Monday, June 30, 2008

No Luck at Potluck

I went with no expectations, but left a tad disappointed. How is that?

I suppose I did entertain a few "possibilities" in my head before heading to the only gay event in my area of the past year. When gatherings are so rare, there is pressure to make the most of a rare opportunity.

I had known about the potluck for weeks--discovered an announcement online--, but waffled about attending. Five hours beforehand, I rang the hosts and apologized for such a tardy RSVP. No worries, the guy on the other end assured me. I was the fifth to call in the morning and sixty-five people were expected. Sixty-five? Here in a remote area where I can't identify any gays? Of course, the event was open to lesbians and gays and lesbian women are well settled in these parts, but there was a chance of a decent showing of gay men. Surely some would be single and, hopefully--okay, that's getting close to an expectation--there'd be a spark.

I pulled up to a charming home in the marina and felt it was a good sign that parking was a bit of a problem. You don't want to go to a party and find curbside parking in front of the host's abode. Being the hottest day of the year to date, I was faced with the embarrassing problem of a steady padding of perspiration on my forehead as I tried to act cool during initial introductions. Turns out I'd met the host once when we both lived in Vancouver. (A bit awkward since he'd put a bid on a design job on the house that I'd bought with my ex. We went with another person.) In the backyard, a garden party was in bloom. The crowd of about thirty was fairly evenly divided along gender lines.

The first person to introduce himself was a retired gentleman. Very nice, but I got the feeling I just might wind up listening to talk about wintering in Fort Lauderdale for the whole party. Luckily, we drifted over toward another group of men about my age and I met several guys and their partners. Yep, everyone was with someone. I was the token singleton. Were they pitying me? I think, more likely, I was a curiosity. Why had I moved to such a remote area on my own? (If they only knew how many times I'd asked myself the same question.)

One guy talked about how he and his partner were moving back to Vancouver in five days after giving the area a three-year trial run. He was the same age as me and they were tired of the commute; moreover, they simply missed city life. He talked--er, whined--at length and I did my best to keep my mouth shut. You don't show up at a party and try to outdo someone who is knocking the place where all in attendance have chosen to live. Still, it was mighty tempting.

I managed to stay for an hour and a half. If things had been uncomfortable, I'd have vamoosed in less than twenty minutes. The people were very nice and the conversation was pleasant. I never fully relaxed and didn't joke or laugh, but I'm way out of practice.

As I drove home, I looked forward to the warm greeting from my two dogs. Yep, I have become the male version of the batty cat lady. So sad. At least when I go to town to buy a bag of dog food, there's now a chance I'll run into a gay couple and we can exchange casual waves as they pity me once I turn to the next aisle.

That's progress, isn't it?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why the Blog?

I have lived in large urban areas all my life: Dallas, Los Angeles, Vancouver. That changed three years ago when I decided to buy a house and I couldn't afford anything in the Vancouver market where prices were skyrocketing. I held a professional position that paid well enough, but my only options were apartment rentals or buying a box (condo) in the burbs.

As stubborn as I am, I decided that I needed a place to garden and a yard for my dogs to roam. I needed space so my boys could bark without disturbing neighbors above, below or beside me. My dogs are small, but they have booming barks that no condo wall can contain.

With the Mary Tyler Moore theme playing in my head--"You're gonna make it after all"--I packed and said goodbye to city life. Ah, the peacefulness. And what a lovely view of the water and mountains! I only hear sirens a few times a year. I can walk my dogs through wooded trails just up the hill from my house and there's always a chance we'll spot a couple of deer during our early morning strolls.

So how did heaven become hell? It didn't actually. Except I fear I'm losing my gayness, references to Mary Tyler Moore notwithstanding. When I moved here at 40, I'd already removed myself from most of the Vancouver gay scene for many years. Waiting to hit a club at 11 p.m. was a distant memory. Sleep triumphed over sleaze. I'd tired of the gay sports clubs where I never seemed to dazzle anyone with my volleyball spikes or tennis drop shots. My status as fresh cookie, a new kid in town, had long faded. Just a stale, hardened, burnt discard.

Still, being in the city and near the West End's gay ghetto meant opportunity could always be there if I ever made the effort. I could remain gay by association. I could have coffee with friends who were still somewhat connected. I could spot an attractive gay couple in the grocery store and know that I was not alone in the larger gay community sense of things.

Now I live out of town. It's not the suburbs so much as it's the hicks. (I mean that in a descriptive, rather than derogatory way.) The town itself has a population of about 3,500 and even has a Starbucks. The people are friendly enough and I run into acquaintances every time I pop in for any reason. There was a gay couple who ran a hair salon in town, but they moved a year ago to the gay mecca of Regina, Saskatchewan. I don't know any gay male in the area.

So am I making a problem out of nothing? I do love my home and, most of the time, I enjoy the solitude. Still, there are times when being gay in a rural area leaves me struggling with part of my identity. Whereas I'd successfully gone through the whole coming out drama in my twenties, it seems I'm back in the closet and I can't find much of a reason for stepping out.

Is there anyone who can relate? How have you made the adjustment? Other perspectives are most welcome.