Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Back On The Road

I am back in the UK now.  I got here on Tuesday morning and I will be here until next Tuesday. 

The weather is much nicer this time.  It's warmer.  I will probably have to come back in a few weeks and then it will be nicer still.  All the trees should have leaves on them and then it will really be stunning.

I have been pretty busy and it's likely to stay that way for each of the working days.  I am going to be here over a weekend, and I'm not exactly sure what I will do with myself.  If the weather holds, I may try to go back to London and see some of the sights.

I have talked to T, but only briefly since I have been here.  When I go to work it's 3am at home, and even after dinner, when I get back to the hotlel, T is still not done with work.  I am hoping to talk to him tonight, but I'm getting sleepy. 

While I miss him teribly, I am not going to write any whiny posts about how much I miss him.  I am not going to complain about how lonely it is over here by myself.  T hate's it when I do that.

I am just going to be glad that when I get back, there will be a man who loves me waiting for my return.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Outing Myself ... Again... and Again

I think this is the last time I will write about this, but I did out myself again in a very public way.

A couple of weeks ago I posted an essay about "The Straight Spouse" in response to a public conversation that the local NPR station was having about marriage equality.  Since I will be traveling on business for the actual event, I wrote an essay about my situation.  I posted the first draft of it here.  The radio station rejected the first submission because it was more than the requested limit of 500 words.  I cut it back to 499 and re-sent it.

I had not heard anything from them but when I checked their website, I saw they published it.

They also included my name.  My real and full name.  

This is not a problem for me and the only reason I am writing about it now is that K and AJ and I had a very funny conversations about it last night.

K works for a church the the rumors about her family situation are staggering.  For a while, the word was, she was cheating on me so I left her.  Then when she got re-married, the rumor was she was pregnant and it was a "shotgun wedding".  Now my dad's obituary indicates I have a partner with a male name and I have published my story on a major local radio station's website with my real name on it.

K was joking and complaining that now she is going to have to deal with that.  I told her it might help because it would turn the rumor mill toward me.  She still thinks they will blame her for "turning me gay".  AJ thinks it stupid to worry about it at all.  He thinks the more people I come out to the better.

Seriously, is there anyone left to tell?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Outing Myself ... Again

I did it again.  Without thinking about it, I have once again outed myself to a potentially large number of people.

On Thursday, my Dad's obituary appeared in 3 newspapers and their respective websites.  One of the papers has a huge circulation and the other 2 are community papers.  People who know my family would know what papers to look at to find the obituary if they wanted to ready it.

Additionally, the pastor of the church K works for asked me for funeral information for my dad.  Rather than send him the details, I simply sent him the link to the obituary that had all the information he wanted.  I suspect he will forward it on to others in the church.

So what, you might ask.  How is any of this outing yourself?

On Tuesday when my mom and sister were crafting the working of the obituary, we talked about how (or if) to include T and K.  I wanted to include both.  When it was done, it read something like this:

"...leaves behind 2 children.  A son, Jim and his partner T, and his children.... and their mother K"

I liked the way it sounded.  I still do, but it was not until I had sent it to the pastor did I realize exactly what I had done.  Anyone I had not told I am gay, was going to find out in my dad's obit.  It was not my intention to distract from my dad's memorial, and in reality I doubt that I have.  I am so comfortable with my new situation, especially with my family, that I just did not think about it.  

I don't know if there will be any consequences for that.  Most of the people at church don't know that K and I divorced because I am gay.  I don't know if they will give her shit about it.  

I also don't know who of my old friends will read the obituary and find out something new about me.

Another step in the process, right?

Happy Birthday Dad

Today my dad would have turned 68.  This is him standing on the beach on Frenchman's Bay in Bar Harbor, Maine at sunset.  One of his favorite places.

Today there will be calling hours at the funeral home near my mom's house.  Unfortunately, I can't can be there.  My I had to come back to North Carolina for work.  The funeral mass will be in 2 week in the northern town where he grew up.  Me and kids will go up for that.

I got a comment yesterday from "D" who asked how to you accept the fact that your parents won't be around forever.  I'm not sure you do.

I said before that my dad was sick for a long time.  Intellectually we all knew he would not make it to his 90's.  His father lived to be 96.  I am not sure how often he was in the hospital, it was a lot over the years, but each time he would bounce back and go home.  Each time, I knew the doctors would work their magic and he would go home.  Maybe not a strong as he was before, but he would go home.

