A Dream Redefined

As a young gay boy growing up in the middle of nowhere (Shelby, Ohio), I always had a vision of what my “grown-up” life would be: I’d have a fabulous job, have fabulous friends, live in a fabulous city, wear fabulous clothes, take the train to work (I’d be too fabulous to drive) and – well, I think you get the picture. An experience-hungry gay teen in a town of, like, 8000 people (most of them my cousins), dreaming of a fantasy life in a major metropolitan area. I always thought my life would look like this:

Commuters on a TrainYeah, that handsome guy on the left would have been me (like I EVER looked like that), taking the train into “the city” to my job (no doubt in advertising or public relations), stealing a peek at the uptight lady-in-a-power-suit’s New York Times. These didn’t even exist when I was fifteen but I am SO sure I would have had a kale smoothie – with an energy boost – for breakfast, I would have “worked out” at lunch (maybe racquetball for 45 minutes?) and then I would have taken the train home to my handsome “boyfriend” in the tony suburb we lived in outside the city – I’m thinking it would have been like a 40 minute commute, each way. Once home, I would have popped some great-but-not-overly-pretentious wine and my love and I would have watched the shows we taped on the VCR the night before. Bliss.

Fast forward thirty years into reality…

I do have a job I enjoy – two jobs, really – but to be honest, I am making about the same dough I made when I was twenty-five. Instead of a smartly-cut suit, I wear a logo’d polo shirt and khakis to work every day, and my sleek attache case has been replaced with my brown bag lunch. I did make it to a “big city” – well, actually, I live in Cleveland, Ohio, the 45th largest city in America. I love smoothies, but the kind made with peanut butter, honey and bananas. Exercise? YUK! And I do not live with my boyfriend – I actually live with my legally-married HUSBAND (although we prefer the term spouse) and my commute from work is a seventeen minute bus ride to a mildly tony suburb of Cleveland. There is no wine; I quit drinking more than a decade ago. And the VHS has been replaced by On Demand/a VCR.rtabus

Is my life what I imagined/hoped it would be? No – it’s even better!

I have a man that completes me in every way, after a lifetime of false-starts and failed relationships. Today I left my job at one of our city’s most-revered public institutions, walked past our world-class art museum as well as the permanent home of our world famous orchestra, thru the campus of a prestigious private college and waited at the bus stop outside the campus cathedral. While I didn’t get to “steal” a Wall Street Journal or Times read, I sat next to a lovely lady that was chatty, obviously an immigrant and just super delightful and polite. No one did any break dancing on the bus, and no one gave me a card that said s/he was (insert disability here) and selling these cards to make a living. I stepped on the bus at 5:38P; at 6:05P, I was in my PJ’s, missing my Beloved (he works tonight 5-10P). I called a couple of friends and then made a cup of instant coffee with “fancy” flavored creamer. I am now waiting for my Beloved to get home from work. It’s been a great day.

Dreams are great but seldom turn out to be all we imagined them to be. If, like me, you get lucky – your life will be even better than you imagined! I had a rough draft for my life in my head, one which I thought was perfection. The reality is, my life is honestly more perfect now than I could have ever dreamed.

Would I like to “hit” The Powerball for $160 million dollars? You bet but, all in all, I am pretty blessed. Thanks, Universe! I appreciate it!

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I Loved It – But I’m BEAT

So I am writing this post late, after the Sunday night Icona Pop concert I attended with my Beloved and our friends, Mike and Chris. All in all, it was a GREAT time – Icona Pop kicked ASS and were worth every painful minute we waited (165 of them – minutes we waited) till they took the stage. The opening act was some “tween” DJ who was really good but I am pretty sure he has never shaved even once… The next TWO acts were variations of lame white girl rappers who frankly, in my humble opinion, both SUCKED. Plus the language – dear God, the language. I have never heard so many F-bombs set to a “boogie beat.”

Just when I was ready to call it a night, Icona Pop finally took to the stage and were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G for over an hour…

photo (49)photo (50)photo (48)The concert was really, REALLY amazing but I was reminded of a few things:

1. It is always more fun to go to a concert with friends – thanks, Chris and Mike, for joining us!

2. The headline act always appears LAST – that is why they are the headliners…

3. Standing room only venues demand comfortable shows. And cushioned socks…

4. Concerts that open with a pre-pubescent DJ will probably maybe be a little heavy on tween girls in the audience.

5. Second only to airports, a concert venue is the best place to witness people and their rude behavior.

6. Much as I hate to admit it, I am 55 – not 25 – so these late hours on a “school night” are bad news.

All-in-all, I had a fantastic time, and I think Martin loved it, too. It was our first “real” concert together so we will always have that memory; that, and the herds of 4’11” blonde girls that crowded us all night. One literally stood with her head in Martin’s armpit to watch the show. Ugh. I know, I’m supposed to shout, “I Don’t Care” – but I do…

Please. Give a guy a little space. especially when that guy that has been standing in that space since 7PM, and you “rolled in” at like 9:05PM…

A Lovely Day Trip, and The Stuff of Nightmares

Today my Sweetie and I took a quick trip to Jamestown, NY, to get our marriage license.

New York state has marriage equality – UNLIKE Ohio! – and is the closest state where my Angel and I can get married. The one restriction, if you will, is that New York has a 24 hour waiting period – to avoid “Britney Spears” weddings, I imagine. Anyhow, we took the leisurely trip there and back in one day. We had no problem whatsoever in obtaining the license; in fact, every single person we met was SO dang welcoming and accommodating, well, it felt actually a little “Stepford-y” at times (but in a good way!). Anyhow, all in all it was a great experience and we are one step close to being Mr. and Mr. – Hooray! I cannot WAIT!!!

