The Man I Love


Hey there, Man I Love,

I’m pretty sure I haven’t met you yet. I mean, it’s possible that I’ve met you and there haven’t been any sparks, or I just don’t know what’s going to happen next. But I’m erring on the side of “haven’t met you yet.”

Anyway, wanted to sit down and write you a letter since you were on my mind. (When you read this, and after you eventually get to know me, I presume that you’ll be charmed and find it totally adorable that I would take time to write a letter like this. I mean, if you don’t find this charming, chances are you and I wouldn’t work well anyway).

The image I put up on the top is a screenshot from that old 1940s movie starring Ida Lupino (how amazing was she!) where George Gershwin wrote that song, “The Man I Love”, and it’s all sweet and sappy about a girl waiting around for that perfect guy that is going to give her the perfect life. (You know the song, right? Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James all sang it later. If you don’t know it, give it a listen before you keep reading).

Super sappy song, right? But totally sweet and hits you right in all the feel goods. The major difference being that I’m not sitting around.

Anyway, where the hell have you been? I mean, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a while now. My kids were toddler and infant when I first became available, and now they are both school age. (They are seriously growing so fast). Six years! I haven’t exactly been idly waiting. I’m running a business, getting in shape, making plans for a future that may well be solo, and generally loving life. I fell in love a couple times, briefly at least, but nothing took. I’m living the hell out of life, solo, and I quite like my company. Still hoping you’ll show up though.

I think I know a little bit about you already, because I know me so well. I have no doubt that you are going to surprise me all of the time with who you are and where you come from. I look forward to that, to constantly being taken aback by the person you are and the life you have lived.

I presume you will be the kind of guy who texts back, and who not only enjoys spending time with me but makes an effort to do so, and that you’ll be bold enough to start a conversation and invested enough to keep one going. I assume we will have similar interests that overlap: old Hollywood movies, live music, hearty laughter, delicious food in small quantities, a love of random selection and the human story, a desire to travel the world, and a nice blend of introvert/extrovert to us. I presume you’ll want to build something together, steadily and consistently, over time. I presume you’ll have heart and soul in equal measure, that you’ll do nice things and enjoy it when I do nice things back.

I presume that you are balanced, and that you have a life apart from mine, one that is full and fulfilling, with a job and family and friends and interests, and that you’ll want me to be a part of that life, and that we can work together to keep ourselves strong individually so we can be stronger together. I presume that my kids think you are hilarious and someone worthy of their trust.

I don’t care what you look like. I mean, obviously I do care what you look like, but I don’t have a type, as long as you take care of yourself. I am way more attracted to a man who can banter, who can hold a conversation, who can make me laugh, and who is kind to others. And a man who can stand for social justice, who can appreciate a powerful woman and who can embrace those who haven’t had it as easy as we have because of skin color or ethnicity or gender identity or country of origin or religion, well that is a man I can stand next to proudly. I prefer a man who can talk it out when things get tough, who can ask for what he needs, who can admit when he makes a mistake, and a man who listens, who doesn’t give me ultimatums or push me too hard before I’m ready.

And if you can enchant me with a pair of eyes, kiss me like I liked to be kissed, and hold me tight in a pair of strong arms, well, I have a feeling the rest is going to happen pretty naturally, and regularly, and repeatedly. Ahem. Better change the subject.

Anyway, mister man, wherever you are, I’m standing here rooted in place with my two little saplings, and growing upward, ever upward. I’m guessing the taller I get, the easier it will be to see me.

Anyway, I’ll close up with a few of Gershwin’s words. I almost look forward to those little silent moments between us the most.

“He’ll look at me and smile; I’ll understand.

And in a little while, he’ll take my hand.

And though it seems absurd, I know we both won’t say a word.

Maybe I shall meet him Sunday, maybe Monday maybe not.

Still I’m sure to meet him one day.”

See you around? Soon, maybe?

Sincerely, the Man You Love

when the kids aren’t there


Even after 8 years of this parenting thing, I still have no idea what I’m doing.

Being a dad challenges me at my very core. It challenges the way I view my present and my future, and the way I interpret my past. It influences my dating, my travel, my freedom, the way I exercise, the way I spend money, the ways I choose to spend my time.

