Monday, July 31, 2006

Respect

I have given much thought to the concept of respecting one’s spouse and what that really means. The conventional thinking, which I do agree with, is not engaging in sexual activities with others – men or women. This point of view has been well represented by Kitty and her “kid sister” Kinky – maybe it’s something about the “Ki’s”. (Kitty and Kinky – don’t take it wrong – I do value and appreciate your comments.)

In response to Kitty’s comments, SD wrote:
The utmost important thing, in my opinion, is that when a promise you've made is broken, you treat your partner with the love and respect that they deserve, as long as you're honest and open about what you've done and how you feel, you'll be able to start working together to get to a place that's comfortable for the both of you. And that place may not be "ideal", it may not be what you want, it may hurt like hell once you get there, but as long as you maintain love, respect and honesty, you will get there.

In my desire not to hurt KA further, to try to “save” my marriage, and in my desire to always write bi/gay – not gay/bi, not gay – I had lost sight of the fact that love is not enough. Honesty and respect are the bedrock on which love can then exist. The honesty – well, I have that down pat. I was not caught - no Nate sightings; just an old fashioned spilling of the guts. The Respect – that is where the problem has arisen.

As we prepare for vacation – two weeks in our favorite place (our ancestral home I tease) – I look forward to a repeat of years past: calm times, conjugal bliss, and an escape from the day-to-day troubles of life. KA tells me that I am living in Disneyland, we can have a nice vacation, but make no mistake, our lives have changed.

I consider what she says and realize that I have, in my desire to respect her, shown her the greatest disrespect. I have ignored reality, shortchanged her feelings, dismissed her emotions and denied myself for good measure. KA keeps trying to mourn what has been lost – our place. As SD writes we may find a new place, not necessarily ideal and with much hurt along the way, but it will be a new place.

Every time KA tries to mourn the old place I stop her: “I am really bi – ignore the gay” or “I will give up my blog, I will give up the bj’s.” You get the picture. And of course this is also indicative of my own inability to mourn. KA points out that Jews have mourning down – a week of shiva, support of all you know. But here she has been left to mourn in a closet with someone who is still afraid to admit to possibly being more gay than hetero at this moment in his bi existence.

So I am ready for a new phase: respect based on true honesty – intellectual honesty. Respect by accepting that having sex with men may limit her having sex with me. Respect of her feeling hurt, of her wanting to mourn. Respect by trying not to lie to both of us – particularly me. Respect by not continuing to use the term bi as a way of denying that at this point in time my gayness is in the driver’s seat. Respect for her willing to put her love of me, and more so her love of our children above all. To sum all of it together, respect by not insulting her intelligence and emotions.

A strange post – easy to write, easy to understand but in many ways, the hardest to live because it is based on a level of self acceptance that I have yet to master.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

He's Back

A few weeks ago I decided to take a blog break. My decision was based on trying to turn the volume down, step back from precipices and not be overly defined by a culture. The post was titled Can I Go Home Now. Over the ensuing weeks it has become clear that I was yet again wrong. That is not to say that there is no value in treating a symptom – if one has a cough, a throat lozenge may be a good idea. But if your cough is due to strep, the lozenge is pretty limited.

Well, I am not sick, but I do have a condition – this little thing called my gay side. And the blogging is more than just a throat lozenge. But the expectation that I will stop blogging and things will be different – well, another case of how can a smart person be so stupid. The simple fact is that my life – my gay side, my marriage, my friends in this world, continue to dominate my thoughts. The blogging was the one place where I was forced to organize these thoughts. So what I have done is allowed my brain to be addled by random, still overwhelming, unformed thoughts instead of being forced, by the writing, to define my thoughts and therefore my self.

So bear with me, it has been two weeks – in Nate land, a lifetime – and things continue to evolve. Unfortunately the backdrop to this is KA’s depression, a problem I have compounded though not created. Over the last few weeks I have carefully read comments to the last post, particularly Kitty and SD, I have been blessed with a friend who has spent hours upon hours counseling me in an extensive e-mail exchange. And of course I have self examined.

It is tempting to try to cram two weeks of thoughts into this post, but that is not fair. I take too much pride to “slap it together” like that. So suffice to say I am back – I will still be disappearing shortly for a much desired vacation – and I look forward to writing about the real issues.

