Monday, April 23, 2012

I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore...

A big thank those who responded to the last post. In a world where one feels trapped between all things straight and gay, it is reassuring and sustaining to reconfirm some are out there finding something worthwhile in this foolishness I write. I'm not sure I can live up to the "inspiration" that comes from this drivel, as it is what it is... That said, a thought from this week... On Friday, I finally got down to visit and take in the new urban environment recreating downtown SLC called City Creek Center. I found myself coming up out of the parking structure below and felt lost and disoriented,
having been transported to a different world. For one who deals with space planning and a fair share of urban design and architecture, this was a visually stimulating and exciting experience. I enjoyed immensely the richness of the urban social gathering and sharing I was witnessing. It seemed to me that most everyone there was just enjoying being in this amazing space and hardly anyone was really there to shop. I must say, however, that it took a while to get myself oriented to the city of my birth. This wasn't the Salt Lake City that I had come to know. I could have been anywhere in any city... there wasn't a great sense of space that said "this is Salt Lake". It took me a while to stumble across a
view to the church office building or the temple at Temple Square to finally tie this new fabric with the familiar grid and monuments of a more rigid city grid. I don't know what I was expecting, (and I don't mean to be negative at all as the architecture and outdoor community spaces were incredible indeed!) but I felt out of place, out of sorts, confused and disconnected while being so visually stimulated and excited with a sense of community all around me. I was oddly transformed like Dorothy in Oz! This was definitely not my father's or grandfather's city anymore... As I walked it with my camera, I stood back and observed. I love to people watch! I loved zooming into the faces and imagining their lives.
The couple giggling at their very wet but exuberant son dancing in the fountain, drenched and dripping with delight.
The prom dresses on parade with their tuxedo counterparts proudly and predictably prancing through the piazza! And the gay couples everywhere - in the food court,in the bathroom, at Tiffany's, and even strolling along the "creek", gladly glowing, and fearlessly and courageously holding hands... It was as if I were transformed into one of those reverse themed movies, where everyone was gay but me and I couldn't help but wonder what's wrong with me as a heterosexual! Why wasn't I holding hands with my best buddy? It was another layer of transformation. I was transformed to the thought of the "what if" game I play in my mind: What if I had taken a different path after my mission with my Italian boyfriend? What if I had never married my wife? What if I chose to follow my heart beating to a different rhythm of male bonding? What if? What if? What if? I stood back and watched for some time a cute gay couple: he was very lanky and tall and strikingly blonde, at least 6 inches taller than his more compact but stylish partner. They sweetly held each other's hands and occasionally smiled as they fondly looked at each other. They shared in the joy of new discoveries in each display window, their earrings sparkling in the sunlight. I marveled at how much I envied them, an envy that once would have consumed me in bitterness and emptiness... now an envy that simply brought a sense of satisfaction and hope. Indeed, this is not my father's or grandfather's city anymore... I'm surprised it's even mine!


Miguel said...

Love the pics! They're some of the best I've seen. I was there on Saturday showing a friend who is visiting from out of town and did see a gay couple holding hands, almost made me want to hold the babe's hand and join in the celebration!! :-)

naturgesetz said...

I think I understand what you mean about envying the gay couples. I often feel happy for such couples and wish that I had something similar. But it never goes to the point of wanting a sexual relationship. If I were to stop and think it through, my feeling would be, "I'm glad you guys have found each other and can enjoy each other's company so much and so openly. I hope you aren't ruining it by having sex."

In fact, I have a friend whose company I enjoy and who enjoys mine equally. Unfortunately he now lives a 7 hour drive away, but he has visited a couple of times and probably will again. But as much as we like being together, neither of us would choose to have sex. If he lived nearby, I'm sure we'd see each other much more often.

I guess this is my way of saying, "Don't let the what if's consume you. Just maintaining what you have is good." And responding to something you wrote in your previous post, you're not necessarily going backwards if you're not going forward. Sometimes just staying where you are, rather than really backsliding, takes real will power and is a laudable accomplishment.

Beck said...

MIGUEL: I've taken tons of photos. Once I get going I keep going. There are great architectural views and angles of the city that I've never seen before and it's exciting.

As for holding hands in public, am I that sheltered to think this is something new or is it something totally old and I'm just sheltered in my suburban world?

And if they did, why didn't you? :)

Go for it!

Beck said...

NATURGESETZ: When watching a gay couple in public, particularly one holding hands so openly and causally, my thoughts go to envy, but never go to "why don't I have sex with a guy". I guess because I never have, my thoughts don't go there... but having a guy friend and being affectionate with him in public would be a dream come true!

Funny you bring up sex... I never think of it that way. I don't even think of them doing it to each other, "ruining" their relationship!

As for progressing... if I'm not looking forward, if I'm not making choices that keep me going forward, I feel I'm in danger of falling off the path. I know that sometimes falling allows us to get back up and keep going and not beat up ourselves too much, but the "keep going" is always part of the progression path. Standing still, I guess can be looked at as not necessarily going backward. Thanks for the encouragement.

Beck said...
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Brent said...

I haven't lived in Utah for more than 10 years but was there visiting the week City Creek opened so went there with my family. It is a beautiful place but I agree there is nothing uniquely Salt Lake about it at all! We were there for a couple of hours. I don't recall seeing a single gay couple. I don't know if it is because I wasn't looking or if I was just distracted keeping track of my own kids. :) On another note I wanted to comment on your reply to my previous post. What inspires me about you is not that you have the answer to everything. Even if you have the answer to nothing I love how open you are about your thought process, I am inspired by seeing what you question and where you are in finding your own answers. It helps me dig a little deeper into my own journey and ask some of the same questions for myself. It's hard to explain why exactly, but even though you seem to discount the value of your posts they are nothing but inspiring and motivating to me - and even though we don't know each other I feel a connection which I value as well.

Ned said...

Beck, thanks for the photos and your commentary. I haven't been to City Creek yet and your review makes me want to go. In my mind I can see a couple there. He's a tall, lean man with long blond hair and brilliant blue eyes. His buddy is nearly bald, not as tall, not lean and with warm brown eyes. You can tell they've been friends for years. There's lots of smiling and laughter--just a certain brotherly quality between them. They're both wearing wedding bands and they're both old enough that in their youth, their church would have promised them that if they married a woman, the gay would fade away. As you walk by them you see they're using their phones to show each other photos and movie clips of children and grandchildren. These near senior citizens look both happy and wistful, worn down by years work and stress, yet glowing and at ease.

Beck said...

BRENT: Thank you for your comment. I appreciate knowing about our "connectivity". Sometimes it is good to know that others are out there with similar thoughts and questions and I'm glad you find value in my neverending self-examination.

NED: :)

Beck said...
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Forester said...

Beck, I've misplaced your contact information. I would like to talk to you sometime. My email is