Chapter Twenty-Four - The King of My Heart
Rex in Latin means king…
Last year I finalized a tattoo design and sat for three hours as the artist indelibly created my sign of my commitment to Rex on my upper right shoulder. It combined many different concepts, including a raw heart, a French crown, a banner with his name, and flames. It represents a deep feeling of love and dedication, the deepest feeling of love I’ve ever experienced.
Before I met him, I had no idea love could mean all this. This life, this existence, this comfort zone. He told me to trust him, and I wasn’t so sure I could, or should have. I was so burnt out, and rattled, and scared. I needed someone to believe in me, I needed someone to treat me well. I needed someone who would allow me to relax, to decompress, to express, to discover my genuine sexual self without fear. What I didn’t understand at the time was that he needed the same things.
But four years later as I sat describing the precise brilliant hues that would be embedded into my arm, I had come to realize that he was right, I’m glad I trusted him. You will never find a more fortunate man in your life than me.
After I left my marriage, I found a place to stay with a friend from work. He had a room open, and so I began moving in my clothes, some of my own photos, and my toiletries. My Ex and I had solidified a schedule for the kids, and when I wasn’t at the kid’s place, I slept there. My friend was dating a crazy loon at the time, but outside of that, it seemed to be a good fit. With my extra time, I began exploring the gay world on my own. I was done cheating, I was done with my CLR, I was finally able to see what this was all about. My fear was dissipating; I was guarded and reticent, but exploding with exuberant glee.
I was in a complicated situation, I was still legally married, I held 50% custody of three kids, and I was absolutely dedicated to them, no exceptions. Was there a guy who would see that as a positive thing? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this situation might be perfect for someone! But the trick was finding that person. What did that person look like? I didn’t know. I wasn’t dead set on jumping into anything, but I am a relationship-based kinda guy. I wasn’t in any rush, I had just left a sixteen year marriage, and it hadn’t gone so smoothly.
Little did I know that I would stumble on that person in only four months.
The first guy I dated worked downtown, and lived in a cool neighborhood called Highland. I went to my very first Gay Pride event with him, and I felt amazed that we could basically make-out in public like straight people do without being stoned (with rocks). During that event, I stumbled on a small group of men representing the Front Range Gay Fathers Support Group. I was astounded! I took the information, made a few calls and attended the very next meeting. I was finding ways to replace my lost Mormon support structures.
After about a month of dating I was beginning to realize most gay men weren’t really looking for a complicated guy like me, although they all said they would love to be a dad. There’s a huge difference between saying you *want to be* a dad and actually *being* a dad. Any self-respecting dad is gonna take every call from their kids, and will drop anything in a moment’s notice if your kids need you. That didn’t go over so well with my dates, which didn’t go over so well with me. I *had* to be with a guy that understood that “Dad Principle” clearly. I am a dad first, and your boyfriend second.
Meanwhile, I had attended several Gay Fathers Support Group meetings. I was beginning to figure out what I needed. I needed a dad. I needed to date a man with kids who understood the Dad Principle, because *I* certainly did. The group was full of cute guys, dads with one, two, and more kiddos. We’d meet, discuss current issues we were facing with schools, friendships, work problems, etc., then we’d go out sometimes to bars or clubs. We all became very close, and it was a fun group. There wasn’t one person in particular that caught my eye, but I was willing to see what the fates brought to me.
During the sixth or so meeting, we were all to bring a bottle of wine, I had no idea what the fuck I was doing with wine, or drinks in general. All I knew was that a single drink tended to knock me on my ass due to the fact that I had *never once* had a drink of alcohol until that day I left the church. Add coffee, and tea to that list as well. The world was a *huge* exciting new place for me! And as I was hanging out in the kitchen, in walks this guy in a black T-shirt, shorter, with a cute ponch and a great smile. He took notice of me almost immediately. He introduced himself to me as Rex, an attorney with three kids.