Hopefully I will not become like the aging rocker always with one last farewell tour and hopefully when I do, you will all let me know.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Can I Go Home Now

Six months ago I started this Blog. In the relatively brief amount of time that has ensued I have bared my soul, learned much about who I am, and made new friends, both casual and much, much more. I have learned of and from a world that I am part of and no longer feel the need to deny to myself. I have gotten the courage to share who I am with some family and friends –even if they still do not understand my need to share, the value of validation.

I have frequently started with a title and then found the post. One title never was used – I wrote a note on my desk back in March or April – the post-it is still there under the other debris. I did not write the post because it felt silly – Why ask if one can go home when one feels that they cannot. Today I have considered this title. It fits in with a theme of this week – a theme with KA and with my (soon to be former) therapist: Foundations. KA has pointed out that we will live in a different home based on what has gone down, on who I am. It may be a home together; it may be as lovers or maybe as friends: it will be changed. My therapist and I debate this – he thinks of it as adding on a room; I see foundations starting to crumble.

In case anyone is wondering (I have vacillated enough) – I am bisexual; I am married. My relationships with men are sexually based. I appreciate that this is not the healthiest model, but I am not looking for a boyfriend –an emotional partner. Not now. I have a wife which is, or should be, enough for one man. I have no desire to build a new life but I am also no longer willing to deny my gay sexual desires.

I have spent much time feeling guilt of sorts over not wanting to find a male emotional partner – guilt over appearing so shallow. The thing is that I am not opposed to such a thing. If I found myself single tomorrow I would consider a relationship with a man. But I am not single and I am not so unhappy that I desire being single.

One thing has become clear to me. The continuation of this Blog is causing more damage to my marriage – to my life – then the occasional foray with a man ever did. Hooking up is easy – I do not have Cialis style sessions: give me a lunch hour and I am fine. The Blogging – well between thinking and writing and waiting for comments (yes, I am also a comment whore) that would be time consuming enough.

But there is another aspect. It is the submersion into a culture. I have no issues with the culture – I am bi/gay after all. But the undeniable fact is that everything becomes colored by it. I love the members of this club I have come to know via comments and e-mails. I do not mind the common bond: in fact I have come to crave it and look forward to continued communication with this - my - new world. It’s just that I have been unsuccessful in right sizing.

There is much work for me to do in my life – personal and work – and then a vacation coming up: a vacation for my family. Already KA and I are talking: Am I bringing a laptop, how will I do without my Blog, will I just write to post when I get home. The answer is I may bring the laptop and may try writing a journal. This started as a journal for me and while I still claim that, it is disingenuous at best.

Maybe I would feel differently if I wrote of politics and sunsets, of the little things that make each day special for me. Maybe I would feel differently if I was writing as me and not as my alter-ego Nate. Maybe.

But the joy of this Blog to me and to you is my willingness to lay it all out – the heights of my happiness and more often the depths of my soul. I come as close as one can to writing without a filter. It makes for great writing – good theatre if you would.

To put it into perspective, I looked at recent visitors on StatCounter today. There was a hit from a Google search – something about Buddy Booths. The location was Beirut – Fucking Beirut. There is a war going on, bombs dropping, people dying. There are people lining up to escape on “aging” cruise ships. And this person is sitting there Googling Buddy Booths. Maybe I should say how nice that life goes on. But all I can think is OMFG – there is a war – Helloooooo.

Maybe I am a victim of my own success – the Google searches that bring my Blog to the top of the list are appalling. I think my personal favorite was the search “sucking a dildo”: that’s one to share with the lunch crew. It makes me feel much more public than I ever intended.

The thing is that I need to go home now – to a changed home albeit – but home all the same. I cannot predict where my life will go. There has been damage done and I am not ready to wait another decade to be with a man again. Don’t ask, don’t tell: I do not know if it works or what other compromises we may need to forge. Given an ultimatum I know not what my answer would be.

I do know that it is no longer fair to KA and to our marriage to live on a stage.

The gratitude and emotions I feel to those who have shared this journey with me are overwhelming. When this is in final form and I hit the Post button, the tears will surely flow. I will not be deleting this blog – that would be to deny it, something I would never do. But it is time to move on, for now.


Don’t be surprised when my writing returns, expect to see a comment here or there, and (to borrow a phrase) keep me in your hearts.

Thanks to all of you, from my heart and my soul.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Ode to The Troll

Troll put this little quiz up and clearly I have too much time (I wish) but figured if I am dumb enough to take it, I might as well post it.

