LOVE WON

How amazing was yesterday? It is now legal for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters to get married in ALL, say it again, ALL 50 states. YES!


This is S and I on our wedding day – May 16, 2014. I’m so happy that we can celebrate this victory during the month of PRIDE, and that others can now have a happy-cake-cutting-moment without having to travel outside of their home cities.

I’m so proud of the country. There is still a lot of learning and growing to be done in America when it comes to equality, but this is a giant step. Everyone celebrate. Have a drink or eat some carbs. We did it!

T H A N K Y O U .

Twenty-something weeks ago I decided to start a themed blog. I needed some sort of project to keep my writing chops conditioned, my creative mind working, and my work-shopping process fresh. This was all in preparation for me finally deciding that I was going to write that book I’ve had outlined for five years now. Life was happening, timelines were erased, and I never really got the chance to sit down and start writing the book the way I wished, and now was that time. Back in the fall I said to myself “Alright, before July 1st, 2015, you will have at least written a page of your book.”

The side project that is Gays in the Life has turned into something I enjoy doing every week, and it reminds me that even though I work a full-time administrative job, and am tired most nights – not wanting to do anything but sit in front of Netflix and Hulu – that I can still tap into my creative side every once in a while; let loose, if you will. Sharing my experience as an everyday gay man in a long-term relationship, and new marriage, has snowballed into a welcomed challenge I never saw coming; the challenge being spilling my version of creativity onto the honest details of my life with my husband.

Thank you to all that come every week to read whatever random piece I’ve thrown together, and thank you to those that share my material with others. Seeing reader comments, views, and overall interaction on Gays in the Life increase week to week not only makes me chuckle, but keeps me motivated to think of new topics to share, and new ways to present them to all of you. Discovering this side of my creative self has helped me rediscover love for playing my instruments, challenge a skill I didn’t believe was there, and has me prepared me for the task that will be writing a book while living a full life. Thank you, thank you, thank you, WordPress and friends, and please keep reading! I appreciate ya!

Burrito Bowls

Do you ever feel like you’re talking to yourself? You get some bright idea, mention that idea, and end up going in a completely different direction by way of his idea. I’d been craving a burrito bowl for quite some time now. In passing, I would bring up the idea for dinner during our weekly grocery shopping together; never sulking or souring if we didn’t get ingredients for the meal. When you’re following a low-carb diet – and we have been for over a year now – it can be hard to keep your eating options fresh and exciting. I retain a subtle want for a burrito bowl because I know I’d never be disappointed with one, and it would mix up my day-to-day eating habits.

I can’t remember the last time we had this favored menu item of mine, and while red meat is zero carbs and high in good fat – perfect for our diet – burgers and steaks get old. “Hey, would you want to make the burrito bowls this weekend?” The inner chubby kid of my past burned more calories exerting a disgustingly thirsty grin at the mention of the desired meal. My craving for this specific meal is well tamed as long as the thought is out of sight, and out of mind. As soon as I hear any mention of a burrito bowl, I immediately want one.  I’m not one to hound anyone over what’s for dinner, but I know I’d made a solid attempt in pitching the idea more than a few times between early October and now.

Pan-seared chicken over cauliflower rice, with chopped onions, crisp spinach, Verde salsa, jalapenos, Pico de Gallo, spicy guacamole, and a dash of shredded Colby Jack cheese. It was the purest form of delicious. What made the meal even better was that he listened. Sure it might have taken him a while – and sure, I could have organized the meal myself, or pressed him more about it – but he came through.  Part of being a significant other is listening to each other, and it’s the little things like unplanned burrito bowls that help remind you that he is listening.

Prince Charming

Who is Prince Charming? Does the comparison – of one’s new, old, or off and on again boyfriend – truly mean anything, or has society programmed us all to think that it’s some end-defining-scare-the-man-away-anti-feminist notion? A recent exchange with friends made me consider what the idea of Prince Charming really means within a relationship. The group of us were at a bar, watching Big Ten basketball, and enjoying beers when I mentioned to my friend’s boyfriend that he was like her prince charming; keep in mind this was my first time meeting him. He handled the comment like a gentleman, and I later found out, via my husband’s opinion, that the comment was “awkward,” and that my friend was a smidge embarrassed.

