Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wrap Up: Tim (#15)

It’s been a month and a half since I ended things with Tim and I’ve spent a lot of time considering whether or not I would write about why I broke everything off. Obviously, since I’m writing this entry, I’ve made up my mind.

We all have our fantasies. Our dream romances. Our Disney love stories. Tim was mine. I was Tim’s. Everything about our relationship seemed so surreal and too good to be true. We had met on vacation in a romantic tropical location. Our nights were spent dancing and drinking and kissing. We had fun. We were in the moment! There was passion! It was crazy and absurd. And then we were apart. And I missed what I felt while he was in Mexico with me. As time went on we used Skype and phone calls and texting to continue to indulge in our fairy tale. We sent each other care packages of gifts. We made playlists on iTunes and emailed them to one another. We quoted poets and sent links to YouTube music videos that expressed our longing for one another. We acted like long distance boyfriends, even though we had never been boyfriends in reality.

And it was fun. It was fulfilling and satisfying. I went to bed at night knowing that across the country there was a cute guy thinking about me. And that I would see him soon enough. And live near him within three months. It seemed so perfect. It was our own little RomCom.

We were both dreaming a future together and then trying our best to turn that dream into a reality, instead of living in the moment and feeling what we felt. In the physical absence each other’s presence all we could do was plan for what we wanted our relationship to be one day; and in doing so, we blinded ourselves to some screaming incongruities in our lives.

Tim and I have little in common beyond superficial subjects like TV, film, and music preferences, and the fact that we were in a long distance relationship with one another. The things that are important to me don’t mean much to Tim, and vice versa. There would be times when I would pour my soul out to him and discuss my dreams and plans and ambitions, and after doing so all he would be able to say is, “That’s good.” It wasn’t a false statement though. He really thought everything I was saying was good. He simply didn’t have a way to connect to what I was saying. Our priorities didn’t align. Our passions pointed in different directions. But we clung to the fact that we had decided that we wanted a future together, even if it meant forcing it to happen.

When the time came for him to fly out to Portland and visit me (as well as his aunt and uncle who live in the area) everything that I just described started to come to the surface for me. I began to disconnect from him and avoid him, because I didn’t want to hurt him. I had not been led into a blind relationship. We had blinded ourselves together in our pursuit for a perfect prince meets prince love story. But the day before his flight I decided I couldn’t lead him on any while. I had promised to always be honest with him and I had to tell him what I was feeling.

I described what I felt about blinding ourselves and creating a relationship out of nothing substantial. I expressed my frustration with our lack of connection on any sort of deep level. I told him I was sad to hurt him. In the end I asked him that we take away the title of boyfriend that we had been applying to ourselves for two months, because I worried it was influencing our behavior too much. Instead I wanted us to acknowledge that we had a great time together in Mexico and that we should explore what it was like to date while he was there in Portland. If we called ourselves boyfriends it would dictate our behavioral choices. For example, if we were boyfriends, when we saw each other for the first time in three months it would be expected that kiss one another. But what if we didn’t have the desire to kiss? Or if we were boyfriends and he stayed the night at my house, shouldn’t he sleep in my bed with me? And if he slept in my bed with me and we’re boyfriends, then shouldn’t we sleep together? Instead of behaving how we thought we should act, I asked that we behaved how we felt in the moment, the way we had in Mexico. It hurt him to hear me ask that of him. But I don’t believe it hurt because he was losing me as his boyfriend, but more because his fairy tale was being shattered.

In the end, he came to Portland and as I spent time with him I realized that my concerns had substance behind them. He was indeed the same sweet person that I had met in Mexico, and we didn’t connect on a very deep level at all. Our relationship was over before it really became.

I want to acknowledge that there is no one to blame in our situation. We both were trying to make our fantasies come true. We were both living in a dream. It took longer for him at the beginning to allow himself to live in the dream, and it was easier for me to wake up from it. But Tim is not a bad guy at all. He’s a sweetheart. And one day he’ll make someone a really happy husband. Just not me.

We’re still friends and trying to really navigate what that means. He’s actually picking me up from the airport this morning in NYC and driving me into the city. And at the end of the month we’re going on our planned trip to Disney World in Orlando. As friends. And nothing more than friends. It may be awkward but I figure it can’t be too bad in the happiest place on earth. Right?

100GD v2.0

Well hello. It’s been quite a while since you’ve all heard from me. And what a while it has been. I’m writing on a red eye flight to JFK Airport in New York City, as I prepare to start an entirely new chapter of my life. In the morning I’ll move into my apartment with my lovely roommate Talia and, after nearly a six-year absence, I’ll be living again the Manhattan. I’ve been on quite a journey to get to this point! Everything that’s happened in my life has served a purpose, however, and even though it took me a long time to return, THIS is the moment to return to the city. I feel like I’m standing at the doorway of the beginning of my life. Everything else was the prologue to this moment when it all begins.

Saying goodbye to my family and friends wasn’t nearly as difficult as the other times I have left them. When I moved to NYC for the first time as an 18-year-old freshman I remember there were tears caused by being on my own for the first time and so far removed from my parents and siblings. At the airport when I left for my two years in Paraguay we wept for the separation, uncertainty, and lengthiness of my mission. But today at the airport there were only tears of gratitude: for having the most supportive parents, siblings, family members and friends imaginable, for the past seven months that I was blessed to spend with them, and for the capability to follow my dreams back to the city. Aside from those tears, there is no sadness. No trepidation or apprehension about moving away. New York City truly feels like the only place in the world I’m supposed to be at this moment in my life.

Not only am I excited for the professional opportunities that are at my fingertips, but I’m also excited to announce that I have decided to begin writing again about my dating life. Friends, acquaintances, and strangers have expressed how much they’ve missed the blog and reading about my journey through the dating world of a gay 20-something. I have to admit that I’ve missed it as well. I’ve missed meeting new people and reflecting and sharing and learning. The three and a half months I spent writing 100 Gay Dates was fulfilling in so many ways, and the city is a perfect place for me to pick up where I left off and continue down the road of self-discovery.

As I begin the journey again I’ve decided to change the “rules” of the experiment a bit. It’s a fairly simple change, and one that will allow me to have an even more enriching experience I believe. There are no more “rules”. I’ll go on a date with any person who asks me out or with whomever I feel inclined to ask out. I’ll allow myself to feel and reflect. I’ll plan less and live more. In loosening the structure of the original rules I believe I’ll be able to open my mind even more and have a wider range of experiences. I may or may not reach 100 dates by the end of the year, and that too is ok. It’s still my goal, but with a four-month hiatus from dating in the middle of the experiment, it will likely be difficult to reach 100 by the end of the year. That’s cool. I’ll get wherever I get.

I expect myself to love equally and openly, not only others but also myself. I expect myself to shed insecurities. To maintain an open mind. To listen. To be willing to have a paradigm shift. To be more grateful. To smile. To give. To respect. I expect myself to have fun!

Let’s begin.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where we go from here...

This wasn't supposed to happen. I wasn't supposed to fall for someone and they weren't supposed to fall for me in return. But it has and I'm embracing it and loving it and enjoying every second of it. It's hard for me to even describe in words what I'm feeling but I'm working on being able to do so, and when I can describe it I'll be sure to tell you all about it.

I have to honor what my heart is telling me and that is that I should stop going on dates with other people and focus on just one. I've been doing that now for three weeks (thank goodness for Skype dates) and I'm happier than I've ever been.

This isn't the end of the blog...it's just its evolution into something new. Hopefully you all still enjoy following it as much as before.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

#15- We Only Have Now

Mexico has always been a place for me to escape. Since the age of 16 I have been traveling with my family to the city of Mazatlan, Mexico, an old fishing port turned resort town on the Pacific shoreline for two to three weeks. It’s a chance to escape the March rain showers that bombard the Northwest and soak in the eighty-degree Mexican sun. Most years when I’ve gone to Mexico I’ve had to bring with me an abundance of homework, as I was always in the middle of the school year, and usually missing a week of classes to escape. This year, however, was my first year without any obligations to work or school, and I planned to spend a majority of my time laying out, meditating, doing yoga, and setting some goals for the future.

Part of the yearly vacation ritual of my family is to go out dancing at Joe’s Oyster Bar, a popular locals bar here in Mazatlan. “Going out dancing” is a bit of an understatement for what happens when we arrive at Joe’s. My sister literally takes over the bar and creates a party every time we walk into the place, which has open-air seating overlooking the ocean. From the moment my sister walks through the entrance she has her hands in the air, shouting “Ey! Ey! Ey!” to the workers, high fiving every person she walks past, and slithering her way through the crowds to the dance floor. (She even shouts, “Slither! Slither!” as she meanders through the crowd). Because of my sister we no longer pay the cover to get into the bar and they let us get away with pretty much whatever we want. Two nights ago my sister got behind the bar and was bartending just because she asked. Like I said, we pretty much own the place.

And that’s how it was last Thursday night as I walked into Joe’s. My sister and cousin Larry had left at 8pm to get to the bar, and I had held back in the hotel to spend some time talking with my other cousin Brandon and his girlfriend. By the time we had finished our conversation it was past 11pm and I seriously considered staying in that night and going to bed. But, as Brandon pointed out to me, “Thursday is the new Friday”, so we hopped into a cab and headed downtown to Joe’s.

We passed the security guards and headed toward the dance floor, sure to find Brittany inside. Before we had even walked 10 steps my sister came running up to me. “MICHAEL! I have found a cute gay boy for you! You have to come with me and meet him!”

