You know, it’s been five months since I officially became a New Yorker, but in the back of my mind I still fear that it’s only temporary and that I’m going to have to leave, that it’s all going to be taken away from me. I don’t know why this is.

One reason might be that I work in New Jersey. This isn’t really a problem, but it is a fact. Every day I take the PATH train to work, and I switch trains at the same stop in Jersey City where I used to get on when I still lived there. I live in one state, but I work in another. Not only that, but my employer is the state itself. So while I live in New York, New Jersey has pull over me.

A second reason might be that since long before Matt and I officially moved in together, I was unofficially living at his old place in the financial district. For at least a year, I was sleeping there, commuting to and from there every day, and keeping most of my clothes there. I’d visit my own apartment every few days, but those visits became less and less frequent, down to once every seven or eight days. So while I was unofficially living with Matt, I still had this phantom “other apartment” where most of my stuff was. Perhaps I got so used to having a phantom apartment that I still feel like I have one now, even though I distinctly remember moving all of my stuff out of there at the end of July, a month after I’d officially moved in to the new place and started using it as my official mailing address.

A corollary to that reason might be that my moving process was so gradual that I never really had a clean break between living situations.

Another reason might be that even though this is “our apartment,” I don’t quite have the same claim on it that Matt does. We live in this apartment because it comes with Matt’s job. Matt could unilaterally decide he wants a new job and we’d have to move; or Matt could break up with me (not that that’s gonna happen) and I’d have to move out. My living situation is kinda dependent on him. But maybe at some point we’ll rent a place together that will be equally both of ours.

The next reason also relates to Matt. For the foreseeable future, I want to stay in New York. But what if Matt decides at some point that he’s sick of New York? When you’re part of a couple, you have to think of concerns other than just your own. We’d have to reach some compromise.

Finally: for the several years that I was pining away over Manhattan from my Jersey City perch, I had these grand visions of what it would be like to finally be a Manhattanite. I’d be able to go out whenever I wanted. I could meet more people and have more dates. I could meet people in chat rooms more easily. I could bring people home more easily. Now, I much prefer the coupled life to the single life, but I’d always associated living in Manhattan with being single. Manhattan isn’t quite as exciting when you’re part of a couple. Instead of going out to a bar on a Monday or Tuesday night, I have dinner with Matt and we settle in for some TV. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this – it’s just different from what my visions of Manhattan had been.

I’m 31, almost 32, and any potential for me to be a young single guy living in Manhattan is gone. I spent those years differently than I might have and they are unrepeatable. I’m always going to mourn that. Well, maybe not always, but I haven’t yet gotten over it: staying asexual and closeted until I was 24, staying in Charlottesville, VA for law school instead of moving to the big city after college, and then living in New Jersey for several years once I finally did move back up to the NYC area.

I think I need to acknowledge all of that as a kind of death. A death of years, a death of time, a death of opportunity. It totally sucks – it totally sucks that it’s all gone and that I screwed it up. Part of me keeps hoping that I can catch up on what I’ve lost, that I can make up for it somehow. But I can’t. I guess I’m still in the Bargaining stage.

I just realized that.

16 thoughts on “Bargaining

  1. Why the gloom? You’ve got an apartment, a boyfriend and a life — three things most people would kill for.

    Yes, things change, but there’s no point in hanging onto physicalized remnants of the past – especially when they’re psychological in import. As you grow older all this will alter in perspecive.The past will become present in nww and unexpected ways. And it doesn’t have to “Be there” to be there.

    MY but I’m vague today!

  2. Great post. I totally hear you. I’m having a similar crisis of my own, but I can’t figure out if it’s the relationship itself I don’t like or if I’m simply unwilling to let go of my concept of being a free twenty-something instead of a responsible grownup who stays in after dinner and sleeps decent hours and isn’t dating or bar-hopping or having total control over her living situation.

    (How’s that for a poorly parsed run-on sentence?)

    Couplehood requires a lot of mental adjustment. Going from ‘I’ to ‘we’ is a big deal, just as you mentioned: where you live, how you live, what you do, where you go… extraordinarily transforming, it is. And much of it is difficult.

  3. I first stumbled across your blog during my own coming out process when I ran across this post. I bookmarked it at the time because I identified in certain ways with your experience (being asexual until coming out at 25 after a lot of internal conflict and so on).

