The other day, I was listening to the radio while driving, and "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith came on. I absolutely love that song and want to include it here. So thanks to YouTube, enjoy a nice rendition with lyrics, no less:
I actually have an emotional history associated with this song. The song was quite popular on the radio back in 1998, thanks to Armageddon. At the time, I was also involved with a young man name Zech. It was actually my first relationship, providing you don't count the friend I experimented with in high school. The song meant a lot to me back then. Every time I heard it, I thought of Zech.
The other day when I heard the same song, it made me think of another guy. I'll call this guy D (until he tells me he's ready for me to talk about him by name. D and I have been talking, hanging out, and otherwise enjoying each other's company. We're not actually dating, though I hope that changes some day in the not-too-distant future.
What I find interesting is that while similar, the reaction the song evokes in me regarding D now and the reaction I had back when I was involved with Zech. In both cases, the theme of the song -- the desire to be with that special someone as much as possible -- resonated deeply with me. However, the emotional undercurrents are worlds apart.
As I mentioned, Zech was my first boyfriend (though come to think of it, we never officially dated). We were both young and immature, and I was only recently out (I had only finally accepted my sexuality two years earlier). This meant that I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil, and tended to cling to Zech in a sense of desperation. And that desperation came through back then as I'd listen to the song. I didn't want to miss a thing, because I was terrified that things would end. Part of me wanted to squeeze as much out of the relationship before the horrible ending came, and part of me foolishly believed that simply by being ever-present, ever-vigilant, and ever-suffocating, I could actually prevent the horrible ending from coming.
I've grown up a great deal in the intervening twelve years, and I now listen to that song again with a new guy in mind. And once again, I find myself nodding along with the song. But rather than a nagging sense of desperation, my heart is filled with a sense of peace and contentment.
The funny thing is, there area few parallels. There's no guarantee that things will work out between D and I. (Is there ever really any such guarantee?) I don't know how long I have with him or even if we'll ever become a couple like I'm hoping for. I think it's likely though.
But in the end, it doesn't matter. I have this time now, and I want to make the most of it. Not out of fear or desperation, but out of hope and joy.
People often talk about how music can evoke powerful emotions and we can associate specific memories and feelings with a song. However, I sometimes think that people forget that new connections and associations can be made with old songs that replace or overpower the old ones. I know from personal experience that this is true, because I enjoy "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" far more today than I did back in 1998.
In fact, I think I'm going to go listen to it again.
Recently in Love Category
The other day, I was listening to the radio while driving, and "Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith came on. I absolutely love that song and want to include it here. So thanks to YouTube, enjoy a nice rendition with lyrics, no less:
Image via Wikipedia
As I'm getting settled into my new apartment and finding ways to establish myself in Rochester, I find myself realizing just how little I think of Mike. In some ways, I find myself in that strange state where it just doesn't matter anymore. I've cried my tears, and while I feel the slight ache of being alone once again (and not getting any younger), I have a strange peace about having lost him.
It was a rough journey getting here. I found myself emotionally distraught about the whole thing. I cried so many tears. To be honest, I never realized I could cry so much over the end of a relationship when I was the person to end it. But there you have it. And I think I learned a lot about it. I came to understand one of Freyja's myths a bit better.
When Freyja lost Od, she cried tears of gold. Indeed, according to Snorri, this is why "Freyja's tears" became a kenning for gold. I always found the fact that her tears were gold a mild curiosity. Now I see it as an incredibly profound mystery. And I have a much greater appreciation for the value of grief. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that true grief is a sacred act in its own right. Hence the tears of gold.
I wanted to quit being sad over the breakup. I kept wanting to "move on already." I didn't want to shed any more tears. I was "wasting time." But no, the tears, the sadness, the grief kept coming. And my sweet Lady kept telling me, "No, you need this. Cry your tears. They're my golden tears." So I did the only thing I could do, I cried, and I explored my grief.
Then I realized why I cried so much. I was experience true grief, the kind that only comes when one loves so freely and without reservation, only to lose that love. In effect, I wept bitterly because I loved fully. And there is a certain beauty in that.
You see, I think that's the mistake we too often make. We're too afraid of that kind of grief, so we avoid being so vulnerable. We only love grudgingly, often holding back and never truly letting go. We do that because we think that sense of grief is bad and to be avoided.
