Monday, September 15, 2014

The White Flag

Two different people recently asked me if I had someone special in my life. I said no. They went on to ask if I was even looking, to which I also replied in the negative. 

I believe I've posted here where I believe that 'looking' implies a desire to actually want a mate/partner/husband, or whatever the mot-du-jour is. 

I can say, right now, I don't. 

I don't want one, I'm not looking for one and I am completely fine with that. 

Why this attitude?  

Two conversations recently came together in a perfect storm in my mind and then proceded to occupy my heart.
In the first one, I heard that damaged people can often employ emotional manipulation to get what they want. Yet, they may be unaware they are doing it, as they've been doing it for so long as a means of either protecting themselves or securing what they perceive they want/need. 

Let's face it, gay men are often very damaged, though many of us have learned to overcome and have repaired some of our damages. 

The other conversation I had was about gay men and sex. I was nervous about getting back out there for I knew I would have to cross that bridge. Someday. With all the STDs out there, it can be very daunting. Downright frightening. 

"Just assume he is HIV+, and protect yourself accordingly," my friend advised. 

"What if he says he isn't?" I replied.

"Don't take his word for it."

"So, I should assume he's lying?"
I also overheard two men conversing about their recent dates. Both may have been dating the same guy for it appeared they had the same date. They each met their guy for a meal then headed to a bar where the guy later told them he had a boyfriend who was out of town. So, could they just have a quickie? I happen to know they each met different guys because their dates were on the same day, but at different bars.

So, if gay men are emotionally damaged and may be employing some kind of emotional manipulation, perhaps subconsciously, to get what they want, and some may also be lying about their relationship and/or HIV status, how in the fuck do you know who to trust?

Add that to the string of disappointments I've recently experienced and it should come as no surprise as to the fact that I surrender. 

I give up. 

Yes, I do. 

And let's also not forget the other more rational fears I have if I should actually meet a decent guy, and it does get a tad serious, there's so much more to consider. But, if I've given up, why am I even thinking this? 

Maybe I truly haven't. 

Maybe I'm just extremely disillusioned. 

I just don't know what to think anymore. 

So, maybe I shouldn't.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Because of Her...

People come into our lives in many ways, but always for us to learn something about ourselves, if we're open to it. They may come into our lives for a moment, a day or a season or they may stay for a lifetime.
My aunt, age 12; me, 4 1/2 months

It's often harder for us to learn something about ourselves when that person is a family member, however close the relationship, either generational or in age. Or the geography. We often take a familial relationship for granted as we may see or communicate with that person often.

It's also when we lose something, we realize we never truly appreciated what we had.

I lost my aunt this month. It was sudden, unexpected, and therefore came as quite a shock. What made it even harder to accept is that she was 68 years young.

I was born into her life barely a month after she turned twelve, the first child born among my mother and her siblings.

In addition to lessons, a passing also brings memories and stories to mind. My family tells the story about one time she came over to spend time with her sister and me. We were living in the San Francisco Bay area at the time and I was six months old, if I remember the story correctly, which would set this story in August. My aunt was feeding me, and when I was finished, she did what you do to a baby you've just fed. And I did what many babies do when you burp them. All over her white blouse.

I don't think we've ever looked at strained beets the same way again.

Upon reflecting on our relationship, I realize I've learned a lot from my aunt. Whenever I saw her, she was always smiling, always cheerful, no matter what was going on in her life. I spoke with her by phone a week before she passed. I could hear her in her voice-she was herself; cheerful, in good spirits, optimistic about her life, maintaining a positive attitude.

Because of her, I will take this lesson forward.

Because of her, I learned that coffee is good any time of day, any time of the year as she always had a pot of coffee ready. 
Christmas 1959

Because of her, I've learned to be there for people. When I came out to my parents, my mother cried it was all her fault but told me she still loved me, while my stepfather promised not to disinherit me, he tried to forbid my mother to have anything to do with me. My mom turned to her baby sister for comfort who, in turn, was stunned at my stepfather's rejection, "How could you just stop loving someone like that?"

