Safe in One’s Arms
I’ve been going along feeling quite fine overall for a long while until I stumbled upon this old chestnut about two weeks ago, whereupon I suddenly felt the floodgates of mixed emotions opening up.
Something in Jimmy Somerville’s voice never fails to touch me. He got me back in ’84 with his opening wail in “Smalltown Boy,” which still sends shivers down my spine. And there’s the fact he’s been such an unapologetic gay boy even when it wasn’t a “so what” like it is today.
Anyway, first I need to give you a bit of context, not to say give you a full confession.
I need to start off by stating, unequivocally, that I’m okay. I’m not unhappy. In fact, I’m content. Those little “things” that have occurred in recent months have not driven me into a funk — the kind of funk I’ve known whereby one wishes to be able to crawl out of one’s skin to escape from everything, including one’s self. No, I think I’m just taking stock at this point.
I’m still satisfied with living in Montréal and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I still think I have a very decent job despite recent events that have made me look at it more than ever as “just a job.” I still have no post-divorce regrets. In fact, on that last point, I still don’t feel any sadness through wishing it had worked out, especially knowing as I do now that it never could have worked out.
But on the other hand there are five fingers.
Lately I’ve been thinking that I spend way too much time on my own — as in 99 percent of my time. I think that it has taken me a while to notice it for a few reasons: first, I have never minded — in fact, always enjoyed — my own company; second, because I spend so much time talking to people on the phone at work, I am not as disconnected as I would be if I were a mere office clerk working from home; and third, I do run errands and stuff like everybody else, meaning I do see people other than on a screen.
However, when weekends come along, I notice that I have no great desire to go out socializing (especially since summer temps have become but a memory) or doing anything much outside my routine. For instance, one of my rituals is that I always have brunch on Sunday at Restaurant Lafayette directly across from Métro Papineau. Going to that noisy Village diner where all the staff knows me by now has become my one and only “big outing” of the week.
But then, whenever I think about doing something else, like maybe a short weekend trip to Ottawa, I just don’t feel like it. In fact, I know my sister expects me to go for a few days at Christmas, and already there’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to go. But then there’s another part that says, “Well …what else are you going to do? Just stay home …again?!”
Except for tomorrow when I will be connecting to work because of an impossible Friday deadline, I spend most of my evenings and weekends doing mindless or not-so-mindless stuff at the computer. For instance, in the last weeks, I’ve spent way more time than I probably should have tweaking my budget. But it totally gets me off to see how successful my first year of returning to budgeting was, and since budgeting is all about looking ahead, I find it to be a fundamentally optimistic activity because, in the time when I had stopped doing it, I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to think of myself in a few years.
WARNING: I’m getting to the part that might be “TMI”… On most weekend late evenings, however, instead of going for a drink at the bar, I sip on some red wine at home and go to some x-rated sites. One in particular could, if I wanted to, lead to some cheap (as in “easy”) hookups. In fact, back in Halifax, I did indulge in that manner from that site. It is what it is. Then another site is merely to watch “dirty” videos. There again, it is what it is.
At the first and very superficial level, those sites have tuned me in to an obvious fact: I’m not getting any younger. Whenever I come across guys for whom I could easily be their father, I lose interest. In fact, no matter how attractive they are, they give me the creeps because it just feels wrong to me to look at them in that way. Although NowEx was considerably younger than me, I could not have been his father; I couldn’t then, and I can’t now, cross that line even if it’s not in the physical world.
That being said, even if I have no intention of seeking hookups these days, I can’t tell you how pissed off / annoyed / insulted I get whenever guys of any age go overboard in posing judgement while stating their preferences in mates. Due to my own stance about age difference, I can’t be hypocritical; however, I don’t think gratuitous putdowns based on age are necessary. Also, because I’ve always been very average physically — neither an Adonis nor an ogre — it bugs me that someone would exclude me on those grounds. Granted, that does tell me that I wouldn’t want anything to do with “that someone,” but it bugs me more because I know my other attributes far outweigh the physical aspects.
I know perfectly well that such sites — even more respectable ones — are not the place to “go lookin’.” But that’s just it: didn’t I just catch myself “lookin'”? Morever, while listening to that old Jimmy Somerville song I dredged up, didn’t I just catch myself “wantin'”?
Even before the NowEx/divorce fiasco, I never could have been accused of being a sentimental sap. I gave up idealizing “relationships” at about age 25. At that point, having a relationship became a “would be nice to have” rather than a “must have.” Part of the mental equation that ran through my mind at that time was the realization of how I crave perhaps more than most being alone. I can’t stand the thought of having someone clinging onto me at every available moment. Maybe that’s a selfish trait, but if it is, then be it. I know deep down that I have far more non-selfish traits than selfish ones.
But while that may be true, am I not also coming to a point of my life when I’m wanting a bit less solitude? Moreover, am I not coming to a point when I’m wanting a so-called “significant other”? My gut reaction to that old Jimmy Somerville song suggests that I am.
I remember at the height of my Depression Lite phase wanting others to take care of me because I didn’t have the strength to figure anything out, and thankfully others did step forward and helped me. Indeed, I remember hearing myself say to myself at the time, “Please take care of me.” Today, the context is completely different and entirely better. I don’t need someone to take care of me like I did back then. But I certainly wouldn’t mind not being completely on my own, occasional helping hand from friends and family notwithstanding.
An honest assessment of most of my past relationships and certainly those of the past decade or so is that they weren’t partnerships between equals, so I guess I’m feeling at a deficit at this point of my life. But whenever I start thinking about how I might want something other than being alone, I worry that my past might be a huge strike against me in the eyes of someone else. I worry that the deficit I just mentioned might be so plain to see for others that it might make a potental suitor run fast the other way. I even worry that the deficit might (have) turn(ed) me into precisely the kind of guy I wouldn’t want for myself.
But you know what? The more I think about this, the more I think I still view a relationship for myself as a “would be nice to have” rather than a “must have.” Maybe it’s just that it would be nicer than I’ve been feeling previously……