After the past couple months, I've come to a different way of thinking. As painful as such sorrow and grief may be, it is in its own way a celebration. My tears were bitter, but they were born of my precious love. I came to understand that as I cherished my love, I could cherish my grief which came as a result of it. In that view, they became bittersweet, and I could see how they really were tears of gold.
I'm not sure many people would understand that. But that's okay. I guess it's one of those things you have to experience and come to understand yourself. Me explaining it just won't do. But for those who do understand, I can just imagine their reaction to reading this.
Image by WolfS♡ul via Flickr
I understand you're in a difficult position. I understand that it's frightening for you. And I understand why you've made the choices you did. My heart breaks for you that you were ever in a position that you had to face such choices.
But you were in that position, and you made those choices. What's more, you made many choices that helped to leave us in the situation we now find ourselves in. And I feel like you chose to ignore that fact, and instead place responsibility entirely on those around you -- including me -- instead of accepting your fair share of that responsibility.
Please understand, I'm not saying it's all your fault, either. We both made choices, and not all of mine were the wisest or best choices I could have made. And others have contributed as well. There's plenty of "blame" to go around. But it hurts that you seem to want me to shoulder your responsibility -- or at least part of it -- in addition to my own.
In some ways, I wonder if I made a mistake in trying to make things easier for you. I sometimes steered clear of bringing up the consequences of your choices or the painful decisions that you might have had. I find myself wondering if in doing so, I merely encouraged you to continue denying your own responsibility. If so, then I suspect I did both of us a great disservice.
So I'm hurt right now. But I still love you, and I still miss you. I think that makes the pain all the more acute.
Image by WolfS♡ul via Flickr
I miss our talks. I miss your requests, even though they were often more like demands than actual requests. I miss the way you'd get excited about something and become completely consumed with a thought or idea that struck your fancy.
I miss how you could be tender and loving so much of the time. I miss how you yearned for both physical and emotional intimacy, and I cringe at the thought that we may never share that intimacy again.
Some people want to think it was just about sex. I know the reasons they think that, but they're wrong. It was never about the sex. Yes, the sex was nice and I'll miss that too, but sex alone does not make a relationship.
Besides, let me be honest. If I was just interested in sex, there are far easier avenues I could pursue to get it. I could get a room at the spa if I just wanted sex. I could hang out at the Home Depot if I just wanted sex. I could have answered ads on craigslist if I just wanted sex.
Accepting the complications, limitations, and risks of our relationship would have been way too much foolish effort if I had merely been in it for the sex. I'm amazed at anyone who can't see the truth of that statement.
It's the memories of moments spent lying next together and talking that are most powerful. It's the memories of hopping into the shower and lovingly washing each other's bodies that make me ache for more such tenderness. It's the memories of your smile as you tell me about every little detail of your life that fill me with wistfulness. The thought that I may never have any more of these experiences with you is what tears at my heart so much.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope that some day we might beat the odds so that we can be together gain. I hoe that some day we might again share such moments of tender joy together.
But for now, I miss you.
Be still. Hold your center. Even in your pain and disappointment, breathe deeply. Relish the emotions. For even this dark side of love -- yes, you can use that word -- is of me. Without the bittersweet, the joyous ecstasy could not exist.
Your feelings are a part of you, but they are not the totality of you. You are bigger than them, and they cannot consume you. So let them be. Embrace them. Love them, for they flow out of your pure, beautiful soul.
You are hurting. This is the way of love, especially unrequited love. But it will pass in time, and more joyous aspects of love with assume their place for a season.
Do not stop loving. Continue to love those who do not return it -- at least no in the way you'd like. They are still precious to you. Do not lose sight of that or you will lose yourself.
I am always with you. Love is always with you, for I am love, as are you. Be true to love, me, and yourself.
