Sunday, December 31, 2006
The thing is that I would do it all again. Would I try to be more sensitive, have less of a tin ear to my surroundings: absolutely. Do I wish that I was still a straight guy giving bj’s: not on your life. It is not the sex, though it is good. It is the feeling that maybe there is this real me that was buried so long and the warmth of the sunlight on that soul feels liberating.
In a normal year if I add one or two people to a list of those I call friends, it has been a good year. So how do I describe a year where I have not added one or two, but found a whole community? That has been the most fascinating, exhilarating and humbling part of the whole journey – a few “bricks and mortar” friends and many, many “cyber” friends. I put cyber in quotes because the word connotes a distance, a lack of reality that I eschew: many of you have become as real as could be imagined.
It has been an honor to be in this community and I wish all a happy and healthy New Year. (That sounds so banal: Take two) I wish you all a year of continuing your various journeys and finding peace- both inner peace and peace with your loved ones, ones who have suffered with us every step of the way. May peace be with us all.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
My new home is not bad – the size of an average prison cell, but I do not need to share it and the full size bed is quite comfy. I lie there considering my new life and I hear noises: there in my doorway is Carrie. Unlike me Carrie does not have a boyfriend, she is not on the prowl, she is expecting a long time before her next opportunity and now we make love again. No, not exactly: we have sex, the raw sex that has been there for decades.
Before I go forward I must go back, back about eight hours to the mid-afternoon. I thought I knew what lay ahead and it included my own bed but did not include sex, excepting my hand. A long holiday weekend lay ahead, so there was a little party: Sam and me, a motel, a few beers. Let’s face it: I no longer need worry about being caught. We had a good time but truth be told I am not the sexual animal I once was – age and biology have stepped in. Maybe all those drug ads are more relevant than I care to admit.
So back to the evening. Carrie and I have made love, we have had sex, and my afternoon was still successful. The body is spent but the desire – well, has that not always been my problem. We try for more and Carrie reverts to to our personal pattern, one that has served us well. She “whispers”, she tells me what it was like when I bottomed earlier, her description is uncanny, as if she was in my head. And yes, I am excited, God, am I excited and against all odds I am cumming yet again.
Now all of you read the title and thought of an F word – don’t deny it. But it was the wrong F word for at least on this one day Fantasy trumped Fucked. I find this strangely troubling. I am giving up so much for reality only to have the fantasy kick in so dramatically. Carrie and talk about this. She suggests maybe I haven’t found the right boyfriend, or maybe the fact that there is an underlying reality empowers the fantasies even more.
Not to worry, I will just have to continue with my new reality for a while longer. The journey, undefined as it is, will continue but I would be lying not to say this gives me both pause and hope: pause that I am not chasing an illusion and hope that I will find the right path for me and for Carrie.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
As I listened, I knew. It was time. We had already carried the mattress down the stairs this weekend and when I came home from work, we set up the frame and had the outline of a room. Then Daddy time – children to the movies, a 5:30 show (Night At The Museum, quite enjoyable); Carrie did not join us, some time for her. When we finally got home dinner was on the table but Carrie was not feeling 100%, time to rest in bed, her bed now.
After dinner I went downstairs: the bed is made, my essentials are in some drawers, a soft lamp on. Other little touches, a portable phone, a bottle of the good scotch and a snifter, some books and the envelope with the printed version of my blog, something I have been planning to read. I look around and tears start to flow.
It is the right thing. Carrie has been patient, more than patient: she even apologizes for doing this. I tell her all she did was choose the night: everything else gets credited to my column. In a little while, I will tuck the kids in and head down to my new home. The children will not realize tonight and tomorrow morning we will tell them – not TGT, but that there are big person issues.
There will be tears shed tonight, two floors apart but shared tears all the same. And tomorrow we will start the rest of our lives. But right now, it does hurt, for me and especially for her.
Monday, December 25, 2006
For those of you who may have blinked – or not kept up with the comments – Flip looks at my oft-stated beliefs: love of wife, devotion to family, definite bi-ness. He then wonders if all this is true, why can I not just zip it – or at least attempt to zip it – and return from the precipice. We both have approached our gay side from the land of physical attractions. I may be attracted to the smell of ozone but would still avoid standing in a field during an electrical storm. Health – physical or mental – traditionally trumps fulfillment of base desires in mature adults.
