If I never had to fly again, I’d be happy. I survived the long flight home; I can only say ‘survived’, nothing more positive comes to mind. I did my best to stay mindful throughout the experience, and it worked most of the way. But it is a very long journey – from the hotel in Washington to my front door at home it was twenty solid hours of travelling. Hard to keep spiritual and serene through all those hours. Like so many probably do, I mostly blame the 9/11 attackers for how unpleasant flying is. What I wouldn’t give to know what airports were like in the 90’s, before customs agents started treating travellers like criminals. And no matter how many times I’ve crossed the Atlantic in a plane (ten times in the last eleven years, I counted) I cannot stop myself from imagining the potential perils of such a long flight across such a huge stretch of water. Questions like – What if the engines give out halfway? What if the pilot falls asleep? – always come to mind. I have all the awareness in the world about the stats on flight safety, the vast improbability of falling into the Atlantic Ocean compared to, for instance, crossing a road and getting hit by a bus. Yet I’ve clearly watched too many disaster films, and it’s got to the point where I can’t board a London bound plane in New York without thinking about all that dangerous water.
This is one of the areas where my anxiety disorder manifests itself most strongly, then. It didn’t manage to ruin the holiday this time – thanks to spiritual practice I didn’t really have to think about it until I got to JFK last night. Though it stops me from being able to look forward to future holidays abroad wholeheartedly. I still dream of seeing the world, but the idea of having to get on more planes just gets in the way.
Now that I’m back home and still alive, I can look back on the holiday and judge it as a success. I did everything I wanted to do, attended AA meetings in each of the cities I visited, made some new friends, saw some old ones. On Wednesday, my last night in Washington, I met with J, someone who got sober in London a few years ago before moving to Washington where he now lives. We went to a very busy meeting in Dupont Circle, a place that appears to be sobriety central in Washington with all its AA clubhouses. We had to cram ourselves at the back of a small, hot room for the well attended gratitude meeting, where it was all about that favourite subject of mine, gratitude. I did feel grateful when I was there, to know I could do this, be part of something anywhere in the world.
Despite all the good things I spent a lot of time on my own during the holiday thinking about men. I guess I never stop thinking about men, but the sex issue that was playing on my mind before I went away was playing on my mind even more when I was there. Although I haven’t used Grindr at home for a long time I always download it when I’m abroad out of habit. Past experience has shown that it’s easier to meet guys in foreign cities, for reasons I never fully understood, and I stuck to my optimism by logging on to Grindr every day that I was in the US, despite how long it’s been since I actually had any success on it. There were times when there really was nothing else to do.
I had no expectations of anything happening on the romance/sex front out there, and of course nothing did happen. There were a couple of messages from guys looking to hook up, none of which interested me. It shouldn’t have made me think about other people who can book these holidays as couples and do all their sightseeing in company, but it did. I deleted Grindr on the last day of the trip, hopefully for good, as it is abundantly clear that the type of person who would go on holidays with me will never be found on an app. I mean, I already knew that years ago, it shouldn’t even be a question now.
I’m trying to think how to keep talking about this without repeating things I’ve already said a million times before. Maybe I’ll just get the things I’ve already said before out of the way:
- I don’t know how the hell to find the type of person I’m interested in
- I still get lonely despite deciding a few years ago that I don’t need a relationship to be happy
- Grindr is the predominant way that gay men outside of AA meet each other now, and it’s screwing us all up
- I don’t know if I believe that the ‘right’ kind of person exists, by which I mean someone who is more interested in travelling and music from the get go than what I do with my dick
- The reason I don’t know if I believe in the above is because I have never met someone like that in the context of dating, in nearly sixteen years of being out
- I have met lots of people like that in the context of friendship, but that’s where they stay, because
- …the crux of the matter remains that I am probably uninteresting to most, if not all, men, for reasons that I find it hard to argue against, like my extreme need for privacy, my skin problems, etc.
Those are the circles I’ve gone around for a good number of years, they are the circles I went around in America whenever this came up in my mind, which thankfully wasn’t much of the time. There’s always an easy way to stop the thinking from getting too out of hand – porn – which I made use of way more than I wanted to over there. I don’t know if I’ll ever give it up. Maybe I should give up trying to give up.
I’m hitting a brick wall with this. Before the holiday I decided I’d make it a priority to start looking for a good therapist as soon as I got back. That will be the task for the next few weeks. I need to take this to a therapist, preferably a gay male therapist who’s been through some of it or at least understands. I’m absolutely stuck and I’m probably hurting myself. I can’t keep it to myself any more.