Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Xena and Gabrielle and the Boss and Me

I was on hold the other day and heard this song:

Come stop your crying, it will be alright
Just take my hand, hold it tight
I will protect you from all around you
I will be here, don't you cry

For one so small, you seem so strong
My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm
This bond between us can't be broken
I will be here, don't you cry

'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on, now and forevermore

You'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
From this day on, now and forevermore....

This lyric is by Phil Collins, and is from the soundtrack to the Disney animated film "Tarzan." So naturally I was plunged immediately into memories of Xena, Warrior Princess. Not so obvious? I will explain.

About ten years ago I became acquainted with a wonderful, charismatic, and, to me, utterly mysterious woman, a local minister. I had met her at a community-wide educational event, and then began attending a study group of which she was a part. I liked her. She intrigued me. I was attracted to her (though, in my married fog, I didn't get how I was attracted to her, precisely). I decided to go to her church one sunny Sunday in October. It was World Communion Sunday.

Something happened to me during the service. I fell head-over heels. It had something to do with her openness, the embrace in which I felt myself enclosed. I spoke to her afterwards, and said something very much like, "Now I get it. Now I get you."

Not long after I attended her church I had an opportunity to begin working there. She became my boss. I loved my job, I loved the people in the congregation, but the dynamic between us changed. She became more guarded. She became more elusive. We worked well together, but over the course of several years, my attraction waned, mostly out of lack of information (I had no idea whatsoever about her sexuality), but also out of familiarity. You know how that goes.

Eventually it was time for her to move on to another call. A month before she left I bought tickets to a concert as a going away gift. We planned an evening out, including dinner, and I felt myself growing excited and agitated all at once. I realized that the old feeling was re-surfacing.

That night in the car she came out to me. We ended up back at her house, talking for hours about her life, my life, the closet, marriage. I shared with her my painful and unrequited love (Delta) of a few years earlier. And then, she told me about Xena.

Xena, Warrior Princess. And Gabrielle, the bard, her side-kick. The mid-nineties syndicated TV show out of New Zealand, largely schlock, off-spin of the Hercules show... except... the show had begun to attract an interesting audience, an audience of lesbians, who believed they saw, in the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle... something. Something more than simple friendship. And, in response to this interested following, the producers began throwing their audience a bone here and there. A scene of Xena and Gabrielle bathing. A kiss between a man (whose body was "possessed" by a comatose Xena) and Gabrielle. Intense conversation between the characters about their devotion to one another, their love for one another, the way in which they were soulmates.

And then, the fan fiction started. One woman, who went by the penname Merwolf, created an entire "Xenaverse" in which Xena and Gabrielle's love left the realm of subtext and became "maintext."

So I began reading these stories. And guess what? My boss was Xena, and I was Gabrielle, and the stories, which I read for hours on end, at night, on the computer, opened the door to a life of fantasy that was both thrilling and painful.

About that same time my children were still heavily into the Disney catalogue, and after seeing the film of "Tarzan," I bought the excellent soundtrack. As I listened to that song, I began to translate it into a kind of anthem for Xena and Gabrielle (read: Boss and me).

Why can't they understand the way we feel?
They just don't trust what they can't explain
I know we're different, but deep inside us,
We're not that different at all.

And you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on, now and forevermore

You'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
From this day on, now and forevermore....
My boss left. Our relationship changed again. I left Xena behind, after about a year's indulgence, because, why torture myself with the fantasy of a world I would never inhabit (and I'm not referring to the nifty body armor)? And a few days ago, a song heard while on hold, brought it all back with a poignant immediacy.


more cows than people said...


it is good to slowly learn more of your story.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

what a beautiful story, and sounds like memories of a beautiful person.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Funny how the same song can evoke such different memories. That one was popular when I lost my second baby. I still tear up sometimes when I hear it...

Whatever happened to her, Cecilia? Do you keep up?

Cecilia said...

Oh, Doxy, I'm sorry... I know how potent painful memories can be when attached to a song. And, truthfully, this song bears with it some memories of me crying in my car for something I longed for and believed I could never have.

She and I are friends. We have had some weirdness over the years. (She did a kind of approach/ retreat thing with me several times). But now we are buddies, long distance, who speak on the phone and exchange emails about every month or so. She is dating a woman in my town (a Gabrielle type, for sure...). And I can sincerely be happy for her. And I know she's happy for me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to tell your story, Cecilia. Your experiences and your ways of telling them are very powerful.

Jan said...

Cecilia, thank you for sharing this lovely story. I'm glad you are still connected in some way.