The Families We Create

I must admit, I am blessed with a pretty OK biological family. My bio-family is complex and complicated but, at the end of the day, we all have each other’s backs. We have endured a lot of “history” to make it to today; sometimes that history is good, sometimes it’s not so good, but it is our history (meaning past) and that is good.

Then there is my “other” family, the family I picked (and that picked me). My friend family…

Friendsa and family

Like my bio-family, my friend family is pretty small. Sure, I know HUNDREDS of people (and consider many of them “friends”) but my real, true and loyal friends are my family of choice. Some of them my Sweetie and I see once a week; some we see once a year. But these are the people you call blubbering at 4AM and – before they ask if you are insane – they make sure you are OK, offer to come over and tell you everything is going to be all right. Each of the men and women in my friend family share a personal history with me that is supportive and loving. My friends don’t hurt or disappoint me – maybe it’s because I try and be a good friend to them, too. Maybe it’s because I am lucky; whatever the reason, I am glad these guys and gals are in my life our lives, me and my hub-bub’s – and I love them all.

Tonight MSW and I are gathering with many of our chosen family, celebrating the birthday of one of our family members. And while the party will have great drinks, amazing food, delicious cake (there BETTER be cake), the thing I am most looking forward to is being there with them all, all at once, all in one place. The air will be thick with love and support and I plan to breathe/soak in as much of it as I can. It’s not even my birthday and I am getting this great gift! Happy Saturday Night indeed!Finger-People-1

 

National Coming Out Day

coming out day

Today is National Coming Out Day, a holiday encouraging gay and lesbian people to “come out” and stop hiding their sexuality. Originally celebrated in 1988, National Coming Out Day is observed annually to celebrate coming out and to raise awareness of the LGBT community and civil rights movement. The holiday is observed in a wide variety of ways, from rallies and parades to information tables in public spaces. (source: Wikipedia – National Coming Out Day).

As an openly gay man, I tend to smile at the notion of a “national” coming out day – but then I remember that in an embarrassing number of states one can still get fired simply for being gay. There is also the uncomfortable, escalating number of gay bashings and attacks – a brutal one recently in Pittsburgh and one here in Cleveland as well. And finally – as happy and pleased as I am to be married to my husband, we had to travel to another state that HAS marriage equality for the ceremony. Still-in-the-Stone-Age Ohio does not have married equality. And while my marriage is recognized at the federal level for some benefits, at the state level, my spouse is still a “legal stranger” in the eyes of the law. It is beyond irritating.

So, yeah… I guess I need to remind myself I live in a bit of a bubble. I mean, while Ohio is a back-ass state in the marriage-equality department, Cleveland is a reasonably comfortable city to “be a gay” in. I am fortunate to be self-employed so I have the luxury of being “out-n-proud” without worrying about consequences. And I have an amazing family, both nuclear and extended, as well as the most fabulous circle of friends, gay and straight. I am blessed…

So I forget that there are people not as lucky or fortunate as me – people that still speak in gender-less pronouns when they share stories (“We really didn’t do anything – we just sorta’ hung out.”) There are people living where it is not safe for them to be openly gay, part of cultures that are not at all gay-friendly. There are people worrying about getting fired for simply being who/what they are. There are people being bullied for “being different.” There are people forced to hide every day in plain sight for all of the reasons listed, and more. It makes me sad.

Hiding in plain sight

So today, on National Coming Out Day, instead of taking my life for granted, I will appreciate it and commit to helping others achieve a similar life. I promise to work to make the world a safer place for all of us, gay and straight. And I will push for a future where National Coming Out Day is a faint, nostalgic memory, no longer celebrated or necessary because we will have FINALLY achieved true LGBT equality.

restless

For the past few weeks, I have been experiencing a sort of prolonged, daily mild anxiety – an unfocused “something” that has, quite frankly, been wearing me down a bit (and, I am sure, makes it a bitch to be around me lately).

I’m not sure what it is all about.

But I feel restless…

I feel sorta’ “off-center.” And, increasingly, I just feel sad. And I do not understand why. Plus, I don’t really “do” sad…

lonely guy

A few weeks ago, I married the man of my dreams; this past week, we started the legal process for him to remain here with me forever. That makes me stupidly happy for sure.

To be honest, work has been – to put it mildly – a bit of a challenge lately but hey, I am living the dream, right? I own my own business and do what I love, every day. Who could ask for better?

