Last week a reader wrote me an email expressing some exasperation over my junior-high school sentiments regarding Ski. I told him he was right, I have been acting like a moony adolescent girl, drawing elaborately detailed signatures of Ski’s name on the back page of my Social Studies notebook. It stung a bit to read his reaction, at least at first.

I don’t really know why I’ve kept my feelings for Ski under wraps when I’m in his company. Fear of rejection, sure, but it seems to be more than that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationships with others lately; the ties that bind. On Friday night I spent some time with a friend of mine and a group of guys he’s recently started hanging out with. My friend was originally trying to set me up with one of the guys, and though I heard he was smitten (it’s my boyish charm) he looked disturbingly like me, and really, I’m not my type.

But I’ve gone to see a couple of movies with my friend and the group, and I’ve decided that I don’t like them, and I don’t particularly like my friend when he’s with them. Maybe that’s unfair. Before the first movie, when we were waiting for everyone to show up, one of the other guys mentioned all the homeless in San Francisco, and said in all seriousness that he thought someone should pass out poisoned muffins to them all, and that would solve the problem.

Then, this weekend, one of them makes a comment about the race of the guy in the booth of the parking garage. Afterwards they’re driving me home, and I live in a neighborhood that makes some people uncomfortable. My friend has said he feels unsafe walking to my house. I think he’s a pussy. Anyway, we’re sitting in this huge, garish SUV at a red light when my friend, in the back, says “Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look,” and of course we all look and a car with a few latino guys pulls up next to us. They’re not even looking in our direction and one of the guys says something about migrant farmers and then my friend says “It must be strawberry-picking season.”

He’s a very loyal friend, very different from me in many respects; enormously extroverted, loud, flirtatious, boy-crazy (emphasis on crazy). When I’m in a quiet mood he annoys me. When we’re out in public he invariably draws as much attention to us as possible, both by his good looks and his loud jokes and laughter. I have fun with him.

But I’m pissed, questioning the very nature of friendship, of all my relationships. It’s not a matter of being politically correct; I think unapologetic racism is just plain ugly. I think joking about killing the homeless is ignorant and dangerous. I think any of this coming from priveleged, sheltered white gay boys is ridiculous and fucked-up.

And I don’t want to be around it. Maybe I’m naive, maybe my expectations for friends and lovers are too high, maybe I need to stop looking only for people whose insides are the same as mine. Maybe I can keep a real friendship with someone whose views differ from mine. It’s about seeing outlines; realizing where I end and someone else begins. I’ve blurred those lines, often. Am I really Ski’s friend, harboring what I do?

I’ve stayed pretty single this past year, trying to quietly train my eyes to see the lines, to know them by heart, to trace them accurately, even in the dark. It hasn’t exactly made me the most pro-active guy.

Last week at an AA meeting this woman was speaking, describing a conversation she had many years ago with a friend who told her “…maybe the reason you’re attracted to unavailable men is because you’re unavailable. Hello!

Ouch.

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I got an email this week from my mom’s partner:

Michael, I have decided to travel this year.  Your Mom wanted me to, but I felt, I don’t know, not right about it.  But two friends have asked me to join them and a few others to go to Patagonia this Nov.  It is where your Mom and I had planned on going before she was diagnosed.  After much thought, I have decided to go.  It is a trekking trip and the folks going are great, though much younger than me.  Why don’t you join us? Please, think about it.
And, how are you doing?  Plans? Move? are you happy? (I’m not). 
This is all sooo hard isn’t it.  It comes up so unexpectedly and with such sorrow.  I know it is hard for you also.  We really lost a good woman, mother didn’t we., and her life was so short.  So undeserved.
well, I am kind of going on here.  Let me know how you are.  Think about joining me for some travel.  So many people ask about you, and I think of you all the time.

What, like I wouldn’t want to go to on a trek?

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The guys who produced and directed a play I was in during the fall of 2001 edited the video footage they had of the show, and had the cast and crew over to see it on DVD yesterday. I have mixed feelings about my performance in the play; the role was, well, humongous, and it came at a particularly raw time in my life; very newly sober, worried about my mom, feeling way over my head. Someone who knows theater said I had more lines than Hamlet, and it took me till dress rehearsals to simply get the memorization done. I got mixed reviews, when previously I had always garnered praise. I continually felt the weight of the entire production on my shoulders, felt amateurish in the company of veteran actors. My voice didn’t quite hold up. I had a shirless scene that felt like a walking nightmare.

So it was with apprehension that I sat with the others to watch the past flicker before our eyes. And though there were many scenes I would do differently, though I’d work harder today, though I’d like to think I’d bring more life experience to any role, there were also some very nice moments. And it reminded me why I love acting; why the dream life for me would be to write during the day, and act in the theater at night. I stayed away from acting mainly due to my mother’s illness, wanting to be free to leave town suddenly. And I don’t enjoy acting just for the sake of acting; a bad play is torture both for audience and actor.

But I miss it; the long nights and the measly pay, the energy from an audience engaged, the deep pleasure of bringing another writer’s work of art to the stage. The opportunity to take on a more extroverted or devious personality, the challenge of pulling it off.

One of the other actors told me afterwards, “You’re depriving the world of your talents by not acting.”

That was kinda nice to hear.

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