Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Shifitng Sands

I have been reading various blogs and continue to be amazed at our parallel existences – sort of a gay/bi male variant of sorority sisters being on the same menstrual cycle (I know – a strange stretch even for me). I am captivated by our struggle to deny part of who we are - gay/bi - in order to embrace our loves for our wives and family. A valiant struggle but fighting one's nature is ultimately the only unnatural part of this.

Last night KA and I again touched on the topic of my friend Jerry in Chicago. We were only together once, but the more accurate (and alluring) description for him would by my gay lover in Chicago. In strange passing moments KA has said maybe I will need to see him again – get it out of my system or maybe a tune-up to keep the home life on track. Last night it became reality based. KA again tossed out the concept of taking a weekend, a visit to Jerry. Usually I am noncommittal but last night I agreed – a little too quickly, a little too eagerly. We turned over, our separate ways and went to bed. Truth be told I was happy to turn away – less chance for her to notice my physical excitement.

This morning we spoke and she noted my willingness to accept the idea. She tells me she suspected I was affected when we discussed it – my blushing and inability to keep a straight face – yes I involuntarily grinned – was as much proof as she would have gotten by reaching down with her hand last night.

We each had the same thought with different words. I had been considering this was a tectonic shift. She just saw it as shifting sands – a more gentle female approach I suppose.

My therapist and I talk about it – he reminds me the train has left the station. I consider if broaching the trip in such a real way is this difficult emotionally, what happens when I leave for the airport, when I return from the weekend?
“How was your weekend Nate – did you have lots of sex, enjoy the bars. How is Jerry doing?” My mind reels from the thought of the moment.

Her therapist talks of accommodations – no longer a marriage, a compromise. It terrifies me and is not where I want to go

Yet knowing all this I can tell you that American has plenty of flights - $183 round trip. I can continue to try to lie to KA and to myself. But we both can see the lie, feel the lie and when she said I could go - my body did not lie.

I am tired tonight – too social a weekend and I did spend Saturday night coming out to my best friend of thirty-five years and his wife. It went well – he reminds me he would be my friend even if I announced I was a Martian. But it is stressful all the same. (He does have a sense of humor and asks with a smile why I never hit on him – wasn’t he good looking?)

The bottom line to me is that the playing field has changed and can never be what it was. Can I stay with my wife and love her and my family. Absolutely: if she will stay with me. But we will never be where we were. Maybe we will be in the better place that some write of (I originally typed “right” – where is Freud when you need him), but I see now that there is no longer going back. Three months ago I jotted down a title for a post: Can I Go Home Now. The answer is clear: no. And that does not bring any smile to my face or soul.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Where The Heart Is

It is strange how a week can contain events that seem, and are, monumental in their implications yet can ultimately be so, well, ordinary.

It has been about four months since that fateful night when I told my wife “I am bi-sexual” and much less time since I have actually believed what I said and integrated the fact that the “gay” word also fits into my picture. In that time I have blogged, started therapy, made new friends in this world. I have not uttered so much as a word about this “minor” aspect of my life to family or friend.

That changed on Tuesday and Thursday when I came out (it still sounds so strange) to a friend and a sibling. Tuesday I spoke with a friend who lives in Texas – one of those friends where after a year of not speaking you pick up like it has only been a day. Thursday I met with my sister, an afternoon interlude, walking and talking.

The experiences were similar – broaching the subject is oh so difficult, almost impossible. And after that natural - a conversation among friends about matters of the soul. I discovered there is only one way to broach it – the declarative statement: I am bi/gay. Then you can jump in with all the modifiers, explanations, and anything else.

An amazing thing occurred both times. Nothing. No anger, no tachycardia (on either side), no recriminations. Just calmness, questions – many questions – and a sense of acceptance and love. My life continues to be blessed.

What has come to occupy my mind is where I am emotionally in the aftermath because it is not where I was expecting. I do not mean to imply that there was a clear vision of where this would take me – not even close. I did anticipate a sense of liberation and liberation I did receive.

