Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Vignette

My 23 year old daughter, Jane, calls to tell me that she “bonded” with a customer on a sales call this afternoon: my daughter recognized the woman’s vintage Fendi bag. At this point in the conversation Jane proceeds to tell me what Fendi is. I interrupt and say "I know what Fendi is" and without missing a beat she says "I forgot; you're gay" and rolls right along with her story.

A bright moment in a rather non-bright day.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Grateful

Last night I started on a post and blissfully the Ambien drove me from the keyboard to the bed. I could re-read it and start to edit, but I choose to take a mulligan.

In honor of turning fifty a few years back, I actually went for a checkup and a year later got around to the suggested nuclear stress test and colonoscopy: both came back perfect. Today I thought about the struggles that Brett is undergoing and the specifics of the two tests I actually had. And as all of us send our prayers his way, I considered the backsliding and whining that has welled up in this blog in recent weeks. I suppose I could blame it on Spider – if he was reading he surely would have gently prodded me in the right direction. So in his honor, I will do it for him.

I have attained more than a modicum of success in my chosen profession. I am well respected, well remunerated, and enjoy what I do and where I do it.

I have a wonderful family. Four older children are up to speed with my life and continue to love me unconditionally. I have a best friend who is still my wife, albeit in a changed fashion. And if ultimately we end up apart, I have no doubt that our friendship will endure. There will be a day, sooner than later, when my younger children will know and I have no doubts they will continue to love me.

My residence may now be the lower level (sounds so much classier than “the basement”) but it is still under the same roof as my family and in a few minutes I will wander upstairs to tuck in the young ‘uns. And as lower levels go, it really is quite nice – a three room suite complete with bath.

My extended family has been touched on before – an incidence of gayness that would make a sociologist cream: can you spell genetics. Not exactly a hard family to be out in.

So why all the whining? Simple enough I suppose. At age fifty-two I find myself coming to grips with being a gay man. I am learning a new world while maintaining an old one. I am dating because I want to and not to would be just another form of denial, that old friend which has become so familiar of late. The circle of those that I am out to seems to be increasing and will ultimately, like all pebbles dropped into the water, spread far and wide.

I readily admit to terror, to excitement, to joy and to sadness. There will surely be more bad days and weeks: more backsliding and whining. But for now it is time to take a step back, look around, and acknowledge the obvious: I have a very good life, one filled with good health, with family and with love.

Being gay is my greatest challenge, a challenge indeed, but really not all that much to complain about.



The comments on my last post were very much appreciated. I have three more weeks of work "hell", but needed to share my thoughts tonight. And remember - get those taxes done:)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Two Minute Drill

Maybe this is a post or maybe an e-mail to a friend. I recently sent an e-mail called two minute break though it ended up taking more like fifteen to write and there are so many things in the response, I don’t know where to start and frankly I want to go to bed in fifteen minutes. So here goes – a “two minute” drill, which means no huddle.

In many ways I see an incredibly complicated life in very simple terms. I once said that I want Carrie with a penis. It somehow sounded really gay – wanting the penis, where really it was meant as a complement to all of the ways we are compatible. Yes we have some issues of unnatural dependency, but let’s face it: most of those stem from having the same tastes. While I was a mite Law & Order overdosed by the end, we watched (and still watch) the same TV shows because we like the same shows, we listen to the same music, because we enjoy the same music. Sure, I will rock out on occasion when alone, but our tastes are similar. It is what brought us together originally and is what makes separating so hard today.

Much talk has been given to labels and while I understand the difficulties in trying to over label, the fact is that labels are words and without words, there is no communication. So accepting the limitations, I am a highly sexual being. I enjoy sex with women and enjoy sex with men. Whether it is a deeply ingrained gay side or just a pendulum swinging high after a lifetime of being held in a far position strikes me as almost irrelevant: at this point in my life I am unwilling to give up exploring relationships, including sex, with men.

Would I like it all, the famed CLR (closed loop relationship, a wife and a boyfriend), sure. But that takes two and the fact that Carrie does not want a husband on any side of the gay scale is something I can – I need – to respect. Are we capable of great sex: sure, but that does not change the fact that I have the gay needs.

The hard thing is that Carrie envisions that I will find a man where I can have the same level of compatibility as I have with her. I am not as sanguine about our future. I truly see an honest future which comes with the price of both of us being lonelier than we would have been together. We are both healthier today than we have been – a fact that is hard to ignore.