Even as I drove home last Sunday, I really did not think that things were as bad as they were.  I thought I would see him for a few days and then both he and I would go home.  It was not until I was faced with the reality of his situation that I started to realize he may not come home the hospital.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Impressed By My Kids

On Tuesday we set the date of my dad's funeral.  I helped pick the date and if it was confirmed by the church, I was sure it would fit my schedule.

As I was driving back to North Carolina, Mom called and said the church confirmed our first choice date.  Perfect!

Then I got home.  I told the kids about the date and when we would fly back to my mother's house.  My youngest son, started to look upset.  He is 10 and of all the kids he was the one most emotionally effected by the news of my father's death.  I pulled him aside and asked him what the problem was.  

The funeral plans overlapped his school trip to the Outer Banks.  He and I were going to go on that trip together with his 4th grade class.  It was in my calendar, how the hell could I forgotten it.  SHIT!!

I told him I would try to work something out.  Maybe he would only have to miss part of the trip, or maybe we could catch a flight from there, instead of coming back to Charlotte.

UGH!!  What the hell was I going to do?  This trip was planned since September and we had paid a lot of money for it.  He was really looking forward to the time together.  I did not want to just tell him that he could not go.  I was afraid that in his 10 year old mind, he would blame his grandfather for making him miss the trip.  I did not want that memory to be attached to my dad's memory.  DAMN!!!

The next day I came to K's house after work.  My son came and sat down next to me on the couch.

"Dad, if we had to miss the beach trip to go the funeral, that would be OK."

"Really?  You don't want to go on the trip?"

"No, I do want to go, but this is more important.  I want to see Grandma too." he said.

I asked him about it again later in the evening to make sure he had not changed his mind.  He confirmed that he wanted to go to the funeral and be with the family.  

I was very proud of my son.  At 10 years old, I did not expect that level of maturity.  While he has always been mature for his age, I did not expect that from him.  My son really impressed me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm a Selfish Bastard

No.  Really.  I am.

The date for my dad's funeral is set.  It's a Saturday in a few weeks.  It will be in the little town here was born, about 300 miles from my mom's house.

I looked at the calendar after the date was set and discovered my youngest son has a school trip to the beach that week.  He's been looking forward to that all year.  The trip ends on Friday and I may be able to get a Friday night flight.  I think K will take the other kids the day before.

So why am I selfish? Because I still want T to come with me.  If we left on Friday and returned on Sundays, he would only miss one day at work.  I knew what the answer would be before I asked.  He can't.  Saturday is supposed to be a short day, the in reality he generally see the the same number of patients as a weekday.  The office is supposed to close at 2:00 but they are frequently there until 6:00.

He is worried about how crazy it would be for his sister if he's not there.  He is worried about how long the patients will wait.  And I even know he is worried about not being there for me when I need him.  I know he thinks about all of it.  In the end, though, the office won out over me.

He says I'm not being fair.

He's probably right.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Watching Him Die

My father lost his battle today.  When I drove here yesterday, I knew that he would not ever be cured of his illness, but I did expect we would recover enough to go home.  Over the less than 24 hours I was here with him, my mother and my sister, it became clear he was not going to get better and he was declining fast. 

It was time to let him go.  He had been sick for a long time.  His body was so battered and tired.   He had lost the will to go on.

My dad was no wussy.  When I say he has been sick for a long time I am talking about decades.  A string of problem over the years that alone would not have been so bad, but he either had them at the same time or in rapid succession.  Yet, he found the strength to work a 50 hour work week.  He was constantly fixing things around the house.  Working on the cars.  Taking care of this and that.  All of it with a cloud of sickness hanging over his head.

He never complained.  He never stopped.  He just did what he had to do to give my mom, my sister and me a good life.

Now he was done.  He simply could not fight on anymore.  He was ready to die.  We let him go. 

We told he doctors.  They agreed and made some final preparations.  When they were done, they led us into his room.  He was sort of sitting up.  He was not aware of our presence since he was sedated.  He was breathing on his own but it was irregular.  The doctors assured us he was comfortable and would not be feeling any pain.  

His breathing stopped.  Then started again.  It was like watching someone with sleep apnea, when they stop breathing briefly as they sleep.  

Then he took his last breath.

I watched the color drain from his face.  I had never seen someone die before.  I hope I never see it again.

My dad was gone.  He was not in pain anymore.  He was free.

