I have been playing with this post in my head for a while and it seems somehow fitting to be starting it now. It is a Sunday morning, the end of a long Thanksgiving weekend; I am in the country with Carrie and my kids, our home since Wednesday night. It has been a comfortable visit, time with the family, meals together, some time just with the twins and some time just with Carrie. She is out for a few hours, the kids had a friend sleep over so while I may be the titular head of the family for the moment, I am not in any immediate demand (other than the breakfast I just took a break to cook and serve).
Of course there is another player in all this, my erstwhile boyfriend Phil. Considering that I have not seen him since Tuesday, have only spoken on the phone with him for maybe five minutes each on Wednesday and Friday, and had only minimal e-mails, his presence in Carrie’s mind feels a little outsized. On the other hand, I will likely see him tonight when I return home and Carrie would point out, not incorrectly, that that proves her point.
So it seems that today is the microcosm. Having woken long before the kids, I laid on the foot of Carrie’s bed – the dogs and I – while we discussed our lives. Last night while the kids played with their friend, Carrie and I watched some TV together. Such simple acts, so comfortable, yet fraught with all of the underlying emotions, with the knowledge that these moments are the exceptions and not the rules.
Sometimes my blog is read by those close to me and sometimes not. If Phil is reading this, he has stopped at the “erstwhile boyfriend” phrase, just as a year ago he quickly noticed being my “boyfriend of sorts”. Neither phrase really shocks him in that we do live the same reality. But if Carrie and I have issues with boundaries, Phil reminds me more of borders complete with gate houses and guards. He actually would prefer the phrase “compartmentalization” though any twenty letter word should be suspect.
You see Phil has quite successfully created compartments in his life, a process eased by his being a widower. It was a number of years ago but he never had the moment of needing to explain anything to anyone. One life continued in a sense – family and friends – and another, the gay life, appeared: “Separate but equal” to steal the phrase. Of course that phrase was a failure, rejected by the Supreme Court fifty-four years back.
Now how Phil chooses to live is his decision and I try to limit my judgments and concern to the areas where it impacts upon me, not always easy distinctions. So, for example, I know his children – adults at this point, and get along quite well with one of them. To her, I am just a friend of her Dad’s: a widower and divorcee navigating the loneliness together. All of which is true while managing to avoid the truth totally.
Phil has a broad circle of gay friends and time with them flows naturally, not saddled by pretense. But then we see his gay relative – back to the family thing – where I get to now be in an alternative Disney world where I can hang out with my boyfriend and a gay couple while making believe I am straight…… No, I am not making this up.
Somehow, a few posts have melded here and it is getting a bit long. There is more to cover – whole uncharted compartments for Phil, my inability – lack of desire? – to “properly” separate from Carrie, my acceptance of the gayness and my regrets for how it all seems to have played out. But anyone still reading has surely had enough for today.