I thought this was going to be an adventure.
My middle class upbringing and a childhood reading silly, nonsense books had prepared me to see everything as an adventure. To take every new day and squeeze the life lesson out of it, to remember that I was my own best friend, and that my duty was to remain optimistic. But after two and a half months of this my sleeping schedule is incoherent, I spend most of my days in a thick and stupefying boredom, and the stress is causing me to have small, discrete auditory hallucinations.
At the end of September my Grandmother was hospitalized. She had a fall in the middle of the night and the social worker informed my father that she would need to have someone stay with her or she would be placed in a nursing home. My father sat down and somberly asked me if I would stay with his mother. So I moved to a little town with a population numbering in the dozens. I began learning about medical equipment and how to cook short order. I started running a household.
Huzzah! Queer grandson to the rescue! He’s not pumping out grandkids, might as well make himself useful. For the first time in almost a decade, I am living with a person who doesn’t know I’m gay. Not only am I closeted, I am closeted to my Grandmother, who I haven’t really seen since I was a teenager. The image she has of me isn’t just “not gay,” it is so infantilized that collaborating with it is humiliating. Like, just let me wear the curly wig and the sailor suit and hold the oversized, novelty lollipop so I will never again have to listen to (and pretend to agree with!) your theories on sex before marriage, recreational drug use, and just what went wrong with America.
So I have gone underground. My personality has been replaced with an answering machine message I recorded when I was a child. I greet delivery men, I am cordial, I have manners, I don’t curse, I’m never messy, I am the calm, unflappable one, not a hair out of place, made even more perfect by the blur and chaos that is my little brother. I am the boy with the thorn in his side, the boy with the secret, who imagines he can outrun destiny by being everything to everyone. And even though I have created a fully integrated queer identity and conquered internalized homophobia, I am being asked to step into a role I last inhabited when I was still trying to awkwardly shoehorn women into my sexual fantasies. Before the disco ball dropped and I just couldn’t do it anymore.
What I really wanted was to find a job, and live anywhere but here. I wanted to start living the life of a “Queer In The Big City.” I was going to immerse myself in a community of artists and layabouts, I was going to finally begin living my life. And earlier this year I lived in Austin for two months. People would take me out and buy me drinks because I was entertaining. I developed a taste for vegan food and rode a bike. It was like living in the movie Chocolat except everyone was Johnny Depp.
But no. No big city lights for me. And, FINE PRINT: utter, utter celibacy. A celibacy so complete and frustrating that I am carrying around Foreigner’s “Feels Like The First Time” on my iPod and an ambitious number of condoms. Because if I’m going to go to the trouble of dealing with societal stigma, integrating my personality around my sexual orientation, loving the inner me, and then stuffing all that mental and emotional progress down to play a part I wrote for myself so I would never have to make any of that progress, at the very least there is going to be sex.
I remain optimistic.