There is one thing that is also hard to ignore. That the gayness has started to feel comfortable. As I fight it less, as I accept that is who I am more, it feels good and right in some sense. Would it feel as good and right in an apartment without my family, both the kids and Carrie? I don’t honestly know. But I do feel better in my own skin. How does on interpret that my best sex with Carrie has been on days I have had sex with Sam? Maybe Bob is right – Sam is the foreplay but clearly the gay foreplay leaves me on a more receptive, hotter sexual level. So while I look at the great sex with Carrie, isn’t it a statement of the gay side?

I promised a two minute drill and while I would like to go on, my fifteen minutes is up so I will head off the field now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Crescendo

Tonight it struck me that I am living a symphony. Like all great symphonies it opened strong, it opened big. One could imagine my announcing to Carrie “I am bi-sexual” to the massive chords of Beethoven’s Fifth, the whole orchestra heaving as one. And then other themes are introduced in bits and pieces. Themes of marriage and fidelity, themes of sex, themes of emotional ties with men, and themes of friendship, such a deep friendship: so many themes.

We enter the middle movements, the music calm and soothing. The audience leans back in their seats, but it is still the same symphony, the same themes recurring, teasing in and out of our consciousness. They ebb and flow, occasionally rising in volume and then falling again.

Then there is always that fourth movement. I am particularly fond of the fourth movement of the New World Symphony with the allure of the new world balanced by the tug of the old. It is strange but there are great variations in the length of the fourth movement – shorter for American conductors and longer for Europeans. The extra length is a slowing down of the old country themes, a pulling backwards, a reluctance to leave. Yes, I do prefer the Europeans on this one. We will end up in the new world, but oh those gentle tugs.

We are in that fourth movement. I will enter the New World, the kicking and screaming behind me, but still that gentle pull of the old. Like the Symphony, my life is building in volume, the brass waiting. But now it is the roll of the kettle drums, increasing in volume, increasing in tempo.

It is of course the tempo of my coming out, still slow, but now inexorable. Every day it seems closer. And in a month the brass will kick in, the bows of the strings will be at full speed. I will be out. I am the music, terrified and exhilarated in the same breath, pulled back to the old world while rushing headlong into the new.

The thing is that the boat has landed and I have disembarked. I bring pieces of the old world with me: I enter a land which I was not born into. I will always have an accent and still eat those strange foods. But it is in this new world that I will make my life, a new life, a life of moving forward while still remembering where I have been.



Good friends we have, oh, good friends we’ve lost
Along the way.
In this great future, you can’t forget your past;
So dry your tears, I seh.
Bob Marley

Monday, March 12, 2007

Even Moses Knew

Today I wondered – where was I one year ago? Easy enough to see – read my blog. So I go back to mid-March 2006 and there it is: “Denial, Sweet Denial” and I wonder can it be that I have spent so much time, so much energy – and taken so many of you with me (today we broke 20,000 hits) just to be in the same place as a year ago.

So much of my life is based on my sexuality, but I am so careful of writing about it, as if I can maintain this on a higher plane. So tonight a couple of stories, stories about sex.

I have referred to my late night visits with the blue glow of my computer monitor. Sometimes the glow is G-Mail and others my blog. But there are other places, particularly queerclick.com and squirt.org. For the uninitiated squirt.org could be considered the Craig’s List M2M listings on steroids. It has profiles, bulletin boards, and an area to see who else is on line trolling through the night.

Now there is only so much you can look at queerclick and squirt before even they get old. But sort of like a bad movie, I keep coming back for more. And one night an IM pops up, a local guy. We chat for a while – our living arrangements, our shared knowledge of the nicest short stay motel, and yes, what are we into. This is fun and a bit exciting. Finally we bid each other a good night with a shared acknowledgement that we are both going to bed, both going to masturbate to the thoughts of our conversation. And for the first time in a few weeks, I masturbate and the orgasm is substantial, the body shuddering as I cum and cum again.

Of course, the level of excitement is not wasted on me. Pictures are okay, videos even better, but the contact, albeit not in person, with another man made the difference, added the layer of reality which translated into real pleasure.

Another story, because I am quick to balance the gay with the bi: I have not written of the fact that over the last few months Carrie and I have had the occasional sexual encounter – fuckbuddies. The first one or two were tainted by my turning the sexual encounters into the hope of a new beginning, a resurrection that will – that should - never be. But we have talked and gotten beyond that – even I know there is now no going back.

This weekend was wonderful – honest talking, a last minute gift of tickets to a Broadway play, and a family Sunday, the four of us enjoying the beautiful day and each other. That late afternoon the children went to a birthday party and Carrie and I had an early dinner and with the understanding of no pressure and no false facades, we went home and hopped into bed.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. I did not realize it fully until after, but looking back, it is sort of clear. We hop into bed – well she hops in and is waiting for me, sans clothing. I join her, but I am not particularly hard, I am not really there. I suppose I am successful – I did cum, but it was perfunctory – not because of her, not because of anything she did.