But the liberation anticipated was one of being free to move along this path, continue the journey if you would. Instead the liberation I found was to be happier where I am. I wrote my sister “I think it has to do with the feeling that being satisfied at home is not a denial of who I am.”

She responded:
“That is an interesting insight -- & perhaps, the idea is by sharing this, it is a facet of who you are & not necessarily the entire defining perspective. There feels like an honesty & openness that is more comforting. It's always been sort of interesting that while we do not use our heterosexuality as a total definition, being gay or bi can often (especially initially) become the totality of a definition - perhaps because of the process of self discovery & cultural aspects. There's lots of facets of Nate (as well as all of us).”

A facet of who you are: She nailed it (she is a therapist and mother of gay children). KA and I have become trapped by issues of sexual orientation: a critical component of who I am has instead become the totality of our existence.

I have also been wondering over my lack of motivation to act on my gay side. It would be easy – an e-mail to JJ and “lunch” at the local motel. It would be fun – isn’t sex always - and I do like the man well enough. I wonder if maybe my time with Jerry in Chicago spoiled me – wanting that emotional content. I met Jerry through posting a very honest CL ad – I can write another yet I do not.

Yesterday in an e-mail exchange a man I know discussed trying another hookup – it has been months since his last one. He told me that he can’t do something like that until he can be sure that he’ll still like and respect himself once it’s done. It made me realize my emotions of a lunch time hookup – at this point in my journey the pleasure of the moment would be less than the self recriminations afterwards.

That leaves open my feelings towards my fifteen hours in Chicago: I would not rule out seeing Jerry again, but it is not an overriding concern today.

It is strange how by admitting my gay/bi side to real people in my life I feel more comfortable being what I want to be at this moment – husband and father – two pretty cool things. I also realize that much of what troubles me is not a result of sexual orientation or confusion. "Being" straight, gay or bi will not change those things; it only masks these equally real issues - subjects for other posts if I possess the honesty and will to address them.

I am wary of grand pronouncements – I have made too many over the last many months – and will not start to predict where I will be tomorrow or next week, but today, at this moment in time, I feel ready to return home - home where my heart is.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Missing or Just Invisible

Saturday night our community had a wonderful event – Relay for Life, a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. This event is built around the schools and the kids so our attendance was driven by our fourth graders. It is worthy of its own post and truly moved me. But I confess that at 3:30 AM (again) I write about me, narcissistic as it is.

We have lived in this community for our twin’s entire lives and they attend a small public school where they have traveled with the same kids for five years, and in many cases went to the same pre-school and have been with this crew for seven or eight years. We are a quiet family, not social butterflies, definitely not “A” list in an upscale community where everyone is either on that mythical list or wanting to be. Our children at any moment have a small group of friends, surely not the mainstream. It should also be noted that having a large blended family, KA and I are the old folks in this group – in many cases by ten to fifteen years.

Therefore Saturday night contained no surprises. We eventually meandered over to the informal gathering spot for our school, opened our chairs and made “camp.” We sat with a friend and chatted. And as the evening moved along the inescapable fact was that we were invisible. Our children played with their two friends but the group of six to eight other girls from the grade did not see our children. Over the course of the evening one or two dads did nod a hello towards me, but I was invisible. KA does know many of the women from school activities so she was a little more visible, but not in a “hugging, lets get together with the kids” fashion.

All of which is a long setting of the table for the topic on my mind – “missing”. KA and I have discussed over the last months what is missing from my life that I feel the need for sexual hookups, blogging and most recently e-mails within the gay-bi community. Her short answer is that I am much gayer than I am willing to accede to, and maybe she is right. But as I think back to Saturday night, I cannot help but think there is more than sex to this. Don’t get me wrong – we have friends and socialize, but our circle is small. In terms of the “guy” thing I have one good friend with whom for various reasons I am nowhere near discussing the current nature of my life.