I was skeptical right away. So far this trip we had gone out two nights and I had had no luck in finding anyone interesting. Our first night my sister and I met a bisexual guy who was more into my sister than me, which he clearly stated to me from the beginning. However, this didn’t stop him from trying to kiss me whenever my sister went into the bathroom. The second night an older man named Paco asked me to go home to his apartment with him where we could do, “todo lo que tu quieres hacer.” I quickly passed, first because his name rhymed with taco and second, because I was not interested in becoming the next Natalee Holloway.

“Are you sure he’s even gay Brittany?” I asked, unable to trust that anything good was about to happen.

“Michael, he’s wearing a scarf! Of course he’s gay!”

I still had my reservations as she pulled me to the dance floor. “He’s very cute and is here with his family and they love me Michael! They’re going to like you too! Don’t worry!” We reached the side of the bar where he was dancing with his family and I saw him. He indeed was wearing a scarf (a green, striped, summer eternity scarf to be exact), as well as a white v-neck shirt and a pair of short(ish) tan shorts that had little pairs of red sunglasses printed all over them (I had seen the shorts at Urban Outfitters last summer and knew immediately that he had to have purchased them from there. One point.). Other than his wonderfully put together outfit I noticed his beautifully tan skin, perfectly cut hair, and beaming smile. He seemed to be radiating happiness and fun.

My sister pulled him down from the table he was dancing on and brought him over to the bar stools where I was waiting. I stood up and we hugged. “Hi, I’m Michael. I’m so embarrassed my sister is making us meet just because we’re both gay,” I said, partially lying. While I was definitely a bit embarrassed, I was mostly grateful that my sister had the guts to talk to him when she saw him, something I would have never done. He was by far the cutest guy in the bar that night.

“Oh please, I love her!” He replied, also introducing himself. He excused himself and said he was going to grab his drink and come back to talk with me.

He came back a few minutes later and we sat down at the bar to get to know one another. I told him about Portland, getting into grad school, moving to New York, theater history…the usual. He told me he was from Connecticut in a city about two hours from Manhattan. I had figured he was from some place on the east coast from the slight accent with which he spoke. He works as the general manager and part owner of a bridal shop, where he has worked since he was 15 years old. This impressed me since he is only 21 years old and anyone who can claim ownership in a business automatically impresses me. He seemed passionate as he spoke about the bridal shop and I quickly forgave the fact that he hadn’t attended college. As he pointed out, it just didn’t make sense for him to go because of what he already had ready for him at the bridal shop.

The more we talked at the bar, the more we discovered we had in common. It was amusing when one of us would mention a group or movie or band and the other would shout, “I love them!” I was surprised how much we had in common and how comfortable I felt with him. The more we discussed, the closer our bodies got to one another, until eventually our bare knees were brushing each other. After a while more our knees were in between the others’ legs and our hands interlaced. It felt fast to me, but also great.

My sister approached us and asked us to dance with her, so we hopped out onto the dance floor. I was pleasantly surprised that #15 was just as crazy as my sister on the dance floor. He’d drop to the ground, contort his body to different poses, and shake his ass like it was his last chance in his life to ever dance again. I couldn’t stop smiling as we all tried to make one another laugh with our dance moves and poses. It was pure fun.

All of a sudden the lights in the club went out, but the music kept playing. Without thinking I leaned in towards him and we kissed. It was open mouthed and passionate, but not sloppy. There was a bit of fear and anxiety that could be felt, at least on my part, because I had no idea how PDA by gays would be accepted in a straight bar in Mazatlan. Luckily the lights stayed out for a good thirty seconds or so, and we were able to kiss without being afraid that our asses would be kicked. When the lights came back on we both looked at each other and smiled. I could tell I was beaming.

We went back to the bar stools to catch our breath and grab a drink when his aunt and uncle approached us to tell us that they were leaving and asked if he was ok to stay out alone. He assured them he would be fine and gave them hugs. His aunt leaned into me and said, “If anything happens to my nephew I will fucking kill you, ok?” She smiled graciously and I could tell that she was joking. But it was apparent that she loved him deeply. I reassured them that I knew my way around the city pretty well and that we were staying at the resort next to theirs so we would just share a cab home together.

The rest of the night was spent dancing and getting to know each other more. Our conversations seemed to go on without end. We could connect about anything it seemed. The whole group was having a good time, and my sister and cousins all came up separately throughout the night to tell me how much they liked him. At the end of the night my cousin Brandon and his girlfriend, and #15 and I all shared a taxi back to our resorts. #15 would be in town for 5 more days and we decided to get together at some point the next day to hang out and then go out dancing with my family later that night. Since I’m not using my cell phone while in Mexico I told him I’d add him on Facebook and we could communicate through messages, since those would go to his phone. I kissed him on the cheek when the cab pulled up to his entrance and we said goodnight.

Our cab dropped me off a few minutes later and I climbed up to our condo, grabbing my phone from the kitchen counter as I headed towards my bedroom. I looked up #15 on Facebook but was met by over 100 results. Without any mutual friends to push him to the top of the search results I had to go one by one and check out each person’s picture to try to find a match. After about 30 people I finally added him and sent him a message.

“Hey! I had a really fun time tonight and am really glad my drunk ass sister pulled you off that table to introduce us. Lol. Let’s try to hang out some time tomorrow. Maybe lay out by the pool or swim? Let me know. Sleep well ☺”

I pressed send and promptly passed out, sinking into the mattress and pillow.

The next morning I woke up at about 10am and made breakfast. I didn’t want to check my phone right away, in case he hadn’t written back. This was my vacation and I wasn’t going to let myself over think anything while I was on it. “Whatever happens, happens,” I told myself. I logged onto Facebook after breakfast and he hadn’t written me back. Instead of sending a second message (which I’ve done in the past) or feeling hurt, I just went out to the pool and laid out, reading “The Art of Happiness” and sipping on a Diet Coke for the next two hours.

I went back to the room to check in with my family and get the schedule for the day. My father and the rest of my siblings were arriving that day at around 2pm and I knew that I’d need to be around to greet them and help them get setup in their room. I decided to check Facebook again and was greeted by an empty inbox. I was at little disappointed at first but again just shrugged it off. One of the benefits of a vacation romance is that there’s nothing permanent about it. You’re both two wanderers; detached from the real world, completely living in the moment, free to be yourself without any expectations. If the chemistry is there then it’s easy to explore it. And if not, you never see one another again.

I was about to log off when I received an instant message from #15.

“Hey! My phone has been acting weird all day and not sending me messages! I thought you had decided against sending me a message so I had to find a cyber café to make sure you actually hadn’t written me. I’m glad you did though! I was worried!”

Even though it wouldn’t have hurt had I never heard from again, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved to hear from him.

“I’m glad you logged on! I was worried you had ignored my message!” I replied.

We chatted back and forth for a while and decided that he would join my family for dinner at a restaurant that has karaoke once a week. It was a family tradition to visit the restaurant and since #15 had told me he loved karaoke, I thought it’d be a fun way to have him join my family. He sounded enthusiastic about coming and said he’d come by our resort around 7 to go.

The rest of the afternoon was spent welcoming my family members, getting them set up in their condo, and relaxing with them by the pool. I was apprehensive about introducing #15 to the chaos that is my family. I love my family with all my heart and am probably one of the luckiest people in the world to be surrounded by some of the most loving and supportive human beings on earth. But when you put my entire family in one room, chaos is the only word that adequately describes us. If there were ever a “National Lampoon’s Mexican Vacation”, we would star in it. With the arrival of my father and siblings (plus a few other aunts and cousins) the size of our party had jumped from 6 to 18, or two baseball teams. I warned #15 that he probably didn’t know what he was getting into, but he said that he was sure he would love them if they were anything like the family members he had met the night before.

#15’s arrival was announced by my entire family after he knocked on the door. “Michael’s friend is here! Michael! Your friend is here!” The whole platoon of brothers, sister, cousins, parents, and aunts came into the room to introduce themselves to #15 and meet the guy that I had said would be joining us for dinner. Although he seemed overwhelmed by the number of people whose names he had to remember, as well as the detailed explanation of who was related to who and how, he kept a smile on his face and made himself comfortable in the living room of the condo while I finished getting ready.

My family liked #15 immediately, especially my younger brother Chandler and my cousin’s girlfriend Kenzie. He was talkative at dinner with the section of the table where we were sitting and kept up with the fast pace at which my family jumps from topic to topic. After dinner he got to witness the Holt family overtake the karaoke machine with rousing renditions of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Summer Love”, “We Will Rock You”, “I Will Survive”, and “Livin’ on a Prayer”, sung in that order, one right after the other. I had been looking forward to hearing #15 sing something since he had mentioned his love of karaoke, but he told me he had been intimidated by our family’s singing and would sit that one out. I was disappointed but understanding. I mean, we had just torn the house down. Or at least we thought so.

The older adults left towards the resort with the children and my cousins, sister, #15 and I headed towards “Joe’s”, determined to have another adventurous evening of dancing and tearing up the bar. And that’s exactly what we did. Brittany led us through the crowd to our usual spot, the workers bringing us all Malibu and Diet Coke without having to be asked, and we started to tear it up. The night before #15 and I had been cautious about showing affection and dancing with each other, but on our second night we started throwing caution to the wind. And when the DJ would turn the lights off we would go right to each other, kissing passionately. We were having fun and didn’t really care what others thought of it.

I had promised my cousin Brandon and his girlfriend Kenzie that I would take them out to a gay club so that they could see what it was like before they left for home that Sunday, so after an hour or so of dancing at Joe’s #15 and I left with them to take them to the only gay club I knew of in town, called Passion. We walked a few blocks from Joe’s and reached a black spiral staircase that led to an upstairs club. After paying the cover we walked in and discovered a very dead gay bar. That didn’t stop #15 from trying to start a party. He jumped up on a circular platform in the middle of the room and started pulling out his best dance moves. I joined him on the platform and we began dancing together. Without any fear whatsoever of getting our asses kicked we danced freely and crazily, jumping from the platform to the main stage together, garnishing whoops and applause from Brandon and Kenzie. I started to get sweaty and hot from the dancing so I let #15 continue to dance while I took a break to get a drink.

