Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Peace II

It seems that I have written of late and have covered the when and where’s of life – an important updating and stage setter I suppose, but I have not crawled underneath things very much. Last night I sat with an old friend – dinner and many drinks (no one drove) – and covered much ground, old stories / new events – the gamut. And as we talked I realized an interesting thing: I feel at peace. That is not to say that there are many issues and my plate is not overflowing. Maybe it is because of those issues – let’s face it, there is little you can throw at me to top the father of my grandchild being a jailed pedophile – but I think it goes beyond that. Maybe it is the self-acceptance and no longer fixating on returning to places I can never go. Maybe it is the bond of friendship that Carrie and I have – surviving family issues that either bring you together or tear you apart. I suppose in some sense all of the above.

Phil is dealing with some issues of late – implications of the closet he has so carefully built and finally having told his “other boyfriend” that he really isn’t. What particularly comes to mind is a comment that Stan used to make about his relationship with Phil: he used to say that Phil was his other half. It always struck me as strange, not so much that I had in a way supplanted Stan, but the implications of the comment in general. I think I have spent my life trying to be another half, to girlfriends and wives, subsuming all and defining myself as part of a couple.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being a couple and nothing wrong with a level of devotion but the implication of being someone’s half is that inherently you are not whole. And if they disappear you are left incomplete. I go into a new year with things constantly changing – the things that cannot even be predicted, finding the balance of friendship with Carrie while allowing both of us to personally grow, and the unpredictability of the relationship with Phil as he finely struggles with his own self definition.

And while I go into another year with changes yet to be revealed, I also go into it with a new found constant: a sense of wholeness which begets a sense of peace.

As I was saving this document I discovered that I had already written a post titled “Peace” back in December 2006. Then it was a greeting of Peace to the readers I used to have. Today it is much simpler, a lot less words: my own inner peace.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Joy & Sorrow

Thanksgiving came a little late this year, the product of scattered adult children. It may have been a Friday but a perfect Turkey, multitudinous sides and a coalition of the willing; what else does one need. It is the coalition which was particularly striking: Carrie and most of our children including Anna and her new addition (in what is now also their home), another daughter's in-laws and in what may be the strangest twist Carrie's ex, the biological to the step-daughters I raised. He comes with the new wife, a kid, a partridge... Alright, no partridge.

Carrie's house is getting used to it now that Anna is part of the mix, Anna and child. Her father, the ex, has become a regular and it almost seems normal. Stranger are the visits from the pedophile's parents. It is their grandchild also, distressing as it all may be.

Dinner goes well - whatever discomfort some may have brought to the table, forgotten in the passing of dishes. Carrie did the toast - it is her home- and did it well. But I had my own, for me and now for this page.

I still remember the lyrics of the first song I memorized - not because I was trying but based on the both incessant listening and the depth of the resonance in a fourteen year old’s brain:
"It’s no matter if you’re born to play the King or pawn
For the line is thinly drawn 'tween joy and sorrow"
(Paul Simon)

It feels like we - our family - have spent the past number of years testing that line, frequently surging into it. And every time we border on breaking through and testing sorrow verging on despair, we seem to bounce back. The Jewish liturgy has a refrain that God offers us life or death and daily reminds: "Choose life". It is really all any of us can do. And with all of the problems, all of the issues and setbacks, we still manage to embrace life, particularly our newest testament to the magic of creation.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Mid-Summers Nightmare

It was a long time ago, three years back, that I posted “Homeland Insecurity”, probably the most difficult post I had to write. The link is here but the story is simple enough. A daughter, an imminent marriage, a visit from the Fed’s… A soon to be son-in-law was being investigated for trading underage pictures. For reasons we can only guess, the problem went away – lack of the damning computer, issues of evidence: we don’t really know nor do we really want to. What we do know is that as time elapsed his family was quick to believe him, believe they weren’t really underage, a Playboy moment in the internet age.

Bill and Anna saw a therapist, talked, and to our horror decided to reschedule the wedding. Our family, immediate and extended, would have done anything to stop it but ultimately it was the choice of our daughter and concerned as we were, she is still our daughter. I can feel the cringing starting but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The wedding is rescheduled and we are troubled, deeply troubled. Time for a talk, not with Anna – she knows our views, time for a chat with Bill, a kitchen table talk. We sit across from each other and I express my concerns, my deep concerns. I don’t really accept that he was investigated for having pictures of buxom sixteen year olds. I tell him that the marriage is a big responsibility. He listens, sympathetically nodding; he assures me, he would never hurt my daughter.

I remain concerned, look him in the eyes and tell him “You can’t choose your orgasms.” I stress that what excited him once, will yet again. He listens, not so happy now. That night my daughter tells me that he was okay with our talk, okay except for that one comment, that one uncalled for comment. I back off – my point was made, no need for a war.