The thing is that as Troll so correctly noted, if I did this quiz every day for a week, there would be seven different Nates. It was particularly distressing to answer so many questions and end up with requiring a tie breaker to see who I am.

I had to choose a preference:
1. Do girls get you turned on more than guys?
OR
2. Do you often smile sweetly?

Clearly the writer of the quiz has a thing for sweet smiles (it keeps popping up in many questions), so having no clue as to my smile, I decided if he wants sweet smiles that much, I should have one.

Of course the real issue is if the Nate's and Troll's of the world could figure out who we "are" maybe we could skip the quizzes.


You scored as The all-round cute gay guy. YOu are a cute guy who many would die to be with..........lucky!!

The all-round cute gay guy

80%

Straight

80%

Raging Queer

70%

A Big Bear

60%

Straight Acting

50%

S + M guy

30%

Straight Queer Basher

20%

What type of Gay are YOU?
created with QuizFarm.com


All this and no place for bi...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Most of the Time

Last night KA and I awoke and asked each other that timeless question – Why aren’t you sleeping? Her stomach is bothering her; my brain hurts. There is silence and I fill it: I am writing a post in my head, a post about the prior evening. I tell her the basics. Two hours later the post is different, but I realize that is not true. The post is there: I just have another to add. So here is the post I was writing.

If I speak I the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Our daughter, my step-daughter of sixteen years, was married Friday. KA and I each brought children to our marriage and we each supplied one good kid and one challenging – okay more than challenging – children from hell. You have met mine already- twenty years old, out of detox and into AA.

If I give away all my possessions… but do not have love, I gain nothing.

So we sit in Church as Jane is married. The lead-up to the wedding has been difficult. The backdrop of my coming out and the foreground of bridezilla –a mantle she proudly wears.

Love is patient; love is kind.

There has been fighting this week – open warfare and stealth passive aggression: I have to my embarrassment engaged in both. I have not been alone. With Jane nothing goes easy. She is the center and she already knows all the answers.

Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.

Jane and I have made our own peace over the years. We are similar. We are headstrong. We have egos forged of steel. We can fight and we can move on. We leave much collateral damage in the person of her mother – my wife. KA watches as we suck the joy out and then move on as if that is normal.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

For a smart man, I have blind spots. I hold KA’s hand, listen to the obligatory reading. Well, maybe listen is too strong a word: if I had been listening, I would have realized the words, our life, the damage and the hurt of the last many months.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Most men, men in our circumstances, would hear these words. They would have special, painful meaning.


Off to the party. And what a party it was. A grand success in the eyes of our families and friends. There were a special few there, a few who knew of our lives, our inner lives.

My gay nephew and his partner dance – wow, they can dance. Swing dancing, proper steps and twirls. Everyone notices. It is a good thing. This is a new world. It is a joy to behold.

KA is watching and I know what is in her mind. It is inescapable: she read my post Fifteen Hours; she remembers my talking of dancing in a gay bar in Chicago. The party is going fine.

I had met the DJ earlier in the week and we needed a song for KA and I – for the parents - our dance. The choice was easy.

I never made promises lightly.

As we dance she hears the words and stiffens slightly.

And there have been some that I have broken.

She hears the words; she pulls away; we will not dance again on this night. We will barely talk.


The wedding ends: a grand time had by all. We find ourselves in our bed – our marital bed if you would. It is late. KA has drunk a little too much, eaten way too little. She will not remember the details of this conversation in the morning – just the emotions. I considered hiding behind the excuse – it was the alcohol talking, but I knew what really happened. For a moment the defenses were down, the shell was removed, the truth was on the table. She ignored my first few entreaties – What’s wrong? Then she answered.

I remember it all – not in order, not in a fully coherent fashion, but I remember it all. She wanted to know what I expected. She has a husband who likes sex with men. She does not have a penis – she can never give me that. She believes me to be gay in denial. She does not really believe in being bi: she sees it as do many, including some who read and comment here, as a way station or a shield to hide the truth. She listened to the readings in the Church; they hurt. She watched my nephew and his lover dance – she points out they are the lucky ones: they have the whole package.

