Friday, October 23, 2009
Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this. I wholeheartedly apologize. I suppose by now you can tell that my posts will be titled after prayers and/or lines from the Bible. I can't help it - I was raised catholic. And when one of your friends decides to nickname you "Saint Matthew", you can't help but want to turn everything into a psalm or a reading. I've never thought of myself as a saint, but I've never thought of myself as a sinner either. I mean, I'm not innocent by any means - but there are many more people who are much less saintly than myself. When I lived in Houston, TX (1999-2001), a group of friends and I decided to take a trip to New Orleans. Well, naive boy that I am, I had no idea we were going to be there during Southern Decadence. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Southern Decadence happens over Labor Day weekend. It's the gay Mardi Gras. But much, much, much more depraved. I never thought I was a prude, but there were things there that shocked the hell out of me! I have never to this day seen such an open and public display of nudity and sex. There were people giving blowjobs and being fucked right on the streets - surrounded by groups of other men who were either watching, or watching while jerking off. It was the craziest thing I'd ever seen. The first day we got to New Orleans, we went out to Bourbon Street, but because I was the one who'd driven there, I ended up heading back to the hotel to sleep before 11pm. The other 3 guys in my group went to bar after bar. 2 of them came back to the room at 3am, and the 3rd didn't come back until 6am. William (the last to return) would try to tell me what he did, and how many men he did it with, but all I wanted to do was sleep. On our second night there, William shoved me into a back room at one of the bars. This was when I realized it was a sex room. The first thing that happened was that my glasses fogged up because of the heat. When I took them off and tried to focus on what was happening, I was shocked. Everywhere in the dimly lit room where men paired off or in bigger groups, just having all kinds of sex. Then came the hands trying to undo my belt and touching me everywhere. I pushed the hands away. I know I love sex, but I didn't want it happening in this scenario. I slowly made my way through the crowd and towards the exit. It felt like forever - like I was walking through mud. But finally, I opened the door and ran out. The bar patrons saw me, and laughed. When I went to the bar for a drink, the bartender told me they'd never seen someone run out before. While trying to regain my composure and downing my drink, a man seated next to me said "Don't feel bad. I don't like those rooms either." I looked over, and my neighbor was handsome. And his smile relaxed me. We talked for awhile, and he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. He showed me parts of the French Quarter, and then at one point he pushed me against a wall, and we kissed. He asked me to come to his hotel, and I readily agreed. We had sex in the bathroom because he wasn't sure if his "room-mates" would be coming back soon. It was hot and intense. After that, we spent 4 more days together - going out, having dinner, swimming at my hotel's pool. We couldn't keep our hands off each other. But all good things come to an end, and he left New Orleans. The next morning - at a very late breakfast - I got into an argument with my friend William. He somehow got it into his head that I thought I was better than him. I told him I didn't care how many men he slept with - it didn't change my opinion of him. I think I told him he had more of an issue with it than I did. So his response was "You think you're such a fucking saint. Saint Matthew is so much better than me!" And that is how my nickname was born. It eventually became part of an email address. The last night we spent in New Orleans, I spied a guy who looked EXACTLY like Christian Bale. When I told him so, he cringed. "You think he's good-looking?" he asked. Yes, I definitely did. His name was Hayes (love those southern names) and he was recently divorced. He'd only been with 2 other men. I sort of fell for him while we talked. He was so nervous that when we kissed, he was shivering. It was sweet. Eventually passion overtook the nervousness. I spent the night with him. When he drove me back to the hotel the next morning, he kissed me - right in front of everyone, and on the main street. My biggest regret is that I never asked how I could contact him again. He was truly a southern gentleman - and so damned handsome. The drive home was a long one - because we were all exhausted, and also because William was still mad at me. Another friend, Alfredo, tried to lighten the mood by joking and acting goofy the whole way home. It certainly made the trip a little easier. I often wonder why William was so moody. He often bragged of a trust fund, but we later found out he'd embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from his job. So much of his life was a lie, that we all distanced ourselves from him. We weren't sure what was real and what wasn't. Texas was truly an interesting place, and