Memory Lane. You know the place. We all go there sometimes. It looks different for every person, with varying sights, sounds, and smells, but the feeling is universally understood.
We were younger then. Life was easier, although we didn’t realize it at the time. And although we may not regret leaving that place, we still feel a tinge of sadness when we reminisce about the way things used to be.
As my time in Tennessee grows shorter, I’ve been reflecting on the life I’ve lived here for the last decade. A few days ago, I was in the area by a townhouse I once rented. I decided to stop by the subdivision and go to the walking trail by the river.
It was sunny and the woods were lush. I could hear the hum of insects in the trees. What is that sound anyway? Cicadas, I think, but I’m not sure. It’s a summertime sound everyone in the South knows, and yet I’ve never bothered to learn what it is. It’s daunting to think I won’t hear that sound anymore when we move to California, at least not in our backyard, which probably won’t have trees.
I walked down the trail and looked for a little path that led to the river. Years ago, when I lived there, there were trees that had been knocked down by the 2009 tornado. They created a bridge that you could walk right over the water on.
The path had since become overgrown with greenery, and I suddenly felt self-conscious about forcing through toward the water. What if I walked through poison ivy? What if I became covered in ticks or stepped on a snake? And where the hell did my sense of adventure go?
I pushed through the thick growth and got nervous as I found myself halfway in. I couldn’t see the path I’d come from anymore. Nobody knew I was there. There were cups and other litter in the dirt, so I knew others had found the same path. I suddenly wondered if someone could be there at the moment. Jason Voorhees? I got nervous, but I powered through anyway and found the water.
The bridge of trees wasn’t there anymore. It was uneventful, but I was glad I’d done it. I turned around and pushed my way back through again until I found the trail. Thankfully there was no poison ivy, no snakes or ticks. Take that, mother nature!
I walked down a different path near an area that was believed to be haunted. The Battle of Stones River took place there and quite a few soldiers had died there. I remember when I lived near there, I would hear a strange tapping sound coming from the ceiling in my 2 story town home. The problem was, nobody was upstairs, so who was making that tapping sound? I always used to say it was a ghost from the battle—a soldier who’d died there, but a friendly one who didn’t give me any trouble. I just hoped he wasn’t watching me poop.
Eventually I’d had enough nostalgia. I made my way back up to my car after walking by the townhouse I used to live in. Somebody else lived there. They had red curtains from World Market. I remembered the beautiful old chestnut bookcase built into the living room next to the fireplace. I wondered what books they had on their shelf.
I said goodbye to the river, to the woods, the town home and the friendly ghost, and drove away knowing I’d probably never go back there again. When I got stuck in the obnoxious left-turn exit that is impossible to get out of because of all the traffic coming from both directions, I suddenly remembered why I’d hated living there.
Yeah, fuck that. I won’t be going back.
Ten years ago today, I was moving from Raleigh, North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee. Now on the decade anniversary, I’m in California with my husband and our baby, making plans to move here.
It’s been humbling to reflect on all the places life has taken me and all the ways I’ve changed and grown since I was 23. Now at age 33, I feel excited and ready to begin the next chapter.
I love my life and the family we’ve created. I love this state and can’t wait to be a citizen of my favorite place on earth.
California, here we come!
Ten years ago, I moved to Nashville and soon thereafter, this blog was born. This city and the people in it have helped shape my adult life, the man I’ve become, and I have a million memories because of living here.
As the milestone of living here for one decade approaches, plans are in motion for us to leave Tennessee. Funny how life happens, right?
We’re excited, and scared, and a little sad about moving to a new place. The plans aren’t set in stone yet, but it’s looking like a strong possibility.
With the thought of leaving Nashville on my mind, I’ve been reminiscing about all the experiences I’ve had here. There are things about living here that I will be so relieved to leave behind. But there are also many good things and good people we will miss.
– I will miss our friends and family. We have a strong circle of people here who are supportive and loving—and unique and funny too! We’ve shared many hilarious times together that I feel would be worthy of a sitcom.