This all resonates with me. I would like to think of myself as a mature adult and surely my entry into the gayness was driven by my sexual desires. Yet I am on the verge of moving from a psychological separation to a physical one, albeit in the same house. I have started coming out to my children. Carrie no longer hesitates in telling her friends the reason for the separation. (My favorite is the personal trainer who looked at Carrie and said: “Other woman?” and without missing a beat Carrie responded: “Other man.”)
The terrifying part is I do know why I continue down this path: however I have no idea whether I am right. In some fashion I see being gay as a core issue, not one of “I like” or “I desire” but one of “I am”. And if that is truly the case there is the selfish aspect, the “I want to be who I am” point of view. But to me there is the larger issue. How much of my life has been dictated by repression of my gay side. This is the part that can only be answered empirically in the laboratory of life. It may be that I swim like a fish thrown into a pond or maybe I will be found floating belly up (in the emotional sense) in six months or a year.
There is only one thing in all of this that I am sure about. It is too late to turn back now because if I do the future is clear: a lifetime of wondering what would have been. Carrie has reminded me many times this past year of another core belief in mine. I have always regretted what I did not do much more than anything I have done.
Friday, December 22, 2006
The only debate concerns beans. She likes the Starbucks style – bordering on burnt – and I am slightly less intense on the matter. Recently I tried some new beans – too mild for her so we are using them up during the week and saving the Starbucks for the weekend.
Last night I came out to Anna. I have yet to figure an easy way – it always comes down to a declarative statement: I am Gay. All of the feints and moves cannot avoid the ultimate sentence. She listened, somewhat impassive, no tears, no anger: stunned I suppose. After I said my piece, Carrie and she went to Anna's room – the famed basement – to talk privately. The hour they were downstairs was an eternity for me – what were they saying, what was Anna thinking.
Finally they emerge and Anna sees me in the kitchen. She looks around the counter and asks where the Starbucks beans are: she says, with a wistful smile, she will need the Starbucks – the stronger beans - tomorrow. I tell her I know: they are already in the machine. We both smile.
And in that moment there was the comfort and knowledge of a lifetime. She is still my daughter and I her Dad. That will not change. And for that I am grateful.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The obvious answer, at least to me, is that my gayness is not a choice and that once the gayness is accepted, there is no longer deniability. Some have said being gay may not be a choice but acting on it sure is. The keep it zipped contingent. There is a surface truth to this - we are humans of free will. The thing is in my short sojourn in this bi/gay blog land, I have seen many permutations. Men like me - open to the point of insult. Others who hide it better. Some put up the good fight - they try much harder than I ultimately did. Some choose semi-anonymous - safer emotionally, easier to walk away on a moments notice. Oh yes, I left out a group - gay celibate. I have heard of it and accept it exists, but we all know that it is a minority. There is another group that deserves mention, my original tribe: those of us who have sealed the door so tight that the light does not leak in or out.
So choice - when I look at the permutations I ultimately see men who have acceded to their desires or are fighting them. Fighting who I am does not feel much like a choice for me.
There is another aspect of choice - fantasies. We do not choose our fantasies, not when lying in bed, alone or with our partners. A few nights ago I was spooning Carrie - no sex, but still a spoon here or there (I know - not really healthy) and she pointed out that I get excited by men, I like spreading my legs. And then she took note of the obvious: we were spooning and I was hardening. It was not a matter of choice.
Of course Carrie has choices too. This may have once been all about me, but those days are receding in the rearview. She can choose to live with a man knowing he is gay. She can choose to have a greater sense of herself than that. Funny how the more she rejects being a stand in, the more I love her. And I realize that loving her means accepting the path of separation.
As I thought about Flip's question I had the seeds of a realization. A few minutes later I was speaking with Carrie about my imminent coming out to our daughter and our concerns with the boyfriend you have come to know and love. Would Bill maintain our confidence once Anna told him? Carrie thought for a moment, and said let him tell.
And in that instance I realized this no longer had anything to do with my choices. Carrie had made her choice.
I have made my choices. Those choices have put me where I am today. I accept them, will live with them, and believe I will come to embrace them.
My reference to Carrie relates to the fact that she has now also made a choice: if in a moment of denial and weakness I would ask to come back, she would have the honesty and strength to say no. And I am proud of her for that.
