True To Yourself

by Carole Mortenson

PART 6— Indecisions

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN – Reflections on the Past

Jordan was sitting on her comfortable sofa in front of the warm fireplace, her stockinged feet propped up on the coffee table. She was going over her notes for the sixth chakra lesson. Her niece Megan was playing quietly in her bedroom. Jordan stopped what she was doing for a moment, and let her mind wander back to when the workshop first started.

* * * * * *

Jordan realized she had to get through the seven-week course, teaching one chakra each week the best way she knew how—by basically disassociating herself from the students as much as possible. Yet at the same time, she had to give them the best teaching she could.

It was not going to be easy, as the woman with the short dark-brown hair and dark-brown eyes—whose name was Andy—was constantly in front of her. In the very first class, Andy had chosen, of all places, to set her mat and blanket down squarely in front of Jordan, not off to the side like the other students. She was still about ten feet away, but Jordan would be looking toward the front most of the time. She would glance from side to side at the other students, which most teachers seemed to do.

But here was Andy—right in front of her! As far as energy flow was concerned with the chakras, Andy was definitely in her face!

For her own sake, as well as for Andy's, she couldn't involve herself. She didn't know anything about this woman and didn't know why she was ever attracted to her. She knew their eyes had connected last December at the mall. She was sure of it! How could she have been so wrong? Had her Gay-dar finally failed her? That was a possibility, as she had not even dealt with Ellie's betrayal at that time. She also knew Andy was not gay. She'd talked about a husband and sons.

* * * * * *

Jordan brought her mind back to the present. I couldn't have asked for better weather during the workshop, she thought. She looked out the living room window at the rays of the setting sun shining in multi-colored beauty through the gathering storm clouds. During the last week of April and into May, snow fell only on days prior to or following the Wednesday class. And any rain that fell avoided class day, too. They'd had only one little drizzle after class one week. Yes, it was cold, but every student had been prepared. It was hard to believe that they had been moving toward extremely sweltering days at this time of year over the past few years. Yet now—after the superstorm last December—temperatures never really warmed up again when winter edged into spring. Jordan didn't know why the weather was like it was, but she knew nothing was accidental and believed that everything happened for a reason. Overall, though, she was happy the weather had cooperated and hadn't kept anyone away from the workshop.

Finding it difficult to concentrate on her workshop material, she looked toward the sunset again. She let her memory drift back into the past some more, to events of the first five sessions.

* * * * * *

Jordan didn't know what to think about Andy during all of the sessions they'd had so far. She had never run into such a mysterious and intriguing woman before! But she was definitely affected by her own emotions. Sometimes her mind would become a little fuzzy in class. For example, in the class session on the second chakra—the sexual chakra—she found herself actually stumbling over her words and speaking faster than she should have. She contributed it to having so much material to cover and not having enough time. But she knew it was mostly because she was unsettled by Andy's nearness.

Nevertheless, she had gotten to know Andy somewhat better over the weeks just from conversations in class. She knew she had been married for 30 years—thus she was heterosexual—and her twin sons lived in California. Jordan thought of herself as almost young enough to be Andy's daughter, as Andy's sons were twenty-nine years old and she was 35.

How can I be attracted to someone who is a hetero and so much older than me? Andy is at least fifteen years older than me, probably more than that!

Jordan tried to tell herself maybe it was a 'mother' complex. Her own childhood had been far from normal with a mother who was an alcoholic and was never there for her.

If Andy had been gay, she could have understood it. Lesbians aren't necessarily drawn to each other because of being close to the same age. She knew of a couple whose age difference was 27 years! When your heart skips a beat every time you see a certain woman, when you can't wait until you see her again, and when she continually appears in your dreams at night—that kind of strong attraction transcends any and all age barriers.

Jordan spent a lot of time in each class focusing on and hoping to find out exactly what was going on between Andy and herself. To date, she was still in the dark—

Andy seemed to have a lot of questions and a lot of things going on, and Jordan couldn't put a handle on anything . Andy was too confusing. Jordan had said time and time again that if any of her students had questions, she was available. All they had to do was call her and she'd get back to them. Jordan had a feeling that Andy, especially, might want to call and talk. But week after week passed and none of her students called.

