Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Ho ho ho, everybody.

Well Christmas has come and gone for another year, and it was unfortunately eventful. My mom has often told stories about my grandfather and his unpredictable moods, but in my life I've never actually experienced it.

Christmas day changed that. He and my grandmother arrived like any other year in the morning, quickly ducking inside to avoid the cold. But instead of joining in the conversation and cheer, he sat off by himself and really refused to interact with anyone.

As the day progressed, my mom became more and more anxious, since he was behaving so strangely. But he never did join in conversation or have any laughs with the rest of us; he sat in his corner and stared out the window. Bizarre.

After Christmas dinner, which was slaved over for hours, and as we were quickly washing some dishes, we saw him walk by, headed towards the door. He wound up leaving practically without a word, even as my mom tried to ask if there was a problem, if he was alright. We stood outside as he grudgingly placed their presents in the car, and he reluctantly gave my mom a kiss in the cheek. He walked right by me, like I was literally a ghost.

So for the next couple days, mom waited anxiously to see what was wrong with him, why he had been so upset and if he was ever going to call us back. It was horrible; Christmas more or less ruined, and the next few days of 'rest' devoted to constant worry.

In the end, he called and apologized, saying that he was very tired that day and feeling in a strange mood that even he had no idea the source of. I was exasperated, since someone who caused that much heartache ought to be told about it, but my mom was so relieved that she didn't highlight the fact we were all quite upset by the whole thing.

Add to that our unpredictable weather, in the form of rain, freezing rain, snow, fog, and high winds, which made great conditions for a power outage that lasted 18 hours. I really should have left for Toronto when I had the chance.

And now, here we are the day before New Years Eve, and I find myself neither relaxed nor festive. I would rather just wake up tomorrow and find that everything had passed by, that I could resume normal life on a Monday morning and move on from this holiday season. I really don't even have the drive to go out on New Years Eve with my friends, and I know I'll have nobody to kiss at midnight.

I'm just going to make the best of it, and be thankful to even have the chance to be surrounded by friends, have a drink on New Years Eve, a roof over my head and food in the fridge. It just helps if such perks of the evening include a midnight makeout, dancing with some cute guys and being able to celebrate the New Year with one special person, in dawn's early light.

To mark the occasion, I stole someone's New Years survey. Feel free to read if interested:

2008: In The Beginning
Where did you go on New Years: A local bar/club.
Who were you with: Friends from high school and some new ones from university.
Did you kiss anyone at midnight: No.
Did you make any resolutions: A couple.

2008: Your Love Life
Did you break up with anyone: Yes
Did you meet anyone special: Yes, the one I broke up with.
Did you fall in love: No, that was the problem.
Did you fall out of love: Uhh see above.
Did you fall for a friend: No.

2008: Friends and Enemies
Did you meet any new friends this year: Yes, in the most unexpected ways.
Did any of your friendships end: Maybe not ended, but we don't see much of each other anymore.
Did you dislike anyone: Certainly, but I try not to treat them any differently.
Did you make any new enemies: Don't think so, at least I hope not.
Did you resolve any fights: I helped when people needed someone to talk to.
Who was your closest friend: I'm happy to have a few close friends that really mean something.
Who did you grow apart from: Some not-so-close friends.
Who did you get closer to: People from my project.
Do you have any regrets when it comes to your friendships: I just regret not pushing myself to be more social and taking the initiative.

2008: Your BIRTHDAY!
Did you have a cake: I did, my room mate made it.
What did you do for your birthday: Cake, dinner & drinks...but secretly it was really boring.
What did you get for your birthday: Cash and a great winter coat.
If so what was the best thing you got: By far the coat...so warm.

2008: All about YOU
Did you change at all this year: In some ways, I feel just a little more older and in control of life I suppose.
Did you dye your hair: I did actually! First time actually changing the colour.
Did you get your hair cut: Good Lord, of course!
Did you change your style: A little bit, but I want something new for 2009.
Were you in school: Indeed.
Did you get good grades: Quite.
Did you have a job: You could say.
Did you drive: Yes.
Did you own a car: No, nor would I want to in the city.
Did anyone close to you give birth: Miscarried a few days before delivery? Does that count?
Did you move at all: I don't know about move, but I did live in two places.
Did you go on any vacations: Yeah.

2008: Wrap Up.
Is 2008 a good year: Very memorable, I feel I've changed again for the better.
Do you think 2009 will top 2008: I really hope so, lots of changes coming down the pipes.
If you could relive any moment which would you choose: A beautiful night in summer that ended with a kiss.

I confess that in 2008 I...
() stayed single for the whole year
(x) made out in/on a car
(x) kissed in the snow
(x) celebrated Halloween
(x) kissed in the rain
() had your heart broken
(maybe) broke someone else's heart
() had a stalker
() mooned someone
(x) went over the minutes on your cell phone
(x) had a good relationship with someone
(haha) someone questioned your sexual orientation
() gotten pregnant
() had an abortion
(x) have a relationship with someone you'll never forget
() done something you've regretted
() lost faith in love
() kissed under a mistletoe

(x) took an honors/advanced class
() broke the dress code
() sent to the principles office for misbehavior
(x) got straight A's
(x) met one teacher you really like
() met one teacher you really hated
() failed a class
(x) skipped school
(x) did something you were proud of
(x) discovered a new talent
(x) proved yourself an idiot
(x) embarrassed yourself in front of the class
() fell in love with a teacher
() intentionally tripped someone at school
() gotten lead in school play
() made a varsity team
(x) were involved in something you'll never forget

() painted a picture
(x) wrote a poem
() ran a mile
() shopped at Hollister or Abercrombie and Fitch
(x) posted a blog on MySpace
(X) listened to music you couldn't stand
(x) went to a sleepover
() went camping
() threw a surprise party
(x) laughed till you cried
() laughed till you peed in your pants
() visited a foreign country
() cut in a line of waiting people
(x) told someone you were busy when you weren't
(x) partied to celebrate the new year
(x) cooked a disastrous meal
(x) lost something/someone important to you
() lied about how old you were
() prank called someone

In 2008 I...
() broke a promise
() fallen out of love
(x) lied
() went behind your parents back
() cried over a broken heart
(x) disappointed someone close
(x) hid a secret
(x) pretended to be happy
(x) kissed in the rain
(x) slept under the stars
( ) kept your new years resolution
() forgot your new years resolution
(x) met someone who changed your life
() met one of your idols
() changed your outlook on life
(x) sat home all day doing nothing
() pretended to be sick
() left the country
() almost died
() given up something important to you
(X) lost something expensive
(x) learned something new about yourself
(x) tried something you normally wouldn't try and liked it
(x) made a change in your life
(x) found out who your true friends were
(x) met great people
(x) stayed up til sunrise
() Cried over the silliest thing
() was never home on most weekends
() got into a car accident
(x) had friends who were drifting away from you
() had someone close to you die
(x) had a high cell phone bill
(x) spent most of your money on food
() had a fist fight
() went to the beach with your best friend
() saw a celebrity
(x) gotten sick
( ) liked more than 5 people at the same time
() became closer with alot of people

A very Happy New Year to you all! Warmest wishes for 2009, may you and yours be healthy, happy and enjoy the fruits of your labour in the year ahead.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I hear a symphony...

Yesterday brought one of those soul-wrenching moments of sadness.

It was me, Mom and Dad out trying to do some last minute Christmas shopping. As we walked up and down the aisles, searching for this or that, I also found myself searching for another part of James' Christmas present.

We've decided to give each other something, since we're friends and since both of us acknowledge this need within us to do so. When I asked him what he wanted, he shrugged and said, "Something thoughtful."

So I wracked my brain, but all I could come up with was memories of the two of us, not really much that spoke solely to him.

Thus far, I've chosen two things that remind me of him, and are actually quite gay. First, I picked up a CD, Celine Dion's new compilation of love songs. Slightly out of line, but thoughtful since he found himself in some self-described 'Celine moods' in the later days of our relationship.

Secondly, I chose the Sex and the City movie, since we both went to a preview the night before opening night. It was the first time I'd met any of his family (his cousins rode along), and we both actually quite enjoyed the movie.

As I was standing with my parents in line, trying to figure out something else that was thoughtful without being too boyfriendish, I caught the melody of a familiar song.

Before I went on summer vacation this year, James and I went out for one final night to say goodbye. At the end of the evening, he pulled out a bag of stuff for me; magazines for the trip, a travel kleenex tissue pack (always the one to plan ahead), chocolate to eat instead of bad plane food, and a handwritten card that recapped the adventures of our summer together thus far.

It was a really beautiful gesture, and pretty moving; nobody has ever done something like that for me, and reading over what he had wrote outlined just how much we'd grown together.

I drove home that night all warm and fuzzy and sad to leave him behind for over a week's time. I also was amazed at what had just happened, at how someone showed their affection for me so openly and so honestly. It was a small gesture, but it spoke volumes.

When I got home, I sat up for a little bit. Late in the night, I checked my Facebook and saw I had a new message. When I opened it, I realized it was a video message from James.

"Well Steve, I hope you have a great time on your trip," he said into the camera, smiling. Music played in the background, but I didn't recognize it, until someone started singing...and James started singing along.

It was that Jason Mraz song, the one I'd heard on the radio and disregarded. But I listened, as James sat there singing along...

"In short this is our fate,
I'm yours..."

