to say it again? You’ve never seemed to give a shit what Karla thinks— what's the difference, what's the difference now?
And my father says: That's not the subject we are on.
And I say: Right, your misogyny is not on the discussion table. This is about something else, right? This is about something totally different.
And my mother says: We're worried about you.
And I say: What are you worried about? What are you fucking worried about?
And my mother says: We're worried about your hustling.
And I can't help but laugh. I say: you're worried that I'm going to die, you’re worried I'm going to die of AIDS and it's like you've never even heard of condoms. You weren't worried I was going to die when I was a kid and he was fucking me in the basement.
My father says: Are you on drugs?
And I say: Am I on drugs? Am I on drugs? I am on so many drugs that I finally figured out how to think.
My father says: Do you need help?
And I say: Do I need help? Do I need fucking help? Look who's asking me now.
My father says: You're psychotic.
And I say: Oh, look — the psychiatrist is making a diagnosis. That's why you're asking me if I'm on drugs – maybe I'm on the wrong drugs! What would you like to prescribe for me, Doctor Freud, what would you like to give me to get me to shut up.
My father says: We don't have to listen to this.
And I say: Right. You don't have to fucking listen. You never have listened, Bill. Billy boy. All I want to say is that I know that you sexually abused me, that you molested me, that you raped me, and unless you come to terms with that I don't want to speak you ever again.
And my father starts yelling.
Of course I was waiting for him to start yelling and here it is, here's that point but it’s like I'm watching a sitcom and someone broke the laugh track, it got stuck on something else, something about how I'm psychotic I need help they're going to come up to Boston and make sure I get the right kind of assistance, obviously I wasn't seeing the right therapist, this is my therapist's fault, something needs to change, I'm in danger, it's about my lifestyle, they’re worried about my lifestyle and something needs to change.
And right around then something does change because I hang up the phone. I hang up the phone, and unplug it, and then I take a deep breath and I feel like a different person. I feel totally calm. I feel fine. I feel like I can go on with the rest of my life.