Sunday, March 28, 2010

Early in April, Part 3

Kade: Hey…Can you chat? I guess you're not on line...

Arie: Yes I’m here!

Kade: Just wanted to drop you a note that I'm thrilled for your family vacation plans. What fun times ahead for you! Congratulations.

Arie: thanks!

Kade: Is now a bad time?

Arie: no, I’ve got a few minutes. thanks for the congrats. I know you do the family vacation thing too…but I see you in my minds eye as too young to have teenagers. Maybe age is more of an illusion than we think.

Kade: Most definitely. I'm not aging at all - just everyone around me.

Arie: :D Meaning that when we connect, it doesn't matter.

Kade: It doesn't matter - isn't that great!

Arie: Can you still meet for lunch on Thursday? I can bring apples and cheese. Do you like sharp cheddar?

Kade: We can go together from your office if that works.

Arie: Just call me when you arrive and I’ll meet you outside. I think both of our dads would approve.

Kade: I just want a brother that understands. Did your father understand?

Arie: I don’t know if he did or not. It’s not something we got a chance to discuss, but we can talk more about it if you like. It will be so good to see you again.

Kade: We are hiding this from our wives. Does that make it right or wrong? Another question to ponder. Anyway, I've got to run... I hope you're okay - sometimes I ask too many questions...

Arie: You're fine, my man. I'm good. It's been a good chat. Talk to you soon.

Kade: Huge hugs!

Arie: The same for you.

When Kade and Arie met on Thursday, they didn’t realize they’d have some unwanted company. To be continued…

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Men in My Life

I don't really know when I started to notice them, the men in my life. It was probably before I could talk. The first men I noticed were my dad, my grandpas, uncles and neighbors. Sometimes they'd whisker me. That made me love my mom's soft face, but later I would hunger for their whiskers again. I would long for their whiskers so badly that any whiskers would do. Maybe that's why I loved that old song Razor Face so much as a teenager. Maybe that's why I'm still fascinated by beards and sideburns, even as my own fade from brown with a little red, to grey with a lot of white.

What I felt as a small child, as best I can remember it anyway, was safe and protected. As I grew a little older, I found that boys, especially older boys, could sometimes be mean, but they weren't men. They were just boys.

When I started to become a man myself, I sometimes doubted myself. I might look like a man. I might have a man's voice and his strength. I might even be manly to some, but am I just pretending. It took a long time for me to understand that a man can still sometimes feel like a child. That that's OK sometimes.

I've been blessed with so many good men in my life. Men who have helped me learn and grow and be myself. Even mean men who have helped me learn what I wanted to be, because they were jerks. That also took a while to figure out.

I've never had a lover man. But I sure have had some good friends. I've had a lot of crushes on men over the years. I still do. But I don't crush on everyone. Some men and just there and I'm pretty chill about it. They might be friends or acquaintences, neighbors or quorum brothers, even some bloggers I've never met. I'm comfortable around them, for the most part, because they're just part of the environment, with only a little bit more presence than furniture. I'm glad there are many of them. They make life stable and comfortable.

But then there are the men who mean something more. We may or may not know each other, but these are the men I notice. Sometimes I feel that here in the blogosphere, too. There's sometimes just something about the way a fellow writes that intrigues me. I work with some of these kinds of intriguing men, too. I go to church with some of these men. I have some friendships with some of these men. I notice when they're around, and sometimes when they're not. I notice what they wear, and whether they've shaved, and if they seem happy or not, and how they smell and what they say and don't say.

I notice their eyes and their voices. Sometimes when they talk my mind wanders. I sometimes hear the sound of their voices more than I listen to their words. This can be dangerous in the workplace. I might miss something I really do need to know.

There was a time when I thought I don't want to feel this feeling, I don't want this buzz, this attraction. I can't handle it. I don't want it. I want it to go away. I guess that could happen to me again someday, but I'm glad I've gotten used to this something, this quality that is as life affirming as water, food, breath, shelter, warmth or beauty.

And so my thoughts circle back around to shelter, safety, protection. Is that what I feel when I'm sitting alone like the guy in the Steve Walker painting, alone but not all alone, feeling the spirit of those I love and those who love me?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Early in April, Part 2

(continued from here)

Their first face-to-face meeting brought a new intensity to their online chats. Both men sought to actively define a friendship that would lead to growth rather than something that would end in disappointment or worse.

Arie: Why can't it be a win-win-win? That's what I want. For you, for me, for our loved-ones.

Kade: I'd love that. Something that can be looked upon as an example that everything doesn't have to end in disaster.

Arie: I'm going to re-read some of Carol Lynn Pearson's Circling the Wagons. I want to affirm to myself that this is a positive kind of pioneering.

Kade: But do you really believe that can happen?

Arie: I would not do this if I didn't think there was a good chance of success. Nonetheless, there are risks. It's a work in progess. How do you see it in terms of risk vs. reward?

Kade: If there were no risk, there would be no alarms going off. But, if there were no risk, it wouldn't be worth it. Sometimes it takes risk to learn and grow. I'm not here to do anything that will destroy eternity. But, I do feel there is something to learn by being open to one another.

Arie: That makes sense to me and yet there is the possibility that despite our resolve boundaries will shift. We both seen it happen here in the stories of others.

Kade: I will not betray those I love. And I know you won't. And talking about it keeps it in the open. Or are we playing with fire and fooling ourselves?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First Kiss

Actually I should title this "First Kisses" because there are several memorable first kisses as I look back on a long and mostly happy life.

1. My first teenage kiss with a girl.
2. The first time my wife-to-be and I kissed.
3. The first time a gay man kissed me.
4. The first time I really wanted to taste the kiss of another man.
5. Other kisses and expressions of affection.

So jumping toward the end of the list, let's focus on #4, the first time I really wanted to taste the kiss of another man.

It was on a mountainside. A straight friend and I were jogging. We both stopped to catch our breath and because we were both breathing heavily and standing close to each other and trying to talk while gasping for air, I inadvertantly captured one of his large exhalations in one of my deep inhalations. It was warm and wonderful. There was no hint of anything artificial. No trace of mouthwash or toothpaste, but nothing unappealing either. That breathing in of his breath was neither sweet nor offensive in any way, but I loved it. It was just his breath: warm, pure and affirming. But it had the power to forever freeze that moment in time. I wanted more of that taste, and I suppose a kiss would have been a natural next step for me if he had not been a straight man. It was probably as close to a kiss as I will ever enjoy with him. And you know what? That's OK. As his friend and as a married man that's as it should be.

And what about #5? These are stories of kisses and hugs between friends and family that are to be savored and held sacred.