My wife would point out that I have an incredibly close knit group that I work with, and that is true. But it does not translate outside of the office. I am not athletic – if I played golf in a non-humiliating fashion – it would be nice. But the bottom line is that there is not a lot of “male bonding” going on, with or without me.

In response to KA’s post last week, I received an e-mail with the following line that stopped me:
“but I believe that we will always (be) feeling that something is missing in our lives (straight or gay) whatever path we should follow.”
Sadly, I tend to believe it, though I am not sure for the same reasons as the writer intended.

Maybe KA is right – what is missing is accepting and “feeding” my gay side, but I think there is more. As part of my accepting the bi-gay side, has come a feeling of belonging and sometimes I think that feeling is more motivating to my behavior than the gayness. And that scares me, to invest so much, to put so much of my existence as I know it at risk, to join a “club”.

Proving once again why 4:00 AM is for sleeping to which I will now attempt to return.

Morning Update:
As always I stand by what I write, but as I posted last night and as I read Brad's comment this morning I realized that there was an additional sentance or two needed; I just did not have the strength or clarity at that hour.

There is a "club" aspect though I think the better term is male bonding. I suppose what scares me is not the "club" but my inability at this point to understand my own motivating factors. And truth be told motivating factors of bonding - of emotional connections - are a hell of a lot scarier than the much simpler desire for anonymous sex.

If the group I have come into contact with through my blogging and related e-mailing is a "club", I am proud to be a member.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Freudian HNT # 3

After KA yesterday, any thing I post feels lightweight – not worthy of all she said. I will write on those topics, on my feelings towards her and the chord she struck with many of you, just not today.

Last night we had a low point, an incredibly insensitive comment on my part and probably a bit of overreaction on hers. She mentioned she had written something for me but I did not read it until the morning. I woke early startled by a dream:

We are living on the first floor of the house – the kitchen it seems - and going to bed early. I have closed the lights and the doorbell rings. My glasses are off and I ask who it is and hear “Tom”. Not knowing who that is I get my glasses and walk back towards the door turning on a light and ask again; the person says Tom S – my therapist. I open the door and while the person looks more like a merry prankster (of Ken Kesey fame) than my therapist, it is, in the strange land of dreams, clearly him.

There are a large number of people on the street with him, running and playing- a wide range of ages including lots of kids. I assume they are his patients, families, etc. KA is with me now watching with an air of accepting but not embracing. I am not sure I thought it as much felt it, but I was being outed on my own block. This party was floating past my house.

We watch for a moment and then stay in the house. I have trouble closing the doors – we have double front doors and usually the right side is fixed but tonight the left side is not closing and I need to close that first with the sliding bolts that make that side fixed. I see the kids starting to scatter and we go back to bed which is in the kitchen. It had been pitch dark at the beginning of the dream but know there is ambient light – significant amounts – coming through a skylight. KA is ready to do something else (not sure what) but I am ready for bed.

I wake and write.

Then I read KA’s letter to me – the post. I suspect the dream would not have been the same had I read her letter the night before.

Time In A Bottle

After a difficult moment last night KA told me my anniversary present was on the computer. It is a brief note to me and a post to all of us:

Dear ____,
As we approach our anniversary, I have thought of what I can give you to demonstrate my love and commitment. To that end, here is my post:

May, 2006

To find your soul mate on this earth I believe to be very special if not rare. It could be a spouse, a friend or a teacher. I know that it is someone who understands you as well as or better than you understand yourself. More importantly, they cannot help but love you in spite of all that comes to pass. I have been lucky enough to have found mine.

It is because I love my husband as much as I do, that I must stand by him in this struggle. However, it is you who have become his friends that he needs to help guide his path on this journey to his soul. I admit to not connecting well to this new cyber world, but I understand friends. Especially friends who pass no judgments and cheer you on regardless of your weaknesses and indecisions. You are a very special group.