My aunt was there not only for her sister, but for me as well.

When I married my now ex-husband, I didn't want a large, lavish ceremony for a couple of reasons. The first one was budget, the second was that I hate being in the center of it all, and the third one was I only wanted those people who supported the idea of same-sex marriage. I knew people who pledged full support for the LGBT community, yet drew the line at same-sex marriage. And sometimes it's better to not ruffle any feathers if things are already smooth. I shared my engagement with my mom, so she could share in my happiness. Soon after, I received an email from my aunt with only three words, "When's the wedding?"
ca. 1987

Not only did she and her husband come down for the wedding, they helped decorate the venue and pitched in wherever we needed it. 

Whenever we talked, or visited, she always inquired about my partner, even before we were legally married, and was there for me when he walked out not even two years later.

I never got to tell her directly how much her support meant, partly because I didn't realize it at that time. She was one of the strongest allies I never realized I had. Because of her, I have learned not to sell people short; give people a chance and they may surprise you.

RIP, Karen. Although, you may not be physically on this plane any more, your love and spirit always will be.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Little Paint

Living Room, with Faux wall, before
The quickest and least expensive way to change the mood of a room is to simply paint it.

I recently painted my kitchen.

I'm not sure it's the quickest, necessarily, as it would depend on the number and experience of assistants; I had zero assistants, but plenty of experience, since I had painted every other room in this house. Nor is it necessarily the cheapest. Depending on the color scheme chosen, one might be tempted to buy new furniture or accessories.
Kitchen, before

I bought the house with my now ex-husband. We bought the house as brand new construction, so we were the first owners when we moved into this 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 1,700 sq. ft. house with all white walls in the summer of 2003. Over time we ended up painting all the rooms but for some reason never got around to the kitchen. After some INTENSE discussion we chose a cranberry color as the main color for the living room and dining room. For the trim and accent colors we chose a deep mauve and a port wine, and also used them as a faux effect on two walls. Later on, we ended up painting the deep mauve on some of the living room and dining room walls to hopefully lighten the rooms a bit because, with the sun setting earlier and further south in the winter, the cranberry, while still a beautiful color, helped add to the darkening of these rooms since they are in the northern end of the house and therefore losing natural light earlier in the daytime.

When he left in 2010, my first reaction was to paint over all the colors as we had chosen them and now the house was mine. I wanted to erase any trace of him in my house. 

A friend suggested keeping the colors if I truly liked them whether or not he helped choose them. I did, so they stayed.

But the kitchen was still white, with a grape motif stenciled on the soffit for some color. 

Living room, before. I have since added curtains to the window
For a couple of years lately, the kitchen has been calling me to paint it. So, I began entertaining colors and ideas: did I want something different in the kitchen? But it's an open floor plan. Could I find colors I liked that didn't clash with the others? Did I want the same colors I already had? Would that be too much of a good thing? What did I want as this was my house? I hemmed and hawed, tossed and turned and asked friends for advice. 
Kitchen, after

When school ended for the summer, I knew this was it, I was painting the kitchen. I decided to keep the same colors for simplicity as the dining room wall runs right into the kitchen wall. But, I added a new color, espresso to cover the two faux walls and  the soffit.

I began on a Tuesday and finished putting final touches and things back in place that Saturday and stood back to admire my new kitchen. 

I loved it. It felt warm, it felt cozy, it felt intimate.

I felt such a relief it was finally done. 

But I felt something more, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it immediately.

And later that day, it hit me.
Dining room and living room from the kitchen, after

It was a release. It was more of a release than a relief to get this done.The relief meant the project was over, the release meant I was letting go. I was taking one more step on the road to making the house mine. One more step to reclaiming me, to moving beyond, to moving forward.

Dining room and Kitchen, after
It's amazing what a little paint can do.

And not necessarily to a room.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Conversations With Trees

California Oak
It is said we don't stop and smell the roses often enough. I believe we don't stop and listen to them enough, or listen to Nature.