Making awkward comparisons and embarrassing my friend was never my intention. The way I viewed my comparison was the fact that both of us had been through a great deal of shitty dating experiences, boys, not men, and our fair share of situations you may only see in movies; movies that usually end with someone’s heart being grinded up in some dramatic, emotional fashion.  I’m genuinely happy that she has found someone, and stand by what I said in that moment. So, why is there so much weight placed on the idea of portraying a Prince Charming-like character? I know full well that my friend does not need any man to save her from anything, so maybe I should have tried to compliment their relationship in another manner?

My view of who Prince Charming can be is not so traditional. If I were Rapunzel, there’s no way in hell I would be waiting for a man to come and rescue me from a tower – only to get knocked up with kids, who I would love dearly, and become a housewife. That’s never been me, or any of the people I surround myself with; nothing against those of you who would enjoy, or aspire to be stay-at-home parents.  What’s wrong with Prince Charming being nothing more than a man that’s extremely attractive, has a good job, sends out every signal and vibe that he loves the woman, or man, that he has found, and is an overall good fit for your life where it stands currently?

My husband is my Prince Charming because he entered my life at the right moment. He didn’t save me like some fairy tale hero, but we were ready for each other; ready to give each other a try, with no specific ending (good or bad), or timeline in mind.  He challenges me, emotionally and professionally, and most of all, he inspires thoughts of what a realistic, adult future could be. For me, this future with my Prince Charming is not a stereotype-fueled vision of what the American dream should be, but a relationship that works, is filled with love, and one that encourages our growth as people. No pressure, no awkwardness, just owning and living your relationship to its highest potential.

Silence CAN BE Golden

A good sign that you’ve found someone that will be around for awhile – hopefully forever if you’re married or in a serious relationship – is if the two of you can be in the same space and just be; existing in the same space with silence and unconditional peace of mind and comfort.  In the past I’ve had roommates and exes that assume something is amiss if we’ve been in the same room and haven’t shared any kind of interaction for an hour or more.  What’s wrong with actually watching the television, reading a magazine, or surfing the net in the presence of another? This is something that annoys me about individuals that crave constant attention and, in a sense, social babysitting.

Thankfully, my marriage is one that does not require constant attention or tending. There’s something truly authentic about being able to just chill out with a significant other, and not give two fucks about anything that’s trying to enter your orbit. One of my favorite parts of the weekend is relaxing slothfully with my husband; binging on episodes of The Good Wife, and only moving from the couch to pour more merlot. Take this very moment for example: Currently we are watching survivor casting videos, he’s in and out of scrolling through Instagram, and I’m partially anti-social because I’m writing this blog entry.

It’s okay to not be in each other’s faces every second of every hour after you get home from a long day of work. Interaction is a great thing in any relationship – and necessary, of course –  but it’s telling if you have someone that can share pure peace and quiet with you. If you’re one of those people that think you need THAT much attention, and can’t take sharing silence with your significant other? CALM DOWN, GIRL (or boy), is all I have to say to you. Now, because this entry is finished, I will go discuss some of these silly Survivor cast members with S. Can you believe this show is on season thirty? Talk to you later, readers.

Whine & Cheese

Why must romance plateau after moving in with one another? “We hang out all the time” was his counter after I hinted at wanting a date-night in the near future. Lying in bed, and keeping my voice at a neutral tone, my twisted face is hidden in the darkness as I process his response to my inquisition. I’m a self-proclaimed cheeseball, so the slightest touch of romance shared between the two of us completely satisfies me for a long while. Do I keep asking for a date? Do I wait around and sulk? Should I take the initiative, plan a romantic day, and lead by example? I guess I could, instead of waiting around like some pissed off Disney princess. Restaurants and creative, thoughtful nights on the town are more than appreciated, but there’s nothing wrong with a simple walk in the park on a beautiful day, or a day of exploration together in the city. Maybe he just doesn’t get it… a classic case of the romantic and the non-romantic.

The Key

Communication is the key to life. Communication is the key to love. Communication is the key to us… Will you communicate with me? – TLC & Dallas Austin. “Communicate-Interlude.” Fanmail 1999.

Communication will make or break any relationship. What do people fear when they’re finally in their own relationships, or marriage? One thing I knew I would have to respect – maybe “fear” is the wrong word – within my relationship was the communication aspect.  This stems mostly from growing up in a two parent home, up to the age of sixteen, just to watch it all fall apart because my parents did not communicate properly within their situation. Do I think my parents would have stayed together if they did communicate effectively? No, probably not, but I think they would have gotten to a better place as peers – raising their three children together – faster than they did in real time.