The topic of love has been on my mind a lot, lately. (For those who know me, that should come as no surprise.) I've done a great deal of thinking about what it means to love someone and what love really is. I think that one of the most profound explanations of love can be found over at Fr. Geoff's blog today. The following is an excerpt from the wedding homily he posted:
It is true, there are very powerful feelings deeply intertwined with love; however, love is far more than merely a "feeling". Love is a choice. A choice made in freedom. To place another human being and his/her needs on par with your own and perhaps, even above your own. A beautiful example of this can be found in the persons of your parents who are here with you today. There were many times, during your infancy, when one of them got up out of a warm bed in the middle of the night to take care of your needs. There were countless times, when the alarm clock sounded and they got up out of bed and went to work so, that you'd have a plate at the table, a roof over your head and clothes on your back. That's love. Nothing fancy. Just ordinary people who chose to be there with and for each other. To help shoulder the burdens of life and, to share its joys and laughter. In the first letter of John (4:16) it states: God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God in them. In the book of Genesis (1:26) it states that God made us in his image. When we chose to love, it is at precisely that moment, that we most perfectly reflect the image of God in our world. It is at that very moment when we are at our best, our most noble. It is no small thing that causes you to speak these words here today and to enter into marriage.
While Fr. Geoff and I may disagree on many theological points (some fine and some more fundamental), there is much on the topic of love where we can find some common ground. To me, love is all about doing those little things to help, support, and bring out the best in the person I love. It's about providing a listening ear when they need to talk, a shoulder to bury their face in when they need to cry, or some chicken noodle soup when they're sick.
But why do we do these things? Why do we make the choice that Fr. Geoff writes about? Is that were the feelings come in? To some degree, that's the case. The feelings I have for someone definitely contributes to my desire to support, care for, and otherwise nurture them. But I think it goes beyond that, too.
I think that we often do this for the sake of love itself. I'm not talking about some sort of enlightened self-interest where we do these things in the hopes or with the expectation that the other person will do the same for us. (Though we all have those hopes, and I don't think they're inherently bad.) But there is something powerful in expressing love itself. To love and care for another brings out the best in us, something we desire to see and manifest. Once we allow that kind of virtue manifest through us, there is a certain sense of joy, which encourages us to do so again.
As I think of love and its expressions, I also think of fellow blogger Pam Hogeweide and her vigilante quest to discover, explore, and celebrate the ordinary. To me, the acts that most perfectly express love are firmly rooted in the "ordinary" life she (rightfully) finds underappreciated. But the thing is, it's that love which fills those "ordinary" acts with the extraordinary. Giving a tired and achy loved one a much-needed backrub may be an "ordinary" action, but the love behind that act is far from ordinary. It's a gift shining from the very core of one's soul. And that makes it incredible.
Love is truly one of the greatest myteries of life.
In an entry on Mutiply, I talked about my perspective changed in regards to getting involved with a guy who has kids. It seems proper to note that while I've only become fully aware of this change, the actual change process has been a long time in the works. In fact, I can trace its beginnings back as early as 2001.
Back in 2001, I met Mike, who I ended up dating for four years. Mike didn't have any children of his own, but was fiercely devoted two his sister's two sons, especially David, who was in his mid teens at the time. In fact, he was so devoted to them, you would've thought they were his own kids.
Again, this level of devotion was very attractive for me, for all of the same reasons I mentioned in the previous post. And there was the fact that Mike was devoted and close to his family in general, including his mother. (To be honest, he struck me as something of a "momma's boy" at times.) That in itself was also an attractive quality. I myself have always been close to my family, so it was nice to see that reflected in the person I was with. Of course, I also think that it was a bit of a comfort to me, as my family was becoming more distant at the time, too. So it was nice to be reminded that such closeness could still last, even if not in my family. (Fortunately, things are on the mend in my own family now.)
Of course, in the end, Mike's closeness with his family contributed significantly to the end of our relationship. This is mainly because in the four years we dated, Mike never reached the point where he was comfortable coming out to his family. This meant that he spent that entire time leading a double life, keeping our relationship safely separated from his relationship with his parents, sister, and nephews. This also meant that when his time was limited, that time was usually spent with his family rather than me. After a while, that simply became unacceptable to me. Along with other issues, I finally confronted him and ended our relationship when he admitted he was unwilling to do anything to resolve these issues.
In retrospect, I don't hold Mike's devotion to his family against him, even if it did contribute to the end of our relationship. To this day, I consider that a positive quality and something I'd still find attractive. However, I do take issue with his unwillingness to integrate his devotion to me and his devotion to his family, because his failure to do so was the real problem. To this day, that fact is something of a sore spot in my life, though I've mostly made my peace.