This summer was off to a quiet start and one week night while laying in bed with Phil the phone rings – yes, a late night call. It is close to midnight and it is Anna. She is in her newly purchased house after a day of work and evening of school, resting her pregnant body. Yes, she is with child, six months worth. And Bill is missing. Family is gathering, police are called: maybe a wreck on a highway. Bill is responsible, not one to disappear, not one to ignore his phone. Finally at 2 AM the police are there to take the missing persons report when they get some news – he has been arrested one county over. No word on why, the arraignment will be in the morning.

Now we are secretly hoping for something “easy” – drunk driving, disorderly conduct or the like. Hope as we do, I can only think of one thing: you can’t choose your orgasms. The next day we gather at the courthouse and get the word. A police officer saw a car parked in front of a school and went to investigate: Bill, pants down, in the act, a fifteen year old girl with him. A life, in an instant unraveled. No, many lives, so many lives, unraveled in that instant.

I would love to say that was the worst: it was not. A month later a second arrest: earlier in the summer there was a thirteen and fourteen year old, a drive back to his house, my daughter’s house, and a sexual act in the bedroom – in my daughter’s bedroom. No low bail this time, the courts seem to finally get it.

What is there to say? I am a proud grandpa, the divorce is in the works, the house sold, the bedroom furniture abandoned. Bill is in jail – a plea bargain in the works, presumably real jail time in his future.

Over the last few months, in different venues, I have recalled the kitchen table conversation and I have recounted “the” quote and the response. Looking back clearly it did touch some sort of nerve. But what has been most fascinating has been the reaction of others. Five simple words, a mere six syllables and yet such power, such discomfort. Carrie has suggested that I lose the story, clearly more trouble than it is worth. But I am loathe to acquiesce, to distance myself from what I hold to be such a basic truth: “you can’t choose your orgasm.” True for him, true for me, true for us all. For most of us a truth and a non-issue but for the sick few a sad truth that is inescapable.

Friday, December 11, 2009


It is almost four years since I started this blog and more importantly since I started my journey. While I no longer write often - pressures of time, sometimes too little to say and more often too much, it seems wrong to ignore an anniversary. Not so much wrong for you, anyone left reading, but wrong for me.

So where am I with my life? When people question where am I living I typically respond that I am a gypsy. I have my apartment in the 'burbs. It's been two years and I just signed on for two more. By the time the four years draws to a close maybe I will have spent a years worth of nights there.

And then there is Phil’s apartment in the City: another third of my life. (Let's be honest - an evening in a very quiet suburb or the center of one of the world’s great Cities. Throw in a boyfriend and the choice is pretty easy.)

And then, yes then, there are the weekends. The country "home", seeing the kids, time with family and of course Carrie. Now I would love to say she is the add-on, there because of the kids, not central to my experience. But that would be disingenuous bordering on pathological.

I do spend time with my children but at age thirteen, they come and go and as any parent should be, I am there but am also aware of the futility of forced face time. So Carrie and I share the house - her house - on the weekends. As I recently told a friend we share everything but bodily fluids.

As I started writing this in my head I realized that the gypsy description was broader than I first envisioned. I fear that I am an emotional gypsy, dancing in many camps yet not "all in" in any of them. Carrie would scoff at this saying I have it all. And she is correct, in most ways I do - Carrie who still allows me in her life, Phil who is learning to say the"L" word even without a few too many drinks and the many friends and colleagues who continue to accept me gay or straight.

So why the trouble with "all in"? I am the king of jumping feet first and assessing the long term consequences later. But I also have been a serial lover – always in love, always with one person, just not always the same person - but always one at a time. For one with my track record it may seem a bit self-serving, but there is an honesty to it all, one that allows me to look in the mirror with some sense of comfort.

As this post is written over the course of days, I share some of it with Phil who points out that I am “all in”, just with Carrie. I ask how that can be when she and I rarely touch. But he has a point; Carrie and I speak daily, the kids as the base but so much more in our lives (another post when I have real fortitude). I readily admit to loving her while accepting the inherent impossibility – I am gay and fear there is no changing and truth be told, not sure that I would if I could.

Phil is trickier. There are the structural issues. The eleven year age difference does not overly faze me.But he is semi-retired and as he eases into that world, he can float freely, time here but also time there, oh so many there’s, while I remain rooted – job and family. What will happen when he takes the “sabbatical”, a month in Florida, three months in Europe? I suspect there is a defense mechanism at work, hedging my emotional bets. Meanwhile, we also speak daily, share most evenings and even more nights. Sort of like the line from Fiddler – if that’s not love, what is?

I sit here – typing and thinking, looking for some magical words to elegantly end this post but uncharacteristically they do not easily flow… Four years is a long time and the words that come to mind are grateful and humbled: grateful for all that I emotionally have, “all in” or not, and humbled that I have it, considering how rough this road has been on so many.

As I do my final edit I realize that I glossed over what might be the essence of where I find myself emotionally – maintaining two "all in’s" simultaneously. It is so much easier to claim gypsy status than to address two “all in’s and the inherent instability that represents.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Recently Phil and I were driving along the west side – an area that now gives new meaning to urban renewal but once was the seamy side of town. While being gay is not seamy per se, let’s face it – gay leather biker bars… not exactly part of mainstream society. As we drove I realized that the tenement buildings that once housed the Ramrod were now high rises – expensive high rises.

