Abandoning Da ‘Burgh

Goodbye, house…

I think I already mentioned it, but the Great Pittsburgh Experiment (2009-2011) came to its conclusion a few weeks ago as Mark and I met up to dismantle the house we’d been so excited to buy two years earlier.

The reasons are clear: we’re no longer a couple and one of us lives on the other end of the country. And the one who lives on the other end of the country is the one who was more excited about having a house in Pittsburgh to begin with. Not that I didn’t love the house too, but it was always more Mark’s fantasy than mine, and he did all the painting and the renovations, etc. Pittsburgh is a place I’d still consider living should an opportunity arise. I really like it there. But I probably won’t visit much now that we’ve sold the place; part of the fun was “playing house.” It just wasn’t enough fun to justify paying another mortgage.

One benefit of moving is that I got lots of nice new old furniture to use in Winston-Salem. The former owner left a fair amount of stuff in the house when we bought it, including an amazing “Brady Bunch Hawaiian Adventure” bedroom suite which has now migrated southward to the Carolinas. I got custody of a much newer and better mattress too.  Thanks to Mark for driving the truck and helping to load and unload all this stuff. It’s inspired me to do a makeover.

It was sort of a sad weekend, obviously, as one more part of the life we used to have together was ending. But it was something we had to let go. I wish I’d taken some time to spend a few days up there before we gave up possession of the house, just to have a few more breakfasts at Barb’s or lunches at Smallman Street. I felt very much a part of Pittsburgh, strangely enough, even with my limited time there. Years from now, I’ll probably see these two years of owning two homes as a sort of surreal period, much like 2005-2006 in Charlotte but probably with fonder recollections (except maybe for the ones that involve driving through 250 miles of West Virginia each visit). I’ll miss Pittsburgh, but I’ll miss what it symbolized even more.

The other update

So there was one other update I didn’t make the other day and I’m torn about how explicitly I want to discuss it.

Like the breakup, this issue is personal and involves someone else. This time it’s a health issue involving a very close family member that will probably have a major impact on my life over the next few years. It’s very sad and it’s causing me a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty for me right now. Although I had some idea it might be on the horizon, the fact that it came to then forefront when it did (approximately one month after the big split) was especially unfortunate and has made it all that much harder to deal with.

Frankly, I’m a  little bit overloaded with change right now. In the past year, I’ve started a new career (good), put two houses on the market (neutral but emotionally taxing), initiated a divorce (bad), and come to the realization that the rest of my life is going to look radically different than I’d planned twelve months back. And now, just when I need to start looking ahead with a positive attitude to determine what the rest of my life should look like, I’ve hit one more roadblock that’s making it really hard to focus on a happy future. I’ll be able to eventually, of course. It would have been easier if I’d had time to get over one big heartbreak before the next one hit, but that’s not how life works. All in all, though, I’m coping. I’m dealing with things much better than I was a few weeks ago. I’m trying to find small things that will keep me happy for now (a road trip here, a 42-inch TV there, etc.) while I try to find a  way to process the future. I’m not particularly mopey (at least not publicly) and I’m still maintaining my sense of humor. I like to think I’m also maintaining some sense of perspective; these things haven’t been easy on Mark or on the rest of my family either.

If I keep my mind off it all, I do pretty damned well. And yes, I realize that there’s a very precarious balance between “not dwelling on it” (which is good) and avoidance (which is bad). I’m not sure how well I’m maintaining that balance.

Anyway, I don’t plan to whine regularly in this space. But a little disclosure seemed to be in order, if for no other reason than to get this noted in the “public” record of my life. I’ve been publishing for fifteen years and it seems somehow wrong for there to be no mention of my current state of mind, even a somewhat vague one. I’ve been writing lots more on the subject(s) but practicing some judicious self-censorship; maybe I’ll retroactively publish those entries someday. I also wanted to make it clear that all my current anxiety doesn’t stem from the breakup. Obviously some of it does, but not all of it. Probably not even most of it at this point, but my anxiety priorities shift from day to day. I’m efficiently flexible that way.

A side benefit to those readers and friends who miss the bad attitude for which this site was once known is that my reaction to life has started involving less sadness and crying and much more anger and impatience. I’m hoping bemusement will become a big factor again soon, too. This bodes well for some good old-fashioned rants. I’ve been working on one about the rapture for  a couple of days. Stay tuned…

Where am I these days?

A fair question, I guess, since I’ve really not posted anything of substance in quite a while.