After that, James stopped singing along. "What can I say Steve. I'm yours. Have a safe trip, I'll miss you." And he blew me a kiss and waved goodbye.

It pretty much blew me away. For a guy that's been unlucky at love, never able to find that right guy much less than find one who really was crazy for him, what James had done was probably the sweetest thing any boy had ever attempted, and certainly the most meaningful.

So as I stood in the checkout by the cash register yesterday, hands full of James' gifts and head floating in memories, the gentle rhythm of that guitar and familiar voice caught my attention almost immediately. My parents standing behind me, the cashier in front, I bit my lip hard and tried my best not to cry.

My heart just sunk, my chest just felt hollow, and my eyes burned. And the memory of that night, and of his video, played in my mind's eye. And for that moment, all I could think about was him.

I guess that's what happens when you realize just what you've lost.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The gypsy that I was...

A few nights after the breakup, a gypsy told me that I must not be ready for love.

I hadn't even told her my situation, about just shutting the door on my most successful relationship, about feeling so incredibly alone. She just asked if I had a girlfriend yet, and when I said no, she clicked her tongue and offered an explanation. My heart, or love skills, or whatever, must not be developed.

She's a friend of my grandparents, so when she asked if I had a girlfriend yet, instead of being able to say, "Actually I just got out of something that didn't work," I had to say that I still didn't have a 'woman in my life'.

This woman is really great, one of those people who you love actually seeing...she radiates warmth. But she also is incredibly blunt in that Eastern European way. "Your heart must be closed," she said, since I'm now basically getting a little old to not have been in love. At least, society thinks so. And in retrospect, I have to agree; by 22 I would have thought that love would have graced/made a mess of my life.

The Gypsy made some vague references to what I'm projecting, the energy I'm drawing, and so on...stuff that The Secret is trying to sell to North Americans that people in Eastern Europe have believed for years. To make me feel better, or worse, or at the very least give context she told me a story about an older woman who came to see her one day a few months ago. "My son needs a wife," she said. The setup is classic: a doting Jewish mother wants to set up her single Doctor son, who is without romance.

I don't recall exactly how she put it, but essentially, the guy doesn't really care who this woman is, "Just find him someone to marry."

The Gypsy's take on all of this was that he has spent his life honing his mind, studying, and so on...ignoring his heart. Never 'learning how to love'.

"So sad," she half whispered.

She then more or less told me that she's worried for me, because she wants me to be happy and have a full, well-rounded life. She doesn't want me to ignore my heart, and wind up like the man in her story.

Of course in many ways I cannot identify with this guy. I've been trying to find love for over two years now, and it hasn't gone quite like I'd planned it. In a city full of men, some of whom that are even looking for a relationship all their own, I've struck out, never finding that elusive boyfriend/man I love. But it's not like I've ignored my heart...like I'm not trying to learn to love...right?

Even though I can't see many similarities between me and the single 30-something Jewish doctor, it's pretty scary to be faced with the idea that my heart isn't working properly, that I can't attract love because of some problem on my end. Actually, more like terrified.

Lots of people maintain that nobody will love you until you love yourself. I even had one of my best friends, who flew into town the day before, tell me bluntly that I don't 'love myself'.

"Oh, come on, that's not true!" I argued. I may not think I'm phenomenal, but I don't hate myself.

"Ok, that's exaggerated," she said. "You actually don't, for most of the time. But there are moments..." She too sometimes thinks that I'm not ready for love, because I'm not ready with myself.

But who is? And what is 'ready'?

I guess it's because I've always blamed circumstance, blamed the fact that I haven't met the right person, or that the situation was beyond my control. It's never really felt like I've got a 'closed heart' or that I'm not ready and willing to love and be loved. It's more like God enjoys tempting me with the prospect, then quickly deflects the situation.

In fact, I always have felt that my heart is wide open. I give everyone a shot, try to leave no stone unturned. I admit what I want. I have a feeling in my heart and mind what love looks and acts like; a deep down soul stirring that I've managed not to find.

But having the Gypsy tell me about hearts not being open or ready for love is just plain scary. While I can't see it within myself, what if it's true? Am I really my own problem in all of this? Is my own heart the reason why I can't seem to meet the right guy, and fall in love?

The same friend once drunkenly told me that I also have, "So much love to give," which actually made me cry. As cliche as it is, we apparently both think it's true. I'm ready, willing and able. As far as I think, anyway.

Like most of my problems right now, I don't know how to solve this, if what the Gypsy says is true. I can't see the fix, if indeed my heart is closed and needs opening up. And it's damn scary, to think that what's standing between me and love...is myself.

At the end of the day, I do shrug it all off as Eastern mysticism. The same woman also told me that my liver must be shot because my eyes water easily.

But her story hit on my deep, dark fear of perpetual aloneness. What if I turn into this 30-something doctor? What have I done, or more importantly, not done, to swing the floodgates of love open in my own (young) life?

Maybe some Gypsy tears will help set things right...

Saturday, December 20, 2008


After a couple months of denying it, trying really hard to ultimately not falling in love, James and I have parted ways.

It all went down a few weeks ago, in the same bedroom we'd spent countless hours in before. The same bedroom where I woke up in his arms after my first Pride. The same bedroom where I told him my dirty little secrets, the stuff that other than you, dear readers, not many people know. The same bedroom where he too let down his guard and told me everything.

Trying not to be cliched but finding no other way of getting his attention, I sent him a text that evening, "Can you come by? We need to talk about something." I waited in my living room, with nobody else home, the TV on for background noise. My stomach clenched in sadness and in uncertainty; was he going to hate me after I said what I needed to say?

A flurry of messages later, and he told me that someone else needed his attention, and that he'd come late. So I sat there, alone, and waited.

He finally came, but not alone; as the lock tumbled, I realized that my roommates had come home the exact moment he had arrived. We all stood awkwardly, with everyone but James knowing what was about to happen. He came over to kiss me and I tried to deflect it...I didn't need closeness at that moment, and I didn't want to give him the wrong impression.

We stalked into my bedroom, I closed the door, and we sat facing each other, me in my chair and him perched on the bed. We talked briefly about each other's day and after a few moments I bit the bullet and started my speech. "Well, that's not why I asked you to come," I started, and then went into it.

How much he means to me, how great he is and how I wish things could work. But I just don't feel enough of that magic 'something' to push things to the next level. Without saying, "I don't love you," I tried as best I could to explain how, even though I was comfortable with him, dangerously comfortable...I didn't see it taking the next step.

He sat there, trying not to cry, nodding along. It felt like looking into a mirror, seeing his face cloud over with each sentence and his eyes glisten. My voice was like gravel, monotone, crunching out words.

I explained how I felt, how even though there was nothing broken between us there also wasn't that special 'magic' that I've always thought I'd feel when I was in love. There was so much that was good, so much hard to find with anybody else, but it just wasn't going to get us to the next level, up to the next stage.

Without ever saying the L word, we talked around how we both admittedly felt the lack of magic. As time wore on, he admitted that he'd been trying, probably too hard, to make things work. "But it's because I feel like there's something there...there could be something there, I didn't want to give up on it," he explained. I'd been trying too, but painfully aware of what was lacking in our relationship.

It became a really involved conversation into the facts of life, of relationships. What truly defines 'happy'? We both like each other, enjoy our collective company and for some reason, we can both share similar tastes in music, food, movies...all things that you seek out in a perspective mate. We were happy in each other's presence, even after six months. We got to know each other, the insides of our minds, the things that not many others know. There had to be something there to keep us together for that long, and cause making a decision to be a long and painful process.

We both acknowledged that the 'magic', that certain something that Hollywood tries to capture on film, that soul-wrenching attraction and draw to someone...was missing. While we were happy, we weren't blissful.

But is anybody? Are even the most happily paired couples really, fundamentally burning up inside for each other? Or does that simply exist in movies, or dollar paperbacks from the drug store?

Neither of us knew the answer. And at that point, it didn't matter really.

"So...what are we going to do?" James asked, subtly trying to figure out if I wanted to take a short break, or a permanent one.

"Well, it's pretty unfair to expect things to get better in a certain amount of time," I said. "I mean, if that were the case...we'd already have enough to get to the next level."

He nodded along.

What was most heartbreaking about the evening was, strangely, how close we felt to each other by the end of our conversation. James even remarked on it, "Tonight is an example of why I really like you, your honesty, your compassion. You thought things through, you take things seriously."

After two hours of talking, and both managing not to cry, conversation wound down. But it was so much more than a breakup conversation, more than the cliched 'this isn't working' that so many simply fall back on. We went into the issues, we dug into each other's souls, and we wound up feeling closer than ever to each other on the most ironic night of our relationship.

Someone had told me in the hours before that perhaps this wasn't the time for us to fall in love. I'm no expert, and from what I see most 'relationships' in the gay community are often too complicated and overcompensate a lack of love with quirks that seemingly do nothing to draw two people together. Yet, what he said seemed plausible; either that, or it gave my overly-romantic self something to cling to:

"Maybe this isn't the time for you two. Maybe in a year, or two, you'll find each other again and be ready."

Strangely, James said nearly the same thing at the end of our conversation. "We might not be ready now, but I'll always have you in my heart. And who knows, one day..."

"The one thing I've always been terrified of is loosing you from my life," I said. "I can't imagine life without you in it anymore. And I've told you that a lot of times," I said.