I liked this guy. As we sat outside on the porch planning our summer activities, some for kids and some without kids, he stood right by me. Later, we all went out to The Wrangler, a gay bar catering to leather bear daddies, just my style. We hung there for awhile and I noticed two men in particular who were mighty fond of me, Rex, and Harry. A month later Rex admitted to me that he and Harry had been together for two years, and that Harry was Rex’s first male relationship. Nothing like a good dose of healthy competition!
Later that night, Rex and I ended up dancing for hours at another club, and as we danced, I was falling for this guy. I liked his sixties style of dancing, his intense stare, the way he playfully bit my neck and scalp. *He* was unusual, and I *like* unusual. We kissed intensely for about ten minutes before he said he had to leave. I begged for his phone number. Within three days we had set up another date, and that night we slept together in a hotel room and I have never wanted to be away from him again. He moved me in to his rental house two weeks later, and I’ve never slept a night without him since.
The first morning I awoke with Rex in his home, I received a panicked message from my roommate who stated that his crazy boyfriend had torched his house while he was out of town, and all of my belongings had gone up in smoke, literally. This fucknut had piled up a few bags of easy lighting charcoal briquettes on my roommate’s back wood deck, lit it, and my room which faced the back of the house, went up in flames. I was horrified to have lost my belongings, but so very happy to have found this wonderful guy who still wanted me. I was done with crazy!
What makes our pairing so interesting is that we have so many similarities in so many differences. For instance, we were raised in absolute opposite fashion, he was not raised into any religious belief, none whatsoever. I was raised into a strict church structure. By the time he was twenty-one, he had partaken of just about every illegal substance known to man hundreds of times over. By the time I was twenty-one, I had never partaken of a single illegal substance, not to mention most legal substances, I considered even coffee consumption sinful. His family was steeped in alcohol abuse, and currently he is the only remaining living member of his family of five due to addiction. As far as I know, about 95% of my family is addiction-free (not including religious addiction), breathing and healthy except for those cases of obesity. So, from that perspective, Rex and I couldn’t be further distanced in life experience.
He was married to a woman for sixteen years and had three kids with her, two boys and one girl. I was married to a woman for sixteen years and had three kids with her, two boys and one girl. He had a wide range of sexual experiences before he married, and he wasn’t focused on orientation so much as he was the sexual experience itself. I was repressed and forced into a straight orientation for my very salvation, which made me realize due to restriction that I was clearly gay but fought that orientation all my life. He had relaxed orgy-like collegiate moments, I never did. Due to the fact that he was enjoying sexuality freely, he did not focus on the fact that he was gay until after his bitter divorce and after he was again engaged to another woman.
Our similarities arise from our fatherhood and marital experiences. By the time he met me, he wanted to slow down his drinking, his searching for a mate, his desire to find a partner. When I’ve reached my two-drink maximum, he uses that as a way to stop his drinking. He, like me, was in search of the same stable person. He had been searching for almost ten years by the time he met me. I had only been searching for four months, but we arrived at the same idea of needing to be with another father almost simultaneously. He had been dating men from as far away as upstate New York. I was living fifteen minutes away from him the entire time.
I like to say that we are the Gaydy Bunch, think Brady Bunch but queer! Our kids range in ages from twenty-one to seven. Rex’s 21 year old is male, Rex’s 19 year old is male, my 17 year old is male, Rex’s 14 year old is a female, my 12 year old is a female, and my seven year old is a male. After two years, Rex and I bought a house together with enough space for all the kiddos. I tried to find a housekeeper named Alice, but we settled for a wonderful Hispanic woman named Leticia who had been cleaning our house bi-weekly for ten years for the previous owners.
We have one enormous white Pyrenees/Husky mix, and one Brown Heeler/Rat Terrier Mix. They assume every couch in the house is theirs; I’ve given up hope on trying to dissuade them. The vacuum is our friend as most of the house is covered in white dog fur within minutes of Leticia’s delicate handling. Oso, the huge white dog which the neighbor kids call the polar bear, has systematically eaten all smaller sized pets; the last victims were my youngest son’s zebra finches. He quietly snuck into the room, carefully undid one of the cage doors with his paw, took a few steps back and waited for the fun to begin. SNAP! SNAP! The burial was in the garden below where Sandy Grackle used to perch.
