Wednesday, May 28, 2008

See ya...

Guy codes...

Do you ever use the words "I love you?" when you're talking with another guy...

I was listening to a national radio program on Friday where these guys were talking about the "guy code". They were making fun of one of the guys who had just said "I love you" to another guy - and said it on the air just like that. According to their dialog, there is an unwritten "guy code" where certain things just aren't done, such as:

1. Never say "I love you" to another guy, even if you do. Instead, say "Luv ya", or "Love ya, man". Saying "I love you" to another guy just confuses him and makes him feel uncomfortable, no matter how close a friend you are.

2. When you hug another guy, make it quick and jerky - don't linger.

3. If you do hug in a more connecting way with another guy, be sure to hit him in the shoulder or slap him around in some way where he knows that you're just friends and everything's cool.

4. When you go to a movie with a guy, don't sit in the "gay seat". The "gay seat" is that seat that you leave open between the two of you, so it's clear that you're still together sharing a movie, but not in "that" way.

Having lived my whole life as a gay in the "guy world" I am very much aware of these and other "unwritten codes". Having not lived at all in the "gay world" I wonder how many unwritten "gay codes" are out there that I just don't know about. My gaydar is severely out of tune and I just assume that no one I know is gay anyway so why even try to receive a signal.

The radio program dialog got me laughing how seriously these men were taking the "guy code" and how much you must be careful to not violate these rules of conduct. As I think about it, I violate them all the time... I don't worry about the "gay seat". I give affectionate hugs to almost everyone, and especially with my closer friends. And I never say "luv ya, man" because it sounds so goofy, though I've noticed among guys just how much that is said and it really is forbidden socially, culturally, in the buddy-to-buddy code to ever allow the phrase "I love you" to escape your lips... why is that?

I like saying "I love you".

In Italian, (besides being much more fluent in the language of physical touch and affection without such "guy code" limitations of expressing affection among friends), as with other romance languages, there are three basic ways of saying "love": 1) piacere 2)voler bene 3) amare. There are various ranges of intensity within each, but there are precise distinctions of meaning within each range of each word. You can really, really, really "piace" ice cream, but you never "amare" ice cream. You can totally "voler bene" a dear friend and mean a deep abiding love, without getting romantic. And then, you can "amare" your partner, your spouse, the Lord.

I wish there were more distinctions with the word "love" in the English language. I find myself, particularly with dear friends, such as Will, or say a fellow saint in a spiritual connection, or with blogging friends that have become more than friends, that I tend to say "I love you... I hope you understand what I mean". I feel compelled to clarify that feeling of affection and emotion with that added phrase. I guess it means the same as "luv ya, man" and then follow up with a slap on the back of the head.

But, as I listened to the radio guys chatting away, I thought of Tim. We don't use those extra words. We don't use the words "with a different spelling or a subsequent clarification, or a follow-up slap on the head. We just say to each other "I love you!"

I like that. Now that he's moved on to another "love", I am desperately seeking my next friend where I can say with no appendages - "I love you!" Where are you? I need to find you!

I wish we didn't have to have "guy codes" or "gay codes" (whatever they may be - can someone please give me some enlightenment so that I can be a better receiver of these hidden messages I'm obviously missing???). I wish we could just say...


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Six weeks and counting...

I've hit the 6-week mark of going cold turkey... nothing / niente / nada! Nothing inappropriate of any kind, not even close, not even looking at department store ads of guys in the Deseret News... If I can go six weeks then I can go six months, right?

And this is worth it to keep what's truly important together and in the forefront, no? My family is more important that anything else. I know that and I need to constantly remember that. I should feel strong and like the conqueror... I can leave these things behind. I can be better than this. If I've gone six weeks without it, I don't need this "distraction" in my life anymore, right?

So, how come I feel so weak?

Why do I feel like I'm fighting against the inevitable? Is the fight worth it? I feel I have the inner strength to resist and keep going. I keep looking at my son and I feel an obligation that is stronger than the temptation to keep going - to stay clean - even from slightly questionable material. Am I crazy to try?
How come I feel like I'm sticking my head in the sand?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Will it ever be the same?

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have "lost" my boy-friends to that social ritual called matrimony. Both Will and Tim were married - No! Not, to each other... but to two amazingly beautiful, talented, and intelligent young women. It's been really hard to see them both grow up and become men as they move into their next phases of life. Hard, not in the sense that this step is a bad thing - only that it's inevitable that with the passing of saying "yes" in the right place at the right time with the right authority, they step away from what we have had together as friends. It's just natural that as they cling to their new eternal companions and help-meets, they become less connected with the rest of us.

Or so it seemed...

I know that I have allowed myself to become emotionally and physically attached to these two much more than conventional wisdom would grant me the courtesy of acknowledging, and it is I who now needs to learn to step aside and let them move on. But can I move on?

These two in their own time and place have meant so much to me and have given me the spiritual, emotional, and especially physical male-bonding closeness and love that I have always sought, craved and needed in my life to survive. I will always cherish these feelings and time together.


