Thursday, August 30, 2007

Craig's List

It must have been five or six years ago that I had an early evening conference at the St. Regis, a hotel as swanky as its name. I arrived a few minutes early as is my wont and made a detour to the men’s room. No, not for sex, just to take a leak. Now the men’s room is as swanky as the rest of the joint and there aren’t just “stalls”: the partitions are floor to ceiling and the doors are beautiful louvered numbers. All of which was unimportant as I moseyed up to my urinal. As I stood there, preparing to pee, I realized that the door to the handicapped stall was closed and there were, albeit softly, two voices emanating from within.

This was five or six years ago, well before the journey so eloquently chronicled in this Blog, well before my lunch time hookups, well before the roof caving in. Not to say that I did not have my fantasies, but my actions were then in remission. Yet that night I heard the two voices, sensed the breathing, felt their excitement. There was nothing for me to do; it was not an open party. Still I hesitated as I washed my hands slowly, hoping the door would swing open, hoping to see them emerge. Finally, hands very clean and the door still closed, it was off to the conference.

A few long hours later I emerge, a pillar of the community, suit jacket buttoned, tie nice and straight, ready to head back to the suburbs. A quick block to the parking lot, but my feet keep moving, carrying me another ten blocks to Times Square, crossroads of the world and home to the sex shops. While I have never done a men’s room or highway rest stop for that matter, I am familiar with the sex shops and more specifically the “buddy booths”, strange little places where one’s presence is all the sign that is needed as to signal one’s intentions. It was already late when I arrived and my experience came down to a few minutes with a video screen and a quick release followed by a walk back to the car all the while reeling from the power of my desires.

By now I suspect most have figured out this is a little ode to Larry Craig, for the moment of the United States Senate. When I first saw the story of his little problem in the Twin Cities airport, the yellow dog democrat in me leaped for joy. More Republican family value hypocrisy exposed, another one biting the dust. But then I stepped back from the partisanship and started thinking about the Senator. Make no mistake, there is probably nothing we agree on in terms of the issues of our day and his anti-gay voting record is hard to abide. Yet I cannot help but feel for the generation even older than mine, one raised in a severely homophobic world, ones whose denial became a reality of its own.

If someone had come up to me that night and had asked if I was gay, I would have honestly answered: No. Sure I believed myself to be “sexual” in a broad usage of the term, but surely not gay. I have already admitted to never having had a men’s room encounter, but that night if, while I was washing my hands, the door to that stall swung open and a cute guy came up next to me, tapped me with his foot and invited me back from whence he came, I know that I would have followed like an over-eager puppy dog. My heart would have been racing, the fear would have been palpable, but I would have followed.

So I feel anger at the Republican apparatus which is just honky dory with David Vitter, the Senator from Louisiana, making a nice apology for breaking the law to purchase sex while vilifying a man who wanted to commit a legal act in an illegal place. I feel disgust with Larry Craig’s overall political view of the world and revulsion towards his strict anti-gay voting record. But ultimately I cannot help but feel some pity for a closeted gay man losing everything because of… The thing is I am not sure what it is because of other than the rampant homophobia of his party and his state.

There is one more thing I feel: gratitude that in spite of everything, I have managed to come to a point of self awareness and self acceptance so that my encounters with men now take place in bedrooms and living rooms.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Beginning

I have been struggling with the future direction of this blog. It is not my style to write a travelogue – the cyber equivalent of the friend with three carousels of slides from their vacation. I try to have a point to all of this, even if I am the last to figure it out at times. And I suppose as with much of this new life, the balance will find itself. But I have had a good and an interesting weekend which I thought worked – as we will see Carrie was not in full agreement – so at the risk of the slide show that never ends, here goes. If you need to leave just say you have to go the bathroom and slip out quietly.