Through the grapevine, I've come to understand that Mike's gone back to dating girls, and has been with the same girl for at least a year now. I guess things are going quite well, at least from what I can gain from indirect sources. When I first found out about this, I was deeply hurt. In fact, I won't say I don't still feel a twinge of pain over it now. However, I've come to be more accepting of his choices, and I hpoe he can truly find happiness with this woman. After all, I don't think he'd ever find happiness with me or any other guy. Because it's become clear to me that he could never make that choice that would ultimately be necessary. So I hope he can find happiness in the choices he has made.
I know I have. And to be honest, I'm starting to realize that my new choices since breaking up with him have offered me more chances for happiness than I ever would've had with him. (I just hope that doesn't sound too cruel.)
Pam over at Willful Grace created a wonderful post in which she describes the major events in her life in each of the last twelve months as well as the lessons she learned from those events. It's a fantastic post and I encourage everyone to read it.
More importantly, Pam inspired me to do something similar. Sadly, my post won't be nearly as organized or well thought out as Pam's is. To be honest, I don't think I could come up with a single even for every month since last January. And besides, there are a couple of months that I doubt I could boil down into a single event or a single lesson learned from the events of some months.
The good news is that I'm not in a competition with Pam, so I'm under neither obligation nor pressure to match her excellent post. This gives me the freedom to simply allow her to inspire me and see where the inspiration takes me. So for that, I'd like to say thank you to her. And without further ado, I devote this post to the highlights of the previous year of my life.
I think that the first major highlight of the year came in February, when I met Rob. I didn't talk about Rob much in this blog, and there's a good reason for it. Rob represented the first time that a potential (and real, however temporary) love interest actually read my blog. As such, I struggled with finding the balance of what I could say, knowing that I didn't want to reveal anything I hadn't already discussed with him. After all, reading about what another person is feeling about you in his blog rather than firsthand strikes me as a horrible thing.
Rob found me online -- on Valentine's Day no less -- and contacted me to express a desire to get to know me and explore the possibility of a relationship. In many ways, we hit it off quite well. And I have to admit that I was swept off my feet. Rob was the first guy to actually pursue me. (Usually, I've had to chase after the other guy.) I learned just how much I could enjoy being the object of pursuit. In fact, I'd say that one of the things I learned about myself due to my encounter with Rob is that I like a slightly aggressive guy.
Sadly, things with Rob were fast-paced and terribly short lived. After a few dates and immediately after our first night together, Rob decided I wasn't what he was looking for after all. I have to admit that after being pursued that hard and dropped just as quickly, I was stinging. Though I did learn an important lesson in that respect, too. My guides tried to tell me things were going too fast and I should slow things back down. But I allowed myself to get carried away in the heat of the moment.
Of course, I don't think things would've ended any differently. After much time, I realize that Rob and I just weren't right for each other. And that would've been the case no matter how slowly we took things. Though I do admit that I wonder if slowing down would've enabled us to realize this before we took things as far as we did, saving at least some heartache. So the lesson I learned from that is that when spirit says slow down, it's best to listen, even if you are enjoying the heat of the moment.
March and April brought new choices with them. After the events of February, I realized that I needed to get out more and put myself in positions where I could meet more people. Before then, I had a small group of great friends, and I'm still thankful for them. But I realized that if I wanted more out of life (especially in the realms of socializing and dating), it was time to expand my circles even farther. So I began to join various groups and look for other ways to get out in the wider community. I would say I've seen some mixed results from those efforts, but I'd say they were positive overall. And it's still a work in progress. And I've made some great friendships (especially one in particular) as a result that I think I will always cherish.
The summer months, starting with June, brought unexpected changes in me. In June, I started walking more. In fact, the weekend before my birthday, I took my first ever seven mile walk along the Erie canal. That first walks was both exciting and draining. I came away with a sunburn and some pretty serious blisters on my feet, but I also developed a passion for the trek. In fact, I loved it so much, that I repeated the walk once a month through September and am even counting down the days until the warm weather returns and I can resume the little tradition.
In addition to the canal walk, I began taking a walk after my weekly dinner with friends on Monday nights. Those walks began when I got ready to leave the restaurant one Monday night and decided it was too gorgeous an evening to just go home. So a second walking tradition was born. By the end of summer, I was up to three one-hour walks a week (except on the weekend I'd take the canal walk, in which case that trek would replace one of the regular walks). I began to see this as something I did for enjoyment.