And so we agreed that we both care too much about each other to exorcise the other from our lives. "I have no idea how this works," I said, "since this is my first longer relationship. I don't know when we get to be friends. Hell, we weren't even friends to begin with. But I want to work on it. I can't not work on it."

We stood at my door and hugged tightly for a few minutes. There really wasn't anything more to say, we were both so sad and so drawn that we really had no idea what to do. But the conversation was over, and it didn't explode in my face...but we were both suddenly back to being alone again, and it was just starting to sink in.

As he walked out my door, and down the hall, all the positivity, the closeness and connection shattered, and I was left with the feeling that I was utterly alone. It was a crushing few moments, seeing him turn the corner and walk away for the last time, and me returning to my bedroom, sitting in bed, alone, and really realizing how alone I was again.

It's taken me a long time to get my thoughts together about it. At the time, I wanted to write, to get everything down on paper so I knew how I felt in the moment. But whenever I tried, it never came. I fell into writers block, and a mild depression, and it's even taken me a few weeks to write this one post. I guess it all comes down to time; it heals all wounds.

But it still really hurts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christmas time is nearly here...

According to my calendar, and everyone's gleeful smiles, it's nearly time for gay-Christmas.

Yes, Halloween is just days away...and like each all hallows eve before it, I find myself scrambling to come up with a costume.

I'm a creature of habit. Every year, I start October with a shudder; the leaves start to change, the air gets colder, and I swear that I don't care about Halloween. I maintain over the next few weeks that I'm over the whole thing, that I don't want to waste time and energy (and cash) finding a costume for one night that is never particularly memorable for me.

By around the third week of the month, I start to worry. Just what will I be missing if I don't get gussied up and into the festive spirit? I'm always bemoaning the fact I have a pathetic social life, so why would I want to miss a perfect opportunity to get out and mingle with the rest of Toronto-proper?

But then there's the stress, the trying to find a costume that would work for 'me', and of course, wondering if it's going to snow/if I'll freeze my ass off.

And then I break down, and frantically try to put together a costume, resenting the stupid holiday.

Apparently, most gays don't feel that way.

I guess it's the one night a year when everyone can be anyone, where the rest of society doesn't look down on men dressed in drag, or skintight leather. Or like the guy above, not much of anything.

I'm the first to admit that I have no comprehension of why gays make such a big deal of Halloween. Like I said, it probably has a lot to do with the fact that it's one night of the year where everyone, regardless of sexuality, lets out their inner freak.

That said, it's always really fun to walk Church St. during the evening hours, taking in all the costumes and the craziness. The town really comes alive, as Torontonians from all walks of life converge on the gay strip.

But as I usually do, I try to understand why. What makes it such a significant holiday? Why do gays embrace it so, dressing in nothing (but looking quite sexy) and parading in public. This isn't Pride, it's Halloween!

There is a part of me that would actually love to dress as a little angel, clad in nothing more than wings and a nice pair of underwear. I get the allure of being allowed one night of outrageous dress... I just don't have the body for it, or the resistance to our low temperatures.

I guess I also feel like, as usual, I'm missing the point, missing the party. Like there's something that I just don't get about the night, and everyone else does.

Whatever my thoughts on Halloween, I'll be there, on Church St., hopefully blended into a crowd of colourful characters. My costume isn't even remotely ready. I have no idea where I'm winding up, or who I'll be with. But I'll be there, a smile on my face, and hopefully letting a bit of my own inner freak out, too.

I just had to include this photo, I think this guy looks awkwardly adorable. Pretty hard to take him seriously...but at least he has the body to pull it off. Mostly.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Such a turn off...

Blood is not my thing.

Nor is vomit, or pretty much any other human bodily excretion. I'm not a squeamish person, per se; it just seems like when confronted with a pool of red, even if it's not my own, I get a bit of a gut wrenching feeling.

I'd make a great nurse, right?

So it was quite the moment in the men's washroom today that left me standing awkwardly a few feet from the grand white bowl, mouth agape and stomach clenched.

I'd strolled in innocently enough, planning to do my business and get back to work. Unlike many, I don't find the bathroom a refuge; there is no stack of magazines in my loo, since I prefer to do my reading on a softer seat than a plastic ring.

My phone was in one hand, tapping out a text message, while I locked the door with the other. I hit send, then looked down.

Inside, surrounded by clean, clear water, was a large dollop of blood and a small smear of brown.

Being the quick thinker I am, I flushed immediately before the sight made me gag. Only after the water had rushed away did I think about what someone had left behind. Can you say 'fucking gross!?', cause I sure can.

Of course, my mind then jumped to wondering just who it was that left a great deal of themselves behind in the toilet at work. It looked as if their ass had been raped with a rusty nail, then left to unload into a public rest room.

I shudder to think how this happened, and pray the poor soul isn't suffering too much. I mean, really! Jesus, that must have hurt!

I also shudder to think that anal sex can do such collateral damage to one's colon.

So, thank you to the guy who left a piece of himself behind in the toilet, only for me to discover after eating lunch. I sincerely hope you're not bleeding to death, or suffering any long-term effects from your backdoor activities.

I'll just try to focus on the good feeling instead of the bloody mental picture I have next time my own back door becomes the subject of certain activities.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The new friend...

I've made the acquaintance of a new friend in the past month.

We met online (shock and awe), randomly enough. I don't really even know what got the ball rolling, other than a 'hello' message that turned into IM conversations that turned into text messages...you get the picture.

And before anyone says anything, he hasn't hit on me, so I'm pretty sure he's not looking to get laid.

We've been getting to know each other, almost the same way that I've gotten to know guys via online who I wound up dating...which brings to mind the question of the difference between friendship and a relationship (save the sex, of course)...but that's another day's work.

Shocking, to think that I may now actually have a gay male friend. Well, one in the 18-22 bracket, anyway.

As I've gotten to know Vic, I see a lot of similar thoughts about life that we share. He's 19, but he's pretty damn mature, and pretty damn smart. Our conversations can drag and become a little slow, and we haven't gotten into any fierce debates about politics or the IMF...but we do talk about life in general, and I appreciate the fact that he isn't hung up on acting like a 19-year-old.

But he is such a conundrum, someone that I cannot wrap my head around. Great looking, model-quality even; someone that I would have assumed to have all the little intricacies of gay life figured out, simply because he's got the good fortune of being young and pretty.

But he's got this naive outlook on life, this part of him that I don't understand. Behind all the seriousness and the grounded nature is this naive gay guy who wonders about what a lingering glance means, questions his own life decisions, and generally feels pretty disconnected from the gay world.

Most of that is actually pretty endearing; he'll ask me what to do about this guy at work that keeps chatting him up, or wonder aloud if we should go clubbing and burn off some steam. Sometimes he really opens up about how lonely he feels, and we both have the same outlook on love; we want to find the guy that sets off the fireworks.

But it all perplexes me, and I really don't understand why. I guess I just find it hard to believe that someone so smart could be so...uneducated...about the simplest glance.

Who am I to complain, it's not like I would know what the hell I was doing if someone was smiling at me every day...then again, nobody is, so I've never had to learn...

But the hardest thing about this young, vibrant, sweet guy is the fact that dates men with Ferraris.

Maybe it just comes down to his seemingly infatuation with older men. He says he's looking for people that are "mature", yet he seems like he's more interested in guys that have the ways and means. Not that I would think he's a gold digger, but he doesn't seem to mind when a guy sends a car to pick him up for a date.

We've just started talking about past relationships, and already I recognize we have wildly different tastes in men. Nothing wrong with that...he's just part of the community that I cannot wrap my head around.

For instance, I asked what he was looking for in a boyfriend. His answers were completely normal, and pretty textbook, save for one; he says he likes men that are dominant, and we weren't talking sexually.

"But...what do you mean by dominant?" I asked, sort of stunned. Here's this sweet guy, young, with a seemingly good head on his shoulders, and he wants a guy to boss him around?

"Well, like alpha-male," was his response. "Someone who takes control."

Since this is completely not me, and I don't understand why anyone wants a guy to tell them what to do and how to do it (outside the bedroom, natch), I pressed for more details.

"I like when a guy knows what he wants. Tells me to meet him at 8 for dinner at this restaurant," he said. "My ex boyfriend was like that. I guess that's what I liked about him."

I couldn't help myself. "When I hear alpha-male, I think 'huge jerk'," I said. "Is there no room for your opinion?"

He laughed. "I dunno, I just like when a guy knows what he wants."

Here was what I assumed to be an innocent guy of 19, who moments ago was asking what he should do about a cute guy at work, talking about how he wants more friends and more socialization in his life...and now he's telling me that he likes men to boss him around.

It just...scared me. Someone young and naive and optimistic about the world...who also didn't mind if older guys told him where to go and what to do. It all seemed so imbalanced, like the classic power struggle that older, rich men seemingly hold over younger, naive guys. Just how compliant was he being in all of this; was he really in control of the situation, or was he allowing his real maturity level show in being told what to do by guys twice his age.

I went to bed worried that night, wondering about how different yet similar his life has been from mine. I'd say we're both in the same place, gay-developmental wise, with neither of us having a firm hold of the community or a social life that is threaded by its fibers. Yet here's this young boy, who admitted to a one night stand with a significantly older man, and enjoyed it.

