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California’s La Nina has brought some of the most prolific storms in a decade, drenching the ground and blocking the sun from us, making everyone a touch cranky since the weather has ruined Dolores Park sun tanning opportunities (I’m being facetious on this but I’m also very honest about the lack of sun making people super morose and cranky). Personally, all this weather reminds me of living in Oregon and Washington for 7 years. Reminding me that somehow, some way…I survived through sheer strength of will of 9 months of this weather. 7. Years. I’m bitching and moaning now about 7 weeks of heavy rain. How did I actually cope with all that?!

Well, obviously, I coped by writing. This ole junker of a blog is gonna turn 10 later this year (I’m not ready for that anniversary either, trust me), and it’s gotten me through plenty of stretches of my life when I needed an outlet. Since my last entry, I’ve definitely needed an outlet, especially with the insanity of the election and ensuing societal changes that has already wrought on the nation. But, I’m not gonna focus on those things too fast here. Instead, I’m gonna focus on something else. Something I value.

There’s an ice breaker game that gets played sometimes at orientations or meet and greets, not the most popular as it’s a touch personal, but still a rather useful way to get to know strangers and learn about them. It’s different than “What’s something that is unique to you?” or “If you didn’t have to work, what you do?” questions, which describe more about you as a person or goals you aim to achieve in life. Instead, this particular question hopes to shed light on who and what we value in our lives, and just these values mean to us. I’m guessing by now you’re wondering what I’m vaguely talking about, so I’ll just get to the point: What would you save from your home in a fire?

Now, as a kid, when asked this question, I would invariably say unbelievably material things: my Micro Machines when I was 6, my portable CD player when 13, my computer when I was 19, and probably my iPod at 25. I can honestly say these all make sense to me, in the context of those times, because they all gave me joy as things. As superficial as they all are, they were utilities and tools that made life easier, and in those particular times of life, made them bearable. In fact nearly all of them were ways I coped with my loneliness as kid, and the constant lifelong struggle of attempting to not feel like a stranger in my own body and life. Micro Machines because they were the most masculine boy toys I loved to play with as a child who loved Barbies and played dress up in his mom’s old nightgowns. The portable CD player to play Alanis Morisette till the CD skipped because somehow her angry voice was angry for a reason I understood. A computer because it was the only way as a closeted kid I could enjoy gay porn and very idiotically think I could hide it from the world. That iPod because it gave me Grindr in places I felt isolated from a gay community I could identify with and fit in. They were materialistic yes, but even the materials that help us fight loneliness can have meaning.

So, now at 31, I ask this question to myself, and the object I would save is a simple answer: a red toy Jeep. Once again, a tiny object. Yet, an object that means all the world to me. For this was the object, and the gift, when I fell in love with Andrew.

We had begun dating only a few weeks prior, and Andrew had gone to Austin for a weekend to visit friends and look at the potential to move there. I was trying my hardest in this early stage of dating to remember that he was most likely leaving San Francisco and the state within the next 6 months, and that dating him right now was…well, I wasn’t sure quite yet. I just knew that I needed to keep seeing him and getting to know him, even if he ended up moving. When that day came, I would decide what I would do.

Anyways, back to the Jeep. So, Andrew was coming back to SF from Austin on a Monday night, and like most of my Monday nights I planned to be at Musical Monday’s at the Edge with friends. Even though his flight got in around 8, he wanted to meet me there and then we’d head back to my place that night. I agreed to it, knowing full well that I was flirting with danger having him come meet me with all my friends there at the same time. Not that my friends are bad in any way but…well, ya know. meeting friends can be awkward as hell at an early stage of dating. Fortunately, it being a loud and busy bar makes it easy to keep conversations from going too in depth.

So, I’m there, and he texts me that he’s on his way! I was nervous at that point, but mostly at how excited I was to see him. He got there, and we embraced. I still have the memory painted in my mind, clear and vivid: the blue and red of the lights on his face, his eyes through his glasses. We kissed, and after saying hello and how glad I was he was back, he hands me a little brown paper bag, and tells me it was s gift he got me. In all honesty, I was taken aback that he’d gotten me a gift at all, so I was intrigued to pull it out.

