Friday, November 30, 2007
For an intelligent person, I can be rather dumb. For two years we have walked this path, each step leading me a little further away from my home, from my roots, from my comfort zone. And it was a long path leading to a basement, to my own bed: a long walk composed of many little sections, the famed baby steps of self-help books. So what is one more step, the step from basement to apartment, the step from in-house separation to true separation. And the last phrase says it all, “true separation”. No baby step this time, no incremental stroll down the path, no. This is the step off the cliff, a cataclysmic change in being, for me but truly for Carrie.
I have, as expected, landed on my feet. My new home is a modest one bedroom apartment in a garden apartment complex, a very middle class rental. The apartment is bright and airy, a southern exposure, a far cry from a near windowless basement. I can sit here and write this while looking at Craig’s List with the knowledge that I can – can look and can act. I will not act tonight, it is late, and I am tired. But there is another reason. Tomorrow afternoon I will meet my friend and we will spend the evening, we will spend the night. Yes, I have a boyfriend of sorts. We are not exclusive – neither of us are looking for that at this time in our lives, but there is a bond, a bond of sex and a bond of friendship. He traveled with me the day I found the apartment, the day we bought the furniture and the day I moved in.
Of course Carrie knows of this – I have never been one for secrets and lies, my charm and my downfall all rolled into one. And of course it hurts Carrie more, she being the proto-typical woman, caring for the kids, maintaining the household and convinced she may never lay with another again. While I have more faith in her future than she does, it is hard to ignore the statistics: it is a rough road for a middle aged woman with children to boot. This tempers my own happiness for I do still care about her. But it has become clear that my vision that we would be best friends, all but lovers (and maybe even that on occasion) was silliness borne of raging ego, the “why would anyone not want me” ego. Now this is healthy in many ways, a level of psychological security many dream of. But when it leads to such delusions, maybe it is not so healthy after all.
The other day I found myself musing about all the time and energy spent on whether I was gay, trying to avoid that fact, the constant testing of myself, tests I always seemed to “pass” with flying colors. And I could not help but wonder: if I had spent less time on the issue of being gay and more time on what being gay meant, to me, to Carrie, to my family, would I have handled this journey better. I do not believe the ending could have changed – that was pre-ordained it seems. But maybe I could have managed less pain on those around me. It is strange that even now, at this way too late date, there are moments where I still want to deny who I am; still want it all to go away. But those moments are less frequent with time, less frequent with every night spent with my friend, with every time I get fucked and every time we hug on the street.
I will write on occasion, when there is something to say, but it has never been my style to write a diary of what I did today. My life is busy – seeing the kids now involves driving and a different commitment, there is that pesky day job (which I do enjoy) and yes, there is a boyfriend a few times a week. So I will check in on occasion but when given the choice of living my life or chronicling it, I will live. There have been some e-mails, ones looking for my insight, for my wisdom. To those I say I have no insight, no wisdom to share. I feel less wise now than I did a few months ago. I have left a swath of destruction in my wake but I am also fulfilled in being who I am. Carrie has, as always, given the best advice: I have inflicted a huge toll over the last two years; I have what I have dreamt of. To do anything but embrace it would be the cruelest joke of all. So embrace I will.
Of course a post needs a name, and as I was cutting and pasting it came to me – From The New World, the name of Dvorak’s symphony number 9, and I remembered something that has always fascinated me. The music evokes a European coming to America, to the New World, and the fourth movement is climactic, the old and new worlds colliding. The American conductors fly through it, rushing to the only place they understand. Yet the Europeans take an extra two or three minutes to do the same notes because while the Americans are rushing to this New World, the Europeans are torn, torn between the new and old. I have long preferred the European versions, the almost palpable tugging of the old while inexorably moving to the new. So tonight I also inexorably move forward, but always with the knowledge of what has been, what must be left behind.
Love to all of you and good luck with being and living.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Inquiries were made, house values determined, feasibility considered, and a choice was made: to do it. It was at first a choice like many of late, an abstract decision, a policy statement. Then on Tuesday a phone call, our local real estate broker, a man we have dealt with over the course of two decades. He thinks it is saleable, he is comfortable with the pricing, he wants to meet. So Tuesday night we do, we meet around our “famed” dining room table. He has papers – this is a business transaction, and not insignificant at that – papers to sign. Carrie and I barely look at each other; we both know the reality of the moment. I sign, slide the papers across the table and pen in hand, she does the deed. The house is on the market.
It has become clear that any hope of continued friendship can only be salvaged by my moving along, with my not being a constant reminder when I am there and even more so when I am not. When the house is sold this will happen by default, but that may take a little time, a little too much time. It is funny the breaking points. In January a quick trip to Chicago and a long journey to the basement. And next weekend, a flight to the West Coast, a few days in a gay resort (such civilized phrasing) and a lifetime to think about it, to think in a new home.
I went apartment hunting today, a man on a mission. At 2:30 PM one might have said “Mission Accomplished.” I filled out an application, left a check for a deposit, and became the proud future tenant of unit 2B. I am deep down both terrified and at peace. After November 15th, there will be many nights to wonder how this came to be, to revisit the last two years. But it is time, time to stop the slow bleed and allow us all to try to rebuild our lives, both together and separately. The last person to utter Mission Accomplished publicly has had a little time to regret the words (if said person knew of regrets). I pray that our road will be smoother, particularly for Carrie who has suffered more than she ever deserved.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
And if I am to be completely honest, I remember sitting with Carrie and her hand wandering and feeling me, feeling me get hard at all the “right” places. The episode ended with my receiving a blowjob, but also I suspect with certain things being much harder to deny, though deny we did for another four or so years.
I share this because I still find myself floating in the netherworld. The other night I missed my gay dad’s group – busy at work, a late exit, but also a lack of motivation. If there is such a thing as my gay time, I would rather spend it “being” gay as opposed to dissecting it, at least that was my feeling last evening. And the opportunity for dinner out with my family just felt right.
After dinner while the kids and their friends ran amuck, Carrie and I hid in her bedroom and watched some television. We lay on far sides of the king size mattress, I controlling the temptation to place my hand on hers when I saw it in the DMZ. We watched, we rested, we were comfortable. At that moment I could have stayed forever.
Which is why it is important that I be transported back six years in an instant, that I remember a moment watching Queer as Folk, that I even remember specific scenes – a shower with a new young lover, a scene in a corporate men’s room – and remember my reaction to those scenes, the erections that Carrie monitored as if she knew these days were a coming.
I would love to write of stability, of confidence and of direction and certitude. I cannot. I will keep moving forward as it is the only direction I seem to know and the only path remaining. But I will not deny that my emotions and desires are as labile as ever. Only one thing seems clear at the moment: I should have never cancelled Showtime.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
“Put more simply, you are neither the sole reason for her current situation, nor her salvation.”
The line struck me – it of course is reversible in a sense, Carrie could say the same to me. But the more I thought of the line – of the concept – the more it resonated, though the chords kept changing.
Carrie and I have been together as a couple for nigh on twenty years and had a friendship for a number of years before that. We each were in unhappy marriages, each not in the best place in our own lives. Looking back, we were each in our own way looking to find ourselves, who we were, who we wanted to be. And then we found each other, a wonderful thing in many ways. But with the wisdom of hindsight, not so wonderful in other ways.