Many years ago – had to be 1974 – I had a college roommate. When we reached a certain moment in our senior year I walked over to the hair stylist – a trendy East Village place at the time – and cut off my pony tail, put on a suit and joined the working world. Michael was cut from a different cloth – he imagined being a writer but his vision was not so much of a typewriter as it was a bottle of Bushmills and a pack of Camels or maybe Gauloises if he was feeling both flush and French at the time.

As you might expect he did not have much money in his pockets and found cheap housing – a third floor walk up above the Ramrod, a view of an elevated highway and abandoned piers. Now he was straight and with a cigarette dangling walked the streets unaware of the surroundings and, I suspect, the surroundings were happy to give him his berth.

All of this came back to me as we drove past the spot or more specifically a moment was recalled. One night Michael and I were out and I drove him home – yes, with the real job came a real car. I cannot remember the circumstances of our being together but I can tell you it was a Saturday night in the fall, somewhere around that midnight hour and the Ramrod was happening – Harleys lined up, men without shirts, a world before aids. I rolled to the curb and he hopped out and scampered up the stairs. I watched the scene for a moment and then eased back into traffic, heading home. I cannot tell you where I was living – an age of moving around, cannot remember any faces on the street, but in some sense I can still feel the evening, in a vivid sense emotionally.

There are other stories like that from that era. Being in an elevator – the Friday night visit to my Village friend – with a man whose nipples stood out. Even now knee deep in the gay world, I have not seen a pair quite like those. A fleeting moment yet a clear memory. There are others…

I share this with Phil, struggling to explain it. I did not think of it as being gay – did not think of me as being gay – yet the moments were undeniable. Phil says “stirrings” and the word catches me. Indeed there were stirrings, stirrings as one barely approaching puberty, stirrings as a college student, and stirrings beyond.

There came a point when I suppose I graduated. I had different words then. If I lay in bed and imagined a man it wasn’t that I was a homosexual or bisexual: I was just sexual. It was easy to do, especially when having a more than satisfactory heterosexual relationship. Though I suppose if I was to write of those times I would need to change the title of the story. I guess if you have enough stirrings it is inevitable that one day you will wake up to longings.

Last night I had a quiet evening and at one point was online watching a gay video chat room. Usually the fare is someone showing their thing, lazily jerking off until the moment when it is no longer lazy. Last night had an addition – a popular one at that: a man most noticeable by his bulging midriff lying back while a boy gave him quite the blow job. The boy looked about eighteen or nineteen – too young for my tastes and bordering on questionable judgment on the part of all. Yet I did watch for a while and as I thought about it afterwards I came to understand the attraction. I did not want to be receiving a blow job from him – I am quite happy with the experience of age. I wanted to be him, to be eighteen, to be giving a blow job, to be accepting this part of who I am. To have had more than just stirrings.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Just A Story

As I head off on vacation, I read an e-mail from my new friend Tammy – she likes my stories, so here's one to hold her. A brief background - Phil has a gay first cousin who lives in Chelsea with his partner. Of course Phil is not out to them. A year and a half ago he is invited to a football playoff party and I tag along - there I am, a gay man at a gay party acting straight. Really. We had dinner with them last summer and they asked about summer vacations - Phil and I were going to the Pines in a few weeks but Phil, not being stupid, quickly jumps in that he is going to see a friend in PA. Afterwards I swore I would not see them again, not until he was out - I have my pride and I have my limits.

Fast forward to Sunday night, A Viagra at the apartment, a burger at the Viceroy and then a night cap at Rawhide. We are in the zone, kissing, touching and at one point just at the front of the bar, drinking. Phil all of a sudden whispers: “Don't look up and follow me to the back.” Head down I quickly shuffle and once there ask why. He nods to the front - his cousin is there, with his partner, sitting in the seats we just vacated.

Shocking turn of events. Phil's first reaction was how to get out unseen - he had not planned on this, he was not ready. As we talked he came to realize both the silliness of it and also the difficulty of slipping by someone sitting by the door. He is ready. We walk up and say hello. Maybe a raised eyebrow on their part - maybe. Big hugs hello and then some conversation. Surprised they were not. Not even close. So a good resolution and now I can even see them again.

Anyway, my story for the road, a non-story really. There will be more non-stories I suspect, more people who if they raise an eyebrow at all, it will be to acknowledge the moment more than to register surprise.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Winning and Losing

Recently I have been e-mailing with a new friend Tammy, a very pretty lesbian in her early thirties. She lives with a woman but the excitement has long faded and there is a world of women out there, one in particular who makes her heart pound and juices flow. She is not ready to walk away from what she has – the comfort, friendship and emotional bond, but she is also not ready to resign herself to a life of, to use a term, quiet desperation.

As I listen to her story I try to think of words of wisdom and I go back in time – December 1981. A client has a holiday party that was ahead of its time – a warehouse space, top shelf all the way, a harbinger of the excesses that the current decade perfected. What made the night special was the opportunity to be with Karen, a cute little legal secretary I was infatuated with. At this point in my very straight life I had a girlfriend I semi-lived with – Stephanie and I were the proverbial square peg in the round hill, only in our twenties and already playing out the string.