It honestly tears me into exhausted shreds sometimes. It is my fondest wish to create a nurturing and supportive home environment for my children. I have a nice home where they have their own bedroom filled with toys… a bedroom that is empty more than it is full due to a custody arrangement that places my children with me about six days a month.

I used to keep a cupboard full of snacks for the kids. But then I found myself eating the snacks when they were gone. So now I just buy fresh snacks when they come over.

Recently I purchased a small cat for my older son’s birthday. He’s been asking for a dog or a cat for, literally, years, and I figured now was the right time to provide that. I took myself over to the animal shelter and I sat in the corner of the cat adoption room, and a small little grey-and-white thing, a 5 year old cat, plopped itself into my lap, then climbed up on my shoulders. I adopted it minutes later. My son named the cat Lilly Potter.

A friend asked me if I enjoyed having the cat, and I said yes, that it was kind of nice to have the company. The friend then joked, wondering if I got the cat for me or for my kids. My response to him was a bit sad, a bit sober. It surprised him.

“The cat is for them, definitely. And the cat represents both of my worlds, strangely. It is my job to provide a safe and nurturing home for my sons when they are with me, and to also create a full and fulfilling life for myself for the nights they aren’t with me. So now, I have a cat. And the cat is for them, but in ways it is for me, cause now I have a bit of company around.”

This seemed to help the friend understand me a bit better. My situation isn’t always easy to describe. There are a lot of divorced moms and dads out there, and many of them don’t get to see their children nearly often enough, and many of them have difficulty finding their lease on life while they balance out the time and money commitments of parenting, the struggles in raising kids, and the heartbreak and loneliness that can set in during times when your kids aren’t around.

I’ve gotten a bit accustomed to sharing holidays now. My sons went on a trip for a week with their mother recently, and my phone contact with them was limited. I don’t always get to see them on their birthdays, and I’ve done Christmases alone, Thanksgivings alone, and, tonight, Halloween alone. They are out trick-or-treating. And when they are done, they will call to tell me good night, and then tomorrow I’ll pick them up and we will do our own little celebration.

I am told often by people who don’t have children, or by people who don’t see their children often, how lucky I am. And I agree completely. I am richly blessed and insanely fortunate to have these two beautiful boys to raise. Anyone who knows me knows how much they define me and how much I love them. That aside, though, it is a major area of struggle.

One of the hardest parts is interacting with people who don’t have kids. Most of my friends are gay men. They travel and hit the gym, they own homes, they date and have parties, they go out drinking and dancing. And, obviously, I date within this community as well. Having kids means I don’t have a tremendous amount of financial freedom. It means I can’t hit many of the parties, or pursue the relationships, or be available for dates. It also means my time is precious and valuable, and I try to make the most of it when I have it.

It also means profound loneliness sometimes, with sounds bouncing off of empty walls, and watching the phone to see if the person you are reaching out to is texting back, and trying not to be unreasonably sad when they don’t. It means inserting myself into social situations haphazardly, when I can, and seeking human connection while I remain a bit aloof from those around me.

The loneliness has been getting to me lately, and it feels a bit pathetic to recognize that, but I think other parents will understand when they read this. I’m lonely when my kids are home, because I want to be around other people and to connect, and I want someone to share the raising of them with. And I’m lonely when my kids are not home, because I want them there, and heading out into the big world of single men when I know I have to pick up my kids in the morning, it’s strange and isolating.

And so tonight, I sit with my fingers clacking on a keyboard, a decaf coffee and a glass of water at my side, in a coffee shop full of strangers because that feels less threatening to my own house, and I type out my thoughts on a blank screen for a handful of strangers and loved ones to read… while my sons, dressed as a Jedi and Harry Potter, knock doors and ask for candy. And in an hour, they will call me and tell me about their night, and there won’t be a hint of loneliness in my voice. I’ll be thrilled, and interested, and ask about every detail of their days like what they learned at school and what they ate for lunch and what they played at recess and if they had fun trick-or-treating. And then I’ll tell them how much I love them, and I’ll hang up. I’ll turn on music and crack open a beer and fold laundry and maybe watch an old Halloween movie by myself, and then I’ll head to bed and listen for the sounds of my sons’ breathing even though they aren’t there.