I will miss my dad.  He was a really smart guy and we had lots of good conversations.  I was not very close to him as a kid, but the relationship improved a lot once I became an adult.  Before he got very sick, he made an effort to be a good grandfather to my kids, and my sister's kids.  He would get on the floor and play trains or cars with them.  My kids will miss their Papa.

When I came out, he accepted me right away.  He met T the next day and commented to me privately that he thought T was a, "nice young man".  (At the time T was 41)

This coming Saturday would have been his 68th birthday.

Godspeed Dad.  We love you.

Waiting for the End?

I am sitting on the floor in my father's ICU room.  He has been in poor health for a long time.  It has been worse in the past few years and this past week, it has gotten sharply worse. 

Yesterday drove 12 hours to my mothers house.  The plan was to head to the hospital in the morning.  Then at 11:00 the hospital called.  I drove my mom in. My dad was in really bad shape.  We was sedated and stable, but still critical.

This morning we came back.  He was still sedated, but not as much.  I am not sure if he knew I was there or not, but I was glad I was there.  I am not going to go into his condition here, but suffice it to say that my mother, my sister and I are talking about end of life decisions.  I was not really prepared to that, but here I am.

I came up here by myself.  T has his business to run and does not think he can get away.  I know I am being selfish, but I don't give a shit about his business, I want my boyfriend, my partner with me.  I want him to hold my hand and tell me that it will be OK.  I have to be strong for my mother, but I really want my man to hold my while I cry into his shoulder.    I understand why he cannot come. I also know there is not much he could do even if he was here.  That said, I am still selfishly pissed off.

There is good here too.  I am glad that I came out to my family.  I am glad that my dad accepted me and I was able to talk to him about who I really am.  I am glad he got to meet the man I love and I did not have to introduce him as "my friend".  

I am trying too look for the silver lining, but it's hard. 

While my dad has been in poor health for a long time, he is well below the average life expectancy for men in the US.  It is making me think about how short life is.  About how you can never know when the end will come.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Family Game Night

Last I got another reminder of how well my transition from "straight" family man to divorced gay family man.

I was not able to see T last night so I hung out at K's house.  AJ  and his daughter were both out so it was just me and K and our kids.  The little kids wanted to play a board game.  It took a little coaxing but we talked my teenage sons to play too.  We were 15 minutes into the game and it occurred to me that this was the first time in a long time that the 6 of us have done anything together as a family.  

The game lasted about an hour and we had a really good time.  It was almost like it was before.  I did find myself thinking about T.  I wished he was there with us.  It is clear to the kids that AJ is part of the family, but they don't feel that way about T.

Don't misunderstand.  My kids like T a lot.  They ask about him and ask when he will visit us again.  But when I mentioned that he might come with us on a family vacation, my oldest son look puzzled, "He is?"

That conversation happened a couple of weeks ago, but it cemented that even though I think of T as part of my family, the rest of my family does not.  At least not yet.

I suspect as long as T and I live apart, they will feel that way.  It makes me a little sad.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Straight Spouse Essay

In North Carolina there is a ballot initiative to ban gay marriages in the State Constitution.  The vote is this May, the same time at the Republican Primary.  With no other reason for Democrats to vote, I am sure it will pass here even though polls show that a slim majority oppose the measure (i.e. support marriage equality).

The local NPR station is sponsoring a public conversation on the topic in 2 weeks.  I will be traveling back to the UK then so I won't be able to attend.  They do, however, have a place where you can send in an essay.  I wrote one and sent it this morning.


The Straight Spouse

On “Charlotte Talks” I heard a guest, who is opposed to marriage equality, say something to the effect of,  “Gay people can get married.  They just have to get married to a member of the opposite sex.”

This statement speaks directly to my personal situation and a never talked about group that is deeply involved in gay marriage.  The straight spouse.

I knew I was different from a young age.  As I got older, I came to understand that I had an attraction to men.  I also came to understand that that feeling was wrong and I should hide it.  I did have a secret relationship with another boy my age during my senior year in high school, but I knew that relationship was wrong.  We were both so fearful of being labeled “gay” we did not even admit to each other we were gay at the time.

When that relationship ended I made the determination I was going to be straight.  Looking back it was the same decision making process I used when I decided I was not going to smoke cigarettes.   I was not going to be a smoker and I was not going to be gay.  Simple as that.

At the time, I believed that being gay was about behavior.  Gay men have sex with other men and if I didn't do that, I was not gay.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that being gay has nothing to do with behavior.  It is only about feelings.  How you feel inside.