At first I point out that we had been drinking. Carrie looks at me – a pint of Black and Tan and one Perfect Manhattan? That might be considered a tune-up by our standards, a buzz but surely not debilitating. But I masturbated the night before, more than once – I did not realize that I was going to get lucky. Carrie again looks at me – twelve hours to recharge, a fucking lifetime by our history.

The thing is that after nearly twenty years of being together, after more sex than I can start to add up, Carrie knows me, knows me intimately, knows me well. There is an explanation, a simple enough one at that. As she phrases it: I have crossed over, what once was bi is now gay. She is just amazed that I seem to be the last one to figure it all out, to realize that the days of Kinsey threes and fours are a mirage in the rear view mirror, I am into the higher numbers now.

So it has been a year since I wrote of denial and I have devoted the year past to turning it into an art form. It has not been a pretty picture – a necessary one, a journey that needed to be taken, but no, not pretty. Today I tell these stories because I have learned the importance of writing the posts I do not want to, of sharing what seems too personal: it is necessary because it is hard to deny what is written, what is real.

As I drove to my therapist today, I heard:
You don't know where you're goin',

But you know you won't be back

Tomorrow I will be seeing an old friend – kindergarten to be exact – for our annual few minutes. He will ask how I am. I will answer, honestly and fully. Will it be easy – I don’t rightly know, but it will ultimately feel good. Over the next months there will be more of these moments, as the closet walls start to recede, as the lies come to an end.

It is undeniably hard to head off into a new world, one without markers and maps, but at this point my choice is simple – to learn, albeit slowly and with small steps, to embrace who I am or to wither and die. I choose to embrace. I choose life.



Call heaven and earth to witness against you this day,
that I have set before thee life and death,
the blessing and the curse;
therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.
Deuteronomy 30:19

How Are You?

I have very loving sisters who are concerned and caring. They call and they ask how I am. I answer as much as one can in a brief telephone encounter. They do not read my blog – a conscious choice on their parts borne of a desire to allow me my own space. It is probably a wise choice, but in some ways those who read this are in a better position to answer that question – How Am I?

So here it is my attempt to answer them, to summarize a world in a few paragraphs.

Dear Sisters,
You frequently kindly ask how I am. I suppose the first impulse is the flippant Dickensian “best of times / worst of times” response. But I am not feeling particularly flippant. The answer is that I have the most favorable circumstances one could possibly hope for: remaining in the house, a comfortable basement, wife as best friend, and incredibly supportive family. Which makes me wonder how those without such advantages even manage to lift their heads in the morning. If this is the best case, I would rather not witness the worst. Of course I have friends, I go to my groups, and I do see others and both realize how lucky I am and how not alone I am.

Last weekend Carrie wrote me a letter – my blog friends have read of it – a letter plainly stating there is no going back, the marriage as it once was is now over. And more than a few wondered – So, is that not the reality since my move to the basement over two months ago. The answer is that sometimes a life can change from within: denial is a powerful tool and having that sliver of hope, as unreal as it was, removed can be very powerful. I read the letter and I wept for what was and for what will never be.

What is troubling, what weighs on me, is how compatible and comfortable Carrie and I are, how we are finally at a point in our lives where the weight of children is becoming lighter, albeit marginally, and how it all feels to be dissipating around us. Much of me wants to scream out I’m bi, not just gay, I can pull this off. Of course Carrie knows – as do I in my heart of hearts – that I cannot pull this off. Not only because she wants more, wants a straight man, but because the lure of the gay world has become too powerful for me to deny. Sure, I can deny it for a while, a very little while, but it is always lurking like Audrey saying “Feed Me.”

I have also spent much time trying to separate the emotional and physical aspects of being gay – is it wanting sex with men or is it an emotional need: a few hugs and send me back home. The truth is, as my blog friends have kindly pointed out, there is no separating the physical and the emotional and for that matter there is no separating the family man and dad in me either. This is me – all of it in its utter confusion.

Ultimately the undeniable truth – the one that Carrie always gets back to – is that through the pain, through the veil of sadness and tears, we are both in many ways healthier than we ever were. And I am intellectually capable of understanding that my path of self awareness and self acceptance (as limited as the latter may be) has allowed this growth. Of course I am emotionally incapable of processing that stopping now, going back, would not leave me where I am but drag me back to where I was. Luckily Carrie gets this and will not allow either of us to go back.

