Rolling the Dice
An Autobiography of Sorts
Why me? Who did I piss off in this realm to get dealt the hand I'm currently holding?
My childhood was fine by most standards. Sure, I got my butt paddled once in a while, and for good reasons; losing my grip on my baseball bat and having it go thru the windshield of my dad's car, for instance. Or setting fire to one of the kitchen drawers. I wasn't a hellion, just a kid that had a bunch of energy to blow off.
Growing up in the outer rim of town was nice and quiet. I built forts, and in the process had a nail go straight thru my finger. Shortly after that, I stepped on a board with a nail in it. Both of those stung a bit, but being a kid, I was right back at it.
Once I hit my teen years, things got a bit more interesting. Looking back now, it's always been there. While my friends were chasing girls around, I was unconsciously chasing my friends. I never knew there was a word - or several to describe what I was feeling. After several exploratory missions over a few years, I was still chasing my friends. I still never knew this wasn't normal. I guess it was, for me. I guess being introverted and sheltered didn't do me any favors.
Junior high school brought something new to the picture: gym class, and the locker room. I did my share of peeking, but who didn't? Gotta see how you stack up, right? I kept my feelings to myself. I'm a pacifist by nature, not one to stir up trouble and I kept to myself and a very small group of friends. There were bullies, and I basically got my ass handed to me more than once by more than a couple of them.
By the time high school came around, I was a loner and hung out with the stoners, getting baked before the first class. Life was just friggin' grand. I did my school work, usually getting somewhere in the middle, grade-wise. My biology teacher stands out. He was a funny guy. One day, while working with microscopes, he said "Don't jerk on the cord to unplug it, pull with gusto."
I was still alone in a big school, with nobody to talk with. 'Talk to the counselors,' you might say. I found it hard to talk when I didn't know what was going on in my head. I still hung out with a few people after classes, but there was nothing lasting about those friendships.
I ended up quitting school halfway thru my junior year. I found a job at one of the local gas stations being a pump jockey, back when self-serve was just coming onto the market. I pumped gas, cleaned windows and repaired tires for minimum wage. I, for the most part, blocked the feelings I never understood that I had toward other men.
Things changed little over the next few years, other than jobs. I found myself working at a convenience store where I met one person that had "The Look." We chatted alot, but rarely ever worked together. Various company get-togethers found us in each other's company, swapping lies and war stories while his girlfriend chatted elsewhere. I ended up at his house once in a while to goof off, ride his dirt bike, and talk. I wanted to tell him what I was feeling then, but never worked up the nerve, let alone understand it myself. A few months later, I got a call from my boss to tell me about him. She told me he killed himself, and in the note that he left, he said something along the line of him being gay and how he couldn't handle it anymore.
I went to the funeral in a daze, and sat with some of the other people from work. People talked about the kind of person he was, and his achievements: the usual funeral stuff. All I knew was I could've done something about this before he got so desperate that he had to take his life. If I'd told him what I was feeling, and let him draw his own conclusions from there, he might still be with us. There isn't a day that I don't think about this and wish I could turn the clock back to make things right. Bob, I miss you.
One thing about the store I was working at, it had a magazine rack. Yes, with those kinds of magazines. I took clandestine peeks at those rags during the down time when I was working, and I saw things that surprised me. It was just models in one pose or another, but it was new to me. The store was by the local college, so I saw alot of the students in there getting their midnight microwave burrito fix. I was still very deeply in the closet, and as far as I was concerned, gaydar didn't exist; at least it didn't for me. There were a few that came in that made me think about myself, but I didn't do anything about it.
I held that job for a few years until I finally found a job at a garage doing grunt work and menial stuff, and then eventually graduating to bigger things. I got my trainee permit from the state and started wrenching, legal like. After working out of the boss' toolbox for a few weeks, I finally got my first roll around toolbox. It was minuscule compared to what I use now, but it was my first.
I stayed at that shop for a few years gaining experience, and more certifications on my license from the State. I eventually changed jobs, wrenching at several shops for the next few years. I was still deeply in the closet, and basically turning those feelings off, never thinking about it. I kept busy with work, and working on various cars I was building and racing for myself.
A few more years passed with me still wrenching and working on whatever I was building next. My toolbox kept getting bigger, too. Things were moving along nicely, including my job. I was feeling good about most things, but still never thinking about 'the other thing.' Keeping myself busy with work and my toys, along with my small circle of friends was just dandy with me.