By finding each other, we found a level of joy – friendship, sex, companionship: the whole package if you would. But once we had found each other we no longer needed to find ourselves. Why search when conjugal bliss reigns. Of course now it is clear to even the most casual reader of these pages that both of us merely put our personal searches on hold and that an underlying truth is that one cannot solely define oneself through the prism of another.
There is another theme which Sis’ comment also touched home with: “not her salvation.” For much of the last year or two Carrie has been taken with the concept that I have been a domineering force, the maker of family decisions, the center of our universe – a mantle I have oft denied. It seems that here there is a truth, though not as stated. Carrie was in a horrible marriage when we first met, her husband a poor provider, their home exceedingly modest. Carrie was the primary breadwinner. Along comes Nate with a chance for her “salvation.” Psychological joy for both of us – the abused child being rescued, an almost fairy tale move to the big house in the nice town and of course for me a chance to be the knight, far from the inner geek that is still, all these years later, lingering.
Looking back one can see the inherent inequality and why it worked. I did not dominate as accused, but psychological inequalities do not need to be effected in order to wreak an underlying damage. Carrie and I spoke of this last night – after twenty years, after countless hours of therapy, after two years of hell, we finally could glimpse this little piece.
But the finding of ourselves – the main event for today: once we found each other the search was over, or so we thought. The tale of the moves, of the search for a shared peace is a post for itself. Suffice for the moment to say that we are about to place our house on the market and Carrie and the kids will hopefully move sixty miles north, another state, another start. There will be a place for me, my weekend country home, a new start with our new definitions.
Looking back over the years I am particularly struck by the issues of my sexuality and wonder how much of my search, my interrupted search, was related to that and how much was the myriad of other issues in any life. Of course in finding Carrie, in her willingness to allow my homo-erotic fantasies to exist, even thrive, it both solved my search, or so it seemed, and did nothing for the search which has since taken on a life of its own.
For me, and as it turned out for Carrie, the last two years have finally been back to those basics, our search for ourselves. And it is that search that has both led us apart and has also kept us, if not as a traditional couple, together. Somehow there is comfort in stepping back and realizing the depth and breadth of it all: I would hate to think that the swath of destruction in my wake was solely for some fleeting carnal pleasure.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
And it was a mere two years ago – God, it seems longer – that Carrie skipped questions and instead settled for a simple declarative statement: “Do what you have to do.” I did, with a vengeance it turned out. And last year, everything on the table, no secrets left to bare, I sat in Temple and prayed, as much as a heathen can. I prayed for forgiveness, I prayed to be straight, I prayed for it all to go away – a bad dream that one just shakes off.
So it is that time again, time to sit, the service in the background while my mind wanders around, peaking around the corners of my soul, thinking of what was and strangely, what will be. It is strange indeed to be considering a marriage failed and how one makes it right and then have the mind do one of those little jumps and realize you are thinking of the new life, and a smile is there.
This brings me to the concept of Atonement, the name for today’s Holyday. Bob asked this week about Temple, about the season and how I was feeling. The thoughts were there but it was a day later when the words coalesced. I do not feel the need to atone. Yes, there are regrets, things that could have been handled with greater sensitivity. I could have lobbed the ball with more touch like ones floating into the back corner of the end zone; I did not need to zing every one.
But that is water under the bridge and matters of fine tuning. There remains the big issue – self acceptance of being gay. And for that, I no longer pray, not for atonement and not for change. I like myself, I like my new life. It will have ups and downs and that is okay, that is what life is.
My writing is less because writing is the process of refining my thoughts and finding myself, of trying things on for size, and in some way giving others an opportunity to throw in their two cents. Ultimately it is much easier to write a sad song than a satisfied one, easier to write of conflict than of resolution.
The last line for this blog (when that day eventually comes) was recently suggested: “I am gay.” That it seems should be the next to the last line.
"And I am at peace with myself." Now that will make a last line, and writing it feels just fine.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
There is a part of me which longs to take his advice and I had both before and since been writing a final post. But then it struck me: this is my blog, the tale of my journey and while journeys of life never end, they do have some clear break points. I know what the break point is and I suspect that once that moment is reached, it may very well be farewell, as opposed to my less frequent random rants of late.
The thing is that I still live at home, still write in my basement. It is clear – crystal clear – that the original pipe dream of this being good for years to come is exactly that – an ethereal dream born of delusion. There will need to be a day when I carry boxes up the stairs, throw a suitcase in the trunk, try to keep the suits on their hangers, and drive off if not into a sunset, into something, something unknown and likely exhilarating and terrifying all at once. A moment that will truly be a border crossed.
We are trying to avoid that – at this point economic realities more than anything else. I do not want to force my family to “downsize” because I have taken a little long to address my own issues and because I have decided to live a new life. Carrie is good, sure a little comment here or there, but meanwhile I am sated by an incredible homemade dinner of one of my favorites. She and I lingered after the kids scattered, sipping wine, listening to music and considering that we do have a lot of history, that we are still friends.
But we also know that the myth of being Will and Grace… We have thought about the simple fact that Will and Grace were never lovers, never shared a bed. It is much harder to be fast friends after having been lovers. And while I am a bit circumspect and in a rare moment do not share my thought, I think about Will. He was a “good” gay, a television approved gay. As far as I can tell from the limited episodes I saw (I was never a huge fan) Will never took it up the ass and I don’t remember seeing him on his knees. In fact, I am not sure if he tops or bottoms. He is a very cute made for television asexual gay. And of course Carrie is on to me – she knows that I am not asexual; she knows that I come back from nights out a bit tired, and yes, from our years in the bedroom together she can probably hold court on my submissive bottom side.
So we continue, we share the house, we have our good days and bad days. In short much of a typical life, but in many ways not typical at all. We both know that come next May we will need to make some tough decisions. I will have to weigh the pleasures of my family day and excellent dinner with the knowledge that I cannot bring someone home and that while it is accepted, my comings and goings are noted. On the whole I have nothing to complain of, I am as happy as can be under the circumstances. But there is that damn other shoe.
So someday I will pack the bags and move on. Until then, I suppose you all are stuck with me a little longer.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The morning writing I refer to is starting a diary. I am not sure how long it will last but for today there was something satisfying about writing and not needing to translate the names, no concern who may read it. Maybe it will allow a greater degree of self-honesty, one that I suspect existed when my sojourn in this land first began.
This week I had an interesting moment when I realized that I have come a long way – not just in the gay world but in my own. A friend mentioned an upcoming business trip to LA and would I be interested in joining him the weekend before – we would rent a car and drive to Palm Springs, a land he explained of gay resorts. He was giving me plenty of time to consider this, not at all pressuring. Without hesitation, with the only caveat being a semi-affordable airfare, I said yes.
Now this seems like a non-event. Guys in my office have their annual outings - Vegas, golf or fishing – it is not at all uncommon. But I had reached a state in my own life where if I had been invited to one of those events there would have been so many questions – money, watching the kids, Carrie’s reactions (real or maybe just in my mind).
I have my plane tickets and the Cathedral City Boys Club awaits. I had written Sis of being “terrified and exhilarated” and in her usual cut to the chase fashion she responded: Terrified? Of going on vacation? There’s something wrong with you. What an adventure! WHEEE!!!
I read her words and responded in kind: Good news! I believe I lied to us. I am not terrified at all. The old me would have been terrified.