– I will miss the smell of honeysuckle in the springtime. It’s fragrant in the park across the street and it fills the air in our neighborhood. Honeysuckle is a scent that takes me back to childhood, when I used to walk down a country road with my mother. She would always break off a strand and share it with me. She loves honeysuckle and every time I smell it here, I think of her. There won’t be honeysuckle in the place we’re moving to.
– I will miss the bitter chill of a winter night, cuddled up to Daniel in our bed on the electric mattress, reading a good novel. A lot of people hate cold winters but I don’t. There’s something peaceful and beautiful about it. The whole earth seems to be sleeping and time seems to move a little slower so we can stop and enjoy it. There are no bitterly cold winters where we’ll be living.
– I will miss the sound of raining tapping on the windows and the smell of wet grass after a storm. Just a few days ago, I enjoyed a lazy rainy day in the nursery, rocking our son while reading him a story. There isn’t a lot of rain where we’ll be moving.
– Lastly, I’ll kind of miss living in a place called Music City. Nashville really packs a punch. A lot of music, movies, and TV shows are made here, and it’s fun running into celebrities at restaurants or bars or out shopping. There’s always something to do here and the city is always being reinvented. It even feels different than it did a decade ago.
When plans become final, I’ll reveal the location of where we’re moving (although I’m sure there are some obvious clues above). Or maybe I won’t reveal it. Hell, it could be kind of fun to keep it a secret! I don’t know.
In any case, it’s important to reflect on where we’ve been, what we’ve experienced, and how we’ve grown from all of it. Nashville is the city where I met my husband, where we fell in love and started our family. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
Daniel and I recently took a vacation to Hollywood to see my friend Winston.
Winston was the first friend I could be honest with when I was coming to terms with being gay. We met online in 1997 when I was 15.
Over the years Winston has become like a big brother to me. He offered support when I first came out, made me laugh when I had my heart broken by a boy for the first time, and he’s been a part of every milestone in my adult life.
Since he lives in Berlin, we don’t see each other often. Actually it had been 10 years since I saw him last, so when I found out he’d be staying in the L.A. area for awhile, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to go visit. Daniel had never met Winston, and had never been to Los Angeles. I was there once before, but it was a quick trip and I didn’t feel like I really had the chance to explore.
We took a trip to Griffith Observatory for a gorgeous panoramic view of the Hollywood hills and downtown Los Angeles at sunset.
We visited some wonderful bakeries and enjoyed dinner from a gluten-free pizzeria. Yum! Los Angeles has an abundance of gluten-free food options, which made my stomach very happy.
The trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Universal Studios.
We even got to spend some time with the minions from Despicable Me.
Los Angeles was good to us. We had a lot of fun with Winston, explored some beautiful scenery and architecture, and ate some wonderful food. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.
It’s been nearly two weeks since I gave up gluten in my diet and the results have been amazing! I can’t say for certain whether or not it was directly related to my Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or if it was just a secondary food sensitivity. And quite frankly, I don’t care to analyze it.
I’ve spent years analyzing my health, feeling broken and hopeless as I went from doctor to doctor without any long-term cures. None of the specialists even considered removing gluten from my diet. Some of them even praised me for consuming a diet that was rich in wheat. “Good, keep doing that, it’s healthy for you,” they’d say. What has happened to our doctors?!
All I know is that since I stopped eating food that was high in gluten, I don’t run to the toilet anymore. I don’t eat Pepto tablets like candy. I have more energy and feel great. That’s all I really need to know, isn’t it?
Over the years I’ve discussed my struggles with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It’s a digestive problem that apparently affects at least 15% of the population, maybe even more. Food and stress are the biggest triggers for the symptoms, although sometimes you just get explosive diarrhea for no good reason at all.
I’ve worked with doctors to reduce my symptoms. That’s all you really can do since IBS is incurable. I maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and try to avoid these foods, which are usually triggers: Onions, garlic, spicy foods, fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, dairy… Basically, all the tasty stuff!
That used to be enough for me. If I did all of those things, I had a generally happy stomach with only occasional flare-ups. But something has changed in my 30s. Even the “healthy” food isn’t tolerable for my stomach anymore. I met with a specialist and we did a series of tests, just to confirm there wasn’t anything else going on. He also prescribed me with an antibiotic to clear up a very specific strain of my stomach’s bacteria. We did more tests after that and everything was “fine” as far as fine goes.