I am not a religious man, but a spiritual one. Nature is part of my spirituality which makes Mother Earth my church. A while back I was very upset with someone and not knowing what to do, I went on a hike in my church. My local chapel is a park in the Santa Monica mountains along the southern edge of the San Fernando Valley. While hiking there along my usual trail and musing on what I should do about my anger, I passed through a grove of California oaks. Immediately upon entering the grove, the answer came to me, "Stand your ground. We do." I knew instinctively what they meant.

I now refer to the grove as the Temple of the Oaks. I have been a couple more times since.

More recently, I had been in a funk for sometime and knew what I needed to do. 

I went to Temple. 

Once there, I looked for a safe spot on the ground to sit where I could meditate and connect with the Oaks. I had to be careful because this grove grows near a creek and where there's water and oak trees, there is often that other oak, the poisonous kind and yes, it is present in my Temple. And this also being a  wilderness area, other creatures abound. 

On various hikes, I have seen coyotes, ground squirrels, a doe and Western Fence Lizards in addition to various birds; scrub jays, crows and the occasional Red-Tailed Hawk circling overhead. Signs warning of rattlesnakes are posted on the bulletin boards at the park entrances, and the nature center, though I have yet to see one in this park.

As I entered the Temple this time, I was reminded of my inner strength which I often overlook and to remain grounded in my reality, the here and the now. After all, aren't trees?

Once seated, I closed my eyes and immediately felt the presence of a rattlesnake in my lap. Okay, not the physical presence, but a spiritual one. One of my spirit guides is Snake, an anaconda to be precise. So, why a rattlesnake in this meditation? Simple, I was in his domain. Anacondas are not native to the US, let alone the Santa Monica Mountains. Rattlesnakes are. 

As Rattlesnake was slithering into my lap, I received this message, "All this pain is part of your growth, you need to shed the skin of your old self to continue growing. Come on, I'm here, let's start." As I began to envision myself slowly shedding the old me away, I heard rustling in the bushes behind me. Coming out of the meditation, I turned, saw nothing, and decided I would meditate further with Rattlesnake at home, not necessarily because it was safer, but because the trance had been broken. 

Broken Concrete
I decided to continue walking in the park, into areas I had recently begun to explore, as I usually went to one or two particular spots to meditate, and I had brought my camera and wanted to take some photographs. While walking along a trail, I saw a pile of broken concrete reminding me of some bizarre landscape; a foreign desert or a strange distant world. The impression it left on me was that anything human-made could be broken. 

I immediately connected to my fears. My fears can be broken. They are human-made, are they not? Did I not make them?

I continued on, and eventually came upon a solitary picnic table under a tall evergreen tree. 

"Please come sit a while."

I did.

"Thank you for sitting."

"Thank you for inviting me. May I take your picture?"

"Yes. But I look much better in color, not black and white."


"Why are you in such a hurry to meet someone?"

"I'm not."

"Oh, really?" (I didn't realize trees could be sarcastic.) "Did you not think the two gentlemen you glimpsed along the trails might be someone coming into your life? The one that later had a family with him and the one with the two dogs?"

Guiltily, I answered, "Yes. But I believe I'll meet him through some chance encounter. Some friends have agreed with me."

"Perhaps you will. But, your friends have done you a disservice, not because they agree with you, or that they share their love and thoughts for you; they do have your best interests at heart. But because you then focus on what they have said. Focus on knowing and being yourself, not on what they say."

"I understand."

"And there's more to your hurry, isn't there?"

"Yes. I'm not getting any younger. And I am tired of being alone. Four years is a long time."

"Time and age are irrelevant. I did not get this tall overnight. There is nothing wrong with being alone. But, first you must learn to enjoy being alone, unless you don't want to learn the lesson from your past. Did you not feel alone within your last relationship? Did you not settle for less than what you deserve? Again, I say time is irrelevant."

"I understand."

"Please be patient. Remember Rattlesnake's message, 'Shed the old.' And what did the Oaks tell you before?"

"To stand my ground?"

"No, the other message."

"He is coming?"

"Indeed he is."

I sighed. "Thank you. May I ask one last question?"