The point of course is not so much going to CCBC, though I am quite looking forward to it. It is the fact that I am willing, that I am able to go there, or sit in the back of the Mustang in the wind and walk a nude beach. It is a sense of freedom to move beyond acceptance to being.
When I wrote the post it was titled "Being" and when I put it up at the last moment opted for WHEEE!!!
I have changed it back. Carrie no longer reads my blog but in a bored internet moment today did. She knew of the weekend trip, but not the destination. While it should not have had such impact, it did cause her distress, upset and anger. But as I have re-read it, other than the title being a bit over the top, I can see nothing wrong in the content. She has asked that I "get with the program" whenever I have tried looking back. And this does seem like the "program."
Still, a sad end to what started as a good day.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
This was five or six years ago, well before the journey so eloquently chronicled in this Blog, well before my lunch time hookups, well before the roof caving in. Not to say that I did not have my fantasies, but my actions were then in remission. Yet that night I heard the two voices, sensed the breathing, felt their excitement. There was nothing for me to do; it was not an open party. Still I hesitated as I washed my hands slowly, hoping the door would swing open, hoping to see them emerge. Finally, hands very clean and the door still closed, it was off to the conference.
A few long hours later I emerge, a pillar of the community, suit jacket buttoned, tie nice and straight, ready to head back to the suburbs. A quick block to the parking lot, but my feet keep moving, carrying me another ten blocks to Times Square, crossroads of the world and home to the sex shops. While I have never done a men’s room or highway rest stop for that matter, I am familiar with the sex shops and more specifically the “buddy booths”, strange little places where one’s presence is all the sign that is needed as to signal one’s intentions. It was already late when I arrived and my experience came down to a few minutes with a video screen and a quick release followed by a walk back to the car all the while reeling from the power of my desires.
By now I suspect most have figured out this is a little ode to Larry Craig, for the moment of the United States Senate. When I first saw the story of his little problem in the Twin Cities airport, the yellow dog democrat in me leaped for joy. More Republican family value hypocrisy exposed, another one biting the dust. But then I stepped back from the partisanship and started thinking about the Senator. Make no mistake, there is probably nothing we agree on in terms of the issues of our day and his anti-gay voting record is hard to abide. Yet I cannot help but feel for the generation even older than mine, one raised in a severely homophobic world, ones whose denial became a reality of its own.
If someone had come up to me that night and had asked if I was gay, I would have honestly answered: No. Sure I believed myself to be “sexual” in a broad usage of the term, but surely not gay. I have already admitted to never having had a men’s room encounter, but that night if, while I was washing my hands, the door to that stall swung open and a cute guy came up next to me, tapped me with his foot and invited me back from whence he came, I know that I would have followed like an over-eager puppy dog. My heart would have been racing, the fear would have been palpable, but I would have followed.
So I feel anger at the Republican apparatus which is just honky dory with David Vitter, the Senator from Louisiana, making a nice apology for breaking the law to purchase sex while vilifying a man who wanted to commit a legal act in an illegal place. I feel disgust with Larry Craig’s overall political view of the world and revulsion towards his strict anti-gay voting record. But ultimately I cannot help but feel some pity for a closeted gay man losing everything because of… The thing is I am not sure what it is because of other than the rampant homophobia of his party and his state.
There is one more thing I feel: gratitude that in spite of everything, I have managed to come to a point of self awareness and self acceptance so that my encounters with men now take place in bedrooms and living rooms.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday was slow at work – this is the end of August, so I head into the City a little early. The main event is dinner with eight other guys from the married gay group followed by a play at the aptly named Fringe festival. One of the men in the group did the lighting so it is a show of support for him and for a very fringe, very gay play. But first I drop my car and my bag off by my friend’s apartment. A quick hello and plans to meet later
Meet we do, a drink, a late dinner and back to his apartment for the night. (I do confess here to a certain jealousy of the sex bloggers.) The next day we head east towards the land of some beautiful beaches. All summer long we have talked of my joining him and his friend for a day at the clothing optional beach and today it is destined to be. I climb into the back seat of his car for the ride down – a vintage Mustang convertible – and as the wind buffets me, we hit the beach.
Now I need to digress: when I left the house Friday morning, I expected to be coming home, just late that night. Carrie says at the door: “I guess we will see you tomorrow sometime.” I nod, leave, drive five blocks and turn around. She is potentially correct so it seems an overnight bag is in order. The next day I call and Carrie is plain – she is fine: “Go and do your thing,”
Now I thought we were going to a gay beach, but I was suffering tunnel vision. This was a clothing optional beach, men and women, straight and gay, and a few families thrown in. It was a liberating place in a very comfortable non-sexual way. There were some nice men to look at and yes, some very nice females for the eyes also. And for those of us who love the ocean, the joy of not only swimming nude, but coming out and not having to endure a wet, sticky, sandy bathing suit: a joy indeed.
The sun is sinking and the Mustang is raring: back to the house in the burbs for a simple dinner. The man of the house is a restorer of vintage automobiles so the back yard is ringed with heavy blue tarps covering the carcasses of autos past and in the middle a simple patio, a table with many candles and an electric palm tree. And there the three of us sat, moonlight, candles, and “palm tree” for illumination, and if one looked carefully in the low light one might have noticed the lack of clothes on a balmy summer eve.
I make it home after midnight, quietly slip down to the basement and get some sleep before my “daddy” day. The next morning as I make the kids breakfast my ex calls – our eldest son is returning home after a year abroad and do I want to bring down the girls for a surprise dinner. Perfect – an opportunity for the three of us to give Carrie some space and have what will end up being an eight hour adventure. It is a series of trains – the kids will take them over cars any day, and frankly it is not a bad deal to be relieved of what is a very tough eighty miles each way.
We are on our second train emerging from under the Hudson, a daughter on each shoulder, when it strikes me just how lucky I am, what a perfect weekend I am living, the balance I have written so much of. Even the iPod is agreeable playing a little Bruce in honor of Jersey:
Dreams will not be thwarted
Faith will be rewarded
Hear the steel wheels singing,
Bells of Freedom ringin’
It is a joyful afternoon of reuniting: talk, hugs, food. All one could ask for.
This should be the close, but early on I mentioned Carrie did not fully share my view of the weekend. The issue is her perception that she had them all weekend except for an eight hour break - an issue for any separation, one that is accentuated by sharing a house.
I realize the inherent emotional volatility - truly the first week of trying to create a whole new balance for us both and I do believe we will, in our own inimitable way, find our way. But clearly there is going to be some rough patches along the way, particularly as Carrie feels trapped and I continue to make social opportunities.
But tonight as I go to bed, it will be with the strains of Bruce in my mind:
Faith will be rewarded.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
It was a good vacation, time away, time with family, time to think. We spent our last week in Little, that aptly named cabin. Our children did not acquiesce to the one parent / one child per room format so Carrie and I shared a bed for six nights and learned just how big a queen sized bed could be. We were respectful, but we will not find ourselves in that situation again. I fear our trips to Canada, to our usual spot are at an end. God seemed to have recognized it with an electrical storm for our last night, an hour and a half of sky sizzling over lake and woods, Biblical in proportions.