All in all, I’m doing OK. And I mean that. The past two four eight months have been absolute hell, even though I’ve tried to minimize this for public consumption because (a) no one wants to read about me curled in the fetal position on the sofa crying like a baby and (b) I perhaps didn’t want to show much weakness publicly in my compromised state. Mind you, this is not all about the breakup. A lot of it is about the breakup, but not all of it. There has been some other pretty nasty family-related stuff going on in my life for the past month or two as well, so there’s been plenty of suckage to keep me occupied, thanks.

None of this has seemed really appropriate fodder for the website because it’s personal and would require a higher level of sharing than I’m really comfortable with these days. I also wanted to avoid any possibility of passive-aggressive “communication by website” as I realized damned near anything I said could easily come across as either whiny or accusatory, neither of which I really wanted. Talking too much about other stuff would minimize how much of my life has been consumed by all of this, and talking endlessly about my troubles would have emphasized it too much and also would have made for a really unpleasant website. So I pretty much just shut up about everything. Even to my friends and family, which was probably a mistake.

And now? I wouldn’t say I’m in the best of shape, but it’s getting better.

With respect to the breakup, I’m at least coping. I had no illusions that there would be a reconciliation and I concurred completely that we’d reached the end of the line, but there was a long period of mourning for the loss of what once was and for the future I’d hoped we had together. And I’m still in the middle of that. It’s hard not to keep asking myself what the hell is wrong with me and what I might have done differently to keep this from happening. But I’m starting to realize that there’s not really anything wrong with me and that whatever either of us could have done differently is a moot point because whatever it might have been, neither of us did it and it’s too late now anyway. Yes, I think it was a big waste that probably didn’t have to happen, but I can think that for the rest of my life and it won’t change a damned thing.

The family issue (it involves an aging parent) will become a bigger and bigger part of my life in the coming years and that’s what I really fear right now. I could have dealt with either of these things individually, but having them both hit simultaneously has been overwhelming. I essentially lost my two closest family members over the course of just a few weeks, although neither of them is really completely gone. Each is just sort of transforming into a very different individual than the one I’ve known and loved for years, necessitating a significantly altered means of relating to them, and in some ways denying me two sources of support I could really use right now.

I’m learning that staying very busy works for me because it keeps me from thinking about things that suck. I’m not 100% sure this is the most healthy way of dealing with all this. I wonder if maybe I’m avoiding important issues I should be thinking about. But it’s the approach that’s working for me right now and is generally keeping me from “going fetal” on a daily basis as I was doing for a while there.

I’m probably never going to really go into specifics about a lot of this here on the site, although there are a few cloaked posts I may make public someday. But I am going to try to write more and self-censor less in the coming weeks. Rather than sharing nothing and doing the bare “put on a brave face” minimum as I’ve been doing lately, I’ll try to share both some of the happy and some of the sad. I’m still sad a lot. And occasionally just plain devoid of emotion. But I’m at least relatively happy more often now too.

Me, Myself, I

For better or worse, I’ve always been a solo act. That’s my nature, and it took an extremely special exception to induce a temporary deviation from that state. It seems unlikely to me that there will be a repeat anytime in the foreseeable future. Hence my (very polite) rebuff to a (very well-meaning) coworker who suggested I start dating and sampling all that exciting gay nightlife in Winston-Salem.

As far as I can tell, the sum total of Winston-Salem’s “exciting gay nightlife” consists of one big disco that doubles as a venue for drag shows on Friday nights. In short, it’s every Southern ghetto queer bar I ever hated in my twenties and thirties all wrapped up in a package that fills me with nothing but fatigue and a sense of impending doom now that I’m in my forties. Having spent a supremely miserable couple of hours in a smaller version of the same bar about six months ago, I can tell you that this scene appeals to me only slightly more than that vacation in Libya I’ve been dreaming of for so long.

I’m a little torn right now. I’ve never in my life felt as alone as I do right now. I have some very good friends in my life and they’ve been a really big help to me in the past few months. But they’re not here. There’s no one here to listen to me talk about my insecurities, my regrets, and just how shitty I feel about everything that’s going on in my life right now–and it’s not just the breakup. No hugs, no crying on anyone’s shoulder, almost no human contact at all. I speak to my parents and my coworkers all the time, but only in the most superficial way (see first paragraph above) and always through my brave, happy face. In fact, I haven’t even told my parents about Mark and me yet, for a number of reasons. And yes, I understand that I boxed myself into this isolated little corner.

To be honest, a big part of me sort of wants to be alone right now. It’s hard work talking about this stuff and it also opens me up to having to listen to other people’s stuff. And I need to feel a little self-absorbed right now. But yeah, I need to build some local friendships.

The last thing I need in my life right now, though, is to be hanging around late at night in some wretched queer bar of the damned, sipping a Coke, choking on bad cologne smells, and listening to some of the worst music ever recorded.