In the bag was a little, red toy Jeep with the Texas flag on the hood. It was probably from an airport gift shop. And in that moment my heart melted, and I fell in love. I looked at that little Jeep and saw the Micro Machines I collected as a child, something that made me happy and feel like I wasn’t alone then, was something this wonderful man gave me because he saw it and thought of me. This little red Jeep changed my heart so fast it was if something burst inside me, but a happy burst. I knew that I loved Andrew, even if there weren’t the right words to describe any of that love (and honestly I don’t think there ever will be. I could spend my days writing every word of my love for him and never be finished.) Whatever uncertainty of his moving away no longer mattered, as I knew from the deepest cavity of my soul that I would make sure he would always be in my life. And would always be the man I love.

We didn’t stay much longer at the Edge, as I desperately couldn’t wait to get Andrew home and back into my arms in the comfort of my bed. When he left the next morning, I unpacked my little red Jeep and placed it on the night table, a piece of him that would be there regardless of him not physically in the room.

This really became a bit of a wandering piece here, so I’m gonna wrap it up and try not to meander much longer.

So, going back to that whole question in the first place. What do the pieces we seek to save mean, and what do they show we value? It’s pretty clear I’ve always valued the pieces that make me feel whole when I have felt incomplete, whether it was feeling like an incomplete young boy, an angsty young teenager, a scared closeted gay man, or an even more scared openly gay man. Or it’s a toy Jeep, which every time I see, reminds me of the day I stopped expecting loneliness, and fell in love.

K.E.

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So, it’s been a few months since my last post. I was REALLY on a roll there for a bit, but then the holidays, New Year, sickness, and a trip to New York came into play. And time slipped away from me for a post. Until now. Seeing as my past posts have held a very common theme, this post ties into all that…and starts a new story line for the next few weeks (40 days in full, to be exact.)

About two months ago I threw myself head first into the on-line dating world. I’m happy to report that in those two months I’ve gone on multiple dates, met many new people, questioned everything about my self worth and value as a human being. I’ve compared myself to every person’s body as not quite good enough, not quite thin enough, not quite strong enough, and not maintained enough for someone to really date. My personality was still genuine but consciously groomed to make sure the weird pet peeves I have didn’t surface, or how my longterm expectations were something that mattered to me. Remember, though, having expectation conversations early with someone is really forward and too serious. Because God damn it I just wanted to make we’re on the same page for 5 year plans but I can’t ask that because THEN I’M FUCKING DESPERATE AREN’T I?! I reminded myself to be open to different preferences sexually because what if that perfect person and I aren’t sexually compatible but we’re perfect every other way…because that’s what relationships, dating, eventually marriage, is all about right? Meeting someone half way. Or something like that. I don’t know, it all got convoluted for me half way through this rant of a paragraph.

So yes, over the past two months…that is the swirl of living I have done in my romantic life. Which…if you can’t guess…is unbelievably exhausting. It’s exhausting to have that much constantly going on. To question yourself just that much. To give yourself evaluations very two days to make sure that maybe you’re likable enough to see someone again. Also, make sure you stay in contact with them but not too much contact…you can’t seem desperate for their attention. But even more important, make sure you make them work for your attention too. They need to communicate and initiate as well, so make them realize that with silence and awkward response times. Because we’re all healthy communicators in this world. Obviously.

Ok that paragraph got ranty too. My apologies; once the fingers start flying, the words just come out.

Ok, so really, let’s get back to the point: this is what dating is like in our hyper connected age. We have so many different ways to electronically meet someone through ethereal methods which feel like an instant connection, but are really just satisfy our immediate need for approval. A woof on Scruff is no different than a match on Tinder; it’s a stranger saying they approve. You’re worthy. Which for all the success stories of people finding a soul mate through these channels, the majority are seeking enough approval to make it through the day.

