Posts Tagged swimming

The Next Chapter

Two years ago, I started this blog. I began writing because I felt alone. I knew there had to be other gay men out there who were looking for the same thing I was, and I wanted a way to connect with them.

grindrAt the time, I just ended my first gay relationship, and I found myself in very unchartered waters. I was already out to close friends, but not publicly. Because I had so few gay friends and a strong aversion to gay bars, I had to find a mate digitally. I began serial dating, at one point going on four dates in four days — And thus, One Gay At A Time was born.

Since the beginning, I have gone on MANY dates and put myself in many situations well outside my comfort zone. I have not only grown more comfortable in my own skin, but I’ve also grown up as a gay man. I got all the hookups out of my system and began searching for a meaningful, long-term relationship.

This blog began as an open forum diary of the daily occurrences I encountered navigating the gay world. I told my side of the story honestly in hopes that others out there would be able to relate, comment and most importantly, realize they are not alone.

The time has come for the next chapter of my life and for this blog. For quite some time I’ve been blogging about CK (aka Clark Kent or Superman). You’ve gotten to know him through my eyes in the early stages of our relationship. It’s been some time since I’ve blogged, and I apologize for leaving you, my readers in the lurch. I do not mean to abandon the small community I’ve worked so hard to foster, but I’ve been struggling with the next chapter of the blog.

When I first told CK about the blog, he was very open to and even grew excited about the idea of my writing our relationship. Over time, as you could probably understand, his excitement waned, and we began to argue about the content of the blog.

I had to make a choice between the blog and my man. It’s quite obvious which I chose. As a result, I will no longer be blogging about the specifics of my relationship with CK. However, in lieu of continuing to finish our story in a daily dairy format, let me catch you up on what has happened since July. Here are some of the highlights…

In July, CK joined my family for our annual beach vacation. While I went for the entire week, he only joined us for a few days. It was the first time we’d spent an extended period of time apart, and with my trust/cheating baggage, it was a true test of my sanity. I was thrilled and relieved when he finally arrived. It was also nice that he would finally get to spend some real-time getting to know my parents.

In early August, I traveled to Miami, CK’s birthplace to surprise his family with a visit to celebrate the birthdays of his two beautiful nephews (turning 1 and 2 only a week apart). I felt incredibly special taking this trip with CK. I was meeting his ENTIRE extended family. Before this point, I’d only met his mother. I was welcomed into the family with open arms and came to grow strong bonds with them over just a handful of days. This was unchartered territory for both of us, as I’d never been brought home to meet the family by anyone other than my high school girlfriend, and he’d never brought a man home to meet everyone before. It could not have worked out better!

Around Labor Day, CK and I went on week-long vacation to the Hamptons with 15 of my friends and family. While there, our relationship grew very strained. I felt he was trying too hard to impress my friends. I wanted him to be himself so all of them would come to love the man I knew, not the man I felt he was trying to be for them. By the end of the week, I reached my breaking point. I was so stressed out from organizing the vacation and ensuring everyone was happy that I made myself miserable, and I took it out on the person closest to me. In the penultimate moment of the trip, one night we not only exchanged words but also fists and shoves, as my closest friends and sister witnessed the lowest moment of our relationship.

It took a lot of time for CK and I to figure things out. This wasn’t the first time our relationship reached physicality, but I hoped it was the last. It also took a long time for things to return to normal between CK, me and my circle of friends. My sister wasn’t speaking to me for over a month and my friends had semi-ostracized me from typical gatherings. I burned a lot of bridges on that trip, and I am still working to rebuild them today. You can expect to read about my experiences and feelings dealing with issues such as physical violence in a relationship as one of the topics I will cover in coming posts.

In September, CK and I found an apartment in Hoboken to call our own. We moved in together in the midst of Hurricane Sandy’s wake on November 2. Although the experience of moving immediately following a hurricane is incredibly overwhelming, we are both stronger as a result of the experience. In my experience, moving in with a lover is unlike sharing a space with any other. You’ll certainly be reading about my experiences and the things I’ve learned from this experience as well.