It all comes back to my complete lack of understanding about age differences. I still, after two years, do not understand what a beautiful 19-year-old sees in a man of 38. I'm not knocking anyone, because there are great people everywhere...but on a physical level, this older, rich guy he slept with for fun would probably do nothing for me in the sack.

As I thought about him, I started to realized I wasn't so worried about him, I was more concerned with the fact that I've never done anything like this before. No guy has ever sent a driver to pick me up, or fucked me in the back of a Ferrari.

But why do I care? I mean, I don't even believe that older-younger works, and I get upset by the potential power imbalance...yet there I was, realizing what irked me about it most.

The attention.

Here's a model-cute boy, 19, smart, funny and caring, being propositioned by God knows how many guys (most of which sound like they have all the ways, and most of the means...). And me? I get creepy older guys with shriveled cocks and younger guys who never seem to have the mettle that I'm looking for, much less the fuse to my fireworks.

I doubt very much that I'd really get the kind of enjoyment he receives from dating this particular group, but the fact that he's got people knocking at his door and I simply don't really caught my attention.

I know it shouldn't matter what happens to this other guy, because he's putting himself in a totally different scenario...but the same thing happened to James, more or less. He too is a big draw for the older, richer crowd, and he's taken some of them up on their offers for dinner and drives...

Vic is supposed to update me about the other nights date, this time with an investment banker. I'll of course be interested in what happened, if he liked the guy, if they'll be seeing each other again...but I'll also be reminded that, while he's got the world knocking on his door, I really don't.

And even if I did...would I care enough to answer?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Time and time again...

I continually find myself placed in an age bracket that I do not belong.

This past weekend, I attended a gay soiree. A friend of James' was having people by for what was to be their house warming...even though they've already lived there for a few months.

We were greeted at the door enthusiastically by our host. That is to say, James was greeted enthusiastically by our host, while I got an awkwardly-weak hug and hello. I know that I've got probably 40 pounds and an extra foot on the guy, but I always prefer a genuine hug over some half-assed imitation.

As we circled the room, I, like any other red-blooded gay, drank in the scenery. I instantly recognized his friends, and said my hellos, as well as enjoyed the sight of a few other cute ones I'd never met before.

The second most important step in these situations is getting your ass into the kitchen and getting a drink in your hand. James got distracted by his friends as we made our way towards the kitchen, so I cut my losses and went on ahead. And there he was.

Standing under the tube lighting was a guy my height, with short cropped brown hair and a staggeringly innocent face. Not that he was 18 years old, but he just looked genuine, happy and friendly. He immediately said hello as I entered the room, and gave me an electric smile.

Probably the number one quality I appreciate in any gay is if they're unpretentious. I have no problem with a guy who loves the scene, loves partying and loves fashion; I hate when that means he has to hate everyone else, judge everyone else and act as if he were above everyone else.

Unpretentious is the definition I give this guy. And damn, was he unpretentious wrapped in nice packaging.

After Rick and I shook hands, and I'd made a drink, James showed up to claim his. Again, Rick introduced himself with a hearty handshake and smile. We started talking, and James asked if he would like a drink.

"I'm not much of a drinker," Rick said. "Half a glass and I'm falling all over myself."

We all laughed, since he was pretty much the same build that I am, and I can tuck away quite a few before I loose operational status.

"Oh, ok then," James said simply. "If you want some, it's right here."

Rick's eyes glinted slightly as his smile flashed again. "Thanks," he said, still smiling. "But wait, you guys aren't trying to get me drunk?" he added coyly, staring directly into my eyes.

Since I don't know how to flirt, I did my best to beam a smile and little eye glinting back at him. James stepped aside to talk to some other people who had just arrived, and I took the moment to try and get to know the unpretentious character in front of me.

"So, you a student?" I asked, since everyone else in the room was.

"No, actually, finished school a couple years ago," he said. "But wait, you must be around my age, right?"

I hesitated, trying not to roll my eyes. It was happening again...

"Uh, well, that depends," I said, playing along. "How old are you?"

"Well how old do you think I am?" he shot back, a grin cracking across his face.

In truth, I was 90% sure he was 27. But that sounds so close to 30, and if he wasn't, I didn't want to be insulting.

"26," I lied.

"Wrong, 27," he said. I explained that I'd already figured, but didn't want to offend him in case I was wrong.

"So how old are you then," he questioned.

"Well, actually, a couple years younger...I'm twenty...uh," I said, pausing, since I'm not really used to saying 22 just quite yet. "Twenty two. But I know what you were going to say," I added with a self-deprecating laugh. "That's how old you thought I was, right?"

He paused, sensing by some divine insight that this might be a bit of a sensitive subject with me. "Well..." he said, trailing off.

"It's ok, I get it all the time!" I said as cheerfully as possible, and navigated the conversation on to other subjects.

Like it or not, the rest of the world seems to think I look 27. And they've been saying it for about a year now. For some reason, even though I really don't understand what exactly about my appearance looks that age, people just come up with the same number. Over and over, person after person, all claim the same thing. I look 27, but still many days under 30.

Last night, the topic came up again with my roommates. I recounted the story, and with a bit of disgust, thrust my face in a mirror and asked, "Just what exactly makes me look five years older than I actually am!?"

Sufficed to say, neither of them could pin it down. "It's just...one of those things?" said one. "You can't control it, I can't even say what features make it that way. You just look a little older."

"We both look younger than our ages," the other added. "It's just the way things are, it's just 'the way' you look. Don't take it as such a bad thing."

Even though it's not necessarily a bad thing, I still resent it. And even a guy who belongs to my phantom age can't tell the difference. Not that I'm profoundly disturbed by it, by my perceived older age...I just would like an explanation why the configuration of my eyes, nose and mouth conspire to add five years to my actual age.

Somehow, I don't think I'll ever have the answer.

It's just the way it is.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Au natural/Illigally Blonde

To my horror of horrors, practically all my blonde hair is gone.

Thankfully, it hasn't all fallen out. More like washed out.

I saw my family a few nights ago to celebrate my birthday. Now, it was a little belated, but I still appreciate the fact that I get a birthday cake, not to mention that it was nice to see my family, including my grandparents, after weeks apart.

As we sat around waiting for dinner to arrive at our table, I noticed my mother's head swivel. She stared at the top of my head, my hair clumsily styled (since I wasn't really going out with anyone I wanted to impress).

"Your hair has really gone dark," she said, sticking a finger into it. Thanks mom...

"Meh," I said, shrugging it off. "Not like I've been outside much in a month to give it some natural lightening."

"No, it's really dark!" my grandfather chimed in. "Looks brown now."

"Remember when it used to be so blonde it was white?" my dad said, all sentimental-like. It was around this time that I started getting a little self-conscious.

"Oh, come off it...it's gone a little darker, but it's still got a lot of colour! I mean, it's got some red, some darker blonde..." I said, trailing off.

"Well, is it coloured?" my grandmother asked. "It looks like you dyed it brown!"

Ahh! Fuck, really? I thought to myself.

"It's...it's...well," I said in my hair's defense.

Other than a naturally-high sloped forehead, my hair has always treated me quite well. It grows like mad, a nice thick texture. And though I can't grow it too long before it starts flying everywhere, much less have it swoop dramatically a-la Zac Efron, it's not really failing me.

Up until now. I've gone from white-blonde, to blonde, to dirty blonde, to ash blonde...to brown. With red strands.

"But your beard still grows in red, I bet," my dad added.

Jesus, I'm multi-coloured. Add to that black chest hair, blonde arm hair, beige pubes...

Point being, I'm now questioning if I'm a legitimate blonde anymore. I've let my highlights wash away after having them touched up for about a year...and now I realize that there really isn't much blonde under the added colour.

It's a little ironic, since I've been thinking lately of a change, to the point of dying my hair quite dark and doing some non-blonde highlights. I haven't ever explored different hair colours, so I figure I'm entitled to making at least one really stupid mistake before packing it in.

But now that people are apparently recognizing me as non-blonde, I find myself gravitating back to my blonde locks. Save for the fact that now, my claim of being a natural blonde will be practically a lie. I'll become illegally blonde.

Ah well, it beats bald.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We're all fucked...

Things that are wrong with the world:

- A new Cold War starting: featuring NATO vs. Russia. I'm not even being overly-dramatic about this, it's quite real I'm afraid. For the past few year's I've subscribed to the whole argument that I'd rather be fighting the Cold War than the war on terror. After all, it's nice to have the 'us' versus 'them', and actually be able to point to 'them' on a map. But now that we're plunging into another one, I think I might have to rethink that answer.

- The markets collapsing on themselves: like today, when the TSX lost over 500 points, on top of the DOW loosing the same value. Oh, plus an bunch of financials declaring bankruptcy/needing liquid cash infusions. What better time to be looking for a real job than during a rampant recession, brought on by over-zealous greedy pricks wearing very nice suits sitting in very nice offices fucking very nice looking people. (I'd generalize to 'boys', but I'm sure they're not all closeted, or that kinky.)

- Rick Wright, Pink Floyd pianist/organist/etc, dies at age 65, putting the last 'nail in the coffin' (pun unintended) on any hopes that the group will ever reunite for a world tour. At least I got to see him and David Gilmour when they passed through Toronto in April 2006 (or was it '05...). But still, fuck. And I just found out about this, on top of all the great market closing numbers.