When Andy asked her if she was uncomfortable talking about the sexual chakra, Jordan thought maybe she was having problems at home. Of course I was uncomfortable! she thought. She glossed over her answer by saying no—but that some people would find it uncomfortable. She never batted an eye when she said that. Afterwards, Jordan wondered to herself how she could help, but Andy never followed up on the subject. She never really followed up on much of anything!

Andy was hesitating about calling her, it seemed, and said she was uncomfortable about not reaching her by phone because they would be playing phone tag. Jordan assured her that she would connect when it was the right time.

Now what in the heck did I mean by that? The right time to connect? Is there a right time?

Jordan had given Andy every opportunity to make contact with her. After the fourth week, she didn't want to think about it anymore. I can't read her mind, for God's sake! She had such a bad cold which she'd caught the day before class, and her head was stuffed up and achy. But when Andy said she had a ton of questions—which she had indicated many times previously and didn't want to call because of Jordan's cold, Jordan said "Maybe we can chat later."

There I was giving her another opportunity. There is definitely something on this woman's mind.

It came out partially when Andy said after studying four of the chakras that she was having an identity crisis. Jordan didn't know how to respond, so just said, "That's what it's all about." She knew studying the chakras oftentimes changed a person inside, but she wasn't certain what Andy was talking about. She was curious.

So when Andy walked up to her as she was putting her things away after that fourth class and asked about having lunch with her, Jordan almost startled herself when she said yes. She told Andy to call her Monday and they'd make arrangements. She wondered if she was leading Andy on. Was she leading her on? She should have said no to having lunch with her, citing the age-old excuse of keeping the student/teacher relationship separate during class time. It would have been perfectly acceptable, and Andy probably wouldn't have said anything to her again.

But she wanted to see Andy! She wanted to talk to Andy! Apart from the class. She couldn't explain what she felt. And Andy certainly seemed to want to talk with her.

So when Andy called her on Monday morning, Jordan held off calling her back—not only because of having meeting after meeting with the fire department—but because she wasn't certain she should. When she got home, however, she changed her mind. I have to call her back, she thought. So she did, and they made arrangements to meet for lunch on Friday—two days after their next chakra class.

The study of the fifth chakra went smoothly and—for once—Andy had no questions! Probably going to wait till we have lunch , Jordan thought. She was pleased, however, that none of the other students had questions, either. Either they're catching on to my teaching, or they have so many questions they don't know where to begin. Maybe that's Andy's dilemma.

Something unfolded shortly after that class, however, that was temporarily out of her control. She was going to have to go back to Indiana for a few days. But her cold had gone into bronchitis, and she didn't want to go on a trip when she wasn't well enough. She made a doctor's appointment for the Friday she was supposed to meet Andy for lunch.

* * * * * *

Jordan brought her mind back to the present again and tried to concentrate on her notes for the sixth chakra once more. Only two more classes and the workshop would be over. The students had plenty of notebook handouts to keep them busy studying after the course ended, if they would only take advantage of all the material Jordan had carefully prepared for them.

Megan burst into the living room and wondered, in her ten-year-old, louder-than-usual voice, when they were going to eat dinner. Jordan put her notes away and responded pleasantly to her niece.

I'll finish this material tomorrow, she told herself. God, it feels so good to have a whole weekend off! This should really be a good class with all the work I'm putting into it! It's going so well that maybe I can even find time to do something with Megan tomorrow. Maybe go to the zoo—it's warm enough. Shouldn't be too crowded, either, though it's Sunday. I really should spend more time with Megan.

And I guess I better stop thinking about other things for now. It doesn't do any good to rehash the past. What's done can't be undone now.

As Jordan was cooking dinner, she couldn't still the restlessness in her mind when she remembered what happened after the fifth chakra class—which changed everything . Memories flooded in so quickly that she forgot what she was cooking. She almost burned the small rib-eye steaks before she brought herself back to reality.



