Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Loneliness - Friends

My four pet chickens - good friends


Who among us isn't lonely at one time or another?  One doesn't have to be alone to be lonely.  You could have a Mother Goose house full of kids and an adoring spouse and still be lonely.  You could be the Belle of the Gay Ball in Rehoboth Beach and be lonely.  And yet, you could live alone and not be lonely.

I've also considered myself a loner.  I like to be alone.  Yet, I often feel lonely.  Sounds crazy doesn't it?  Hey, I've been trying to figure myself out for the last seventy years.

I am the oldest son in a family of five.  I have two younger brothers.  Growing up they were best friends, I kept myself aloof from them.  Probably because I knew I was "different".  By "different" I knew I was gay by the time I was four years old.  Of course I didn't know what "gay" was or even the word but back then I certainly did know I was "different."

Me and my two brothers - 1947 - check the distance I have from my brothers - body language


I grew up (from four years old to eleven years old) in a second floor apartment building in the small Pennsylvania town of Downingtown during the Eisenhower years of the Fifties.  Several of my aunts and uncles and my cousins also lived in the same apartment building.  Even though we were poor (didn't wear shoes in the summertime) I never lacked for things to do or friends.  I am the type of person who has one or two Best Friends.  I'm not really a social butterfly with tons of friends.  I specialize.

Growing up I didn't consider myself lonely.  There was my friend Chubby (who wasn't fat by the way), Eddie Rose, Lee Harris and perhaps my best friend ever (even to this day) my comic book trading buddy Larry.

When I entered high school Larry continued to be my BF until his family moved away when we were in ninth grade.  Then came my new BF, Bill B.  We were both in band.  Bill played the bass drum and I played the Sousaphone (not the tuba as most misidentify the Sousaphone).  Bill always saved a seat for me on the band bus and I him whenever our football team had an away game.  Even though we took different courses in high school (he academic and me commercial) we continued to be BF's even to today.  Both Bill and Larry are straight and married.  We're still friends but the wifey's come first and I understand that.

I joined the Army when I was 18 years old.  I immediately made a BF in basic training.  His name was Mike Tine.  I lost track of him after basic training.  We corresponded for awhile after we both left basic training but that correspondence faded away.  I still have his letters.

After basic training I went to Army Security Agency training school in Ft. Devens Massachusetts.  I almost immediately became best friends with Bob Mc.  We were BF's for the six months we were both at Ft. Devens.  When we graduated from the Army Security Agency training school we choose different allotments (assignments).  I spent the next two and a half years at Ft. George G. Meade in Maryland and Bob spent his tour of duty at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.  Yes, he did parachute jump.  God, I'm glad I didn't go there.

Me and my old Army Buddy Bob
We continued our correspondence and friendship over the years.  In fact, a few months after I left the Army I came out as a gay man to everyone I knew and I found out that Bob was also gay!  We both had no idea each other were gay.  We continued our friendship over the years.  My friendship with Bob is the reason I now live in Delaware.  He bought a place in Delaware back in the Seventies and I used to visit him often.  I fell in love with Delaware for its mild climate, gay presence in Rehoboth and friendly taxes (they don't sock it to senior citizens like Pennsylvania does).  Unfortunately Bob has dementia and our friendship is no more.

Now to my biggest BEST FRIEND.  That would be "Bill", my lover, partner and cohort these past forty-eight years.  Bill swept me off of my feet when we first met at the Westbury Bar back in the summer of 1964 while the Supremes played on the jukebox.  Bill and I have almost nothing in common.

Bill is thirteen years old than me.  At 22 years of age to his 35 years of age, back then he was more like a father figure to me.  That worked for me because my father was not close to me.  I wasn't one of those kids that dad played ball with or even took out to the ballgame.  Are you kidding?  His usual communication with me was to mock and belittle me.  Talk about low self-esteem.  By the time I left home for the Army I could do pull-ups on a curb.

Me at 14 when self-esteem was probably the lowest 

Over the years I grew to love Bill even though we had very little in common.  Bill has always treated my like a prince.  He never restricted me with this the usual American Puritan practice of monogamy.  We both agreed that we weren't going to live out lives by someone else's insecurities.

So where was I going with this posting?  I meant to talk about loneliness but I got off the track a bit with the "friend" thing.