The party had raffles – everyone got a ticket as they walked in the door. My partner, older and supportive of my intentions, joined me as we sought out Karen and as we sat down for dinner we spread the three tickets – ours and hers – in front of Karen, a peace offering of sorts. Eventually they get to the drawings and my partners number comes up – lunch in a famous New York restaurant. Well a McDonald’s gift certificate is always useful. A few other winners and then Karen’s number: a swatch watch, or the equivalent of the day. A few other winners and then we hear my number: two tickets to 42nd Street, orchestra seats, a Saturday night. Primo tickets to the Broadway show of the season.

The evening ends and back home to Steph. Now I should have been quite talkative – a raffle, three tickets, three winners, and one of the best prizes to moi! I don’t say a word. I think she is my girlfriend; we tend to spend our Saturday nights together. And I think I did win these with Karen and to be honest what a great opportunity to extend a new friendship – hell maybe even get into her pants. A balancing act: the existing, albeit not particularly healthy relationship or throwing it all away for the dream. I still remember the back and forth and the way I came to decide. It was clear that the relationship at home had gotten off track and I decided that I would blow the roof off and maybe, just maybe, things would end up back on course. Or possibly we would be blown so far off the tracks that we could no longer ignore the pathology. Either possibility seemed better than where we were, bordering on the quiet desperation. Karen it was.

The beginning of the end of the Stephanie era: it would take another year or so, a long playing swan song but eventually the end came and I suspect we were both much better for it, even if I did not know it at the time. Karen – a wonderful night at the theatre, a friendship which years later I single handedly destroyed: a story for another day.

It all comes to my mind as I think about Tammy and particularly as I think about my relationship with Phil. The last group of posts written for a person who does not read my blog, a pretty silly way of communicating. It is time to talk more openly, to risk putting things back on the tracks or maybe blow them up. Phil and I talk, more than once, no revelations, no magic bullets, but we talk. And an interesting thing happens: we get along better, the sex is wonderful, and there is a sense of optimism.

Sometimes in order to win you have to be willing to lose.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Personal pride

Everyone loves fireworks and this year the “tweenage” children decide they want the full show – Macy’s fireworks over the Hudson River, one of those things you do with a million of your closest friends. I can’t blame them and actually look forward to the adventure. We park the car in suburbia – this is a train night, stupid I’m not. Before leaving the car I prepare – pull my drivers license and credit card, train tickets and cash: no need to carry everything I own.

My key chain seems to always have more on it than one would think necessary so car and house key are on one ring and all sorts of things are on the other. I remove a key from the everything ring and start to slide it on with the car and house key – the “real’ ring. The kids notice – there is not much they do not – and ask what That key is?

Now they have heard Phil’s name over the years, usually by accident, always fleeting, almost with shame, a mirror of my own insecurities. However a theme has emerged over the last few months, one sponsored by Carrie, welcomed by me, and tolerated by Phil: it is time for Phil to meet the family. Not in a Meet The In-Laws formal weekend visit: a more unstructured whenever the paths cross moment.

“What is the key for?” they ask again in unison. I answer simply: We will be in the vicinity of Phil’s apartment and in case we need a place to go – whatever the reason – it is good to have the key. “What if Phil is there?” I answer “Phil is not there.” “How do you know?” “Because I know where he is. And if he is there, you will meet him”

We did not need the key – I never expected we would – but what a liberating moment: his name spoken, not whispered, his existence and my key acknowledged. They may not have met tangibly last night, but in some sense I feel a bridge was crossed, more by me than by them. I suspect they had crossed that bridge a while ago – stupid they’re not.

Somehow it all seems to tie in: “Pride” is important, a group believing in itself, but I suppose that pride as reflected in our day to day lives is much more important for without that there never could have been “Pride”. And when one can banish shame, if only for a moment, there is a vacuum that pride will eventually fill.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Pride – Part 3: Why

Why as in “why am I writing this, what is my point.” The evening festivities are no surprise – a quick bite to eat in the Village, parade vestiges all around, up to Chelsea for a drink in Rawhide, a bar worthy of its name and then way uptown to the Townhouse, as upscale as it sounds. Some drinks surrounded by our community and home to bed though not to sleep.

It all does make sense to me, a full day, time for me, time for us. But I do realize, having written this over a few days and having re-read it a number of times that it does not really make sense: I have described a situation of inherent imbalance as if it was as stable as Manhattan’s bedrock base. There is a part of me that can explain why it all works: I have my children and get to spend time with them while Phil is occupied with Stan. I am not ready to jump all in and say let’s play house together. Makes sense…

Yet we are playing house, together most weeknights and the ones where we are not we know where the other is, what the other is doing. We talk every day; we are best friends and lovers. So the question is do I have the best of all worlds or am I just willing to ignore the downsides? And whose downsides are they? While I do not agree with Phil’s management of the situation – his children or Stan, that seemingly endless ability to compartmentalize, is it really my concern?

