Happiness and heartbreak for Christmas
Friday, Dec. 21, 2018 - 6:58 pm.

It feels cool to say that I'm writing here on the longest night of the year (one of my characters was born on this night!). It's likely that today, next year, I'll be saying that I'm writing here on the longest day of the year; who knows. But I digress. It was only 5 pm and it felt like Andrew and I had been lounging for a whole night after we arrived from the office. 

To be fair, we arrived home early. We left the office at 1 pm and went to a Christmas lunch. Quote, unquote. It was nothing official nor fancy, nor it involved third parties. It was just a treat to the two of us. We went to one of the Students' Union cafés and had a nice meal. The university, of course, was nearly empty, but we still did some shopping at its convenience store, and we got a Big Issue magazine from a vendor at the entrance. I hope he has a nice christmas.  

On the bus home, I wanted to burst into tears, only because christmas is beautiful but also maddeningly heartbreaking. 

I decided to go to the office everyday this week, as opposed to working from home. It was mostly an excuse for me to get out of the house, see people, see the pretty christmas decorations in the city centre. I had nice lunches and coffee breaks with the few people that remained in the PhD office this week. On Wednesday, I had microwave pop corn after hours in the office kitchen, while waiting around to go to a friend's birthday party); I don't have a microwave at home, and my friend A. left us a few pop corn bags when she flew back home. Yesterday, I even had a glass of wine, a leftover bottle from the Department christmas party. 

Of note, Andrew and I had lunch at the Christmas market in the city centre yesterday. It is set up just a few blocks away from the Psych Department. We ate standing up under a colorful ferris wheel as people walked us by, and Paul McCartney's wonderful christmastime was playing. It's the little things. 

That birthday party on Wednesday. The party was OK, we were celebrating the patriarch, so to speak, of the Chilean community here. He and his wife arrived to the city running away from the dictatorship, and they welcome and help out students that come every year. They do a lot for so many people. So we went to his house, eat Chilean food and drinks, and that was cool. 

What was not cool was the conversation that a bunch of guys were having on one corner of the living room. I say corner, but they weren't keeping quiet, they were shouting, and the living room was quite small and crowded. Long story short, I sank in my own corner, shuddering and fuming, as I overheard them talking about going to *the* LGBT+ bar in the city like they were bravely going to a safari.

Fucking heterosexual pieces of shit. They have the whole world to themselves, and instead they were planning to crash the one and only place in the city that is meant to be a safe space for LGBT people to have a good time. I didn't say anything to those assholes. It's not my character to walk up to people and slap the nonsense out of them, especially when they are not talking to me. Plus, I'm not out to these people. I'm scared I would out myself during the slapping, just because I'm not thinking straight (haha) when I'm mad; but coming out might backfire.

On the comforting side, Andrew was still wearing his university LGBT lanyard at the party. A rainbow lanyard to show support for the LGBT community. I took mine off when we arrived to the party, precisely because I'm too self-conscious. So then another Chilean student (everyone in that living room, except for me, was a Chilean Master's or PhD student or a partner of) asked Andrew where he got it. This student said he'd seen people wearing them around campus, he thought they looked nice and so he wanted one. 

My friend Eric works with the LGBT university staff behind the lanyard campaign, and he'd told me how a lot of people at the university requested a rainbow lanyard only because they look nice. That's because the campaign doesn't seem to be reaching all places in campus so most folks don't know what it's about. But it's also because folks don't read; the posters advertising the lanyards do say it's to show support for the LGBT community. Anyway! Andrew was surprised to meet one of these people, and he explained this fellow Chilean student what the lanyard was for. 

The fella backed down immediately but politely, the way you try to act cool when you want to buy something but realize it's too expensive. He said he'd look into it, trying to act like that piece of information hadn't changed his mind, but it did. Which, you know, fair enough. Know what it stands for, and then make a decision for yourself. Similarly, know why LGBT clubs exist in the first place ("Paris is burning" is a good place to start), and then see if you still want to be the entitled hetero that goes there uninvited. 

My comfort here is that this fella saw another straight man, Andrew, wearing the rainbow lanyard. He wore it both proudly and like it was no big deal, fully aware of what it meant and standing by its meaning. That's gotta count for something, right? If anything, it counted for me that night, not long after hearing the shitty heteros on the other corner. I felt (feel) safe and grateful for having Andrew in my life. 

Besides that nasty episode, the week was good. It seems it will be just Andrew and me all through the holidays, but we've gotten christmas cards and gifts from friends. We're lonely but loved. And by gifts I mean food, which is all one could ask for, really. For instance, My former male Colombian crush A gave us a cake and chocolates today. I was so moved and couldn't thank him enough. We haven't interacted much the last couple of months (he's submitting his thesis next week!), and I didn't even think of getting him anything. It's also surprising he got us anything, really. He's not into that sort of details, all the more reason why I was moved. 

So today Andrew and I got home with loot. In my backpack I carried the cake, a half-full (ever the optimist) bottle of wine, the one we started drinking yesterday, and a draft of my thesis. These will be my holidays in a nutshell. Although I will take some days off and read fiction, and write fiction, and work on my comics. 

I could be at a friend's house right now, at a women-only night-in, but these are also Chilean students or partners of students. The friend hosting is quite a smart, sensible person, but some of the other women I already know, and others arrived this academic year so I don't know them. The ones I know are conservative, or very basic at best. Should the topic of the dudes crashing the LGBT bar come up, I don't think I'd handle it very well, or, worse, I wouldn't handle it at all. I don't want to hear what these women have to say. I have faith in one or two, but I haven't had a conversation with either. I'd very much rather be at home and here I am.

So that's it. I'll just try to make the most of these holidays. Like I said, I'll be happy and heartbroken. Maybe not so much for myself, as I am fine. I just miss my family, but I'm grateful I have one, and a loving one at that. I'll think of my brother-in-law (the anniversary of his death is on Sunday) and I'll hold Andrew, and I'll keep in my heart that these days can be so painful for so many people. Happiness or heartbreak, we'll carry on. 

Merry christmas!

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