But make no mistake, this was my "game" from the start.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
So a week of talk has ensued: the tides have ebbed and flowed. Not just Carrie and I, but a whole community has joined in with words that sometimes stung: a sting that only comes from truth. Talk of the “Golden Ticket” abounded: the thing that has been lost is that I could have had the ticket, at least for a while, but I never could accept. Carrie points out it was never enough – whatever she offered was never enough. And she is right.
So again I step back and ask why I always needed more. Spider suggested that I save some time: skip reading my entire blog and just go to my last post. Good advice. I wrote of the missing piece:
Is that found in simple self acceptance? Maybe in the Holy Grail for married men – a full night in the arms of another man – or simply found by borrowing Thom’s boots and kicking down the closet walls?
And as I re-read that section, I realize that I have in my best writing style said the same thing three different ways. I am a gay man – I did not choose to be, did not ask to be, not even sure that I want to be, but I am a gay man. It has taken a lifetime to be able to say that, to accept that.
I started this post yesterday and then stopped. It was the start of a work day and there were interruptions. But that never deterred me in the past. But now, I did not know the next sentence. It is one thing to accept being gay and another to understand what that means.
I have come to realize there are many next sentences and that I will have to read the whole book to learn the ending. Can I look a sentence or two or three ahead? I can and I will in this post. Can I see paragraphs into the distance? No way, but maybe that is okay because the boy who started this blog almost a year ago in many ways bears no relationship to the man writing today.
The next sentence is simple in its foundations: Be a Man. Specifically be a man in my treatment of Carrie, in respecting her, in granting her dignity through this difficult process. It is also simple in its execution: it is time to move out of the bedroom. It is time to accept that once I can say “I am a gay man” I can no longer hide behind the façade of married life, hide behind Carrie’s skirts.
It is the holiday season, Christmas morning is nigh upon us. It will not be the day to tell the children, to ruin a lifetime of Christmas mornings forever more. (It will be the day for Carrie and me to sneak in the new puppy: some joy for the family and some joy for her). So Carrie and I will celebrate Christmas in our closet, anxious to see this year come to a not quick enough end.
The New Year will also start in a closet but within a week, the walls will come a tumbling down. We will tell our children – the truth they deserve. I will grab some clothes, head down two flights and take up residence in the basement, my own bedroom. The Master suite will belong to Carrie. In my wanderings I have heard men ask why the husband moves, why not the wife. To them I say: it is as it should be. I have torn our marriage vows asunder. I accept it was not malicious and I accept it was ultimately not a choice. But rip them I did and that room – our room – is now rightfully hers. Just one more piece of learning to be a man.
There are some who question the wisdom of the basement, who believe that an apartment should be high on my priorities. They may be right. But for Carrie and I this seems the logical step in a progression, something which may work for a longer term but can at least be a transition for the children and for us in the short term. Once January rolls in, work is busy: I have already confessed in these pages to my chosen profession – public accounting. Life is more than a little hectic until May. Come that time we will need to reassess and if it is time for an apartment, I will gladly do that for Carrie.
We wonder, what will Saturday nights be: I am not a bar type of guy. I have a boyfriend who is married and is not going to join me for dinner and a movie. There will be some Saturday nights where the four of us will watch a movie on TV, still be a family. But at the end of the evening, Carrie and I will take different staircases. There will hopefully be nights when I am with my children while Carrie goes out with some friends – women to start, but a man will be okay – not easy but right.
There will be Saturday nights where I will need to force myself: maybe a bar, maybe a gay related activity, maybe a date – all those nice dot com’s where I can “sell” myself. I will need help with those nights – a gentle push from you, some steering in the right direction from my mentors.
The thing is that Carrie and do not claim much joy this week, but now that we both have realized the next step, we both are finding a certain peace - for me the peace of self acceptance and for her the peace of no longer needing to hide in a closet of my making.
I wrote earlier that this year cannot end soon enough, but that is yet another form of self deception. How can I deny a year when I have learned to accept myself? Will it always be remembered as a difficult year, even hellish: absolutely. But in some way it will always be remembered as a good year – the walls may need to wait a week or two more before they crumble, but I can hear the trumpets blasting – a carrion call for my future.
A season of peace to all of you – new friends who have shared this ride and much more with me: A season of peace and prayers for a year of happiness.