What I probably need even less than that is to be “dating”. I never enjoyed that when I was voluntarily single and I don’t imagine I’d find it any more appealing now that I’m involuntarily so.

Not, mind you, that I expect to be fielding many offers to begin with…



Unhappy house

Thing that doesn’t make me happy: spending hours cleaning and scrubbing the house for a Sunday open house that’s attended by exactly one person (and my real estate agent suspects he was a curious neighbor rather than a buyer).

I need this house to be sold. Soon. It’s such a great house and I used to love it so. Part of me still loves it. But the the thirty-mile commute is only going to become more and more of a problem. Worse still, the place is just too big, too expensive, and too maintenance-intensive for me to handle all by myself. Factor in the fact that I’m a little depressed every time I walk in the door these days and you’ll maybe understand how the house I loved has become something of a giant albatross.

As many of you may have deduced, yer humble host is single again after nine and a half years. Mark and I decided a little over two weeks ago that it was time to call it quits. There’s no animosity between us. We love and care about each other and we’ll always consider each other “family.” It’s just that we’ve grown in very different directions over the past few years, and we’ve developed very different views of what we want out of life. Eventually we hit a point where we realized that the incompatibility–and the lack of communication about it–had more or less strangled our relationship. That’s the short version. There’s a longer version, but it has the same basic plot and the same exact ending and I’m not going to share it here.

It would be an understatement to say that this is the single most painful thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. I’ve shed more tears than I knew I was capable of producing. It doesn’t get much sadder than realizing that you’re not going to spend the rest of your life with the person you’d planned on spending it with. The way I’d envisioned the next phase of my life has been drastically altered just when I was expecting to be happy and excited about how successfully I’d “reinvented” myself in the past few years. This has magnified every little insecurity I’ve ever had about myself–I have a lot of them, thanks–and it makes the standard midlife crisis look like a fucking walk in the park.

However, I’ve finally arrived at a point where I’m managing (with some exceptions) not to wallow in it. That’s significant for me. I have a history of being fairly self-indulgent in my depressions and I’m not going to let it happen this time. I can’t let it happen this time, because a depression of this magnitude might break me if I let it take hold. Fortunately, I have my work to focus on now; I love it and frankly it’s really sort of all I have right now.  And I think that may be what ends up saving me. Anyway, I’m going to live. I’ve not yet managed anything resembling optimism about the future, but I think I may arrive at “neutral” one of these days.

So anyway, if you know someone who needs a really nice house in Winston-Salem, I’m willing to make a deal. You get a free home warranty and I get to maintain my sanity. No pressure, though.

A little addendum: I apologize for this mass announcement. I haven’t talked with many people about this, because frankly it’s not a terribly pleasant thing to repeat over and over again. I appreciate your support but this is personal and not really subject to public comment. Thanks to all of you for being here for me, even though I may not really want to talk about it that much for now. And thanks to Mark for nine of the happiest years of my life. I never thought I wanted a relationship like this, but I’m damned glad I had it, even if it didn’t end up lasting forever as we’d hoped.


Shortly after we moved in together in San Francisco, Mark decided to sell his car. He posted on Craigslist and made a big deal of the fact that he still had the original window sticker and owner’s manual that had been with the car when he’d bought it new in high school. He even included pictures of them in his posting. And I think he was genuinely sort of disappointed that no potential buyers seemed to care.

I don’t think I ever mentioned it to him, but I’ve always remembered that as a time when I felt even more overwhelmed than usual with love for this wonderful, geeky, adorable boy.

Randomly Friday

By some strange miracle, I seem to be considerably healthier today than I was at my physical six months ago. I’ve lost weight, my “good” cholesterol is up (my “bad” is always low anyway) and I’ve backtracked quite a bit on that road to diabetes, heart disease, and all sorts of other nasty things. I’m kind of amazed, considering how rough the past few months have been for me personally and how–until a  few weeks ago when I finally got my head out of my ass–I was basically using comfort food and lethargy to treat the symptoms.

So can I lose fifty pounds this year? What say ye?

Other stuff:

  • Mark arrives for a quick visit tomorrow. It will be the first time we’ve seen each other since December and I am much looking forward to it.
  • The oldest supermarket in Charlotte is about to be torn down. I’m a  little depressed about that, but I’d be more depressed if there were a little more of the original buidling left to begin with.
  • In case you care what I’ve been doing at work lately, here are two samples. They’re part of a bigger project I’m working on that’s still in beta (and not finished).
  • I actually had occasion to bring my Zip drive to work (and even to use it) last week as well. That was fun.
  • There’s something else big that’s supposed to make up this last bullet point, but I don’t remember what it is.