Nate told me he would stop his blog for a while so that we can reconnect. I hope he does not follow through with that. Yes, I would prefer he not do it at home on “our time”, but he must complete this journey he has started. It may not be as interesting to you when (if) he shares times that work as a family, but is that not a part of your struggles as well. When you are sitting in the stands or audience watching your children, does your heart not ache with pride and for some of you fear. When we walk down the aisle this summer at our daughter’s wedding, will the tears be of pride and happiness for them, or fear and pain for the changes in him. His writing will help him sort those feelings out and you his friends will stand by whatever.

If I have any feelings to you whom I have not met, it is jealousy. You are the first to see as deeply into Nate’s soul as I have. He tells me of many of your struggles. I pray that you all find the peace you seek and the love you need, and that you are open enough to know it when it comes your way.

Regardless of where our journey takes us, I will love Nate for the wonderful person he is. I do not understand these bisexual feelings, but I understand that Nate is a highly intelligent, complex and very loving individual who is loyal to a fault. If this blog world helps even one of you, then I wish you all the very best. You shall all be in my prayers.

And if I could add a song if would be: Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce

With faith and all my love,

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Time For Healing

Saturday 10:00 PM
I have written much today for much has happened. This of course will make little sense to one who has not read Sixteen Years and Further Thoughts. KA and I spent the day together, we talked, and we did family things, took a beautiful drive and made love in the fullest sense.

We had been ignoring the only advice my therapist had left me with. Instead of just being, letting things percolate, our lives had become a rush to decisions. This is not the time to rush. We both understand that we will never have an “open” marriage – share a bed while I have a boyfriend. Such things may work in this world, but not for us. We both understand that this is not a question of choosing or not choosing a “gay” lifestyle – one with a man as my partner. It is a question of choosing a “gay” lifestyle or choosing my wife – a person with whom I have the deepest, deepest of bonds: bonds of friendship, bonds of love, bonds of family and children.

These are not matters to take likely. We made a commitment today to take a step back. I will not be with another man in the immediate future and will leave my blogging at work. We will try to be here for and with each other. We know there are no easy answers – there is this underlying issue that one of you calls TGT – the gay thing.

We know that at the end we may find ourselves as best friends trying to make the best of it all for our family and us. But there is too much good here to walk away without giving it the best chance. Change there will be, there must be, but the nature of the change: that is the challenge.

But Eden is burning,
Either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage

For the changing of the guards
Bob Dylan

I will take a little time till my next post – a personal retreat of sorts. There are no words to express how much the support and love I have found here means to me. Thanks to all. I will be back, but for the moment need to be home while I still have one.

Further Thoughts

Saturday 10:30 AM
I post Sixteen Years and go back to bed. She has sensed me and woken. Another 3:30 AM together; another two hours of talking and being. At the end I take a moment and the post down comes down.I will repost Sixteen Years. I have re-read it and while there is so much more to things, it still stands on its own. And it is time to add some further thoughts. One might say when will I learn to leave well enough alone but those who have read my blog will know that is not who I am.

KA has not been having an easy time. All of my baggage just bringing all of her baggage to the surface. Her therapist is worried – I am worried – she has not joined me in tears. We both know the sadness is there and we fear the torrents when allowed their day.

So another Saturday and I find myself lacking a keyboard but owning a pen. There is a strange comfort in writing. I look at my marriage and realize how much there is but also wonder what went wrong. Yes, we have the gay thing, yes KA has her baggage, but sixteen years does not come tumbling down in six months like this. We dance around the topic – in therapy and at home: what was missing that I was so desperate to be released.

KA tells me she wants me, wants us. Her seeming pushing me away on to my journey is a defense against the pain she fears will be coming. She is torn, we know that my journey has come too far and we also know this is no controlled experiment, no predicting of the outcome.