it was an interesting time of my life. I had a great job, and great friends. I also had a great place to live - but the weather and distance from my family made it hard to live there. In 2000, my father passed away from complications to his diabetes. I remember that day well. It was March 20th, and we'd later find out he'd had a minor heart attack while walking down the stairs in my sister's house. They called for an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital. Mom called to tell me what happened, and assured me he was doing much better. I'd had a date planned for that night, and Mom told me to go. So off I went. His name was Jonny, and he was in Public Relations for the company I worked for. He looked like a Raphaelite angel. So sweet and innocent. As soon as I got to his place, he sparked up a joint, and proceeded to get higher than a kite, all while I sat there and watched. We went to a bar for drinks, and instead of having fun and talking, we watched music videos because he was too wasted for anything else! Finally, I took him home and he said something cheesey like "Well, I guess you waited all night to kiss me." Like he was the stuff that dreams were made of! So we kissed, and he had THE worst breath. EVER! I sucked on about 20 mints the whole ride home, and then brushed my teeth and tongue about 5 times to get the awful taste out of my mouth! When I walked into my living room, I saw my answering machine blinking - telling me I had 7 messages. Before I played them, I just knew my father had passed away. Each message got increasingly sadder. I called my Mom, and we talked, and cried. This was before I had a cell phone, and I curse the fact that I didn't have one. I mean, I had a shitty day and an awful date. But they paled in comparison to this news. After talking to my Mom, I immediately called my sister Geri. Of all my sisters and brothers, I am closest to her. I was fortunate that work allowed me take off as much time as I wanted. I think I was home for over 2 weeks. It was so nice to be with my family, despite the bad circumstances, and when it was time to go back to Texas, I didn't want to go. I cried at Dad's funeral, but I didn't really cry. Does that make sense? I mean, it felt like I still needed closure. When I got home, I was driving to work on a toll road, and as I was waiting in line at the toll booth, I noticed the car in front of me was an El Camino. Myfather always drove El Caminos. So that made me laugh a little. But then I looked at the driver in his mirror, and he looked exactly like my Dad. I got one of those pangs in my stomach. So, he left the toll plaza, and I hurriedly paid my toll, and drove like a bat out of hell. I was determine to get next to that car and see if he really looked like Dad, or if I was hallucinating. I was driving 80 miles an hour, and there was only 5 miles of road left and no exits, so I just knew I'd find that car. But I never did. It was like it vanished. It almost felt like it was Dad saying good-bye. Twice when I was in Houston, we had horrible rainstorms that resulted in severe floods that made the city impassable. Hundreds of people died. During the second flood, a friend and I got trapped by floodwaters in a car that stalled out. We got out before it was too late, but we walked through water that was sometimes chest-high while trying to get to my place. It was a scarey night. I was also living there when the whole 9/11 thing happened. That was bizarre. I can remember a guy I was dating called me to say a plane crashed into one of the twin towers, so we ran to the TV to watch the news. It was so surreal - and we got to see the 2nd plane crash into the second tower live on TV. It almost didn't seem real. We were all sent home - as Houston has a lot of Oil Refineries - and they weren't sure if they were targeted for attacks as well. I tried for hours to call my Mom, and when I finally got through and talked to her, I realized I didn't like being that far away from my family. I didn't want to be so far away from Mom. That was what put the plan in motion to move back north. My older brother Brad flew down to Texas to help me drive the Uhaul back home to PA. It was an interesting trip. We took turns: one slept while one drove. It took about 20 hours. We were stopped 3 times by police. It seems that after 9/11, Uhauls were looked at as suspicious. But it was a good trip, and a nice time to bond with my brother. I sometimes miss certain things about Texas, but I could never imagine living there again.