And yes, I have sure blown that damn word count today:)
I am used to living a dual life -- a reality and a
fantasy world, and I'm ready to merge them into one.
I'm ready to be whole! To be complete. To be me.
A HOW Brother
Saturday, December 16, 2006
There are some simple facts in my existence. I love my wife, she is my best friend, my ally in life. Simply put, it is a land of emotional gratification. But while we can still enjoy sex, it would be disingenuous not to qualify that with the truth: I enjoy sex with men even more.
And I am not exactly hurting when it comes to sex with men. I have a boyfriend and we usually get to see each other every week. We are friends, he reads this blog so there are no secrets, and we have wonderful dizzying sex. Simply put, it is a land of sexual gratification. But while we are good friends, it would be disingenuous not to qualify that with the truth: neither of us would give up everything to be together.
So I have the home life, I have the sex life. Most would think the problem is that Carrie would not tolerate knowing of Sam. But no: it seems that I have found Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, complete with Carrie’s signature. And what a ticket it was: see your “friend” discretely, have occasional sex with me, present a unified family to the world. It did come with a caveat: do nothing to embarrass her and the children. That should not be so hard – I am conservative in dress and manner and devote many waking hours to my profession.
So I sit here on an early Saturday morning and need to ask myself why are things spinning, devolving by the day. I have written of last weekend, watching Cold Case, the “Kiss”, of Carrie’s response, of the subsequent hurt, jealousy and anger. But that was just the trigger: it seems the gun was loaded long ago and the trigger was jimmied to take only a fleeting touch. Yes, the foundations for this week were set long ago.
I could go back and blame it on my upcoming trip to Chicago: it is hard to fit a weekend into a lunch hour. Carrie never knows if and when I see Sam: it is hard to ignore a weekend away. But that begs the question – defining a “disease” by its symptoms.
There has been a question floating around, a sub text to what am I looking for: am I trying to force Carrie to kick me out, if not literally, figuratively. I was struck by a comment on my blog from a gay man who I have come to greatly respect:
Welcome to the real world... I think that in your mind this is what you wanted and expected all along...
But what is it that I so clearly want; that everyone else seems to see so clearly yet to me is still shrouded in fog? Maybe of greater import is the fog borne of not being so smart or I am so engaged that I have lost the picture in the pixels? Or did Dylan say it best – I quoted this a few weeks back:
When the truth's in our hearts and we still don't believe?
I keep checking the word count, hoping that I am at the magic 850 level when I can say the post is going too long, time to end and save some thoughts for another day, but I am only at 600, plenty of room left. The thing is that I do not want to finish this post because I can feel where it is going and it hurts so much, too much. I write with tears in my eyes.
I consider myself a rational man, not one to say as in the old accountants joke, how much is two plus two: what do you want it to be. So I do not need to go back and re-read what I have written here. Carrie has suggested I re-read my whole blog and I will, but it is not necessary. I know where she is going, where she is steering me. As the old saying goes: you do the math: it seems that I have all the pieces yet am unable to finish the puzzle.
Therefore something is still missing. Is that found in simple self acceptance? Maybe in the Holy Grail for married men – a full night in the arms of another man – or simply found by borrowing Thom’s boots and kicking down the closet walls?
I can hear my therapist saying time’s up, see you next session. And so you will.
(And never having been one for inside jokes, Thom is a bear of a man on my HOW group who has used his boots to kick down his closet walls and I am sure would be happy to lend them to any others ready to take down their own walls.)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Last week Carrie wrote me a letter relating to the current status of our relationship, a very personal note and I responded in kind. I considered whether to post all or some of the exchange – issues central to our lives: there is a time for discretion, a path gladly followed. That was last week.
Since then any one reading these pages has felt the tides and sensed the impending crescendo. Some have commented to that effect. In my last post I told of an episode of Cold Case, two cops, partners and yes lovers. I wrote of a kiss, a deep kiss, a real kiss. I wrote of our glancing at each other and then back to the television. That one kiss – yes the whole show – but that one kiss seems to have been just the little shove needed to destabilize a tenuous situation. For in that one kiss Carrie saw that my gay life is no longer built on a buddy booth, a quick CL blowjob. It is not even built on going all the way – raw sex, anal sex. In that one kiss Carrie understood that I must have kissed Sam or Jerry, that there is an emotional content, maybe not love, but way beyond the land of anonymous hookups.
