Monday, September 20, 2010

Missing You, Part 2

At 9:47 Monday morning, I receive the call.  The display on the phone tells me he's still in Castlegar.  As I put the receiver to my ear, I hear the end of his laugh.

"You haven't left yet?" I ask.

How's that for starting?  No, "Hello."  No, "How's my sweetheart?"  I'd expected his call almost two hours earlier.  He should be on the road by now, stopped for coffee.      

"No, not yet," Chris says, in his casual way.

"How long will it take to drive back?"  I wait for him to say nine hours or so, all the more reason why he should have gotten an earlier start.  My waiting is done now.  I'm anxious to have him safely back home.  

"Oh, about seven hours," he answers.

I think he's underestimating.  That's much shorter than I thought.  Just how fast will he have to drive to get from Castlegar, in the southern interior of BC, to the coast near Vancouver?  I picture him in the car, cruise control on, AC DC blaring, large coffee cup in hand, only somewhat aware of the speed he's driving and the road in front of him.  

"So what time do you think you'll be back home?"

"Oh--" he thinks, "--six, six-thirty."

"Will you stop for dinner somewhere?"  I picture the two of us sitting at the island in the kitchen, having dinner together again.  I can't wait.  

"I'll have to decide depending on where I am and at what time."  I make a mental note to eat without him, as though that's my usual routine.  It's not.  "Dad and Lil say hi."

"Say hi back."  He does.

"Okay, sweetheart, I guess you better get on the road."


"You drive safely, all right?"  He hates when I say that, or offer similar advice.  I sound too much like his mom.  No, worse.  His mom would never tell him that.  They're so alike. Everything will be fine.  You worry too much.  Relax.

"Of course."

"I'll see you when you get here then."


"Drive safely," I yell into the phone again, to make sure he heard.  I can't help myself.  Maybe I just need to hear his voice again, in case....    

"I will."  This time he sounds reassuring.

"Bye, my dude."

"See you later."

He doesn't know I had trouble sleeping last night, thinking about him on the road most of today. He doesn't know how much depends on his safe return.

And, so, I take another deep breath--

Safe travels, my sweetheart.  I love you so much.

Postscript:  For those of you who are interested, Chris arrived home safely just after 6:00 p.m. When I saw the car pull up, I finally exhaled.  I'm most grateful to be back together with him.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I have to share this with you.  No better argument exists for taking a chance on love.

The quote is from the September 13, 2010 issue of Time, in an article titled "Everlasting Love," by Richard Corliss, about the recent release of the movie Never Let Me Go, based on Kazuo Ishiguro's book of the same name.  Recently selected to carry on the Spiderman franchise in the role of Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield portrays Tommy in the movie.

'Here's the way life is: whether we live to be 30 or 90, we all have a death sentence hanging over us.  As Garfield says, "What's important in our lives is that we make the best of this, that we immerse fully in love."  Never Let Me Go is a plea to live and love well, so that long before our time is up, we will truly have reached completion.  That way, we can live forever [p. 61].'     

I hasten to add, love for ourselves as well as for each other.  And I can't add anything more to the connection made between the love we experience here on earth, the continuation of who we were in our loved ones after we're gone, and the immortality of our souls.  

Something to think about.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Missing You

"Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance."
(From David Nicholl's One Day, p. 433)

At 6:37 Monday evening, I received the call.  Chris on his cell phone.  After leaving __________ at 8:16 that morning, he'd arrived, safely, in Castlegar, where his father and step-mother live.  He'll be there for the next week to visit them.  I was relieved to see his cell phone number on the call display.

Did I worry about him all day because I knew he'd be on the road for nine to ten hours by himself?  Sure.  As he pulled away from the house, I took a deep breath, and I let it out only after I knew he'd arrived at his destination safely.  Who wouldn't?  I have a lot invested in him.  He's my life partner, the man I waited thirty-two years to find, and the sole breadwinner in our household (allowing me to devote time to my writing career).

The emotional connection is the hardest.  Anyone who's read enough of these posts knows I'm as emotionally attached to this man as it's possible to be.  I love him.  I love what he brings to my life.  I love the life we've built together.  I love the idea of growing old with him. I pray I'm the first to go, so I don't know what life is like without him.