- A few days ago I officially became 22, passing out of the ever-sexy 18-21 bracket and pushing one more year closer to that dreaded adulthood. 21, while still not incredibly young, was bearable because it was barely in the 20's. Now, I'm pushed whole-heartedly into that bracket. At least maybe now people in the 18-21 bracket will want to sleep with me. After all, I'm practically old.

and on a lighter note...

- The Toronto International Film Festival has once again finished screening another fine selection of entries. And I missed them all. Once again. I swear, one of these years I'll actually make it out to see one of them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lighting candles...

Yes, there are reasons that I haven't been posting at all.

To leave you all mid story is horrible, but my life has been a huge challenge since the day I came out to my father. There has been lots of good, mostly thanks to being back in the city I love, seeing people I love. But there has been bad, including a lot of family stress and a funeral, which I'll explain at some point soon.

And there's been the busy. I've been run off my feet, to say the least, since the first second of the academic year. I'm a project manager of our practical exercises (and more I cannot say, I'm sorry :p), which requires me to be on call (and on hand) 24/7. Seriously, this is the first night since starting out that I've been home by this early part of the evening. It's enjoyable work, but it's draining; I have basically no life outside of what has now become my 'job' and I feel like I'm missing out on a few opportunities to get back into the swing of Toronto life.

Still, I've managed to be as social as possible throughout all this, even if it means getting fairly little sleep. As one friend put it, I'm still putting myself out there, even if I'm sacrificing sleep and laundry time.

But none of this is really what spurred me to write this post today. I've got bigger annoyances at the moment.

It's my birthday this week.

Again, the year has gone by, and it's once again time for me to 'celebrate' my being born. And again, it's once again time for me to be more stressed and annoyed than celebratory.

Already, my close friends have asked me what my plans are. Where would I like to go? What would I like to do? How would I like to celebrate this joyous occasion? My answer is the same as every year: I simply don't know.

Like every year before, my birthday brings out more stress and anxiety than feelings of happiness and love. The same questions are asked, the same answer given. To put it bluntly, the sum of all my fears can be expressed in one question:

If I had a birthday party, would anyone come?

Sounds insane, I know. But it's something that has always worried me. I have great friends, know people in different walks of life and different towns and cities. But I don't have the archetypal 'group of friends' that so many people identify themselves with. I've got small pockets of people, but not enough to fill a room simultaneously with 30 people who all know each other.

And each time I get asked what I want to do, my insides shrink a little. I don't want to say aloud that I'd have a hard time trying to figure out just who would exactly care enough to spend the evening celebrating my birthday.

So as usual, instead of trying to set up an elaborate series of birthday-style events, I've simply stuck my head in the sand.

Another sticking point is the gay thing. My roommates want to be a part of my birthday, but they want me to be able to kiss boys if I want to. I appreciate that fact, since James will most likely be part of my birthday plans. We can't make out drunkenly at a straight bar...it's just not done. But at the same time, no matter what I wind up doing, I'll have to be as inclusive as possible.

"So, we figured that we could have dinner on Friday night together," one roommate said, "and then you and James can go out with your gay friends."

In my mind, I heard a very loud voice ask, "What gay friends?"

It is truly annoying to be reminded, at a time when you're supposed to be happy and exuberant, that there really is something amiss. While I'd love to go gay for my birthday, the fact remains that I just really don't have any gay friends. Guys I dated aside, I still don't have my 'gay group', even though the rest of the world apparently thinks that I do.

Then again, I'm still overwhelmed when I think of having to attempt to round up a group of people, gay, straight or otherwise, to be in the same spot at the same time on my behalf.

I don't have long to decide. I've never really had a 'great' birthday before, merely a slew of unremarkable ones (and a few crappy ones, like last year). For my part, I'd almost prefer to pretend that it's any other day, and to just carry on with life as is. But I question whether that's because I'm truly non-plussed about the event itself or because I'm horrified at the implications of a poorly executed celebration.

Maybe I'll just close my eyes, and hope that someone else will just do it all for me...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

All that life offers (Part 1)...

I know I left you all hanging, but it was impossible for me to have the time up until this second to continue the story.

Flash back to last Friday. I spent most of the day feeling nauseous, knowing that in a few short hours my life was about to change yet again. It's a funny feeling, knowing one is about to change the course of their life...so powerful yet so helpless in the same second.

I don't recall most of what happened that day, because really, I accomplished nothing. I was fixated on what was to come, what would happen after we ate dinner as a family surrounding the glass-topped table, after the dishes were tucked away in the washer and my dad had drifted in to sit on the couch.

My mother was equally on pins and needles, giving me the occasional glance as I walked by that seemed to remind me constantly of the gravity of the situation. We didn't really talk about it, save for a few moments where she confirmed that it would be 'tonight'.

At roughly 4 p.m., both parents were leaving the house, bound for different destinations. Outside, mom told dad that I had something to talk about, and that we needed to talk tonight. He retraced his steps, back into the house, calling up stairs to me, who had slunk back to my bedroom.

I came down to him, completely unaware of what was going on. "Come here," he said. "Sit down." We sat on the small bench in the porch, barely enough room for the two of us to fit. I still had no idea what was happening, save the idea he was going to tell me he'd miss me once I went back to school.

"I just really want you to enjoy your last few days at home," he said. "I just want you to enjoy them."

"I...uh...well, of course," I said, "so do I." It would only be 48 hours before I had moved back to Toronto and left home once more, and I understood where he was coming from.

He paused. "I know what you want to talk about," he said. I sat there, confused, and asked just what he meant, since I hadn't said a word about anything.

"Your mom told me just now you needed to talk about something," he said, "and I wanted to let you know I already know what you have to say." There was something in his voice, a naked honesty, that finally made me see the light: he knew.

The room swayed, and I burst into tears.

Everything that I had planned, everything that had been taken into account, simply flew out the window. There we sat on the bench, me clinging to him, sobbing, trying to form words, form a sentence.

"It's ok, it's ok," he said, pulling me to him.

"What do you mean you know?" I asked through sobs.

"I know, I've known for a while," he replied.

"But...how long is a while?" I asked, still gasping for air.

"A long time. A couple years," he said.

So I started to talk, started to try and tell him how awkward life has been, how difficult summer was, knowing that I needed to tell him and not knowing how he would react.

But all the pep talk that I had thought through simply vanished. I didn't know what to say, how to say things. I didn't understand just how much he 'got it' or if he was confused and unsure. So we sat there, with me attempting to get conversation on track.

He really had no questions, which bothered me a little, since my understanding of his gay education was stereotypes and bad TV. So instead I focused on the positives, how happy I am, how I feel more comfortable in my skin and with my life.

"But you gotta admit, it's pretty weird," he said. "It's not really normal."

And so we talked, and I tried to clear things up (gently) about what exactly 'normal' is, and how being different from a majority isn't necessarily weird. I tried equating things to being left handed versus right handed.

With that, we got to the root of his thinking...how he feels like something 'went wrong' somewhere genetically, from whose side of the family the gayness came from.

I still don't really understand just what he's thinking or how he feels. On the one hand, he made it very clear he still loves me, that I'm still his son and that we're still a family. On the other, he still seems to be pretty uncomfortable with the whole situation, not really sure of where he stands..."It's going to take a lot of getting used to," he said. "Two guys...that will take a lot..."

Throughout it all, he did give me a bit of insight into the hidden gays in our community. There have been some before me (no surprise), though I'd never heard of them before. Other farmer's sons who had been gay, and who had come out years and years ago. They all left, of course, but it feels nice knowing that I wasn't exclusively alone in my situation.

Like my mother, he was most concerned about safety, both interior and exterior. He worries that I'll get killed in a straight bar, or that people would hurt me for being gay somewhere, sometime in my life. And he worries about me 'getting sick' (since he couldn't seem to bring himself to use the word HIV) like one of the other farmers sons had. He died, tragically, in Vancouver.

Overall, it was a surreal experience. I had no idea he knew, no inclination that he had known for so long. In many ways, I got my wish after all; I only have to deal with the awkwardness after the coming-out conversation, I didn't have to break the news to him that I'm gay. Even now, looking back, I still don't really know exactly how he feels about the whole thing...I get the feeling he is accepting more because of the love for his son than the true belief that being gay is OK.

And so we've entered a new phase of life. Both my parents know now. I'm out to my family. Now what?

It seems crazy to be thinking about the next step, but I couldn't help but wonder as our conversation wound down just how things would progress. I told him quite clearly that I have no intention of this just becoming a family secret, of it being spoken of once and then never again. But just how much it's discussed, and in which way, is something that we'll have to discover.

And as if there wasn't enough drama on this weekend, Sunday proved to be no slouch...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tomorrow is a big day...

I'm coming out to my dad tomorrow.

Sunday I move back to Toronto. Saturday I'm helping another friend move. That leaves Friday, more specifically Friday at around 7 p.m. Eastern time.

I've known what to say for a long time...there really isn't much thinking. I'm gay. I'm happy. The trick now is to not get upset or angry, depending on his reaction, while I explain things. But it needs to happen; it's needed to happen for a year, and no good opportunity has presented itself. There never will be one.

Really, the awkwardness after the fact I can deal with. We've had a difficult summer between the two of us, with me putting a lot of safety distance between him and me. It's the getting through the conversation that I'm dreading.