We talk, every night we talk, exhausting talks, talks from the core or our souls. Every night we waver, we draw different lines in the sand looking for a mythical middle ground, a Disney moment. This morning I received an e-mail. While I have edited it slightly for privacy, this is it, essentially unchanged.
I do not know where this will take me, but I need to speak in the light of the day. This past week has been a watershed for me. The pressure behind the dam finally exploded. I wish I could explain the physical pain that surrounds me all the time. I suppose you would tell me it's like the voice in you that wants to yell out. I suspect however, that they are polar opposites.
There is so much of me that wants to say stop the presses. Rework the front page. Problem is that only works for a little time, then another paper picks up the story. I don't want our world to change. I always wanted what our young daughter so wonderfully described as home. In the darkness of night I can almost believe it will be so. By the light of the day, the reality is blinding. The pain and fear settle in and by evening I am a wreck. I need to get beyond this phase. I know the way to get there, but I don't want to leave this place. As long as I remain standing here wanting you to find a way back over the broken bridge, I will never find the next and so we will never have that chance to meet.
The time has come to find our paths and move along. I do not want you to leave this home for that is what it is. As our other young daughter knows, love trumps everything. We have some housekeeping steps and advice to obtain before the next act begins, but as they say, the show must go on.
The tears still do not come easily, but when they do it helps. I suppose this is like sitting Shiva for someone who has been ill a long time. On one hand you want them to come back regardless of their pain. On the other you are glad they are at peace, but it still hurts like hell.
A modern day Dear John letter. My therapist pointed out a few months back that one day I would discover that I had passed the point of no return. The thing is that when he said that, I had already crossed over. It is just that I did not have the courage, my wife did not have the inner strength, to acknowledge it. The age of denial is over.
We will continue in the house together and share a bed until we can figure out where to put me, but for the first time I realize that it has all gotten away from me. It is probably good in the long run – I will learn what gay means to me and Carrie has discovered a voice she never knew. But today, tonight, there is no joy – only a sense of the impending reality.
This will test my mettle, all of the things I have espoused. It is easy to talk of telling the children, crashing the closet doors, truly coming out when it is an intellectual exercise. It seems that I will have to face these challenges much sooner than I truly anticipated. I will again learn who I am.
I said tonight I write for you – of course it has been for me for in the act of writing these few words I have continued to learn and grow – but it is ultimately for you. For close to a year you have ridden the roller coaster, felt the dips and rises. How could I deny you what feels like a final death plunge? But there will be more dips and rises to share as I forge into the unknown.
Many have offered their prayers and I thank you. I fear I will need them for this is not only the end of the line, it is the beginning of a new one.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Tonight was a catch-up on TV night, last week’s Cold Case, one of our faves. It is a family show, intelligent dialogue, mature but tasteful. One ten year old joined us and the other reminded us not to erase it. The show’s formula is simple, an unsolved murder from years past. The episode opens: 1968, a christening and then fade to a desolate spot, a windshield shattered and a dead cop in the front seat of his cruiser.
The show proceeds, the peeling of an onion, each layer getting closer to the truth. We learn that the dead cop, a single guy, a ladies man, was a fixture with his partner and partner’s family. It seems that Cooper was having an affair with Jimmy’s wife. Keep peeling the onion. Jimmy’s wife is confronted: yes Cooper is a regular at the house, but an affair, the two of them. She talks and we go back in time: a young woman looking out the window and Cooper and Jimmy in the backyard, a disagreement voices raised. A brief fight and it ends…….. Yes with Cooper and Jimmy kissing, first a “stolen” one and then real kissing, hands running over each others backs, fraught with emotion.
It is compelling and I glance at Carrie. I confess to giggling, a defense mechanism for what can I say: this is unimaginable. The onion gets peeled some more. Other cops knew. 1968. Whispers and more. Cooper is confronted by his father, a man who cannot give words to his horror, cannot say the word “Gay”.
Did I mention our ten year old daughter is watching: she is upset with the father. She cannot understand how one could not love a child, gay is rather irrelevant. We have talked of telling children, an eventuality in my life and tonight I get a glimpse and it is good. She understands love trumps all. The father will learn that too, but by then it is too late.