There are two answers here. Clearly on one level it is not my concern so long as it has no direct impact upon me. But I fear the other answer is that it is my concern. The fact that Word tells me I am approaching fifteen hundred words on the “Pride” posts, the fact that I felt the need to circumnavigate my boyfriend, fearing an uncomfortable moment, these are tangible events, measurable and real. I suppose that is the nature of relationships, the baggage becomes shared.

It is all comfortable for now and I am a patient man. Things will not change today or tomorrow but life like water does find its own level. The excitement of this journey and the Blog which tracks it, has been that unlike a novel, no one, least of all me, knows the ending, probably because short of death there is no ending, just the ride with its pleasures and its pains.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Pride – Part 2: Hitting the Streets

Sunday arrives and after a weekend with my kids I head south to New York City. The parade covers miles but I head down to the Village, where forty years ago at the Stonewall one might say the parade began and is now where it ends. The streets are crowded and as a middle aged white male I blend into the background and watch the show. Parades, even “my” parade, don’t do much for me so after a few minutes I head down to the Dugout, a bear bar, to get a beer. It is packed, the type of environment where Phil is instantly best friends with the person pressed next to him but where I quietly sip my drink. After a while I head out to the street, some people hanging around, and most importantly air to breathe.

As I am standing there a fellow starts to talk with me – a few years older and one who has been there for the past forty years. Mark brings a different perspective, we are both wandering alone, so we decide to wander together, and wander we do for the next three hours. There is talking and a certain element of sexuality. We talk of life, relationships and hooking up. At some point I check my cell phone and there is a missed call from Phil. It seems that Stan and his friend have wandered off and Phil is available. We arrange to meet – me, my new friend Mark and of course Phil; we pick a spot but with the parade, closed streets, crowd control, this is more an odyssey than a stroll.

We arrive and it is strangely uncomfortable – Phil and Mark are not cut out for each other and Phil decides to head back to the Dugout where his friends have gone while Mark and I wander the other direction, potentially back to the apartment…. As we wander Mark’s desires cool with the air and the moment, if there was one, is gone. Mark thinks his old boyfriend may be at the Dugout and wants to walk back there. Now it is getting interesting – the Dugout is where Phil went to reconnect with Stan and his friend. It is not a big place – running into them is almost assured. I call Phil – he knows the dilemma quite well – and he tells me to do what I like, not exactly a ringing endorsement for running into them. I am happy to skip it all but Mark is hell bent on going and at that point we were still wandering together.

We approach the bar and I immediately spot Phil and the crew – standing on the street talking among themselves. And I realize that I am not ready for this, I cannot go and make believe that I have not seen Phil in weeks or months. Presumably Stan has a good idea that I am still in the picture but while I may write like a drama queen, I try not to live like one. Circumnavigating them is not difficult and Mark and I check out the scene. Now Mark is nice but three hours was just fine so I excuse myself to head into the bar for a beer before hitting the streets again. As I approach, there is Phil and Stan, presumably saying good bye, arms wrapped around each other, a very private moment in a very public place.

Now this is no surprise – they spend a night or so together each week, close friends for upwards of seven years. I quickly slide into the bar and over a Bud light consider it. Of course they were saying good bye and after downing my beer, out comes the cell. Phil, on his own now, is not far away – we speak for a moment and five minutes later it is time for the evening festivities to begin…

Friday, July 03, 2009

Pride - Part 1: Setting the Stage

I am not sure if this is a diary entry more than a blog post, but not having a little book with a clasp this seems to be the only repository for my thoughts, even when it is more for me than for you. Last weekend was “Pride” – an event which, like some artists, has been reduced to a word. I am not inherently big on Pride or similar events: I am not a parade goer, not one for public displays with strangers. It sort of reminds me of the two vegans in my office – one high on the pecking order and the other working the mailroom. The mailroom fellow thinks of the two of them as kindred spirits and the other fellow thinks they are incredibly different unrelated people who happen to share one thing. But yet again I digress.

Last year I went to Pride with Phil and Stan – a party high above the fray at one of their acquaintances and then wandering the streets and a beer at the Dugout. Now that we are in the era of Phil having bifurcated his life, I assumed that Pride would be a Stan day and the thought of wandering myself was not sending me.

A few days before that weekend I am at a cocktail party – a networking event for us white collar types and in spite of my gayness (or maybe becasue of it) I find myself chatting up a cute tall blond maybe twenty years my junior. I confess, there is still a bi next to the gay and while I am not hitting on her, the company is nice. As we talk some more a few comments – references to Chelsea and the Pines – so being me I point out that I have been to those places. In an instant high fives and my new lesbian friend confesses she thought I was gay but was confused by the talk of my children. Tammy and I are friends. She does not so much ask if I am going to Pride as assume I am. And at that moment I realized that I needed to go – it is the life I have chosen, or maybe the life that chose me.