“You guys are so cute together,” Kenzie commented. “He really likes you.”

I looked up at him dancing alone on the stage and smiled. I was having the most fun I had had in a long time. There was no second guessing, or over thinking; just joy, happiness, and fun. I felt content and happy.

It was a little before midnight at that point and the club was still dead so we decided to walk back to Joe’s to dance some more. We got our hands stamped at the door so we could return to the gay club later, since our waiter had told us that things don’t really pick up until 1am there. Brandon and Kenzie decided to head back to the resort, so #15 and I headed back to Joe’s alone and found Brittany inside, dancing with one of the Joe’s waiters. After an hour or so of dancing at Joe’s we told Brittany that we were going to go back to the gay club to check it out again and then head to the downtown resort where we had rented out a week. I made sure she had money to get home and told our cousin Larry where we were headed and to stay with Brittany, to which he agreed. #15 and I left Joe’s and walked hand-in-hand back to Passion.

It was as dead at 1am as it had been at 11pm so after being the only two people dancing for 15 minutes or so I suggested that we head home. I was tired from all of the dancing and sweaty from the mugginess of the club (maybe better ventilation would increase patronage?), so we grabbed a cab and headed to the downtown resort where our extra room was.

We couldn’t keep our hands off of each other after we entered the room and pretty soon we were making out on the bed. The passion I had felt on the dance floor with #15 transferred to the bedroom and we spent the evening kissing and touching and feeling (and even biting a little!). We passed out in each other’s arms after ward and slept through the night.

In the morning there were kisses and snuggling, and absolutely no awkwardness. It didn’t feel like a hookup or something regrettable at all. It just felt right. We took a cab back to the resorts where our families were and said we’d keep in touch for plans for that night.

I was confused by what I was feeling at this point. I’m an introspective person (this blog is complete evidence to this) and I usually find myself bombarded by thoughts when I like someone, and especially when I’m intimate with someone. But as I arrived at my resort and changed into my swimsuit to lay out I found that there was only one thought in my mind, which was: “This is good.” There was nothing more and nothing less going on in my brain. Where were all the questions about what he thought about me in bed? And the insecurities of my body? Or my morning breath? Or my crazy family? Why wasn’t my brain going a mile a minute, like it normally does? Instead of its normal state of obsessively introspective, my brain was passively peaceful. Although confused by this newfound calmness, I decided to be grateful and went out by the pool to lay out.

#15 came by around noon and found me sleeping at the pool. He had showered and eaten breakfast with his family and come back to spend the afternoon with me. We hung out at the pool for a while, played Liverpool (a rummy card game) with my cousins, and took a nap together before he headed back to his resort to have dinner with his aunt and uncle. My family stayed in for dinner and then headed to Senor Frogs, another yearly tradition, to dance and make genuine fools of ourselves. #15 met us with his aunt and uncle and Senor Frogs and I finally had the chance to talk to his aunt about him and get her opinion of what was happening. I also wanted to gain her trust that night, since I had been taking up a large majority of #15’s vacation time with his family.

My initial observation that she loved him deeply was a gross understatement. She couldn’t speak about him without beaming. She told me about how good of a person he was, and how kind and gentle he had always been. She told me about their family and the intricacies of the relationships between her and his other aunts, and how despite drama he had always maintained a close relationship to her. She couldn’t say a negative thing about him, which made me like him even more. We talked about how she and her husband and children lived in the Portland area and that #15 visited them twice a year, and how we would have to make sure to stay in touch upon returning. I asked her what #15 thought of me and she said, “You’ll have to ask him yourself.” At that point #15 came up to me from the dance floor and pulled me out to dance with him and the rest of my family (who had completely made him part of the family at the point. My younger brothers were talking with him as if they had known him for years. Which is why I love my family).

After Senor Frogs we headed (once again) to Joe’s where #15 and my sister Brittany took over the dance floor while I helped my cousin Brandon deal with drama with his girlfriend, and my other cousin Larry deal with the fallout that resulted from Brandon’s girlfriend threatening the girl that Larry had met a few nights before. Two hours after arriving at Joe’s I finally had Brandon and Kenzie made up and on their way home together in a cab (apparently all Kenzie needed to hear was #15 tell her how we had overheard them messing around in the bathroom while we took a nap earlier that day to make her remember how much she loved my cousin Brandon). Brittany, #15 and I headed on the dance floor (“Slither! Slither!”) and started dancing away. I was trying to shake off the nearly two hours of drama that I had to deal with and enjoy myself dancing, but it was difficult. Going from Dr. Phil with my cousins to Jersey Shore partying with my sister and #15 was a complete 180. But I did my best. I was starting to loosen up and have a good time when I was approached by two local girls I had met earlier in the week.

“Hola Michael! Como estas?” They asked me. I pointed out #15 to them and said I was out with him and my sister. They congratulated me for finding a cute guy and said they were out with their grumpy friend who had earlier in the week told me he disliked “gay guys like you”. I turned around to where they pointed and found myself face to face with Mr. Grumpy.

“You’re here again?” He asked me before winding back his arm and punching me in the shoulder as hard as he could. I looked at him in shock and then back to the girls and quickly left. “Did I really just get hit because I’m gay and talking to some Mexican girls?” I thought to myself. I went downstairs to the men’s bathroom and found myself shaking. The closest thing to a fight I had ever been in was in the 4th grade when a girl slapped me in the face after I called her a butthole (or some other moronic insult) and I think my body was overwhelmed by the adrenaline that was rushing through me from being hit. I used the bathroom and then headed upstairs to the dance floor to find my date and my sister. They were already waiting for me at the top of the stairs.

“I need to get out of here. I just got punched by that guy from the other night.” I told them.

They both looked confused but I wasn’t in the mood to really explain anything. I hated that #15 was seeing me like this. I had already blown him off for the first two hours at Joe’s dealing with family drama, and right as I started to have fun with him I was asking to leave because I had been hit by some homophobe. I just wanted to be home and asleep. #15 and I decided to go back to the resort to sleep and my sister and cousin Larry stayed out for a bit longer. I apologized to #15 for all the various buzzkills of the evening and said I really had been enjoying our time together. He told me I was fine and not to worry about it. We got to the downtown resort and headed up to our room, where we both quickly fell asleep.

The next day was spent mostly with our own families. He and his family were moving to a new resort for their last two days in town and my family had to check in at a new one on the outskirts of town, so there was really a lot of time to hang out during the day. We did, however, communicate on Facebook for a while in the afternoon, which is when he brought up a question I had been dreading.

“So, which number am I?” He asked.

I hadn’t wanted to bring up the blog while on vacation, especially with him. Although I knew that I would write about him eventually, I think it was the lack of writing that really allowed me to be in the moment and just enjoy my time with him. There were no expectations or pretenses…we were just two guys who had met on vacation and were having a wonderful time together. Why ruin it by bringing up the fact that I planned to go on 100 dates this year? As I’ve written before, I think most people change their perceptions and actions immediately when they think that they are “just one of 100 guys”, no matter how hard I try to convince them that I don’t view them that way. So I avoided bringing up the blog with him for as long as I could, while at the same time trying my best to forget the fact that I would have to write about what was happening between us.

“You’re #15” I said. “But can we talk about this tonight when we hang out? I think it’ll be a much better conversation in person, rather than over the Internet.”

He agreed and we made plans to head out to my family’s new resort to swim and watch movies. It’d be our first night in together since we had met (and since I had arrived in Mazatlan) and I was looking forward to spending time in the pool and just getting to know one another. We got to the resort around 9pm, leaving behind my family members, the majority of who were passed out from a long day in the sun. We quickly changed into our swimming suits and headed out to the pool so we could make the most of the last hour that the pool was open.

Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay, the resort where we were staying that night, is one of the most beautiful resorts I have ever been to. And we had the swimming pool, which looks like this:


all to ourselves. We swam the entire length, talking about our future goals and plans, and diving deeper into our family and personal histories. Nothing had changed from the first night and we were able to talk about any topic without end. We wandered over to one of the hot tubs in the pool and were relaxing in there when he finally said, “So tell me about this blog of yours.”

I told him about the purpose of the blog (to avoid jumping into a relationship, figure out what I look for in a partner, meet new people, etc.) and what had happened so far in the experiment. I explained how the idea came to me, and the reception it had received thus far. And finally I told him what I had been feeling over the course of our time together, that is, that he was the first person that had got me to stop thinking about relationships and really just experience the relationship. For the first time since I had started the experiment I felt like I was actually living in the moment instead of trying to cause a moment to happen. I wasn’t thinking and analyzing and trying to use logic to figure out what “should” happen. Instead I was simply listening to my heart. And that hadn’t happened before.

I assured him I wasn’t asking for his hand in marriage, or any type of commitment. But I wanted him to know that he was different and that I wanted us to see what happened in the future. We had already discussed how he was planning a trip to visit his aunt and uncle in Portland in June, so we could potentially see each other then. And I, of course, will be moving to within a train ride from his home when I go to school in August, so seeing each other in the future was not out of the question. He told me he didn’t want to keep me from reaching my goal and finishing my blog and I assured him he wouldn’t. I just wanted us to stay in touch and feel it out and see how things could be once we were outside of Mazatlan and in the real world again.