As an aside, this is also the summer that I began to enjoy sunbathing. This is something I had considered a waste of time while growing up and would often shake my head at my sister in disgust during summer vacations when she'd sunbathe daily. In fact, when I confessed to my sister this summer that I'd started enjoying the practice myself, she immediately asked, "Who are you and what have you done with my brother?"
In August, I went with friends the Northeast Naturist Festival. I had a pleasant time while there (though I will note that I kept my clothes on 99.9% of the time I was there) and enjoyed my first real vacation (i.e. a prolonged period off where I did something other than visit family) in years. I came to appreciate again the importance of pampering myself.
The naturist retreat also marked the point in time where I'd say I really began to start coming into my own in terms of spirituality. I had a few moving experiences while there, and they initiated changes in myself that continued over the next several months, and will likely continue into the coming year.
At this point, I will also note that I started really "coming into my own" in general around this time. Or at least I began to notice it. I began building much more self-confidence and a willingness to take risks and make myself more vulnerable. In some ways, I'd say my transformation into a minor social butterfly started to become more noticeable at this point.
In September and October, I had more spiritual awakenings. It is at this time when my patroness, Freyja, began to make it more clear that the nature of our relationship was going to change significantly. (I'm still not ready to publicly discuss the nature of that change, however.) Again, I found myself in situations where my comfort zones were pushed and I was encouraged (not quite at knifepoint) to stretch as a person.
Also in October, I went to a cousin's wedding. While making the trip with my parents and members from my father's side of the family, Freyja also impressed upon me the fact that I've cut myself off from my family. She began to impress upon me the fact that I need to get closer to them. She says it's because there are ways in which I can help various people in my family. Of course, I'm not sure how that's going to work, considering that the kind of help I can best offer is something most of them would be opposed to. But I guess time will tell.
Then in December, the bombshell dropped. About two weeks before Yule, Freyja suggested (again, not quite at knifepoint) that I should plan the Yule ritual for a small group of friends. So I placed the necessary calls, made the commitment, and moved forward. I have to admit, I was rather nervous, especially after becoming sick for the week prior to the ritual, which I had originally hoped to better use for planning. But things turned out beautifully and everyone had a pleasant time. And fortunately, I have much more advanced noticed for the next ritual I'm expected to plan, which isn't until the Spring Equinox.
I'd say it's been an interesting, profound, and profitable year. Hopefully the coming one will continue in that trend.
This Saturday, I rode with my parents, an aunt and uncle, and two cousins down to the Philadelphia area. There, we all attended my cousin Melissa's wedding to Brian. It was a pleasant day and an enjoyable weekend.
My parents and I left their house around 8:05 that morning. Our first stop was to pick up Uncle Roger, Aunt Marlene, Rhonda, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is Rhonda's daughter, who was not actually going to the wedding. We were just taking her to meet the family she would be spending the night with while her mother was away. After that, we swung by Sandrra's house to pick her up, thereby completing our little entourage. After that, the meat of our four hour trip began.
The trip itself went quite well, the worst part being the horrendous traffic on Route 309 when we hit Quakerstown. Of course, there was also the minor issue where we missed our turn onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike from I-80, but we recovered from that quickly. Fortunately, no cop was around to notice our illegal U-Turn just a couple hundred yards from the exit.
I have to admit that I was a bit concerned about spending that much time with family in the van. I was particularly worried that the discussions would focus on religion and politics, two subjects in which I hold radically different views from 99% of the rest of my family, which means I either have to remain silent or risk starting a confrontation. This is certainly something I would've wanted to avoid, as it would've certainly affected everyone's disposition at Melissa's wedding. And I adore Melissa.
Fortunately, my concerns proved unfounded. I failed to consider that the lively religious and political discussions are mainly initiated and continued by the men in my family (particularly the husbands of a couple cousins). My aunt and two cousins (Uncle Roger was mostly silent or talked with my father) were much more interested in discussing the studies, extracurricular activities, and general well-being of their children and other family members. Of course, this also made me painfully aware of just how out-of-touch I have become with most of my family. After this weekend, I'm not so sure that's a good thing. It's something I will have to ponder later.
Sandra did inquire about my work, and quickly rediscovered why most of the family doesn't inquire. As a software engineer, my job is quite technical and discussion of it in any detail tends to quickly go over most people's heads. But it was certainly nice of her to ask.