She tells me she will always love me. She is in no hurry; I should take six months or a year. But I should figure out who I am – who I really am and what I really want. I listen – what is there really left to say. Finally I mumble – me, so good with words – I mumble, I just don’t know. She thinks for a moment and says I have had fifteen years to decide. I will say no more that evening. Her words cut me to the bone. They cut not because of meanness on her part, not because of any ill will. They cut with the sharpness that can only come of truth. A dozen years after Washington, after spending my first night with a man and two and a half months after my fifteen hours with Jerry in Chicago, one would think that if I was ready to renounce my gay side, I would have figured that out. Fifteen years; it hurts.


Last night KA and I discussed it all. We are calm; we work on a plan for ourselves. It is another post for another day but I would be remiss in not adding just a little.

She talks of reading some blogs, e-mailing some spouses. I tell her she would get along with Ben’s wife. She says she knows: they both believed 1 Corinthians. And there in lies the problem. I suspect Ben and I believed it too. And it is so hard to reconcile what I do, who I am, with 1 Corinthians.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Up and Over

This is a story out of sequence – before the gift, before the thoughtfulness. For the past two months I have – choose your phrase – behaved, not acted out, stayed at home: you get the gist. Since Chicago to be exact. In the interim clearly issues of bi-sexuality have been on my mind – I post about them every few days. Yet I have not strayed.

The thoughts and desires have not left, though sometimes I wonder if I abandoned the blog if I might again live the sweet delusion of denial. This week I found myself in the City – New York City as you already have guessed. This is not an uncommon occurrence but this time was different. I needed to pick up a large package in one part of town so I parked there and walked to my office – up and over. Now I could have walked over and up, but I did not. Why? Because up and over took me past the sex shops. What was fascinating was not the number – that is pretty constant – but the number which advertised Male sections – buddy booths if you would. Now at 8 AM there is not much activity and honestly not huge desire. But I noted them all the same.

Come lunch time I would have claimed to not be sure of the path I would take back to my car but getting those extra singles in my change tells a different story. Sort of like those Law & Order’s when they are going for the pre-meditation. So walk back I did – over and down, past the shops. Well, maybe not past: that would ignore the detours. I made stops but did not interact with anyone. A function I suppose of many things, not the least of which is I am a graying middle aged man – not exactly “fresh meat” as my shrink would say.

Afterwards I e-mailed a friend – told him of my experience – and the response told me what I already knew. If it feels dirty, it probably is. If I need sex with men (I initially typed “act out” but enough euphemisms for today), I should do it in a way that allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin. The best advice – things we already know but seem to be ignoring.

The next day I was abandoned at lunch time – colleagues away or running errands – so lunched at my desk, at my computer. Read the paper, checked the e-mails, and then my fingers (well maybe my brain was involved) typed in Craig’s List. A posting – same age, married, professional, local, today; and if works more. Why it was my posting, but of course I had not posted since Chicago. I hesitate and then I type: a brief response, the basics. A few minutes later: I have mail. An brief exchange and a time is set – end the day, start the weekend.

It is a question which is greater – my nervousness or my excitement. No, not really: nervousness wins hands down. When we meet my nervousness is palpable, noticeable, discussed. It is who I am. We touch and the nervousness fades. I will leave the details to sex bloggers and one's imagination. Suffice to say, I did enjoy.

I write not to tell of failures and success: that would be too easy. I write of two things. The first is my willingness to go to a buddy booth – the bottom of the food chain – rather than admit to myself what I wanted. I had permission to discretely do what I must. Looking at a glass of Cabernet on a nice marble bar, I said no: I don’t drink. Then I went out back for some Thunderbird in a paper bag. The deeper implications of this will need to wait for my shrink; I would like company on that path.

The other thing that struck me was a matter of perspective. Upon meeting Sam I was nervous as all hell; Sam was calm as a cucumber, comfortable in his own skin. I am not sure if he self identifies as bi or is just another straight guy who likes occasional sex with men. Either way, in some strange sense he appears better adjusted than me. Me: a blogger, an emotional explorer. Me: who questions every day. He could be outed to his wife – potential disaster. What could happen to me – my wife find out. Is there really anything left that KA does not know?

I have another friend who I have hooked up with half a dozen times. He is also not out to his wife yet he is also comfortable, not wound like I am for that first meeting. He is like Sam and in some strange way I am jealous of their comfort. I could be pithy – an ignorance is bliss kind of barb, but that would be soooo unfair to them. They are not ignorant: they have chosen a different path, one that KA has suggested I should have taken.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

...a girls best friend

A family weekend in different configurations (the fun of a large family), dinner out with a manageable crew and the culmination: a Saturday night visit to the mall’s anchor store. If someone who knows the non-cyber Nate is reading, my secrets are safe: I am not a Saturday night mall person.