We got out of the hot tub and headed back to the room when my sister, brother, and cousin called and asked if they could come out and play cards with us. They had just woken up from their naps and weren’t going to be tired again for a while. I asked #15 if he thought that was ok and he excitedly said yes. I was beginning to think that he enjoyed spending time with my sister more than me, which he would tease me about for the next two days. My family members arrived a short time later and we spent the night in at Emerald Bay playing Liverpool and watching movies.

The next night was #15’s last night in Mexico and even though it was a Monday night, he wanted us to go out to Joe’s to go dancing one last time. He came to our resort at about 8pm and played “King’s Cup” with my grandma, aunt, cousin Larry, Brittany and me until we were ready to go out dancing. At that point we were definitely feeling the effects of “King’s Cup” and headed out to Joe’s for one last hurrah.

As expected Joe’s was completely dead, but this didn’t stop us from having a good time. Brittany and #15 danced from table to table, dancing with locals and tourists alike, and taking over the club. I was having just as much fun, dancing with #15 and soaking up our last night together. After being at the club for a while #15 came up to me and asked if we could to a quieter part of the bar on the beach and talk for a second. I, of course, obliged and we headed to a table away from the music and dancing. When sat down and I looked into his eyes and noticed that he was crying.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him concerned something had happened.

“Nothing…it’s just…I’m really going to miss you and your sister and I don’t want to leave Mexico tomorrow.” He cried a little bit more and I pulled him closer to me. “This is so embarrassing to be crying about!”

I told him I thought it was cute and that there was nothing wrong with crying. I kissed him on the cheek and reminded him that we would see each other within two months and that I would be moving to Manhattan in August and that we would definitely keep in touch. After a minute or so he said he just wanted to be alone for a while to stop crying and compose himself. He went to a bench that overlooked the ocean and sat alone, while my sister found me to ask what was wrong. I explained what had happened and after a few minutes we went over to him and took him out to the dance floor one last time. We danced for a while and decided to grab some food before heading home. We left Joe’s and grabbed a cab, asking the driver to stop at Burger King (it’s every where) before driving us to our resort. After gorging ourselves unnecessarily on greasy cheesy tots (Brittany’s favorite) and chicken tenders (my favorite) we got back in the cab and drove home. #15 and I passed out in bed immediately and woke up the next morning entirely too early to make sure that he had enough time to get to the airport for his flight.

Our goodbye was rushed and less than ideal. We had shared a cab from the downtown resort to where he was staying and I was supposed to continue in the cab to my own resort. When we got to his resort we hugged quickly so we didn’t have to keep the driver waiting and said that we’d talk soon. Looking back I should have paid the driver to wait and walked him to his room so I could say goodbye with a kiss, as well as say goodbye to his family that I had met. But it happened as it did and I can’t change it now. C’est la vie.

The days since he has gone have been eye opening. I’ve avoided writing this blog entry for days now, mostly because I didn’t want to have to think about everything that had happened because it had been so good and so natural. He and I have talked every day since he’s left on Facebook or Skype and every time I talk to him I realize how much I miss him. It’s not like my vacation has been hell since he left. I mean, I’m in paradise with my family; it can’t be too bad here. But it was definitely different when he was here. There was more joy and happiness. More fun. I feel like I’m just counting down until we get to see each other again.

Now, there are many people (including myself) who are probably thinking to themselves, “There Michael goes again…falling for a guy he barely met.” But there’s something different about #15…I have no desire to meet anyone else. I don’t even want to go out dancing here in Mazatlan because he’s not here to go out with me. Do I want to finish my experiment? Absolutely. I hate the idea of not finishing the goal I had set. And I plan on going out and meeting people and making new friends and learning about them. But, why give up on something that feels so good for the sake of completing a goal? In my quest to live more in the moment I have to respect what I’m feeling and say that this is something I want. If it seems fickle, so be it. It’s one of the most genuine feelings I’ve had since I started this back in January.

So, I’m not announcing the end of my blog. I’m not going to stop going out and meeting new guys. But #15 and I have something special and I know it. And so does he. I don’t know what our future looks like or what will happen. Hell, a tsunami could sweep me out to sea before I even post this tonight. But I like where things are headed. I like that I’m living in the moment and not thinking. I’m finally starting to feel again, which is the newest, freshest, sensation I’ve had in a long, long time. We only have now.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hola from Mexico!


That's what I do yoga in front of every day at sun down. It's amazing.

I went on a date last night, so you can all expect to hear about it soon. Don't think I've forgotten about you all.

In other news, I just found out that I got into here:



So I'll be moving to Manhattan to begin studying Performing Arts Administration at NYU Steinhardt. 100gaydates will continue in the big city!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dry Spell

Tonight marks two weeks since my last date with a new guy. Two weeks! By this point I should have gone on a total of 20 dates, and I've been on 14. These past two weeks alone I should have gone on 4 dates, but they haven't happened. It's not that I've become some sort of recluse, hiding myself away in my bedroom watching reruns of Jersey Shore all day long (although I've seriously considered it). I've actually spent a lot of the past two weeks going out with some of the guys I've already gone on dates with and trying to figure out where I am with them. It's also been a busy past two weeks trying to plan out my life for the next 6-18 months, as I wait to hear back from grad schools, as well as some potential employers. 

But enough excuses already. Let's just be honest...I'm having troubles meeting people. Now, for most singles, going two weeks without a date wouldn't be considered a dry spell. Hell, there have been times where I've gone 6 months without a date. But I've spent the past two weeks trying to get a date and have been unable to do so. I have a few theories as to why: 

1) I gave up Internet dating. As explained here, I decided two week ago to stop using the Internet as a source to find dates. Although it wasn't my sole source previously, it was always a handy resource to meet a guy and find a quick date. In all honesty, I can easily jump online and find someone for coffee or dinner within an hour or so. (Sadly enough I could find a hookup even faster than that if I wanted. One time my friends and I logged on an application called grindr and raced to see who could get someone's address for a hookup the fastest. I found someone within 3 minutes.) So by taking away this large pool of men online, I've effectively made finding a date a much more involved process. Hopefully it will yield better quality dates. But so far it's yielded zero dates, which begs the question: is no date better than a crappy date? 

2) Most guys within my social circle that I could date have either already done so, or are completely uninterested in doing so. My blog is a somewhat polarizing topic when it comes to someone being interested in me. While most people compliment me for the endeavor, they also fall into two camps generally: intrigued or cautious. Those who are intrigued are willing to go out, comfortable with the fact that they are one of 100 guys that I'm going to date this year, and glad to be a part of it. The cautious group usually asks themselves why they would want to take time to go on a date with me if they're just going to be one of 100 dates. It's a legitimate question to ask oneself. In fact, I'm not sure that I would want to go out with a guy who is doing what I'm doing because when I go on a date with someone I really try to open up to them and be genuine. It'd be easy to see a date with me as futile. The only answer I can really give to those who are cautious is to repeat what I said at the beginning:

"I’m not looking for love…[but] if I find love in the process, then so be it."

For me, a date is a harmless chance to get to know someone new. If you're cautious about going on a date with me because you think it won't go anywhere, then you're missing out on an opportunity to (at a bare minimum) get to know someone new, and at most, to
find love (no guarantees). 

3) Lastly, I attribute the "dry spell" of dates to the natural ebb and flow of life. I don't want to get caught up in a strict adherence to a quota of two dates a week. Yes, that's the goal. And yes, I'm trying to fulfill it. But I think I might lose sight of the purpose of the whole experiment if all I'm focusing on is making sure that I'm hitting two dates a week or if I'm worried I won't have enough content for the blog. We all go through dry spells, and I have to just accept that I'm going through one right now. 

Whatever the reason is for the dry spell doesn't solve the problem I'm having with meeting people. And I think what I'm facing is something confronted by a lot of people, especially in the gay community. 

Now I don't want people inferring that I'm saying that being a single heterosexual is easier than being a single homosexual. When I was dating woman it was also difficult at times to find people to go on dates with. The difference is this: as a heterosexual man it's pretty easy to know who is available or not in your everyday life. That is, you can go to work or school or the gym or a bar and be fairly confident that most of the ladies (minus any lesbians) are available for you to meet and mingle with. Yes, you will run into those who already have boyfriends or husbands or who just aren't into you, but you can plainly see what is available for you. 

As a gay man your options are fairly reduced. People don't wear signs that say "I'm gay!" Well, some do and that's actually really helpful at times. For the most part, however, I have a hard time meeting people during my every day routine and knowing first of all, if they're gay or not, and second of all, if they're even interested in me. The added layer of uncertainty when it comes to figuring out the sexuality of those surrounding you complicates the process of meeting new people to potentially date.

It's for this reason that the queer community creates environments and situations to allow people to meet. Gay bars (or gay nights at a bar), queer networking events, gay skate, and gay outdoor groups all do one thing: they take the guessing out of the question of sexuality. When you go to a gay bar you can be pretty sure that the guys there are gonna be gay. And this is great! It's wonderful to not have to wonder if the person you're talking to is gay or not. It's the same reason that gay dating sites are so great. There's no guessing that the people you're meeting are gay or not. There's also no guessing as to their penis size, sexual position preference, height, weight, or circumcision status. Yes, Internet dating takes almost too much guessing away. 

But in my personal experience I've found that at a lot of these gay events I meet a lot of superficial people. I feel judged so quickly for outward appearances, rather than my personality. And while I am 97% confident in the way I look on the outside, I'm 100% confident that I'm a good-hearted, kind and caring individual. I'm sure the majority of the guys that are the clubs and bars and networking events and online are also kind and good men. It's just hard to figure that out in those settings.