"May I take one picture in black and white? I love the texture of your trunk. I think it would make a great shot."

"Yes. Go ahead." (I could swear he giggled.)

"Thank you for everything." And I placed my hand gratefully on his trunk.

"Thank you for listening, please come back. And call on me when you need to."

I will.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pride 2014

Disclaimer, Preface, Preamble, whatever. Please note: The judgements and projections contained within are mine, all mine and no one else's but mine. I own them, admit to them and hope to overcome them.

Sometime soon.

I went to Pride this year.

I ended up feeling very depressed.

Please don't misunderstand, I am proud of who I am and all facets of me, though the constant negative barrage of the media can be disheartening. And lately it is targeting teachers, but that's a different post for a different day.

Perhaps the latest dating mishap and subsequent realization of a long single summer ahead had a lot to do with my mood.

Perhaps a lot of my own personal growth and awakening to self had a lot to do with my mood at Pride.

Perhaps I think too much.

I also want to interject that I went to the Parade and Festival in character for a novel I'm working on. The character is an impartial visitor to this world and is trying to understand the gay community, as it is new to him as it doesn't exist where he comes from. And I was trying to see it through his eyes, which, in a way, are also mine, as I'm coming back into the community after some years away from it, and coming back into myself after my divorce.

Perhaps, it's a bit of all of the above.

I went to the Pride parade and festival alone, for the second year in a row, though last year, I marched with an organization. This year they didn't march, and over the past year, they didn't have any gatherings for me to participate in. Oh, well. It wasn't meant to be.

I found a stretch of grass on the median of Santa Monica Boulevard next to three women. I didn't choose the spot because women were sitting there, I chose it because it was empty, and I anticipated it might be shaded later. (I anticipated incorrectly.)

We conversed on and off while waiting for the beginning of the parade, one of the women was stationed at a nearby Marine Corps base and one of the other two drove in from Riverside.  I never did speak much with the third.
Dykes on Bikes, the traditional start of the Pride Parade

Followed by Boys on Bikes! (First time I'd seen them in a parade.)

They wondered why I came by myself. I simply said none of my friends were available to make the trip. For the rest of the parade we had great conversations, covered a range of topics from teaching (they admitted to being brats in school), literature (one was a Harry Potter fanatic, one had read my favorite Chicano novel- Bless Me, Ultima, by Rodolfo Anaya. I told her to watch the movie.)

A float for one of the bars came by, and honestly I can't remember which bar. And no, I didn't get a picture. And here is where the depression began. Or, intensified.

On this float were several attractive YOUNG men. Okay, boys. Twinks, actually, as I doubt none of them was over twenty-five years old. They were dancing in their Andrew Christians, and nothing else except shoes and sunscreen. And it was quite obvious which ones might have been Jewish, as I could make out the outline of every part of their packages due to the thinness of the material. And some of them turned around and presented a different part of their anatomy. Needless to say, the men in the crowd roared with approval.

While I did see the attractiveness of their worked out bodies and youthful faces, I was saddened by the fact they may only see their bodies as their greatest asset.

I later saw a contingent of older men, decked out in leather, carrying other accoutrements common in the Leather/BDSM community; handcuffs, whips, chains, leashes. And I came to the same judgement. Is that only how they see themselves?

I hope not.

As I have come to try and understand myself, I have come to believe there are four distinct parts that complete us; mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. I have also come to learn that ignoring one part of the four can lead to an imbalance of self, which in turn could lead to complications; illnesses of the body or mind, and/or emotional/spiritual issues.

But, this is not my place to try and understand others, only myself.

And perhaps, that's the problem.

I don't, yet.

Perhaps there's so much I'm looking at, I'm losing my focus.

One thing I know, I've always been sensitive to others' pain. Once, one of my dog's kneecaps slipped out of place, and began yelping in pain. My ex-husband frantically called our vet and while I tried my best to assist my dog, I began to feel very faint and nearly passed out. I've actually gone into shock over violent acts depicted on television which my logical mind knew wasn't real, but I could not suspend emotional belief from what I was seeing on the screen. Perhaps, now I'm tapping into other's emotional pain as well. A friend once suggested I was an empath as I would call her and ask "What's wrong?" without saying hello.