The fifth week of the workshop was over. Jordan was pleased that everything was right on schedule. She was covering all of her material without a hitch. In addition, she had made a luncheon date for Friday when she spoke with Andy over the phone on Monday—two days previous to the workshop. She was excited about it.

She was surprised when her sister, Monica, phoned her on Thursday.

"Jordan, James has come back home from Australia. He'll probably be staying here now. They have things all under control in Melbourne—finally!"

"That's good to hear, Monica," Jordan replied. "I imagine it's been lonely for you with him gone and all the kids to take care of by yourself."

Jordan tried to be congenial, wondering why Monica was calling her. Her sister never made it a point to call unless she had a specific reason, and Jordan rarely called her. She and Monica didn't have much in common after they became adults. They were as different in personality as they were in size and shape. No one would have known they were sisters if they saw them together on the street.

"James and I have been talking," Monica continued, "and we'd like to have Megan come back here and live with us . She grew up here, you know, and has friends here. She would fit right in with our family. Do you think you might let her fly up here?

"What are you talking about, Monica?" Jordan was flabbergasted. Let Megan go back to Indiana? Over my dead body!

Jordan continued, "You didn't really want her. You told me that even James indicated it was a good idea if she came and lived with me. Now you want her back? Why?"

"Well, why don't you fly up with Megan, and we can talk about it when you get here."

Jordan thought rapidly. She didn't want to take time off work, but realized that she wasn't going to settle anything over the phone. And she wasn't going to send Megan back without talking further about it. She felt Megan was where she should be, where Jordan could give her all the attention and love she needed. Monica and her family would never be able to do that. They had too many kids of their own.

So she did what she had to do. "I'll see how soon I can catch a plane out with Megan. I'll let you know when." She hung up the phone, exasperated.

There was no problem taking time off from work if she had to. Her co-workers were only too happy to switch some days with her. She would end up switching days with them when they needed it. It was a win-win situation. She had already traded off for some of the Wednesdays she was teaching the workshop. Suzanne's mother had been gracious about taking care of Megan, too, during those evenings.

She couldn't get a flight out of Colorado Springs until the following Tuesday, which meant she would miss the workshop class next Wednesday. In addition, her cold had worsened and she made an appointment with her doctor to do something about her misery so she would be halfway healthy when she went to see her sister.

However, the only appointment she could get was on the same day and time she had scheduled lunch with Andy. She couldn't just stand Andy up! She didn't want to do that, because her situation with Andy threw her into a quandary. Her curiosity had been speeding along in overdrive, trying to figure out what Andy wanted to discuss. But she had no choice but to call her and cancel. She would be working at the fire station through Monday and would have no time to see Andy before she left town on Tuesday.

Andy answered the phone early Friday morning and seemed crestfallen when Jordan explained why she had to cancel their luncheon. She said she'd reschedule when she got back. All Andy seemed to say was "okay...okay...okay." There was really nothing else to say. Jordan felt badly, as she sensed the unshielded disappointment in Andy's voice. She really did want to have lunch with Andy, and now this unfortunate turn of events with her sister over Megan reared its ugly head.

But Jordan remembered what she had always emphasized to her students: Nothing ever happens by accident, and connections are made when they're supposed to be made. Those thoughts sustained her all the way to Indiana and back.

* * * * * *

Jordan and her niece Megan landed at their hometown airport almost an hour behind schedule. It had been a bumpy plane ride, as rain squalls and a vicious headwind hammered the plane all the way.

This weather situation is getting really bad, Jordan thought. I wish I knew more about why there's been such a sudden change since last December. It's hardly warmed up at all this summer.

Monica's husband, James, was waiting for them at the baggage claim. Monica had stayed home with their four kids, who were out of school for the summer. After Jordan retrieved their two pieces of luggage, she wanted to grab a bite of lunch at an excellent restaurant she remembered in the city. It was almost noon. But Megan had gotten sick on the plane from the turbulence, and all she wanted to do was lie down. So they silently drove the short distance to Monica's house.