Quite frankly, when I go out to a bar or club with friends, I'm not interested in meeting new people. I'm there to have a drink or two, dance, laugh, and have fun with my friends. Adding the task of finding people to date makes it almost feel like a job, especially since a large amount of guys are just at the bar or club looking to "put it in." (Thanks, Jersey Shore for yet another descriptive idiom) 

These past two weeks I've tried to meet people in the most genuine of ways. I started developing a bit of a crush on my yoga teachers so I tried getting to know them (until I found out they were both together. And expecting twins via a surrogate in June! Isn't that the best? Now I just want to be their friends because I think they're so cool!). Then I saw a guy in dance class that I thought was cute, until I noticed the ring on his finger. I contacted guys who I had met in the past through school and mutual friends, but there was nothing. As I head to Mexico for a 2.5 week trip starting Tuesday morning I wonder, "Will I go a month without a date?" I'm hoping not.  

So, here are my questions for you all...How did you meet your significant other? In what situation or environment? Was it a bar or club? Who approached who? What was the first conversation like? What do you think of online dating? What's the best way to meet someone? Do you want to set me up? (I have to ask.)

Like I said above, I'll be in Mexico for 2.5 weeks, through April 8th, so my Internet service will be a little less consistent. I'm hoping to meet people while I'm there, and if I do then I'll be sure to write about it and post as soon as I can. Until then, comment with answers to my questions! I'm excited to read some responses. 

¡Chau amigos! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Soul Food


The picture above is lululemon's company manifesto; basically it's a list of things that they believe. And I love it. lululemon, if you didn't know, is a yoga attire company based out of Vancouver, B.C. (the other Vancouver) and simply makes the best stuff for yoga. I spent some time browsing their website the other night when I stumbled across the manifesto. If you want to read it in list format then click here.

It's Friday people! So go do something with your weekend! Do some yoga! Read a book! Connect with an old friend! Do something you're afraid of! But make the most of it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

#14- Staying the Night on Vacation

Sometimes dates come from the most unlikely of sources.

A few days before I left to Utah my phone started ringing with the name of a friend from my LDS mission appearing on the caller ID. Most of the time when I get a phone call from a mission friend I just let it forward to voicemail. It isn’t that I don’t want to talk to my friends from my mission. The conversations just tend to last an exorbitant amount of time and I usually don’t have an hour to devote to them. So, sticking with consistency, I let the call go to voicemail and listened to it immediately.

“Hey, Michael! Call me back ASAP! I need to talk to you about something!” My friend’s voice sounded urgent and concerned. I began to worry that maybe something serious had happened, like a death or accident of a mutual friend. A few moments after listening to the voicemail he sent me a text that only compounded my fears. "Call me AS AP!" I immediately phoned my friend, trying to figure out what could possibly have been so urgent. 

"Hoooolt! What's up man?" My friend answered his phone, addressing me by my last name as we did when we were missionaries. It got old calling each other Elder This-or-That and we often just deferred to last names, no matter how much we were exhorted to do otherwise. 

"What's up Buddy? What's going on? Your message got me worried."

"You're coming to Utah next week right? I saw that on Facebook."

"Yeah I am. Why?" My anxiety over possible tragedy started to turn to mere curiosity. Why was my mission friend who I hadn't in over two years all of a sudden interested that I was traveling to Utah? 

"Well, I have a guy I want to set you up with. He and I work on a student council together at school and he's really cool. Dresses really well and always makes lots of sassy remarks. I think you'd like him. Would you want to go on a date with him?"

I was pleasantly amused by my friend. Besides a handful of close mission friends, I hadn't really heard from anyone since coming out in October. I try not to presume any of their opinions of my coming out (nor is it really important to me whether or not they agree with it), but I think the silence often speaks for itself. Needless to say, I was pleased that my friend not only was comfortable with being friends with me, but also was trying to set me up with a friend. 

"Sure! I've got time while I'm there to go out with someone. Give him my number and tell him to get in touch with me."

"Great!" My friend replied. "Hey Holt, I just wanted to tell you that in my mind you'll always be the missionary I knew in Paraguay. But I think you're great now too! I love reading your blog and hearing about all your dates. I'll always be a friend." 

Heartwarming, right? 

Anyways, I didn't think much of it. There was no guarantee that his friend would contact me, and I hadn't asked my friend for a way to get a hold of the guy, so I figured if it happened, then great, and if not, then no big deal.  

A few days later, on the night before I left for Utah, I was getting into my car after yoga and checked my phone for missed phone calls and texts. This sometimes causes great anxiety for me. Sometimes I'll get out of being in the gym for 2 hours and there will be 2-3 missed calls and a number of texts. Other times there'll be nothing. Isn't that the worst? In our minds it means that no one cared about us for the last two hours. In actuality it means that the world doesn't revolve around us, even if we want it to. 

Luckily for my self esteem there were a number of texts, most of them saying goodbye to me while I was in Utah. One of them was from a Utah number not saved in my phone: 

"Hey Michael. Apparently our friends think we should go out some time. What do you think about that?"

I replied to him that I was always interested in meeting new people and would carve out some time for us to hang out. We decided on a Sunday evening near the end of my trip to hang out and said we'd keep in contact throughout the week to solidify plans. 

I flew to SLC and had a blast throughout the week. I saw my friends perform (if you're in SLC go see "Tale of Two Cities" at the Hale Centre Theatre or if you're in Orem try to get tickets to "Hairspray"). I did yoga. Went dancing. Saw old friends. And just had fun. During the week I texted my potential date a few times to figure out our plan for Sunday. Given the fairly dull options that Salt Lake City provides for Sunday night entertainment, there wasn't really a lot to choose from. I was amused when he asked me, "Does your bishop let you drink coffee?". I informed him that I hadn't been to church in months and didn't even know who my bishop was. We decided to start our date at a coffee shop and play the rest of the night by ear. 

On the night of the date I found #14's townhouse on a quaint side street in the downtown area that I had never heard of before. I walked up to the door and peeked through the glass on the door to see inside. There was my date, sitting at his kitchen table,  finishing up dinner. I knocked and he answered the door. 

"Hi, I'm Michael" I said after stepping inside. 

He extended his hand to shake and introduced himself. After apologizing for not being completely ready yet he showed me to the living room to wait for him. As he brushed his teeth and got his shoes on I took in the media that surrounded me. On the coffee table in front of me was a book, some sort of self portrait mixing visual art and writing, of a Mormon convert and artist named Trever Southey. The art was beautiful and I was especially touched by a quote on the inside flap that said, "Growth does not generally mean the killing of any part of oneself but the embracing of all enriching parts." How true. 

My date emerged from his bedroom ready to leave and I was finally able to get a complete look at him. He was about my height (that is, around 5'8"), thin, with a nice defined jaw and piercing, light blue eyes. His hair was buzzed and his ears were stretched just slightly with some small plugs. He wore dark jeans and a plain white tee. I was completely attracted to him. 

We got into the car and drove a few minutes to a coffee shop on 100 South Street. On the way there I tried to initiate conversation with him but felt as if he was resistant to talking. Maybe he wasn't as excited about the date anymore? Or maybe he just wanted to be able to sit down and talk face to face, instead of in a car? I decided to not think too much about it and found parking for us. 

After ordering tea for both of us, we sat down and again I started to ask questions. And again I felt that he wasn't really opening up at all. It's not that he wasn't responding to my questions, he just seemed to be evading any type of meaningful response. 

Some examples:

Q: "So, what are you studying in school right now?"
A: "Man, what haven't I studied in school...(silence)"

Q: "How many siblings do you have?"
A: "Less than I used to..."

Q: "Do you like the tea?"
A: "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts."

I jest. He said he liked his tea a lot. But the first two questions and answers were completely true! #14 seemed to have a thick shell to protect himself from...what? Being hurt? Vulnerable? Letting people in? Honesty? Any type of question that I asked about family, goals, or really anything of substance was met with distance and evasiveness. He didn't, however, seem to be having a bad time or be disinterested in me. In fact, there'd be times I'd catch him smiling a huge smile in my direction as I spoke, listening intensely on what I said. I was confused but still intrigued. 

I decided to lighten the conversation and talk about entertainment. 

"What tv shows do you like?" I asked him. 

"Nurse Betty is really good. As is Dexter. But Weeds is amazing. Like hands down the best show on television."

My heart leapt. I. Love. Weeds. After Lost ended Weeds became my obsession and I became completely entranced by the tragically comedic citizens of Agrestic, CA. For Christmas of 2009 I got seasons 1-5 on DVD and my friend Cory and I would watch episodes in between classes at school. We finished all five seasons in a little over a month. In December, after moving back to Portland, I spent the first few days watching all of season six on my family's DVR. I. Love. Weeds. 

"What did you think of the season six finale?" I asked #14, excited to find something that he might open up about. 

"I actually have only seen through season five." He confessed. "I wonder if season six is available to rent at Blockbuster."

Being the Weeds fanatic that I am I knew that it had come out on DVD the week beforehand and was onsale at both Target and Walmart. 

"I was planning on buying season six soon anyways." I said. "Why don't we go pick it up and watch a few episodes at your place?"

We picked up our still piping-hot tea, walked out of the coffee shop, got in the car, and went to purchase Weeds. The entire car ride to the store and back to his house was filled with character analysis, plot recaps, favorite characters and plot twists. We geeked out over Weeds. It was a spontaneous and fun direction to take the date. 

We got back to his place and got everything set up in the living room. He brought us out each a blanket saying that he couldn't watch tv without one. After he switched into sweats he sat down next to me on the couch. We only ended up using one blanket, but we were by no means cuddling as we watched the show. 

