My birthday falls about 45 days before New Year’s Eve, and as such I
tend to spend the last month-point-five thinking about resolutions.
Birthdays for me have always been a time to consider where my life is
at, where I want it to go, and how to get there. New Year’s Eve seems to
have the same effect on people, so it’s only natural that I tend to lump
them together. Mix in my love of lists (nothing better than marking
through the last item), and you’ll understand why I put so much effort
into resolutions. My track record isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to
keep me in practice each year.
This year I’ve put a little more time and effort into thinking about
things. In fact, I’m just now deciding on a plan for 2004, 37 days into
it. Part of developing resolutions is considering where I’ve been in the
last year, and 2003 had a lot to consider.
I went back to college in January for the first time in nearly 5 years.
My partner Garrett and I bought a house in the spring. My grandmother
died in July. I found out an old flame Chris was dead (and had been for
a year) late in July. I found out what some members of my family really
think of me in the fall. And I was reminded what brotherhood and
friendship mean, and why they’re important. These events all formed the
backdrop of a very personal search: who am i, what do i want, and what
should i do with my life?
Early on in life I learned that love is conditional. If you act the
right way, say the right things, people will love you. And who doesn’t
want to be loved? I learned the hard way in school that if you were
silent, didn’t make waves, and kept to youself, the “popular” kids would
leave you alone. The corollary is that alone is better than victimized.
I know that my experience was not unique, but it formed the basis for
many of my actions. I learned early and often that the key to survival
is becoming someone others will love. So in 2003 when I realized that I
hated who I’d become, hated my life, and hated my surroundings, I also
realized that the situation was one of my own making.
I was unhappy because I wasn’t able to be honest with people. Instead of
saying, “don’t call gay people faggots; it makes me feel degraded,” I’d
say “ha, ha, faggot!” Instead of saying, “look, you’re a nice person,
let’s just be friends,” I’d say “I love you too.” How does the song go?
“I always say I love you when I mean turn out the light.” So honesty,
with myself and with others, became something I started thinking more
and more about. And I thought I was making progress, doing better,
figuring things out.
But then towards the end of the year, something happened. We were
celebrating Christmas at my grandparents. I was actually enjoying
myself. Garrett and I sat next to each other on the sofa, playing games,
waiting for supper. I had my arm along the back of the sofa, behind him.
I felt that warm feeling radiate from my chest that serves as a physical
reminder of how happy you can really be. It’s supper time, and I go to
wash my hands. On the way out of the bathroom, my dad pulls me aside.
“I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t put your arm around Garrett; it
makes Grandma and Grandpa uncomfortable.”
I was taken completely off guard. My dad has been my biggest ally
lately, and I thought my family really accepted me and Garrett (even if
they didn’t approve; I’m smart enough to know there’s a difference). All
I could say was, “sure, OK.” Sure, OK? Hardly. I’ve been kicking myself
for that response ever since. Why didn’t I say, “I’d really love to talk
to Grandma and Grandpa about this since I don’t want to offend them, but
do want to feel comfortable in their home.” Why didn’t I say, “I didn’t
really have my arm around him; they should come to me directly.” Or why
didn’t I at least say, “hell no, fuck off.” Because sometimes I just
want them to like me. I have my doubts about whether it was really my
grandparents who had a problem with things, but that’s another story.
What’s important here is that my instinct, the first thing I thought of,
was appeasment: don’t make them upset, agree to what they say, sell
yourself out for a little more of that warm feeling.
I think I can be forgiven for wanting more of that warm feeling, but I
don’t want to ask myself for forgiveness as often this year. So what is
my Resolution for 2004, my 28th year? No more half measures, no more
half truths. I want to say it again, like a mantra: No more half
measures, No more half truths.
In 2004, I don’t want to tell others or myself half-truths in order to
make people like me. I don’t want to “go along to get along” only to
find myself doing things in half-meaures because my heart’s not in it. I
don’t want to walk away from a conversation wondering why I embellished,
or out right lied, just because I thought it was what they wanted to
hear. I don’t want to sell out my own wishes and dreams just to make
others happy, or because it’s “easy.” I do want to be more honest: with
myself and with others. I do want to be honest even when I know it will
hurt. Finally, I refuse to sell out even a little just to be loved.
Because that’s not love. It’s not love when it’s conditional, and it’s
not love for myself if I have to sell-out for it.
No more half-measures; no more half-truths.