And now with my spiritual awakening to Shamanism, maybe that's my calling; healing.

After the parade ended, I felt physically drained, with a heaviness in my heart. Perhaps it was just my mood at the time, perhaps it was the judgements I was passing, (as hard as I tried not to) but I kept coming back to my question, "Do these people not see they have a mind, a heart, a soul?" It's true I don't know if they do or don't see their minds, hearts, or souls; and some of them may indeed see and honor the other parts of themselves.

I did see elements of the other components in the parade; volunteer service, recreational and professional organizations for people to nurture those other parts of their authentic selves. 

Many straight people complain about/question the need for LGBT pride month, and other ethnic pride/heritage months as well. Let's look at history. Briefly. For centuries, LGBTQ people have been persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, tortured, murdered. We have been disowned by our families of origin, our churches, our societies. We carry those hurts within us. We may overcome them, but do we really? Even after years of therapy, could there still be the possibility of some teeny tiny grain of our own self-inflicted homophobia still deeply buried in there somewhere preventing us from fully integrating body, mind, heart and soul, to be fully able to appreciate a fully integrated self?

I don't know.

After all, I can only walk my own path and no one else's and no one else can walk mine.

And, I'm still walking.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer's Here!

With summer break finally here, I'm preparing my summer to do list:

  • Relax!
    • Teaching is hard work. I'm standing "on stage" for 6 hours trying to ground 30 live wires, after having planned my lessons, anticipating what they might ask, guiding them in the direction I need them to go to make the necessary connections for the lesson to succeed, while putting out behavior problems, attending to first aid/health issues, and the occasional intruder; no, not the principal, but the latest ant invasion, a spider or cockroach. And after all that, I need to grade the students' work, reflect on each lesson. And somewhere in there I need tend to myself, my house and yard. I see a lot of meditation and/or napping.
  • Spirituality
    • Above all, or integrated throughout, I want need to delve deeper into my spirituality. I plan on visiting the Temple of the Oaks somewhat regularly to connect with Mother Earth and my Spirit Guides, which would tie in to relaxing.
  • Write
    • I have several ideas running around in my head, often colliding with each other like giant marbles in a pin ball machine. I need to get them out of there so others can grow. The current work-in-progress is driving me crazy, but I am getting some wonderfully supportive feedback from my writers' group. So, I am planning on blitzing this latest work!!
  • Read
    • To improve my writing, I need to be reading more, and as a teacher I need to know what books my students should be reading and find interesting titles for them. Plus, my To Be Read piles, both the physical and electronic one, are building. So, I will be balancing my reading with some fiction, some non-fiction on writing and personal growth, and some children's books. Teaching never ends.
  • Seriously clean the house
    My Office!
    • I took out a pair of pants the other day and realized I really need to clean my closet. Not clean it out, though I probably could go through my clothes and cull the herd a bit, but CLEAN the closet as the dust bunnies were positively menacing. And I might as well clean the other closets as well.
    • And the windows, inside and outside. All of them; upstairs, too.
    • My office needs serious decluttering, again. And this time I intend to purge a lot!!
    • Somewhere in this house is my cat's collar. As she was an indoor cat, she never wore one after a while. She always had one, in the event she did get out, but at some point I took it off her and put it someplace safe. So safe in fact, I don't remember where. Without it, I can't complete her shadowbox. Which is something else on my to do list: begin her shadowbox. Perhaps her collar is in my office. Or a closet. Or a drawer.
    • The kitchen needs a thorough cleaning. See below:
  • Seriously contemplate painting the kitchen
    Living Room toward entryway