Upon our return we broached the last frontier – we told our younger children. Weighing in at just under eleven years of age, they are accepting types. They were dying for the “lecture” to end so they could return to their playing. Hell, what’s one more or less gay person in this family. While the conversation was calm and brief, I have since come to realize the significance was not in the fact that they are different; it is in the fact that Carrie and I are different. It added a sense of reality and finality that maybe we should have found long ago.
A few days after the talk, Carrie’s best friend’s husband succumbed after a four month illness. He had sent an e-mail to Carrie a month or so ago expressing his gratitude that she would be there for his wife, she who had also recently lost a husband. And today as Carrie went to the funeral I know she mourned, both for this kind man and for a marriage that no longer is.
A few nights ago I went to see my friend Phil – it had been a long vacation. I forewarned him that I was overtired and maybe a tad cranky, that he may not want me this evening. He e-mailed back: “Hey, we're not friends for just the good times..... so of course I want you.” So visit him I do and we spend the evening, we spend the night. As we walk back from dinner, arms around each other, comfortably strolling through a quite straight neighborhood, it all coalesces in my mind.
For so long I kept getting back to being just a little gay (about as real as a little pregnant), getting back to maybe if Carrie could live with my little secret, getting back to questions of needs and whims: I had lost sight of some basic realities, ones that are probably quite obvious to even a casual reader of my blog. The simple facts are that I am gay – surely bi in a sense, but that does not seem to mean much when one’s desires are as skewed as mine presently are. More importantly I do want to explore that side of me, it does feel right in so many ways.
You may wonder where is the change in my thinking and while it may be imperceptible to most, to me it is huge. There is a difference between accepting one’s gayness and admitting to wanting to pursue it. A friend told Carrie yesterday that she saw me as an addict, one who cannot stop, one who keeps drinking more. I do not buy that. I could stop, have in the past. But when I am truly honest, the answer is I do not want to stop.
I do not profess to understand my gayness anymore than I understand why some men like blondes over brunettes or why one becomes friends with one person and not another. I suppose some things just are. More importantly, I do not overly feel the need to understand what seems to be a state of being, a state of my being. It is time to just go with the flow, not look for excuses and not try to place blame.
I suspect I have much to write, many stories to tell, but I also hope to spend more of my precious free time living this new life, wherever it leads. I suppose now that the marriage is ended the real journey begins.
A bittersweet end to two of the best decades I could have ever asked for.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
This weekend we will pack the car – kayaks on the roof, bicycles hanging off the back, family ensconced within, Jim Dale reading Harry Potter to us all. And for two weeks we will look at the lake and do what one does on family vacations, as we have for so many years before. We will be happy.
While gazing at the lake, I will have some time to think and to consider what a year has wrought. Twelve months ago Carrie and I shared a bed and more importantly shared confidences, those late night talks where under the cloak of darkness truth could be spoke. I remember some of the topics – outlets to explore who I was, retreats and the like. I suppose there were retreats this year, but they were not the “sponsored” kind where a facilitator helps one find the inner self. They were self arranged retreats – a weekend in Chicago or some evenings or nights out.
While gazing at the lake I will consider all of the times that I could have stepped back from the precipice, made different choices. I will consider the emptiness of a marriage ripped asunder and the feeling of fulfillment that comes from a level of self acceptance, fledgling as it is.
While gazing at the lake I will try to understand some issues of my sexuality and the land where it is neither straight nor gay, the land of secret desires, areas I have only skirted in my thoughts and in my words.
Most of all I will try to look forward, to that elusive land of building a new life while continuing to honor the one that has been my bedrock for oh so long.
My thanks to all who have stuck with me throughout this past year. It could not have been a pretty ride.
See you in a few,
Monday, July 30, 2007
He danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs
throughout the south
He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him
The dog up and died, he up and died
And after 20 years he still grieves
Jerry Jeff Walker
That was yesterday.
Digby went to sleep this afternoon, 12:40 just as planned, Carrie on one side, me on the other and the vet, quite aware, directing his assistant to bring the tissue box. He has done this before I suspect. We cried, took his collar, and put on as brave a face as one can at such times. It has been a difficult day.
Then it was back to the car, back to work, and as I cruised along the highway I thought of this post and thought of the title and realized: the title is perfect but the post is all wrong. It is indeed a requiem, but for more than Digby.
Digby joined us almost nine years ago. A little over two years earlier was Washington, that non-watershed weekend when I first spent a night with a man, a rather gay night, and returned, after minor consideration, as straight. It was not long thereafter when Carrie and I floated with the loons, listened to stories of the Bible, and decided to have more children, children that would be the “ours”. And so the twins were born, seemingly on gossamer angel’s wings.
Digby joined us as we moved into a new home, a large home with the backyard of Carrie’s dreams. It was a time of my moving from my own small practice to one that makes the national lists. It was, in short, a time of eternal optimism, right down to the little pup terrorizing any loose shoe in his path.
It is nine years later. We sold the house seven years ago: A beautiful backyard which was good, because there was no neighborhood – a problem in fancy areas, and real estate taxes that would be embarrassing to even mention here. The switch in jobs was a wonderful decision. But before the switch, Carrie and I worked in the same building on common goals, shared lunches or just quick mid-day hellos with the occasional stolen hug. After the switch, a forty minute commute, not so bad, but no longer the working together we once so cherished.
There was more, the economic issues we all face as the little ones became less little and the bigger ones grow into colleges and cars. Once again, not fatal blows: just more of life’s pressures taking their inexorable toll. Still we held it together, we were lovers and friends: we were a family.
Then came TGT, roaring like a freight train, leaving little standing in its path. First the late night conversations, trying to find our way. Then the basement, still a shared house, but not really a marriage, a marriage as most would think of one, anymore.
So today we stood there on either side of Digby, we felt the life drain from him and we cried. After, I tried to do the right thing and put my arm on Carrie’s shoulder. Then by her car, a quick hug for the road. There was a time we would have been in each other’s arms, heads bowed on the other’s shoulder, warm tears mingling together. Not today. I suppose not again.
It was my second cry of the young week. On Sunday while packing for vacation I came across an envelope of pictures from our first vacation together so many years ago – no kids, just the two of us. One picture jumps out at me: Carrie lying on a towel by the side of the lake with a smile, a smile that could light up the night, a smile that came from deep within, from her very core. And as I looked at that picture I realized both what was and what will never be, for I fear that smile, the joy and the innocence walking together, will never be seen again.
Yes a requiem indeed, a requiem for what feels like lives gone terribly awry.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. (Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.)
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I think of Digby as my first dog. We were not a pet family growing up. I once brought home a stray beagle in middle school, but we found him a new home in two or three day’s time. There were some cats, but maybe it was just the family curse: one with cancer after maybe a year and another with a silly habit of resting on top of car wheels. As an adult, Carrie and I tried. A dog from a shelter who liked to escape – best exercise I ever did have – which coupled with a daughter standing on the table indicated using that two week return policy.
Of course there was Fred and Charlie, a pair of bichon’s we adopted. (I am happy to say spell check in Word does not recognize the breed.) There were a few factual omissions of course. They were 4 ½, not 3 and the fact that the owner’s boyfriend would beat both her and the dogs may have been of some interest. They did not like men, something I still claim to be, so an uneasy truce existed. That is until one night I came home late from work, tax season and all, and as I prepared for bed smelled something: dog pee? Could not really locate it until I put my head on my pillow and realized I had found the spot. They were found a new home, one with no men.
