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.