Monday, June 20, 2011

Super 8

For those that did not read my post on today's Widow's Voice, you might want to follow the link and read before continuing.

A Child's Grief.

For those that have read it, you will see the irony in finding myself in the theatre, watching this film.
I picked up my son from his summer day camp this afternoon, and was eager to hear about his first day. His initial comment was that it was kind of boring, but then he quickly shifted gears, and said that he did enjoy getting to know this younger kid. They both attended a Skateboard/Scootering Camp, and he came home with all the expected scrapes and bruises.
On the way home I mentioned that I wanted to stop and have dinner, as I don't usually cook at home but a couple of times a week. He quickly noticed that we were by one of the local malls, and suggested we eat dinner at the food court. I made a quick and abrupt right turn, and parked the car. After we were finishing our meals, his a hot dog on a stick, and mine, Mediterranean, he asked if we could see a movie, as the theatre was conveniently right next to the food court. Hmn, was I just had? I laughed at his clever ploy, and said that I was quite tired from work, but he reminded me that I have taken many a nap in other movie theatres.
Because we didn't want to be out too late, we chose a film that was just about to start, Super8. I didn't know much about the film, other than it was a bit of a retro sci-fi. I thought, okay, it looks like fun. I had never been much of a sci-fi fan, but that changed when I met Michael. He was the biggest sci-fi freak. I remember the kids looking at me strangely when Michael would first start coming over to the house for dinner and a movie. Eventually the kids walked into the living room to announce that "our dad must really like you because he hates sci-fi films." Oh how poetic kids can be.
Anyway, yes it is a sci-fi, and a fun one at that. The part I had no idea about was the back story. As the film opens, the boy, who happens to be the same age as my son, is sitting outside on a swing, as guests fill his house. He is sitting there in a black suit, and as the camera winds it's way into the house, it is clear that this is a funeral reception. The boys mother died, and he is left alone with his grieving dad. The film them quickly moves forward four months later. The kid is at his friend's house across the street. His friend comes from a large family, which includes five other siblings, a mom, and a dad. The house is loud, chaotic, with kids running and laughing throughout. Quickly we hear the mother calling her kids to the dinner table, which is filled with a big home cooked meal. The mother looks to the main character, and lets him know there is plenty of food if he wants to stay. He thanks her, but says he needs to get home, as he has dinner waiting for him there as well.
The boy walks across the street, and you begin to see his body language change. It's as if he is suddenly carrying a heavy load. He opens the door, and enters his house, which is quiet, and still. He walks through the kitchen, which has an obvious layer of dust throughout. He walks down the hall, and calls out for his dad. As he comes to the end of the hall way he sees his dad, sitting alone in the bathroom, his eyes, and face, filled with tears. The father quickly wipes the tears from his face, and with a quick closing of the bathroom door, he announces that he will be out in a minute.
Loss. It's everywhere. It's in my life. It's in my son's life. And, it's on the screen in this harmless sci-fi movie. I won't go too far into the plot, but it's your basic alien, trying to get back home. Near the end, the boys says to the alien that he understands. He tells the alien that “Bad things happen, but you can still live.” It's corny, yes, but spoken from one who knows.

Throughout the movie we see the father and son at odds. They are both grieving, and are joined by their loss, but they grieve in very different ways. They are separated mid way through the story, and in the end are reunited. When they do find each other, the father holds his son so tightly, that you know he doesn't want to lose him again. He then whispers into his ear, “I’m just doing the best I can to save you.”

Isn't that what we are all trying to do? I know that is what I am trying to do. I'm not always good at it. I sometimes get angry, and lose sight of the fact that my son is also grieving, and in a way that is not my own. I need to remember that he too fears that we may not find our way back, but I was reminded last night, and I am reminded again tonight, that I too am doing the best I can to save him.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Streets of San Francisco

Castro and Market

I just returned from a brief trip back to San Francisco. It was a business trip, not one that I had chosen on my own. The week before starting my new job, I was told that I needed to attend a training, and was a bit thrown off when told where it would take place. I decided that the universe was telling me that it was time to walk some of those familiar streets once again.

People have been asking me a lot lately if I miss San Francisco. After all, I did live there for about 25 years. I give the same answer every time.