We talk of my just going back to semi-anonymous sex, a “lunch” with no danger of commitment. She tells me I am better than that. I would like to say no, but she is right – the tem is not “better” (she is too kind) but “beyond.” My “lunch” partner e-mailed last week. He is happy to get together. I finally gave him my blog URL – he is amazed but still wants to get together. I would like to say no – I am married and maybe bi and if I am gay don’t I want more than “lunch”. But I feel the yes in me and I feel compelled and repelled, both emotions existing together.

Of all that I have said, wrote, shared (purposefully and inadvertently) one thing comes back. Now this should not have been a surprise – months ago I made a comment in my Washington Then post, a line that did not register until quoted back to me in my comments. “I slept in his arms. Somehow that felt more gay then being fucked.”

So it should not have been a surprise that of all the things I wrote, my description of spooning with Jerry caused the most pain. She has pride and living with the thought of your husband giving a blowjob must be painful, but the intimacy of spooning – it must be excruciating.

Maybe that is why she cannot cry. We are no longer in the land of sobbing, no dab of a tissue will do. We have crossed to a land of cascades and all we can do is pray that the tears will water and nourish something, “something we can’t even name” and from that again will grow our lives. Lives as healthier individuals that may then be able to re-integrate and build again. Lives that keep moving forward with prayers and faith, and yes, fears and worries.

Sixteen Years

Saturday 3:00 AM
My last post would have been “Fifteen Hours” had it not become a post within a post – a tale of inner truths inadvertently revealed. So what a strange but balanced leap from fifteen hours to sixteen years. Sunday is Mothers Day, tricky enough to navigate in these times but next Thurday is our anniversary, our sixteenth. I have thought on occasion for years now of playing her a Dylan song that day, cranking the volume:

Sixteen years
Sixteen banners united over the field

Its been a week since a night in Chicago, a night called Friday. I get home relatively early – 5:30 – and KA is cooking up a storm. The house smells sweetly of garlic, sausage on one counter, those wonderful Italian baby clams on another. The outside table is set for six – another child and her mom will join us. KA says that if she can’t win me with her sex, she will go for the food, eerily reminiscent of a comment I made two days ago in an e-mail to Brad.

I go to change and no flannel pajama styles or ratty chinos this night. I dress as if I am back in Chicago – nice jeans, simple black tee, denim shirt hanging open. I look good, I feel good.

We debate our normal Friday night perfect manhattans (as only KA can mix) or some wine. What the hell lets open some wine. We have been saving some nice Bordeaux’s, traveling with them for close to a decade. We are worried they will go bad. Truth be told, they have traveled with us because I am cheap – these are good bottles deserving of an occasion. I pick a nice one, pop the cork, and give it a bit to breath. Too late, its prime has come and long gone. Next a St. Emilion, Gran Cru: again too late, not vinegar, but not for drinking anymore. I tell KA there is some moral here but like a dream I have not figured it out. I tell her it must be something to do with not waiting so long for something that it is too late when you are ready. I realize what I am saying and move on – we are not stupid people and this is veering off into dangerous ground.

Enough wine, time for the Manhattans; a wonderfully slow evening of appetizers while the kids run wild. Homemade cake and freshly whipped cream for desert. The friends leave and while I do the dishes, a job I strangely like, KA says she would like some fun, too bad the kids are up.

The little ones watch TV in our room and I go sit on a love seat in one of their rooms. KA sees me and sits resting in my arms. We touch, innocently and softly, another ten minutes and the show will be over. Things seem quietly good when she announces she will help me but not make love with me. She touches me. I am happy but I have had a little to drink, a little to eat, and in seven minutes the show will be over. She abruptly pulls away.

We lay in bed, kids tucked in, her short bath completed and I ask her why. She tells me she does not have a penis, that there was a time when in ten minutes I would have found a way to have her, my pants exploding. She tells me, as I have written and she has read, the body does not lie.

