Monday, January 28

In Deference to Others... What is Lost When We Turn Away

I just emerged from a family discussion. Mind you, our family consists of a rag-tag assembly of unrelated gay men, our range in age bested only by our range of experiences. Tonight's topic of discussion was one that in our short time living under one roof has played itself out in two out of three individuals (my own experiences coming before the move-in date), it was - in a word - drugs. Not life-threatening addictions, nor comfort-choking bad habits... but that most common of household indulgences in this modern nation - marijuana. First, I'd best set the story straight on what has taken place in the last 40 days of life in our fair city of Cleveland.

For myself, the past month has meant nose-to-the-grindstone labor, in a warehouse, on a computer and here at home - preparing to accept the rights and responsibilities that come along with the journey into manhood. Deferring the pleasures of today (or tonight) so that my future will shine ever the more brighter.

For my best friend, confidant and closest gay acquaintance the past month has been, from my increasingly sober and less-turbulently emotional perspective, one of floundering amongst darkness and seeking release from the daunting troubles ahead.

For our third, and admittedly most unfamiliar roommate - the past month has been one of intense personal renewal, and the casting-down of barriers so that he may connect with those reaching out to him in this new environment. He also, I may add, is struggling to define his own role as a gay man, a committed boyfriend, an ex-husband and a father.

I began January in a state of emergency - having been unceremoniously booted from my role as cherished houseboy for a pair of middle-aged queens trying ever-so-hard to live the American Dream, albeit a warped modern version involving all the trappings of consumer indulgence and a heady mix of alcohol and illicit substances. They being transplants from San Francisco, myself being transplanted from the suburban graces of a life straight out of a Better Homes-and-Gardens magazine. We had spent a year together under one roof, myself cooking and cleaning and being generally homey - with an out sized debauched side further indulged by having the run of a 5-bedroom tudor in a nice urban neighborhood.

Upon their dismissal (which I will detail further - I promise - in a forthcoming post) I girded myself for struggle, and a loss of the utter freedom I had engaged in since being taken-on by the pair. I made the commitment to myself, and to my best friend, that I would quit the party lifestyle and all the substances so ingrained with it to better my own circumstance. I set about to do so and accomplished quite speedily the task of finding work, transport and an airy three-bedroom on Cleveland's west side from which to build upon. My friend (who had moved in with the queens as well for about a month) made much the same promises of self-improvement, although as I will detail, with far less commitment.

Our first days at the big empty house we had ponied up the cash for seemed like a dream. We were truly stepping into our own, and excitement was alive in every moment. Each wall held a future project, each nook a bit of character - to perhaps fill with a piece of our own individual characters. The rules were drawn up, and commitments laid out then, dreams more-like, because we all saw this as a fresh start and a new beginning.

I imagined myself rising to the needs of the various projects, coming home from work to join in painting another room and repairing another crack. My best friend seemed alive with the choices to be made, and the chance to finally call a space his own... and our third, a chance to regroup and settle into a new routine amongst friends.

It was only a month ago that we held these ideas high, and in the time since... a poison of apathy, the turbulence of new love and the dissension of unequal sacrifice have nearly torn our dreams apart. Tomorrow morning, I will detail the first encounter with reality - and post the letter that saved our home from immediate dissolution.

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