Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy? New Year

Ours was a small gathering, Carrie and me, the twins, Bill and Anna, and another couple, we’ll call them Mark and Janet. Quite the little crew: Bill and Anna are back from their trip, the resort vacation dubbed their “(Gag) honeymoon”, a trip that was to be their honeymoon until those pesky pictures surfaced. The ring fingers are unadorned but the pictures, the tans, the smiles, all scream honeymoon. Our dreams of Bill going quiet into the night are dashed.

Mark dates back to high school and Janet joined him twenty five years ago. They stuck with Carrie and I two decades ago when we were each going through divorces, when most others fled the carnage. They have been fixtures ever since – friends long enough to know each others quirks and faults and friends long enough to accept.

Everyone knows: Nate resides in the basement, even if the twins do not know why. It should be easier this way, tough situations still, but the dreaded façade does lie shattered at our feet. A shattered façade, but also shattered lives, but I get ahead of myself.

Time for a late dinner, we take our places, me at one end and 112” away Carrie at the other. It is an imposing sight: China and Crystal, platters of meat, homemade “designer” salad, the works. We pour the champagne and all eyes on Nate, time for the traditional toast. Do I go banal or do I acknowledge the difficulties of the year behind, and yes the year ahead. I have become many things but hopefully not banal so I toast: acknowledge a year of difficulties, nod towards a more peaceful year ahead, and am grateful for those who have graced our table so many times in the past.


A little early for New Years so game time: imagine-iff, a game where a roll of the die determines the next victim and a card is drawn. At Thanksgiving we had the card: imagine-iff Nate was a girl’s name. Only a few of us saw the humor then. This time Anna gives a lesson – a practice round. I am the guinea pig and she draws the first card: imagine-iff Nate is a first date. All of us can see the humor now, black gallows humor, but at least no longer an inside joke.


The day had started well enough, Carrie and I share the house, co-exist, Will and Grace have nothing on us. But as the New Year approaches the cracks are showing. I am looking ahead and see an adventure and she, well who can argue, is staring at an abyss. Carrie is in the kitchen and I join her – just the two of us. She asks what I expect, how should she feel. She adds her new refrain: her hope that I find whatever it is I am looking for. We sit again for desert, same places but now the table has grown: 112” can now be measured in miles.

Finally, time to gather in the den, a minute or two to go, the TV blaring, little ones with the noisemakers. We watch the ball descend, we count down, five, four… 2007. I approach Carrie; she pulls away, no hugs, no kiss: only tears. She and Janet hug, they wander to another room, a private cry. Later Anna will comfort her mother. Carrie will head up a staircase, I will head down. We will not talk again this evening.


It is early now, a New Year, a fittingly bleak rainy day. The house sleeps but you have all met Calli, our Christmas puppy. She likes company, or else she likes to bark, so I sit with the dogs so the house can sleep. It is not a bad thing: Time to consider the day, consider the year.

I suppose the year past is best summed up by my not being prepared for the ending. There really was no surprise. Carrie has endured arguably the worst year of her life and in less than a week her husband is off to Chicago to revel in gayness. Quite the start of her new year, a year of a king sized bed occupied only by a Queen, a year of watching her soul mate walk out the door knowing it is to “interview” her replacement, a year of no longer extending a foot, a soft invitation to making love.

I know all of this, describe it in fitting words, yet I forge ahead. She stands there with tears filling her eyes, dampening her cheeks and I stand there, saddened and chastened – chasten but not willing to be chaste. Mine are not the red eyes and she knows that, we both know that.

I still cling to this fantasy: I will go to Chicago and realize that it’s only about the sex, that the rest is window dressing. I will come home and say give me back our bedroom fantasies and I will no longer stray. The problem is not only do neither of us expect that, I am not sure Carrie would even accept the offer. Too much pain, too much heartbreak, and I fear, too much reality.

15 comments:

Spider said...

Just remember, you don't HAVE to go to Chicago... and if you do, you don't HAVE to sleep with him - these are all conscious choices you are making knowing the consequenses they bring... I hear you hunting for sympathy... Your best thinking and your best decisions have gotten you where you are today...

Bea said...

You are torturing her.

B

the "heckler" said...

Nate--

I would like to echo Bea's sentiment and further add that you are also torturing yourself.

As you know, I'm far from a pessimist. But something tells me that this whole "seperate lives/same roof" experiment is going to be a real tough one....

grace said...

You are playing into the hands of every horrible stereotype the "straight" world holds about gay/bi folks.

Be a man. Nobody cares about your sexual orientation.

I say this in love...for real.

grace/pam

grace said...

