I'm getting more introspective as I get older. Granted I have yet to reach my thirtieth birthday, but tha tdoesn't mean I can't reflect on my life.
My ten year class reunion was this past weekend. Due to it's proximity to the premiere of my play (and a mistaken notion regarding how many free tickets US Air had given me this past Christmas), I had to decide between my play's world premiere and my high school reunion. There was the chance that I could do both but that fell through as well at the last minute (damn you overly efficient governmetn agencies). So whioe my classmates were having fun reuniting with each other and reminiscing and such, I was home with my thoughts.
Ten years. It's a pretty long time when you think about it. It's almost one third of my life. So much stuff has happened in my life that it's mindboggling.
I came out of the closet and renounced by Southern Baptist upbringing. Of course I also joined what I term a cult somewhere in between both events. At least I call it a cult. I mean what else can you can a religious organization that only lets you hang out with other people within the church and only date people within the church. It was an emotionally and financially draining experience because I was becoming more aware of my sexuality and having to put it in context with my religious beliefs. I mean I had been a regular church goer for so long that not being in church was almost unheard of for me. Thankfully I found St. Lukes Metropolitan Community Church in Jacksonville. For the first time it was okay to be gay, worship the Creator, and not feel ashamed about it.
That year of my life was perhaps the most trying on me. My college grades slipped because I was spending too much time with the cultists and not enough time on my books. Additionally, my friend David and his partner Andy were, ever so slightly, pushing me out of the closet. Their advice, the nurturing, everything, it really made me have to put things into perspective. The first thing I had to do was come to accept myself for who I was and go from there. That was the hardest part. Even now I still have the occasional pangs of self-doubt.
Three, maybe four years later I was offered a job in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Now this was one of the hardest decisions I could make. Do I move to Fort Lee (just over the river from NYC) at the age of twenty-three -- across the country from my family, by myself, having to do it on my own. This was something I had yet to do. I had always been pretty much dependent on my family for some financial help but I had to decide whether or not to take a chainsaw to the purse strings and break out on my own. My father was dead set against me moving. He swore that I shouldn't move unless they were offering me more than 50% than what I was currently making. In fact they were offering me that plus some. He was livid that I was even considering the offer. I truly feel that they thought I couldn't succeed on my own in NYC. In fact, my parents used the argument that if "something happened to me" that they wouldn't be able to help me. My response was, "Maybe it's time for you to stop helping me." I don't think they were ready for that.
I was telling of my relationship with my parents with a friend of mine. He made a very astute observation. I am the classic overachiever. However, it's more complicated than that. The reason that I work so hard is because in my mind I associate success with earning my parents' love. If I fail, then I fail my parents and they no longer love me. My parents always told me that I had the potential to make straight A's in school but I never did. Part of me wonders why I never tried harder to make better grades (even though I had a 3.4857 GPA when I graduated high school). Maybe because I felt that if I didn't do well enough they would pay attention to me. My sister was the athletic one and the military oriented one. She played soccer and softball and was in ROTC. My father and mother both played softball in their youth. My father was in the Air Force and my mother's father was in the RAF. She was their golden child. I was the smart, artistic one. They couldn't relate to me. They didn't have artistic leanings. If they did, they didn't exploit them as I did.
Moving to NYC was the best thing that could have happened to me. I think moving here has made me become the person that I am now. I am more reliant on myself (although Mom and Dad still send the occasional check). A few years ago my mother finally acknowledged that I, in her eyes, had finally grown up and was making my own living. That was a milestone and something I will never forget. I work hard, play harder, and still find a way to come out on top. I don't back down anymore. I go for what I want now. Well...almost everything....
Deep inside me is still the same insecure kid from high school who wanted nothing more than to find his place in the world. Part of that means obtaining and maintaining the acceptance of those around me. Maybe that's why I can't tell those I am interested in that I would like to date them. Maybe it's because I already anticipate the rejection before I even ask. I'm looking at my situation with the chorine as the fact that I have a good friend instead of the fact that I don't have a love relationship with him.
My I am such a complex person....