Late night television or movie watching with a date generally leads to one thing in my experience: about half the time is spent watching the movie and the other half is spent making out. It's like there is something chemical that is transmitted from the glow of this television that turns on a switch in people, causing them to lose interest in the entertainment and instead become captivated by the lips of the person you're with. From my research it's a pretty universal phenomena amongst all genders and orientations. 

I credit the genius writing of Jenji Kohan, creator of Weeds, for the blockage of the aforementioned phenomena. We didn't even snuggle as we watched because we were both leaning forward and focusing on the show. I had already seen the season so there wasn't as much shock by the plot twists and black comedy, mostly just reminders of how much I love the show. But as it was #14's first time watching, it was entirely new to him and seemed to fill him with joy. He laughed and guffawed out loud at every joke and twist, showing a softer side that I hadn't seen in the coffee shop. The more I watched him watch Weeds, the more I liked him. 

After our 6th episode it was nearly 2am and #14 announced that we could watch one more and then would have to stop. We took a bathroom break, refilled our water glasses, and sat back down on the couch. This time he sat a bit closer than before, and I decided to put my head on his chest. He responded by wrapping his arm around my shoulder and running his hand through my hair. We watched the entire seventh episode like this, cuddling and guffawing together. 

When the episode finished we got up and I started to get ready to leave, packing up the DVD while he put the blankets back in his room. I could see him making his bed as I looked for my keys and phone. Not a word had been exchanged by us since the tv was turned off, and I was unsure if the date had ended or not. #14 came back into the living room as I started to put my shoes on. 

"Well, I guess I should go home then?" I asked him. 

"Do you want to go home?" He responded, smiling coyly. 

I didn't know exactly what I wanted at that moment. The date had started in such a frustrating way but turned sweet near the end. I didn't know what would happen if I passed his bedroom door and stayed the night. I wasn't opposed to anything happening that felt right and came from an honest place. 

"No." I answered. "I don't want to go home."

"Then stay here." He smiled again and we walked towards his room. We stripped down to our underwear and got into bed together. Our lips found each other in the dark and we lightly kissed. I still had no idea where this was going, but instead of trying to think it out and plan what I thought was right, I tried to stay present in the moment and feel it out.

My date placed his cheek on my chest as I lay on my back, holding me closely. I traced his back with my hands, feeling the tautness of his muscles. We laid together for quite awhile, our inhales and exhales mirroring each other. It felt safe and innocent. 

I turned my face towards his and kissed him passionately. He kissed back and we embraced. We both pulled away at the same time and hugged one another. There was a mutual understanding that that was all that was going to happen that night. We turned to one side and I held him close to me as we drifted to sleep. 

I had to leave relatively early the next morning in order to get the car I had borrowed back to its owner but #14 woke up with me and walked me to the door. We hugged and gave each other a kiss goodbye, promising to keep in touch. 

The hardest part about a date on vacation is seeing the point of it. #14 and I had met and had a nice and close experience from my point of view. Was it a perfect date? No. Was there more I wanted to know about him? Absolutely. Would I go on another date? Definitely. But I don't have that option now. I'm back in Portland and he's in Salt Lake and there's only so much that Facebook and phones can do. But it was a good date. And if I'm ever back in SLC I wouldn't mind seeing him again at all. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is love a drug?

"You meet thousands of people and they don't really touch you. Then you meet one person and your life changes forever."

It's no wonder I'm a romantic. I spend the majority of my free time watching films like "Love and Other Drugs" (which is where the quote comes from) or countless other romantic comedies and dramas. I seriously considered spending my Saturday night at home watching "The Notebook" just to watch a love story that I knew I'd like. I love love and romance, and there's not too much I can do to deny it. 

For me, romance isn't about gifts or presents. When an ex of mine told me he wanted to arrange for us to fly to the Netherlands to see a friend perform I thought it was an amazing prospect, but not romantic. I'm not one for gifts either because my tastes are so diverse and particular. Romanticism, in my eyes, is about the little things that let me know that the other person is thinking about me and cares. It usually isn't something the other person has to think about either. Rather, it happens spontaneously and almost by instinct. 

The first boyfriend I had was by far the most romantic with me. No matter how stressed I was with school or work, he would do something that would make me smile. It could be as simple as staying up next to me watching "Lost" on his computer until 5am while I wrote a research paper on mine just to be able motivate me and keep me awake. He wasn't really doing anything besides showing me his devotion and care. But that was enough to let me know he loved me. Everything that he did for me let me
know that he was thinking about me and that is my definition of romance. Letting the person you're with know you care. 

It's important to note though that it's only my definition of romance. We each speak our own "love language" (as Dr. Gary Chapman describes in his book "The Five Love Languages"). Often the disconnect or discord that happens in a relationship isn't because the two people aren't compatible, it's just that they aren't speaking the same love language. Like I said above, a trip to the Netherlands is cool, but doesn't speak to me as a token of love. The love language that I speak are words of affirmation, i.e. compliments, reassurance, and "I love you". This love language doesn't translate as love to everyone equally. In fact, it often is misinterpreted and can lead to the recipient feeling smothered (at least that's what a number of guys have told me). 

So, how to solve this problem then? Learn what the love language of your partner is and then learn to speak it. You can go to www.5lovelanguages.com to learn more about the love languages. 

As for me, I'm going to continue to watch romantic movies because they speak to me. Maybe they've overly influenced my understanding of love or created unrealistic expectations of how love is supposed to be. But my optimistic heart refuses to believe that I'm the only romantic gay man in the world. So, even though it's late, I think I'll turn on the Notebook now. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

#13- Owning It

“You’re coming here today!!!! I better get to see you!”

I had just stepped off my short plane ride from Portland to Salt Lake City when I got his text message. We had dated during my last two weeks in Salt Lake City before moving away. It had been a somewhat whirlwind dating experience. He was young. Too young. 18 years young, which although legal is still too young. We had met through a mutual friend and our winter fling just sort of happened. I saw him nearly every day for two weeks. It was innocent and lovely because he was innocent and lovely. He was smitten with me and when I moved away from Utah I think I may have broken part of his heart. I, too, was pained by my planned departure.

Once I arrived in Portland he and I kept in close touch, calling each other daily and going through our days. We talked about finding a way to be in the same city again and building a relationship. It became apparent to me though that a relationship was out of the picture for us. I began meeting new people and dating, eventually getting serious with another guy. My young romance had safe and protective. But it was young. Genuine, but young. As I reflected more and more on the fling I realized that what I had liked most about him was that he was so enamored with me, which is neither healthy or sustainable. Beyond that there wasn’t much that interested me about him on a romantic or relationship level.

Our contact lessened over the months and he became a happy memory that I kept with me from my time in Utah. When I posted on Facebook that I would be spending a week in March in Salt Lake City to visit friends and see some of the musicals they were appearing in I got a phone call from him telling me how excited he was to see me. Hearing his voice after quite a while got me excited as well, but also nervous to see him. All of our conversations since I had moved away had created a fairly immature impression of him on me, and I was worried that we wouldn’t have very much to talk about besides how much we had missed each other. Indeed, when we had been together all we really talked about was how much it sucked that I was moving away. The lack of substance in our previous conversations concerned me, and I was sure it would be the same when I visited him after so long. It was with this hesitation that I agreed to hang out with him for a sunny afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City.

On the day of our date he texted me and asked what I wanted to do. I told him that we could do whatever and that he could decide. He said he’d think about it and get back to me later. We texted back and forth about our plans and he basically said that he didn’t have any idea of things to do in the downtown area, even though he works and go to school in the area. I started to get annoyed by his indecisiveness and told him I’d meet him at his work (he needed to pick up his paycheck) and we could walk around and talk.

I took the fifteen minute walk from the apartment where I was staying downtown to the Gateway, an outdoor mall that features some of my favorite stores including Urban Outfitters and the JMR (they sell Toms Shoes and that’s about it). I meandered through Urban Outfitters, tempted to try on a sweater they had on sale but then remembered that I was late to meet #13. I left the store and started walking towards his store, still hesitant about hanging out with him. As I walked past the huge window in the front of his work he saw me and ran out the door, pulling me into a tight hug. He looked so thrilled to see me and I was reminded of that youthful and innocent admiration that I had enjoyed from him before. It made me smile to see him so excited.

We walked around the mall for a while, stopping in a few stores and chatting about the various events in our lives. He talked about how his first year at school was wrapping up and how he was excited to start performing at an amusement park during the summer. I explained the work I had been doing for my father and the new plans I had to return to Utah for the summer to perform at a theater I had previously worked for. The conversation was fine, but he seemed nervous and awkward around me. I was getting frustrated as I had to push the conversation along, asking lots of questions and getting really basic answers from him. We finally reached the end of the mall and started walking towards Trax, Utah’s light rail system.

“So, now what?” I queried.

“Umm, I don’t know. What do you want to do?” He replied.

“I’m here for you. I just want to be able to talk with you and get up to speed with how you’re doing.” I was growing more agitated by the minute. Why was he so indecisive?

“Well, I don’t really know of anything to do down here. So, yeah.”

“You’re telling me you don’t know of anything in this area? You work here. You go to school around here. There has to be something you know of.” I was about to walk away and head back towards the apartment. There was a yoga class I was missing for this date that I wanted to take and at this point I was completely confident that it would be more fulfilling than what I was experiencing.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what to do.” He looked away from me as we sat down at the Trax station.

“Ok, well then you get on Trax and take it to your car and go home. I’m gonna walk back to where I’m staying.” I was over the date and experience. He was too young for me and didn’t have a personality. It wasn’t his fault entirely. He’s 18 and still trying to figure out who he is himself. I stood up and he stopped me.