So when we were next ready for a dog, we did it right and in Digby we were amply rewarded, Digby did have quirks – the only Golden who did not like water. He did go swimming once when he mistakenly took a three year olds spastic splashing in our pool to be a sign of drowning. For the first and last time, and without hesitation, he dove right in.
Digby has also proven to be a capable trainer, imparting his unique mellowness to other dogs, particularly his two “sisters”, a five year old Wheaton and a one year old Cock-a-Poo. They took his lead and are as sweet as can be.
I suspect you all know where this post is going. It is time to allow Digby his rest, an escape from physical maladies that keep worsening, one bumping into another. On Tuesday we will say goodbye.
This has caused me to think both of my reactions to Digby’s “going to the farm” as my daughter prefer we phrase it and also my previous brushes with death. I was never good with death – maybe city boy syndrome, the polar opposite of farms with life and death appearing every season. Maybe it was having three grandparents die before it was born and the fourth passing before I was three. It would be until high school that a close family member died, an Uncle, a man deserving of his own little post.
I am sad that Digby is being put to sleep – I will leave the “farm” imagery for my daughter – and have welled up more than once while speaking of it. Yet somehow I feel I should be sadder – nine years, my first real pet, that should not be sadness: it should be despondency bordering on depression. And maybe come Tuesday I will feel that overwhelming sense.
Maybe it is just the perspective that comes from having caught up with death after such a slow start. I have buried both my parents, a few years apart. My father’s death I have written of before, on an anniversary of his death, of being with him as he passed.
But issues of relative grief aside, issues of pets as opposed to humans, the simple fact remains: on Tuesday we will bid Digby farewell and he will be one dog whose memory will remain with us – family and friends - for ever.
May peace be with him.
Friday, July 27, 2007
“He’ll soon be too old for this club, which pulsates with bass lines, youth and arrogance. In a few years he’ll find himself exiled, patronizing the piano bars favored by men of a certain age who mistakenly believed there was still plenty of time to find that someone special and settle down.”
I read it again, nearly committing it to memory. I have been in that piano bar – in our town it is called The Townhouse – and have watched those men, ones who seem to be rooted there, the hardcore regulars. They are nice men I am sure, and I have spoken with a few but standing there on a Saturday night at times their loneliness seems palpable.
I have thought about writing of this, and suspect I may have in passing, but then last night I read of Spider’s eight little factoids, I read the first one:
“. I am scared to death... of being left alone and not having anyone…. I am petrified of getting old and not having anyone…. I crave someone who thinks I am as special and wonderful as I think they are.”
And just as I read page eighty multiple times – hell, I was just able to pull the book off the shelf and turn right to the paragraph – I re-read Spider’s words multiple times. Both times a chord was struck, the same chord.
While the chord is the same, my hearing of it has changed, a change borne of two more months in my journey. When I read Brian Malloy’s words what seems like so long ago, the answer was clear. Not to be gay, not to lose Carrie, to run back to the nest where in so many ways there is so much love and happiness.
Last night as I read Spider’s words, there was a different reaction. One that I indeed may end up “lonely” but I do have my friends – including Carrie if I am capable of treating her with the respect she rightfully asks, I do have my family which considering I have six children is not inconsequential, and with time I should end up with at least one new bestest friend: myself when I grow into accepting that person.
But ultimately, I share the terror. What sane person would not? I suspect Spider will find that person – any who knows him through his writings and comments would agree he’s way too special not to be snatched up. And maybe I will or will not find that perfect person, but considering the brevity of my sojourn in this strange new land, I too cannot complain having made some new friends and started building this new life.
And ultimately while I share the terror, those psychological night sweats, I realize that while I could have done many things differently these past twenty-four months, there is one immutable piece of the puzzle. I am gay and when I am out there being gay, whether in a bed having sex or in restaurant with one of my gay friends talking or just here blogging, that the gayness is real and in many ways feels right.
Note: The book quoted is Brendan Wolf by Brian Malloy. And Spider should require no introduction around here.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
As I lay in bed tonight I realized that this same question – rent versus buy – applied to my gayness. Forgetting latency, deep suppression, and the like, it is fast approaching two years of my journey, two years of exploration with men – sexually and emotionally, nearly two years of long talks with Carrie and a full year and a half of pouring myself into these pages. A long time by any measure.
During these two years I have not been an owner. Sure, I have discovered the gayness, but I have worked hard to keep it as a rental and a short term rental at that. There are advantages to renting – beat the heck out of the car and bring it back to the dealer after thirty six months, get bored of the neighborhood and pack the furniture into the U-Haul after a year or two. No need to pool all those pennies for a down payment and no risk that you cannot sell it at the end.
Of course when my clients ask about renting and buying there is the concept of equity. When you buy you have something. Each month besides paying interest, you are paying down a loan and thereby owning even more. All in all a very good thing for one who is staying.
I have re-read the above a number of times, looking for the next paragraph, looking to end the post gracefully, but it seems that the post, succinct and to the point, stands on its own. It is 3 AM and sleep beckons.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
By 8:30 the sky has darkened. Actually it looks like midnight and the rains are falling. Lots of rain. The parking lot – a sprawling affair which in eight years prior has never had more than a puddle starts to flood. The rains continue, the waters rise. I see a group of co-workers looking out the window at our cars, my car, and realize the water is almost touching the bumper. I break down – off with the shoes and socks, roll the pants above the knee and move my car to higher ground. Once in my car, I realize that I am prepared – my shorts and tee shirt from the prior night. I march back in style – ready for the beach.
The rains did end and the water did subside and it was an easy ride home marred only by my trepidation of arriving after missing a night. I walk in and the phone rings – a daughter saying turn on channel 7 and hanging up. Must be pictures of the flood – cool. But no, there has been an explosion in the City, a massive steam pipe, geysers, a tow truck swallowed.
Now this would be an eye-catching story any place, any day. But it is not any place, it is not any day. It is twelve hours after I had left the City, left a parking space a few short blocks from the explosion.
I am not an overly religious man and I do realize that if there is a God, he has bigger fish to fry than moi, but floods, explosions…. There may be a message in this, but I for one plan on ignoring it.
The rest of the week is not worthy of a post – it was brilliantly mundane. Welcome home dinners, a Harry Potter pre-party followed by the obligatory line-up at Borders. Bicycling with a friend, watching the dogs romp and throwing steaks on the barbie (though at times I think throwing Barbies on the stakes may be more me).
But I mention it all the same because the week in many ways felt right – the time with Phil and the time with the family. I have written much as to finding the balance – that fine line for me of accepting myself, of living a life that includes my gayness while also continuing to live my family life. For a week it worked. I have no illusion as to the fact that there are many days ahead – both easier and harder.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
The week is already looking a bit complicated, and it has not even started. Thursday a child returns from camp and that evening is the gay men’s book club: I swear I will get there some day. I still read the books knowing that I may not make it. Friday – well, if you live on planet earth, you may have heard a book is being released. It is also the third Friday of the month – married gay group.
I check my cell last Sunday and a voice mail – Phil’s e-mail is down and he thinks maybe I fell off the edge. We go with a novel concept – we call each other. He is available and while I will not find myself in the City on business, it is a quick enough drive, particularly in the summer months. So Tuesday it is – 7:15 PM at his apartment: Maybe play a bit and then a drink and dinner and surely a quick ride home, no train schedules for me. I get a spot in front of his apartment, good till 7 AM, not to worry.