I do have a nascent social existence, have some new friends I have broken bread with, shared a few drinks – and yes, a little more. Carrie has noted that I am not out with them until late hours because I am not having fun.

So I suppose there is a sense of excitement, but there is also a sense of dread, social concerns, coming out to the more general world – not a billboard announcement, but secrets never stay and are never healthy.

As you know I write to form my thoughts, to grow and to learn. And as I have written I realize the answer is in the question: How am I? The answer is simple: I am. No more, no less: at this point it is just a matter of being.

I hope you understand my writing in this manner – it is just how I best communicate in many ways.

Love,
Your Brother

Sunday, March 11, 2007

February 29, 1972

A family night – many years ago Sunday nights were Murder She Wrote – and now with a new generation we have Cold Case. With the DVR we are a week behind, but hey, no commercials.

The series and I have something in common – a love of music, the same kinds of music. And the show always ends with a montage set to a fitting song. Tonight I watched and listened: “You are my sunshine…” I did not have sleep away camp as a kid so I had never learned that classic: Never learned it until February 29, 1972. I was seventeen, a freshman at college and in love with Allison. I wrote about her last October,
a bit of my history.

I lived on campus, but it was a mere train ride from what was once home, a ride on the A train of Duke Ellington fame from the High School where Allison was a senior. She took the train that day. It was the day that makes it a leap year – Sadie Hawkins day: that once in every four year moment where the girls get to do the asking. She came to the dorm and went into the bathroom – very hush hush. When she emerged she handed me a little box and inside a littler shell – scalloped on the outside and smooth on the concave. In her inimitable handwriting it said:
You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey”


Listening to that song tonight and lying there, Carrie on the far side of a child, my mind wandered back. My sunshine has been Carrie for more than half of the thirty five years since that afternoon and now my sunshine has been clouded by the haze of my gayness, by the knowledge that we are both moving on. Life seemed so much simpler then. At that moment, reading the shell, I could see my life ahead of me so clearly.

It was a mere three months later when that dream ended. I cannot tell you when the shell disappeared, but that would be measured in years, if not decades. It took a while to recover from that disappointment. This one is easier to measure – it is a disappointment that I will take to the grave.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Accidents Will Happen

Last night was a bad night’s sleep. So much on my mind, maybe a “rebound” from the Ambien induced slumber of the night before, and maybe just the wrong bed. You see my son has returned from six months of travel. It was an easy airport pickup, a great afternoon, a successful coming out and then off to bed. He is my son and my little bedroom is quiet and comfortable. I opt for the futon. Not so comfortable.

Lunch at work with my hood today – the two people I will tell: sooner than later. Tell of the basement, tell of the marriage in tatters and yes, tell of the gay. One of them is tired also – a night with a sick child. We compare notes and as she tells of her night, I form my thoughts, my next sentence. “I gave up my bed for my son; I slept on that hard futon.”

OMG

It strikes me before I speak, barely. They do not know of the basement, the failed marriage, the gayness. They think all is well in paradise. My mind is numb from the thought of the conversation that almost was. “What, you and Carrie gave the kid the master bedroom? Hellooooo”

The thing is that I have built my life, my whole persona on being open and honest. These two work friends have lived through so much with me – they know about the basement and Anna and Bill, they know of the wedding which was and the one which was not. When there have been other troubles, we have talked, we have shared.

And now, this: reduced to being in terror about a simple statement of my life, reduced to living a lie that goes so far beyond the gay. Is my sex life anyone’s business? We all know the answer to that – it is my personal affair. But to be fostering a false world, a marriage with the reality of cutout figures. No.

The thing is that there is no way to really explain the state of the marriage, the continued sharing of the house, the obvious fondness for my wife, without addressing the underlying cause – the gayness.

It is clear that over the next few months, it is time to sit with my friends – quietly, away from the office – and softly tell the truth instead of just waiting for the inevitable slip.


I am not ready for that moment but as with so much else of late, it is no longer a question of when I am ready.

Yes indeed, the times they are a' changing.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Fallen

It is late, I am tired, tired to the core. Carrie and I battle fatigue, illness aided and abetted by emotional issues. So I will take the liberty of using pieces of some e-mails with various friends to share my weekend. Friday was meant to be my night out – dinner with a gay friend and the Dad’s group. Carrie was ill so without hesitation I cancelled dinner and came home.

Saturday afternoon I wrote to a friend, one who has been banging their head against the wall with my antics:

You can put the helmet back in the garage now. I came home from work and found a three page letter by my monitor. It is strange how few tears there have been - I cried on July 15th, the day after, after Jane's wedding. I suppose a tear has graced my cheek since then. But today I read the letter and I wept. I will no doubt weep some more.