So. I’m doing something for Lent for the first time ever: I’m deleting the dating apps for 40 days. Originally it was just gonna be Grindr and Scruff, since those are my biggest time suckers. But…after starting this little piece, I realize I’m deleting them all. It’s a fresh start to not worry about approval and valuations others give me, but about the actual approval and value I give myself. It’s great that I can make it onto the Scruff Global page and get 15 woofs, but what’s that actually do for me as a person seeking in person, longterm connection? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So my challenge is really simple: live 40 days without these apps. Remind myself that worth isn’t connected to others, but connected to your own personal self. See what life is like with less random hookups (which we all know I focus on dating but I’m well known for the number of men I know in life…you know the “know” I mean.)

So there’s that. I’m guessing I’m gonna write a lot as my brain goes through the separation anxiety of it all. So be kind and pretend what I write is relevant and interesting.

A message to the guy who ghosted me:

I Bought You Macarons Because You Love Them-

I am glad to have met you, and to have what felt to be a great connection, but your lack of communication makes it very clear that you aren’t interested in pursuing anything more than what we did. I’m disappointed by it because it felt like there was a lot of great potential to explore. I’m hurt a bit because I liked what I personally was feeling for you. I’m further hurt because the plans we made and I tried to flesh out with you you ignored. But, as you’ve chosen the practice of radio silence and not respond to a basic “Hello”, I can see that exploration won’t continue. I wish you well. And I wish you would were able to have said you weren’t interested in pursuing something beyond what we experienced.

Best,

Kevin

 

This is the exact response I want to send to the guy who ghosted me. To be fair, it wouldn’t be a response to anything he had sent me. This would be a response to silence; silence heard loud and clear because he couldn’t respond to the very simple “Hello” I sent him. A hello at that point to simply…say hello. Check in. Make sure that plans we had discussed were something we could flesh out. So I could share that damn piece of pie with him. Instead, he will never get this response (most likely.)

The side effects of ghosting range wide, perhaps the hardest the reconciliation of no closure. Ghosting at its core has no closure. There is a conscious decision on one person’s part to simply stop responding. To stop interacting. To end the story of two people with an ellipsis, where the person who’s decided the story is concluded knows the punctuation, but the other waits with bated breath to discover the outcome. Which is never what they want.

So now…what is there to do?

You hear the normal advice from people: suck it up (terrible advice in every situation ever. Never say this. Ever.) He wasn’t worth it if that’s how he acts (which is undecidedly true but that DOES NOT improve the feeling of rejection and hurt either.) It will happen, don’t worry (look I’m 30.5, single, and the rest of my siblings/cousins are married/pregnant/engaged, I’m freaking out about being alone forever.)

Because here’s the real answer to that question: express how you feel about the situation to the person and achieve closure. Closure doesn’t mean a decided upon agreement. This isn’t the Camp David Accords. Yet the message I wrote above, in the world we now live, has become callous to send. It comes off as self centered, dramatic, and begging for attention. I should just let some guy roll off my shoulders, not let some ass hole (he isn’t one but this is to reinforce the damn point) ruin my opinion of myself. Don’t let his actions have weight by sending such a response.

It’s all essentially bullshit.

The message I wrote I should be able to send without my conscience telling me I’m being selfish. I should send it because I get to be clear: I had feelings. I was interested and wanted to pursue more. It disappointed me how things were dealt with and that ultimately I had zero say in that decision. That message is me getting to have a say in how something ends. Regardless of what stage it was in.

Language and silence go hand in hand, a pas de deux which tells the story of our lives. Yet it’s the balance of the two which seems never to occur.

I probably won’t send it. Maybe I will. I certainly know I want to.

Or I’ll just listen to my own advice. And use my words.

I don’t know if I can think of something quite as cliche as writing in a cozy breakfast spot while wearing chukkas, a cowell neck sweater, and drinking coffee. So I decided to do that today on my day off. Because why the hell not.