Now it is time for Nate to show his past patterns, the seemingly innate ability to get it wrong. Carrie knows where I am going and the assumption of my coming home. Why even discuss the alternative. I really do think I am coming home, but as Tuesday progresses I realize that when we made the plans, Phil had made a passing comment about spending the night. I realize that showing up at work the next day in the same shirt may be a bit much. Not a problem, I am not spending the night. Which is why I made a quick stop at Kohl’s for a cheapo golf shirt – just in case.
I get to Phil’s and he is still suited up – literally – and needs to get casual. Of course between suit and casual one has to pass through naked, a rather distracting spot. And we always knew we would play, so why not. Three hours later I realize that the cheapo shirt was a good purchase. And I wonder if Carrie is expecting me – as I had left it. I can still go home, but it will be a late night and which is worse – the night out or that creaking door at some ungodly hour. I want to communicate and do the right thing so I call. She answers the phone and sounds quite chipper, that is until I ask the question. It seems, either possibility was fine with her, but the phone call was a bit much. The night out it will be.
Back to bed, its only 10:15, early by the gay clock. And we play some more. Now I have to express some admiration for you sex bloggers – either your memories are extraordinary or your narratives are composites because I could not write a blow by blow if I tried. And while I am not one to detail the sex – a thin veneer of modesty still remains – the fact is that we played – gently, roughly, wildly. We reaffirmed that versatile is more than CL code. Uncharacteristically, I let go, I went with the moment, with the flow. And we had fun. Sometime around 3:30 it became clear that sleep was preferable to dinner. The next morning I wake early, I have to move my car. Might as well just head to work.
What happened next is a mini-post of its own and we will get there. But the important stuff had already happened.
I have hung on – desperately at times – to some myths: The myth of being a little gay, the myth of getting harder for Carrie than for the guys, all of which is really the myth of going back. The myths have some truth – that is from where they derive their power. But on this night I had no “performance” issues, no trouble playing all night, a long all night. I had let go. A little gay? I think not.
The next evening at dinner, Carrie glances towards me – I am wearing on an old tee – and points out I should be wearing a higher collar, something that will hide the hickey better. She points out that she hasn’t seen a hickey on someone over sixteen in ages. I suppose I blush, a little giggle, and of course change shirts. But I keep thinking about being sixteen and realize that the night before I was sixteen, making up for what I missed along the way. Phil, also late to the dance, listens to me say “I’m making up for lost time.” His soft response: “Don’t I know it.”
It’s too late to make it right,
Probably wouldn’t if I could.
The week does continue, times of thought, times of family and right choices, times of floods and explosions. But most of all times of reality. It is late now – tomorrow we can continue.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
But the thing that most amazes me is her acceptance that she may never find this mythical man and she may be left with her family and friends, with books and errands. And that is okay with her, she has chosen authenticity over safety. And by so doing in some strange way she is guaranteed some level of happiness no matter what.
Yet I still vacillate, wanting to hang on, out of love, out of friendship, but also surely as much as I do not want to admit it, out of fear. I try to define that fear, not an easy task, but I suspect it is the fear of being alone. Sis and I had an extended IM chat and she went for the fear like a hound on a hunt.
Sis: I don't buy that you're not scared. You can tell me that you're not scared all day long, and I still won't buy it. I think you're terrified. Not of being alone, necessarily, but of never finding someone who "gets" you on such a basic level.
Me: To have found one person who "gets” me on that level is awesome. To find another.....
Sis: The thing is, I think Carrie can continue to be that person for you, just not as your wife. But for you to be able to accept that and make it work will require you to really start to "get" yourself and embrace that person. It will make your relationship with her a lot easier.
As I re-read the snippet from our exchange, I realize that Carrie told me the other night that I need to embrace who I am. She was referring to the gay Nate, but it is more. It is learning to embrace – to “get” myself, all of me.
So a little over a week after having come home and sat on Carrie’s floor fighting back tears, I sit here a little older, a little more mature. Carrie has moved on and so shall I. This is not a question of moving out – after looking at the finances we realize every month of delay is much needed money for our family. But it is still moving on as we slowly evolve sharing a house while still moving on. A temporary state – nine or ten months at best – and one that may yet change, for if there is any lesson as I look back over this year it is not to make predictions. Life will chart its own course quite nicely.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
But as I went to write tonight and opened up a word file – my scrap pages – I found a letter I wrote to Carrie last week. The background is that I came home around 11 PM from a date and tearfully suggested to Carrie that we try again. And as I re-read this tonight, I realized that someday this is what I will need to re-read.
It is an hour best suited for sleeping (3:24 AM) so of course I am writing. It was not my plan to bring up many topics tonight. They were of course in my mind, percolating over time, but the plan was to write and “speak” in that fashion which does not put you on a spot, allows thoughts to be formed, and allows you to simply say no.
For a simple no would be well within your rights, it would not be shifting of blame as you think. I am well aware that in many ways I have created a situation that has no going back in that “going back” at this point can never truly happen. We can perhaps be together but it would be in some new emotional place. And I am aware of the shame that I have brought upon you and that a good case could be made that being apart is the only way for you to maintain your new found self esteem.
But I want to simply say what can and cannot be. Can I forgo sex with others – I have before and suspect I can again. Can I forgo building male friendships predicated on the underlying promise of sex – again I believe so. Can I – or for that matter should I – go back to our co-dependency. That one would be a no for both of us – each of us having outlets for ourselves might have helped us both a long time ago.
Now for the cannots: When I opened Word and a file called Basement which is where I draft and then delete (it is password protected) I went to delete as one would erase a blackboard. As I was erasing I realized the last sentence, all alone at the bottom of the document, was probably never used, maybe the base for a future post, or just an unused part of one called Approval:
A lifetime of repression has had a series of consequences including a need to define myself through the prism of other’s eyes
And as I read that I chose not to erase because it seems relevant here. My nature is not going to change. I cannot go back to making believe that I am straight, Gay, bi, queer: take your pick, but as much as I want, the straight just isn’t happening. Actions I can control, but as you know better than anyone, one cannot choose their orgasms. Now it is inexplicable to me how I can be queer yet have the best sex – not just once, but multiple times – with you. Maybe it is the love, maybe just the knowledge of each others bodies, maybe the liberation of not having to hide any side of me anymore.
But what is clear is that sex with you is incredible and that the thought of sex with men just excites me further. So if we make love again and at some point you invoke my fantasies, I will respond, my body will betray me. Except I no longer think of it as a betrayal, it is part of me and I have come, grudgingly and slowly, to accept that part of me is here to stay.
If I was advising you as a friend, I am not sure what advice I would give. I suppose it would be to follow your heart – in a sense ignore my pleadings, ignore your therapist’s bias – and decide what is right for you. The girls will be fine. I will be here for them; I will do everything to make sure that the house remains intact, that they can continue to have their little world. The question is what is right for you. And choosing to maintain a gay best friend as opposed to a gay husband is more than reasonable – it is what would traditionally be considered the right thing – the only thing - by the vast majority.
You had suggested I speak with my advisors about this and I will speak with Bob who I respect and whose views I would not venture a guess on at this point. In terms of Sis – this may come as a shock to you – but I have not mentioned our being lovers since you asked me not to many, many months ago. I am not sure I can ask her advice while leaving out that piece of the puzzle. For if you and I were not able to still have that level of intimacy and have it work for us, then the rest would be doomed to failure.
