Summer Progress Report

As of this writing, I’m officially down twenty-four pounds since June 21st, 2016.

That’s almost half-way to 200, from the 250 I was at.  It’s been two months.  That’s twelve pounds a month.  If I can keep this up, I will be around my goal weight of 175 pounds, which is where I was when I met Ray, by the end of the year.

I’m really having a moment about this today, and really needed to get it out of me.

I still am not ready to share what I’ve been doing, mostly because I had a bit of a revelatory moment back in June about how I’ve been approaching health and weight loss.  For me, it seems, the more I announce things online, the more I share my gains and goals and plans with those who know me online, the more apt I am to falter and fall off the wagon.  This time around, though, instead of posting about it (though I’ve come *really* close at times), I’m just sharing photos of myself.  I think, in time, the weight loss will become more evident, and if asked about it, I might share my secret.  It’s really no secret – it’s just a better system of eating that works for me – but because I’ve imbued it with a little magic – a little bit of my inner pagan self who finds power in concoctions and potions and recipes – I can’t talk about it.  Doing so will dissipate the magic.  It’s a little like Fight Club in that the first rule is that you don’t talk about Fight Club.  So goes this new journey I’m on.

In any case, I feel a ton better.  I’m feeling way more alive, more energized, and more in tune with the animal-creature-being that I am.  I’m figuring out what cravings actually are, what hunger actually feels like, and how best to respond to these needs.  It’s really a re-learning of the things that have always been inside me – the biofeedback loops we are all born with – that have been muffled by years of eating incorrectly and responding to cravings in a way that is detrimental to the rest of my health.

I’m anxious to start exercise again, especially since I haven’t done much since I had surgery on my knee last February.  I really put myself in a hole after that, afraid of pushing myself, afraid of hurting myself more, and psychologically, it took a massive toll on me.  I found myself justifying the pizza, the beer, the constant naps and lethargy to just compensate for how awful I was feeling about being broken and not being the young and elastic man I once was.  Right now, I can feel those emotions sliding back, dissipating, leaving my body, and what’s replaced it is a new-found confidence.

I still have quite a few milestones to arrive at.  I still have things I’m not quite doing right, but overall, I have to say I’m really, really enjoying this little journey of mine.  Who knows.  I might actually be Fit by Forty.

Summertime Scheming

The night before last, as I was getting ready for bed, I got some text messages from Ray as he finished up his shift.  They were the typical things we talk about after work, but then, he asked me when I was going to get my summer schedule figured out.  That doesn’t happen until early April, but for him, the penultimate planner, he cannot wait.  He has already started scheming for our Summer 2015 camping plans, and as he told me what he intended on doing, depending on my schedule, I just sat there and grinned.  I had one of those pauses, where I just looked up from my phone and smiled, realizing just what was going on.

We’ve been together now for about a year and four months.  Last summer, it was utterly clear to me that this man, my Raymond, came into my life at just the right moment.  I had all but given up on dating anyone.  I was prepared to go it alone for a while, especially after the struggle I’d had at the end of my last relationship, feeling very alone, very destitute, and doubting myself and my abilities to the core.  Finding a job, finding a new home, and then meeting Ray – well, it all seemed like too much of a good thing all at once.  Surely, one of those three things were going to come apart at the seams, and I needed to prepare myself for that.  I needed to constantly remind myself that I am my own person, undefined by another, and that I needed to be self-sufficient.  I needed to make peace with myself, as I was going to be by myself for a long time.  Just when I’d come to a sense of being, just when I felt like my old demon were in hiding or dead, that’s when this man, Raymond, appeared in my life.  For at least six months, I was very unsure about the longevity of us.  I forced myself to remain in the moment, and present, not making too many plans and hopes for the future because, as I’d always done before – up to and including marriage – it had blown up in my face.  Rather than pin my happiness on the future-tense, I remained as solidly in the moment as I could.

Whenever I strayed too much into the planning of my future, Raymond reminded me, subtly, that he was just feeling things out with us as well, and that things could change for him, or for me, and that we needed to keep ourselves grounded.  Time, though, has been the thing that has eased this pressure on us.  Patience with him, along with patience in and for myself, has allowed us to now start making real plans for the months and weeks ahead of us.  Now, it’s him who’s making plans four and six months out.  He knows my scheduled vacations.  He knows of my love of travel.  He knows that I’m committed to him, and to us, and that I want to continue on this shared path with him.  He trusts me.

If all goes as planned, I will land a schedule at work that will allow for some quality summertime adventures. One of the options given to part-time drivers is to work three 10-hour shifts a week.  Some of those include driving Saturday, Sunday, and Monday or Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – which would afford us four days off in a row every week for twelve weeks.  This schedule would work out great for him, as well, because he does the bulk of his shifts on the weekends too.  Ultimately, if I can land a Fri-Sat-Sun work week, he wants to go camping every other week for the entirety of our summer.  Four days away, every two weeks, for twelve whole weeks.  This is definitely something I want to do.  Given our experiences last summer, I know this will be amazing.

I still have a great place to call home.  I still have a job that allows me to have a life and pay my bills.  I still have this amazing man in my life who brings such sunshine and goodness that it’s almost too much to handle.

After Hawaii

Today was the first day back from our vacation to Hawaii.

I’m still decompressing.