    Since then, I’ve been a semi-regular reader and I still find posts like this one that strike a chord. It’s uncanny how you mention staying in Charlottesville for law school. I ended up in Chapel Hill for graduate school and considered staying around afterwards. However, the chance to move to a city (Seattle) sort of ended up finding me recently. At this point I’m planning to move there and hope to reap the benefits of things like ease of dating that you mention above. At 26, I’m aware that my early 20s are over and sometimes have similar regrets. However, I’m not coupled and not ready to be really because I’ve had only limited dating experiences in the past 4 months I’ve been out.

    I try to remind myself that I had to work things out in my own time, in my own way. From what I’ve read here, I think the same applies for you. I’d say you didn’t screw it up. At this point in your life, it looks like things have worked out fairly well (as another commenter mentioned an apartment, boyfriend and a life). In fact, being thrust ‘out’ into the world before you were ready could have potentially really screwed things up.

  4. Mmm, yes. Very throught provoking post. Allow me to ramble a la stream-of-consciousness.

    I had a similar conversation in my head when I was dating Jim all last year. Well, subconsciously at least. My conclusion was that I wasn’t ready to be a “we” because I still wasn’t quite the “me” I wanted to be yet. This became more apparent the closer I got to graduation and hence, the more thinking about my future I did (again).

    I’m not saying that one needs to go on some sort of personal journey and “find oneself” before one can settle down somewhere, but it does help to be able to predict in practical terms where you will be in the next few years. Having a career and family helps a lot, at least for me it does. The lack of a career-like experience in my life is what currently frustrates me. It’s ironic that I spent most of my youth concerned that a career would limit my freedom, but now I realize that I need one to be free in other more important respects (well, more important for me).

    I have convinced myself that I need to be available to move and have large blocks of time available in order to have a career, and I didn’t want to force Jim to sacrifice his freedom in order for me to get mine. Lately I’ve been frustrated at the limits that grad school has placed (and will place for the next few years) on me.

    I also grew up in a home with parents who both didn’t settle down until their late 30’s. They bequeathed unto me the idea that your 20’s are for floaing around and focusing on yourself. That may sound a bit ego-centric, but your 20’s are the first time you are independant of your parents control and influence, at least in terms of where you live and how you do it.

    But then again, these last two paragraphs may just be the rationalizations I have made for myself as to why I am single again.

    Don’t mourn your past. Everyone acheives “life’s milestones” in different ways. Yes you may have delayed the sexual stuff, but I like to think of it more like sacrifice. A sacrifice that resulted in you having a powerful, stable career that allows free time to explore your other interests (chorus, SCOTUS, trivia, crosswords, etc), have a significant boyfriend (and yes I will reiterate the fact that you live for free with him even and, in your own words, you’re not going to lose this situation through any action of his) and live in a conveniently-located apartment which also increases your freedom. Happiness is all about freedom for me, I guess (god, I sound like a republican).

    Your recent posts are a testiment to all the freedom you have. Can you sense my jealosy ;)? I believe in karma, namely, that the sacrifices you made back then directly resulted in the happiness (freedom) you have now.

  5. Yes, thought provoking post indeed. You just wrote down some of the words I am thinking now about my life.

    I’m facing the big 3-0 in 6 months. Quite frankly, I’m a bit scared. Yeah, I know its “just another year”, “just another number”, “just another day” but this is the point in my life that I thought at age 18 I would have my life together. Not so.

    And to top it off, I have it all! I have everything that I dreamed of for myself….I live in a city (Atlanta), own a condo (well, I’m paying the bank for it right now), have a great, stable job with great salary and benefits, have a wonderful, supportive loving partner who my parents accept and adore. And yet, I have this nagging frustration deep inside that something’s not right. I’m missing something. Maybe I took the wrong path. I don’t know. Its a feeling for which I haven’t discovered the words.

    But like you, it took me a while (until I was 25) to finally realize I had to step out, away from the comforts surrounding me and make my own place in the world. In some ways, it wasn’t until I met Jeffrey (current and for always beau) AT AGE 27 that I FINALLY started settling into my own skin! 27! That’s a long time! Now, some simple math tells me that I have had a brief 2 1/2 years to experience who I am now. I had 27 years to live the other part of me.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, be patient and gentle with yourself. You haven’t been YOU for very long. Give it some time. Not to sound trite and cliche, but things do happen for everyone at their own pace.

    hmmmm…..maybe I should take a lesson from this too.

