Rova no more

28/03/2023 Feast of Hilarion the Younger/Εορτή Αγίου Ιλαρίων ο Νέος Vespers/Εσπερινού - Melancholy vibe for this evening. Today has been emotionally draining. My maternal grandparents from Slovenia, with whom I have not spoken in a good long while out of fear of them discovering that I'm trans, are currently visiting my parents in Paris and thus have insisted on talking with me albeit briefly. So right after I rolled out of bed this morning I tied up my hair, put on my old guy glasses, and went to call. Artificially deepened my voice, avoided telling them anything that could give away anything or whatever. Emotionally exhausting.
This kind of deception really exhausts me, even if it is for self preservation that I do it in the first place. And worse yet, I'm beginning to fear that my efforts are in vain and that they're starting to suspect something. My grandfather was not his usual chipper, macho, bantery self, he was weirdly quiet and removed himself from the call after a few minutes. Which normally would lead to me stressing and fearing all day, but instead of the usual anxiety all I got was this profound sadness; I no longer feel the fear of potentially losing my relatives, but rather the sadness at the fact that I am actively losing them.
They're good people. They love me and have been there for me all my life. If not for my grandfather I never would have gotten into music at the young formative age that I did. I never would have had a guitar thrust into my hand at age 10, been told to "figure it out", been forced to develop a sharp ear for following chord progressions on the fly as my grandfather lead us through old Croatian folk songs at family reunions or just for fun in the afternoons when it was hot outside and my grandmother was napping. In my youth he was a titan of a man, a retired politician and businessman who had held standing in Yugoslavia and run his household with an iron fist; as I got older he became softer, with gray hair and lined face but an acid tongue that defied his age. I was his pride, his favourite. And now I'm practically a stranger. He taught me so much - guitar, charango, cuatro, mandolin, quena, which flowers were which, how to catch crabs with my bare hands, how to pour a proper beer, what to do if you got pricked by kopriva, historical anecdotes of the world (mostly the communist countries). My mother and her sister would paint a picture of a much less kind and nurturing man, and indeed even in the mellow old age in which I've known him all my life, he wasn't ever a man to show his love openly, but I never once doubted it. He was the hero of the unusual outcast of a little boy I was before I found the woman that I am.
And my grandmother... what to even say about Babi. Certainly, my mother had (and still has) her problems with her, but I would be remiss to leave out the influence that she had on me growing up. If Dedi was the educator, Babi was the nurturer, always making sure we were well fed, well hydrated, happy. Even when we hadn't been to visit in Slovenia forever, I would constantly tell my parents how much I craved her cooking - filane paprike, krvavica z kislo repo in zganci, prazen krompir, jabolcni strudelj, the list goes on and on. She would slip me a Kinder chocolate with a twinkle in her eye and I'd run off into the garden to wolf it down before the more health-conscious eyes of my parents caught on to what was happening. She was soft and warm and loved to give me and my brother hugs. A perfect match for the role of the domestic matriarch, a solid rock for her family, giving them a stability that she never got as a kid, with her alcoholic father and dead mother.
And now they're practically strangers, people I fear and avoid lest they find out this shameful secret about me. I don't even know how they would react. They were the only ones who didn't fully excommunicate my mum's cousin when he came out as gay in the 1980s, but that is also a different thing altogether. Beyond that, I can't recall them ever saying anything about queer people at all, which at least means they aren't raging homophobes but could bely a different kind of issue, maybe they see it as too taboo to even be discussed. Part of me wants them to know because then even if I lose them at least we'll stop playing this avoidance game. The other part of me would fight tooth and nail to stop either of them from ever hearing a word of this. All of me feels this horrible, intense, all-consuming guilt every time I think of them. I'm doing this to them. I'm doing this to my relationship with them. I'm the one avoiding, distancing, deceiving, hiding something. And God, I miss them, so much. I miss feeling the warmth and familiarity of being at their house, of spending time with them, of sitting at a table of dishes dirty with the remnants of a tasty meal, playing guitar while the whole family sings despite their bursting stomachs. I miss going for walks by Kamniska Bistrica, in Arboretum, up to Homec. I miss our traditional family lunch of mushroom soup followed by fried chicken with various potatoes and salads at Gostilna Pirc in Rova, the village over from where they live. And worst of all, I feel time slipping away between my fingers. Every month I continue to avoid contact is another month I'm losing, and eventually, soon, I'm going to run out of months. My grandfather turned 80 this year. I called for five minutes. They've both got health problems and are slowing down. I want to make the most of the time we have left. I want to make more memories, so that one day I can look back on them fondly. And certainly I will cry because I miss them, just like I'm doing now, except with the knowledge that I made the most of my time with them. I hate the fact that I'm basically forcing myself to lose these people who are so dear to me, mourning my relationship with them as if they weren't still alive, as if they didn't still care for me and want a relationship with me. But that's just the problem. It's not me they want a relationship with. It's the grandson they thought they had.
I apologise for the ranting and the melodrama, but it's been hard today. Emotionally exhausting. I'm going to get some sleep, and hopefully things will look brighter in the morning.

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