Rick Shory

Offering a little something you might not otherwise have

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Coming Out Year, Part 9: Transitions.

November passed on into December, and the winter deepened.  A little snow, a lot of rain.  Shortly before the first of the year, I had a chance to talk to Adrian.

He laid it on the line.  He tried to get it across to me as gently as possible.  He said he’d been thinking.  He’d had to face the facts.  There he was, in a relationship already.  His main focus had to be on his partner.  It was all well and good to have to do with other men, but he had to keep it in perspective.

I, of course, didn’t want to hear it.  There was this longing in me, hungering to be satisfied.  It was a force I had never even known the existence of before.  I wanted to be with him, Adrian.  I thought surely something could work out.  No matter how impossible it seemed, across a continent.

I don’t remember many of the actual words of the conversation.  One phrase.  He was turning back upon me my pledges that I loved him.  “You don’t know anything about me,” he tried to tactfully offer.  I had to think about that.  Yeah, we had been together, what?  Three days?  In places far from normal reality for either of us, in a romantic dream.

From my perspective now, I understand it better.  In my early years of wrangling with being gay, I would fall in love with men who gave me an image of something in myself I wanted to fulfill.

With Adrian, it was simply how to be a gay, and still be a big, grand, masculine, competent, wonderful man.  The twist, which it took me far too long to understand, was that whatever it was, it was already part of me.  The big job — all too easy to say — was I had to give myself permission to actually be it.

At the time, though, this was devastating.  Not as totally as you might think.  I had been on so much of an emotional roller coaster, so many ups and downs, I couldn’t help thinking he might change his mind back again.  Maybe he’d see the passion between us was real, and that would be the answer to everything.

Still, it was gradually soaking in that this thing between Adrian and me was not going to be.  Or at least would be indefinitely deferred.  He was on his side of the continent, with his life and his guy.  I was on my side of the continent, training to become and EMT.

Deva, who was always very perceptive of emotions, one time said to me, “It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!”

“What?”  I asked.

“Your process.  You’re doing it all, but not punishing anybody.”

Yeah, I thought, I guess a lot of people, when they’re having a bad time, take it out on those around them.  Somehow, I knew this was all about me.  It was nobody’s fault.  I didn’t try to hide or deny my emotions.  I would just be in them, and yet do what needed to be done, day to day.

Still, I’m amazed at some of the letters I wrote.  I’m still embarrassed.

Around New Years, I went to the Young Friends gathering, the winter counterpart to the summer event where Adrian and I had met.  It was on the Oregon coast, north and west of Forest Glade.  It was a fun, comfortable space for me.  I had known most of the people for years.  But there was one guy, Gus, I had not seen before.  He caught my eye.

Gus was from somewhere in southern California, a town out in the desert from LA.  He was a shy, quiet guy with a nice smile.  I found him so appealing I was made so bashful, I never actually talked to him.

At the end of the gathering, when everybody was all excited and cuddly, I took the opportunity to give Gus a goodbye hug.  It was the absolute last minute.  The car he was getting a ride in was all packed up, and the engine was running.  But Gus felt good in my arms.  He did not pull away, and the hug went on and on.

During the gathering, there had been a gay/lesbian/bisexual support group, convened by Terry, the token gay guy in Young Friends up till then.  I was still feeling too much on the fence, so I had not gone.  Terry’s personality was kind of emotionally taut, and he was a bit tenor and nervous for my liking, so he and I were never close.

Terry, like many of the attendees who had come from California, stopped for the night at Forest Glade on his way back south.  During that time, we talked a bit.  Without knowing it he dropped a bombshell.

He mentioned that Gus had been to the gay support group.

Oh, man, that got me going.  I found a road atlas and looked up the town where Gus lived.  I gazed at the name on the map.  I tried to think how close I had ever been to it.

I wrote a letter and sent it to him.  The gathering was good about getting an address list out right away.  I wrote to Gus in the most open, romantic way.  I told him how I’d noticed him, but been too shy.  I explained that Terry had mentioned he’d been at the support group.

I never knew what he thought about my letter because I never heard one peep back.

A few days later, I wrote to some friends on a farm where I’d worked in Iowa two years before.  I had got to know them when I was on a peace walk cross country that summer.  I had taken a break from the walk for a few weeks to make some money.  I had hoed soybeans, and done various other jobs on their farm.  I’d liked them and they’d liked me.  The following summer, my cohorts and I, on our peace bike ride, had stopped there again, for the night; and so I’d kept the connection alive.

In my first flush of obsession over Adrian, when I was trying to connect the dots between me and Boston, I had written to everybody I knew in between, making noises like I might be traveling cross country soon.  Now, I was writing to say I was not going to after all.

I didn’t leave it at that, though.  I broke the news that it had been about being in love.  And then let on that it was a man.  Even so, I hadn’t had enough.  I rambled on, saying how I was getting comfortable admitting my attractions to other men.  I gradually worked this around to inquiring if the husband of the farm couple had felt any such thing towards me.

When I think about this now, I am appalled.  I have never been more embarrassed by anything I’ve done in my life.  Yeah, he was a pretty hunky guy; muscular, with long beautiful hair, and a full beard.  Yeah, he had laid his hand on my shoulder one evening at dinner, but who knows what that was about?  I had no business messing with a married couple, even by the merest suggestion.

I have no idea what they thought of my letter because, once again, I never heard one peep back.  Still, it was a defining episode in my life.  Ever after, I have been extremely cautious about doing anything that could ever be construed as a come-on, to any man there’s no reasonable chance would be receptive.  Maybe I go too far that way, but I always think how I would feel in the turnabout situation.