Plus, I couldn’t say no to the idea of taking myself to a solo brunch. It’s been a while, plus I was hungry and had zero desire to be an adult and cook for myself. Plus there’s place in Dogpatch with beignets, which really who doesn’t want to spread happiness to their day with fluffy deep-fried pastry covered in powder sugar (I’ve really begun to master this eating thing, clearly. Pie, beignets…I’m a veritable model for healthy eating.) As solo brunch usually includes me wasting my time on my phone with Twitter, I dediced I’d try taking my words with me and write.

Taking my words with me. I think I like that phrase. Particularly because it reminds me of a phrase one of my best friends instilled in me a little over a year ago: Use you words.

This phrase seems like a very elemental concept, one we hear from an early age to express. As toddlers and young children we learn to “use our words” to express the things inside us: why we’re angry. What it is that makes us scared. Why we can’t stop crying about not being able to touch the stove (really the phrase was centered around the concept of expressing why we were crying.) In conjunction the phrase taught us how to communicate effectively and appropriately to adults with the small and difficult-for-a-child vocabulary which we had harnessed. The phrase gave us such freedom to interact and tell someone how we felt, and even more so it was encouraged. “Express!” it screamed! Connect with me on the emotional concept you’re experiencing! It really is a magical phrase.

Until we become adults.

As adults we learn not to use our words. Using your words to express emotion and feelings regarding a situation makes you too forward, aggressive, placing too much meaning into something or someone. This essential life skill we are taught as children becomes a detriment to normal adult society, since using these words that took decades to acquire fall on deaf ears. We effectively unlearn that someone needs us to express what we are experiencing, in order to not fall into…whatever categorical reasoning we come up with as to why we don’t or shouldn’t use our words.

As adults, we learn vague defense mechanisms to achieve this: ghosting, vague status updates on social media, avoidance by always being “busy” or “stressed from work.” As adults we actively avoid using our words, sometimes for weeks on end. As adults we stop expressing.

I like this phrase though. It is a refreshing phrase, if you think about it. Use your words. Express yourself. Let out what you have in and give it form. Especially if it’s something that should be said to another person. Whether it’s feeling of joy or sadness, rejection or fear, anger or devastation. Express it. Use your words.

To wrap back to it, the beignets were delicious. I had two. And bringing my words with me was exactly what I needed today.

“What special request do you have for Thanksgiving dinner?”

The same question, always approximately a week before the big meal. My Mom making sure that she’s made inquiries to accommodate everyone, whether it be the immediate four of us or the familial eighteen. Options abound for this question: sausage stuffing, brandied carrots, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes…an endless bevy of delicious dishes that warm heart and soul for an annual meal which often could be anything but. Yet, halfway though her sentence my lips are formed to be the only answer I ever give:

“Your apple pie, Mom”

At this point I’m almost shocked my Mom still asks me what I want at any holiday meal; the answer never changes. Her apple pie is home, a collection of flavors I’ve never tasted elsewhere. From the handmade pie dough to the spiced, soft slices of apple there is home in every bite. It is the dish where truly calories cease to exist, as such a beautiful example of joy could never be quantified into units of energy. Mom’s apple pie preserves the soul, and keeps you whole.

This particular year was a challenge for my Mom. She and my Dad have successfully begun the lifestyle change of their lives, with diet and activity levels vastly changed and results that have my parents looking thinner and more vibrant than ever. My Mom was challenged to make her son’s favorite dish but make it something she could eat. Genius as she is, she replaces the top crust with a crumble and went Dutch on Thanksgiving, leaving me curious with anticipation to eat the less caloric version of the pie that made long winters in Oregon worth it, that made working the day after Thanksgiving survivable…the pie that was the only thing I ever wanted for Thanksgiving.

As my Mom has proven…it was the best pie she’d ever made. The crumble was succulent and sweet, a delicious addition to an already perfect work of culinary art. I ate the largest slice of the family, and purposely cut a slice to take home, before anyone else could. I needed to share this pie. I needed to share it with…this guy.