But recently I read that people with IBS can mimic the symptoms of Celiac disease (people who can’t eat wheat). True Celiac disease requires a strict gluten-free diet, as gluten can permanently damage the lining of the stomach if you have it! I do not have Celiac disease, so I am not at risk.
On June 24, a hungry little cat showed up at our home begging for some grub to fill his belly. He was a very talkative kitty and loved to cuddle. I could hold him like a baby and he reveled in the attention. He was the friendliest cat I’d ever met. He even liked to give hugs like a human. When I leaned down to talk to him, he’d put his front paws on my shoulders and lean in to kiss me.
I decided to feed him, against my better judgement, and he was so appreciative. Eventually I set up a little house made of plastic bins for him to sleep in the shade of our back yard. We became very attached and he stayed on the deck 24/7. Sometimes I’d just take a break from my work day and go cuddle with him for a few minutes. That made everything better.
Our dog, Mrs. Anna Madrigal (named after the character in Tales of the City), was quite fond of the cat too. Anna always enjoyed giving him a lick on the forehead when she went out back to do her business.
We knew a cat this special must have an owner missing him. We checked online ads for posts about missing cats and didn’t find any leads. We even posted our own ad several times, but didn’t receive any responses. I finally decided that his owner must be nearby, so I drove around the local streets and neighborhoods near our home looking for notices about the cat. There were none. I decided that wasn’t good enough so I headed out on foot and walked a little over a mile and a half through the surrounding areas to see if I’d missed a sign. Nope. Lastly, we had him checked for a microchip, which he didn’t have.
Daniel diligently called 30 animal shelters in our area. Thirty! They were all full and would not accept an adult cat. The only option was to euthanize him and I just couldn’t stand the thought of that. So we took care of him while we could.
Billy Elliot, “Expressing Yourself”
Daniel and I have been pursuing the adoption of a particular boy for the last 4 months. We came very close this time (we were one of the top 3 families chosen) and it was a difficult decision for the agency. But they ultimately went with a different family.
It hurts deeply but it’s part of the process. Every couple who pursues adoption goes through this difficult journey. And I guess that means there’s another couple out there, who was in the top 3, who is also feeling sad and disappointed tonight.
We’ll move on, but Daniel and I will still need to do a little healing. This young man was very special to us. He was part of a unique situation. Although he’s young, he’s already learning to express himself. He knows he likes boys, but he thinks he might be bisexual. No matter what he is, we were prepared to help him figure it out and support him every step of the way. He also loves to dress in women’s clothing, wear wigs and makeup, and he is very interested in fashion and cosmetology.
Now I need to say goodbye to the dreams I had of him being our child. I’m going to write a letter below, which I’ll obviously never send, and I’m going to say the things I feel in my heart, and then let go of it. He just wasn’t meant to be our son, and that’s okay because now he’s going to be someone else’s.
Again, as a reminder, I’m not sending this letter. It’s just my way of venting.
Over the last four months, we’ve had the privilege of learning all kinds of fun things about you. You are creative, and colorful, and you enjoy helping others. In some ways, I think you remind me a little bit of myself when I was your age.
I know that you have a birthday coming up, and I’m so happy that you will be getting a family for your birthday. Who could ask for a better gift, right? I hope you have a great celebration and get to be surrounded by the support and love you deserve.
I also want to say how incredibly brave you are, and how your story has inspired us. You’re so young, yet you’re honest enough to admit you like boys. I certainly never felt strong enough to admit that when I was your age. And you like to dress up, and create fun characters for yourself with clothing and wigs. And although you’ve endured abuse and cruelty from strangers, you still continue to be yourself.
That really takes a lot of guts. I hope you hold on to that bravery, because the world needs people like you, especially in the LGBT community. The fact that you’re young and already know yourself is a great inspiration to other kids your age, who secretly know how they feel, but are ashamed to say it out loud. Or they’re scared their parents will stop loving them. Or they’ll be bullied in school.