So send me positive vibes tomorrow night, because it'll be helpful to know there are people behind me. If I don't get anything posted for a few days, don't take it as really bad news, since I'll barely be around a computer let alone have any privacy to write it all out.

And so I go, once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...

It all comes down to you...

I've spent the last few days getting my life in order.

The corn has grown above my head, the sun sets earlier each evening, and there is a decided chill in the air during the dead of night. Everything is pointing to the one sure thing in life: time is creeping forward. Summer is coming to a close.

With the end of the season ticking ever closer, I've started my ritualistic packing and organizing. Decisions must be made, what to take and what to leave. Arrangements must be made, the big move in date set. Summer ends, school begins. The next new chapter of life.

Last week I wasn't stressed about the subject. Far from it...I was excited, relaxed and really looking forward to being back in Toronto, having my new normal life back. The butterflies that used to come on when I started planning my new year were nowhere to be found, and truth be told I enjoyed it. For the first time, I felt no unease about just how things would go, what kind of a year I'd have.

But over the last few days, my carefree mood darkened. I started realizing how much of a change was coming, how different things were about to be again.

I started to see the end of the line.

Come September I'll be going into my fourth and final year of university. It's hard to imagine something that you've chosen, planned for, dedicated yourself to, lived, ate and slept - coming to a close. Yet it is, or will be. In eight months I will be a university graduate.

Of course, it has the ring of accomplishment to it, the knowledge that you've succeeded in your field of study and have successfully navigated another phase of your life. I'm proud of what I've done so far, and I hope that this final year will be the crowning achievement, the culmination of my four years of study.

But...there's so much more I feel like I have to do, or at least want to.

Life as a student is truly amazing. Yes, there is responsibility (at least, for me), but there is the overwhelming sense that anything is possible. During the past three years, I've discovered more about myself, learned who I really am and experienced more life than I did in the 17 years before.

But again, when I think that it's coming to a close, I feel like there are so many things still left to do.

It all comes down to safety. As a student, you have a great safety net surrounding your life; you're young, learning, experimenting. There is no 9 to 5 job you have to attend every day. Nights can drag until 4 a.m. with little consequence to your life. Days can be spent thinking, or at least attempting to, solving the riddles of life.

Of course, many people see it differently. On having this conversation with a friend, she turned the inflection of the thought on its head. "Exactly, you're finished university in eight months!" she said with enthusiasm and sincerity. "And there's so much more you can do once you graduate!"

She's right, to an extent. It's true that just because I'm going to be finished school doesn't mean I have achieved the highest peaks of my life. There are years and years (and hopefully a few more after that) for me to continue to explore, to live.

I can't even put my finger on what exactly it is I feel I have yet to do. At university, I suppose I would argue I haven't had the 'American college' experience; there are no meanderings through the quad, no school spirit or community. Unlike a Bret Easton Ellis novel, we're not all doing copious amounts of drugs and constantly sleeping with each other...not that that would make for the most well-rounded university experience.

I guess a lot of it comes down to being 'involved.' I've passed three years of my life at university already, yet I still feel on the outside of the organizational sphere. I never got into councils, organizations, action groups...but then a lot of it wasn't really for me to begin with...

Also, thinking of leaving university in many ways makes me feel I'm loosing my gay safety net. It's one thing to think I'll figure out the whole gay thing during school, where there are people my age experiencing the same things, where there is a student group with an open door I could always force myself through. Once I graduate, that all evaporates...and I become one gay against the world. But, since I haven't really figured it out after three years of the same thing, maybe a change would be for the better after all.

So here's to eight more months of the best job of my life.

So far.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Actions speak louder than words...

Online interaction between humans brings out the worst in us.

It's as if the ambiguity of representing yourself electronically is too much for our relatively unevolved psyches to understand and accept. It's something we're not taught from our youth, like how we gauge other interaction between people. Such a fluid thing is likely to cause problems.

Much like online interaction brings out the worst in us, it can be related to playing 'the game' while dating. The ideas are similar; neither party knows quite what the other is saying, and how things are meant usually are interpreted very differently by the other person.

As we speak, I'm having said issue. I popped online a few minutes ago, more as a distraction than a serious need to speak with anyone. A couple people were online, but only one person, whom I wouldn't have minded speaking with, sat there 'Online', his little green man glowing, welcoming conversation.

I double clicked on his icon, then stopped. I don't want to appear too needy/forward/irritating to someone who I was just talking to last night, so I should probably just see if he messages me.

A few moments pass. I busy myself with other things, checking messages and dropping a few 'happy birthday' messages to people on Facebook. Nothing is happening on the IM front; both our icons glow the happy green, and neither is making the first attempt at a hello.

So I sit there. I don't really need to talk, but I'm getting a little irritated that he's not so much as acknowledged my presence.

I look away to do something, and when I look back his status is now set to 'Away'. Hrm...well, maybe he truly was busy, or had stepped away from his computer. Again, I turn around and work on other things.

After another ten minutes, I've decided it's not really worth my time to sit here when nobody is talking to me. Might as well accomplish the 5000 other things I have to do. So, I set myself to 'Appear Offline', and get busy.

A couple minutes later, I notice that he has now gone back online.

This is where the uncertainty seems to be grounded in something more than a vivid imagination. When I'm online, he sets himself away...when I leave, he comes back online.

I try to be reasonable, rational. We really could have had some bad timing, he may have literally stepped away for those few minutes I was online, only to return when I went offline.

But the unlearned side of us, the side that deals with this new set of social interactions, really wonders if I'd just been ignored with such enthusiasm that a friend actually went to great pains to avoid speaking with me.

Of course, there's no way to prove any of this, to answer the question and put the mind at ease. Everything online is so open ended; we have nothing else to interpret the other's meaning except the naked words (or silence) that are sent to us. So how are you supposed to take it when a friend completely ignores your existence, simply reversing what you have done in an attempt to appear innocent?

And naturally, one can't simply flat-out ask them, because you would look absolutely insane, desperate and paranoid. As we all know, I'm only two of those three things.

So I sit here still, he now back online, me still invisible, and I wonder if I've been silently slapped in the face, or if I'm just a paranoid egomaniac.

Yes, I know I have too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


"All I want to do is make you happy, because you've made me the happiest I've ever been in a long time."

Forgiving the bad grammar, I read, re-read, and read once more the last sentence of his e-mail to me.

For some reason, I almost didn't want to see it. I almost didn't want to hear that, yes, I'm making someone happy. Why? Because, in my experience, it's something that's hard to trust. I've been there before...sure, this time I have way more substantial evidence that it's true, but it can be a little daunting to imagine things working...still working, for someone where it very rarely has.

But there it was, in black and white. And mixed with the slight unease was a great sense of flushed warmth.

Of course, it didn't take long for me to slip from pleasure to pressure. While half of me was relaxed and happy because of the statement, the other half felt a new weight fall on my shoulders, the don't-fuck-it-up-now-because-it's-getting-more-serious pressure to perform.

Actually, writing this now sounds like I'm a lot more worried by the pressure than reassure by the sentiment. That's not the case; when I got it, and after I kept reading it, I was really reassured by it. It felt right.

I just have to remind myself to stop thinking and go with the flow.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Warm inside and out...

I had one of those near-perfect moments this afternoon.

After another day at work, and another mid-afternoon of boredom and what could be called introspective thinking (but was really just moping and listlessness), I chanced to go online and check my messages. Strangely enough, there were a few people online, and I happily said hello to a good friend of mine.

Within two minutes, we were on the phone together. It was late afternoon, and nobody was home; for the first time in what I would swear to be weeks, the sun blazed through the large front window, warming the couch already covered in pillows.

I lay out on it, sunshine nearly burning my eyes, and instantly felt comfortable. My body just sank into place, my back propped just enough to let me speak clearly. And we talked.

For 48 minutes and one second, I lounged comfortably and had a great conversation with him. We haven't spoken in what felt like months, but was really weeks...only an eventful few weeks. We never run out of things to say, we always can talk endlessly and not get bored.

Our topics of conversation ranged from work to our respective love lives to travel. I didn't even realize how good it felt to lay there, with nobody else around, and have a meaningful conversation with someone; by the time he was ready to say goodbye I had sunk into an impossibly comfortable position that I did not want to move from.

The goodbye's are always brief, so we said them and he disconnected. I waited on the line to hear the click, and the fuzz of static afterwards. And I smiled.

I'm not really sure what it was...the conversation, the couch or the sunshine. Probably the combination of all three, at that exact moment in the universe, in that exact harmony. But I sat there, a smile on my face, and just felt blissfully happy. Content.

And so I carried out the next few hours of the day in the similar manner, still with a smile tugging at the corner of my mouth. Even now, I want to go back to that couch and feel it all over again, but alas the sun has slid further to the west, the the couch grew cold, and the phone line is silent.

But it doesn't take away the pure joy that one of those near-perfect moments brings you.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Some interesting opinions...

So I must confess, I've actually been watching the Olympics.

Not that I had intended to...I had actually sort of decided to boycott the damn things and ignore their existence as a way to protest against China...but they're the only thing on TV. And I have to say, they've been kinda fun to watch, a horrifying statement from a guy that generally hates sports.

It certainly doesn't hurt that almost all of the male athletes are completely dreamy...they're so damn muscled it's annoying, but they're not hyper-developed. Add to that the fact many are in the 18-25 category...and it makes for delicious viewing.

