Thursday, September 3, 2009

Apples for Apples

Well, I’ve struggled to retain and experience any gay part of my identity since moving to a rural area in British Columbia nearly four years ago. For unrelated reasons, I’ve taken a leave of absence from my regular job and I’ve traveled to a new place for a two-month sojourn to pursue creative projects. So where did I go? New York City? Chicago? Montreal? Tokyo? A rural area on the Ottawa River in Ontario. Ottawa is an hour’s drive away.

As with my home, the family cottage where I’m staying has a water view—only closer and better. The closest town is about ten minutes away. The services there are similar, sans the Starbucks (alas). A pulp and paper mill is one of the biggest employers in both areas. Things are remarkably similar. Why did I trade apples for apples? And why did I drive 4,600 kilometers to make the trade?

This cottage is what I retain from childhood. This is a place where I am able to think differently, possibly sparking new creativity. Here is where some of my most profound life decisions have gotten sorted out.

Will any part of my being gay further develop here? It’s unlikely. I have switched over my hometown from Vancouver to Ottawa on an online dating site and changed the “seeking” option from dating to friendship. I’m not looking for a long-term relationship or even a fling (though stumbling into either wouldn’t be so bad, would it?). Simply connecting with another gay person would be welcome. While I had many friends here as a child, it’s been almost thirty years since I’ve seen any of them. I’m a tag-along at social outings with my relatives and their friends.

I’ve been here four days and things are as quiet as they are at home. I am making progress with my writing so the primary purpose for being here is coming to fruition. I’ve had a couple of Ottawa guys indicate they’d like to meet for coffee. Neither would be a dating candidate and I’m not even sure that there will be anything on which to base a friendship. (One guy’s subject header read: “Yo!” Are there pirates in these parts or is this a middle-aged gay man who really thinks he can pull off an urban gangsta persona? His interest in Ultimate Fighting also baffles me. Random Michael Jackson quote: I’m a lover, not a fighter.) But I’m going to try to remain open, parenthetical thoughts notwithstanding.

I also have my aunt and cousin trying to play matchmaker. Super. I need the help. But I get the feeling their efforts are misplaced. It seems one of my childhood friends is single (though he has a child), attractive, in good shape, has a dog and likes running and biking. On paper, they’ve got checkmarks in each box for both of us. I’m trying to remain sensibly cautious (negative?). For a match, at least three things need to be: (1) He has to be gay; (2) He has to be single; and (3) He has to be interested in me (and I in him). Three big hurdles and I’ve never been much of a hurdler.

At this point, I remind myself that I’m here for my writing. Anything else is a nice distraction and a bonus. Of course, who doesn’t like a nice bonus?

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