Friday was slow at work – this is the end of August, so I head into the City a little early. The main event is dinner with eight other guys from the married gay group followed by a play at the aptly named Fringe festival. One of the men in the group did the lighting so it is a show of support for him and for a very fringe, very gay play. But first I drop my car and my bag off by my friend’s apartment. A quick hello and plans to meet later

Meet we do, a drink, a late dinner and back to his apartment for the night. (I do confess here to a certain jealousy of the sex bloggers.) The next day we head east towards the land of some beautiful beaches. All summer long we have talked of my joining him and his friend for a day at the clothing optional beach and today it is destined to be. I climb into the back seat of his car for the ride down – a vintage Mustang convertible – and as the wind buffets me, we hit the beach.

Now I need to digress: when I left the house Friday morning, I expected to be coming home, just late that night. Carrie says at the door: “I guess we will see you tomorrow sometime.” I nod, leave, drive five blocks and turn around. She is potentially correct so it seems an overnight bag is in order. The next day I call and Carrie is plain – she is fine: “Go and do your thing,”

Now I thought we were going to a gay beach, but I was suffering tunnel vision. This was a clothing optional beach, men and women, straight and gay, and a few families thrown in. It was a liberating place in a very comfortable non-sexual way. There were some nice men to look at and yes, some very nice females for the eyes also. And for those of us who love the ocean, the joy of not only swimming nude, but coming out and not having to endure a wet, sticky, sandy bathing suit: a joy indeed.

The sun is sinking and the Mustang is raring: back to the house in the burbs for a simple dinner. The man of the house is a restorer of vintage automobiles so the back yard is ringed with heavy blue tarps covering the carcasses of autos past and in the middle a simple patio, a table with many candles and an electric palm tree. And there the three of us sat, moonlight, candles, and “palm tree” for illumination, and if one looked carefully in the low light one might have noticed the lack of clothes on a balmy summer eve.

I make it home after midnight, quietly slip down to the basement and get some sleep before my “daddy” day. The next morning as I make the kids breakfast my ex calls – our eldest son is returning home after a year abroad and do I want to bring down the girls for a surprise dinner. Perfect – an opportunity for the three of us to give Carrie some space and have what will end up being an eight hour adventure. It is a series of trains – the kids will take them over cars any day, and frankly it is not a bad deal to be relieved of what is a very tough eighty miles each way.

We are on our second train emerging from under the Hudson, a daughter on each shoulder, when it strikes me just how lucky I am, what a perfect weekend I am living, the balance I have written so much of. Even the iPod is agreeable playing a little Bruce in honor of Jersey:
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singing,
This Train
Bells of Freedom ringin’

It is a joyful afternoon of reuniting: talk, hugs, food. All one could ask for.

This should be the close, but early on I mentioned Carrie did not fully share my view of the weekend. The issue is her perception that she had them all weekend except for an eight hour break - an issue for any separation, one that is accentuated by sharing a house.

I realize the inherent emotional volatility - truly the first week of trying to create a whole new balance for us both and I do believe we will, in our own inimitable way, find our way. But clearly there is going to be some rough patches along the way, particularly as Carrie feels trapped and I continue to make social opportunities.

But tonight as I go to bed, it will be with the strains of Bruce in my mind:

Faith will be rewarded.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Back from vacation and a new phenomenon, a form of writer’s block. Last night I carefully crafted a post, tried to get the words right, yet today I do not even open the Word file. I realize that I was so worried about my words, my style, that I was avoiding what should be a simple letter to friends.

It was a good vacation, time away, time with family, time to think. We spent our last week in Little, that aptly named cabin. Our children did not acquiesce to the one parent / one child per room format so Carrie and I shared a bed for six nights and learned just how big a queen sized bed could be. We were respectful, but we will not find ourselves in that situation again. I fear our trips to Canada, to our usual spot are at an end. God seemed to have recognized it with an electrical storm for our last night, an hour and a half of sky sizzling over lake and woods, Biblical in proportions.