I suppose the question you have asked yourself since I opened my mouth last night is: Why now, why after putting you through hell do I dare to even go here? I am afraid this is the part of the story that I would have thought through better if I had not just opened up so unexpectedly last night. I suspect it is many cumulative things. It is a level of self-acceptance that I know who and what I am and therefore do not need to prove it to myself anymore. It is a realization that as hard as we both try, our friendship will be severely tested by the road ahead – first by my having new friends and then by you eventually doing the same.
But I guess the real reason is how comfortable we are with each other, comfortable in the little ways that are the true base of life, little errands, having dinner, stripping wallpaper. The thought of not calling to check in with you every day – yes, I know how annoying I can be – is inconceivable. Hell, even our little blowup last week was okay: we said things, we cleared the air a little and we moved on.
Michelle Shocked said the night (my son) and I saw her: “it is not about happiness, it is about growth.” But of course it would be nice if growth leads to happiness.
Do not feel the need to answer this anytime quickly, unless it is to say a preemptive no. And have the courage and pride to tell me to find an apartment: that you have moved on. Whatever happens, it is the result of all that I have done, my misjudgments, my need to play out my issues on a semi-public stage. And if I am looking for an apartment (or small house sounds good), tonight will be a private thing between us, a little blip, because it is important that this not be cast as you having kicked me out. I have left, I have left in a hurtful way to you over a long period of time and that will always be one of my crosses to bear.
The Basement: 4:17 AM
There is an epilogue to this dialogue, but that is for another night. Re-reading and deciding to share this has been difficult enough.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Watching and reading this tonight, it struck me that maybe for an evening, I could use my little corner of the net for something positive.
Thousands of people are attacked every year because of their sexual orientation, and there's still no federal hate crimes law to protect them. This video is the most powerful statement I've seen on hate crimes, and I couldn't help but pass it on. I think you'll see why.
There's a bill in the Senate right now that would address this heartbreaking problem, and we only have a few weeks until the vote. It would mean a lot to me if you could take a minute to watch the video and write your Senators, and then pass this along to five friends. I really believe none of us can sit this one out. Just go to:
(Apologies for the hyperlink not working - Lord knows I tried)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
My therapy, my relationship with Bob, is on the backstretch. If the purpose of therapy is to understand things better, it has been a success and I suspect the next step – integrating and growing with this new found knowledge – is one I will need to tackle primarily on my own. Much like ordering desert it is time to make my own, hopefully wiser, choices.
There was a breakthrough in my therapy a few months back, a breakthrough both from my time with Bob and from the consequent conversations with my sisters. It seems there was a moment in my life when things went wrong or maybe it would be better phrased to say a moment in my family’s life because I was merely, as the new term goes, collateral damage of that evening. I was four at the time and my eldest sibling was eleven, time for what was then called junior high school. Except she did not want to go to junior high school, she did not want to go to any school. Now I knew this story already and have the slightest of memories of sitting in therapist’s kitchen while my Mom took her for a session.
As I revisit this with another sister, the classic middle child, she asks if I remember the night of the war, the night my father was in “you will go because I say so mode”, a night of raised voices and of, I fear, raised hands. I do not. But then my sister explains how my mother tried to in some way intercede, to protect her eldest, but my Dad was a force of nature not to be trifled with in his own home.
I finally had the answer to the question of my life – when did Mom go missing, when did the depression which morphed into Alzheimer’s begin. It seems it began one night when I was just four. She never truly re-appeared. Sure she cooked dinner, kept me clothed, bagged those school lunches. But emotionally speaking she was gone. This was 1958 – long before the era of Prozac and Lexapro. I can almost hear the gossip – she’s a quiet lady, her husband talks enough for them both (as I had grown to do around this house). Depression – what’s that?
It was not as if my Dad making up for her deficits did much, other than answer questions directed to her, just continuing the crushing of her spirit. He was, as Bob would point out, emotionally absent. An absent Dad, a Mom in the throes of silent depression and sisters who on some level were at best resentful of me, the male heir to the throne, the Prince of Beach Street. Who could blame them?
No wonder when I turned fourteen I adopted my friends as family and found solace in music and pot. As we listened to the music – a rich time indeed with Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and The Grateful Dead understanding our angst – as we smoked the joints and snuck the sweet wines, there was approval, there was that sense of family. In retrospect it does seem quite a reasonable reaction. But in hindsight, it was not enough: the search for approval became a backdrop to my existence.
And as I look back at my choices over the years I see how many of them have been colored by my desire for approval and acceptance, by my desire for the comfort of a male figure. I do not write this as a “that’s why I’m gay” moment – that is really of little concern in all this. But it has undeniably impacted on my life choices in ways big and small. It drove my educational choices, it impacted my career choices and it downright seized control of my relationship choices. Each of these could be, and someday probably should be their own posts.
But those choices have been made and their consequences are a part of who I am. As I continue to work through these past choices, the central issue remains: learning self acceptance, learning to make my own choices, the “ownership” I wrote of not so long ago. And of course learning to be the first to order desert.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
We have figured out on past visits what we like so even though the Met can be daunting we are a team with a mission – a surgical strike and back onto the streets. Barely past mid-day and what a day it is. Sunny and warm, low humidity, a pleasant breeze: too beautiful to not savor the City some more. So back into the car and downtown: Did I recently mention “an outdoor space on a perfect temperate night”? Why not on a perfect temperate day? I find the place and at that moment a parking space opens right out front. For those who are reading and wondering why such excitement over parking spaces, I remind you we are talking of Manhattan: The gods of parking are never to be trifled with.
The cafe is hopping but we are immediately seated: an outdoor table shaded by trees. Now I need to mention that this is not a gay restaurant but there are gays about. As we sit there Carrie looks over my shoulder – a table with two men and a woman, one of the men clearly gay – and says: “Too young.” Then glancing at a different angle points out a table with three men, three gay men even with the gaydar turned off. She notes they are a better fit – right age, right look. This is all done discretely as our daughter works on her burger. A little later another gay couple: hardly a mention by now. But then they are joined by some more friends and as they kiss European style, I see Carrie smile. Quite the little show.
We return home, seventy-two hours that felt so right comes to a close and as I swing in my hammock I try to put it in perspective. I suppose it is having had so many different pieces of the puzzle that is me come together at different times and different ways. I suppose it is the fact that I can admit to such pleasure of my evening with Phil and with my time with Carrie and family. I suppose it is the fact that I can accept my desires and appreciate how much a bond of friendship adds to the mix – gay or straight.
But ultimately what I am left with was today – the fact that Carrie and I could have such a nice day while continuing to come to grips with the reality of our lives and the fact that we can still talk and joke (though I did not find the first guy to be too young). I asked her tonight – now that she is such an aficionado of gay men – if she saw me as one of them and she thought and laughed. She pointed out how gay I seem to her in many ways – the way I run or move at times – and my knee jerk reaction was to feel hurt. But that gave way in a moment to the sheer humor of it and the fact that she was right.
