1. Blog. I wouldn't touch it before. It seemed an exhibitionistic activity in which I would never indulge. Besides, there was no way I would ever allow anyone to know anything about me that was anywhere near personal. I now have seventeen blogs, eleven of which I update fairly regularly. Three of them exist under my real name, five belong to Samantha, and the rest are divided between two other blog identities. I find the individual purposes of each blog extremely therapeutic as I work through all the intricacies of my life, and I suppose, having the different identities helps me as I separate the events from the person (me) and try to look at them with objectivity. I love technology.
2. Talk openly about being gay. Granted, I do this only among a select group of people. There are currently eight straight people who are aware of my orientation: Darrin, my bishop, David's parents, AtP's parents, a friend whom I happened to run into at the Evergreen conference, and my brother (my first family outing, which happened two days ago). I'm not expecting to become a public figure or a poster child for anything (no competition for Master Fob--I would lose to his abundant charm and charisma anyway), so I don't expect this group to become much larger. However, those who are also gay consitute a larger group of people who are aware of my orientation, and among those we often discuss (or laugh about), online or in person, the different aspects of humor, awkwardness, sensitivity, joy and pain, that this attribute brings to our lives. There is relief in the sharing ideas and experiences.
3. Friendships with young men. This is an unusual time of life for me to begin fostering such friendships. However, it has been vitally important as I try to understand that I don't need to fear young men. I have pushed away most of those who were related to me (my brothers), as they approached their mid- to late-teens. I'm trying to remedy that. The extraordinary David has allowed our friendship to deepen and continue beyond the one-year mark. For reasons that escape me, even after reading my entire blog (before censorship), AtP has allowed our friendship to flourish, and continues to care about me even though he knows all the "bad stuff". DJ and I went shopping for a birthday gift for one of his friends last week. I behaved badly, as I always do, suggesting toy make-up kits, Little Mermaid colorforms, or a Hannah Montana cd. He laughed good-naturedly and said no. Then we both found a really funny gag gift. I said, "If I were one of your friends, I'd go halves on this. It's hilarious!" He looked at me very seriously and said, "You are one of my friends--one of my best friends." Then he pretended the books about pet care on a nearby display were particularly interesting, and he sniffed and swallowed a bit. Three guys in their teens who consider me a friend--one friendship has lasted longer than a year, another for more about eight months, and the last mentioned one is with my son. I find all that a little amazing.
4. Friendships, in general. I have to admit that the majority of my current friendships are with men. Gay men. However, I'm trying to find ways to foster friendships with women, as well. The healthy feminine relationships are difficult for me to maintain regularly--I find it much easier to check in every year or so, just to see if they remember me. This has nothing to do with my feelings for them, it just seems that we're always busy. It's no excuse, since I make time for my male friends, but my female friends really don't seem to care if I stop talking to them spontaneanously, whereas, I believe I have a few male friends who might notice if I did that to them. Since Lydia moved 60 miles away, I see her less often, and we don't phone as often, either. This could be because she's working on her new relationship, and lesbians, as with other newly coupled people, often become absorbed with one another as they work out the kinks of living together. Anyway, Darrin says I should concentrate on finding married female friends, then he can help me foster the relationship with his involvement--two couples, double dating, men and women--I suppose that could work...
5. Living in the moment. I'm doing it. For the past ten years, my life was very well planned. While spontaneity was not unheard of, it was relatively rare. In the last twelve months I've been known to contact old friends, put myself in awkward situations, allow myself to be embarrassed a large number of times, speak Spanish online (even though I don't know how), skip a music lesson and do lunch instead, cancel a seminary lesson in order to just chat with the students, take my kids to lunch unannounced, talk on the phone after 9:30 p.m. (unheard of!! I don't even answer the phone at that time of night), call a complete stranger for a friendly chat, drive to the mountains to read a book, eat ice cream (even though I don't like it), ride a pogo stick, do cartwheels and handsprings in the park, dance with my son, hug people in public, kiss a perfect stranger, and once I screamed out loud. It's a step in the right direction. Who knows, maybe one of these days I'll take off my shoes without untying the laces first.