As soon as they arrived, James rushed off to the grocery store for milk. Megan went into Monica's bedroom for a nap while Jordan ate some lunch that Monica pulled out of the fridge and nuked. The four kids had already eaten and had gone to the park a few blocks away. Monica told them they could stay there for a couple of hours and told the oldest boy to watch the time on his wristwatch. They were well bundled up because of the strong northerly winds that would be bringing heavy rain later on. Temperatures had so far been hovering around 40 degrees in the middle of the day in this northern state in the middle of summer.

"All right, Monica, let's have it," Jordan said wearily. The two sisters settled on the living room sofa with their cups of coffee. Jordan's food was slow in digesting and felt like a heavy lump in her stomach. She carefully framed her question. "Why do you want Megan to come back and live with you after I've had her all this time?"

"Jordan, I know you're the oldest girl in the family. And I know you've always tried to help us two sisters out in the past. But now that Yvonne is gone, I don't think it's the proper thing for Megan to be away from her hometown in a strange place among strangers. It's too hard for her to adjust. I thought it would be all right for a little while since James had to be overseas. But now that's he's back to stay, she should live with us."

"Why would you say it's hard for her to adjust? I've had her for over five months. She's doing great. Megan has never said a word to me about wanting to come back here, either. And, as I recall, you were glad to have me take her last January after Yvonne and Douglas' funeral."

"Well...maybe she hasn't said anything to you about coming back here because she doesn't know that's what she really wants to do. And I don't think living with you permanently was what Yvonne would have wanted for her daughter."

"Megan is ten years old, Monica. She's old enough to express her own feelings. She says what's on her mind. And don't you think it's a little late for you to be out-guessing what Yvonne would have thought about it? What does James think?" She glanced toward the kitchen.

"He thinks the same thing—that Megan should come back and be with her family here."

"But I'm family, Monica," Jordan said patiently.

"I know, but—"

"Monica, let's not beat around the bush. What's the real reason you want Megan back?" Jordan didn't want to drag this out any longer. She knew the answer. She just wanted Monica to admit it.

"Well, it's your lifestyle, Jordan," Monica said matter-of-factly.

"You mean the fact that I'm a lesbian," Jordan responded.

"Yes. We feel that Megan shouldn't be around that type of environment. She needs to live with someone like us where she can grow up to be a normal little girl."

Jordan raised her voice. "You're saying that being around me is going to make Megan abnormal? "

"Well—" Monica began.

"You think Megan will grow up to be a lesbian, too, don't you? Isn't that what you really think?"

"Well—" Monica began again, softer this time.

"You need to know something, Monica." Jordan slid forward on the couch and then turned and faced Monica directly. "Just because I'm a lesbian—and I don't care who knows it—doesn't mean that Megan is going to grow up to be one. You are born a homosexual. And if you're not born gay, there is no amount of time you spend around homosexuals that is going to change you into the same sexual orientation. Furthermore, homosexuality is not a disease, either. It's not contagious. And it doesn't rub off on you." Jordan was so angry, she was almost shouting.

"And as far as my lesbian lifestyle goes," she continued, "It's not something you should be ashamed of, either. You're just showing your fear and ignorance without the knowledge to back it up!"

Jordan's sexual preference made no difference to her colleagues in the fire department. They looked on her as their equal because she had the ability and dedication that all of them did and never shied away from hard tasks. She admirably did the job that was expected of her, right alongside the men. Monica was well aware of Jordan's vocation as a firefighter and paramedic through their sister Yvonne, who had been proud of her achievements. Jordan had received numerous awards on several occasions from the Colorado Springs Fire Department for her exemplary service. She knew that her job really didn't play a part in Monica's insistence that Megan come back and live with them. Having to support a child as a single parent was certainly not the issue, either. Jordan made a more-than-adequate salary with the fire department.

"Jordan, you don't have to shout," Monica said, obviously shaken by Jordan's outburst. "But we really think it would be best."

"Then I'm sorry, Monica. There is no way on God's green earth that I'm going to let Megan come back and live with you!" She shook her head at her sister with disgust and guzzled down the rest of her now-cold coffee. It made her stomach even queasier.