Carrie looks at me afterwards: The Gods of TV, our little joke of life. And I point out a passing gay reference is the Gods, this is so beyond that. We watched the show together, the three of us. But other than a glance at each other during the first kiss, the bombshell moment, we each watch alone, eyes on the set, no hand holding for this one.
Jimmy is married, has kids, and cannot conceive of taking the plunge. Cooper talks of marriages he has seen: dead marriages between straight couples and alludes to the two of them. “We are the lucky ones”, he says, a refrain throughout the second half of the show. “We are the lucky ones.”
The show always ends the same way, an image of the dead person alive again. Jimmy, an old man, a sad man walks back to their spot. There is Cooper and there is their love and then Cooper fades and Jimmy is alone.
Reruns will arrive this spring, don’t they always. The episode is titled Forever Blue. It took Brokeback Mountain 134 minutes. Amazing what was done here in less than fifty.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
It is the season so Friday after work, happy hour with the staff. A few beers – large beers – and time to leave the kids to their party: homeward bound for me. Carrie calls as I start the car and we chat for a half hour, a pleasant ride. I tease her – Friday nights are Perfect Manhattans, not beers, and she says she will make a pitcher. I protest but when I arrive our favorite pitcher is filled and we start to drink. A brief interruption to feed the kids but two hours of sitting at the kitchen table – drinking and talking: Carrie and I have a few things to discuss.
Among our many topics are boring things that married couples cover, children, and our unique issues: kicking Bill out – the status of our marriage and our sex life. There are times Carrie wants me but she is afraid – afraid of how she will feel in the morning, afraid of sending the wrong message, sending that message to me and to her. She is afraid of creating a relationship built on an unhealthy foundation. But there are still desires, we are still married, still lovers underneath it all.
Finally I get to return some visiting children to their Mom and it is our nuclear family. The twins are downstairs watching TV and Carrie is in our room. The TV is on – some soft core HBO show and Carrie is in a skimpy thing, one I have not seen in a while. It is a beautiful sight, the covers pulled up but the top of her breasts exposed, inviting.
Now alcohol is an interesting drug and does highlight some gender differences. We were both loose, we were both amorous, we were both ready. Well, maybe ready is a wrong word in my case. There is this little thing which comes pretty naturally to me – the brain directs certain blood flows and a little part of me ceases to be quite so little. As I said a natural process, but not so natural after three or four beers and three or so Manhattans.
The kids are watching TV and our door has a lock: we use it. Eventually we take a break and I put the kids to bed. Our door still has a lock and we use it again. Now I have already confessed to my limitations on this night but we own a Rabbit. We have started to experiment with it on occasion and Carrie is coming to enjoy it so long as it is in my hands. As she becomes more comfortable accepting I become more comfortable giving. Let’s just say the Eveready bunny was blushing.
We are wild, we are having sex, we are making love, but to a great degree the main performer is named for a small animal and hums. It adds a level of strangeness, but we are both feeling pleasure and while my “blood flow” is not what I would have hoped for I still manage to climax. Then Carrie is sated and suggests ways to take care of me. The toys are still there and there need for denial is long gone. Of course they work - too well - and of course Carrie is left wondering as to what I am all about.
We sleep – yes we cannot get to dreams without first finding sleep. And I awake in the pre-dawn hours. Carrie is in a haze but we both know better than to start talking. She rolls over and I place my hand on her side and rest. I pleasantly lay there, my hand touching her and then I am excited. The alcohol is gone and my dick is hard, throbbing hard. But Carrie is sleeping and even if she were awake her thoughts would be: we had fun last night but to do it again now would send the wrong message, it would ignore all we have spoken of for a week. So we lay there, my hand still on her, still needing that little bit of contact. She sleeps and in time I join her.
This should be two posts, this one is way too long, but it seems strange to stop here, to tell you to come back when I am in the mood. So feel free to stretch, visit another site for a few minutes but when you come back be ready to dream with me.
Yes she sleeps and with my hand still on her I drift away.
We are at an outdoor party – not a backyard party – a true outdoor event. On a ridge are simple tables strung together, a pleasant day. Carrie and I sit with the twins and then for some reason I see our best friend’s daughter alone at a table, one of the many strung together. She is an only child and is perfect – just ask her parents. She pulls on the table cloth as if a napkin and everything is being pulled askew so I go to help her – to tell her not to pull the cloth off the table, to attempt to put it back. It never really does go back, but the moment passes and I go back to our table.