My family is good, my friends are great. I am blessed.

teletubbies

So why in the h-e-double-toothpicks do I feel this weird uneasiness every day? I mean, what the Hell?

I have never been one to ask for help, or even seek it out when I instinctively felt I needed it. Who knows? Maybe I just need a little change of scenery, a few days “break from my life.” But that doesn’t make any sense to me – I pretty much love my life so, what gives? Is this an extended session of “the blue meanies?” For friends that know me well, I often joke that I am “bad at being sick” because I am blessed with good health. When I AM sick, I don’t know what to do… I guess the same scenario applies here – I am “bad at being blue” because I am normally a pretty happy-go-lucky guy. What to do, what to do…

Maybe I will go hug some cute baby kittens. That should make me happy, right?kittens

Always “Someone” New

This post is from “the road.” Martin and I are visiting my younger sister and her family for Labor Day. We always have a lot of fun – four of my nieces are here as we’ll as one of my nephews, so it’s a good time. More on our visit later.

I will say that one of the reasons I enjoy visiting my sister so much is to see what new animal/s she has adopted since my last visit. This trip, it is a pair of twin kittens, Arial and Captain Nipples (not a typo – long story) that were found abandoned in a box in a field near my sister’s house. They are so CUTE but they are ROTTEN. I think someone (MSW) would like to bring them home.

I must admit, it is a tempting thought…

20130831-231416.jpg

An Unexpected Message

Today I received a little message/check in from “the other side.”

Most of you know, three days ago I married my beloved partner of five years, Martin. It was a great day, one in a really busy week filled not only with our marriage but also work and other family obligations. I mean, today was my Father’s family reunion. It happens every three to five years and gathers my Father’s family together. It was great seeing some of my cousins, my remaining aunts and uncles and just hanging out with my siblings, their spouses and their children. It seemed to be a great way to end an already fantastic week.

As the day’s events unfold, we are all noshing on buckets of KFC, pasta salads of every kind, assorted chips, lunch meats and more desserts than you can imagine – I mean, what IS it about “Moms” and their ability to make kick-ass brownies and cobblers and shortcakes and cookies? Anyway, as I was tearing thru my “dessert plate,” reveling in the day, my sister’s partner looks at me and hands me this:

photo (41)and says, as she hands it to me, “Your sister and I found this as we were cleaning out AJ’s closets. I’m sure she was going to give this to you at Christmastime. We have had it forever but kept forgetting  – we finally remembered to bring it to you today.” 

And I started crying…

What probably none of you know is that AJ is the shorthand nickname for my Aunt Judy, my Mother’s only sibling and without a doubt my favorite aunt. My sister was cleaning out AJ’s closets because she passed away – in January 2007, six and a half years ago…

AJ passed away suddenly and without warning – the reason why she passed really doesn’t matter. But when she passed, I was sad for a long, LONG time. It seems almost perfect to me that I should receive this little gift from her today, at our family reunion, three days after my wedding – it felt like AJ was reaching out to me, letting me know she was still “watching” and was happy for me.

I know a lot of people would just consider this a weird coincidence but what IS weird is that I have been thinking about AJ the past couple three days. She was eleven years younger than my Mom but only ten years older than me, so she was this odd combination of aunt and older sibling and crazy grown-up friend all at once. I loved her – STILL love her – and miss her often. She was a crazy kook, quite possibly a borderline hoarder and THE most chatty, talkative person that ever lived but also the most loving, kind and gentle soul ever created. And she was always a champ to me. She was one of the first relatives I told I was gay. When I told her, I remember that this is EXACTLY what she said: “Thanks for telling me, I’m sure that was hard. I couldn’t care less or love you more.” 

So, THANKS, AJ, for the “shout out” today. I appreciate it. And, as you know, I love and miss you very much. I wish you were still here to meet Martin but I am pretty sure you know all about him already. Please watch over us, along with Mom and Mommo, and – no offense – hopefully I won’t see you anytime soon…

Enjoying Today

I have a friend leaving for vacation in a week. She cannot WAIT for the coming week to be over and her vacation to begin. She knows vacation will be awesome.

I have two friends leaving Cleveland and moving to a large, southern city in two weeks. They keep reminiscing/thinking about their lives here, wondering if they have made the right decision about the move, remembering all the great times they have had here in the past.

My beloved and I keep watching the mailbox, waiting for a document to arrive that will set in motion an entire chain of events that will (finally) make our lives secure and stable – but it will take weeks, probably months, before everything is totally settled. Until that happens, well, we just keep thinking about the future.

