The last week has become dominated by what someday will be a major issue, but for the moment should lack immediacy: the telling of the children. The topic has been debated to death yet if keeps coming back. Well, lets re-phrase that: in my inimitable fashion I keep going back to it – not knowing when to let it die.
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.