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I wanted to take a detour today, and talk about things that are happening right now. I'm at an odd place in my life. My job is good, I am single - but for the first time in my life, I don't feel like I need someone. A partner would make life better, but I don't want that person to be my life. I want them to share in my life. I have a great apartment that I've made my home. My health is good, and I have amazing friends. But I still feel like I don't know exactly what it is that I am supposed to do with my life. Last fall, I was excited and scared at the prospect of changing my job description. I stopped traveling for work, and as time went on I realized I didn't miss it at all. I realized I hated flying, hated security lines, hated baggage claim, and everything else that came with it. I make my own schedule, and I feel like my life was handed back to me. For 6 years, I basically traveled 3 weeks per month. I was gone so much that I didn't have a lot of local friends. I rarely saw my family either. I missed my brothers and sisters, and missed my Mom even more so. No matter what is going on in my life, and no matter how upset I am, my Mom always knows what to do or say, and even knows what to make me for dinner that will make it all better. I'm grateful that I was able to at least talk to her on the phone while I was away so much. If I hadn't been able to have that, I'd have probably had a breakdown. For the small amount of fun that I had at these work trips - and there was some fun - it really didn't make up for the fact that I had no life. My life was work. I missed out on so much. When I was home, all I wanted to do was sleep. And when I did meet someone I wanted to date, they soon realized the reality of dating me meant seeing me sporadically - and exchanging texts, short calls, and sometimes using instant messenger in exchange for seeing each other face-to-face. I don't blame anyone I dated in those 6 years for being unhappy with the situation. I was unhappy with the situation. But now here it is, 11 months later, and I am happy. I spend time - quality time - with friends. I have been going to rugby games with my VERY good friend, Daniel and his husband Rob. I love it. I really love it. What's not to love? Hot men, in short shorts, getting sweaty and playing a brutal yet sexy game. It's exciting, and the energy and action never stops. These guys are accepting of the "gays" who are at times both watching and ogling them. It makes you feel hopeful. It also makes me want a "rugger" as my boyfriend. Daniel and I also get to ride home from DC on the same train a few times a month. It's often a high point of my day. We make each other laugh, we gossip, we stare at and comment about hot men on the train - it's a great way to end an often grating and grueling work day. Also, because of my friend Kim, I joined Facebook a year ago, and I have found and rediscovered friends and old friends alike. Some of these friends I hadn't seen in almost 20 years! I've even used it to reconnect with my relatives in France - and even had the pleasure of talking on the phone with my cousin, Shirley. (I haven't seen her since 1991!) I'd kiss the man who started Facebook if I knew where he was - but more so, I want to thank Kim for goading me into joining. Kim is one of my oldest friends - we met when we were 20, on the streets of Lancaster, PA. She was, and is, so beautiful. She makes me laugh, we've cried together, we've discovered gay bars together - we've even traveled together. I used to wish I'd been born straight so I could have lived my life with her. But I am honored to call her my friend. She married a Brit ('ello, Allen!) and recently the relocated to England - living in the countryside in a small town called Hornby. Another of my really good friends is my co-worker Suzanne, who I affectionately call Dumbass. (she calls me Dumbass also!) From the first moment I met her, I knew I'd met a kindred spirit. She's probably the most open-minded person I've ever met. No matter what I tell her, or whatever we talk about, she never judges. And she always manages to make me laugh to the point where my stomach hurts and tears are running down my face. She lives in the coolest house in the world, and drives the coolest Mini Cooper - and has the coolest boyfriend on earth. He's the gayest straight man I've ever met - and I mean that as a compliment. He's talented as hell, and his attention to detail is unparalleled. (well, except for maybe Suzanne's) He even loves shoes as much as I do. (and that's a LOT!) Suzanne has not only made me feel better about myself, she's helped me through break-ups, she's introduced me to some amazing people, gotten me into one of her boyfriend's exclusive parties where we all dressed in Moroccan garb, AND helped me pack up my last apartment. She's the person who would probably do anything I asked her to - and I appreciate that more than she probably knows. I often think she's the main reason I stay at my job. I love her. I love all of my friends very much. But Suzanne is one special Dumbass. I am blessed. That is my revelation. I am blessed, and love will come to me when I am ready. (and even faster when I stop dating idiots!)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