So, I hid my feelings.  From every one.  I had a two awkward relationships with girls in college and a lot of secret crushes on guys.  I did not act on any of those crushes because I was determined to be straight.  I worked hard to behave like all my straight friends.  Every day my feelings and my behavior were in conflict.

After college I met a girl I eventually married.  She fell in love with me and I loved her too.  At the time I thought I was “in love” too, but since I didn’t really know what that felt like, I was never sure.  I told her about the relationship with the boy in high school and she accepted me anyway. 

Were happy for a while, but eventually we had problems.  Because my feeling for her were different then my feelings for her.  Even though he loved each other, we liked being together and rarely argued about anything it was clear something was wrong.

It was not until I met that man who would eventually become my partner, that U understood what “in love” felt like.  I finally knew what it felt like to look into his eyes and see my feelings reflected back at me.  My wife was denied that feeling for 18 years because I was compelled by society to hide my true self and pretend to be someone else.

Today, my e-wife is remarried to a straight man.  Her and I are still best friends and we get along better now than when we were married.  We have more fun when we are together.  We are teaching our kids the importance of being who you are and being honest and accepting.

I was lucky.  My ex-wife and I were able to have a friendly divorce, remain friends and maintain a loving home for our children.  Most cases are not like that.  In most cases there is a lot of pain and destruction in the family.

The point is simple.  The “Charlotte Talks” guest is right that gay people are free to marry opposite sex partners, but what he fails to consider is that gay person will end up marrying a straight person.  This is a non-compatible situation and eventually it will fall apart.

If gay people were accepted and did not feel compelled to hide.  They would not feel compelled to get into straight marriages which are almost certainly doomed from the start.

Ask the straight spouses of gay people what they think.  I’ll bet they ALL support same-sex marriage.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dinner and a Race

Last night T came to visit me.  He showed up and we went out for dinner together.

I had a craving for a steakhouse in next town so we got into the car and drove.  One of the things I like about my new car is the automatic transmission.  My old car was a stick shift, and now that I don't have to shift I can hold his hand as we drive without having to let go to shift.  

The trip the steakhouse was about 15 min and as we drove we chatted about your respective days.  Then for while we were quiet.  I drove.  He looked out the window.  We held hands.  Sometimes driving with someone else, in the quiet is uncomfortable, but not for us.  It was nice just to be with him.

We had a nice dinner together and headed back to my house.   T went up to my room for a shower while I put together some desert (get you mind out of the gutter, it was ice cream.)

When I got upstairs I found him in the bathroom, drying off...  

We climbed into bed, got close and... well... then we turned on the TV.

T and I started watching the Amazing Race.  It is the only reality show that I watch.  I like it for a lot of reasons, and I have watched it from the very first season.  K and I used to watch it together, but now that we don't live together we don't anymore.  The thing about the Race is that it's not a lot of fun to watch alone.  It's much better shared.  The new season started 4 weeks ago and I have it all on DVR.  We watched all 4 episodes last night.  It was really nice.  

When it was done, we turned off the TV and we curled up to sleep.

Just like in my dreams.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Online Dating #24

His profile said he was a computer programmer for one of the banks in town.  The picture on his profile showed him to be smartly dressed, very lean and seemed to be very at ease and confidant.  I thought that maybe this time, he will be someone I will click with.  So I wrote to him.  I told him a little about myself and inviting him to check out my profile.

Then I waited.  

I really hate the waiting game.  You are reaching out your hand and, especially for gay guys my age, it's only a matter of time before it gets slapped away.

There was no immediate response.  As I felt my ego deflating, I just went to bed. He's probably not interested in a guy like me anyway.

The next morning I got up and the first thing I did was check my e-mail.  Even though I was willing myself not to get my hopes up, I did anyway. 

He responded.  My heart jumped and my spirits lifted even more when I opened the message and found he has written a lot.  He told me more about himself.  He seemed really nice and genuinely interested in knowing more about me.  Even though I knew it would make me late for work, I wrote back to him.  Briefly explained that I was coming out late in life, but reassuring him the situation with my ex-wife was drama free (don't want to scare him off).  I included a picture of myself that was not in my profile online.  Not a naked one, but just a little more suggestive.

At lunch, I checked my e-mail on my Blackberry from the cafe at the office.  He wrote back again.  Said he was working from home that day and he included another picture of himself.

WOW!!  I need to meet this guy in person.