Crazy things happen in this world.  Just last week, in a single issue of The Vancouver Sun, I read two tragic stories of innocent people killed in horrendous car accidents--one, because the driver of the other car was drunk; two, because the driver of the other car was high on drugs.  Enough life-changing things happen on our highways without drivers being under the influence of anything.

I'm a chronic worrier.  Yes, as Chris reminds me, I must stop looking at the negative all the time. I must stop anticipating something awful will happen.  But how can I?  Every day, people's lives are irrevocably changed when loved ones are taken from them.  Every day, people find themselves in the midst of the most searing emotional pain imaginable.  Every day, people are forced to find new norms that do not include others who were central to their lives before.  How is it possible to go on?

Loving someone is an enormous risk.  For years, I prayed to be in a relationship.  I wanted to experience love.  I wanted someone of my own to love.  I wanted someone to love me back. I wanted to put into my reality the love I saw in movies, heard about in songs, read about in books.  I wanted my own love story.  I needed my own love story.  I did not want to leave this life without knowing what real and true love was.

But where there is love, there is always the potential for loss and heartbreak.  Every day, we are reminded of people who have lost loved ones--in books, on TV, in newspapers.  Love is cut short all the time.  Or maybe I should say the daily manifestation of love is cut short all the time. Because I know just because loved ones are taken away from us, our love for them doesn't die.  

What loving someone else does is stretch us emotionally in ways we couldn't be stretched otherwise.  I can't imagine never loving Chris.  That is unfathomable.  And I am so much better off as a human being for having experienced love for and from him.

I have been blessed, blessed, for the past eighteen years of my life to call Chris my friend, my partner, my soulmate.  I can't think of any other word to describe it.  He's been a complete and utter gift, the greatest gift I could ever have received.

Sometimes, I look at him, and I wonder how we ever met and how we remain together today. How do two people, who knew nothing about each other, who grew up in different parts of the province, who are different in age by ten years, meet and fall in love? How do those same people remain connected to each other, year-in and year-out, building a life together, creating a past and imagining a future?  There's a bigger plan, dear readers, and we must believe in the existence of that plan.  It's at work in our lives continuously.  Have faith.

So, half of Chris's journey is over, and I'm grateful he is safe.  As much as I would have liked to control everything about his trip--as I strive to control everything in our lives anyway--I can't. So, Monday morning, after I said good-bye and watched Chris drive away in the car, I put him in God's hands.  I prayed He would keep him safe.  I prayed He would bring him back to me in a week's time so our life together could resume.  Who better to protect him than God?

That's all I can do.  That's all any of us with loved ones can do.  The only other option is to go crazy at the mere thought someone we love is out there in the world, away from us, where we have no influence over what happens, where we can't make at least an attempt, feeble as it might be, to protect them.  That's life.  That's the chance we take when we love someone with all our hearts.

I don't see there's any alternative.  Not loving someone with that intensity is not an option, not for me, because that's not living.  To say you've truly lived, truly fulfilled your experience as a human being on this earth, you must love someone else, as the song goes "truly, madly, deeply," despite the constant possibility the one you love can be taken away from you, at any time, by any means.

For now, when I look outside the front window of our house, I see the car is gone.  And I'll see that empty space for the next week.  Some people would tell me to enjoy every minute I'm by myself, because, before I know it, Chris will be back.  I should live life fully when Chris and I are together, as well as when we're apart.  And so I try.

But my heart awaits the moment when the car pulls up, when I see Chris get out, look at me, and smile--that warm and wonderful smile of his.  When our life together begins again.

Friday, September 10, 2010


In yet another example of my infinite pettiness and Chris's infinite patience and selflessness, he had the perfect response for me when I apologized for something I did.

Last spring, Chris bought a number of bulbs for the garden we planned to put in our yard this year.  Among them was a dahlia.  I love dahlias.  What a show of nature's extravagance, brilliance, and perfection they are.  Chris knows I love dahlias, as does he.

I believe in buying bedding plants so they look instantly good in the garden, perform faster, and have a better chance of survival (another example of my impatience?), while Chris likes to start plants from scratch and nurture them over time.  He can do his thing.  It's my garden, too, but there's no use fighting over it.  (Reminds me of a gay couple who fought in a video store one Saturday evening over what movie to rent.  It's not that important, people.)    

