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247735_CT15_LF_ICKHow is that for a headline!

And what does it mean?

My husband looked at it while I was typing and said, “Oh no, your readers will assume the worst!”

I told him I would let readers know as soon as possible I am just fine, that I could have fun with this post.

I’m a middle-aged guy who recently reconnected with many of his high school classmates. I sent them an early holiday picture of my beautiful family: my husband of 15 years and our gorgeous, seven-year-old daughter.

In high school, I was easily identified as the skinny kid with blond hair who wrote poetry, and played tennis and the bassoon. In fact, I’m still skinny, write poetry, play tennis and the bassoon. My hair is pretty much the same as way back when. The blond is being overtaken by gray, but I still have the same bangs and haircut!

I was also the gay guy who dreaded the torment — verbal and physical — I faced almost every day. I couldn’t wait to escape the small village, small high school, and long winters of my youth. I was convinced my writing skills and determination would help me find my place in a larger, more accepting world.

Guess what? It didn’t happen overnight! It took decades.

Part of that, of course, was accepting myself and learning forgiveness.

As I wrote my high school classmates, I made it through many painful, but also great miles to be able to send that picture of my husband, daughter, and me, to share gratitude for still being part of a community I left behind years ago to land where I am now: a middle-aged guy finding peace with the convoluted but exciting roads that took me to Hawaii to savor life with a family who is the reason I get up in the morning; a worthwhile profession I’ve been in for 20 years with a new goal of joining a small group of colleagues with actual licensing in our field; a 20th marathon in a few weeks I will finish with my husband who is doing his first; poems I want to publish; and a bassoon that needs to be taken out again to fill our home with strange, wonderful sounds!

So why did I purchase my last piece of clothing yesterday, a pink buttondown shirt purchased on Black Friday, a real deal!

The deal is this: with age comes an understanding of what really matters. I still wear clothes I’ve had for 30 years, shirts, jackets, pants, even ties from my grandfather and father. I take care of them. They are keepers, just like poetry, the bassoon, my family.

My family lives pretty modestly in Hawaii. I went through clothes this holiday weekend I will probably never wear again, that have seen their better days, that have no family ties, that I no longer need. They fill up space I want to leave open for my daughter as she grows, discovers life, and weaves her own coat of many colors.

With the miles ahead, I’m sure I’ll need a new pair of shoes now and then, but nothing fancy. As for shirts, pants, running clothes, a few ties (not widely worn in Hawaii), I’m fine. What I have now will likely last another 30 years. I learned from my father how to keep them in good shape.

To celebrate, though, I ordered my last real new piece of clothing: that pink shirt. It’s a color I feel proud of wearing, and I know I will like the fit.

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