I feel like blogging. And not just any blogging, but the sort I did years ago, during the hey-day of the genre.
The topic? Romantic inclination. (See those seatbelts? You may want to buckle them.)
So it turns out that I'm seeing a guy. Yes, that's right. I am *seeing* him.
Who knew? I spent three years in a gay mecca after the split with my ex, and no one paid much interest.* And now that I've moved south to an exceedingly rural (albeit LOVELY) location, I have a suitor. Go figure.
To be honest, I like this man. I like him a lot. We knew each other a couple decades ago in Arizona, but we never had a chance to foment a friendship. Now, however, all that has changed. Thank you, Facebook.
I don't know what the future brings. I do know that as of a few weeks ago, we at least Viber (free texting) each day. And we also Skype. A lot. (In fact, a helluva lot.) I'm not complaining.
Wait! Skype, Viber? Why not just meet up? While that is an awesome question, dear Reader, it is also one I hate to answer.
He lives in the US. I live in Australia. Math, anyone?
He and I don't talk much about the elephant sitting in the corner. (I think that creature must migrate easily, because sometimes she haunts me and sometimes him. I keep meaning to ask her how she travels so readily.)
I only know that I am very fond of this beautiful, beardy, smart, funny man. I will attempt a mindful approach to this burgeoning [whatever]. If it works, you know I'll be dancing. If not, then I have known a man who helped me transition from nothing to something. Oh, okay, much more than something. So much for playing it cool.
* Except for the occasional 18 y/o on Grindr. Really?
My sweet, handsome and charming buddy, Sean in NY state, received the Australia Day cum Superman t-shirt I sent him. Yep, that's an Aussie-flag cape that attaches to the back with velcro tabs.
Sean has a delightful preoccupation with superhero clothing.
Enjoy, my friend!
Time is flowing.
Life is confusing.
The US is exasperating.
New South Wales is burning.
In spite of the above, I am enjoying a small renaissance. Okay, maybe it's not technically a rebirth. Resuscitation might be more apt.
Excuse me for gloating. Now that my respite from social media over the past few weeks is finished, I am enjoying a small dose of self-approbation. You see, the break was unlike others I've taken in the past. During those, I usually squandered the break by floundering, mired in a muck of confusion and cheerlessness. Oh sure, I'd dig into the small pile of crisis-survival and here's-how-to-be-happy books that languish on my desk, but a general sense of disconnect prevailed. And I failed to achieve much of anything I felt was useful or worthy of such a radical step as deactivating my Facebook profile.
This time, I am very [ie, VERY] happy to report that I somehow managed to defeat that cycle. How? I am not quite sure. I believe it was a combination of factors that came together to allow for an evolution of spirit. To be honest, I possessed no truly solid plan. I did, however, know that this time something needed to be different. I had a few items on my to-do checklist, but noticeably absent from the list was the one thing that had always appeared: to stop feeling so bad that I still feel so bad about my experiences over the past couple of years. I did not intentionally (or consciously) remove that item. I simply had other, more tangible things I wanted to do, like finally get my bicycles in decent working order. To play my clarinet. To reconnect with a few ingredients of my former, more contented self.
A new friend helped me with my bikes, and I've ridden them quite a lot since. I've joined a community band and this weekend will enjoy my first public performance in a very long time on the instrument to which I nearly devoted my professional life.
As I said to my therapist recently, I feel like the crisis-intervention mode is finally behind me. I still have moments of intense despair. I still lament. I still rage. But I do it less often, in small and discreet eruptions and with a sense of awareness that I have never had to this point.
I cannot say that I am moving forward with any real confidence in anything other than the motion is just that. It perplexes me that a return to activities from my past are allowing me to move ahead, but I don't try to understand life. I want to go back to living it.
I've been off the Facebook radar a bit this weekend, what with experimenting with a couple more dog biscuit recipes, visiting friends and doing some housekeeping. This morning, I sat down to
Only a few minutes into the process of backscrolling through my newsfeed, I discovered the passing of Marble, the beautiful cat who lived with two of my dearest friends in Palm Springs. I immediately apologized to them for my belated condolences. That word, however, cannot describe what I wanted to say or how I felt upon learning of Marble's death.
I know the focus is on celebrating Marble's long life and the loss that my friends are feeling, but this evoked a significant emotional response within me. And because this blog serves as a personal and often therapeutic account of my weird life, I am writing about my feelings.