At the funeral last week, Will was on his honeymoon, but Tim had returned from his and was there for me. When I caught a glimpse of him, I was overcome with emotion and broke down sobbing. I was well in control for the most part, but just seeing him humbly standing in the chapel as we entered as a family threw me over the edge and I broke down. Fortunately for the occasion being one of emotion, most everyone, even my wife and family didn't know why I suddenly burst into tears as my eyes met his.

After the services, and fighting my way through the family and friends, I saw him leaving toward the church parking lot. I came from behind him and touched his back. He slowly turned and we fell into each other's arms and he held me so tightly, so completely. We were one. It didn't matter what family or friends saw of the two of us fully embraced together in that parking lot. I needed him to be there for me and he was there for me and at that moment, in that embrace as we kissed, I felt comfort... I felt peace... I felt love... and nothing else at all seemed to matter. I was whole again - complete in his embrace.

Though we didn't speak - other than mutually whispering "I love you" - nothing else needed to be said - I knew then, that he would always be there for me as I am for him despite the roads that life will now take to tug us apart - He was not afraid or ashamed to be my unique and special "friend". And even now that he is married, he was there, unchanged, unaltered - still the same Tim.

I am a romantic at heart. I often allow my emotions to get in the way of mature thinking. I am aware that with our age differences and different stages of life, and with our belief system entrenched, we will never really have anything more that what we have... but...

But, for now, for this time and place, I am grateful to have a true friend who wants the best for me, and who is not afraid to show it in an amazing way time and time again.

And, everyone needs to have at some point, that unabashed, unashamed, real embrace in the parking lot...
But now what?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Till we meet again...

Funerals are unique events. At least in my experience, they are infrequent and have never hit so close to home as this last week. Emotions have been close to the surface and seeing special people in my life brings those emotions to overflowing. I've been trying to figure out why I've been so emotional. Sure, losing an immediate family member is reason enough, but I feel it has also been a combination of feeling regret and remorse for not having done more when I had the chance, as well as feeling an abundance of love and support.

I had a close friend state that he loved witnessing funerals and loved to see this expression of emotion. He gave me three key reasons why funerals are such wonderful events to cherish:

1. They celebrate the joy of life and a life well lived.

2. They bring families together in a bonding of love like no other event.

3. They allow us to feel the assurance of our hope in the Gospel and the verification of the Plan.

It's been a rough week. It's been tough. But, it's been a good week. I have experienced these three points in a very personal way. I know the strength that comes from such celebrations of life, from family expressing love, and from the assurance of the Gospel Plan.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Heroic efforts / Tough Decisions / Insignificant Worries...

I've recently had to face the emotional ride one takes when facing a life-or-death situation. A close family member has placed me in that roller-coaster ride, full of decisions to be made that may affect whether a loved one lives or dies. At one point this week, we were facing the decision with medical professionals on what is meant by "heroic efforts" to keep a loved one alive. Does that mean that we do nothing to help avert any natural event that may lead to death? Or does that mean we do nothing "heroic" once the level of quality of life has diminished to the point of no return? And where is that point? It may seem very black-and-white, but in reality, as I've discovered this week, it's a continuum and there is a lot of gray, lending to lots of room for hope and miracles.

At one point, we were placed in that "consultation room" down the hall from the ICU where a discussion of "when to pull the plug" would be made. Decisions such as these do not come easily when the inevitable has not been reached yet. What a funny profession - this medical practice - where life and death decisions are made every day and seem to almost be taken as routine. For family who do not face this on the same frequency, the shock and stress levels go off the chart. A nurse actually told me that he loves to work in the Trauma Center because things are always happening and it keeps them busy and anxious to perform... and when it gets slow, he almost wishes for something to go wrong so they can kick in and do their job. I know he was just talking without thinking, but it didn't help when one realizes that when the trauma event comes, there is a real person there being placed in a very serious situation. I guess it also didn't help when my sister spoke with the cardiologist and asked how things were going, and he said: "Well, we're not ready to pull the plug just yet".

These doctors know much about the body, but they even admit that they are "practicing" and really don't know the potential of hope, and prayers, and miracles, and positive thinking, have on a patient and family members and loved ones. And where do priesthood blessings enter the picture? Are they just hopeful thinking?

It was refreshing to see the head medical doctor recognize the power of positive thinking, hope, faith, or whatever you may call it, and express it to the family when making such choices of such a serious nature.

And as I reflect on how we aren't "out of the woods" yet, I certainly can see first hand the power of such thinking. I've seen a miracle. A lot still has to happen. But a lot has happened.

It sounds trite to say that when faced with these decisions, all other problems and concerns seem to not matter quite so much, and fade into the background. They are still there, but it's amazing to realize how instantaneously one's priorities, concerns, angsts, worries, struggles (oh, yeah - am I still struggling with my attractions or was that just a little issue in the back of my mind and I can't really think about it right now???) and problems become less significant when compared to the bigger picture.

I am grateful to live in a day and country where medical miracles are still possible and the best can be found at our disposal. To see how many I.V. bags, tubes, gadgets, monitors,pumps and devices can be placed on one human body is mind-boggling!

I am also grateful to live in a day where priesthood power brings real comfort and sustaining reassurance from a Father who loves us and is mindful of us in little ways and places people in our lives at the time we need that sustaining reassurance.

More on other developments to come...