At any rate, the trip down passed without any major mishaps or strife, and we made it to the church about seventy minutes before the wedding would start. As we hadn't eaten, we decided to go look for someplace to eat. After wandering around lost for about five minutes, we found a helpful police officer who was able to give us directions to a plaza that had a McDonald's, a Subway, and a few other options. We decided to go with McDonald's.
After eating, I decided to change into my clothes for the wedding. I had worn my dress pants on the drive down, but chose to wear a nice tee shirt with it, figuring it would prevent the chance of me getting something on it (like ketchup or barbecue sauce) when eating lunch. So I put on my undershirt and the blue dress shirt I had chosen for the wedding (I'll have to see if anyone has a picture of me in the outfit and get a copy) and exchanged my sneakers for dress shoes. Sandra told me I looked nice, which made me smile. Then we made our way back to the church.
The wedding itself was simple, yet beautiful. There were certain elements in the wedding ceremony that I have only seen in one other weddings -- James's. I found myself wondering if they were specific to Methodist Weddings, as James is also a methodist. (Though I should note that he and Michelle got married in a Wesleyan church.) And Melissa looked fantastic in her wedding gown.
After the wedding was over, we had some time to kill before the reception, so a large number of us (including a few more aunts, uncles, and cousins who came by themselves) decided to go to Dairy Queen. This is the point where I also got to see my cousin, Robin. I haven't seen her in over a decade, so it was a pleasant surprise. We both commented that we hope we see each other sooner next time.
After finishing our ice cream and chatting for a while, we decided to go to the fire hall where the reception was to be held (after running back to the church to pick up those who wanted to stick around and take photographs, of course). The reception itself consisted of a dinner served family style. The chicken was absolutely delicious. The DJ they got for entertainment played some great music (though we left before the dancing got started, so we didn't hear much of it). At about 7:30, everyone in our group decided it was getting time to head home, so we all piled into the van for the four hour or so trip back to northern PA.
Overall, it was a fantastic day.
This past Saturday, I went to the wedding of my friend, James, to his seminary sweetheart, Michelle. It was an absolutely gorgeous wedding ceremony, though a bit longer than most I've been to. This was primarily because whereas most weddings I've attended have strictly focused on the process of marrying a couple (vows, rings, etc.), there was a much broader element of worship involved this time. It was all quite beautiful.
One of the most interesting aspects (to me, at least) was the fact that the newlyweds administered Communion to everyone. James had mentioned to me that they planned to do it, as both he and Michelle had wanted their first act as a couple to be one of service to others. It was a beautiful thing.
Another interesting twist they put into the service was the dismissal process. Rather than having everyone pass through a receiving line, James and Michelle chose to re-enter the church and individually dismiss their guests themselves. It was a wonderful touch and made the whole process seem more personal.
Last night, I had avery strange dreams. It bothered me in some ways, so I thought I'd write about it here.
The dream was about Mike. Somehow, he had found me and took me to dinner someplace so we could talk. He wanted the two of us to get back together. In fact, he was quite emphatic and persistent about it. And in the dream, a part of me really wanted to say yes. But another part of me was quite unenthusiastic about the idea. In fact, that part of me was downright cold to the idea.
And there were good reasons for that emotional reaction, don't get me wrong. While Mike was being quite clear that he wanted us to get back together, he steered clear of discussing any of the reasons I broke up with him in the first place. And I was having problem with that, because it was pretty clear to me that none of the obstacles (most of them imposed by Mike himself) that caused me to walk away had been resolved, nor were they going to be. So the dispassionate part of me kept running through the list:
"That's nice, but your family commitments and the fact that you don't want to tell them you like guys is still going to keep us apart most of the time."
"That's nice, but you're still not ready to move in together and may never be ready for that, given the way things are going."
"That's nice, but I still don't foresee the romantic or physical side of our relationship growing."
In short, he was offering me a return to the status quo I no longer wanted to live with back in 2005. I certainly don't want to go back to living with it two years later!