I want to correct her and feebly try – only ten minutes, the manhattans…. We both know; she is not wrong. I told her the day before I would stay with her, no boyfriends, no emotional connections, but I could not say I would never be with another man, I could not lie on such an issue.

We lay in bed and she asks me if I was happy last Friday, if it was a good nght with Jerry (yes he has a real name which she knows). She read my post, there is no denying it. I feebly add that maybe it was the thirty years of waiting. We both know the truth.

We lay in bed and she tells me that we are best friends, will be forever. She tells me she will protect our children with a fierceness that requires no example to me who knows her so well. She tells me that I must take my journey, that I never had any choice. She tells me not to cry, that I should be happy. It is in vain and cry I do. She comforts me.

As we lay there I tell her how I had been thinking of the lyric, Sixteen Years, how I was going to play it for her, how I was going to write about it. And I tell her, choking back tears, that as I thought of the song, I realized its title. She does not know it, most of you do not know it. A blanket pulled over my head, tears flowing, I tell her: Changing of The Guard.

Sixteen years
Sixteen banners united over the field
Where the good shepherd grieves
Desperate men, desperate women divided
Spreading their wings 'neath falling leaves.

But Eden is burning either brace yourself for elimination

Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards.

Peace will come
With tranquillity and splendor on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall
And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and the Queen of Swords.
Bob Dylan

Monday, May 08, 2006

Accede To Reality

I have long used the phrase “accede to reality” - a simpler way of saying reality will always win; however I seem to have lost sight of it on my journey or maybe there were too many realities competing. Today reality stood up and hit me square on.

I wrote yesterday’s post at home, saved while I worked and of course password protected. After writing the post I continued on with what was going to be today’s post, the happier side of Chicago. KA was going to read my letter this morning, not that I had not already told her all, and I left the original for her in our bedroom. While on the computer she sees a Word file – 35,000 Feet - and realizes this is the transcribed letter: why waste time wading through my difficult hand writing. The file has a password that I once told her – an act of faith that I shared it and an act of faith that she did not use it.

But this was different: she was not reading my private files; she was reading the letter to her, one I told her to read. She opens the file and reads the letter, presumably painful enough even with having heard it all. Then there is more on the page, a post titled fifteen hours. She reads this:

Fifteen Hours
As one would expect in a blog world of gay/bi men, no small number of whom are married, relationships and sex are unavoidable topics. I have been a distinct minority – one whose relationships with men all would qualify as anonymous or semi-anonymous. The closest to a relationship had been another “MWM” where we had “lunch” (and a “breakfast” or two) half a dozen times. We spoke in some vagaries but never shared as much as a glass of water. My gay/bi definition was based solely on these sexual encounters and my fantasies – a strangeness noted by more than a few of you over the last few months.

I have discussed the emptiness of my Thursday date and touched on my Friday in my last post. The thing is that Friday deserves more than a passing reference. For ease my wife has named him Joe and that works fine: the fact that KA has given him a name just adds to the Dali-esque state of my life.

Joe and I spent a week e-mailing. From the first exchange there was a connection – something that cannot be explained but one just accepts. When I did not hear from him for a day I never said another CL encounter: I knew the next e-mail would come and we both knew we would meet.

Meet we did. A glass of wine, talking of our lives, fun, and dinner in a local place. At one point in our e-mails we had talked of just ordering in dinner and when I wrote back maybe we should go out, he knew – part of the evening was being in public. After dinner we went to a gay bar – not for long but for the first time I was not (as my therapist calls it) doing the walk. I had a guy and we could touch and dance and throw in a kiss.

We had more fun and slept - half me spooning him and half him spooning me. There was not much time in the morning – a conference to attend – but enough for a cup of coffee, more aimless, comfortable talk.

So for the first time I understand a little of what many have tried to tell me. So many good things come from having that real connection, not the least being the most incredible gay sexual experience of my life.

Of course the good news is he lives a thousand miles away and the bad news, yes he lives a thousand miles away. We will keep in touch – we have become friends – and at some point I will have another weekend with him, but Chicago is a thousand miles away.