On Friday my friend asked if magically I was no longer gay could the marriage be repaired. Of course such talk is silly but I told him how if there was a pill I would take it tomorrow, but let’s be real. While there may be truth to swallowing that pill, there is also untruth. The truth, the real truth, is I like myself – always have. Maybe that sounds egotistical but ego in moderation is healthy. And if I like myself then I do not think I get to pick and choose which pieces of Nate’s basic nature I keep and which I toss. I suspect that if the pill was put before me today, I would read the booklet, check out those risk factors, think of being a different person. I would pick it up and hold it between my fingers. And with all my strength I would likely put it back down.
Because last June I was writing posts discussing the difference between wants and needs. This year I chose not to write it, but my thoughts were on the silliness of wants and needs when the real issue is one of being, just being.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
It was Wednesday afternoon that I checked in with Phil – I was in the City and figured we could catch dinner before the suburbs beckoned. It worked for him so we met on a Manhattan street corner and started to wander towards his apartment. On the way we passed a public art exhibit and spent some time looking and talking. And then a quick stop at his apartment which ended up being not so quick. As always, I leave some things to the imagination. Then off to a roof top bar – so what if the average age was twenty years our junior. The drinks were okay: the skyline views intoxicating.
Phil asked of my Father’s Day. I tell him of a cool shirt from my daughter – one that came with the note: “For when you go out!” In case I had missed the intent, she later explained that it was perfect for a New York summer bar. I tell Phil of Carrie’s gifts: a recliner for the backyard – her backyard, my backyard, it is so complicated. And then in the true spirit of mixed messages some boxers and tees – my favored summer sleeping. When I comment she must be bored of my old ones as I float around the house, she tells me these are for my nights out with the boys. In a rare moment of judgment, I do not share that on those nights, I do not use pajamas.
We finish our drinks and downtown for dinner, an outdoor space on a perfect temperate night. And then a walk across the village and some coffee and desert. Phil knows the City better than I and shows me things – different styles of brickwork, unusual buildings. We end the night on a subway back uptown leaning into each other as the evening drew to close. For once I get the coming home part right – it is after midnight and all is quiet.
The next day was a graduation – grade school albeit, but still big for two little ones. An afternoon off, a small family dinner: the real celebration will be the next night, but let’s not get ahead of things. That evening I had planned to attend a gay men’s reading group. It had popped up recently while trolling the net and I had even read the book. But Wednesday had been late and it was a graduation day, so home I remain. I go down to my basement office to write but my daughter is on my computer. She offers to finish up but I tell her keep playing, I lay on the couch, we exchange occasional thoughts and comments. And at some point I nap. When I awake she is still there and we continue to quietly commune. For at least one night I have chosen wisely.
Friday we celebrate – the graduation and a going off to sleep away camp for one of the kids – her first time. We have our insular family, we have a gathering of the older kids, and we have the couple who have been there with us every step of the last twenty years. And yes, we have the steaks and lobsters. In the strangeness that passes for our lives, the total success of the evening is also its dark cloud. This is our life as we once envisioned it, the backyard looks great, the evening air cool and fresh with the backdrop of music punctuated by conversation and laughter: Family and friends that any would take. It was perfect. That is except for the fact that we are separated, that I am gay, that the late night conversation – us and our friends – is on where I should move.
Everyone leaves and Carrie and I hold each other, tears are lurking. We talk but what can one say. Ultimately she is right: I never stopped when the opportunity was offered, I never accepted the unsaid offer of discrete sexual liaisons. Even if I could offer that I would not “live” my gayness, it would not change who I am. And of course that is ultimately the deal breaker. So she sheds her tears, freely now, and I try to comfort, but really, what comfort is there?
For those who are counting we are not yet near seventy-two hours but it is time to step back and let the evening settle. Tomorrow is another day, and early one at that.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Feeling a mite misunderstood in this cyber exchange, I whip out the cell and call across the country. “I do want to go, but bars and me…” And then she pulled out of that bottomless hat of hers a telling point: “Go” she tells me: “Or don’t go. I don’t care, but take ownership of what you do.”
The word – ownership – instantly caught my attention but it is in the days and weeks since that it has continued to percolate and grow richer with time. I have spent much time rejecting ownership of my gayness in ways big and small. I am reduced to Sis reminding me to do what I choose and to Carrie reminding me to read my own blog. I remind myself that I must first own my own life: then the rest will follow. And the twin of ownership – the good twin – is to embrace.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to test these concepts, to take ownership out for test drive. In an e-mail to Phil a passing reference that I will be in the City Friday: an early business dinner. Phil goes away most weekends so I did not expect the invitation to spend the night. Now the last time – the only time - I stayed in his apartment was almost a month ago and my neurosis ran rampant. I fixated on staying and going, on moments with my new friends and anticipated consequences with my home life. I drove myself near mad.
Carrie had already presumed I would spend that night in the City – well before I had even e-mailed Phil. We discussed the problems of last time and she asked that I come home at an off hour – very late or very early – Sunday AM in her mind. A place to spend Friday night was a stretch, but I did pull it off. Saturday night: well, we will get back to that.
My Friday business dinner finally ends and off to Phil’s. This time I knew to bring a bag not my baggage. For the first time I spend the night without a worry of the consequences. I live in the moment without the clouds of guilt and fear obscuring the sun. The “sun” made it better warming all we did: it made the sex better, it made the hanging in the bars better, and it even made the sleep better. It was liberating.
The next day Phil and I woke together – yes we played as two gay men might and yes enjoyed a shower together. Then time for the day – breakfast at a diner, coffee and newspapers and the lightest of chatter. Then some time around town until I dropped Phil off at his friend in the suburbs: a quick hello to Stan, a quicker goodbye to Phil and back in the car. Now I had no place to go, but I am clever enough to know when to move on. It was with a light heart that I popped in the car and disappeared around the corner. It was 3 PM on Saturday.
I was well aware that Carrie wanted me to arrive home at an off hour. I was well aware that 3 PM on a Saturday afternoon is anything but an off hour. And I was well aware that I really had no place to go. Sure I could have killed a few hours, but arriving home at 6 PM struck me as even worse. I round the corner and whip out the cell. I ask permission to return and it is coolly granted. Return I do, quietly but our home is no mansion and my presence is noted. The temperature has shifted, the cool now bordering on frigid.
She is right – how can I walk in like nothing has occurred, like I am coming from the library. I am right – it is my home, my only home: should I just wander for eight hours awaiting the cloak of the night. We are both right and it is a situation that will recur. We have anticipated this, tried to finesse it, but it continues to lurk.
That night I think more about ownership, about my plans for an apartment. I think of the waiting until the fall – no need to rush into things. I particularly think of the winter rental – Labor Day to Memorial Day, a nice beach community: why does it smell so sweet? I know the answer – it’s the dream that in nine months things will be healed, that it will be time to return home or to make new decisions as if the decision has not been already made. It is again a failure to take ownership, a failure at embracing the reality of my life.
Sunday dawns and Carrie and I calmly talk. We talk over the Sunday paper – the real estate section to be exact. It is time to find a place – not a temporary place, not a seasonal rental. It is time to find a new home - close by where I can see my children many times each and every week. But a home – not just a crash pad – where when I return at night I can feel comfortable. We have seven years before packing the kids off to college. It is time to make myself a home for those seven years.
And it is time to do it while Carrie and I are still best friends. I knew on Saturday with Phil when I was about to overstay my welcome. It is now time to practice that with Carrie.
"And then I go outside and join the others, I am the others,"