After Sandy exhausted my last modicum of energy, I decided I was too tired to shave my upper lip. CK and I both decided to raise awareness and funds to fight prostate cancer by growing mustaches for Movember. I proudly raised over $500 for charity as a result of my stache, and I was thrilled when we both shaved them off — We both looked like pedophiles.

For the first time in my life, I had someone to take home to meet my family for Thanksgiving. Before venturing home, I sent my extended maternal family an email to get the awkwardness out of the way. You’ll be pleased to know my family welcomed him with open arms. I imagine coming out to extended family creates a lot of anxiety for man, as it did for me, so I hope sharing my experiences will encourage more to share the truth with the ones they love.

When I returned to Hoboken after Thanksgiving, preparations began immediately for what would have been my Sixth Annual Holiday Bash. This year, it became Our First Annual Holiday Bash. I finally had someone to share the hosting duties with, making it extra special.

Although CK and I spent Christmas apart, after all the festivities with my family, I hopped on a flight down to Miami to spend the rest of the holiday season and New Years Eve with my man and his family. CK’s sister and brother-in-law planned a trip with their two boys to Disney World for two days. After a little persuading, I convinced CK we should join them. I preferred Disney to a raucous gay party any day, and it was truly magical to see Disney World through the eyes of a two-year-old.

In February, CK and I took a romantic trip to Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. Although it seems we can’t go anywhere without having some kind of quarrel like an old married couple, the trip was amazing and couldn’t have come at a better time. We went ice skating, snow shoeing, swimming, hiking, and much more. It was a perfect escape for both of us to get out of the city and away from the bustle of it all after the holidays.

In between, there have been countless brunches, parties, trips, nights out, Broadway shows, fights… Oh yea, and plenty of sex — Can’t forget the sex! Overall, things have been going well for us. You have good days and bad days, but you have to realize the bad days are just there so you appreciate the good ones all the more. I am thrilled to announce, this past Saturday, CK and I celebrated our one-year anniversary at the restaurant we went to on our first date, Frankies Spuntino 570. Although we waited nearly an hour, the evening was perfect, and I look forward to many more years together.

Although I won’t be detailing the specifics of my relationship going forward, I hope to share with you what I have learned along the way. It’s not easy being in a relationship, but then again, the things that are worth it never really are.

To my most dedicated readers who haven’t let me lack of posting stop them from commenting words of support on my blog, thank you. You are what has motivated me to get back into this once again. I feel like many of you have integrated my writing into your daily routines, and I have left you with your morning coffee in hand and no reading material. You will not see the frequency of posts you may have grown accustomed in the past, but I still hope you find time in your lives for One Gay At A Time.

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Just Add Water

CK and I were having a very long holiday weekend, and we were only half way through it. As CK wanted to go to the Scissor Sisters concert on Friday, which ended up happening on Saturday, I wanted to spend the weekend with my friends as well. We made plans before the weekend kicked off, and we were going to try to stick to it.

Early Sunday morning, CK and I woke up and quickly got ready for the day. We hopped on my motorcycle and made our way to Hoboken. We were catching a ride with K to her parents’ house on Mohawk Lake. Since it was an hour drive, K wanted to leave early. Of course, we made it back to Hoboken and finished getting ready just in the nick of time to stay on her schedule. K’s roommates, D and G, and D’s girlfriend were also joining us. The five of us were spending the day on the water, tubing, swimming and lounging in the sun.

When we arrived at the lake, we visited with K’s mother before prepping the boat. We all piled in, along with all the proper refreshments, and shoved off the dock. I was excited for a nice relaxing day on the lake. The weekend was off to a bit of a chaotic start, and I needed a day to hit the reset button. Everyone else was drinking, but that was the last thing I needed. For me, the sun was all I needed to be happy. I just wanted to lay out on the back of the boat and work on my tan.