When the first flower emerged on our one and only dahlia bulb earlier this summer, to say I was disappointed is an understatement.  Sure, the foliage was a startling bronzy-black, so unlike anything else around it, but I expected a large flower head, with multiple layers of petals, something I could cup my hand around.  Instead, the flower was a single layer of red petals with a yellow middle.  Even in contrast to the foliage, it fell short of spectacular.  A real let-down, in my opinion.

Of course, as is my way, I complained to Chris that, after waiting all that time for the bulb to emerge from the ground, watching the unique foliage grow taller, and anticipating that first bud transforming into a full-blown flower, I couldn't believe he'd selected something so bland, when he had his choice this spring of any number of other bulbs that would have put on a major display in our garden.

But I didn't leave it at that.  How many times have we been in our garden over the summer, Chris filled with pride over how well everything's turned out (especially for its first year), including his precious dahlia, and I've complained again and again about his bad choice, how lackluster the flowers are, how they make, at best, only a minor statement?  Too many.

Last weekend, Chris and I met another gay couple for a light lunch at the Gillnetter, a pub on the Mary Hill Bypass with an outstanding view of the Fraser River.  One or the other of the couple asked us how our garden was doing this year, and, somehow, we ended up on the subject of the unimpressive dahlia.  Of course, I had to get my jab in again, putting down Chris's gardening prowess in the process by talking down the dahlia selection.  I thought my description of the pitiful flower was funny, but, by this time, the joke was over.

Then, yesterday, I was in the backyard, looking at the array of plants we grew this year, and I stopped to stare at a flower that had just opened on the offending dahlia plant.  In the middle of it was a honey bee, crawling around the brilliant yellow center, gathering pollen.  And, as I focused on the bee, impressed by its industriousness, for the first time, I really saw just how beautiful the flowers are on that plant.

Not only how beautiful, but also how perfect.  The more I looked at the bright red petals, the more I realized how the red was made all the more vibrant by streaks of orange in them too. The assortment of colors on a single flowering plant, from red to orange to yellow to bronzy black was striking, and the perfection of that single flower, so loved by the bee, hit me as though it was the first time I'd seen it.  Perhaps it was.

I knew I owed Chris an apology, not just for complaining about my disappointment in the performance of the dahlia, but for continuing to beat it to death over the past weeks.  And, worse, for bringing it into our conversation with our friends last weekend, making him look like a fool in front of them for being such a poor gardener.

When Chris returned home from work last evening, we sat down to the dinner I'd prepared, and I told him I owed him an apology.  For what, he asked.  For harping on the dahlia flowers all summer, for saying he hadn't selected a spectacular enough specimen, for embarrassing him in the company of our friends.

Chris's response?  "That's just you."

My immediate thought generous.  And how gracious.  How generous, gracious, and sweet.  And how like Chris.  I loved him all over again--not that I was ever out of love with him--for not making me feel badly because of how petty I'd been, or for how I'd ended up putting him down every time I'd made a disparaging comment without realizing I was doing it.

In his own selfless way, Chris had heard my rants, but he'd chosen not to give them any importance, because he knew, in the grand scheme, they weren't important.  Goodness knows I've given him more than enough reason over the years we've been together to get upset with me--for all the ways I've inadvertently passed judgment on him by saying something that may have been about something else, but that, through its connection to him, diminished him in some way, too.

You want to know why our relationship works?  Because one of us--not me!--consistently takes the high road.  One of us consistently forgives the impulsive comments, and slights, and complaints of the other.  One of us doesn't harbor any of the hard feelings accompanying the hurtful things said.  One of us is selfless and patient enough not to take anything personally that comes out of my mouth.    

As far as Chris is concerned, it's as if my comments or complaints aren't uttered at all.  He doesn't argue with me.  He doesn't shoot me a dirty look.  He doesn't try to control me.  He doesn't try to change me.  He knows, for better or for worse--and I have my good points, too--this is me.  He knows who I am.  And somewhere in all of that, whether I deserve it or not, he loves me just the same.  

(For those who are interested, the name of the dahlia plant we grew this year is Bishop of Llandaff.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Strong, Gay Men #2

On July 12, 2010, I published a post entitled "Strong, Gay Men."  Over the past two months, that post has been viewed eighty-four times--by far the largest number of any of my posts.