So here's the deal, Bill and I still don't have much in common.  He doesn't like to eat out, he doesn't like to go to the theater, in fact he doesn't like company in the house.  He just likes to be around me.  Which I will admit can be a bit smothering at times.  Our biggest problem is that he thinks I don't pay him enough attention.  He thinks I pay more attention to my friends on FaceTime and my blog.  Well, maybe I do but I'm here at the house ALL THE TIME except when I go to work.  I try to balance things out so he doesn't feel neglected.  It's not easy.

Me when I used to eat out with friends 2011


Lately I've been feeling a bit down.  I thought it was depression but now I realize my condition is probably loneliness.  I think if I had a dog or cat (which Bill doesn't want, he doesn't like cats and can't take the loss of another dog) I wouldn't be as lonely.

My one and only cat "Bobby" - 1955

I like to go out.  I like to have a circle of friends.  Not gay fuck buddies but real friends.  I'm not into sex, never really have been and especially not now at this time of my life,  just friends.  I thought when I moved to the Rehoboth Beach area, where there is a heavy concentration of older gay men and women I would find plenty of friends.  Hasn't worked out that way folks.  Maybe it's me but I don't think so.

After all my years of experience I think it is nigh well impossible to have a monogamous gay friend.  It just isn't going to happen.  Either they're too bitchy, controlling, or just horn dogs.  I hate to be so negative but it just isn't going to happen.



And of course another BIG factor is that I am an OLD GAY MAN. To use a very worn cliche, I am way past my expiration date.  Gay and seventy years old?  What am I still doing alive?  My time was up thirty years ago.  I AM THE INVISIBLE MAN.  Oh sure, I am the subject of interest by my widowed former classmates, gay or not.  But to have a friend my age?  Forget it.

So I go on with my life.  Next month I have a trip scheduled to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.  I will go alone on the Old People's Bus.

I have my interests.  I like to blog, take pictures, garden, work at the hotel, walk, research genealogy, and read.  Most times this works but sometimes I do yearn to talk to someone my age, with my outlook, and my sexual orientation who isn't looking for something else besides a friendship.  I don't think that will ever happen again in my life and that is sad.  Sometimes that blanket of loneliness just falls down on me and takes everything out of me.

So there, did I make any sense?

Me at my computer today 




17 comments:

  1. I like to be alone, too, and Carlos doesn't quite "get" it. He was an only child of two parents who were not in love, so he's always longed to be with people. I grew up with siblings and parents who were married over 50 years until my mother died, and I like my time to myself.
    So, we learn to compromise. I do the friends around a lot thing for him, and he does the me by myself thing for a spell.
    Use your work as your outlet, and your time on the O.P.B. taking trips hither and yon, and I bet Bill will be thrilled to see you when you come home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob,

      It does get complicated dosn't it?

      Ron

      Delete
  2. of course it all makes sense! I am grateful that bill let me in the house (many hugs, bill!). but yeah, you get out and do stuff, but every once in a while you NEED a real live person to talk to!

    hell, I like my "quiet time" as much as the next person. but I have the kitties and the spouse.

    wish I could help solve your dilemma. alas, I am as close as your keyboard!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne Marie,

      Thanks for your offer to help me solve my "dilemma" which is what it is. I've managed for the past 48 years, a few more I can manage....I think. :)

      Ron

      Delete
  3. Perfect Sense Ron. Even thou I am 20 years younger since by heart decided to fail and I am no longer a type A workaholic I can relate from the first to last word. One of the things I do is mystery shop restaurants which gets me in different environments and helps with my passion for eating out. Email me if you want t2o legitimate sites to checkout.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roger,

      I would love to mystery shop restaurants. I often see the ads in the local newspaper. I assumed they were a scam. If I have to pay money up front to "participate", it is a scam.