That night Phil tells me that Stan has a friend coming up for the weekend so I think, great, Phil is no longer tethered. It turns out I was half right: Phil would be around that evening but for the day it was a threesome again, just I was not one of the three. At first there was some disappointment, but then I realized this was a good thing: so much of my gay life has been not only with Phil, but through Phil; his friends have become mine, but of course they are still his. A day on my own would be a healthy enough event, maybe a dose of some reality for better or worse.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


It seems that over time I have written much of reality – I am sure there is at least one post with that as its title. Yet it seems that much more of my current life is devoted to unreality, or so I tell Phil and so Carrie tells me. Of course in Phil I see it but I am sure that Carrie is confused which can only mean that as usual she is on to something.

Phil’s unreality has to do with that capacious closet – after seven plus years as a gay man, it still remains a mystery to those closest to him. He likes to remind me that his sex life is his own business – would a straight couple tell their children their favorite positions: “Morning Johnny – your Mom gave me an awesome BJ last night.” Yet as Phil will be off at a local gay pride event today I cannot help but wonder how many of those men and women define their gayness solely as a matter of sexuality. Do old fags who don’t do it anymore turn straight? While my activities at times may tend to belie it, I would like to think that I am more than the Craigslist “Sr8t man giving bj’s.”

Of course the scary part is that my unreality may in some ways top Phil’s. I live in many worlds which seems fine to me though maybe not to those floating in my various orbits. A recent day stands out: In the morning I e-mailed my first wife in anticipation of a visit to her and my grown children all of whom have relocated out west. I was staying in her home and she wanted to join me in a visit to some friends from grade school. Why not? Later that day I arranged a Saturday night dinner with a friend from college and his wife with Carrie in her home. (Last night was the dinner – we will get to that in a moment.) After arranging dinners involving my first ex (as she likes to describe herself) and with Carrie, I left the office and went home, pure Ozzie and Harriet in the alternate universe, to Phil, the boyfriend “of sorts”.

Last night was the dinner – Carrie and I as hosts. She cooked up a storm, wine for all, conversations flowing from topic to topic. Four hours after they arrived, hugs, kisses and goodbyes. All seemed well to me. Then as we started the clean up Carrie points out how she had once assumed she would be our friends – a couple going home after an evening out, a couple retiring to their bedroom, to their bed, to their life. She points out the evening was wrong – this was my old friend, my “turf”: Phil and I should have been having them to dinner. She is amazed – at me. To her mind our guests, while to polite to say anything, shared her discomfort, her sheer amazement at the bizarreness of it all. While this last piece can be confirmed – my friend while discrete is incapable of not being honest. He would answer fairly.

Maybe someday I will ask, a conversation over a glass of wine or coffee. But the answer seems irrelevant because Carrie’s point seems well taken. We may still be a family, a bond that survives much, but how can we be a couple. We speak daily, we share so much, but ultimately we retire to our separate corners with nary a hug or a peck. I may harbor some dreams of climbing into her bed, snuggling close but it is as likely as my lottery dreams: wonderful diversions grounded in total awareness that it is not happening.

It is a Sunday early afternoon as I type – the children watching a movie and then hopefully some time together. Frank is likely on his way to that gay pride parade. It is a distance and I am happy to be with the family, but Carrie has a point. If one is creating a new life, if one is willing, right or wrong, to sacrifice so much, then at some point one has to also embrace that life. But to me it is much simpler: in my haste to create one life, I have ended up with many lives – too many. The goal has to remain to bring the strands together and create whatever tapestry is me.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Sorted Details

A few weeks after that first meeting, Phil e-mails: a friend from out of town, Saturday night, what could be bad. Back to the sub-division and into the car for our night out. I have written of that night, a post well named, Inexorable, a post I choose not to read today. The back seat with the friend, who knew what could happen back there, a night of dancing and drinking, and yes, a night of sucking and fucking: what could be bad. And the next day, arriving home not before dawn, but well afterwards, but I digress…

A week or so later, I get up my courage and suggest to Phil we grab dinner after work, two guys with the jacket and tie. In a testimony to my insecurities, I am surprised when he agrees. I am sure we played, but remember the walk after dinner, talking, taking in the familiar sights. So it started, white collar weeknights, not in the sub-division but in the City. As in any relationship, not so much steps as a ramp gently escalating from acquaintances to friends to more.

Of course I still have my family, children, Carrie, a life, so while I spend time with them, particularly weekend time with them, Phil has his time with Stan. Our circles continue to overlap – Phil may spend a day with Stan at the beach and I will join them for dinner, comfortable affairs, no expectations, no disappointments: a pattern that sounds strange in the telling but seemed quite normal in the being.

Stan was a confirmed bachelor of the gay world, happy with his friendships and his freedoms, not looking to get “married”, not capable of love as us straight guys once knew it. But a funny thing happened with the arrival of Nate: as Phil split his time and presumably his emotions, Stan realized that after seven years he had also been on that gently sloping ramp, he realized that he had quietly fallen in love. Ah, the plot thickens.