As I wrote Joe earlier:
At this point I am happy back home in my shell. I know that if I go on CL, and I am strangely not motivated to do that now, I will get hundreds of "Thursdays" before my "Friday" comes and I do not have the strength for hundreds of dances while still being here.

I have often written that the body does not lie and Friday it spoke loud and clear. And it was good.

She read it, all of it. I called to check in, a typical late morning call and she told me. She is in shock and I am beaten. Only two hours till my therapist; how fortuitous. You must realize the day started alright – I must have driven a mile before a song reduced me to weeping –
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

I do not remember all I wrote and I open the file – I had e-mailed it to work – and I re-read it. The horror. But there is also the knowledge that there is nothing there that I can disclaim and maybe it is better. Lies come in many ways; for me they are lies of self denial. Anyone reading the post can see where I am and I cannot deny it no matter how much I want to.

I suppose some are wondering where am I typing, where am I sleeping. KA thought about this today I am sure but she would not allow my transgressions to harm the children, our family. There is a reason she is my best friend and I do love her fiercely. The basement is far away, not part of our world as the children sleep and wake. We will share a bed but the exercise machine in the office – the old extra bedroom on the second floor will need a new home. A couch will be bought this weekend – one comfortable for sleeping on nights when the need arises. The children will notice an occasional sleeping person but it is just that pesky snoring.

When I started with my therapist I told him of the joys of therapy when not in crisis – an opportunity for real work. I thought to myself after a few sessions, what type of therapist doesn’t have tissue boxes. It seems I started in therapy as an intellectual game, a way of assuaging my guilt and my wife’s fear. The tissue boxes were there all along – it just took until today to find them. I am empty – nothing to write, nothing to give.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

From 35,000 Feet

On the plane home I wrote in long hand – I wrote for my wife who has since heard all I have written, I wrote for me and while I deny it in the letter I wrote for all who have taken this road trip with me. It is exceedinlgy personal but after four months of pouring out my life I am choosing honest over personal for today (for this may be the first post that I do someday delete). So here it is, transcribed but unedited – thoughts from 35,000 feet.

Dear KA,
I considered putting pen to paper on the flight – maybe work on a blog entry but realize that at this moment I only have an audience of one. I readily admit to not really knowing what this page will look like when I make it to the end.

There has been discussion of Chicago – what to tell, what to hide. The thing is that the decision to share has already been made. To dance around my trip with euphemisms is not worthy of either of us and ultimately not fair to you.

You once referred to this as a retreat. It never was – no monastery and cloistered walls. No, it was a journey of discovery. It started as the plane took off and I looked at the water glittering on Flushing Bay and realized that I was leaving something. This was never – good or bad – a trip with a “take it back” clause.

So what did I learn. On Thursday night I learned that I could have some wine, a bite to eat, have much in common and yet have nothing in common. When he dropped me back at the hotel I was actually relieved not to be having sex,

But this was a journey and I could have gone to sleep but that would have been hiding. So off I want to a downtown gay bar. And yes, there were lessons there. A lesson of loneliness, a lesson that I couldn’t meet a person – guy or girl – in a bar when I was twenty and if nothing else I was consistent. I again went home happily alone.

But I suppose my reactions were a bit disingenuous because I still had a date for Friday night and I knew – and somehow you knew – this was the test. A person I had e-mailed back and forth with, someone where some small connection had already been made. I of course have long hung my hat on the “sex in a vacuum” theory: A quick encounter and then suit up for real life.

So Friday I got in a cab and went on a date. The details do not matter – yes we slept together. The thing is that when it was time to head back to the hotel, my conference, there was an inescapable truth. I really am gay. One would think it would not be a shock, not be so hard to fathom, but unfathomable it is.