Finally, I was in my mid-30's and still doing my thing when my dad got a primitive Internet service to play with, though I never used it myself. I lived with my dad off and on thru the years, because I liked the company, and it helped him with the bills. We had a good relationship, but never really talked about things. We were just comfortable; he had his part of the house, and I had mine. My parents divorced when I was a kid, but stayed connected. They got along better divorced than when they were married.
Early January in my 35th year, I got a call from my mom, telling me that my dad was going to the hospital. He'd been getting increasingly sick over the last few months, but never did anything about it. He had this universal aversion to doctors and hospitals. And thinking whatever the problem was would eventually go away. My brother ended up going to him and helping him get ready to go. I met them at the hospital, where we waited for what seemed like forever until they could see him. They finally did, and started checking him over and getting him stabilized, but they found that they couldn't handle what was going on, and sent him in an ambulance to the city, where they could do a more thorough examination.
I find out a couple days later what the problem was: Dad had pancreatic cancer, and it was quite advanced. The doctors gave him three to four weeks, tops. Dad wasn't coming home. After getting him set up with the local hospice and in a skilled nursing unit close to home, he was as comfortable as he could be. After three weeks of getting progressively worse, he died with his family around him.
The funeral was nice, and all of his friends and our family were there to pay their respects. I was doing everything I could to keep myself together, what with everyone offering their condolences and empty promises of help if it was needed. In the end, dad would've gotten a kick out of the brunch after the service. We told stories about him and laughed, and he wasn't there to refute any of it.
It was a few weeks after this that I became familiar with my dad's Internet device. I looked around here and there for stuff on the projects I was playing with. After a few days of playing, I typed "Gay" in the search field. I ended up chasing links for hours, looking at different things until I found a site that had stories. I was thinking 'WTF?!? They have stories about this stuff?' I ended up doing a lot of reading that night, mainly stuff to get off with. That lasted a few weeks until those stories were getting very boring, and I started looking at some of the serials. I found some of those to be interesting and more in tune to where I wanted to go, but ultimately they were not what I wanted either.
Eventually I found the story I wanted, I just didn't know it then. After reading the entire story over the course of a weekend, I was mentally drained. The closet door I had bolted shut for so many years had finally broken open. The next few days were hell for me, as I tried to come to grips with what I'd read and the new feelings I was experiencing. I ended up talking to my boss about me and what was going on, but not in any real detail. I did come out to him then, and he was cool with it.
After our talk, things were better for me. I still read the stories almost every night, and found links to new ones. Eventually, I found a link to the message board of the author whose story broke my closet door open. I found a lot of great people there, and developed a close kinship with many of them. Between emails and phone calls, things were going alright. Well, sort of alright...
There was still a lot of days when I wanted to find someone I could talk to on a more personal, intimate level and I never thought that person existed. I eventually tried several online personal ads, but that amounted to a great big pile of nothing. I did find one person with whom I still have a casual friendship; we still talk once in a while. We're mutual motorheads. He's weird, though - he digs Fords.
I met him just after I was fired from my job by the boss' wife, who apparently wasn't too cool about having me work there anymore. After being on my case about the smallest things for a few months, she finally found a reason to fire me. The bitch.
That led me to my first major downward spiral. I was jobless for 6 months, and my former boss denied me Unemployment after it was already approved, which put me in dire financial straits. I did jobs for people at my shop so I could pay the bills. Of course, it was never enough. The bills kept piling up, and I was very close to losing my house many times.
During this time, my mom was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. We talked a lot after this about whatever came up. I eventually told her about me, and she was fine with it; she told me that she would like to meet him when I found him. But, she never did. She died in her bed a few weeks later.
I did eventually find a decent job, but it didn't pay anywhere near what I was making before. That job was fine for what it was: a job. I was selling everything I had to cover bills and trying to catch up, and it was working for the most part. This job didn't even last a year when the owner and I got into a argument and I quit.
That left me jobless for a couple months until I got a job at my friend's off-road shop, tricking out trucks with lift kits, wheels/tires and all sorts of stuff. This was the dream job; the only problem was the pay. It was respectable, but with the bills from the months before, I could barely live. I was still selling things like it was going out of style, trying to keep food in the house. Between slow times and sometimes meager paychecks, I eventually did lose my house. I came very close to exiting this realm many times during that period, but I'm still here. Some days, I still wonder why.
I did find a nice place to live, still have my dream job, and my toolbox is bigger than my first apartment. I'm still looking for Mr. Right. I know he's out there someplace. Just have to roll the dice and take a chance.
I'm still rolling the dice everyday. What will life toss in my direction this time?
As much as I still think about giving up, I don't. You never know what the next day may bring.