Now, this guy and I have barely been dating. New and early, with great chemistry and attraction with what felt to have a genuine direction. Plus..he loves pie. His Thanksgiving was vastly different than mine: working on the day of in a store, 12-13 hour days, out of a hotel for a day that so many others get with family. Or even just friends. Alone on Thanksgiving. So I told him I’d bring home a slice of my favorite part of Thanksgiving to share with him. To share a piece of home, when he would end up having very little of home n Thanksgiving. He was thankful, and appreciative of the thought, and couldn’t wait to be home in San Francisco.

And then he disappeared.

To be fair, disappearing isn’t exactly what he did. Clearly, he still exists in corporeal form. He just hasn’t said a word in over 24 hours. This guy that I had started to like and wanted to share my Mom’s apple pie with…was ghosting me.

Now, admittedly, I might have begun to invest emotions into him prematurely. Maybe I shouldn’t have offered to bring pie that is so dear to me, being vulnerable and opening a window to part of what makes me human.

Or maybe he send a response to my question.

In this hyper connected society ghosting creates one of the deepest sensations of anxiety and failure from a person who is shouldn’t be able to wield such power of emotion over you. Add to it offering to share a piece of pie- which is essentially your personal comfort food- with the guy you like and then be ghosted over making a time to share said pie is such a sock to the heart.

Was I too eager? Should I not have made it clear I liked him? Am I too direct in what I want? (Besides the eager question being a potential maybe, the answer to those last questions is no.)

Thanksgiving came and with apple pie I recharged my heart just a little bit more for the rest of the year; yet with apple pie I now sit with bated breath to not have someone make a plan. Or even respond “Hello” (from the other side.) What is there to do?

Do what you can to shed your anxiety; dance, sing, take a bath…eat a slice of pie…because at this point, we’ll all be ghosted by potential partners. In that silence is our opportunity to take hold of ourselves, our expectations, and our hearts. Remember what centers us, and what helps us through.

I guess I spent most of this post justifying why I just ate a slice of pie. Which was just as delicious as it was Thursday.

Just so we all know, at the age of 30, I yet to master the concept of “Save Draft.” I had the majority of a post written, waiting for a wrapped together conclusion and a little bit more fleshed out…and I open the site…and it’s gone. Completely gone. All my hard work LOST! Oh the humanity! The anger! THe furstration! Alas, maybe it was God’s way of saying the original format was pure crap, and I should restart. To be fair…this is entirely possible. I have been known to write something that’s barely passable. Just ask my AP Writing teacher.

Well, that just means I get to restart! Yay! I’ll save people from the boring exposition I wrote the first time around and get to more of the meaty portion of what I originally wanted to discuss.

After the last post, I received some great feedback from people, agreeing with or feeling some connection to a lot of what I expressed (who knew emotions were universal?!) One of the best responses to the post was from a dear friend’s mother; her response gave me pause, for several reasons. One, I miss her dearly, and two…because what she said definitely had a potential place in this whole extravaganza called my dating life.

Jeanne Parks (amazing mother of dearly departed friend Christina Parks) has known me for 12 years, and seen me through most of my formative years as an adult. Through all that passed with Christina, we (her friends) all became Jeanne’s children, and while I don’t see her as often as I should, she has always kept in touch and knows my life through Facebook and my blog. Last week, she said a very simple idea: take a moment and write out what (or who) it is I’m looking for. Now, as Oprah “The Secret” as that sounds…it is a great idea. Not only to create intention and put it to the world, but also to actually know in my own head and heart what it is I’m looking for in a man.

So Jeanne, this is for you. And for me. Thank you for always giving me the encouragement I need.

  1. Someone who laughs at my typos and autocorrects in my texts rather than being perturbed by them.
  2. Dances with me when I take his hand, even if just for a quick second.
  3. Tells me I’m wrong when I’m wrong, reminds me to be humble if I’m right, and that more often than not being right is less important than the grey area between right and wrong.
  4. Someone who is kind to the messenger, even if the message isn’t positive.
  5. Someone who will tell our children it’s ok to feel, because that’s how we learn to appreciate joy.
  6. Someone who will know my friends and I will know his, but we won’t have to have to share the same friends and we encourage each other to keep friendships close.
  7. Someone who loves to travel without having every minute planned.
  8. Will let me sob on his shoulder when my parents are gone, and I do the same for him.
  9. Someone who I can disagree with on the most inconsequential of things and which make me love them more.
  10. Someone who fills me with that feeling I get when the delivery man brings pizza.