I woke up before the discussion ended or I gave him an answer. I was rather troubled by the whole thing. Primarily, I was troubled by the fact that I was dreaming about him again two years after I broke up with him. I was troubled by that part of me in the dream that really did want to get back together with him. That's mainly because I'm trourlbe by the idea that such a part of me probably still exists in the waking world. I want to move forward with my life. I want to look for that better, more fulfilling, and healthier relationship that most of me (the part that was cold and rational in the dream) knows I deserve. And I don't want some part of me that still occasionally thinks longlingly of the one(s) that didn't work out to get in the way of future possibilities.
And that's why it probably particularly bothered me that I didn't give him an answer before I woke up. Specifically, it bothers me that I didn't just come right out and tell him that I'm still not interested in what he's still offering me. Because that just makes it feel all the more like that small part of me is still holding me back.
While driving to Applebee's tonight, Aerosmith's song, I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, came on the radio. There are many songs that are deeply connected to memories of people and events in my life, and this is one such song. In fact, it's probably one of the most strongly connected songs I can think of.
Tonight, this song took me back to my relationship with my first boyfriend. At the time Chris (not his real name) and I were dating, this song was relatively new and seeing a lot of airtime across the nation. And every time I heard it, I became more deeply convinced that it was the perfect song to describe how I felt about our relationship. In fact, I think I pointed this out to Chris at the time.
Thinking about the relationship now, I can still understand why I felt this way. Chris and I seldom saw each other (we probably spent barely over a week total together throughout the six months we were "involved"), and it was perfectly reasonable for me to want to make as much of that precious rare time as I could. On more than one occasion, I ended up taking a sick or personal day off work just so I could have those eight more hours with him.
Of course, there were other reasons for feeling like this, too. The relationship wasn't healthy, and I knew it. And that made me want to cling to it even tighter, holding it together out of my own desparation. Aerosmith's song spoke to me powerfully and romantically about that desparation I was feeling. In many ways, I used that song to validate my sense of desperation.
As I listened to that song this evening and allowed these memories and thoughts to play through my mind, I began to ask myself many questions. The first question was whether there was any pain associated with this song or the memories that it evoked. There wasn't, and I have to admit that I'm a little surprised by that. Certainly, there's a certain morose feel to the whole thing as I think of mistakes made and lessons learned. And there's the memory of the pain that used to be there. There's the knowledge that years ago, hearing this song would've driven me to tears almost instantly. But not this evening. This evening, there was merely a sense of familiarity and a knowledge of what has passed. And while I find it somewhat strange, I also find it rather comforting.
Of course, I also asked myself how I felt about the message of the song today. If I were with someone, would this song still reflect how I would feel about a new relationship? And I think that for the most part, I can say that it doesn't. Because now, my love relationships aren't about desperation, they're about something else.
The underlying premise of the song is about a relationship that would consume my whole life, an that's not what I'm lookin fo at all. Certainly, I want a lover I can share my life with, and I'd prefer to spend the rest of my life with him. And there are certainly those moments I will want to get lost in, but only for a time. Because there are other things in my life that are equally important. And I do not wish to give up those things completely just so I can make sure I "don't miss a thing" with my lover. That just isn't healthy.
It's strange to think of the thought processes a song can initiate. Of course, I also find it interesting that this all started on the same day that I had a dream about Chris (sadly, I don't remember any details) while napping.
Last night was another COAP game night. It was a fun time, despite the relatively low turn-out. There are actually a number of things I could write about based on last night's events. However, for now, I'm choosing to focus on something that came up during a discussion between Woody and Mark during the "meeting" portion of the night.
Woody and Mark have been involved in COAP for long periods of time, so they got reminiscing. At one point, Woody started talking about his history with COAP and his pattern of disappearing and coming back. One of the things that he pointed out was that often, his disappearances occurred at the same time he started seeing someone, while he came back after the relationship ended. Mark commented that this is common, and even joked that it's the "gay lifestyle."
At this turn of the conversation, a couple of thoughts entered my mind. The first one was a sense of relief that I'm not the only one prone to this kind of behavior. Indeed, one of the things that I realized when I started coming to COAP events was that I'd have to fight the urge to drop out when I eventually get into a relationship. So it was nice to know that other people have those same tendencies.
But then, I had to ask the question. Why is that? Why is part of the "gay lifestyle" to drop off the social circle when you meet that special someone. Is it because we see the social circle as nothing more than a marketplace for picking up our next lover? That's certainly a frightening thought in itself!
