As of July 1, 2015, I will no longer be living where I currently am.
Since the beginning of last year, I’ve been renting a room from Bil and Brandon, a couple who I got to know in my early days here in Portland. Bil and I had become connected in Denver, and went hiking and hung out a few times, prior to my departure from there to here, and then their subsequent move to Portland shortly after. When things blew up between Caleb and myself, and I was stuck in a precarious living situation, Bil and Brandon opened up their home to me for a very reasonable rental rate, and gave me shelter and a place to call home while I got back on my feet and began my job as a bus operator. Immediately following my move-in, I met Raymond, and for the last year and a half, I’ve been splitting my time between the place with all of my stuff and at Raymond’s house. It has been a truly wonderful period in my life, with lots of personal growth, a better understanding of what it means to be in love with another man, and lots of roots have been planted here in Portland. Due to circumstances out of their control for the boys, and the shift in plans about turning their basement into a full-fledged apartment for me to rent, the time has come for me to find another place to hang my hat.
Raymond, being the angel that he is, immediately told me, upon my need to shift addresses, “We will figure it out.” What I didn’t know was that, also immediately, he had sent word to his current roommate that I was looking for a new address, and that if I moved in with them for a while, we could all save money and find a larger place to share in the very near future. The two of them are currently not on a lease, and are living month-to-month where they are. While it’s a little apartment with almost no back yard or an allowance for pets such as the dog we both want, it does have a proximity to the MAX line and major bus lines that is super convenient. Having spent a great deal of time there, I’ve come to learn the quirks of their apartment, including the way that the neighbors are, what his roommate is like, and their living habits. While it’s not ideal, as the space will be tight, I accepted their offer to come live with them.
For the first time, in a long time, I am going to be living with my boyfriend.
For the last month or so, while I’ve been wrapping my head around this upcoming movement, I’ve been paying particular attention to Raymond’s emotional status about it all. He’s never lived with a boyfriend before. He doesn’t know what it’s going to be like having his beau in his bed every night. Already I’m aware that I’ll need to be vigilant about giving him his own space and time, even within the small confines of what will be our little home. I’m worried about being a burden on him, and that we will have some inevitable friction from time to time because of the space. Given our track record, though – only one major fight in the year and a half we’ve been together – I think we will be able to manage. As long as he’s honest with me about how he’s feeling, and I am reciprocating, we should be okay. I mean, who knows, it could work out really, really well.
I’m also really apprehensive because of my past. Once again, my past experiences are dictating my emotions about a current situation, and I need to recognize that. I gave up my life and lived with Thomas. I gave up my life and lived with Nathaniel. I’ve always been a roommate, and only very infrequently lived on my own. I was a roommate in Lakewood, CO. I was a roommate in Denver, CO. I was a live-in lover and houseboy when I first moved here to Portland, OR. I have been a housemate in a tiny two-bedroom home for the last year and a half. Now, I’m going to be, once again, sharing space with two other people. While I’m very okay with being a roommate, I’m also keenly aware that this is not how a typical 37-year-old lives. I mean, maybe it’s the new age and new economy that we are in, but at this point, I should have at least my own apartment, my own set of keys, my own utility bills. Because of circumstance and life choices, though, I do not have these things, and I’ve been trying to find a way to resolve these emotions inside myself.
I’ve also been deeply worried about my past repeating itself in terms of relationships going awry when we live together. This has happened every time I’ve lived with the man who held my heart, and I do not want it to happen with Raymond. I need to be reminded that my past is not my present or future, and a recent adventure that he and I took helped to underscore this for me.
This past week, Ray and I flew back to Denver together. I had wanted to take him on a trip to the Mile High City with me after we got back from Hawaii last January. I wanted to show him my old haunts and introduce him to some of my old friends up there. We ended up staying with my friend Amanda, a dear friend of mine that I’ve known for nearly thirty years. She is my age, and while our paths have been shared quite a few times over the course of three decades, she seemingly has her life more together than I do. She has a home of her own. She has a decent credit score. She owns her car. She has a stable, normal, adult life, with stable, normal, adult issues (though she’d never attest to that fact). I am envious of her for these things, and while she sees what Ray and I have as relationship goals for herself, I see her life and her world and think that, perhaps, I truly am a mess and need to get myself together and grow up along those same lines.
It was good to show him where I had lived, and the places that I had hung out when I lived in Denver. Truth be told, I kept peeking around corners to see if I’d run into any old ghosts, old emotions, and old regrets while we were there. I had been thinner, a little more crazy, and a lot more loose and fast with myself and the fellas I’d hung out with when I lived there. At that point in my life, I was still very much running from my past. I’d slingshot myself into Denver in a mad and furious drive across the country from Maine, trying to escape the depression and anxiety that my life back there had dealt me. I was not facing down the darkness of my early gay years. I was not facing the implosion that my marriage to Nathaniel had become. I was not facing the fears of growing older, of being in control of my life, or of taking responsibility for my actions. I simply kept running. Denver, with its explosive nighttime thunderstorms, dry and oppressive heat, and hundreds of miles of mountain trails to disappear on, gave me ample spaces and corners to avoid being Thomas as much as I wanted to.
I didn’t really run into any of the shadows that I was expecting on this last trip. What I did find, however, was a group of friends and acquaintances that I’d drawn close to in my time in Denver who not only were very happy to see me again, but were also quick to point out just how happy I was. They all loved Ray, as I thought they might, but what truly stuck with me was how much they simply wanted to know I was okay. I was moved by their excitement for us, especially when we talked about this upcoming shared living experience. Every single one of my friends who I got to see were genuinely happy for me, and thought that Ray and I made a really great couple. I found myself full of pride in both Raymond and my decision to let him into my life.
It was also exponentially clear to me just how much I’d changed since I’d left Denver. I have grown up, and I have come into myself in ways that I would have never thought possible when I was there. Portland has been transformative for me, and continues to be. While I am still a little apprehensive about this next step that Ray and I are taking, I do remain optimistic. I’ve learned how to speak with a truth and power that I’ve never had before now. I am thankful and full of gratitude in ways that resonate deep within me. I remain humbled and awestruck by the ways that this relationship with Raymond keeps redefining what it means to be in Love.