“No, let’s stay and keep talking. We can just walk around and talk and find something to do. I want to keep talking.” I considered being a complete jerk and telling him I needed to go to yoga, but his sincerity got the best of me. We took the Trax train two stops and started walking towards Jimmy Johns. I was hungry and a sandwich sounded appealing. We sat down in the back of the restaurant and I handed him half of my sandwich. He had mentioned that he was hungry earlier but hadn’t cashed his paycheck yet. I knew he wouldn’t ask for the sandwich so I just placed it in front of him.

“Thank you. You really don’t have to though.” He protested.

“I know I don’t have to. But you’re hungry. So eat.” He smiled at me and took a bite of the sandwich, some of the sprouts falling to the table.

“So,” I started, “Have you come out to your Mom yet?” I asked. #13 is an only child and has lived with his Mom for years. He doesn’t have a lot of contact with his Dad (actually there’s a lot of built up resentment towards his father) and because of this, he has a very special and close bond with his mother. Although his mother is not religious and not explicitly against homosexuality, #13 thinks she’d be more than disappointed if he came out because she always talks about him getting married and having kids.

“No, not yet.” #13 replied. “I want to wait until I move out of her house to tell her.”

“Why? If she is uncomfortable with you being gay then that’s her thing to deal with, not yours.”

He explained to me that he was worried about letting her down or not fulfilling her expectations of him. As he talked it became more and more apparent how young my friend is. However, the annoyance that I had felt earlier turned to sympathy. It was only a little over a year ago that I had been afraid of letting down my parents, friends, and leaders for not fulfilling their expectations of me. #13 explained the anxiety that he felt constantly and the almost neuroticism in which the anxiety displayed itself. He spoke of sleepless nights where he would think about nothing but somehow not be able to drift to sleep. So much of what he recounted resonated with me. After listening for ten minutes or so I finally spoke.

“You know you’re a good person, right? And that you deserve to be happy?” I asked him. His eyes started to water up as he stared at me. “You know that whoever you are, be it gay, straight, bisexual, whatever, that you’re a good, even a great person, right? You believe me when I say that?” He nodded his head as he tried to hold back a tear.

“Until you know for yourself who you are and come to terms with it, then you’re going to be floating. You’ll do things you don’t really want to do. You’ll be afraid and anxious. You’ll worry. But when you know who you are and what you’re passionate about, you’ll be amazing. You have infinite potential to do incredible things with your life, but first you have to own who you are. Own it.”

As we were talking I remembered a quote from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. I quickly looked it up on my phone and read it to #13.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

He took the quote in, wiped his eyes and smiled. “Why do you always make me cry?” We laughed and I put my hand on his shoulder.

“I love you and will always be here for you, no matter what choices you make in your life. My love is unconditional, as is my friendship.”

Our date ended and we went our separate ways; him to the Trax station and me back to the apartment. As I walked I received a text from him thanking me for the talk. I was grateful that I hadn’t been a jerk and left him an hour before at the Trax station. Since coming out I have felt a duty to help other young men understand that they are loved and cared about, just as they are. And even though I have tried my best to help others learn that lesson, I still find myself struggling to accept it. We don’t have to be anyone that we’re not. We don’t have to try to impress or get the approval of others or apologize for being who we are. All we have to do is love ourselves and love others.

Recently I have been taking a lot of yoga classes and they are honestly some of the most fulfilling hours I spend during the week. At the end of class the teacher has us meditate for 5-10 minutes and he always finishes the meditation by instructing us to “breath in gratitude and love for yourself and for the world. Love yourself. Be grateful for this time that you have had.” While in class last night I finally let those words sink in and become true. And I felt complete.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Rule

Recently I saw a commercial for Match.com that touted that 1 in 5 relationships now begin online and it was reassuring for me. Of the 12 dates that I’ve been on so far about 25% began in some online form. I’m currently registered on a number of different dating (or social networking) sites including:

OkCupid!
Speed Date
Connexion
Grindr
Adam4Adam
eHarmony
DowneLink
LDS Singles (JK, they don’t let you look for other LDS gays)

For the most part I’ve had an ok experience with online dating. It’s definitely an easy way to meet guys and find dates. Hell, I could do it in my underwear from bed if I really wanted to. But like I wrote about in my last post, guys can be so different from who they appear to be online. A friend sent me a “someecards” this weekend that perfectly sums up my thoughts:



Like I said, I’m not against online dating. I have a number of friends that are in great relationships that started online. And I’ll be the first to admit that I love getting messages like this:

“Hey! How’s it going? I just had to tell you how beautiful your eyes are. They seem so sincere and kind. What’re you up to?”

It’s quite the ego boost. However, more often than not I get messages looking for a hookup or insinuating a hookup. The Internet has made finding a hookup just as convenient as finding a date. And it finally became too much this weekend when I received the following message. This is word for word. And I’ll warn you it’s pretty explicit, so skip it if you don’t wish to read it.

From: Surfn8
“Hey bro…Just watched this fu*%ing hot porn where this stud got f*#ked through a Glory Hole. TOTALLY ANONYMOUSLY! Looked so damn erotic and hot and got me all worked up and curious to set one up and get my sweet tight a$$ pumped through a glory hole as I wear a jock strap. Txt for directions whenever you need to relieve some pressure: 801-***-****”

I’m sure you’ll all as shocked as I was to get it. I literally laughed out loud when I read it. It was obviously copied and pasted and sent to multiple people. At the same time as I was amused by the straight-to-the-point nature of his message, I was also completely appalled. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expressing one’s sexuality or being a sexual person. Consensual, safe sex between two adults is completely acceptable and I pass no judgment on Surfn8 for looking for someone to fulfill his fantasy. In fact, I respect him for being completely honest with what he was looking for. He could have asked me out on a date and then sprung his intentions on me at the end of the night. But that’s the frustrating part for me of online dating. It doesn’t require you to be nearly as genuine and honest as meeting in real life and cultivating a relationship in a more “traditional” way.

I’m not naïve enough to think that people are 100% honest with their intentions when you meet in real life. I’ve been burned plenty of times from dishonest people that I’ve met in real life and not online. But since online dating hasn’t lead to many quality relationships I’ve decided to cut myself off from it. For the rest of my dates I’m not going to go out with people from a dating website. I’m still willing to go on blind dates (if you know anyone let me know) and if someone contacts me through the blog to go on a date then that’s totally fine, but I’m disconnecting myself from the sites I’ve been on before. So, adios for now!

#11 and #12- Reality Check

No, I didn’t go on a date with two different people at the same time (what I would call a threesie), nor did I go on a date with a couple (which is polyamory). I went on two separate dates with two separate people, but the experience with both of them at the end was so similar that it warrants one post together. I have to prelude what I’m going to write by saying that although they are being written together this is no way diminishes their value as people or the gratitude I have for both of them taking some time to go out on a date with me. They’re both unique and wonderful individuals with a lot to offer the world. And they both have one thing in common for me…

There was no spark. No chemistry. No light. It just wasn’t there with either of them.

Date #11 was a coffee date (not an ambiguous coffee date either; we decided to go to coffee for our date) on a late Wednesday night. We met online on a new website I had found called Ok Cupid! and he had asked me out after we had messaged back and forth for a few days. It’s amazing the type of person we can create in our mind from a few pictures and a handful of three to four sentence messages. In his pictures #11 looked pensive and intellectual, gazing out over a pond in one, and smiling confidently towards the camera in another, wearing those trendy black rimmed glasses that I buy at Urban Outfitters that have no prescription but make me look smarter. He told me that he attends a small liberal arts in Portland and was a senior studying economics preparing to graduate in May. He hails from Southern California but had grown to love the Pacific Northwest in the four years he had gone to school here. His messages were sincere and kind, and he seemed eager to meet me in person from what I shared about my life.

I had begun to paint a picture of the guy in my mind and started to feel a connection to him as we chatted back and forth. I started to imagine how our date would go. We’d start out at coffee and chat about intellectual topics ranging from Dickens to the current struggles in the Middle East. He had mentioned that he was a political science major. I’d tell him about my dance classes and what I had learned that night before our date. We’d leave coffee and walk around the neighborhood, spending hours talking before ending the date with a hug, maybe a kiss. There’d be chemistry like no other. Maybe he’d be the one that ended this experiment. I had said recently that I was open to love coming in and taking me away, so it wasn’t out of the question.

Well, he wasn’t. It’s not that he had lied about anything or misrepresented himself in any way. He just wasn’t the guy that I had made him to be in mind. Although he was indeed smart, it was actually more nerdy and awkward than a smooth intellectual. While he looked confident in his pictures online, he acted nervous and anxious as he sat across from. He had a habit of picking at his fingers when asked a question and couldn’t keep eye contact with me for very long while we interacted. I could tell he was being earnest and sincere though, which was endearing. It’s possible that he was way out of his comfort zone as he confessed that he hadn’t dated very much in the past because he was so focused with school. It showed as I was forced to be the driving force of our conversation, asking the majority of questions (and follow up questions) to keep things moving.

After 45 minutes I got a call from my sister who said that my grandmother was out of surgery to remove her gall bladder and that I needed to get to the hospital to help with some things. I told #11 that I needed to excuse myself and he understood. Quite frankly I was ready for the date to be over. He was an extremely nice guy and I thought he was admirable for stepping out of his element. But any type of chemistry, even to try a second date, was absent at for me. Maybe I had been let down by my false expectations. Or perhaps he was nervous on the first date and would calm down more on the second. But it wasn’t happening for me.

The next day I got a text from him asking how my grandmother was doing and if I wanted to go out again. I was surprised by his request, but placed in an awkward situation. While I was flattered that he asked me, I knew that it would be futile since I didn’t see it leading to anything. I responded, “Hey! I’m really flattered that you asked me out again, but I would only want to do so as friends.” He texted a few hours later saying that he was grateful for my honesty and that I didn’t lead him on. However, I didn’t hear from him again about hanging out.