I also realized during the opening ceremonies that I'm particularly fond of the Swiss and Swede crowd. I think I'm adding to my list of things to do a couple guys from that general geographic area. Hell, I'll even put on 'Olympic athlete' on that list; I wouldn't mind one of those swimmers gyrating with me in bed.

Of course, all of this commentary was silent because of the company I've kept today. We had a family-visit day, so it was just me, my parents and my grandparents all hanging out. And because of the beautiful pissing-rain-and-cold weather, we were stuck inside watching the games unfold.

And since I was with my grandparents, there had to be the inevitable moment of sheer awkwardness. Well...of course, there were actually a few, mostly surrounding their insane ideas about the world outside North America. But the one that was most bizarre was a rant about the male swimmers.

"They're all fags, you know," my grandmother said, as if she were telling me the sky is cloudy today.

"Oh?" I said, in strangled laughter. This is certainly odd...

"Yeah, like that young kid, whatshisname," my grandfather added. "He's as queer as a two dollar bill. See, all these male swimmers...it's mostly a gay competition."

The conviction in his voice was laughable; it was as if he were a retired drag queen trying to lecture me on the gay community. He was dead certain that every male swimmer was gay.

"Um...ok," I said, not really knowing where to begin. "So, why do you say that?"

"Because they are!" he said. "They're all gay, you can tell."

At this point, I was biting my tongue to keep from barking with laughter. Sure, there are some gay athletes...but could we whitewash much more than that? Now they're all magically gay, and an old straight dude can tell them apart?

"So...uh....how can you tell?" I said. "I mean, they just swim on TV."

He thought for a second. "No, no, you can tell," he assured me. "It's all in their mannerisms...they move like they're gay, they look gay...it's just the way they behave." My grandmother nodded along, since clearly she is an expert on such things as well.

"Oh," I said simply, rolling my eyes to the back of my head and still suppressing the laughter. The irony was amazing; here he sat two feet from a gay guy, and he was preaching about how he just knew all the swimmers at the Olympics are gay from the way they acted on screen.

Luckily he didn't degenerate into a hate speech about said gay swimmers, but it still was hilarious and bizarre to hear him preach with such authority on the subject.

After they had gone home, my mother shook her head at the thought. "They have some pretty crazy ideas about athletes. It's pretty clear they have no idea about sports whatsoever," she said.

"Ha, I know!" I replied. "And what's with the gay thing? I mean, I'm a huge homo, and they don't seem to be picking up on that at all...but he's such an authority on the subject!"

We both shared a bit of a laugh, inwardly thankful that they really don't know as much as they think they do.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Things left unsaid...

In the past few days, there have been a few things that I've left unsaid to people.

I'm not usually one to hold my opinions back, except in moments where a formal politeness is required. One of the only other times is when my statements will potentially leave a very sour taste in someone's mouth, even though they're not intended to be cutting comments.


The old Fuck Buddy isn't in Toronto...hell, he hasn't been for months. Every few weeks I get a poke on Facebook from him, a little reminder that he's alive. It also reminds me of our cycle, how we keep fooling around and I get a small rush of sexual excitement whenever he messages me. Then we set up a time, and he usually keeps me waiting around until the early hours of the next morning before showing up on my doorstep. The sex is usually quite banal and more often than not, when he leaves, I feel only slightly satisfied. And exhausted the next day, because I got four hours of sleep in lieu of boring sex.

He's not one to show his hand, so I never really know quite what he thinks of me. I more often than not, I'd guess he just likes to get his rocks off, and likes the fact that he doesn't have to go trolling for another boy to sleep with. But every time he messages me this summer, it surprises me a little...I'm obviously on his mind, because he's thousands of miles away from me, yet still sending me the occasional communication. Hrm...what does that mean? Is he just that good with PR that he's keeping the embers glowing until he gets home?

And his messages get even stranger...from "Hey." to "How's it going." to the shocker..."Dude. I miss you haha."

Each time I've replied with a vague, "Yeah, miss you too..." style comment.

But each time, I stop myself from typing what's really on my mind.

"Do you miss me, or do you just miss fucking me? Having a bit of a horny moment, are we?"

Really, I'm just curious.


A guy I used to go out with randomly messaged me this afternoon on a gay site. We're on good terms with each other, so much so that I get the feeling he wants to date me again. While I don't see us working in the dating sense, I do see us sleeping with each other. And why not...when we were good, we were good.

Out of curiosity, I checked out his profile. His picture was awful, albeit candid. His description was a bit of a mixed message...the typical 'down to earth guy' thing with a curious statement tagged on the end about 'enjoy life and other human beings'. Further down, it listed his interests both in and out of the sack. Strangely, at least to me, he didn't have "Relationships/LTR" written anywhere. A little out of context for me, since we seemed to have been shooting for something more than just a casual date.

Maybe he was just interested in something casual after all. Maybe I should learn to just date for the hell of it, to not expect things to always show signs of getting serious. Not like I do that on a first date, but instead of moving on when the spark vanishes, maybe I should take a page from his book and just 'enjoy life and other human beings'.

I replied to his message, saying that I of course want to see him again come the fall, hoping that he didn't take that as a sign we're giving it another shot. But again, I left out the questions that would most satisfy my curiosity.

"So, I thought you weren't the type to hook up with randoms. Just how many guys are you sleeping with on an average week?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Peer pressure...

Everybody knows you talk about your relationships with your friends.

Sometimes it's to celebrate how ecstatically happy you are. Other times it's to vent your frustrations about your partner, where friends offer a safe place outside of earshot to talk about what's been bothering you.

So, it's no surprise to me that my name has been on James' lips lately, when I'm not around. After all, we're still dating, and still happy. And as it turns out, we're one of the few actually happy couples within his circle of friends.

"It feel weird," he said last night, "being the one that actually has something good to say on the dating front."

I laughed, mostly because I agree; I'm never the one that has had such consecutively good news related to dating. And his point was pretty valid; it's odd for both of us to be actually happy while others are hitting the down-in-the-dumps/I-hate-boys wall.

Being the modest sort, it feels weird to imagine his friends discussing my relationship. But being the curious sort, I naturally want to know just what the hell they're talking about.

During our conversation last night, it became more and more clear.

"They're all happy that I'm happy," said James simply. Well, that's a good thing...but I highly doubt that he would repeat anything too negative about me directly to me. Then things started to become a bit more clear.

While discussing one of his friend's new boyfriends, James mentioned the fact the newly happy couple has only been dating for two weeks. "Seems sort of unbelievable," he said, "since it's been so short. I mean, us...we have like three months!"

I nodded my head. "Yeah, of course, I would hope that means we're a lot closer than they are." I kind of got a little tingle of excitement and wonder at the fact I've been with someone for that long and things haven't exploded yet.

But apparently this friend of his isn't too impressed with our track record, no matter how long we've been going out.

"He says he doesn't understand why I'm still seeing you since we're not boyfriends after two months," James said bluntly.


"Actually, a lot of them don't really get it...they think we're some casual on-and-off thing," he continued. Apparently a couple weeks ago, his friends invited him out to a party somewhere, "there would be a lot of single guys. They wanted me to go have fun with them and basically get laid," he said.

The bottom line is, most of his friends think that James shouldn't wait around for me to commit, especially after this 'long'. To them, I represent some guy stringing their friend along, unwilling to slip a ring on his finger and book the Orange Hall...er, wait...just what do they expect me to do?

"I don't get it," I said after a minute. "We've been together for a long time, we've been getting more serious and taking our time with the whole 'boyfriend' thing. Why don't they approve?"

James snorted softly. "I have no idea. One of the things I like about you the most is how thoughtful you are, how you really think things through. I really like the fact you don't just call everyone a boyfriend, that you're actually making sure there's something there. They don't get the fact that we're pretty serious about each other."

The conversation segued into a lengthy talk about labels, and what we are, and the fact that we're both quite happy as is. But even after we'd said our goodbyes, I was still stuck on the lofty opinions of his friends about our relationship.

Just where the hell are these guys coming from? We're about as sane and stable as the best couples, because we've taken our time to make sure we actually like each other before slapping a ridiculous label on ourselves. He constantly tells them how happy he is, and that we're still together. He's told them he wants to be with me - and only me - and to stop suggesting guys for him to date. For all intents and purposes, we are boyfriends...except for the fact they don't see it that way.

I've been doing a sort of slow-burn ever since, rolling things around in my head and trying to think up a more polite response than, "Go fuck yourself." Are these guys seriously as vapid as they sound from my end? Do they really think all there is to a relationship is the simple title of 'boyfriend? Does the fact we've been seeing each other for so long mean nothing to them, except that I'm 'wasting his time'?

Even now, I shake my head in amazement. Here I thought these guys were a little above the crazed scene ideology that has seemingly guided them to their conclusion...but clearly I gave them a little too much credit. While I feel like we've done everything the adult way, they seem to think I'm acting like a child.

I vented some of this to James last night. "I mean, really, what would be different if I started calling you my boyfriend?" I asked him. "I'll still feel the same way for you that I do now, we'll still be the same people, except for some stupid label that somehow would prove to your friends that we're a legit couple."

He agreed, saying that he's happy with the way things have gone, and that he's glad we didn't rush into anything.

"Unless we're getting married," I said, "what will the difference be when we finally use that B word?"