In a strange way it feels almost easier to start putting back together a life with you. It’s real hard to have a conversation based on a phase. The thing is I am not sure what the gay lifestyle is – a media myth of sorts. I am not looking for a boyfriend or to leave. I love you, the kids, our life. I love that proverbial dining room chair – the head of our table and a full table it is.

But if you were to ask me if I would forswear being with a man again, the answer would be no, not that I’m looking, not that I have plans but we have come to far to spit into that wind, the wind which has filled our sails for so long.

So I return from Chicago and I have some answers but it seems I have even more questions. The thing is I wrote earlier “I really am gay” and I am terrified, I am sad, I am ashamed. I know that these are not appropriate emotions, but they are my emotions.

As the conference ended there was an interesting coda – a punch line of sorts. We will move our May conference, Memphis for 2007, a floating opera after that. How fitting. Fare the well Chicago.

Of course the last line, the last paragraph is a fine ending to a blog entry but I may have left Chicago but we still have a life to live. I considered at some point this trip that I have written of my road trip – SF, Boston, Washington and finally Chicago. The thing is that the next chapter of this road trip will be written in New York, in our town. Some maybe written in our bedroom, some maybe written in a basement and hopefully it will be written together.

But I also know that I have placed a heavy burden on your shoulders, one worthy of Atlas. And you need no more burdens. You deserve so much more. Part of me wants to keep writing – I am terrified of the silence, but it is time to put pen down and start to absorb. I suppose now I am ready for that retreat.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


It is strange – months of active struggle, years of currents just under and sometimes breaking the surface, endless posts on labels and words and I say it, I say it aloud: I am gay. What happens –neither fireworks nor bolts of lightning. Worse: suggestions maybe I am overstating the situation.

So I go back to some basics. I am bi-sexual. My relations with women, emotional and sexual, are substantial and real. My relations with men have physical credence and my deeply held fantasies are not easily dismissed: my physical desires and emotional musings relate to men. I cannot imagine saying all of this every time I consider my orientation. Gay seems strangely simpler as a statement even if it ignores such depths of nuance.

I e-mail with a fellow blogger. His wife likes the long explanation – less threatening than gay. He points out that he does not feel a connection to the gay culture. My wife has lunch and tells her best friend that all is not well in paradise. She had sensed things – assumed I was having an affair. She is understanding, a good thing, and feels she understands, a slightly stranger thing. She tells KA that she knows - I do not fit into the gay culture. To her I am not gay: I am the married guy with a weakness for sex with men, something she suggests my wife should tolerate within reason.

In this little blog world when I have discussed gayness in purely sexual terms it has been met with a skepticism – these are matters of heart and soul, not just an excited penis. I know they are right but I also know that when that penis gets busy one would not be called straight.

I have come a full circle it appears. It seems this gay club is tough – I never learned the secret handshake. Of course it is a matter of what is gay and the answer is many things. There is the “culture” of popular myth. My niece and mate wheeling a baby carriage are not exactly hitting the Baths. They think they are still gay. Brad as lawn queer is anything but – a regular guy with a really green lawn. I have never asked either their cultural identification but when dealing with one in the real world and the other in our cyber community I am not struck by cultural issues – this is not my cities Halloween parade. I am struck by normal lives, normal relationships, and of course green lawns.

So I am off Thursday morn for a brief visit to the windy city. My trip is planned. I have already written of my plans – dinner both nights, a divorced bi man and a gay man my age. I did not leave time for gay bars and the like. It is a journey to learn about myself through real interactions with real people.

I have meant to change my sidebar for a month and when I saw Bea beat me to it I got my ass in gear. I hope no one minds but I have in most cases replaced your blog names with your screen names, real or assumed. I have done this for both selfish and symbolic reasons. From a selfish point of view it makes it easier to find where I am going. More importantly you are individuals who I think of in real terms. And while so much is shared in common, so much is different: many cultures, intersecting but not in lockstep.

When you say Dylan,
he thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas,
Whoever he was.
The man ain't got no culture,
Paul Simon