A few weeks ago I attended my gay dad’s meeting – an 8 PM tee-off on a Friday evening. While I could have worked late, my concentration was off (no surprise there) and I was in the big City. So with some time to kill I consider my options: why, a gay bar of course. Now bars and me do not really mix – not unless I am already with a friend when I walk in. But it seemed like a thing to do, a way of mainlining gay culture. I expressed this ambivalence to Sis and she took me to task: “Don’t go if you don’t want to: write, walk – Do whatever you want.”
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,"