But there I am: my wife and eldest and youngest daughters, a guaranteed five or ten minutes. They go to the jewelry section. We have some weddings bearing down on us and it seems my wife is not happy with any of her necklaces. This is news to me but I am impassive – it’s a nice evening, two draughts in my belly, no place else to be. She grazes finally coming to a rich patch and tries one on. A nice necklace: quite becoming. The saleswoman tells her the price. I am impassive – it’s a nice evening. My wife hands it back and points out it was more than she anticipated. I am relieved. Behind my calm fa├žade I was beginning to quiver.

We walk around some more and I am thinking. I bought her a necklace once – eighteen years ago: a heart ringed with diamonds, if that is the term for stones that small. A gift from a boy to his new girlfriend. Over the years there has not been much jewelry: a consequence of divorce, child support, new children- in short a life. Clearly KA liked the piece – as did I: she has always had good, simple, classy tastes. I consider what joyous times are coming – marriages of her two eldest girls. I consider how much of her joy I have sucked out of these wedding preparations by my coming out. Most of all I consider how much I still love her.

I ask my daughter her opinion – of the necklace, not my life. She notes it is expensive but a fair value. I decide to get it. A diversion is arranged; I sidle back to the counter and make the arrangements. The little necklace is now in a big box. My daughter has a pocket book and is sent for the pick-up. We succeed in our conspiracy. The youngest tells the oldest this is her first big secret- they are excited. We continue to shop buying a $25 item. As we walk out of the store after an hour and half of shopping (a lifetime in Nate years), KA points out: $25, the price of a movie and we enjoyed ourselves as much.

Once home I steal a private moment and give her the box. She is shocked, but oh so happy. She tries it on for herself, for the kids, with the dress – this is fun. Just before bed I secure the house – turn off lights, the mundane – and when I come back to the bedroom, KA is sitting there with the box open on her lap, admiring it.

Of course I write to understand myself (and I can already assure you that the next post will not be as flattering). As I think of this I am struck by the fact that if she had suggested we purchase the necklace, I would have. With resentment, with cheapness boiling over, with an underlying sullenness that would have clouded the diamond forever. Yet once it was my idea I did it with joy – the box is sitting on her nightstand as I type.


For today I will leave my psychological frailties aside and instead revel in her happiness.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Dsyfunctional?

Over the past few days I found myself spending some time – together and separately – with my two friends to whom I am out. While my alternative existence is not a taboo topic, there is not all that much to add to the tableau, so the picture is out there but not debated. Each of these friends comes with their own stories.

I have known one friend for 35 years; he is local and is married. He and his wife stopped liking each other years ago, his wife redefines intolerant and he is an alcoholic. Other than that things are going quite well. Maybe it is a guy thing, but he and I have never discussed these issues. Until this weekend. His wife skipped a social gathering- she instructed him to blame her stomach. He told her, and subsequently me, that he was not going to lie to a friend who had bared his soul. We spoke at length that day and again the next. I asked the most basic of questions: assuming it is repairable (by no means a given), is that what he wants?

My other friend is from out of town – one reason for coming out to him first, sort of like opening in New Haven. He has been married for 25 years and has two in college and his youngest entering his last year in high school. He and his wife not only stopped loving each other a decade or more ago; they have maintained separate bedrooms for years. Now I understand wanting to be near ones kids and I understand the economic pressures of the real world. I do not understand his refusal to date until next May when their child finishes high school and they take up separate residences.

My blog is all about me – just ask KA – and more specifically my issues of sexual identification. I do appreciate my own difficulties – married, bi-sexual, and more interested in other men for sex than emotional relationships. But as KA and I chat about my friends and their troubles, I cannot help but feel less dysfunctional. My wife is not in full agreement – she does consider my wanting to have sex with men to be a “biggie” and so it is. But still she and I can discuss this question of relativity. Neither of my friends can have such discussions with their spouses.

Today is a special day for many parents: work closed and day-camps open. So while I take a few minutes to write (and play with my music) KA will be back from her therapist in a few minutes and we will continue our day together. Life is good.