Thursday, April 24, 2008

too late baby

I just got off the phone with a friend who couldn't meet with me because of scheduling difficulties with his wife and his child. Understandably his family comes first and they should. Seems most of my friends work their schedules around their spouses and kids, nannies and in-laws. I don't begrudge them this in the least but somehow these situations bring up in me the feeling that I am missing out on not only the joys of having a partner and family but an overwhelming sense that the ship has sailed and I should just accept it. Forget about it. It's too late. The game has been played and I lost.

I know this reads as completely self-pitying and effusively sentimental but it's how I feel.

Childhood ideas of romance are just so much Hollywood tripe. I don't believe someone is going to sweep me away into a wonderland of hearts and flowers and, as if by magic, make my life complete. Life doesn't work like that. Love doesn't work like that. I've been in relationships before, granted not very successful or sober ones, and I'm aware of the amount of compromise and work that they take. I truly believe that, today, I'm more ready and capable to give that kind of effort and maintain the necessary level of emotional availability.

I'm not lonely. I don't think I am. Not really. I have friends and a large network of support that I feel I can reach out to. But there is a lack of intimate closeness. An absence of that personal kind of familiarity that only lovers can have. The smell of someone else's hair on your pillow. Knowing how someone else takes their coffee.

Honestly, I've had more sex than any three people should have in a lifetime. Still I continue to think that this absence of an intimate bond can be fixed by a sexual encounter. I know this is not true. I resist and I resist and about every three or four weeks my thinking reverts back to believing that sex is what's going to work to fill this aching emptiness. Whether it's my thinking or my groin I'm not sure but the end result is always the same.

So what happens? I use the various venues available to a gay man in New York City. I get excited at the prospect of a new experience and my hopes rise only to be disappointed and I feel farther away and more isolated than before. Sometimes I say "I'm sorry but I don't think this is gonna work" other times I go through with it blinded by my throbbing physiological need. I shudder with regret short moments afterward and an all too familiar veil of sadness descends on me.

What's a guy to do when he realizes that this behavior doesn't work anymore? Apparently when I wasn't looking, middle-age attached itself to me in the dark of night and didn't bring with it the pamphlet explaining the appropriate updated behavior.

The result of these repeated attempts lead me to believe that "hooking up" doesn't fill the aching emptiness anymore than a box of Oreos.

Could it possibly be true? Have I really missed my chance? Has the boat really sailed? Was I too busy seeking pleasure and immediate gratification to recognize a good thing even if it smacked me in the face? Perhaps my soul mate was sitting across from me on the crosstown bus and I missed him because I was busy looking at a bicyclist's butt out the bus window. I might actually see Mr. Right every day and not realize it because my idea of what Mr. Right should be is so rigid and narrow.

I could make myself crazy following this train of thinking.

What do I do? I try to throw myself into service as the only way I know how to increase self esteem is to do esteem-able acts. I redouble my efforts to be available to the sick and the suffering so I don't have to concentrate on my own lack of fulfillment.

Living in New York City certainly presents it's challenges. It is easy for me to compare my situation to the privileged, ultra rich and beautiful on this little island. They are seemingly everywhere. Juxtaposed to that, however, poverty and suffering are everywhere too. If I focus on what I don't have I become paralyzed by envy and greed. If, on the other hand, I focus on what I do have, on how protected and blessed I've been, then I can be grateful and maybe even be useful to somebody. I might even stop this self indulgent whining.

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