  6. Those lost years. I used to think about my lost years – the years I totally wasted. But today life is really good. But those lost years. Then one day I thought – what if I didn’t have lost years – what if life was magic from 18 – and then at 20 I was run over by a bus? Can’t change the past – why think about it? Best to work on now – that’s the only thing I can change.

  7. When I was 14, my best friend, Lyndon, died of cancer. We’d been like brothers since we were toddlers. When I start to feel bad about my life, I’m pulled back to reality: At least I have had the chance to grow up and live my life, imperfect as it has been. This is not to say one doesn’t have the right to examine one’s life and find it…lacking. Just keep it in perspective. Great blog, BTW.

  8. You got it, zinc!

    There’s nothing like death to out everything in proper perspective. The early 90’s for me was one damned funeral after another. In next to no time my favorite instant maxim became “All the Best People are dead!”

    I was wrong, of course, but for a couple of years back there it seemed so right.

    Needless to say, I’m STILL in mourning.

  9. On the other hand, it is definitely possible to have done too much in your twenties, to have been single and “dating” for too long and to have experienced too many things. That song with the lyrics, “I’ve Been to Paradise, But I’ve Never Been to Me” is real, trust me. The fact that you have not exhausted the font at 31 is a blessing, not a curse. Everything is still there to be discovered.

  10. The most interesting Tinmanic Blog post for me in a while. Like “another Jeff”, I stumbled accross your blog as I was coming out;; The town where I have lived in Virginia the past eight years is the town where Kirk Read grew up. A difference is, though, I started coming out when I was 32; I am now fully out, almost 34….. I marvel at how “clueless” I was in my younger years, but I move forward from here.

    I do contract work, and I have worked in Washington State the past two summers. I met a beautiful man in Seattle when I finished my work; I stayed in Seattle a month with him before I headed back east. Since then, we have seen each other three times; I had no contracts going in November, so most of November was spent in Seattle…. The talk is of me moving to Seattle in 2006… Being with Jordan is more satisfying than any of the “one night stands” I had had before. Jordan is a bit older than I am, I consider him wiser than I. He has been out since high school; he has been called “super gay” by friends in Seattle because he has never been with a woman.

    I can relate very much to Tinmanic’s entry “Barganing”: particularly his second to last pharagraph, “I’m 31, almost 32,…”. Last week, I was in North Carolina looking at a contract to bid on. I had a free evening, so I drove to Charlotte, and went to hear some live music. I was at “The Evening Muse”, a music venue, not a gay bar! I got talking to a man, he said that he had just bought a condo nearby near downntown Charlotte, but he had not moved in and still had his house in the suburbs; he invited me to his house.

    So, following this man, he in his truck, me in my car, I phoned Jordan on the phone and told him what I was doing. He was angry. “What do you think you are doing?” “Turn your car around” Jordan’s most haunting statement was “I told you that this would happen!!! and you are in CHARLOTTE North Carolina! not even WASHINGTON DC or NEW YORK CITY!!

  11. What a ‘deep and meaningful’ post, Jeff – really! Your ruminations apply equally to relationships among heterosexuals.
    And I must agree with David Ehrenstein: ‘Why the gloom? You’ve got an apartment, a boyfriend and a life – three things most people would kill for.’ You’re not vague there, David E.!

  12. And re “All the Best People are Dead”: isn’t there a saying along the lines of “all the best men are married”. I used to say that some 30 years ago, I seem to remember ..

  13. James Bakner shared your blog with me.Bargaining…yes.Any and all relationships involve bargaining.Most people cannot even resist bargaining when they are single,It is called life.I would try to b happy i am a part of one that is real and loving.
    I have always also believed be it good bad or ugly,we r a product of everything that is prior life.Keep speaking(communicating..words r really all we have) to your manfriend,and enjoy the ride.

  14. Ah, single vs coupled;
    in Manhattan vs near Manhattan;
    younger vs older;
    these thoughts never go away.
    You never know whether to cherish or trash your past and the things you did and did not do. I’ve learned just to let myself be shot out of a cannon into the immediate future, and to smile into the light while in mid-air.
    You put the thing well.

  15. You must learn to let go of the idealized version of the life you’ve created for yourself and accept the reality and innumerable gifts life has already given you.

    As the saying goes in AA, compare and despair.

    Another good one: expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

    One thing is for sure: you will never know true happiess until you can let go.

Comments are closed.