Communication can be simple if both parties are willing to participate, listen, and learn. I remember a time during my husband and I’s first months of dating. I was usually the one to initiate communication – whether that be text or call – and after some time, I decided to give him the chance to reach out first. Well two days went by before I heard anything, and I was absolutely pissed.  I ended up calling him and making sure he knew how I felt. At the time we were living an hour apart, and during those couple of days of no contact, I didn’t feel wanted anymore; this worried me, but I had to test him.  From that point on, if there were ever any issues, I made sure to communicate them to S, and encouraged him to do the same with me.

You never stop learning when you’re sharing a life with someone. Flash forward to yesterday – married and three years into our relationship – when I was expecting my husband home at a certain time. I decided to call after the minutes on the clock totaled to an hour past his estimated time of arrival. Now, I was not mad at him, but I was worried. I don’t make excuses for anyone, and he is no exception. Any form of message informing me that he would be running late would have kept my spousal jitters at bay. There is no perfect way to communicate. The act itself can be as easy, or as hard, as you make it. The important thing is that you try. I’m a firm believer in communication, and as long as it’s present… you can’t lose.

CHI to IND Interlude

Brutally crisp air smacks me in the face as I get out of the car at Union Station in downtown Chicago. The weekend was fast and filled to the brim with family, fun, and sadly, a funeral for my great grandmother. My mom had flown in from Alaska – my home state – and to be quite honest with you, I probably would not have made the three hour bus ride up to Chicago from Indianapolis if she had not been there.  I always miss my Alaska family terribly. I’m never home sick, but I have days where I miss the hell out of my brother, sister, mom, and even my stubborn ass father from time to time. As I hug mom and my favorite aunt goodbye in front of the quiet bus station, I feel a mix of emotions. I’m sad because I’m not sure when I will see the both of them again. I’m happy that I had the chance, and time, to get to see my Chicago relatives; beyond elated to be there with them during this tough time. I smile as I reflect on the amazing time I had with family I’d just met, and those of whom I hadn’t seen for at least ten years. Watching my Alaska family drive down the hollow Chicago street, I finish my emotional equation and become warm with the thought of returning to my husband. When I’m down – and feeling like some sad, soulful Adele song – he’s usually the burst of light I need on my dark, rainy days. He’s the answer to most of my emo-life equations, and I needed hug; anything to prolong the feeling of my mom and aunt’s arms around me before today was gone. Pocketing my glasses, I replace them with my prescription Ray Ban shades… a single tear making contact with the inside of the dark lens just as my bus to Indianapolis arrived.

Casualties

Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve is one of my favorite songs. “’Cause it’s a bitter sweet symphony this life” is the lyrical line that draws me in every time I hear the song. Back in 1999, the sixth grade or so, I had no clue that line was a lesson I would come to process as a continuing life lesson.  I had no idea then that on my twenty-fourth birthday I would get the lyrics tattooed on my left forearm under a trumpet – my musical weapon and tool – or that I would have to apply this lesson to people I considered quality friends.

Something happens when you enter a serious relationship, particularly with friends within your circle. There’s the process of getting friends warmed up to the new boyfriend – or girlfriend – the amount of time passing in which people in your life realize this new person is going to stick around, and the overall blending of two lives into one.  Most are happy for their friends when love is found, but there are also darker, more sinister feelings felt by some. If you’re lucky you will never encounter this problem, and I use the word “lucky” because the death of a friendship is sad and unfortunate.

If someone isn’t genuinely happy for you and your relationship, there is no reason why that poisonous energy should stick around. People that are jealous and unhappy within their relationship do not have the right to take out their internal struggle on those that have supported them through the ups and downs of their turbulent relationship. S and I are only twenty-eight years old, and have only had to lose one friend over similar nonsense.  Despite the individual’s lies and blatant cries for attention, we and most of our mutual friends – once shared with the ex-friend – remain close and stronger than ever.

I mention our ages because we are only at the rear end of our twenties, and a lot of bullshit goes down with friendships during that time. When you’re younger, the number of friends you have is the most important thing in the world, and as you mature you realize it’s not about the quantity of friends, but the handful of quality friends that strengthen your foundation.   Do people actually mature over time? Or is it similar to when people tell you that all the drama ends after high school… I just do my best to keep the good ones around.