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.