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.


Kaliki said...

Hi, just wanted to say that when I was separating from my beloved husband because he was gay, I remember saying to him, "Has it ever occurred to you that we both may end up being alone for the rest of our lives?" And 12 years out, sure enough, we are both still alone. But it was probably worth it. He wanted to go out and be joyfully and fully gay, and I could not have tolerated that in our marriage. This is one of the saddest situations, that nobody understands unless they have experienced it. But, Nate, dear, be careful, my ex is now HIV+, and he is a very smart guy.

Nate said...

Hi Kaliki,
Thanks for the comment. These are difficult sad situations indeed. I would love to follow up if you sent me an e-mail. I am curious what your husband would write. Accepting that him and me cannot change who we are, is his "alone" fully offset by the "joyfully and fully gay" or is it still a life compromise that one just lives with.

And I appreciate your cautioning - I do not think us gay men can be warned enough on that because as careful as we are, it is still tricky shoals.


Spider said...

Nate - I think this is a universal fear for those of us who are of a more "mature" age who have had someone in our lives and that person is no longer there for what ever reason. I appreciate you kind words and I hope one day that special person will drift into my life and I hope that I am aware enough to notice them and to talk to them. I believe there is someone out there for all of us - I just hope I have not missed that person. Reminds me of an old "Peanuts" cartoon where Charlie Brown says that one day he knows his ship will come in - but with his luck he will be at the airport...

Nate said...

The universal was brought home a few hours ago - a straight friend who shared a house but not a bedroom with his wife for fifteen plus years - "for the children"

The last child is going to college in two weeks, the wife is about to be "ex" and is moving halfway across the country. And my friend shares all of these fears with us, the fear as he puts it of starting over at age 54.

I suppose all we can do is to enjoy the ride and not fixate too much on the final destination.

A Troll At Sea said...

OK, I am the skunk at the garden party. No news there. But I am sick of people in their forties wringing their hands about age. They, not to say "you," don't know squat.

And I, who thought I knew squat rather well, and that being seven to ten years older doomed me past redemption, have found that lightning does indeed strike twice. It doesn't necessarily last long, but love, like other things often alluded to, just happens.

Sometimes you need to stop looking for it to find it. [I even know someone who found it while sleeping with anything that wasn't nailed down...]

And sometimes you are just knocked sideways.

And sometimes the absolutely unimaginable happens, and you find your feelings reciprocated.

And sometimes the little @#$%-er with the bow and arrows has a really perverse sense of humor.

And sometimes you suddenly feel that you don't know what you are talking about, and that is probably the truest thing I can say. All I know is what happened to me.

But life without hope is not worth living. Don't give up hope, any of you. You have to hold onto it to survive.