Nate,
I should not have said "be a man". I hadn't read all the rest of it...but still...you really need to stop dragging this out...

goodness

you really are torturing her....and no one deserves that....
just get it over with....

Nate said...

I was struck by a comment a week or so ago (from Spider) and as is sometimes the case, had some difficulty in interpreting it:

Remember, your best thinking and decision-making got you where you are today. If you are not happy with where you are today, maybe it is time to listen to others or let them make some of the decisions...

I wondered what was the agenda, the hidden message if I could only decode it. As I read the comments tonight it seems to make more sense - the "listen to others".

Interestingly enough it is the women - Carrie, though not visible to you all, Bea, a part of our community, and Grace a knew name, though fitting enough.

It is time to show some grace. You see Spider, there was a day when I could have forgone Chicago and the damage done. It seems that day has passed. Whether I get on the plane Friday or not, there is no going back, at least not in the forseeable future if ever at all.

As usual what I present as hope and kindness translates into obstinance and cruelty.

It is a New Year. I suppose a good post title might be "Responsibility" as in taking some.

Spider said...

Nate - the hope and kindness is on YOUR END - that is what Carrie is giving YOU by not kicking your ass to the curb... as Bea says - you are torturing the one woman in your life who truly loves you...

I still think you REALLY don't get all of this do you...

Flip said...

Nate,

Gee, I wonder why you are mostly hearing from the women and Spider, one of the bravest, most honest people I know.

I can only speak for myself. I find this extremely difficult to watch (and comment on) for many reasons. One is that it reminds me of how selfish, delusionsal, misguided and abusive I was three years ago.

Nate, the bottom line is that you aren't being honest with yourself...about what your options are; about the consequences of your actions - for your children, your wife and yourself; about much of anything related to this subject.

Take it from one who learned the hard way and continues to struggle to grow up...being gay, being anything, no matter your circumstances, is not an excuse for emotionally abusing another human being...whether you love them or hate them.

Your continued declaration that there is no turning back is both hollow and meaningless. No one expects you to turn back. I think what we are hoping to see is an indication of some intent to act with loving kindness as a husband and father going forward.

So honestly Nate, what is the future scenario in your mind? Who is supposed to raise your children once you move out? How about this scenario...Carrie moves out to give her a better shot at finding your replacement. You get the house and the primary responsibility for raising your children for the next 11 years. Maybe you will "find yourself" as a "father" rather than as a "gay man." Finding yourself can take many forms.

Now get honest. That's not the scenario you have in mind, is it? Honestly?

Maybe I'm wrong. I hope so.

With love and concern,

Flip

Brett said...

Nate - if you don't know by now, I am the voice of emotion, Flip is the voice of reason...

I think Flip was able to say, in a reasonable, rational manner things I have been trying to say from an emotional standpoint...

THINK ABOUT WHAT HE SAYS - what IF Carrie is the one that gets to escape?

Spider said...

DAMN blogger - that was me if you didn't know up there...

Nate said...

I have been listening and Spider is right that I don't REALLY get it and Flip is right that being gay, alcoholic etc is not an excuse.

I spoke with my therapist today and readily admit to in many ways being very conflicted.

One thing seems clear - that going to Chicago at this time - barely being out of the bedroom, no less the house - is not a real standup act. It is also clear that it will be the death knell to a marriage that is pretty dead at the moment.

Part of me wants to say there is no turning back but while that may very well ultimately be the case, that is not an excuse to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So I have told Carrie that I am cancelling - no strings, nothing in exchange. Now I have to tell the person I was going to visit and cause pain elsewhere.

I am sick of all that I have wrought but my wife (even if in the future that gets amended to friend) and my family needs to get more respect than I have given and I need to understand why I have had so much difficulty in respecting better.

Paul said...

Nate -

Well, that's admirable news.

Personally I'm glad you're not going to Chicago this weekend. I, too, feel the timing -- and the purpose -- are just not right. Not right now.

Flip said...

Nate,

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of all this, you're doing the right thing for today.

I'm proud of you.

K

Spider said...

Now THAT was a stand-up thing to do Nate...

bear said...

I agree. I was wondering about this trip being a little so soon. Too soon that it just amplifies any pain that is there now...
Events here is like a big reality check. The actions during NYears makes me think you two need to talk about what both of you are thinking and expecting. The new years thing seems like a disconnect, and you guys maybe should get it out in the open to better understand the consequences of any actions and minimize any hurt to each other(being flexible too since emotions can change.) I think you are hurting EACH other. (When she didn't return the New Year kiss/hug, you going to Chicago, you maybe needing to move out etc.)
Hope and kindness is a good thing to focus on in the new year. Take care!