Monday, April 25, 2011


Things haven't been so good lately.

One of my dogs died a month ago after a period of declining health. No amount of preparing myself for the final decision actually prepared me. I realized in the days after his death that, aside from my other dog, I was completely alone. It took eight days before I could get the simple token of comfort I desperately neeed: a hug.

While I have struggled to connect in Vancouver, I know that much of the isolation comes from my own way of being. I don't think I ever completely broke from my secretive teen identity when I tried so hard to conceal certain mannerisms and "sinful" longings. Since that awkward time, I have never fully let my family back into my life and my reserved nature veered toward hermit status when I moved to a more rural setting.

Grief mixed with anger that I directed at myself. I have always cherished alone time, but loneliness has crept in. In becoming the boss at work, the isolation grew. While everyone needs to see me, the conversations are respectful and collegial, but I learned early on that friendship is out of the question. Nobody wants to be seen as being too chummy with management. I contribute to the separation by being an asexual entity. I'm single and have no children, but my sexuality is never discussed. I assume everyone knows.

I never liked the drama that came with coming out talks. In particular, I never liked the fact that, with one exception, I always had to initiate these conversations. Fifteen years ago, I decided I was done with outing myself. If anyone wanted to know, the person could ask me. And in the last fifteen years, no one has.

Asexual. Lump me in with aphids and rotifers. Not the greatest company. Heck, even the dung beetle is sexual.

A few days ago, when a colleague asked me, "How are you?", I was tired of the rote responses ("Fine. "Good." "I'm okay."). I allowed myself to be human.

The conversation evolved from "Not so well" to a discussion of my connection to my dogs and the depth of the sense of loss I was experiencing on my own. LeeAnn did not back away. Instead, she pulled me into my office and shut the door.

"Would you be open to me trying to set you up?" she asked.

Open?! How about relieved, flattered, appreciative? Hey, aphids, I may be ditching you.

And then there was an awkward moment. She paused before vaguely asking, "So,...what type of person are you looking for?"

Okay, so I finished the outing process. At least it wasn't another solo performance. "Well, know I'm gay, right?"

Yep. She knew. With that hurdle knocked down, she proceeded to tell me there are a number of gay men in her neighborhood. She's close with this lovely gay couple and they have a friend in the area who seems to be single. Attractive. Really nice. Single! She'd talk to him in the next week. He's always gardening in his yard. (Yippee! Surely, he could help with my aphid problem.)

I thanked her and smiled. When she left, I padded the layer of sweat from my face. Even a shared outing is painful.

Today, LeeAnn popped back into my office and plopped into a seat. "Okay, I saw him yesterday..." she began. I could tell the news wasn't good. He was seeing someone or, worse, he was repulsed from the mere description of me. (What did she say about my nose?) I feebly attempted to look chipper. I hate when that bottom-of-the-barrel self-esteem from adolescence resurfaces.

She leaned forward before continuing. "It turns out he's not gay."

She had wrongfully outed the guy. Thankfully, he wasn't offended. (But why would he be?) Still, she was highly embarrassed, profusely apologetic. She hoped to see him again very soon so that she could have a different conversation and move beyond the uncomfortable moment.

Is it warm enough to plant zucchini?

"Sorry," she said. And with that, she flitted off.

No need to apologize. The thought, combined with the follow-up, went far beyond the hug that I needed. I was pleased to be considered, happy that a barrier showed signs of erosion and momentarily amused. Right now, I am grateful for such moments more than ever. As I continue to adjust to a life with one less beloved buddy, I am trying to figure out how to live more.

I'm an old dog, but maybe change is possible.


A Strange Boy said...

I'm sorry to hear about your dog.

The stuff about having a reserved nature being close to hermit status and the isolation and lonliness that comes with it, I can relate to, so it's always encouraging when I hear about people taking steps outside of it.

Rick Modien said...

This is a beautiful and heartfelt post, Rural Gay. Thank-you for sharing it.
I'm sorry for the loss of your cherished pet. I don't have a pet myself, but I know, to many, pets are no less family members. My thoughts are with you.
Despite the melancholy tone of this post, you infused some humor in it, too, and I appreciate that. Nice touch. All is not lost.
I bet it was tough to write this because it's very personal. But I bet it felt good, too. Sometimes, getting it out there is a form of letting it go.
I wish I had an answer for you because I'd really like to help. I firmly believe, as human beings, we are meant to be paired. We are meant to be in love. We are meant to share our lives.
Perhaps what happened between you and your colleague is a good first step toward a more active search for a life partner. I hope so.
All I can say is, don't give up. It will be so worth it when the man of your dreams walks into your life.
Yes, change is possible for an old dog.