Carrie and the kids are not there and the food has been put away. I have missed eating and am quite hungry so off to the kitchen where they are cleaning up. I seem to know this “camp” kitchen and find a plate. I put the plate down and when I go to pick it up again the plate is gone but Carrie has arrived. She asks me if I fed the kids and is upset that I had left our table and maybe the kids had not eaten or eaten enough. I am enraged and after words are yelled she leaves and I go running out after her.
Then I am with the twins and also with a man – no one I know, just another person at this strange gathering – and we are walking through some little town, more a façade of fake stores for show. At one point he asks me if my wife runs ads – I realize this is a question of sex ads and I stop him – the kids are with us.
We leave the town and there is an old boardwalk – the style that goes over the dunes at a beach: it is old but the kids run ahead and me and the guy follow. I quickly realize the boardwalk is rotted – incredibly dangerous. I try to catch up to the kids but they are ahead of me. I am alone now, the guy has been left behind I suppose. I come to the peak and the boardwalk is fully rotted and the kids have scampered down the rocks towards the ocean. All of this time I am worried for them and also worried as to Carrie’s reaction when she learns that I allowed them on this rotted structure.
I start to go down the rocks and end up falling and sliding until I come to the bottom and find myself sitting on the edge of the water, sitting in mud. I look for the girls and they are in the distance, in a field with other kids, running and playing. I call out and they raise their hands so I can see them.
The alarm goes off. I am not one to remember dreams but this is still vivid. There is so much to the dream – interpretation will have to wait, though you all can feel free to pipe in. Carrie sleeps and I deal with the children – they want breakfast. This time I feed them.
Then I am with one daughter and we stop in a store on the way. As I pay she announces she will meet me at the car and scampers off. And I realize the end of my dream is coming true.
I once quoted a Dylan song:
You either got faith or you got unbelief and there ain't no neutral ground.
This morning the song again appeared on my iPod and another lyric struck me:
When the truth's in our hearts and we still don't believe?
Shine your light, shine your light on me
Shine your light, shine your light on me
Shine your light, shine your light on me
You know I just couldn't make it by myself.
I'm a little too blind to see.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
And while I was considering this bit of whimsy – I do realize that helping at home is not really a gay characteristic – another bit of whimsy came my way. I imagined my life as a football game. I could here the announcer in my head:
Team Nate has the ball. This drive started way back in the shadow of the straight goal post but they have been moving down the field.
Yes, John, if it wasn’t for those penalties Team Nate would have had quite the drive, but they have persevered – a few big third down plays in there.
Well they are driving now – the gay end zone only twenty yards away. Wait they call a time out. Back in sixty.
As the game plays out in my head, I head back to the huddle. The crowd – on both sides – is loud. It is an exciting game – tie score, outcome in doubt as time winds down. I look around and there are familiar faces. Wait – there is Flip and Paul – what’s that – I’m running the wrong way? And there on the other sideline is Spider. He once crossed that goal line, though I am not sure if he did a victory dance. In the distance a heckler – “your wife wants to remain married to a gay man? She has serious issues regarding self-esteem dude.”
Yes, whimsy, but I share it with Carrie, another pre-dawn talk, enveloped in the soothing darkness. I share and the result of that sharing is anything but whimsy. We have made some serious decisions. The football game is fun but delays my having to write about, and face, real issues.
Carrie’s Line In The Sand – I tell the kids and its basement time for me: I never understood that because its basis was not in us but in others – what they would think. And on some level Carrie did not understand it either. The real issue is how she feels about herself – her ability to live with a gay man who is actively having sex with other men. The other night Carrie finally gets this piece – heck with what the kids will think: she no longer wants to play make believe with me.
She has spent her life in the closet of childhood abuse and now that she has opened that door, she does not want to walk into her husband's gay closet. She will do what is necessary to protect her children but there is no joy in maintaining false façades.
As we lay there and she reveals this, her choice, I realize my choice. I can insist on being her lover, I can fight her. We hear of couples making a mixed orientation marriage (MOM) work, we need to be flexible. My will is strong and I am good with words. I can persuade, I can cajole, I can insist - we will have a marriage. And I will win, for a day or a week: maybe a month. But then I will lose, I will lose everything.
