Sunday, December 03, 2006

If The Shoe Fits

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.


Paul said...

On one hand, I'm glad that Carrie drew a line in the sand. Now the decision is yours, and you know the consequences.

I don't think we're still trying on shoes. It's choosing which ones to wear.

Paul said...

Nate -

I just reread your blog description.

A Blog by a middle aged married man, in love with his wife and trying to create a successful MOM. Ultimately learning to accept my gayness without losing all I cherish - no easy task.

A couple of comments:

I think, heck I know, you've accepted your gayness (as has Carrie). Isn't the issue learning how to live with it? There are obviously trade-offs. Where do you rank acting on your gayness vs. other things you cherish?

What's a MOM? Again I'm clueless. (Do I live under a rock, or what?) Here are the acronyms I'm aware of.

MOM - Management Object Model
MOM - Message Oriented Middleware
MOM - Please Wait A Moment
MOM - Machines of Madness
MOM - Macs of Marin
MOM - Made of Money
MOM - Mainframe Order Management (Sprint)
MOM - Maintenance Operations Management
MOM - Major of Marines
MOM - Man of the Match
MOM - Man On the Move
MOM - Man-Overboard Module (navigation/GPS)
MOM - Managed Object Manager
MOM - Manager Of Managers
MOM - Manufacturing Operations Manager
MOM - Many On Many
MOM - Mars Observer Mission
MOM - Mask of Madness (gaming)
MOM - Master of Magic (computer game)
MOM - Mean Old Man
MOM - Mean Old Mom
MOM - Measures Of Merit
MOM - Mechanics of Materials
MOM - Medical Opportunities in Michigan
MOM - Meg O'Malley's (Melbourne, FL pub)
MOM - Member of Management
MOM - Men on A Mission
MOM - Message-Oriented Middleware
MOM - Metal Oxide Metal
MOM - Method Of Moment
MOM - Methods of Mayhem
MOM - Methoxymethyl
MOM - Microsoft Office Manager (Microsoft Office 98 - Macintosh Edition)
MOM - Microsoft Operations Manager (Microsoft)
MOM - Middle of Month
MOM - Military Official Mail
MOM - military ordinary mail (US DoD)
MOM - Militia Of Montana
MOM - Milk of Magnesia
MOM - Mind Over Matter, Inc.
MOM - Minister of Music
MoM - Ministry of Magic (Harry Potter)
MOM - Ministry of Manpower (Singapore)
MOM - Ministry of Mayhem (iTV Saturday morning kids TV show)
MOM - Minobschmash (Ministry of General Machine Building, USSR)
MOM - Minutes Of Meeting
MOM - Mise En Ordre de Marche (Informatique)
MOM - Missiles of Magic (gaming)
MOM - Mission Omega Matrix (The Famous Jett Jackson TV show)
MOM - Mission Operations Manager (NASA)
MOM - Missouri Meerschaum Company (maker of corncob pipes)
MOM - Mobile Operations Module (X-34 Vehicle)
MOM - Mobile Originated Message
MOM - Modular Ocean Model
MOM - Modulation Output Mode (Agilent)
MOM - Momentary (electronic switches)
MOM - Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex (proposed New Jersey rail line)
MOM - Month on Month
MOM - Most Outstanding Mother
MOM - Mothers of Multiples
MOM - Motion Odyssey Movie (Jordan's Furniture store ride)
MOM - Motorcycle Owner's Manual
MOM - Mouse on Mars (website)
MOM - Multi-Objective Model
MOM - Multiples of the Median
MOM - Music for Our Mother earth (song)
MOM - Must Obey Me

Al said...

I don't have children, but I do have parents. I'm not out to them, but I want to be.


I'm not currently in a relationship, and it's possible I will settle down with a girl. Why risk upsetting them? Why confuse them with this bi thing, when they'd have enough trouble with gay? Why risk a bad reaction? Why risk destroying their hopes of having grandchildren, when it may happen anyway? Why tell them, unless I fall in love with a guy and it becomes imperative?

The answer is that they are my parents and I love them. And though I believe they will accept me for it, I'd want to tell them even if I knew they would ostracise me.

It's because I want them to know me. If they love me, they should really love ME. Love is about the warts and all. It's not about being the perfect son, living up to their expectations and exceeding them. Love isn't about hiding the truth to create a Pleasantville family. It's about truth, trust, sharing and working things out together.

That openness is what I crave from my parents. When I sense I don't have that, I feel more disappointed than I could ever feel from any truth. Because you always feel the truth, even if you don't really know what it is.

Spider said...

"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."

Something tells me the answer has already been determined...

Nate said...

Yes Spider, it has been determined.

You know it, Carrie knows it and I know it. After I wrote the post (in a rare mode I actually trashed the first draft) and put it up I realized that it was disingenious.

As Carrie said in relation to coming out but could also be for this - the question is no longer if, it is when. Or in this case how. The shoe fits fine.

Flip said...


I'm really confused. Maybe I just haven't been keeping up. In my mind you and Carrie are extremely good at communicating with each other in a caring way. Or you were up until the latest "Chicago trip / coming out to kids" episodes.

Here's my unsolicited, free advice and opinions. Unless you are sure you want to sleep alone I suggest you put your trip in January on hold until you and Carrie get back in sync. I'm sure Jerry is a great guy, but I don't think you're ready to trade Carrie for him. I mean 15 hours isn't even enough time to find out if he throws his dirty underwear in the laundry basket or just leaves them in the middle of the bathroom floor.

My bet is that if honest, open, loving communication doesn't resume between you two, when you return from Chicago your crap may be in the front yard - if you're lucky, unburned - and your key isn't going to fit the lock.

My take is that you and Carrie are playing a dangerous game of chicken with each other. Are you sure it's worth it? One last opinion. I don't think it's worth it - both for the impact it will have on you two fine folks whom I've come to love and admire - and the impact it will have on your children.

Just my two cents worth. Please submit an email for a refund.

Hang in there.


PS Paul, I think you need to get your MOM machine insuranced. It appears likely to crash soon.

Michael (MO) said...

A MOM is a Mixed Oriented marriage. Nate, I think your position is problematic, of course -- but it may be the best thing. In some waysm, I wished my wife would draw the line in the sand so I could step over it and move on with my newly found gay life!
Hang in there; be good to yourself.
Michael (MO)