Sunday, December 30, 2012


I had an opportunity to make my life a whole lot easier and I turned it down.

I got a call two weeks ago from my former employer, offering me a position to begin in January.  Immediately, I did the math.  Six more days of ferry commuting...that’s all!  My five hours of daily commuting would be reduced to forty minutes, maybe thirty.  My alarm clock could snooze an extra 60-90 minutes each morning.  My three days at the gym could be upped to five.  A life of balance!

Even after I said no, he didn’t accept my answer.  Told me to think about it over the weekend. 

Thinking can be dangerous.  It can also be exhausting, especially when it kicks into high gear at 3 a.m.  (Has someone invented the caffeine patch?)

He called again Tuesday.  Again, I said no.  Again, he told me to think about it.  One more day. 

A poem and a song nagged at me, dissuading me from saying yes.  The song, an oldie (even for me) has never been a favorite.  I am rather certain I have never hummed the chorus; in fact, the ditty is a downer.  More than anything, it annoys me.  One (Is the Loneliest Number).”  Sample lyrics:

One is the loneliest, number one is the loneliest
Number one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
One is the loneliest, one is the loneliest
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do.

Yeah, thanks for that, Harry Nilsson and Three Dog Night. 

Going back would effectively shut the door on my ever having a dating life again.  Single gay men under seventy do not exist here.  Long ago, when blue collar laborers, potters and potheads, lesbians and retires settled, the gays passed.  The moat was too large, separating the rural folk from that Homo Kingdom, Vancouver’s West End.  Every now and then there is a gay sighting, but they are less frequent than cougars and sasquatches.  I suspect these naive men quickly turn around and get back on the next boat to civilization. 

That stupid song doesn’t just remind me about my destiny as Lifelong Bachelor.  The social life wouldn’t be much better.  Yes, I go for the occasional coffee with former coworkers but when “Argo” came to town last month for its five-day run, there was no one I could call to join me for the Saturday night screening.  After seven and a half years!  Yep, I went solo.  Dammit, one can be a lonely number.

He called again today.  Still no.  How about coffee to talk about it? 

If only gay men pursued me with such interest. 

No coffee.  No is no.

That poem?  Not an annoying choice.  This time it happens to be my favorite poem by my favorite poet: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. It hijacks my inner voice whenever I am about to make a significant compromise in life.  When I first read the poem in ninth grade, it resonated. 

The final verse:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I do not find joy in clomping along the beaten path.  It is safe, but there is no adventure and all the expectations are established by people I don’t know.  Turn left, cross the stream here, avoid that patch of rocks.  Going back would be familiar, momentarily a relief and most definitely the healthier decision.  (Imagine looking in the mirror each morning and not facing Rocky Raccoon!) 

Still, it would be a copout.  I continue to cling to dreams and goals...perhaps foolishly.  The plus side of the loneliest number is no one else is harmed.  In the big scheme of things, I still hope for more than another decent date.  Maybe we’ll connect and we’ll actually get it right.

I still entertain the idea of venturing elsewhere, perhaps far, far beyond the Homo Kingdom.  I still hope to move to Los Angeles to pursue a writing dream against all odds.  (Oh where, oh where, do my immigration documents sit?) 

I still yearn to connect with new friends and chat at classy restaurants that specialize in a single cuisine (unlike the Greek/Indian/pizza establishments in my neck of the woods).

A short-term fix sacrifices a long-term solution.  The five hours of daily commuting will continue in the New Year.  The alarm will keep on blaring too early.  I’ll still fret over a compromised fitness regime.  And, yes, the raccoon eyes will go on frightening strangers. 
But hope will remain.

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