Friday, April 28, 2006

Crossroads

i have been walking this earth for 29 years now. and in those 29 years i have lived in 4 (very) different areas of the country. a very close friend of mine once told me before that each time i have decided to move that she never worried about me because i am one fo those people who has the ability to make friends wherever i am. personally, i don't know if i agree with that 100% since i am an only child and have moments where i love being by myself.

getting back on track. i have been fortunate enough to come across and become friends (or at the very least acquaintances with) many different types of people. and within those many different people, the personalities, like and dislikes among those people go from one end of the spectrum to the complete opposite end.

back in high school, i was the one person who waned more. i was not satisfied with my life and knew that there was way more outside my immediate circle that was just waiting for me to discover it. i am sure many would wonder how a white male being raised in new york could make a statement like that. well, let me paint a picture. i was a closeted gay male waiting to jump out of the closet and found myself going to school in a jacket and tie each day at an all boys catholic high school that was in an extremely conservative, rich suburb. of which, my family was neither of the latter. don't get me wrong. gay male + all boys catholic high school = me thinking that i died and gone to heaven. even though i was only a teenager at the time, the conservative, jock, white, tough guy routine grew extremely tiresome. i was one of the few teenagers at my school who ventured down to the city to experience all that it had to offer and meet different kinds of people. i was already looked at as a 'freak' because i volunteered in the aids ward of a hospital for my senior year community service. the narrow-mindedness i experienced was that i must have aids and that is why i was volunteering there. yeah sure that's why. and oh, did i mention that i saw your daddy exitting stonewall saturday night? ;)

the summer after my senior year could not end fast enough. i was ready to begin the next chapter in my life. get the hell out of the house. and live on my own in the big city of boston. and what a chapter it was. people from different countries. people from different parts of the same state i was from. people from the other side of the country. people from states i never thought had people in them. people of different colors, shapes and sizes. and gay people. lots of them. and some my own age who had a much tougher experience than i did. people who took my sexual preference and did not care in the least. as a matter of fact, many of my friends from college stood by me every step of the way and joined in on each new experience with me as a gay youth. no, not in that way. well, some of them did. ;)

college is the place where people say you meet your friends for life. and after close to 11 years f knowing these people, that statement could not be more true. i think the reasoning for this is that when you go to school away from mommy and daddy, your friends see you everyday and know what is going on in your life. ultimately, they step in for mom and dad. they know every mood swing, every bad day, every bad date. and the really good ones too. when i went back home the summer after my freshman year it was clear to me that i no longer belonged where i grew up. the people i knew from high school were still the same. attending college close by and not experiencing half of what i had in my 9 month absence. the bigger difference than the lack of experience was the lack of growth i noticed on their part. it was clear to me that staying in boston all year was the next step for me. and that is exactly what i did until about 2 weeks after graduating.

i returned home after graduation but kept in touch with my friends and would often retreat back to boston to visit the friends who stayed. while in nyc, i began working in the real world and bringing home a pay check twice a month. i also met a whole new round of people. here i was fresh out of college and associating with older, mature professionals. working late nights. drinking even later nights. and experiencing life while meeting more people from different walks of life. people with spouses. people who were much older than i. people trying to hold onto their college days by partying 24/7. people looking for love.

after a year and a half of watching my career go nowhere, i decided to pack it up and head to grad school down in atlanta. not knowing a soul in a city that would now be the furthest i would be from home, i didn't quiet know what to expect. pleasantly, i was very surprised. for starters i no longer had to deal with northeast winters. and to my surprise, i was moving to the center of the gay world for the south, excluding parts of florida (which should be banished anyway). i came across 'artsy' people. people who wanted to do exactly what i wanted to do with my carreer and would go to extreme lengths to obtain it. people who knew what it was like to struggle. and again, people from all different walks of life, different ages, and different backgrounds. at one point while living in atlanta, i found myself staying with a friend who was an older woman with a landscape business out of her home who lived on a farm. that's right, the roosters on the other side of the fence woke me up at 5:45 each morning. it was also while in atlanta i had, for the first time, a close group of male friends.

from the southeast, i moved further west into the heart of the country. let's just say that here i met a different kind of people. the kind of people that reminded me what would have happened to my life had i never left to go away to college. had never come out and settled into a life that was expected of me. st. louis allowed me to encounter people who are completely unaware that this country and society has progressed (somewhat) with the times. and that there are all different types of definitions as to what makes up the american family in 2006. however, on the most positive note of all, this is where i met the current love of my life, the boyfriend. of all places to meet your romantic partner. how could that happen not4nothin? because the boyfriend and i are a lot alike (for the most part) when it comes to thoughts, opinions, feelings and emotions. the boyfriend does need to get his adorable a$$ up and out of the midwest and join not4nothin in nyc. hint, hint.

so, now i find myself back in nyc. where it all started. the inspiration for this post came the other night. i found myself at dinner with former co-workers from my first job out of college. looking around the table, diversity flowed. (i am still proud to say that i am the youngest.) one woman whose company i was in was a member of the first female class allowed at harvard. she is currently finishing her novel with only 2 chapters to go and an agent to find. another woman left the business world and is a stay-at-home mom with 2 beautiful daughters. this is the same woman who was the first one in the office every morning and the last to leave every night. my former boss has moved up the corporate ladder. and our other coworker is living the freelancing life as he whisks away to different parts of the world every few months. his latest adventure is africa for 2 weeks this summer.

this one evening, and 2 16-ounce margaritas, made me realize how many different types of people make up my friendships. how much joy, knowledge and experience they have each given me. and how blessed and better off i am as a person for knowing each and every one of them.

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