As I sit here writing this (on a side note), it is a brisk October morning (temps in the upper 40's). I feel happy and content, as this is my favorite time of the year. Last time I wrote, I touched on my formative years. After I left high school, and embarked on my life as a young gay man, I can honestly say that all that I wanted was to find love. With my friend Matt by my side, we traveled to Baltimore to the Hippo (the only gay bar we knew) in our unending search for understanding. It's interesting that when stepping into a gay bar, we finally felt complete - surrounded by others like us. It was like the Island of Misfit Toys. No ridicule could touch us - well, except for the ridicule of other gay men. The gays are an interesting bunch - we can be so embracing, yet also be so caustic. We spent as much time as we could at the Hippo. And on New Year's Eve, I had my first slow dance with another man. His name was Paul. He was handsome. He took my breath away. We dance, we kissed - it was amazing. I never got his number, and I never saw him again. I soon found out that quite often that would be the case. Men drifted in and out of my life. I am not 100% sure why some gay men shun connections with each other - whether it's from choice, or whether they don't feel they're worthy, I am not sure. I just know it made me sad. But I do remember that I wanted to prove Brian wrong - I wanted to find love. I met some men in Baltimore - the first who wanted to date me was an "older" man named Ellis. He was 33 to my 18. According to his friends, he liked them young. Briefly, I thought I loved him. After Ellis, I met someone I definitely thought I was going to spend my life with. His name was Albert - or Al, as I called him. He was 23, and he was in the US Navy. He pursued me heavily. It was flattering. We dated for a few months, but when he discussed us moving to South Carolina, I was scared. I'd never been away from my family, and wasn't sure I wanted to move so fast. I remember the last time I saw him. We were in a hotel (always hotels as he was a closted military man, and I still lived at home) - and our discussion quickly turned heated. I remember that I started to leave, and he shoved me. I fell onto the A/C unit, and cut my back open. He immediately was beside me - crying, apologizing. I was numb - I just knew I had to get out of there. And I did. I left some of my things there, but I just fled. It was my first experience with a man that didn't end well, and unfortunately, not my last. I don't want to play the victim - I am sure I was not innocent either. But, as a young gay man, it certainly was traumatizing to be in such a situation. Soon afterward, we were told we weren't allowed back into the Hippo, as we were underaged. We weren't sure where to go - but the doorman suggested we try the gay bars in DC, as 18 year olds were allowed. So, off we trudged to DC - and found a whole new crowd of men. It was exciting. It was new. It was also an awful 2-hour drive each way! But we were not deterred. The first bar we found was called "Badlands". It was exciting. It was new. And we found a group of people who intrigued us - the "punks", the "alternatives" or "new wavers". They stood out in the clubs - but not for bad reasons. They dressed in black, wore guy-liner, had funky hair. I was jealous. I just sort of had one of those epiphanies. These were men I wanted to know. I wanted to BE one of them. So, slowly but surely I worked my way into they're inner circle. I did my best to emulate how they dressed, how they acted. My friend Matt, however, was more and more interested in the leather scene. We drifted apart. I started hanging out with my new friend Martin. He also lived in PA, and we both were more and more interested in this group of misfits. I bought more and more black clothing. I dyed my hair black. Marty and I probably spent a fortune on gel and Aquanet. Eventually I met a man named Robert - who was a painter, and who worked for Utrecht. He was quiet, he was interesting. But most of all, he liked me. He groomed me into more of the artsy guy I wanted to be. I moved to DC to live with him, while working for Urban Outfitters. I was in love. I lived in DC. It was exciting. Unfortunately, after a few months, I realized Robert was cheating on my with my co-worker. I am wracking my brain trying to remember his name, but I cannot. I just knew I was despondant. I waited until he was at work, and packed all of my things. Martin came to meet me, and we drove away. I think I did something dramatic - like I left him a letter explaining where I was, and why I left. I had to tone my look down when I returned to PA - as I wasn't getting jobs because of my "extreme" look - which really wasn't that extreme at all. So, my black hair went away, and I toned down my clothes - to a point. I felt lost, and I was still only 20. Marty and I continued to drive to DC on weekends - sometimes spending friday, saturday and sunday nights at the clubs. There were countless times we would fall asleep while driving home - only to be jarred awake by car horns, or by each other. Scarey times. I remember once Marty and I actually did crash his car - ending up in a farmer's field. It was raining, and the fields were filled with mud at least a foot deep. I was wearing white pants and shoes (copying Duran Duran's look from the early 80's) and I was so mad that I had to walk through the muddy fields. Looking back at it now, I still laugh. I lost one of my shoes in the mud. We were given a ride by a passing motorist who saw the crash. I can't even imagine how funny we looked to him - our sprayed and unmoving hair, our crazy clothing - covered in mud. I even remember that Marty's car stereo was playing "Baby Love" by the Supremes. Good times.