So, before heading back to my desk, I type out a respond as fast and I can with my thumbs asking if we wanted to meet for a drink or maybe dinner.

I was excited as I clicked send.  Maybe this was the guy that could end my loneliness...  Maybe.

A few hours later he agreed to meet me. 

We set up the meeting for last night at a local bar, that had pretty good food too.

I arrived half an hour early and scanned the place.  There were no Asian guys there, so I was sure I had gotten there first.  I picked a table half was back from the door, but facing the door so I could see him when he walked in and waited.  

I pulled out my tablet so it would not appear that I was too eager.  I open a book on my Kindle app, but I never looked at it.  I kept looking at the door.  

A little while later an Asian man walked in and was looking around.  It must me him so I waved.  He walked over and introduced himself.  He looked good, but not as good as in the pictures.  They must have been taken some time ago.  I put that aside, after all looks are not everything.  

I so we started with small talk and he said he was working in his family's restaurant.   There is nothing wrong with that, but I was sure his profile said something about working as a computer programmer.  As dinner came and we talked more, it became clear to that we did not click.  I could not exactly put my finger on it, but something was not right.  I found that he was less and less interesting and I started thinking about chores I had to do at home.  What time was it?  

I think that he was less enamored with me too.  Maybe I was too old for him, or maybe too overweight.  Probably too something.

When the check came he put $20 on the table to cover his half of the bill.  I put the rest on my card.    We got up to leave together.  Once we were outside, I offered him my hand.  He gave me a quick hug and said he had a nice time.  I knew he was lying, but I told him I did too.  We each agreed to call the other in the next few days, but I think we both knew that was a lie too.  

He went his way.  I went mine.

Driving home I knew what the rest of my evening would be like.  Searching the online profiles for anyone new.  Anyone with kind eyes and who's profile indicated a willingness to date someone like me.
I don't have a lot of time to read blogs like I used to.  And I, sadly, do not have as much time to write.  Lately the blogs I have read are about gay men who are always looking, always searching for the perfect man, the best date, the most chemistry.

As I read them I reminded how lucky I am to have T.  Even though what we have is not perfect, we are in it together and that's what really counts.  The love we share is one of a kind.  Rather than searching for the perfect partner like a lot of guys would, I am (mostly) content to work with T to make the relationship I have as perfect as we can.  It will take time, but I really believe we will get there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Everythings Amazing & Nobodys Happy

I went to K's today after work.  I took my oldest son to Game Stop to get "Mass Effect 3"  He pre-purchased the game back in December as a Christmas present.  I stopped at the grocery store for a few items K asked me to get so she could make dinner.

I hung out there for dinner and then long enough to put the kids to bed.  As she was cooking dinner she was showed me a video (here) that she is using in the youth classes at her church job.  It's about a 4 min video.  It's kind of funny and worth watching.  In a nut shell, it's about the people have all kinds of good things yet they bitch and complain about everything.

I made a comment that I thought she could learn from that.  Her life is pretty good.  "Yeah, right" she said.  **Sigh**

When dinner was over and the kids were in bed, her and AJ sat down with me at the table.  AJ just for a new cell phone so he was preoccupied with that.  K was looking up cruises for the family to take in May of 2013 when she finishes school.  Her plan is to take a huge family vacation with her and AJ, his daughter, my kids and me.  She even wants T to come.  We would need 2 or 3 cabins depending on the ship.  Sound's like a lot of fun, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  She was looking at 8 day cruises.  I suggested since the kids had never been on a cruise before, maybe a shorter one would be good for the first time.  Maybe a 4 day cruise.

That did not go well.  She looked at me like I had just told her that AJ and I were having an affair.  She told me that when she had to get off the boat after the 4th day she would be "furious".   The she went on and on about how a 4 day trip on a luxary cruise ship was completely unacceptable.

I was thinking that she should re-watch that video.  I stopped talking, and when she was done, I suggested that I did realize that it was only her opinion that mattered.  She didn't like that either.  I guess control freaks don't like to be called control freaks.

I started to think that maybe I should just let her go on the trip by herself with the kids.  I know that a lot of you will think that is the best.  I'm sure that T would think that is best.  It might be, but then I think about the kids.  

I would hate to miss that experience with them.  I would want to be part of their memories of their first cruise. Also, let's face it, as they get older, there will be fewer and fewer family vacations.  Also, if the kids are there and I am not, K will turn into a train wreck and no one will have fun.  At least if I am there, I can insulate the kids and they will have a good time with me.