On our trip home, yours truly had to take an unanticipated “potty break” so we stopped at the first available exit – I think it was the last exit westbound before entering Ohio from Pennsylvania. We rolled into what looked like a deserted BP station. It had an attached restaurant that appeared to have been closed for YEARS, and it seemed like every other light was out inside the attached  mini-mart. I walked in, scanned for the restroom sign and toddled my way into the men’s room.

When I opened the door, I swear I almost fainted.

You know those zombie movies, where it’s all like post-apocalyptic and everything is dirty, broken, old and yellowed? Well, I found that movie set today…

Disclaimer: Those “weak of stomach” need to stop reading now.

In addition to the fact that the room looked like it hadn’t seen a mop or broom in DECADES, this is an actual photo of the “urinal wall.” Nope, I am not kidding:

photo (36)For any lady that has ever wondered “what a guy’s room looks like inside,” I will say this is far from typical. And, as someone that needed a urinal in working condition, well, this sight was not what I had hoped for. Thank goodness, the toilet stall was still intact/functioning but it was SO gross that I will not even share that picture. And just in case you cannot read all the notes, here is the important one:

photo (37)Yes, that is correct – the sign says “UNSAFE – Do not drink water – Not suitable for drinking!!” I have to confess, at 55 years old, this was the FIRST bathroom that ever “skeebed me out” so badly that after I left, I wanted to get home as quickly as possible and take a shower. The whole place should be condemned…

On my way out, I bought a bottle of Diet Coke – a sealed container product – because I feel no one should “Pee For Free.” But honestly, that was one scary bathroom…

Juggling

All my life, I have confided in friends and family that I wanted to learn how to juggle. Truth be told, I learned how to juggle years ago; I just cannot do it with apples and oranges…

JugglingMost “successful” adults learn how to juggle and re-arrange priorities early on, otherwise their lives rapidly dissolve into disorganized train wrecks. Most days, the juggling is not all that hard for me but some days/weeks, it seems more challenging than others. This week coming up feels like I am juggling live chain saws while riding a unicycle.

While the chain saws are on fire, LOL!

In addition to all the daily, routine “normal” stuff – work, life, family – my partner and I are also getting married this week. I am super excited about it, but wish I had days/weeks/months to prepare for the event. My beloved and I have been together thru five sometimes challenging years together, years challenged by work, school, finances, long and short times apart and other obstacles (hello, DOMA) but, thru and in spite of it all, my guy loves me as much today as ever and I love him the same way. The Universe willing, we will actually be “tying the knot” on our fifth anniversary, in a civil ceremony performed by a stranger, in a state that offers and values marriage equality. Too bad Ohio is not one of those states.

We are fortunate that we will be sharing the moment with our two “besties,” and it will still feel like a celebration. Is it the star-studded, all-white, ridiculous celebration I had hoped for us? Nope (Lady Gaga was unavailable), but it will be enough for now. I am crazy about my guy and want nothing more – or less, as we used to say – than being able to be with him forever, living a life of incredible “non-event-ness.” For those close to us and our situation, that comment will make perfect sense. And maybe for every couple, gay or straight, that’s the future you hope for – many years together, sharing your life with the ONE person that makes your life make sense. That’s what I want.

Oh – and of course some cake. There has to be some cake…

L.B.B.’s – Two, Please

Yesterday’s blog was about an empty box; today’s post features a box of a different kind:

Tiffanys-Little-Blue-BoxOh yeah, that’s right – a little blue box. A very specific shade of blue box. And – to be correct – there will be TWO little blue boxes. They should arrive at our house on Tuesday by 3PM and, if we are lucky, we will be putting them into service less than a week from today.

I’ll be filling you in on more details as they become available but I have to say that I am probably happier now than I ever have been in my entire life up until this point. I love my SBF very, very much and very soon, FINALLY we will have a legal document that “legitimizes*” that union and will help/protect us as we continue on together.

I am excited. My beloved SBF is, too… Thanks for sharing this weird and wonderful moment with us – more details soon. uh – WOOHOO!

* By legitimizes, I mean to say that one $45 piece of paper will effectively bestow 1,138 legal rights benefits and protections to us as a couple, and to my SBF as a person. The best $45 I ever invested!!!

 

A Holiday Designed Especially for My Sweetie

My partner is from Europe and, as such, has become familiar and accustomed to our decidedly “American” holidays – days like The Fourth of July and Thanksgiving – big deal days here in America that are not celebrated in Europe. He likes the novelty of it all, the history and tradition associated with each day and – usually – the specific foods connected with each individual holiday celebration. Up until today, I think Halloween and Christmas had to tied with my Sweetie as his favorite holiday. That’s correct – up until today. See, today is National Cheesecake Day and NO ONE loves cheesecake like my Angel.

Cheesecake Factory CheesecakesIn the tradition of all holidays, I think my Beloved and I will start our own “tradition” to mark the day – and, it follows that today we will celebrate the day by “chowing down” on a big old slice of cheesecake. The beauties above are from The Cheesecake Factory, and I am pretty sure we will be making a stop there later today. My Sweetie LOVES their cheesecake – I do, too! He usually gets a White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake (right), while I typically get some over “choco-fied” choice like the Chocolate Tuxedo Cream Cheesecake (left).

I have found there are NO bad choices at The Cheesecake Factory.

white_choc_menuCCF--Chocolate-Tuxedo-Cream-CC-WithLove

No matter WHAT “slices get selected,” I know my Sweetie and I will enjoy not only the cheesecake but, more importantly, our time together. Is cheesecake – especially Cheesecake Factory cheesecake – very “diet-friendly?” Probably not, but sometimes making memories with the one you love is more important than a few calories…

Plus, I’ll burn some extra calories washing dishes later after we eat…

fork and crumbs

 

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!