Monday, July 27, 2009

Bangs and Whimpers Are Not the Only Options

Some significant number (eight? nine? more?) of years ago, I was visiting a friend, and I told him that I had finally admitted to myself that I'm gay. And after the following exchange
He: Wow. That means you'll never have to deal with women again.
Me: You're jealous, aren't you?
He: Yeah!
(which still amuses me), he said something along the lines of "Isn't that incompatible with being married?" And I agreed that the situation was inherently unstable, but I also said that I had no idea how the inevitable dissolution of the marriage would play itself out.

I didn't have to wait very long to find out, as it happened. A couple of months later, my then-wife said the words that all men dread: "We have to talk." And thus began the worst period of my life. I still don't like to think about it, but it was so bad that I completely lost my singing voice and had to pass on the opportunity to sing two of my favorite vocal pieces, the soprano-bass duets from Bach's Wachet Auf cantata. In fact, I spent over two years during which I couldn't even listen to Bach without either crying or cursing. This is not an experience I recommend. It makes a lot more sense to find a way to link your major life trauma to somebody like Schoenberg. Really, you can entirely skip twelve-tone music for any number of years without missing it.

Anyway, a few months ago, I began to feel once again that I was in an inherently unstable situation, and I wondered how it would play out. I was pretty sure that it would play out with a great deal less drama, noise, and pain, simply because there was so much less at stake this time around, and I was in so much better a position. And I'd done a better job of laying the groundwork. I had entirely eliminated my debt, and I'd saved a reasonable amount of money. My job was secure. I'd mentioned to a couple of friends that I might soon be in the market for a house.

And the timing was auspicious: I make too much money to qualify for all of the first-time homebuyer credit that expires at the end of November, but I can manage my adjusted gross income well enough to qualify for at least half of the credit. And if you're going to get your own place, anyway, you may as well do it when there's an additional four or five grand on the table, right?

And I was reasonably sure that b&c wouldn't be all that surprised: he had said a couple of times, in moments of anger, that we should go our separate ways. But, of course, b&c has a very Mediterranean disposition, and over the years of our relationship, he's told me that I should move out over extremely minor disagreements, and I've learned not to pay much attention when he explodes. Paying attention only encourages him to explode again.

Still, I was having a hard time bringing the subject up, even though time was beginning to become an issue. But then, this past weekend, he got back from Haiti, and we were amiably discussing politics or something over a glass of wine after dinner, and:
B&c: We should really discuss your moving out.
TED: [Sips wine.]
B&c: I just can't live like this any more. I'm tired of picking up after everyone. I just like order.
TED: You know, I can't just move out tomorrow.
B&c: I didn't mean right away. You can take your time.
[TED clears the table and takes the dishes to the sink to rinse them.]
B&c: [Slightly agitated.] We just don't have the same interests any more.
TED: I'm not disagreeing with you.

And that was that. Which proves, yet again, that gay relationships are far superior to straight ones: ours dissolve with so much less anger and venom. (There may be exceptions.)

I reckon I should be more upset about this, but I'm fine with it. And b&c seems fine with it. And I know the kids won't be upset. The only people who might be upset are my parents, and they'll only be upset because now that I have to buy a house here, I can't buy their vacation house in Pennsylvania. I figure that b&c and I will probably get along better as friends than as partners, and maybe we'll still be able to travel together. On the other hand, I'll have significantly less disposable income, so my future travel plans may be somewhat attenuated.

Anyway, my immediate concerns are largely practical. On the down side, I have to deal with real estate brokers and banks. And I know very little about the practical issues of getting a mortgage and buying a home. I'm a bit worried that my credit rating seems recently to have declined significantly, apparently because I paid off all my debt. This makes no sense to me, but working hard to pay off my car loan in under three years instead of five years only reduced my number of active accounts. And then a couple of credit card companies dumped me because I had paid off their balances and was no longer charging things. On the other hand, having no debt appears to mean that I could meet the qualifications for a loan about half again as big as I should need. I reckon I'll know more after I've talked to the mortgage broker and after I've seen a few properties.

And then, of course, there's moving. I weep at the thought.

On the plus side, the place I buy will probably need a fair amount of work, so I'll get to paint and maybe do some modest renovations. I'll let the girls figure out how they want their rooms decorated, but otherwise, I won't have to answer to anyone. I can finally have a home that's as boisterous or minimalist as I please. I'm thinking a sort of boisterous minimalism, but I reckon we'll have to wait and see on that.

I suppose that the flaw (or feature, depending on your point of view) in my character that is keeping me from being upset about any of this is the same one that makes me not fear being single. Maybe I'll be singing a different tune in a few months, but I'm relishing the notion of being uncoupled. Experience has taught me that it's unwise to say never, but I can't imagine myself dating again in the foreseeable future. At least not until YFU goes off to college: that gives me six years to think of a good reason not to date for another decade or so. I have all sorts of respect for people who manage to make relationships work, but I just don't think that's who I am. Apparently, accepting who I am is a work in process, but I'm getting a lot better at it.


  1. So you're ok? "Merde" for your work in progress

  2. The internet connection in the hotel is really bad, and at work I usually only have time for essentials, but today was a quiet day at the office, so I took the time to actually read stuff, rather than browse for interesting pictures. Anyway, civilized or not, break-ups aren't fun, so I wanted to wish you all the best with yours. And moving house is even worse, so good luck with that as well. Although the house does look/sound nice.