Jordan could have told Monica all of this over the phone, but she wanted to make absolutely sure. She wasn't going to have her niece subjected to the homophobia that she knew existed in this family. She would not let that sweet little girl live in that kind of environment. Jordan was teaching her that everyone was worthy of respect and acceptance, no matter what their sexual preference was. Colorado Springs was not that accepting of the gay lifestyle—the fire department being one of the exceptions—but it was better than this place by a long shot! That was why she left here—to get away from the prejudice and hatred that existed in this part of the country.

Monica responded with a huff. "We can take Megan away from you," she said, self-assured.

"You're not going to, Monica. You don't have the guts. You don't really want another addition to your family. You already have so many kids. I wouldn't let Megan come back here without going to court. I would fight for her tooth and nail."

Jordan was fairly certain about legal issues in child custody hearings when it involved a homosexual parent—especially a single lesbian—and she would probably lose in a court battle. But she was banking on the fact that Monica didn't know the law. Monica didn't really care about her niece—that was just a side issue. Monica was pushing her own agenda of being against homosexuals, even if it was her own sister.

Megan slowly walked into the living room, sat down on an easy chair and looked back and forth between her two aunts. Jordan knew she had probably overheard most of the conversation between her and her sister.

"Megan," Jordan said, looking at her, "your Aunt Monica and I have been talking about you coming back here to live with her. What do you want?"

Megan was quiet. All of a sudden the back door burst open, and all of Monica's kids came rushing into the kitchen, hollering and calling out, "Mom! Mom! Can we have something to eat?" It had been only an hour since they went to the park, and they had eaten before they left. But kids would be kids—

"Mom!" the oldest boy shouted. "James pushed Rodney down, and he's all covered with mud! And Patty lost her hat!"

Monica looked toward the kitchen. "Just a minute, guys. I'll be right there. And don't you dare come in here with all that mud!" she shouted back with emphasis.

Megan got up quietly and walked over to sit on the couch next to Jordan. "I want to stay with you, Aunt Jordan. I don't want to live here," she said, leaning her head on Jordan's shoulder and glancing sideways toward the kitchen.

"But Megan," Monica said, reaching out a hand to her, "you'd have brothers and a sister to play with. You could do things together and go to school together. You'd have all kinds of fun here."

Megan pulled back from her Aunt Monica. She said, "I want to stay with my Aunt Jordan. And I have a friend at home. Her name is Suzanne. We play together and go to school together. We're in the same grade. I don't want to live here."

Jordan stood up, Megan's hand clasped in hers. "I guess that's settled then. I don't think we have anything more to discuss, Monica. We're catching a flight back tomorrow evening. I'll find a room at a motel near the airport for tonight. We'll leave from there."

She heard paper rustling in the kitchen, heralding James' return from the grocery story. "I'm sure James will be glad to drive us back downtown," she said.

"Don't you want to stay over with us?" Monica asked, placatingly.

"No, I don't think so. I want to show Megan some of the big city tomorrow, and we'll probably take in a movie tonight."

Jordan looked at Monica's kids as they started spilling over into the living room, unmindful of Monica's prior instructions to stay in the kitchen with their mud-covered clothes.

* * * * * *

With a bitter taste in her mouth in spite of a huge victory, Jordan and Megan were back at their home late the next night. She would have a few days before she had to report back to work—time enough to recover from her ordeal with her sister. Monica had started arguing with her again after she had dealt with her unruly kids. James had stood helplessly by, listening to the heated exchange, while Megan waited quietly at the front door for Jordan.

Jordan was relieved that Megan had slept most of the way home on the plane. She would have been happy to answer her questions, but was glad she didn't have to right now. Megan had overheard all of what was being said, but the little girl seemed content to leave things as they were. She was sure that questions would come later.

Jordan was proud of Megan for speaking up like she did. She really didn't want to live with Monica, though her reason was not quite what Jordan expected. She never reckoned with the innocence and full acceptance of childhood. Walking down the airport concourse to the gate where they would catch their flight home, Megan had held tightly to Jordan's hand. Her words said it all: "I'm glad you didn't leave me with Aunt Monica. I can't stand her bratty kids!"

To be continued...

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