Upon our return we broached the last frontier – we told our younger children. Weighing in at just under eleven years of age, they are accepting types. They were dying for the “lecture” to end so they could return to their playing. Hell, what’s one more or less gay person in this family. While the conversation was calm and brief, I have since come to realize the significance was not in the fact that they are different; it is in the fact that Carrie and I are different. It added a sense of reality and finality that maybe we should have found long ago.

A few days after the talk, Carrie’s best friend’s husband succumbed after a four month illness. He had sent an e-mail to Carrie a month or so ago expressing his gratitude that she would be there for his wife, she who had also recently lost a husband. And today as Carrie went to the funeral I know she mourned, both for this kind man and for a marriage that no longer is.

A few nights ago I went to see my friend Phil – it had been a long vacation. I forewarned him that I was overtired and maybe a tad cranky, that he may not want me this evening. He e-mailed back: “Hey, we're not friends for just the good times..... so of course I want you.” So visit him I do and we spend the evening, we spend the night. As we walk back from dinner, arms around each other, comfortably strolling through a quite straight neighborhood, it all coalesces in my mind.

For so long I kept getting back to being just a little gay (about as real as a little pregnant), getting back to maybe if Carrie could live with my little secret, getting back to questions of needs and whims: I had lost sight of some basic realities, ones that are probably quite obvious to even a casual reader of my blog. The simple facts are that I am gay – surely bi in a sense, but that does not seem to mean much when one’s desires are as skewed as mine presently are. More importantly I do want to explore that side of me, it does feel right in so many ways.

You may wonder where is the change in my thinking and while it may be imperceptible to most, to me it is huge. There is a difference between accepting one’s gayness and admitting to wanting to pursue it. A friend told Carrie yesterday that she saw me as an addict, one who cannot stop, one who keeps drinking more. I do not buy that. I could stop, have in the past. But when I am truly honest, the answer is I do not want to stop.

I do not profess to understand my gayness anymore than I understand why some men like blondes over brunettes or why one becomes friends with one person and not another. I suppose some things just are. More importantly, I do not overly feel the need to understand what seems to be a state of being, a state of my being. It is time to just go with the flow, not look for excuses and not try to place blame.

I suspect I have much to write, many stories to tell, but I also hope to spend more of my precious free time living this new life, wherever it leads. I suppose now that the marriage is ended the real journey begins.

A bittersweet end to two of the best decades I could have ever asked for.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

If It's August...

You may have noticed a few months back that I added a picture to my blog header. This was no stock picture, this is the view we have enjoyed for probably eighteen of the last twenty Augusts. It is the view of “our” lake.

This weekend we will pack the car – kayaks on the roof, bicycles hanging off the back, family ensconced within, Jim Dale reading Harry Potter to us all. And for two weeks we will look at the lake and do what one does on family vacations, as we have for so many years before. We will be happy.

While gazing at the lake, I will have some time to think and to consider what a year has wrought. Twelve months ago Carrie and I shared a bed and more importantly shared confidences, those late night talks where under the cloak of darkness truth could be spoke. I remember some of the topics – outlets to explore who I was, retreats and the like. I suppose there were retreats this year, but they were not the “sponsored” kind where a facilitator helps one find the inner self. They were self arranged retreats – a weekend in Chicago or some evenings or nights out.

While gazing at the lake I will consider all of the times that I could have stepped back from the precipice, made different choices. I will consider the emptiness of a marriage ripped asunder and the feeling of fulfillment that comes from a level of self acceptance, fledgling as it is.

While gazing at the lake I will try to understand some issues of my sexuality and the land where it is neither straight nor gay, the land of secret desires, areas I have only skirted in my thoughts and in my words.

Most of all I will try to look forward, to that elusive land of building a new life while continuing to honor the one that has been my bedrock for oh so long.

My thanks to all who have stuck with me throughout this past year. It could not have been a pretty ride.

See you in a few,