    • When I bought my house eleven years ago (gasp! it's been that long) it was brand new construction. We moved in with all white walls. The only white remaining now, other than interior closets, is the kitchen. The living room/dining room/kitchen is one large L-shaped room, very open. There is a peninsula separating the kitchen from the dining room, and the sudden stoppage, or starting, of the kitchen cabinets is the only other actual demarcation between the two rooms. We painted the living and dining rooms a beautiful cranberry color with dark lavendar, and port accents. The only windows in these rooms all face west, so there is no nice morning light, only bright afternoon setting sunlight.  The colors seriously darkened the rooms and especially in winter when the sun sets behind the two story house behind mine at around 3:00 PM, it's quite dark downstairs. So, for some brightness, we left the kitchen white, but stencilled some grapes on the soffet, for decorative effect. I think it's time to paint the kitchen to match the rest of the downstairs. (And, yes, it would be another step to make the house more mine.) The decision to paint will depend on finances. Perhaps some pricing is in order, as I still have most of the supplies from when we painted before.
  •  Dining room and kitchen 
  • Other household up-dos
    • I'm tired of the hideous vertical blinds in the dining room and my bedroom. I'm looking at some options, but again, finances.
    • I have several naked walls that need 'something' but I don't know what. One of the ideas I got from one of the many home decorating shows my ex watched ad nauseum was that art doesn't have to be a Rembrandt or a Dali. It can be personal. So, I have a couple of ideas from a traveling art teacher who visited my class. 
    • My dishwasher leaks, but my hands don't. So, that can wait. 
    • Deep clean the carpets; after two dogs and two cats, I think no explanation is necessary.
  • Garden
    • I need to tend to my garden. As I no longer have any dogs, and no current plans to get one, I am questioning the need for a lawn. California is in a serious drought, and I would prefer to have some more drought tolerant, California native plants in place of the lawn. 
    • The Crepe Myrtle in the front garden needs some serious pruning, or total removal, as it interferes with the neighbors' satellite dish.
    • My work yard needs some heavy duty cleaning due to the pigeons who roost on my roof. Where can I get a few hawks?
  • Health
    • I am in good health, and plan to stay that way. I'm looking at ways to begin eating more healthy and beginning some exercise routine that could easily adapt to the new school year.
  • Have fun!
    • I enjoy photography. I like taking pictures of something that catches my eye, being something in nature, an odd part of a building, lights and shadows, strangely dressed people and in Los Angeles they are not hard to find. It also allows me to get out of the house and explore parts of the city.
    • Part of having fun and relaxing, is also just getting out of the house. I have joined a social club and plan on partaking of some of their activities, but there activities can be expensive, so it will depend on finances. Or, just getting out and going somewhere on my own, perhaps finding a place to sit and write, like Greystone Park in Beverly Hills, or a beach and let the sound of the waves lull me into a relaxed state. Yet, all this will depend on finances.
I realize I brought up finances a lot and naturally any and all plans do depend on a household budget. I received some mixed news earlier this month. My house was reassessed. And while the value went up (a good thing), so will the property taxes (a less than good thing), and with the reassessment, the house has been revalued above what I owe, (a very good thing). But, as my loan is not impounded for the taxes, I will need to hide money away, and as I won't know the amount of the taxes for another four months, it will be difficult to gauge what I can afford to do over the summer. I do know I won't have a huge fuel bill over the summer as I won't be commuting to work five days a week. I will continue to take public transport as much as I can, (I sometimes use the other passengers for character inspiration). So, my summer budget is a bit in flux as there are a couple of variables in play.

Whew! This list is exhausting and only two days ago (as of this writing) was my last day at work. Many of these projects don't have to be completed by the time I return August 7. That's only two months from today!  Not everything needs to, nor should it, be crossed off this list. I will need to prioritize and see what happens. Some projects are naturally on going, and many can be combined. I can get out of the house and write, while having my camera ready.
And with that, I will sign off for now, as I have so much to do.
But, where to begin?

I think I'll make some coffee and mull it over.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


I've discussed my multiple personality disorder before. 
Sometimes, I'm a teacher, or a male, or a gay person. Sometimes I'm a gay male teacher who writes, or a gay male writer who teaches. And only one of those may change with retirement, but the persona of being a teacher for thirty-plus years will be ingrained in me.