Don’t ever let the mean things people say get you down, and don’t ever let them change you. There’s a place in this world for you. There are lots of other boys like you who like to throw on some blush, mascara, and a fierce pair of high-heels. And that’s just fine. You go on and do that and keep paving your own way.
You’re a really special young man, and I know you’re going to do great things with your life. Whenever I’m feeling down about something, or feel unable to face the world, I will think of you and borrow some of your sparkle. If someone your age is strong enough to be himself, I know I can be too.
Good luck in this journey of life. And never, ever stop being yourself.
This is one of those posts that’s only relevant if you can relate to the problem. For anyone else, it’s too much information and you should probably avert your eyes.
Something changed when I entered my 30s. I became really hot-natured and sweat under my arms all the time. Crazy, right? It’s like some twisted male version of menopause that happened 20 years early.
I open my sunroof when it’s 50 outside. That’s a warm day to me. It’s gross. I don’t like it, obviously.
I’ve tried all kinds of “extra strength” and “clinical” formulas. My armpits just laughed and said, “You are no match for me, weakling!” (Apparently my armpits speak too.)
I found out about something called Certain Dri Anti-Perspirant. The average rating is 4.5 stars out of 5 and most people seem to love it. How had I never heard of this stuff?
You roll it on before bed, let it dry for 5-10 minutes, and it won’t wash off in the shower the next day. It’s supposed to work for up to 72 hours.
Of course I was skeptical but I read dozens of a sites and independent reviews, and the overwhelming consensus was that it worked. There were certainly a few people who had bad reviews too, but that’s common with any product. Some people had an allergic reaction that caused them to break-out, others said it just didn’t work for them. No product is going to work for 100% of people.
But most people, a surprising majority, have been very happy with it.
I put it on last night and followed the instructions. It did dry pretty quickly, and it’s clear and odorless. There was a mild burning sensation at first, but nothing unbearable. A lot of people report this. It went away and I was fine.
Today I woke up and I’m completely dry under my arms. It’s almost eerie.
So that’s my story. I will continue to use it and see how it goes. But if you suffer from excessive sweating, I highly recommend Certain Dri. I can’t tell you how excited I am to stop worrying about dark circles under my arms when I wear light colored shirts!
*Note: Get the roll-on! A lot of people don’t like the stick version. It has a different formula and only mixed reviews. It’s milder, to avoid burning, but it doesn’t seem to be as effective.
Our country has been rocked by the tragedy in Connecticut. It seems to be happening more and more, and my news feeds over the weekend was filled with reports of escalating gun violence. There were even shootings in my local area, threats to attack nearby schools, and a guy walking into a hospital and shot three people in a neighboring state. It feels like everyone has gone insane.
Watching the debates unfold on Facebook and Twitter have been shocking. It seems we will never find peace or common ground. And while there’s so much I feel like saying about this topic and the tragedy that took place in Connecticut, part of me is just tired and doesn’t even feel like talking about it, although I know we must.
There is just one think I want to make abundantly clear…
Saying I think there should be more gun control DOES NOT mean I am anti-gun. That is a wild and exaggerated accusation, and I don’t understand people always jump to that extreme conclusion.
If I say I want more control of carbs in my diet, does that mean I want all carbs to be banned? No. It just means I want to reduce them.
Keeping with that mindset, when people say they want more gun control, we’re just saying we want stricter guidelines. Unless you are in law enforcement or the military, there is no reason for you to be carrying around a semi-automatic. They should have never been legal in the first place! They aren’t legal in many other countries.
“Oh, but the second amendment says…” blah, blah, blah. The second amendment was written at a time where nobody would ever dream we’d invent weapons like the ones we have today.
If you want a handgun, because you feel it makes you safe, fine. If you want a shotgun because you want to go hunting in the woods, fine. But if you want a military-grade weapon, and you are just an average citizen… I don’t think you should have it.
Banning semi-automatic weapons won’t solve all the world’s problems. And yes, it’s true, if you really want to kill someone, you’re going to find a way somehow. But removing semi-automatic weapons drastically reduces the amount of damage that can be done, and also gives the potential victims a greater chance of escaping and surviving.
I believe all serious change must be done in steps. We have to start somewhere, and I think removing semi-automatics is the first step in preventing more mass-killings.