Before breaking out the tube, we drove to the far side of the lake to drop anchor and hang out in the cove. The water was smooth, and there weren’t many people out on the lake. In usual fashion, wherever CK went, so did his music. We weren’t even out of the dock before he was plugging in his music. I wasn’t opposed to music in general, but he was playing all the songs we’d heard the night before. I could also tell, Scissor Sisters weren’t exactly my friends’ cup of tea. However, this was not something I was about to engage in. I found my happy place, laid out a towel, and tried to drift off in the warmth of the sun.

When I got hot, I decided to hop in. Everyone else had already taken a dip. It was the perfect Sunday. Everyone was relaxing and just enjoying themselves. We all talked about our weekends and caught up with each other. I’ve always liked this group of friends. They all felt like my “Seinfeld” crew. On top of that, I had my man with me. That always makes me happy.

When we were all hungry, we drove to the other end of the lake to grab a few slices of pizza for lunch. When we all finished eating, we snapped a few fun and patriotic pictures on the boardwalk of the lake.

Once we all managed to digest our food, it was time to break out the tube. K was an experienced whip cracker. Everyone took turns riding the tube with a partner. It was a blast. In her usual fashion, K was relentless when I was on the tube. I think I frustrate her sometimes, and she uses that time to take all those frustrations out on me. However, I usually manage to hold on for longer than expected. That being said, she always finds a way to get me off that giant rubber floating donut.

I especially had a lot of fun riding the tube with CK. We made a great team, and my friends snapped quite a few great shots of us both. I was happy to have such a nice day after how bad our Friday night was. We really needed a nice day together.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing however. Over the course of the day, I noticed K getting frustrated with CK. She was not only the owner of the boat, but also the captain. He wasn’t listening to instructions very well. When she was ready to hit the throttle, CK was standing on the back of the boat. When she’d need to maneuver to circle back to pick someone up who fell off the tube, he was standing to change the music. I was worried we wouldn’t be invited back again. Or worse. I would be, but I wouldn’t be able to bring him back again. I asked him to be more conscientious about her directions. “Whatever she said, goes,” I added.

When we were all sufficiently exhausted, we made our way back to K’s parents’ dock. We had a bit of a drive ahead of us.

D had his new car with him since he drove separately. I had yet to be in it, so I suggested CK and I ride with him, leaving the other two to drive together. On the ride home, we all planned to hit up D, K and G’s apartment for a bar-be-cue. It would be our last hurrah of the holiday weekend before heading back to work. D dropped us off at my place, and we got ready to head over to grill up some burgers. I quickly made a pasta salad as well because I didn’t want to show up empty handed.

I wasn’t originally aware, but we were also going to meet K’s new man. He is much younger than the rest of our group, and as a result, he spent the better portion of the evening trying to impress us. That’s a surefire way for me not to be impressed. I like genuine people, not people who put on airs and say what they think I want to hear.

Dinner was nice and very relaxing. It was the perfect end of the holiday weekend. My weekend started off very crazed and chaotic, and it ended very relaxing and serene. When it was getting late, CK and I said our goodbyes and made our way back to my apartment. I agreed to spend the night in the city at his apartment, so I quickly packed a bag before we hopped on the bus.

When we got to his place, neither of us had much energy. We quickly settled into bed and mentally prepared for the workweek coming up after having quite a few days off. CK tuned into The Rachel Maddow show while I shut my eyes and tried to fall asleep in the arms of the man I loved.

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Being Supportive

After our night galavanting around the village taking in the Halloween sights, I felt like I made a half step closer to Smiles. We hadn’t completely closed the gap, but seeing him two days in a row was a good step. We finally added sex to the mix again, and I was watching him slowly open up to me. Maybe this relationship did have potential. Maybe I just needed to be more patient.

When it comes to relationships, my major downfall is over-thinking. Luckily, I have friends. And, I have you, my faithful readers. (Oops! Did I just address the audience?) Anyway, even though I don’t have a therapist, and at times I think I need one, I have my friends.

