My buddy “Barry” and I were instant messaging on Facebook Saturday night. It was a depressing exchange.
Barry is middle-aged and lives alone. I have invited him to events but he has always declined, probably because it is a brick for him to come all the way up to Baltimore from northern Virginia.
“I seriously doubt that I will ever again be completely happy, but I am content,” he texted.
His comment was understandable. Barry has been through some shit in the past three years.
Barry was partnered with a white military officer who had left his wife and children when he realized he wanted to stop faking the straight life and express his gay sexuality.
Barry and “Winston” got along famously for years– they lived in a high-rise luxury apartment building with a view of the Washington, D.C. skyline, had season tickets to the Redskins, and enjoyed having swinging parties with a small group of friends.
But all that ended with Winston died by suicide.
Trust me, when and or if you get to be my age and you’re all alone, no family or friends, your perspective may very well change.
Winston’s family had never accepted his gayness or the fact he was living with Barry, so they were not supportive. Winston had to fight to get an insurance settlement.
Still, Barry could not afford the lifestyle he used to have with Winston. So he gave up the luxury apartment with a doorman and penthouse recreation room and moved to a modest garden apartment.
Compounding the issue is that Barry was also married and had children, who rejected him when he came out as gay. So losing Winston was probably like losing all his family in one fell swoop.
When I visited Barry I noticed he drank Scotch constantly and chain smoked. The stale smell of cigarette permeated his apartment. The bags under his eyes were heavier, leaving him looking tired.
“But who knows I could have another soulmate out there so I don’t give up hope,” he texted me Saturday night.
That comment bothered me.Prince Charming only exists in fairy tales.
I told Barry that no one is truly your soulmate. No relationship is perfect. There are things about my partner “Van” I don’t like and Lord knows there are even more things about me that drive him crazy. However, you have to find a happy medium.
And I think, although he didn’t want to admit it, that Barry missed the lifestyle that Winston was able to provide. I know for a fact Barry worked jobs that didn’t earn near as much as a military officer.
When I told Barry that I didn’t think soulmates exist he scoffed at me.
“What a crock LOL,” he texted. “You obviously have not met your soulmate as most don’t.”
“Trust me, when and or if you get to be my age and you’re all alone, no family or friends, your perspective may very well change.”
His comments were depressing but I refused to let them get me down. I also tried to keep in mind Barry is still mourning Winston and always will. Sometimes it takes years to reconstruct your life after someone close dies.
Still, I tend to be optimistic. Shoot, read my blog. I have come so far in the past five years. I have been truly blessed. And Van is a great, supportive guy.
And I believe in keeping engaged. I volunteer, am active in church, try to keep up with friends, and endeavor to eat healthy and exercise. My mother was a widow and she told me getting counseling and getting active is a way to learn to live with grief.
So I decided not to argue with Barry. I really had not walked in his shoes so I couldn’t judge.
“We will see, the future is unknown,” I texted.
“True, but easily anticipated,” Barry answered.
Q: Readers, what do you think? Do you think as you age as a gay man you will end up alone and lonesome?