A few days later I went on date #12. We were set up by an acquaintance of mine who had read the blog and thought his friend might be interested. #12 called me (yes, called. Sometimes people call instead of text! It was refreshing!) to set up a date and we ended up talking for about 20 minutes getting to know one another. After we got off the phone I was pretty excited to meet #12 in person. He had called me (not texted), was attractive (his friend had shown me a picture), and had been so easy to talk to over the phone. The foundation was in place for a wonderful date.

Or so I thought.

On the morning of our lunch date I went to my dance class in NW Portland and decided to call to confirm the time and place for lunch. It was 9 or so when I called and I could tell from the way he answered that he was still asleep.

“We still on for today?” I queried.

“Umm…yeah.” He responded.

“Great!” I said.

“Actually, I’m really, really tired this morning and have to work tonight. Would you mind if we postponed until next week? I had a hard time getting to sleep last night and I just don’t see myself making it to lunch on time or even that alert.”

I was put off by his request. I knew that he was an ICU nurse and worked the graveyard shift, so it was understandable that he would be tired from a 12-hour shift. However, he also had told me that he hadn’t worked the night before and had stayed in Portland with some friends so that he could run some errands and then go on our date. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and set up a different time for lunch. Although I was still put off by having sleep chosen over a date with me, I tried to look on the bright side. At least he hadn’t slept through the whole date or stood me up completely.

By the time our next date rolled around I was less enthused to meet #12. It wasn’t that I was bitter or annoyed about being cancelled on, but the initial excitement I had to meet him was reduced by what had happened. Perhaps he didn’t think I was nearly as interesting as I had thought him from our original phone conversation? As I walked into Petit Province on Alberta Street (a great little pastry shop and café) I put everything behind me and focused instead on the enthusiasm I had for #12 initially. I slapped on a smile and found him inside the café waiting for me.

All hopes I had for #12 redeeming himself faded away within the first ten minutes of conversation. He had a sarcastic and abrasive personality that turned me off almost immediately. When I told him that I was trying to reduce the amount of carbs I consume he started shooting questions at me, asking me a bunch of scientific questions about why reducing carbs would be a healthy choice. When I couldn’t answer his questions and said that I had read about it in a few magazines he smirked at me and said condescendingly, “Well, I would do some proper research before making a choice like that.”

I’m not a confrontational person by nature. I try to look at the positive sides of a situation, especially when I’m meeting people for the first time. You could call me a modern day Lucy Manette from Tale of Two Cities. But #12 was frustrating me more and more by the minute. Where was the sweet guy that had called me to ask me out? The one who had talked to me for twenty minutes without even meeting me? The one that seemed so kind? Just like #11, #12 turned out to be miles away from the man that I had created in my mind. Thankfully the date only lasted about an hour because I had to get to a class in a different neighborhood. I didn’t even hug #12 goodbye at the end. I just thanked him for meeting me and left the restaurant. It’s been over a week since our date and neither he nor I have contacted one another, which I’m completely fine with.

I’ve said before that I really do like blind dates. I enjoy being set up by friends or acquaintances and meeting new people, but it can be so hit and miss. More than anything I learned on dates #11 and #12 that people can be so different from what we create in our minds. We all have expectations when we go on a date about personality, looks, likeability, how fun the date will be, and myriad other factors. When our expectations are met then we feel satisfied. We might even go on another date with the person. When the person and/or the date exceed our expectations then it’s very likely that we’ll need to go on another date. “If the first date was so great, how much greater will the second date be?” we often think. But when the date and/or person don’t meet our expectations (or are completely off the mark from our expectations) then we usually don’t want to go out again. So, do we lower our expectations so that they can be easily met? After all, maybe my expectations were just too high for #11 and #12. I’m sure they actually are both really great guys. But, they just didn’t fulfill what I was looking for. They didn’t meet my expectations. That doesn’t change their inherent value as people, it just means they aren’t for me.

So, no, I’m not going to lower my expectations, the first expectation being that there has to be chemistry and spark. That’s a hard one to describe but an easy one to feel. And I definitely didn’t feel it with 11 and 12.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 Down, 90 to Go

Today I went to lunch with an ex and no, it did not count as a date. After breaking up two months ago we finally sat down and caught up. I’ll admit it, I didn’t really want to go at first. This was a guy who I was completely smitten with, who I saw myself with in the long term, and who hurt me deeply when he told me he wanted to downgrade our relationship and be able to see other people again. He said he had jumped into our relationship too quickly without thinking it through and had second thoughts about his capability to commit to one person. I was angry at his insensitivity and felt pretty worthless, leading to me listening of Jennifer Hudson’s Kennedy Center performance of “I’m Here” on repeat for two days:



After a few days of thought I decided that if my ex didn’t realize why I was important enough to commit to then he would just have to miss out. We met at the spot of our first date and I told him that I didn’t want to see him anymore. It was a growing moment for me as I learned to not allow myself to be unappreciated and that any guy that I date has to be committed to me at the same level that I’m committed to me. He has to need me as much as I need him.

Over the last two months he and I have kept in light contact but I tried to limit my communication with him to drive home my point, which is that he can’t take people for granted like a commodity or a stock option. We attempted to find a time that worked mutually to get together for tea or lunch but they all fell through. Finally, last night he asked if I wanted to get lunch today. Having nothing to do this afternoon I agreed.

At first our lunch was a little awkward as we caught up on school, work, family, and friends. I knew that he had been seeing a guy for a while and was curious how that was going. Since my dating life is so publically transmitted to the world, and knowing that he has read about most of my dates (I’m actually he has read about all of my dates since he knew little details about each one), I decided that asking him to tell me about his dating life wasn’t inappropriate.

“How’re things going with your guy?” I inquired.

“They’re…fizzling.” He replied.

When I asked what happened he explained that the guy he had been dating had started to try to get back together with his ex, leaving my ex in a weird state of uncertainty. While his new man didn’t end the relationship, he had become hot and cold, at times wanting to be with my ex, and other times being distant and quiet. “At this point, he’s got nothing to lose with me. He knows I like him a lot and want to be with him, even though he wants to be back with his ex. I know it’s only going to end badly for me.” I couldn’t help but smirk a bit as I pointed out to him that karma had come back to bit him.

“Do you understand now what I felt like at the end of our relationship?” I asked him. He said that’s why he was telling me what had happened, so I could see the irony of the situation. I laughed out loud and told him he was learning the lesson that I had to learn with him.
“So, you’ve been on ten dates now. What have you learned?” He asked me.

His question caused me to think. What have I learned in the past two months? How have I grown? What changes have I made? And where do I see it all going? As I reflected in the little café where we ate lunch and even more as I have gone throughout the day I narrowed it down to three things:

1) I love people. I am so appreciative of the ten individuals who have taken the chance to go out on a date with me and to give me a half hour, hour, twelve hours of their lives. In a world where our time is squeezed more and more it is a lot to ask someone to do. And I’m grateful for them. I have met ten fascinating individuals and have ninety to go and I love them all. Honestly, I feel love towards them all, even if it’s not a romantic love. In fact, I would go on a limb and say I’m trying to love all the people in my life even more these days. It’s a hard claim for me to make. It could easily be viewed that the guys I’m going on dates with are just a number to me, another date to go on and another guy to meet. But I value each person who comes into my life (through this dating experience or otherwise) and I’m just grateful to have them around.

2) Honest communication is key. There are so many different ways we communicate. We text. We call. We email. We wink. We poke. We smile. We touch. We laugh. We roll our eyes. We gaze. We kiss. We love. But even with all of the signals and words and imprints we send towards other people, we sometimes forget to be honest in what we’re communicating. Instead of saying “I actually can’t hang out with you because I’m dating my ex-boyfriend again”, we say “I have to work really early in the morning tomorrow so I can’t hang out with you tonight.” (Or the next two times we have planned to hang out.) Or we kiss passionately at the end of a date, even if we don’t plan on calling ever again. We live in a cultural climate where we are bombarded with communication on constant basis (my iPhone has buzzed with 12 notifications in the 45 minutes since I sat down to write this), let’s at least try to be honest in the communication that we are sending. As disappointed as I was when date #8 said, “I really am enjoying my time with you and getting to know you and having fun, I need you to know that we can only be friends and that’s all I can handle in my life right now.” I was also grateful that he was honest. And we remain friends now. I am trying to be more honest in my communication as well.

3) I’m young. I like to think of myself as a wise person and as someone who has lived through a lot. And in a lot of ways I have. I’ve lived outside the country for two years. Gone through a rigorous business education program at one of the best schools in the nation. Travelled throughout the United States. Performed in one of the most amazing theaters in the West (in my humble opinion). Joined the Mormon Church. Come out of the closet. Changed my spiritual views. I’ve done a lot of with my life so far and am proud of what I’ve accomplished. But I’m still young. Especially when it comes to dating and love, and even more especially when it comes to gay dating and love. I find myself realizing more and more each day how little I know about loving others, even though I feel like I try my best to do so honestly and genuinely. Reminding myself regularly that I don’t know everything there is to know about relationships and that I am still relatively new to the game helps me keep things in perspective. I’m allowed to make mistakes, as long as I try my best not to repeat them. That’s what being young is all about right?

So, here I am, 10% of the way through this experiment and ready to go on 90 more dates. The task still seems daunting at times, but it’s still very exciting and exhilarating. I’m excited to meet 90 more individuals and learn from them (If you know of anyone please send them my way. I’m always looking.) and to continue to share with you all what I’m learning along the way.