One of the guys I swam with in college, “J,” is a dedicated reader. So much so he harasses me when I don’t post on time. You can all thank him for keeping me on schedule. We’ve been through a lot together. He was almost one of the first people I told I was gay. On my ride back from telling my parents, I met him for lunch. I planned to tell him, but at the last minute I chickened out. I was waiting until I saw him again to tell him the news, but that didn’t happen until a few months later. I am constantly reaching out to him for advice and using him as my sound board. He’s more of a help to me than he realizes.

I have a wide array of friends and different reactions I can expect from them. Some I turn to for sex advice, like my friend who knew all about my philandering on Martha’s Vineyard, even when I was trying to cover it up. Some I turn to when I’m suspicious, like A, however some of those make me unnecessarily more suspicious. Some I turn to who I know will support whatever I’m saying, like D and K. J always gives me a fair and balanced viewpoint of the situation. Boston always gives me the harsh reality dose I need sometimes. Even Broadway weighs in sometimes for advice. And nothing makes me happier than when I get advice from my readers/newly found cheerleaders.

I take everything they all say, put it through my own filter to make decisions on how to proceed. They’re all great and I appreciate them all.

Many times Smiles would tell me about conversations he had with his ex to keep him centered and sane. He was finally reaching out to me to fulfill this role, and I was thrilled!

He sent me an email asking me to call because he didn’t have my phone number. I called, and he explained how he got a replacement phone from Verizon and it was defective. I joked it was the user and not the device that was a problem. He was using a very old clamshell phone he’d used years ago.

He also told me he was in the middle of a breakdown. He had a lot of frustrations, many of which stemmed from work. Luckily, this was something he was opening up about to me recently, so I was able to give him some educated advice. He has a problem seeing things in the small picture. Too many times he looks at the big picture too soon and gets overwhelmed. I did my best to calm him down, and I think I did a fair job. Apparently, others were giving him contradictory advice to my position, but I stood my ground once again. I asked him what he really wanted. If there were no restrictions, what would make him happy. I questioned why he was settling for things just because he thought it was what he was supposed to be doing. It seemed like he was taking my advice to heart.

He told me he was going out to get ice cream instead of going for the run he planned on to exert his frustrations. As he read aloud the flavors in the cooler, I encouraged him to pick something indulgent and go home and have at it. He was stressing a lot and needed to take the time to relax. Sometimes I wonder if he forgets to step back and have fun.

When he got back to his apartment, he was feeling better and was ready to dive into his pint of Ben and Jerry’s. He thanked me for the pep talk and said goodnight.

I went back to watching TV on the couch, but I had a smile on my face. He turned to me in a time of need. I finally felt needed and appreciated. I wanted to be more integrated into his life, and this was a step in that direction. I sat there thrilled a the new development.

Was this the foundation of a relationship?

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Alumni Weekend

Following my debacle of a night with Sexy Eyes, I woke early in the morning to go back to my apartment and get ready for alumni weekend at my college.

The previous night, while sitting on my couch, I received text messages from a teammate of mine from college. Unbeknownst to me, many of my teammates were attending the wedding of one of the guys I swam with in college. The texts started off saying hi and asking if I was still going up to school the following day, but then they took a turn I wasn’t expecting.

A little over a year ago, when I came out from behind the brick wall I built up, I started telling my friends as I felt comfortable with the news myself. I was hosting my annual holiday bash, and I invited many of my teammates from college who were in my graduating year. The guy I was dating at the time would be in attendance, so I felt the need to clue my friends in on this news as not to blindside them if they decided to attend.

I sent out emails, text messages and instant messages to many of them. They were all supportive. It was very refreshing to see their positive reactions. I did ask them to all please use discretion since it wasn’t yet public knowledge. I figured by telling them all around the same time, they could chat amongst each other, rather than with the people I hadn’t had a chance to tell yet.

