Monday, July 30, 2007


A piece of a song has been floating in my head, a lyric in honor of Digby. I took it, brief as it is, and set up a post for after his passing. What’s a post without a title and it came to me: “Requium”. Short and simple, the whole post would be:

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
traveled about
The dog up and died, he up and died
And after 20 years he still grieves

Jerry Jeff Walker
Mr. Bojangles

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


Just shy of nine years ago Carrie and some of our children went off to a breeder to interview a litter of Golden Retrievers. Some were too aggressive, some to meek, but one after being accidentally kicked by a two year old, came back tail wagging. Digby had found a home. He was your proto-typical Golden – sweet, loving, a family dog, and of course not the brightest. He was also your prototypical pure breed – every genetic condition that inbreeding can create – seizures, hips, ears: a veterinarian’s dream if one wanted to be crass.

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

On Being Alone

Some months ago I found a gay men’s book club, relatively local, a nice website listing all the books. I went to Borders and a few nights later was flipping the pages for the June entry. For the first seventy nine of those pages I was wondering what was the point – sure the author was gay as was the main character, but still it seemed rather universal – a book, no more, no less. Then I read page eighty: the protagonist, a gay man in his thirties goes to a bar to be surrounded by others, others of his persuasion:

“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

Rent versus Buy

It is a common question in my line of work: lease or buy a car, rent or buy an apartment. It is a question which leads to more questions. How much can you afford each month, do you have the down payment, and of course, how long are you staying – the commitment factor. I even toyed with this idea in terms of my own living arrangements. (For the moment the basement is the right price (or should I say rent), but that is for later.)

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

Armageddon: Not Really

It is before 7 AM, the car is still there and I hit the road. An easy enough reverse commute back to the ‘burbs, back to the office. Not much more than twelve hours has elapsed. Fire up the computer and settle in to what should be a long day considering the meager sleep of the night before. Driving in the car I hear reports – scattered thunderstorms – heavy at times. Not really relevant for a day spent in my office.

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


To understand the week, one has to understand the month prior – a month of straightness, weekends spent fixing the bedroom formerly known as ours: wall paper removal, painting, bonding with Carrie. Enough to re-kindle my Achilles heel: being only a little gay. Concurrently Phil disappeared. E-mails to nowhere it seemed. Of course I am aware of his technological challenges but why let reason stand in the path of paranoia. “He doesn’t like me anymore. No, impossible, his steady must think I am around too much, and wants me out.” Raging ego with healthy paranoia: a combustible mixture.

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.
Dixie Chicks

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


Send Carrie the letter or let things be: by now we all know the answer; I did share it with her. But the next day before sharing, I had a mini-epiphany: how much I was ignoring what she has been trying so hard to tell me. It stopped being about sex, men, celibacy, and who might know – the “shame” factor – a long time ago. It is about Carrie having grown to a level of self acceptance to which I still aspire. She does not want a gay husband. She wants a man who will want her – all of her, nothing but her – with all of his soul. Bob teases me that she is a bigot, but he is wrong. She does not mind gay men and looks forward to having one as her best friend.

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

Letter To A Friend

Today I considered that my relative lack of posting, while having many causes, is to a great degree predicated upon not wanting to share for fear of reactions, if anyone is still reading, But I have been re-reading my blog this week and realize that this is my story, written for me, and to pick and choose the content is wrong. When I re-read this someday, it is important that at least it is an honest record.

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.

Dear Carrie,
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.