Not bad – I have managed to compress more than a year into a few paragraphs – the changes in dynamics gradual, the ramp ever so gentle. So a new pattern emerges. Phil has his time with Stan, I with my family, and we have our time together. But now the triangle is gone, and while I suspect that Stan can connect the dots, he no longer has any dots to connect. Phil doesn’t deny me, my existence secure, but he does not discuss me either. He is with Stan or he is not, my name left off the playbill. This iteration has lasted for maybe eight months now and it has been easy enough. Winters are a busy time, short days, busy at work, throw in some holidays and before you know it, spring.

But now that spring is sprung, I wonder how it continues to play out. Last summer we had those dinners in the sub-division, the triangle and more, salmon and wine. This summer I will see my family and I will see Phil. But it is inevitable that there will be days I will work and Phil will go to the beach with Stan and afterwards, there will be salmon and wine: I just won’t be there.

I of course am guilty in this also, on the positive side being cognizant of my family responsibilities – no, responsibilities sounds like a chore, more like family opportunities. But on the other side is also a bit of continuing to hedge my bets, this strange belief that I can go home again.

I have stretched my legs, wandered a bit, trying to end this post, but there is no end, yet another work in progress. And that is okay. When I found myself leaving the basement, moving to the apartment and realizing I had a boyfriend, all at once, my friends were concerned, fearful that I traded straight marriage for gay marriage, on the rebound no less, concerned that there needed to be some time to define myself not as Carrie’s husband or Phil’s boyfriend, not as my children’s parent, but as me. Not bad advice and not an easy task. As long as that ramp eases upward, the trip should be fine, where ever it may lead.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Of Sorts

Over the last two years there have been these cryptic references to Phil: on occasion my “erstwhile” boyfriend and at other times my boyfriend “of sorts”. On the whole I have not dwelled – nor delved – into Phil in these pages. Part of it was who knew how long the ride would be, part was some attempt at privacy after years of life on the stage, and I suppose another part was the difficulty of the story - difficulty in expressing a nuanced situation adequately and difficulty in unraveling my own very complex emotions. It seems that I am finally for a road trip in time.

Two years ago I was new in the basement still feeling my way – lots of blogging, an occasional married gay meeting, sometimes a Saturday night out: none of which yielded what was – and remains – an essential part of my definition my being gay – sex with men. So one Saturday night, home alone, I put an ad on Craigslist. A night spent e-mailing with some scary freaks (the one who wanted my address so he could come play with Carrie’s panties stands out), a night where I was a happy to be able to turn off the computer and was thankful for the disposable e-mail address: A night where my hand seemed both adequate and safe.

The next day I check that e-mail – hope springs eternal – and there is a response from two guys who liked the posting. An e-mail in proper English, an adequate description, and a desire to first meet in a public place. Too bad I had gone to bed early. We e-mail and a few weeks later we meet – a beer and snack in a chain restaurant, the horrific service allowing plenty of time to talk and become comfortable. As we pay the check, Phil asks if I want to follow them home. As you can guess, I did not need to ponder and soon found myself in an older sub-division, upstairs, playing with not one, but two men – the possibilities I had only fantasized about.

After some fun, some sucking and fucking, kissing and groping, I came. As I got up to leave, Phil said “Lay here between us for a few minutes” and I did, no pressure, no sex, just warm bodies in the after glow. I mention this because as I look back, it is what stands out. While not yet a dime a dozen, blow jobs I had down. Laying there in the quiet was a trickier business. Just over two years later, the moment still brings a smile.

Of course there is something missing here – this is of course my story and Phil keeps popping up, but I did say threesome, and three it was. Stan, the owner of the home, had been Phil’s friend for the past seven years. They are in the best traditions of the Odd Couple: Phil a widower on a second life, a man accomplished in his profession, a pillar of the community type and Stan… Stan, while living in a closet of his own design (Phil’s closet construction may need an entire post), has always been gay, pure gay, nothing bi there. He is a kind and gentle man and not at all unintelligent. But he is not book learned: a vocational diploma and blue collar skills. Stan is my age and Phil has a decade on both of us.

Phil is the king of compartmentalizing and compartmentalize he did. He had his old life – work, long time friends, social engagements – which kept him busy in a world that was not Stan’s, and he had his new life with Stan, gay bars and friends, nude beaches, a good time had by all. “And never the twain shall meet.”

So you can start to see a picture developing. When it comes to sex, three can really be a lot of fun (my inner slut lives on), but in the real world triangles are tricky to balance, particularly if there is one point which is always the center. There is much more to this story, but as my therapist used to say, we are out of time.

Monday, May 04, 2009


During my journey Chicago has become a second home, if not physically, emotionally. It was, like many things, an accident. Every year I go there for a few days at the beginning of May. Going back to 2005 – pre-blog, pre-out, in my mind pre-gay – I find myself downtown at my hotel and as I go for a late night walk I pass the sex shops, the discrete signage and solid doors and the small print: Buddy booths. The quick look around and then a dart and then you are in and anyone who sees you there should be just as embarrassed. I sidle to the back and know what I want – a man, no, just a specific body part back then, but this night it was not to be. Then it is May 2006 and bi / gay is in the air. I blog in advance fishing for approval – should I go on Craig’s List, maybe just go to Boys Town and practice the walk.