Fast forward to today, and many of my younger teammates still didn’t know. That is, until the wedding. I’m not sure how it came up, but one of the guys I graduated with told one of the younger girls. I do have to say, I’m surprised and impressed he lasted that long before telling anyone. It was only a matter of a few hours before it spread like wildfire among the rest of the attendees. I’m certainly not mad about the situation. It’s a slightly uneasy feeling — I felt very vulnerable. I would have preferred telling them myself at a comfortable and convenient time, but what’s done is done. Now, they all know.

So the text messages began with: “So I heard you came out.” I acknowledged the statement and asked how he found out. He wouldn’t tell me. He wasn’t going to give up the source. I told him I wasn’t mad about it, but more just curious. I wanted to know who knew, so I wouldn’t say anything dumb or lie to someone who already knew the truth. He finally told me one of our female teammates told him. I asked her where the intel came from and she led me back to the source. The text conversation with my male teammate ended with him telling me he had something to tell me, but only in person the following day. A small red flag went off in my head, but only the following day would solve that question. What couldn’t he send me in a text that he had to say in person?

I assumed they all went up there early to go out to the bars Friday night. When I arrived on campus and found out they were all there for a the wedding, I could only assume my entire team knew at that point. Surprisingly, no one said anything about it to me, and no one treated me any differently. Not that I immediately noticed anyway.

We had an alumni swim meet Saturday morning when I arrived at the school. My main concern was not looking fat and swimming at least decently well. I wanted to be the guy who stayed in shape or even looked better than college instead of the pudgy men many of my teammates have become. It was just my inner gay coming out at that point. Much to my surprise, one of the fittest guys on the team asked if I’d been lifting and commented on how I looked more muscular. I was thrilled. Goal 1 — Accomplished. Then we swam a few races, and I actually had the top time of anyone in the pool. I felt great, especially since many of these guys were much more talented than myself when we were in school. Goal 2 — Accomplished.

Following the meet, many of the swim alumni hung out together. We drank in the parking lot, hit up the campus green, toured new buildings, etc. One of the younger alumni, whom I’ve never spoke to before, was chatting me up throughout portions of the day. I didn’t really notice this until that evening when I was leaving. One of the guys who lives near me in Jersey and I decided not to spend the night. We just made a day trip of it. When the younger alumni learned of our departure, he came up to me and inquired about us not going to the bar that night. I found it odd he would care I was leaving. Then I remembered the topic of conversation among the group the night before. It just seemed to come out of left field the way he asked the question and said, “Well, maybe some other time then.”

Between the drinking on the green and getting in the car to go, I decided to stop by an old friend‘s apartment on campus. He was my freshmen dorm’s mentor and a close friend over the years. It had been over a year since we last spoke, and I wanted to make a point to catch up with him. I took two of my teammates with me to visit him. We had a nice chat, and I chuckle when I think back to the point in the conversation where he asked me about dating and marriage. I smiled and told him I was a bachelor, at least for the time being. He is a religious figure, and I wasn’t 100% ready to tell him right then and there. I do want to take the time to tell him since he is such a good man and good friend, but I still need to find the right timing and setting.

On the ride home, I realized my teammate never told me what it was he had to tell me in person. When I texted him, he didn’t remember making that statement at all, and claimed he was very drunk the night he was sending them. He thought it was just who the source of intel was, but I doubted that. I’m not sure what he had to tell me, but I hope he would feel comfortable telling me whatever it was he needed to say. But maybe it was simply what occurred the night everyone found out. Who knows?

He also took the opportunity to reiterate his support of me and noted he has many gay friends he supports fully as well. It was nice to hear because he was a good friend in college when we swam together. I know he has a big heart, and it meant a lot to hear it all from him.

All in all, it was a successful weekend. It’s relieving to know the cat is out of the bag, and I received no negative reactions. I can never know what was actually said or joked about when they found out, but that’s simply human nature. I can only hope they come to accept me for who I am and be happy I’m finally happy…

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Romantic Dinner for 2

There were many nights I cooked for N and I. I enjoy cooking so much because I enjoy eating so much. It was also nice to have someone to take care of again. Tonight was a different story.