Of course, I should note that I don't think this is strictly a gay thing. I've noticed that a good number of heterosexual couples tend to lose track of their friends over time, too. After all, my parents don't get out nearly as much as they used to (though my father does socialize more through their church than my mother does). Often, they're content to do their work, meet a few communal obligations, then head home.
But it seems to me from my observations that it happens much more quickly and suddenly amongst gay people (especially men). While heterosexual couples may become more insular and reclusive over time, it seems like we do it at the earliest opportunity. Which I don't think is healthy, for reasons I covered before. So why do we do it?
Personally, I think it's in part because we're often afraid of finding true love that we've become obssessed with it to the exclusion of everything else. So when we're with someone, all of our attention turns towards building and maintaining that relationship. After all, we're not sure when the next one is coming along (and with only a small percentage of the population to work with, finding eligible, desirable lovers can seem like a daunting task), so we want to do everything we can to make it work. So we allow other friendships and our other activities to come along. Add to this the fact that the early stages of any relationship can be quite intoxicating and addicting, and it becomes an understandable pattern.
But realizing this doesn't make continuing the pattern a good idea. In some ways, I think it demonstrates why we -- both individually and collectively -- need to break this pattern.
Due to a conversation we got into, Brian commented on the fact that this diary has been pretty focused on my lack of a relationship. I wish I could say he was wrong. But he's not. And that bugs me. I don't want to be desperate for a relationship. I don't want to have it consume me. I really want to get back to that point where I'm okay with being single and stay there.
But it's difficult. Right now, I'm going through this whole thing where I'm becoming more aware of my sexual nature again. And at the risk of giving out too much information, my libido seems to be on the rise right now. It's difficult to be going through these kinds of processes and not feel some stress over the fact that I have no one to explore that side of myself with.
Of course, the other thing I'm starting to realize is that my desire for a relationship is in part a desire to be able to put an end to the socializing thing. As I've said before, this whole thing of getting out more, doing things, and meeting people is all new to me. And while I've enjoyed it, it's not entirely comfortable for me. It's different. And there's that part of me that would like to dream of only doing it until I find my special someone and then retreat back into the familiarity of my comfort zones.
Of course, rationally, I know that'd be a mistake. Truth be told, even if I were to meet the man I'll spend the rest of my life with tomorrow, I still need to work on building up a network of friends and a general social life. I still need to learn to find and enjoy activities. I still need to meet more people and face new experiences. If I was to retreat back into my solitude, even with a wonderful guy who's perfect for me, I'd ultimately be doing myself a horrible disservice.
And yet, I can't deny how attractive or tempting an idea it is right now.
Earlier today, Lauren and I got joking around. In the process of our joking, she asked me when I'd be donning a white gown. I gave her an answer that more or less amounted to "never." Silliness ensued, and she ended up posting an obviously edited, but hilarious photo. Of course, this whole thing was particularly funny, because one of the running jokes whenever the idea of two guys getting married that invariably comes up is the question, "Who's going to wear the white dress?" At least I think it's a joke.
But setting the jokes aside, I am inclined to answer that question for myself. At my wedding (unless my fiancé manages to offer me one hell of a compelling reason), no one will be wearing a white dress. Because, to me the idea makes no sense at best and is downright offensive at worst.
I am a gay man. I am not a crossdresser. I am not a transvestite. I am not a transsexual. While I might put on a blouse and skirt on rare occasion just for the fun of a given situation, dressing in women's clothing simply isn't a part of my normal life. So why would I want to introduce it to the solemn occasion of sealing my commitment to the man I hope to spend the rest of my life with?
I certainly wouldn't do it for the "laughs," as was my reasoning for donning women's clothing in the past. Those kinds of "laughs" simply have no place on my wedding day either. Nor does the kind of political statement (in the form of parody) that I've heard some people posit as a reason for doing such a thing have any place there. My wedding day will be about myself, my love, the love we share, and the commitment to one another we're making. Playing around with traditions just for the heck of it would only detract from those themes.
I don't know what my love and I will wear during our wedding. Maybe we'll booth wear tuxes. Maybe we'll just go with suits. I wouldn't even rule out my daily casual attire. But I know there will be no white dress, because it just doesn't fit in with what I want my wedding to be about.
Besides, what would be the point in me wearing white? All my friends know better anyway. ;)