“Dear Mom and Dad”: the letter I won’t send…
Dear Mom and Dad:
I consider this my contribution to the family newsletter, the one that my youngest sister keeps banging on about in the mass emails I get at my “straight” email address. Yeah, the one that I clean out once every couple of months. You’ll never see this, and that’s totally fine. For me it’s just a useful exercise, an update to the last letter I didn’t send you, three and a half years ago for Mother’s Day.
A lot has changed since then. Bits of it you know, mostly just my mailing address, and that only because you keep asking for it and then sending me invitations to the weddings of nieces I’ve never even met. This does not make me excited about you having my mailing address. But at least you know I’m wintering in Montreal these days, and have stopped asking me why. I’ll be here until next June, minus a few weeks down in the states for shows, and then it’s on the road again with my new play, Nerdfucker.
Yeah. I don’t think I would even say that to your face. There is so much of what I am doing these days that you know nothing about. My whole live/work/travel situation has been confusing you for a long time. Frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t called me on it yet, given how much I used to write in the family newsletter. I’m pretty sure I stopped writing to the newsletter in the spring of 2009, which almost exactly coincides with the date that I became a phone sex operator.
I don’t even know how to explain that to fit in with your Mormon sensibilities. I was really desperate for money, and S wasn’t able to help, and there were no jobs, and a friend helped me find where the help-wanted ads were posted. And then, well, I found out I was really good at it. It’s not a lot of money, but it pays the bills. So I kept doing it, have been doing it for over six and a half years now.
I didn’t tell you, because I know it would hurt you. I know it would really, really hurt you. There was a time when I would have been fine with hurting you. In fact, when I was 23 I would have rejoiced to find a way to earn money AND hurt you at the same time. But I was younger, and still angry at you and Dad, and to be honest, I still cared. Now I’m older and I’ve let it all go: the anger and the caring. I can’t be bothered to sit down and have the conversations, the many conversations that would be needed to explain my current careers. There are too many layers, too many ways to confuse and hurt you in your faith. So I told you I worked for a customer call center, and that seemed to satisfy your curiosity.
Then I started writing about my experiences as a phone sex operator, first in a blog and then in a play, Phone Whore. You probably can’t even read that phrase without flinching, but it has appeared in newspaper articles and theatre marquees and on fences across North America and the UK over the last five and half years. Four different plays—soon five—plus four books of erotica, plus a workshop, plus a blog, plus storytelling events and a soon-to-be podcast called the Fuckbucket… none of which I can tell you about.
I realize that you might find out anyway. And then you’ll find out… what? That I’m talking to people, sometimes lots of people, about sex. You wouldn’t like it, but I don’t think that’d surprise you much. If you could somehow manage to get through that, you’d find that… I’m decent at it. I’m performing a lot. Getting some good reviews. I’m planning more shows, another book, another tour to Europe, maybe Australia. I probably won’t ever be able to buy Dad that yacht he used to bug me about during my journalism days, but I’m creating in ways I don’t think either of us imagined when you encouraged me to take typing lessons at age 12 and loaned me your Writers’ Digests at age 16.
And my personal life? Come on. You knew I was never going to buy into your version of what that should be. My siblings seem to be popping out enough wedding-having nieces and nephews to keep you well stocked with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Let’s just say that I’ve had sailors in a few different ports, and in a year’s time I’ll be moving to the UK to be closer to the “captain of my ship”, and yes, S. knows, and he and his primary partner are doing great in the heart of the Midwest, where I could never make a living doing what I do, but it’s nice to know I always have a room there with them.
All of that would only confuse you more, I know it. I’ve had decades of practice at keeping parts of my life from you. These added omissions, they’re only a matter of degree. So I’m pretty much fine with letting our relationship drift into nothingness. There will always be friends of mine who, when I tell them about this self-imposed estrangement, look at me in shock. Surely the call of blood is still strong! But these are the friends who have good families, or who have lost all of theirs, and can’t understand why I would voluntarily throw these connections away. All I can ever answer is, there’s nothing there to be saved, and it's more important to me to be able to be out there strong, with my freak flag flying, than constantly be struggling to make you understand.
I’ll try to keep you up to date about my mailing address, and when I pass through your town next fall, I will maybe stop by for a couple of hours. That'll be awkward, but let’s leave it at that. It’s my gift to you, cutting the ties. Hell, those were cut 30 years ago. Now I just have to keep letting them go. I know enough about you to know that you’d want it this way.
If you become a patron of mine on Patreon, I promise you, I will not be buying a yacht.