Craig’s List it is and I make a few dates, blow off the annual dinner with my group and take what in hindsight was the plunge. The details have been covered in
From 35,000 Feet and Accede To Reality, posts that even today three years later I hesitate to read: remembering the pain is enough. Suffice to say the entry into gayness was all I hoped and the re-entry from it was all I feared. I make a new friend and with the knowledge that it is a moment, a good moment but a moment none the less, I still want to go back. Chicago is my private playground, a land where I can climb the jungle gym away from prying eyes. So I decide to go back – a quick weekend to open up 2007, a quick weekend to close down nearly two decades. Before I pack my bags, the discussions of my return and then I am packing, but more than my bags: the basement era begins.

And then it’s May again and again my trip to Chicago. I will go to Boys Town, but will not blow off my conference. And after dinner that first night I am bought back in time leaping from 2007 to 2005 in an instant, brought back to a moment – a phrase I had forgotten uttering:
"I Am Lost". As I re-read the post I cannot help but notice the connection between art and pain, a post that sears in a way that I can no longer muster. I still remember the night – unable to sleep, unable to be: wanting to be straight, wanting to be connected, my hotel room as cell. As I re-read the post this weekend I was thankful my little diary still existed, a reminder of where I was and where, if poor choices are made, I an end up yet again.

This year my journey was a little different. My boyfriend was in Chicago for business and waited a day for my arrival. The first night was the group dinner – spouses and guests are invited though only a few come. In advance I considered the potential consequences of bringing Phil – would they think him a friend or would they guess more. After more thought than it ever deserved it struck me that I am out of the closet at home, at work, places where it impacts, or doesn’t, every day. Yet here I am worried about what a group I see once a year will think. I consider it some more and realize that the truth goes back two years and then two years more. It goes back to flirting with one of the women; it goes back to again wanting to be the straight guy. The fact that after dinner I will go back to the room with Phil, that we can have a night of great sex if we want… but what if Lori wants me, wants to relive a past that never happens… It is hard writing this not because of shame or embarrassment. It is hard because it is so wildly out of touch with any reality. Here I have what I want and somehow still looking to complicate.

Phil joins me for dinner – maybe people thought he was just a friend, maybe some suspected more. I cannot say because neither did they. The next day I have my conference and Phil wanders the City, and then I am back in the room, the conference is over and I am in Chicago and I am gay and I am with my boyfriend. It does not make for exciting reading – no tears, no angst, none of the conflict central to drama. No, not much for reading, but not so bad for living.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Not Dead Yet

So many thoughts. I marvel at how much I managed to blog a few years back while still being productive at work and functioning with my family. I suppose it was an adrenaline high – the high of exploration and new things and the high of the comments. Carrie would say I need, I thrive, on the adoration whether from those I know or just watching the site counter tick up.

So where do I stand after all of this. I fear not nearly as far along in any sense as I might have hoped. Carrie likes to say that I now have it all: a boyfriend during the week and still my weekends with her and my children. That is the strange part – I do have it all as she defines it, but yet still have thoughts racing in my mind, “issues” in modern parlance. These issues swirl around - my thoughts towards Carrie, towards my family. I have come to treasure my weekends – time spent quietly as seems so appropriate as the economic world spins seemingly out of control. Maybe the economy with a nation’s new found appreciation of true values fits into this.

The bottom line is now that I know my gayness, my bi-ness, so much more of who I am, there is no longer a need to prove it. And while a good gay fantasy still can do it for me, I confess to having had the most vivid of sexual dreams a few nights back and it was Carrie that was the object of my desire. And it is a real desire both in dreams and as I sit and talk with her, our quiet time together. Of course what haunts me, besides the damage inflicted, is what would happen should I have the opportunity to be with her – not immediately, not in days or weeks, but in months and years. Would self acceptance and love for her trump the “dark” side, not so dark now that is not a secret. Or would it come rushing back, secret trysts and lies yet again?

And overriding it all is the simple desire to do right by Carrie. Assuming that I could make a bargain – her acceptance of who I am and my willing to leave the actions behind – is that right for her or just another way of watching a slow bleed, of not putting on the bandage and moving along. She would say it can never be made right, just move along, but I am not sure how much I believe her, not when we spend our time on the weekends so comfortably, not when we speak on the phone every day.

I can hear her now asking: What about Phil, do you plan on mentioning him, so mention him I will. He is my boyfriend – a strange relationship in many ways, me being Mr. Out and him owning the most capacious of closets; me having an emotional affair of sorts with my wife and him still having a relationship of sorts with his last boyfriend; me being happiest in relationships and him never wanting to be so fully pinned down.

Carrie says that if I loved Phil in a total sense, I would not feel the pull towards her. While she has a good track record, I fear this she has wrong for it ultimately is not a commentary on Phil in anyway: it is a commentary on the strength of the bond that she and I have. There is comfort in my friendships and the honesty of the relationships. And there is a true comfort in the knowledge whether as lovers or friends, Carrie and I have crossed back into a land of honesty and friendship, albeit with emotional speed bumps a plenty ahead.