I had a special connection with Marble. I will always cherish the summer of 1996, when I stayed in my friends' beautiful home in the high desert just outside of Santa Fe while working that season as a professional singer. Not long after I moved in, a litter of kittens was dragged under the back porch by a mother cat trying to protect her babies. I remember working diligently and patiently every day to tame at least one of the kittens by the time the summer was over and I had to return to Tucson. I was successful with a big yellow tabby and I took the kitten back to Tucson with me. I called him Maxwell.
Shortly after I got back to Tucson, I learned from my friends that they had successfully tamed another before calling animal control to come and collect the rest. They had tamed a diminutive tortoise shell tabby and named her Marble, and she joined the two other feline companions in their home and quickly became a staple member of the family. Being the sap that I am, I was overjoyed. I can still remember lying in bed at night and hearing the coyotes scream in triumph after killing some kind of prey. I always worried it was one of the kittens, and each morning after the coyotes' eerily gleeful announcement, I would rush outside to make certain all kittens were accounted for.
My friends subsequently relocated to Palm Springs, which was excellent for me on a number of levels. It meant that they were closer to me when I lived full-time, temporarily or visited Tucson. And considering the many, many times that I traveled between Tucson and LA for flight connections between the US and Australia, Palm Springs was the perfect stopover place. Each visit I made to my friends cemented the fact that they are family to me. These two men mean more to me than I can express.
And then there was Marble, too. I dished out love to that cat as much as she would let me in her archetypal, feline way. I adored her primarily because of the "family" connection, but also because of her spirit and disposition. Aside from that, seeing Marble was always a wonderful reconnection with the decade of my life that I had spent with a wonderful partner, moving from Washington DC to the Arizona desert and then to Vermont, accumulating experiences and developing friendships along the way.
Sometimes, however, I despise these markers that punctuate my life. They make me realize that not only am I getting older, but that everything seems so, well, difficult to grasp in the greater scheme. That may not make much sense. It isn't tragic, really. And I put a positive spin on it by recognizing that all of these experiences, whether the critters or the people involved are still in my life, have helped make some sense out of this crazy thing called life.
The loss of Marble represents something substantial to me, and I'm devastated. But I'm very happy to have known her, and I mourn the loss with my friends. I know how much they both loved her, as they do with all the living creatures they decide to take into their home, feline or otherwise, and call family.
Mark is in town for a couple of weeks. Thanks be to whomever! These brief respites from the distance and physical separation make all the difference. Let's just hope I can scrape the pennies together to get back there for December and January. If not, it will be a loooong summer/winter (circle the appropriate a season for your hemisphere). But enough of that.
Zane came along, but he spent the day with his mum. Because of visa regulations, Mark cannot travel out of the US without him, so Zane will be home-schooled for a couple of weeks. We have all his assignments and projects. Boy has a lot to do!
Yesterday afternoon, we strolled to the Beresford in Surry Hills for a Sunday session. We were joined by Alison, as well as our friends Kerry & Simon. It's been a while since I've had a Sunday session, as this ol' body can attest to. Fun, nevertheless!
It's time to go home. Sitting on a night ship as it plows through the North Sea on its way from The Netherlands to the UK, where we will catch a plane back to Sydney, I type this post with an odd mix of feelings. My life is so different than it was when I lived here in Europe all those years ago. Reconnecting with old friends after many years of searching, learning, sinking and swimming, I realize that my life is now just as rewarding as I'd hoped it ever would be.
I am not just a middle-aged man, losing his hair where it counts and gaining it where it doesn't, often lost in the breathtaking race of human life, fighting the thicket of insignificance, rejoicing in the experience of what it means to be human. I am the worthy sum of many parts. I am who I am because of where I have been. I am a product of what I have seen and whom I have known.
All of the diverse and equally wonderful people who then and now welcomed me into their homes, their lives and their hearts, even after so many years, have shaped me. They have taught me lessons. They have given me a voice. They have shown me how to be a man and a human. For that, I am indebted to them to an amount I doubt I can ever repay.
It is unlikely I would be the person, partner and father I am today, were it not for these people. And so, Mark, Max, Jenny, Karin and Neil, I thank you. And I look forward to seeing you all again, only with less delay and perhaps on a different continent.