I could keep going, honestly. But I won’t. That would just get too Buzzfeed for this afternoon.

I was lucky enough to see Jeanne this weekend at a wedding, and she made sure I was going to write this. With the promise I gave her yesterday, here it is. So universe, life, love…go forth. Or something.

I’m gonna go do leg day and reminisce.

White wine? Check.

Bath finished? Check.

Ready to be honest about dating? Check.

Alright. So, in my return to writing, which happened earlier this week due to me having feelings and the life…I return to actually writing. About stuff, and things, and whatever blah blah stuff. Today I get to write about dating, and how no matter what people say…you can’t just change to make things work.

So. A guy on Scruff about 5 months ago messaged me. Hot in that way that you ALMOST question why they’re so interested in you. Either it’s an end to a means or they’re just desperate levels. I don’t ever say no to really attractive people messaging me, so I responded. Through very few messages we determined that we were the same sexual position preference. He was very inquisitive to whether I would ever date another top? What if we found bottoms to top together? I was very honest to him: I’ve dated other tops, and it hasn’t worked for me. Dating someone who is the same as you sexually often times doesn’t work. You both gravitate to the same moves, same desires, same tendencies. So you’re left with a lot of moves that no one is satisfied by. Or half of the routines done on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

I ended the conversation after making it pretty clear that two tops dating hasn’t worked out well for me, at least in my experience. Months passed. Seasons changed. The Gay High Holidays came, rose, and set. Fall actually came to San Francisco. And suddenly a message appeared on Scruff from this same very hot guy. Saying: I really think we should try.

Bold. I was impressed. Bold says a lot about a man. He was clear: maybe it’s worth being sexually incompatible to find a man that you connect with. What if beyond sex it was actually about that spark and down the road hope you can find which makes it worth it, not whether you’re a top or a bottom? He dared me to think: well, why not?

So I said yeah. Why not. Let’s meet for a drink.

We met for a drink. He a beer, me a gin and soda. We connected. We talked. Laughed. Kissed over our drinks. Kissing was good, so we went back to his place (conveniently a building over) and hooked up. The sexual interactions were awkward yet genuine. Two people jockeying for dominance. Decent orgasms, and then a delightful cuddle: quiet, close, and comforting. I left, we kissed at the corner, and I made my way home.

Jump two days. I ask how his week is going over text. A quick and simple response:

It’s going well. In kindness, I’m not interested in moving forward.

In my wonderful me, I say “Cool. Kindness is appreciated,” when all I wanted to tell him was “DIDN’T I FUCKING TELL YOU MONTHS AGO THAT I DIDN’T THINK THIS WOULD WORK?!” Fortunately I didn’t. I like to think I have enough decorum left in me to not make that misstep.

Ultimately, this moment is essential for me. It reminds me to trust my instinct. The moment we talked, I knew this guy and I wouldn’t work long term. Or at all. And through determination (from him) and desperation (from me) we met and all of that was confirmed. From both sides.

I’m not hurt or devastated by this, thankfully. If anything it’s fully steeled me to be exactly me. Changing one’s self to match a person has never been high on my priorities, and this revealed very clearly that I should never do so.

Alright. White wine influenced me should be in bed. Especially since Enya has been playing for a while and I moved on to a Stella Artois after the sauv blanc.

Ultimately, dating is a test of just how honest you are to yourself. Who are you? What do you stand for? How do you bring that authentically to the world? I think that’s the part of dating we all forget. We get so intent on being the right person for someone else, not the being the person we are. Which ultimately leaves neither party happy, and in the end leaves us bitter and sad.

Much Love,

K.E.