I suspect many people, when they read the title, think I refer to the physical strength of gay men. Perhaps they expect to see pictures of hot men, their shirts off, their muscles bulging. Goodness knows plenty of blogs do that sort of thing.    

But, of course, the strength I refer to is all internal, not something I expect a lot of gay men think about, because gay culture is too focused on outward appearances.  When many of us see a handsome, buff man, we think he has it all together.  He takes care of himself.  He works out in the gym.  He knows how to dress well.  His life is in order.  He knows who he is.

But I'll bet that isn't the case at all.  I'll bet his life isn't in order, and he doesn't know who he is.  Because it's a lot easier to work on the outside than it is to work on the inside.  And we see the outside more readily than we see the inside.

People think lifting weights is tough.  Consider how much tougher it is to accept yourself as a gay man--I mean truly accept yourself, not just say you do--and to love yourself.  Because how you respond to the world around you--that is, to the people you come into contact with, including potential partners--is profoundly influenced by those.  Whatever insecurities you have about being gay will reflect on you in ways you can't imagine.

How much you love yourself can't be based on how you feel about homosexuality in other men.  Or, put another way, if you see an effeminate gay man, and you're disgusted by him, inclined to put him down, either in your mind or in words to those around you, you have just put yourself down.  How you see homosexuality in someone else determines how you see it in yourself.  

Gay is gay.  Some gay is no better than other gay.  Some gay men are not more acceptably gay than others.  It's all the same.  In the end, we all want dick.

So, while you're working on your body, trying to make yourself more physically attractive to other men, try working on your mind, to make yourself more mentally attractive, too.  Try accepting and loving yourself for a change.  Start doing the hard work required not only to come to terms with your own homosexuality but to help eliminate homophobia in our own community.

Ask yourself, am I responsible for perpetuating homophobia because of how I feel about myself as a gay man?  If you are, start working on being a strong, gay man in the only way that matters, to you, to other gay men, and to our culture.  Sure, take care of your body--nobody's saying to let yourself go.  But get your head right, too, and help make a difference.                                

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homosexuality and the Bible

Below, you'll find two excerpts from an email I sent to a good friend and pastor of a non-denominational church, with whom I had a recent in-depth discussion on the topics of homosexuality and the Bible.  While I could rewrite everything I wrote in these excerpts to fit the format of my blog, this isn't necessary.  I'll make a few adjustments for clarity, but I believe the content stands on its own.

Excerpt #1:

Homosexuality, and the often quoted references to it in the Bible, are not cut and dried. How can they be?  I'm gay.  I've always been gay.  I will always be gay (even though some think, if I wanted to badly enough, I could be cured).  I refuse to believe I'm a bad person because I love, and have sex with, someone of the same gender.  Who am I really hurting by being true to myself, by being who I was meant to be? How is that a sin, particularly if you are born gay, as I believe to the core of my being I was?

Thus, despite what devoted Christians think, being gay is not a moral issue (which I wrote about previously in another post).  I refuse to believe it is.  At some point, if you're gay and religious to whatever extent, you have to decide to accept and love yourself, to live your life as you are, and to take the risk you won't enjoy eternal life with God in heaven.  Otherwise, there would be no point living this life on earth.  (And I don't believe for a moment not accepting and loving myself--that is suffering in this life being what I am and never following through on it--would make God look at me any more favorably when it comes to the afterlife. I'm not prepared to carry that cross on earth, so to speak, for the possibility of making it to heaven.)

Excerpt #2:

Do you worry about my soul?  Do you think my confusion about what to believe in the Bible and my belief some Bible passages should be questioned will prevent me from assuming my place next to God after I've passed on?  I don't worry about that anymore.  I may have, when I was coming to terms with being gay.  In fact, being raised Catholic, it was a BIG part of the process.

But I've had to accept myself, and along with that, I've had to accept what may eventually happen to my soul.  What choice do I have?  I am who I am.  I fought too hard, for too long, against homosexuality, and where did it get me?  I've had to get on with it, and, where my sexual orientation is concerned, I know I'm in a better place now than I've ever been.

I have a right to love someone, even if that someone is the same gender.  I have a right to enjoy companionship and intimacy the same as any straight person.  I have a right to be a whole human being and not to hate myself anymore because I'm gay.  And I have a right to believe what I believe and live will be acceptable to God in the end.