I haven’t mentioned much of Raymond much here.  There’s a perfectly good reason for this.

I met Ray on a Saturday back in January, as I previously mentioned in an older post.  We met via Scruff, and soon after a really engaging conversation about the things we wanted to do with our lives, our connection began.  I guess I could just end this post here, with the point being made that he and I are still seeing each other, but that wouldn’t be telling the entire story.

Caleb and I ended things officially last July, but it wasn’t until the new year, really, before I was able to come out from under that situation and start anew.  I moved into a new home with my pals Bil and Brandon, and along with a new job, I finally felt like my life here in Portland, Oregon was beginning again.  It was a fresh start in a place that had up until that moment, had held me at arm’s length, not quite sure what to do with me.  Being unemployed had taken it’s toll on me, and my nerves.  Being in my relationship with Caleb had also shook me up a bit, and any confidence I had in myself and the ability to make good, healthy choices about where to put my heart had gone out the window.

Thankfully, along with the kindness and support of my friends Dan, Yoni, and Alan, I had managed to pull myself together a bit.  A lot of things in my life pivoted around the turning of the year, and it was in the midst of this pivot, this restart, with the blush of all things new, that Ray entered my life.

He is a thirty-year-old man, and five-year resident of Portland, Oregon.  He had moved up here for school, where he studied design at Portland State University, originally from Prescott, Arizona.  He has a flare for the details, and a love of many of the things I find engaging in life – hiking, travel, a similar taste in music (which *never* happens), and an appreciation for the simple pleasures that exist out there.  He’s tall, standing at 6’2″ when he doesn’t slouch. He’s a bit of a nerd, a bit of a goof.  He’s not too coordinated.  He’s not athletically supercharged.  He’s unassuming, pleasant to be around.  He knows his manners.  He ticked off all of the boxes in my proverbial checklist.

At first, when I realized that he might be exactly what I am looking for in a partner, I freaked.  Everything in my life was so new – some things had literally not been unpacked from my move to the new space and I still was unsure where to keep my toothbrush in the bathroom – that it seemed absolutely ludicrous to start something of any value or meaning with another person.  I was simply too confused, too out of sorts.  Ray spotted this instantly, and through our initial conversations, it was clear that he was also just starting to put out feelers for a new shared experience with someone.  We made a promise to each other from the start to not apply pressure to the future, and to experience time with each other in the present-moment.  No promises, but also no limits.  We didn’t set any rules, and we actively chose to avoid (and still do) any labels or identifiers that might indicate to others what this thing between us is.

It is this behavior, this set of non-rules, that has made all of the difference this time around.

It has forced me to exist simply in the moments I get to share with him.  Since January, we’ve slowly been opening up to each other and offering support and kindness to each other in a way that is truly meaningful and beneficial to us both.  He has seen me through a couple of nervous moments, when my anxieties got the better of me.  I’ve been there to help him push the envelope on his creativity and sense of adventure.  He constantly tells me to never change for him.  I call him my encouragement to be a better person, and not my only reason for change.  He respects my creative streak, and I help him stay in touch with his even when his work life seems to consume him.  He has been nothing but honest with me, and I have been slowly peeling back the layers of protective walls that I’ve built around myself over the years that have kept my true self safer from harm.

It’s barely sufficient to say that whatever this thing is that we are sharing, it’s been good for me.  The biggest and boldest difference between this relationship and the connections I’ve made in the past is that I am actively not disappearing inside it.  I am not slinking into the shadows and becoming the thing I think that Ray wants me to be.  He is not doing that for me either.  I remain actively writing, actively pursuing my health goals, and remain engaged with my friends here in town.  I still have my own space, and will for the foreseeable future.  I have things I still need to achieve for myself, and Ray is proving to be another leg of support along that journey.  My only hope is that I am for him as well – though he keeps reminding me that I’m good for him, so that has to be a good sign.

In short, I’ve met someone quite extraordinary.  In the process of meeting him, I find myself being reintroduced to myself too – in a much more complete, profound, and holistic way.  I think, maybe, this is how it’s supposed to work.  Maybe, just maybe, I’m rewiring old, bad habits and appreciating myself a bit more in the process.

I hadn’t mentioned Ray much prior to now because I wasn’t sure how legit things were between him and I.  The fact is, now three months in, it’s clear that we are more than just a passing connection.  He and I have started down a shared path, and for the foreseeable future, we will continue to hold hands and move forward.  Putting this down in writing feels a bit like making a promise to myself and to you, my readers.  We both know, though, that things could change, and that words I put down here may not apply tomorrow.  Still, I needed to validate this thing between Ray and myself because it is real, and it has a shape and form and weight.  I needed to write it down.

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