Rex and I get along quite well; we’ve never had a fight in almost five years. And it’s not that we’re even holding things back, we just don’t go there. We have similar temperaments, and I have found that if something is concerning me, it gets resolved within two days on its own. Rex is very in tune to us when we are together. The kids all thrive together, a few ups and downs, but never even a fight with them either. We’ve been mostly focused on trying to keep the home safe for all the kids, no matter the age. That’s where most of our discussions happen. We’ve had scads of the kid’s friends live with us over the years, and that was very trying at times in the cleaning and noise level areas, but it’s mostly gone now as the older kids grow.
Rex and I are now on a ten year plan towards his retirement. When we first got together, he dreamed about having beautiful places, each with a porch swing, and on each porch swing he told me he envisioned me there. He’s a wonderfully playful guy, and our Halloween costume parties the last two years have become huge. I’ve never known anyone to put in more hours than he does at work; he’s a Mergers and Acquisitions Attorney. One thing I noticed right off was his incredible high IQ, but not in a snooty way, it presents itself in his endless enthusiasm around his clients, his profession, and the world. He reads voraciously, he’s always on top of the news, and he’s leading his firm in revenue goals. The man is a *dynamo*.
But most amazingly is his ability to soothe me, comfort me, fuck me, take care of me, and love me. So softly and tenderly has he slowly healed me. From the moment I met him, he has been singly focused on making me happy, and he tells me he’ll do anything to please me. He wants us to be monogamous and together forever. The “forever” word freaked me out so much when he said it that I almost bolted. In the first year, I was honest when I told him I wasn’t sure I could do it. I was so scared then, of committing, of settling down into a single relationship after having just extricated myself from the crazy. I was honest with him, and he treats me like a rare bird that sits lightly in his hand. It makes we *want* to stay in his care. We aren’t jealous types, and we generously flirt with the world around us.
He understood my situation with my Ex, and has never pressured me to change anything; he complimented me for our loving approach to divorce. When I’m with my kids at my Ex’s house during the week where they have their dance practice, soccer practice, work, homework, and friends, he simply schedules himself to work late during those nights. With most previous partners of his, they all eventually came to hate his insane work schedule. And it would be difficult if I was at home pining away for time with him on those nights. But my custody nights are his built in days to catch up. He ends up working most weekends, but around times when I’m schlepping kids, or hanging out with them. Our situation fits us like a glove, we don’t pressure the other on issues that we need.
After all this time with Rex, I have come to understand what it is that heterosexual marriages have had all along. It’s an ease of love and life, an inherent desire for that person you live with at all times, drawn to them as they go about their life activities, suddenly taken aback by their courtesies, their graces, their sweetness. Sleeping in those positions where you feel so safe, snuggling off to sleep, and waking in the night feeling so drawn to that person next to you. I am finally in the right place at the right time. I don’t even think about *being gay* now. All the pain of the past has drifted away from me, and I have found something indescribable, something just right. I feel safe and sound.
For a long time I was afraid that I would wake up and all of this would be a dream and I’d be back trapped in Mormonism, trapped in a marriage that would never suit us, trapped in sadness. Most of my nightmares have fallen away, gone to haunt some other gay married Mormon man. Being with the right gender makes all the difference in the world. I am relaxed, carefree, and happy. The *real* happy I always wanted, not the “happy” being forced on me for so many years.
Before, I felt as if I was play-acting the life of a joyous man. I would go into the world and see these fathers, so happy, and living life simply. I wanted to be them so badly; I wanted to feel that, I wondered endlessly what it was like. What would it be like to not be haunted with thoughts of pain and suffering almost every single moment? After seven years of church-free life, and five years separated and divorced, I catch myself feeling *so* carefree that I am taken aback by the sweetness of it.
Every now and then I have moments when I become aware of myself. They are always sudden moments of such extreme freedom and exhilaration, and I watch myself, I become my own voyeur. I stop, I smile and I think, “Steve, you have become the man you envied most.”
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