After a long day teaching, I come home and face the chores of being a homeowner. In spite of my grousing about the chores and financial responsibility, I don't want to go back to renting. So, that won't change.

But, I'm always single and at midlife. And one of these will change and one might. I will grow older. I might remain single the rest of my life. The possibility does exist as the gay male community can be very superficial, with ageism being a very large part of that superficiality.

Yet, as I'm entering the dating/social arena, I find a couple more personalities have surfaced leaving me more confused than before.

A while back, a seemingly nice guy asked me for a possible date. Someone I shared this nice bit of news described me as "giddy" and it's true. I felt giddy as a school boy whose crush just asked him to the prom. As I have begun confronting the realities of dating, I have discovered, it's all new to me. I'm not sure I even understood it back then, in the 1980's when I first started gaily dating.  I feel like; no, I am the awkward teenager just learning to date and beginning to understand what the secret codes men use actually mean. "Let's get together soon," means "I really don't see a future in even our hanging together (I just don't have the courage to be honest enough to tell you directly)." But, enough of that. Many awkward teenagers can't count the years to retirement on two hands, let alone be thinking of it. And this is what's adding to my own confusion.
Over the almost four years since my divorce I have discovered one thing about my past relationships. I surrendered so much of myself, I no longer know who I am; what do I like and not like? what do I want and not want in a relationship? But, I have come to understand one thing:

I am a 56 year old teenager when it comes to dating.

Minus the excessive libido.

So, how can I know what I'm looking for, when I don't even know who I am?

And is it fair to drag someone else through this mire of confusion when I'm trudging through it myself? 

While I tell myself it's okay to be confused, after all, I never expected to be dating again after I met my now ex-husband, it still is overwhelming and at times, it hurts.

What hurts is the thought of rejection. These men who have decided not to date, or even pursue a platonic friendship with me, (i.e., reject me) do not know who they are rejecting, so it is more of a reflection on where they are in their lives. I can accept that, mentally. Emotionally, it is a bit harder.

I think because for many years, I have been rejected. Rejected by society, by my church, by family, by friends, and ultimately, by myself. I say by myself, because in reality, only two family members actually rejected me when I came out. I didn't lose any real friends, my coworkers didn't care I was gay, so much of the perceived rejection was in my mind. Society has rejected me as I see anti-gay hate crimes across the media. School society rejected me by calling me names, taunting me, bullying me.

So, dating has taken me back to high school when I didn't even date then. I wasn't out then and not really in the popular crowd, as I was a loner, changing high schools every year. 

As I learn to navigate the dating rapids, I must also realize that gay dating is a bit different than non-gay dating. Sort of. Men tend to react to the physical first, the emotional later. So, we both have to think the other is hot, then we have to decide if we even like each other. Sounds a bit backwards to me. Yet, since I am at midlife, and not looking to be a "daddy" for the third time, I must accept I am not a teenager who happens to have a full gray beard. (Hmm. Maybe I should shave it?) Dating at midlife is different than dating in your teens, twenties, or even thirties, with the exception that many guys in all age groups are expecting, or seriously hoping to have sex on the first date. Older men may have children and/or grandchildren in the picture. Do I want to become an instant step(grand)parent? (I realize I'm putting the cart before the horse, but it is a reality I may have to face.) Men my age may have more of a possibility of being HIV+ because less was known in the 80's about transmission, diagnosis, and treatment. (I will need to decide on dating the man, not the diagnosis.) Men my age have worked long and hard for their financial security, and are looking for someone who has as well, not someone looking for support. (A lot of my financial security was eroded post-divorce as I learned to juggle the budget.) And many men my age are not looking to date men my age because we older men have more baggage to overcome as we've collected more emotional souvenirs from our past relationships. (I come with full steamer trunks.)

So, the odds aren't necessarily in my favor. I've come to terms with that. 

That doesn't stop the giddy teenager from giggling and getting goosebumps when an nice, attractive guy asks me out. 

Nor, does it stop the hopeful romantic from wishing it would blossom into something special.