I think I surprise people by my response. I then try to fill in some of the missing blanks for those that ask. "When I move on, I move on." It's not really a cop out, it's really the truth. I don't miss it, and I have moved on. I'm also keenly aware that by not missing it, I don't fall into the pitfall of doing any reminiscing. No reminiscing means not having to remember more than I want to. It's not that I don't have fond memories, as I have a lot of them. It's just that they still feel like harsh reminders of what was, and what no longer is.

I approached the return with careful planning. I arranged to visit with a couple of very close friends, and otherwise did not tell a soul that I would be in town. This allowed me to focus my energy on the training courses that I was sent for, and to enjoy the company of my new coworkers who were there with me. I became a bit of a den mother, taking them to a couple of nice spots for dinner and drinks. It was a good time for bonding, and a good distraction from what could have been an emotionally loaded occasion.

There was a bit of an awkward moment when out with a few of the gang, and was asked what the tattoos on my arm symbolized. They were surprise to see my arm covered in ink, as I always cover up for work. I began my explanation about the loss I experienced, and was standing in a bar just down the street from where Michael and I met as I spoke. It was clear from their faces that my new friends were completely blown away by what I was sharing. It was actually a cathartic moment, sharing this with them over a drink, then being able to move forward with some fun and laughter for the rest of the night.

What was also nice were the surprise encounters everywhere I went. I must admit, it was rather sweet to be walking down the street, cross a bar room, or enter a building, and be met by familiar smiling faces. With each chance encounter was a look of joy at the opportunity to catch up with me.

I returned home late last night, and felt like it was a good trip over all. Today, though, has been a different matter. Today I have been feeling so down, and deeply depressed. It's clearly one of those "day after" situations. These occurred often during my first year of grieving. I would have all this anticipated worry about days that felt loaded, only to get through them relatively well. Then, the day after would arrive, and all the emotions that had been held back would on in full force. It's text book really.

Anyway, my point is that I was able to recognize it this evening. Rather than worry too much about what I am experiencing, I am able to put it into perspective. I have learned that the pain, or sorrow, cannot be passed off completely when re-experiencing the past. But, no matter how tough that day after can be, the days that follow do get better, and perspective is regained.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What the f*ck have I done?

Well, obviously I haven't written here in a long time. I guess you could say I've been busy getting on with my life. I'm pretty much settled into my new job, and looking forward to getting busier there, as I don't do well with too much time on my hands. I have had many projects going on at my house, which has been expensive, and has also been a bit nerve racking.

Just a couple of days ago I was walking around my home, and stood on the back deck looking at all the completed upgrades I have done. It's a very large space, filled with furnishings, yard, and garden. It's just perfect for social gatherings and fun times. The problem is, I'm all alone.

I found myself in tears as I stood there because I was asking myself what it was all for. It was also a bit disconcerting when I realized how much my life has changed in the past 20 months since Michael died. I have desperately, and fervently, tried to create a new life for myself, and actually have, with much success. But have I don't too much?

What the fuck have I done?

Poetic. Right?

All of these changes have come somewhat easily. I set out to create something new, but I worry if I have gone too far, too soon. Now that I have this larger home, with this bigger space, I feel even more alone. The house is so quiet these days. I can wander around, and rarely have someone to interact with. It's clear that I need to put a lot of effort into getting some visitors this summer. I need to start planning some barbeque's, and invite friends and family over. I also need to step out of my home more often, and once again, start meeting new people. Mostly, I need to begin meeting some other gay men. This is clearly one area that I am lacking in my life.

I have never been very good at making friends with other gay men. I have tended to surround myself with straight women, which has really been reinforced since becoming a widower. The few gay widowers that I have come into contact with throughout this journey do not live near me. If I'm going to have the gay male relationships that I desire, then I will need to try something new. I'm not quite sure what that actually entails, but I'm ready to begin.

I don't want to be alone in my life forever. I don't want my kids worrying about their dad, or feeling guilty about the fact that I am so alone. I want some male friendships, and I would love some male "attention" now and then. I'm going to work at being more outgoing, and I am going to work at renewing a sense of optimism.

Wish me luck.