It is clear to me now that it is over. This dream I have of going back, of resurrecting what was, is just that - only a dream. And she is right; would we both really want the last decade back? But most of all it is time to abide by Carrie’s wishes. I look at any positive sign and say - see, she really does want me back. It is a nice delusion, a strong ego indeed to believe it so totally. But you are right; my selfish desires are killing her.

My daughter is progressing on the piano and as I re-read the letter through my tears she was learning Unchained Melody, more commonly known as the theme from Ghost. Oh, those Gods of Music.

Its funny how having spent much of the weekend with the twins, tomorrow I can have some time. My new friend had suggested that if I was around to give him a call - just hang out for a while. And now that I can do exactly that I am terrified to. Not sure of what, though I suspect a fear of not being good company, of not holding it all together.

Yes, time for you to put the helmet away and time for me to accept not only who I might be but more importantly to accept, as I have written, that actions have consequences. The consequences may well be for the best, but I think what you have been trying to tell me is that even if not for the best, they are the legitimate results of what I have done, wrote, said, thought: as such I need to live with them and to let Carrie move on with her life just as I must move on with mine.

Carrie read some of my blog last weekend while I was in the country with my children and with my sisters. Carrie suggested I should do the same, that my writings are the true picture. I suppose she is right. I started to re-read my blog recently and quickly stopped. I suspect I know the words well enough to know what it says, where it points: I just did not want to read an answer that I was not looking for.

Suppose it is time to dry some tears, and start the rest of my life
.


So today I did go visit my new friend – we can call him Doug, we talked for a while and then did more. Afterward I e-mailed my friend, wrote of my day and they replied:

I suppose if I were honest about it, I’m a little disappointed. Given what’s been going on, it seems more like a desperate attempt to numb the pain than something positive and healthy. It’s not that I’m against you and Doug having sex, per se. Just that I suppose I would have suggested that perhaps today was not the best day for your first time. You know what I mean?

Now my friend has an impeccable track record, a polar opposite to my tin ear. But I responded:

It is a rare day indeed that I read what you write, think about it a bit, and don't agree. A rare day indeed: the thing is that I do not think it was to numb the pain - it will take more than a quick roll in the hay for that. I think it was in some strange way a form of acceptance - a white flag if you would. I have not been with a man since the first week in January. As Carrie would be happy to tell you, I would like sex every day - not every two months.

So why today - sure, a little numbing, but more to say I hear everyone, not that ultimately more than two of us count in this, and the fact is that I have not been with a man in no small part because than I could say to Carrie - See, we can go back. I did not confess or deny to having sex today - I would think she assumes it. And we have had a wonderful evening. Nice family dinner, she made a pitcher of Manhattans, we talked and we ended up watching a TV show on the DVR. And we were comfortable in this place, comfortable in the presumed honesty.

Am I jumping for joy? No. We listen to music a lot and had the soft mix on in the background. When the kids were gone, we finished our Manhattans, and discussed seeing my therapist tomorrow and issues of coming out to my son this week. A song came on - it took a moment to recognize, not one of our regulars, but the lyric cut through both our consciousness. "And the cost was so much more than I could bear" And we glanced at each other, then another line: "It's the bitter taste of losing everything That I have held so dear." I am not ashamed to tell you I was fighting back tears. It is bitter indeed, maybe right, maybe inevitable, but bitter indeed.

So I am sorry to have disappointed because I treasure your opinions, but do not be too harsh on this one. If at this moment of acceptance I spent a few minutes in someone's arms, in someone's bed, it does not seem that bad in the grand scheme of what has gone down.



Epilogue:

The above was written last night. I have thought much of what my friend wrote and confess they are more right than not. In the middle of this weekend, this emotional crescendo, I sought out a man, a new friend, and discussed the world, our children, our general lives, but nary a word of my personal hell. It should have been a topic and if that was a downer, time to head home. If not, maybe it would have been an afternoon of greater import.

I saw Bob today after a three week absence from therapy – the vagaries of our schedules. I talked and talked, it all poured out. Towards the end I stopped and breathed; I asked for his impressions. He thought for a moment and pointed out that he was very sad. Yes, sad indeed.




We all begin with good intent
Love was raw and young
We believed that we could change ourselves
The past could be undone
But we carry on our backs the burden
Time always reveals
The lonely light of morning
The wound that would not heal
It's the bitter taste of losing everything
That I have held so dear.

Fallen
Sarah McLachlan


Thanks Flip for the song.