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?