Ray spent last night with me in my bed, as we had both agreed that my bed out of the two we own is the most comfortable, and after over a week spent on a tired mattress on Oahu, it would be the most restorative sleeping arrangement.  Truth be told, I needed him to spend last night with me.  I needed him to be in my bed because I have grown very used to having him by my side at night.  I have grown accustomed to the contours of his body, the pulse of his heart, the inhale and exhale, the unconscious reach of his arm around my torso.  I needed all of this last night as my body resumed it’s place back in Portland, back in reality.

We had some of the most extraordinary experiences on Oahu.  From sunrises on the terrace of our hotel, to sunsets on Waikiki, to the northwest point, to the north shore waves, to the eastern bays, and western desolation, the island gave us so much to take in; too much, almost, for any person to absorb in eight short days.  We gave it our best shot, though, and with the top down on the rented Mustang, and a million billion stars sparkling overhead, swooping around corners and through fields and skirting around jagged volcanic edges, we both found something that we could embrace and take home with us.  For me, having these existential moments was made even sweeter by the squeeze of his hand, the stroke of his fingers on my knee, the reflection of his smile in the rear-view mirror.  The smile lines on his face seemed deeper, fuller than I’d seen in a long, long time.  He needed this break in reality and so did I.

None of this would have been possible if it were not for him.  The air fare, the car rental, all of the food, the room, the planning, the details, the investigation – all of these things were brought to the table by him.  I still wonder what I brought, though.  I am paying him back, over time, with my meager income.  I will help him pay down the credit card bill, as is my duty.  Still, though, I wonder why I was there, in those moments, with him.

Perhaps the answer is caught in the photos I took.  The smile on his face, the wonderment I witnessed as he rose up out of the surf, gleeful, telling me all about the sea life he swam and snorkeled with.  The group of sea turtles, the hundreds of fish, acres of coral, and miles of soft sand all gave him such wonderment and joy.  His giggle, as he watched me revert into a young boy rolling around in surf too high to go swimming in and powerful enough to inspire awe with each rumble and roar of the waves, might hold the key as to why I was allowed to join him on this adventure.  His hand grasped mine as the sun sank below the western horizon, while giant waves broke along the golden ragged shore, grinding away at the ancient lava floes, reshaping the island with each massive stroke and swath of water.  I could hear his sigh as he paused to take it all in beside me, those two blessed minutes between the sun touching the surface of the water and when it disappeared beneath the waves.  I witnessed the man I love falling back in love with the world around him, and it left me breathless.

I am forever changed by this experience, and I know it.  I have been able to see and take part in a world that is not my own, but that I am a part of, and want to know more about.  It was fleeting, and somewhat filtered, but it was real.  We put down the guide book and stayed away from the places that the tourists were herded like mindless sheep, and set off to find our own way, find our own path on those distant shores, and that made all of the difference.  Knowing that Ray operates in this manner, that he seeks the road not over-tread, not shaped and forced so as to be a marketable (and profit-driven) entity, is one of the thousand reasons I love him.  He, like me, wants to live an authentic life, and be present in both moments of his own creation and moments that are presented to him.

I think the biggest take-away from the trip, along with the bits of sand in my suitcase that I am hesitant to dump out, is the lesson in being in the here-and-now of our lives.  From the start of this relationship, Ray has insisted that we remain present-tense.  At first, I thought this was a fear of the future, of putting pressure on tomorrow at the expense of overlooking today.  In some way, that is true, and adding the existence of separate pasts that haunt us both and have an effect on how we perceive both the present and future, we have both had to work really hard at keeping ourselves from being caught up in the planning and hope of tomorrow.  I continue to struggle with it, and from time to time, I get caught up in pinning my happiness on what is to come, rather than finding the pleasure in now.  Ray has been teaching me to get better with this, and when he makes me look upward, outward, and all around me from a very pinpoint place (geographical, emotional, or otherwise), I can’t help but take this as yet another lesson in how to actually live.

I have so much more to learn, but through it all, I remain humbled, fortunate, and madly in love with Raymond.  This is far more than I ever thought possible in my life, and sometimes I can’t quite fathom how I got so lucky.  I am beyond thankful.  I am simply rendered speechless.

Bellingham

I didn’t get the job.

The interview was more of a hiring event, much like it was when I applied at Apple. Out of the eleven of us, four were kept for further interviews.

I knew it would be a stretch. And I had a pit in my gut about it since I got on the bus up here. I do have another interview on Monday, so here’s to hoping.

What I have had, though, is an amazing trip up the coast. Bellingham, WA is a small college town situated between Seattle and the Canadian border, on the water just north of the Puget Sound. I had been through here once before, back on my birthday last year. I vowed to return someday and visit this little hamlet on the water. I am very glad I did.

My first night was spent on a couch at a friend-of-a-friend’s house. Facebook, for all that it is, has proven its worth with connections and possibilities. It was a restful sleep, and I woke on the day of my interview feeling rested and refreshed. I was a bit unsure about the arrangements, but all of my worry was for nought. There simply exists amazing people who are generous by nature.

Yesterday, I made a connection with a gentleman who runs the farmer’s market up here. We spent the afternoon together talking about organic farming, life in the middle of nowhere, and the pluses and minuses of being gay in the rural parts of America. He let me crash on his couch too, and this morning showed me around the farmer’s market that’s been a twenty-year fixture in this town.

I am very thankful for this trip, even if I didn’t land a job here. I needed this escape, this break from my life in Portland. It feels good to be at the water’s edge, with the most and salty air around me. I’m drawn to this place. It reminds me of home.

The bus picks me up at 4p, so it’s more meandering around town on foot and on my bike. I’m sad to be leaving, but know I will be back.