N had offered to make me his famous eggplant parmesan. He told me every time he’s made it, his friends have raved about the results. I told him, “I’ll have to judge that for myself.” The night before, he said he would make it for me for dinner the following night.

We spoke earlier in the day about how to pull it off for him to make dinner at my apartment. I hadn’t been in the pool in weeks, and I finally had the opportunity to get back in, so I wanted to swim that night. I was trying to get back into summer shape, and who doesn’t want to look good for their man?

The plan was for me to hide my key somewhere outside my apartment, so, when he got home, he could just come over and start cooking right away.

This may have been a dream of mine – Coming home to a fully cooked meal made by the man I couldn’t stop thinking about all day long. Does it get any better than that? However, I was skeptical. In the back of my mind, I was expecting to arrive home to find he hadn’t even made it over to my apartment yet.

If he was already cooking, he was working hard. And, he deserved a small reward for his hard work. I got out of the pool a little early. I couldn’t take the excitement anymore. After I finished my pool workout, since I was the only one in the locker room, I decided to take a few shots of myself in my drag suit to text to him. I wanted him to know how much I appreciated what he was doing for me, and I also wanted to get his engine revving for what I was going to do with him for desert.

After I got dressed, I hopped on my motorcycle and sped home as fast as I could. I checked my phone as I was keying into my apartment building, and I had no responses from the texts I sent. Now, I was legitimately worried he wasn’t there yet (If I was smart, I would have looked to see if the keys had been taken from the hiding place). But much to my pleasure, he didn’t let me down. It was incredibly sexy walking in the door to see him hovering over the stove making us a meal. I was sooooo turned on.

After asking if I could help in any way and being politely turned down, I plopped myself down on the bar stool and watched him cook. It sure was a nice change to not have to play chef. At one point, my roommate came home. She immediately made a comment about how strange it was seeing me sitting on the stool instead of standing in front of the stove. I explained to her he was cooking us a romantic meal, and I wasn’t about to mess with a good thing when I had it. She got the hint and went into her room.

I went to the wine fridge and picked out one of my favorite bottles. This truly was a special occasion. When the meal was ready, I went into my room and grabbed a few candles to put on the table we were eating on. I thanked him with a big kiss and dug in. I never had eggplant parmesan before, but this was spectacular! He wasn’t kidding about how good it was, but now I was experiencing it in my mouth. If you can’t tell by now, I’m a foodie. He truly found the way to my heart. The first few bites were all followed up with a kiss. We ate and ate until we gorged ourselves. Luckily, we had leftovers. I would be able to relive the memory of this night a few more times.

Following dinner, he went into my room to use my facilities. I began to make us desert – a simple dish, but one I knew he loved. I sauteed sliced up fresh peaches in a pan with a splash of oil and a dash of Splenda. This was our way of making a slightly healthier desert. However, when I finished making desert, and he still hadn’t returned from my room, I assumed he passed out on my bed. He had a habit of passing out on me. I tip-toed down the hall to see, but he was still using the restroom. I heard a magazine page being flipped, and it all began to make sense.

When he finally emerged from the bathroom to find me on the couch with the rest of our wine and two bowls of peaches and whipped cream, he said, “Oh. I didn’t know you were making that for us tonight. I thought you were just making it to have around.” I told him he was dense, and we dug into our desert. This of course was followed up with some heavy petting and a lot of making out, until we moved things to the bedroom. That night, we both had a great time. I wanted to make sure I pleased him good! And he certainly reciprocated.

The night was simple, but spectacular. I had amazing food and an amazing man to share it with. What else could I ask for? And with that, I fell asleep with the biggest smile on my face.

On a side note, I just found this video yesterday. It’s an adorable take on gay marriage. Totally cute and brought tears to my eyes. Very relevant as NY just legalized gay marriage. Check it out.

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