I look down the other road: we are best friends, the best we both will ever have. And I ask myself what would her friend advise, what is the right thing. And then it is easy, or as easy as a stroll through hell can ever be.
The basement is not available and we are not in a hurry. But as of two nights ago we emotionally moved: we may still share the bedroom, but that is her home now. Eventually there will be a physical move, but there is time, for that entails much more. The children’s questions will be unavoidable and I will need to leave the closet, at least the closet at home. And once that door is opened, it can never be closed.
I readily confess that yesterday it struck me – while continuing to live in the same house, this is closer to a separation than a variant on a MOM. I came home wanting to shout “Stop The Presses – No Basement For Me.” And then I saw Carrie and realized yet again that I must be her friend first and I also must be honest with myself as to what I want, the fear and doubts aside.
So as dawn broke and another day was upon us, Carrie asked me how the game ended. I thought, hesitated, almost cried, and then I softly answered. Team Nate scored.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
And Carrie listens, she realizes this is not an “if” issue, this is a “when” issue. Her position has been clear – this is a private matter best left that way. Then surprisingly to me, and I suspect to her, she raises the ante. Hell, she takes all the chips and pushes them into the middle of the table. It is okay, I can tell the kids anytime but that will be the last time we share a bedroom, share a bed. Nothing major.
It has to do with her self perception, with an implication that if I am coming out as gay, presumably I am not celibate: a reasonable expectation. And it has to do with the message to daughters of how they should expect to be treated by their mates. It is a message dear to her. Carrie explains that based on her childhood, her life, she would normally be glad to acquiesce, glad to be a “doormat”. But I have spent many years telling her she is worth more, that she needs to believe in herself. It turns out she has been listening.
We get back to the central question: why tell the children. And again, there is the frustration that comes with trying to answer when the question itself is wrong. Telling the children is not the issue: the issue is my desire to come out, to proclaim myself. A friend has likened it to born again Christians who need to publicly declare what is ultimately a very personal matter.
There is no gain that I can see in coming out further – I am not even sure what it means. Surely no ad in the local paper, no need to send a firm-wide e-mail to the office: yet somewhere between where I stand today and some public declaration it feels like there should be a land where I feel more of myself.
Carrie tied this in to the upcoming trip to Chicago (five weeks, but who’s counting). I point out that the trip has taken on totemic proportions, not unlike my first visit last May: that it is just one weekend out of a life. She does not disagree but feels that it is still more than a trip to the supermarket or the mall. Then she said that the trip was my trying on a pair of shoes, seeing if they were comfortable. And it made me go back to last May.
For those who have joined the story in progress, every May I spend the first weekend in Chicago at a small conference. When I was there in 2005 I was still a “straight” dude who just found the sex district with their buddy booths. If I had tried CL before 1 AM there would be more to tell.
By the time I was planning the 2006 trek, I was already a bi guy, out to my wife, a blogger, a man on a mission. Weeks in advance I post on CL – an honest accurate post: Bi married man looking to explore, interested in drinks or dinner and seeing where it leads. There were responses, a surprising number, and after a few e-mails my trip was set. Thursday: dinner with a bi guy and when the evening was shorter than expected, a visit to a gay bar. Friday I head to the suburbs to meet Jerry. I will just say that Friday dinner became Friday night and when I woke it was Saturday morning. Fifteen Hours – that was the extent, but a magical fifteen hours.
So as I look back I was struck that my last visit was like cruising shoe stores, trying on some pairs, looking in the mirror and then off to the next store. I lingered a long time over the last pair, they looked right, they were comfortable. But the carpet in the store was soft, forgiving. I have had shoes before that were right in the store but were hiding blisters to be.
So in five weeks I return to Chicago, return to Jerry and I will spend the weekend. Not a lifetime, but much more than fifteen hours. Jerry is of course a part of the story, but not the totality of the trip. It is ultimately spending a weekend as a gay man, with him, with any friends of his that may be around, out in public – a straight restaurant, a gay bar. It is spending long enough to have it feel real.
And when I return, Carrie will have a simple question for me. How did the shoe fit?
And my protestations to the contrary aside, the answer will speak volumes.
Friday, December 01, 2006
“Vietnam makes her glow in the dark. She wanted more. She wanted to penetrate deeper into the mystery of herself and after a time the wanting became needing which then turned into craving.”
The Things They Carried