In my imagination, I played out the scene...me, on one knee, holding his hand and asking..."Will you be my boyfriend?" What a load of shit.

Our conversation veered into our pasts, with him describing a few instances of intimacy with the boys of yesterday. We compared notes on the subject, and I offered a little anecdote to go along with one of my little stories. Three quarters of the way through, it happened.

After describing a sexual encounter that didn't go so well, and venting a little of my frustration, I casually said, "Ha, I guess that's something that I really shouldn't be reliving with my...oh God."

"What? What oh God?" he said.

"I almost said it."

He paused. "Said what."

I rolled my eyes. "That word. You know?"

James laughed. "What word?" Ok...he wants to hear me say it now. Great.

"You know," I said, with more than a hint of drama in my voice. "The B word."

He burst into laughter. "Ohhh..." he said.

That little scene proves my point entirely. Just what exactly do James' friends think will change when I finally say that word out loud? I already thought it in my head, and slammed on the brakes before I said it, and it clearly shows that we're on the cusp of it happening.

So what makes his friends think we're less legitimate than a couple who label themselves after 14 days of dating?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Track a ghost through the fog...

It is said that ghosts haunt our lives until we release them.

They hide in shadows, appearing to us at the most inopportune times, when our defences are down and our attention is distracted. Sometimes they are loud, rattling their chains and howling, surprising us with their full effect. Others are silent, with nothing more than a penetrating glance that stops us in our tracks.

I had a moment like that this morning. Freshly on vacation from work, and just returned from a trip to Halifax (details later...) I woke up relaxed and happy in my Toronto apartment. The noises of the city were comforting instead of grinding, and I wasted a bit of time before I pulled myself out of bed and off to an appointment.

The first walk after being away from my apartment is always a little joy for me. I pull on my messenger bag, plug in my iPod and head down the street. The entire trip is a reminder of Toronto, of tall buildings and bustling people and a pulse that isn't present back in bum-fuck-nowhere. And today was no different, as I strolled along in the morning sunshine with a goofy smile on my face.

That is, until I got to an intersection not too far from my building. I'd missed the light to cross, as usual, and swiveled around to cross in the opposite direction. The light changed, and I started forward, barely glancing ahead, until I saw someone pass from left to right, across the intersection in front of me.

At first glance nothing even grabbed my attention. Someone walking north, while I was crossing the street, walking west. Medium height, medium build, a nice tanned shine to his skin. I started to pay a little more attention, since this was the first cute guy that I'd crossed paths with since starting my walk.

Then I started noticing things...like his shirt, the way his jeans fit, the strikingly familiar height...and I started wondering if this was actually a guy I'd gone out with or someone that just looked like him. At that moment, his head turned a fraction of an inch, and between our sunglasses I felt our eyes lock for a moment. But his face didn't change, his pace didn't alter...he kept on walking.

This all happened in a matter of a few seconds. By the time I'd crossed the street to his side, he'd continued walking north, and I was treated to a profile of his back. Again, I studied him, trying to decide if it was really him or just someone that looked an awful lot like him.

And if it was him, what the hell was he doing here? He lived on the other side of town, why would he be in my neighborhood? I shuddered at the thought that his new boyfriend lives in the area.

I'm getting to understand more and more what people say about exes and how they are remembered. Not that I've dated a significantly large number of guys, but the memories of ones I have gone out with have all blended together in bizarre hybrids. Qualities that made you happy, or irritated you, are not remembered in one person, but in several different vehicles.

My memory swirled, as I thought about him and I, one of the ghosts from my past that still hasn't been released. He was the silent variety, who left without a word, and offered no insight today on the street. I had that mix of memories, that fuzzy remembrance of how I liked him, how I thought things were going to wind up working between us...then I realized that I was dragging one of my hybrid memories onto his face, and shook my head. Things fucked up for a reason, after all, even though I don't really know what that reason was.

I'd always wondered what would happen if I saw him again. Would I get a smile, or a few words? Or, like today, the cold shoulder? As I walked, I toyed with the idea of going after him, or calling his name. After all, could I finally let one of my ghosts go?

But no, I kept walking, just like he did. Of course, it didn't stop the questions from coming, the nagging in my mind, and the wonder if it really was him that had walked by. And, of course, after he had left my vision, I just thought, "What an asshole!"

But as we all know, these ghosts tend to pop up from time to time, and shake our world for the briefest moment. Usually at the most inopportune moments, and always when you least expect it.

Next time I hope I get to banish him forever.

Monday, July 21, 2008

His sexy exes...

There are many things I'm still trying to figure out about the almost-boyfriend.

Stuff like compatibility in tastes, compatibility in cultural appreciation, the whole physical thing...

About the only thing I know is that we get along well and like each other's company.

It should end there, really. After all, isn't that the most important thing? That we like being in the same space as each other? Take Saturday, for example. With our plans washed up, we decided to go out and hang out/hike in a park and enjoy the weather. Unfortunately, when I picked him up, it started to pour and thunderstorm as we pulled into the park gates.

So instead of sitting outside, we sat in my car, with the rain pelting the windshield, and just talked. And it was actually really nice.

I'm even trying to wrap my head around the physical end of things, the fact that he's not what I'm really attracted to. Every time I walk by a guy I think is really cute, I sigh a little inside and say to myself, "I wish James came in that packaging."

It's obscene of me to think, since the inside counts way more than the outside...and it's not even that he's unattractive! He's just really not my type. And it's hard, because I think to myself, "Do I keep running with things as they are, or do I end things and keep on searching for 'perfection' in a boyfriend?"

Lately, with our return to school coming ever closer, I also wonder what kind of a couple we'll be in the big city. Will he enjoy going to a gallery as much as I do? Can he handle taking in the Royal Ontario Museum on a Friday night instead of...well, anything? Is he fast food while I'm wine-and-cheese?

Are we going to find that our interests in our 'regular' lives are a lot different, after we have the freedom from small-town confines?

Not that I'm terrified about the possibility, because there are of course plenty of couples that share different interests but can meet on common grounds. It's just the thought that, in my mind, the boyfriend I finally find would be strikingly similar to myself, enough that we'd have similar desires to check out this show or that restaurant.

- - - - - - - - -

During Pride weekend, while we mingled in the crowds, occasionally James would recognize someone and either wave or cower behind me. While trying not to be obviously nosey, I asked him who all these mystery men were.

As it turned out, most were exes, one night stands or part of the similar collection of homosexual skeletons we have hanging in our closets. They were all friendly...or at least the ones that talked to us were...and they were all very, very cute.

One after another, I was dazzled by his roster of very eligible boys. They were a diverse lot of races and sizes, but all set off my attraction meter in similar fashion. I kept thinking, and asking subtly, "Why the hell did you break it off with that hot thing?"

And I kept asking myself, "Why the hell are you with me?"

In one instance, we were walking up Church St. in the dusky light, and I was admiring a tall, lean boy walking south past us. He wore black jeans, a tight-but-not-too-tight t-shirt and a summer scarf. I smiled slightly, appreciating him; he was attractive without being over the top, just another example of what I had believed to be my diverse taste in guys.

"Oh shit," James said, stepping beside me. "That's {blank}."

"Friend of yours?" I asked, sticking my tongue out.

"Well, we dated for like a week," he said. "It didn't work out, we didn't really spark," he added, nonchalantly.

Inwardly, I rolled my eyes. While I understand that without a click there's no point, it's hard for me to see an attractive boy walk by and find out my almost-boyfriend had dated him for a week and moved on. I mean, Jesus, at least date him for a few, he's hot!

But again and again I found the same thing; James' boyfriends and lovers were all striking. And again and again, I found myself desiring their bodies more than his.

What it all comes down to is my struggle to understand this whole conundrum. Here we have a host of boyfriends that have killer looks, who dated a boy I'm now with, who is in my taste of tastes not really my best physical match.

It's bizarre! He's clearly hot, or not all of his exes would be. So why am I just not feeling that intense appreciation of his looks, when by the rules of logic he should be as attractive as all the boys from his past?

I know, I know...I'm weird. I can't explain it. And I hate it, because I'd rather be falling over myself because of his looks instead of wondering why I'm not. Maybe it's some insane psychological thing, that I'm not intensely physically attracted to him because of the fact we've got these feelings planted in each other. Or maybe it's just as stupidly simple as he's just not my type. So now what do we do?

And what does it say about me, another in this stream of boys in his life? Does this mean that I'm as attractive as all the rest of them, that my presence in his life means I stand next to the other sexy specimens who passed us by that weekend? Or am I the freak anomaly, the bizarre being that he's giving a spin because I'm radically different from the rest of the guy's he's been with? That he's simply trying something outside of his usual feast of fabulous boyfriends?

Does it mean I'm attractive, or ugly?

Throughout all of this, I have to reiterate that things are going really well between us. We're both in the longest thing either of us has ever had, and netiher of us really believes it's happening. We don't want to push it too much, because it might explode...yet we're being pushed out of our comfort zones by things actually working out with the guy we're dating.

And all of this stuff is the superficial top layer, the least important parts to a connection of the heart. Still, I find myself wracking my brain to understand the bizarre triangle of looks that seems to have appeared, and so far, I haven't had much luck.

Maybe I'll just break down and ask him.

But I get the feeling that honesty in this conversation might not be the most reassuring policy.