      Ron

      Delete
  4. Hi there Ron. My life has always had a mix of the alone time versus the get together time, but it overwhelmingly favors alone time. Some of that is just my emotional make-up, other times it has to do with my writing, or art, or political work. Stan gets it, so it has never been a problem with us. I'm not sure what that will mean as I get closer and closer to the age you are now, or beyond that. I know to expect isolation as we age; I've seen it so much with other people. Gay people tend to start being separated from "the pack" by thirty or so and I've seen that happen to most people above thirty, but generally people find new "packs" to join. I've seen couples drift apart, but my experiences are limited in seeing GLBTQ couples above the age of 65, so I don't have much to go on in that arena. I'm not really sure why I mentioned all of this I really just wanted to say that I hope you find what it is you need. Bob's advice seems sound; focus on the things you love and that hopefully will bring what you are looking for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kyle,

      Very insightful comment. Yes, you're right about gay people tend to start being separated from "the pack" by thirty. That's what happened with me. Where I live now, in the Rehoboth Beach area there is a gay "pack" of older men. I don't fit into that "pack." Most of them are retirees from Washington D.C. They're very insular and have retirement incomes three times what I receive. I don't fit into their "pack". I can't afford to be in their pack.

      Bill and I are still close and probably always will be but I do miss having friends my own age with similar interests. I think that's one reason I blog, looking for new friends even though they may be afar.

      Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated.

      Ron

      Delete
  5. Ron,

    Shame we don't live a bit closer, then we could take thpse walks together, take pictures, visit graveyards and all together.

    The last photo, you at your computer, could be a painting by Edward Hopper. It is a great photo.

    Lar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lar,

      It would be nice if we lived closer together. Thank goodness for FaceTime. I so enjoy our conversations on FaceTime. Thank you Steve Jobs!

      Ron

      Delete
  6. What an interesting and enlightening post. And I always like the photos!
    I had an incredibly active social life when I lived in California and Missouri (and other places). When I came to Texas, however, I didn't have time to socialize - after my father died, when I was taking care of my mother.

    Now I'm entirely alone. All my close friends and relatives live far away. I thorougly enjoy my own company and I'm constantly busy - - but it's kind of scary being completely alone, especially since I'm getting older.

    In retrospect, I think I was always a loner at heart. Being an only child can be a source of loneliness - - which is probably why I can cope with it better than most people.
    I'm rambling as usual. I hope some of this makes sense.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jon,

      You are more alone that I am. I sometimes think of you and your situation. I don't know if I could handle being that alone.

      It is scary being alone when we're older. I can't imagine my life without Bill. I definitely would have to get a pet or two just to have someone to talk to. I know one thing, I would never live with anyone again. Never. I know that sounds contradictory but I am just too set in my ways. Maybe friends outside home but not inside my home.

      Ron

      Delete
  7. ron, a thoughtful post, to be sure. i don't know what challenges you face trying to find friends there in delaware (other than what you have written), but i am sure it is not easy. still, i would caution you to make generalizations. why? because that is what i do! i tell everyone that there is nobody in los angeles who is interested in deeper connections, and my friends say, really? out of 8 million people, could i be the only one? of course not! so, without laying blame on myself, i look at the part i play, and what i have the power to change. just as i am sure there are others like me in this city, i bet there are others like you in rehoboth. i highly recommend you watch the documentary "happy", which is available on netflix, or through the site: http://www.thehappymovie.com/ it will give you something to think about. i have come to realize that my loneliness is actually a HEALTHY response to a disconnected world. and there is something i can do about it! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tony,

      Of course you're right in advising me not to make generalizations in my difficulty in making friends among the gay community here in Delaware. I do tend to make generalizations and have to watch that I don't do that when I'm frustrated.

      I'll check out the documentary "happy" on Netflix. I have not heard of his documentary. I am interested. Thanks!

      Ron

      Delete
  8. Wonderfully honest and candid post. Too much there to really comment on on the "commentS" box but thanks for sharing. I admire the strength it takes to be so revealing.

    Be well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Harper's Keeper,

      You are very perceptive. It does take strength to expose my private thoughts. Interestingly, some people think I am weak when I do so and they seek to take advantage. To their surprise, it never works. I may be a lot of things but there is one thing I am not and that is weak. Others have said I am naive. Perhaps, I prefer to think that I am honest. Writing my blog is my therapy. It works for me. Most of the time anyway.

      Ron

      Delete
  9. Couple of comments, which came to my mind when reading this
    a) a patient of mine once said "loneliness makes simple problems seem tragic, and mine are simple old lady problems that wouldn't be so bad if I had some visitors.
    b) Sondheim wrote a lovely comforting song "No one is alone' - I sometimes play it for solace. Look it up.
    c) you got me as a friend - for better or worse - stuck like sticker on your luggage of Life.

    ReplyDelete