Three very different stories/situations, yet all have one thing in common: each person mentioned is not “present,” not living in and enjoying THIS moment.

This pic pretty much sums up what I am (finally) coming to understand:

todayI am as guilty as anyone of “wishing my life away,” of thinking some point in the past was better or thinking that the future will be brighter. Maybe they were/will be, but the reality is this: I am here. Now. In this moment, and this day.

I am not suggesting that we all erase our memories or stop dreaming/hoping/working towards a better future – no, what I am suggesting, and what I am challenging myself to do, is to learn to savor and enjoy each day as it happens. I will – hopefully – no longer “discard” any day, simply because I was grocery shopping or running errands or filling out forms – whatever. I am coming to understand that each day is unique and special, just like snowflakes (cheesy analogy, I know, but apt). I have to stop discounting my normal “everyday’s” and begin enjoying them for what they are – beautiful, singular days of experiences that can never be enjoyed again.

snowflakesFor example, I am writing this post on a quiet, peaceful Sunday afternoon. My beloved is talking with his family via computer, and I can hear them laughing and chatting in the next room. Previously, I would have labeled today as a big zero day but not anymore. My Angel is enjoying family time, I am enjoying some private writing time (in addition to this post, I also completed three snail mail cards to be mailed tomorrow) and the day is cool and sunny. To be honest, the day is turning out to be completely different than originally planned; we were supposed to go to the beach, and/or to a concert with friends tonight. Those activities are not going to happen. In fact, nothing monumental is happening and that is OK. The day is turning out to really great anyway. I am enjoying a peaceful day with the guy I love and that is really much MORE than just OK.

I hope everyone can come to see the beauty in “nothing days,” just as I am coming to see it. I know you will be happy when you do… Promise!

Bitch Slap Weekend

My Beloved and I often whine to each other that we need more friends, or that we never “do” anything. Then, in an action I like to describe as a bitch slap from The Universe, we are reminded that we are blessed with MANY great friends and always seem to have something going, schedule-wise. Suddenly we will have a 24/7 schedule of events with two – or more! – things all happening at/around the same time. This is a “bitch slap” weekend…

I worked this past Friday evening till 5:30 PM. It was a kinda’ busy day for me at work and my Angel had been volunteering at a fundraising car wash for around four hours in the hot sun for an organization he belongs to/is an officer for so Friday night was a pretty laid-back evening.

Then the weekend started…

I was up yesterday at 7AM to go to my Saturday AM weekly weigh-in for WW (not good – “up” 0.8 pounds!). Boo!

scales1(Definitely not my feet and MOST definitely NOT my weight!)

After WW’s, I drove home, stopping on the way to grab some McBreakfast for me and my Beloved (and I wonder why I was “up” at weigh-in!), which we ate quickly and were then on the road to Columbus, to visit with my little sister, her family and my oldest niece and her family that were up from Tennessee. It was my first chance to meet my great nephew, Emmitt, and OMG – I am in love with him –

emmitt cheescake shot edit

(I mean, look at that face – he makes my heart melt…)

So anyway, my sister had planned a pool party and cook-out at her house and it was AWESOME! So awesome, that my SBF and I hated to leave. We left at almost 10PM, driving for over two and a half hours to arrive home Sunday morning at about 12:40AM.

Today, my Angel is at a picnic for another organization he belongs to, at one of the Metroparks about 45 minutes from our house. When he gets back, we will have an hour or so before we have to leave to attend the 50th birthday party/BBQ (good God, MORE cake and food – WW’s be damned!!!) for one of our best and dearest friends. It will (again) be another really chill, awesome evening with plentiful, delicious food, ample “adult beverages” and great, great friends. I suspect that, even though it is a school night, it will be another late one. And that is OK…

I am OFF again tomorrow but my Sweetie and I have a few projects scheduled already: hair cuts, some house cleaning and maybe (hopefully) this movie –

World-War-Z-NewPoster(Click to see the trailer – I DO so love a great zombie flick!)

So, yeah – I guess we have a LOT of great friends and a pretty busy social calendar. And I am OK with that. Friends are one of the best blessings in life, so we are lucky. Sometimes I do feel like this though:

Go To Bed(Click above to learn about the origins of Savoyard dialect.)

  Hope you all have/had a weekend as fun as mine! Have a GREAT week!