This weekend has been a re-affirmation of sorts for me.
It really started on Thursday when I found out that it looks like the State of New Jersey will be giving me a grant so that I can get my Project Management Professional certification training.
It was the best news that I've had in a long time as things have been really tough for me.
My spirits and my bank account have dwindled to a point where I have to start making some real life-changing decisions. But through it all, I have been blessed with some terrific family, some amazing friends, surprising acquaintances and the best partner in the world.
I'll get to the platitudes in a bit, but I wanted to let you all know of the things, which may seem kinda uneventful, that helped me realize my self-worth and re-energized my drive to do the best that I can do; a motivation that I've really not had in months.
As I stated, the weekend started early for me. When one is unemployed, I guess the weekend starts when you want. On Thursday, after learning about the news from the State, I drove from their offices to the Trenton Farmers Market.
There was a new Amish market in the back and I browsed there for a while and noticed that all of their packaged bulk yellow sprinkles were mislabeled to be something along the lines of $279.83/pound. I love my yellow sprinkles (jimmies for my New England and Philly friends), but I'm not paying $140 for 8 ounces.
I brought this to the attention of the Amish lady who checked out my order. She had such a good laugh about it and was very appreciative of my taking the time to inform her of it. It made me smile to help out in such a minimal way.
Next, I headed to one of the farmer's stands. I needed one onion. They were 99 cents/pound. When I handed the onion to the merchant, he handed it back and said take it. I was dumbfounded... I guess that I've grown cynical over these past few months and a random act of kindness shocked me, in a very good way. It elevated my mood from happy to really happy.
Next, on the way out to the car, I stopped by one last stand. They were selling apples. Now most of the vendors at the market at this time of year sell their apples by the basket, usually about 5 pounds per basket for about $4. I didn't have the time or the notion to spend the weekend baking apple pies, making applesauce, or any other apple-oriented activity, but I did want one Stayman Winesap apple, my favorites.
I again asked how much one apple would be... the result, free. I was given an apple and my mood went from very happy to elated. After profusely thanking them for this simple act of generosity, I walked to my car getting actually a little teary about these strange events. I had not had such a good day for so long; I forgot what they were like. But I really like them, and need ensure that I have a lot more coming soon.
On Friday, I started with the drudgery of the job hunt, looking on the job sites, LinkedIn updates, etc. At 11 a.m. though, I received a call from the instructor from one of the schools that I was investigating for the training. She and I immediately hit it off. We actually spoke about the course and other things for over an hour, again, another positive and pleasant surprise.
I will be "checking out" the school on Tuesday and if all goes well then, I will sign up for classes that start on November 2.
On Saturday, it was Volleyball. For more Saturdays than not, I play volleyball. Many of you know of my love for this. It's my therapy, my social activity, my exercise.
Before my practice, I met up with Tony. He plays in a division which plays earlier in the day. On the weekends that I have the boys, I don't have the opportunity to spend all day there, but we do make an effort to spend a little bit of time. Today, it was great conversation over a slice of pizza. Because of my finances, I will be moving in with him shortly. While very happy about the prospect of us taking the next step in our relationship (it's been years for us dating), I never would have imagined that we would start this phase in this manner.
Tony has been amazing. He has never made me feel less of a person because of all this. I do that enough for both of us. We don't have an exact time frame, but unless something completely unexpected happens with a job opportunity in Philadelphia, I'll be a New Yawkah once again before the year is out.
After pizza, Tony went home as he was exhausted from his team's win. It was time for team 4Play to practice and as always had a good laugh about it. Volleyball is competition, but more importantly, it's fun. Yes, competition is good, but if the outcome is angry, then it's not worth it. I've never had to worry about it with Gotham Volleyball. Being a gay league, I was welcomed and continue to enjoy the joy of the game with such amazing people. I would be a very different person, a much less happy person, if not for them.
Whatever the reason, the first game of our match, I played my best game of volleyball ever in my life. Blocking hits, serving well, setting balls that I didn't think I could get. It was just my time. The encouragement from my team was great, very affirming. It's kinda cool that this old man could get the hi-fives from this great group of guys. We wound up winning the match two games to one, and although I would have loved to win all three, I was really in a great mood. I played well, really well.
After the match, our teammate Dennise gave us all cookies. He's so sweet and I don't know if he realizes how much I appreciated them. They were delicious and kept me going on the drive back to Trenton from "the City."
I stopped by GymBar after the game and chatted with all the Gothamites who were there. Again, looking at the huge crowd and recognizing that I know so many of these people. I note that I am blessed to have friends and acquaintances like this. I never thought that I would have this when I came out five years ago.
Today, Sunday, I woke up after having the best sleep I've had in months if not years. Eight hours uninterrupted!! It was a pre-cursor for a great day, which was spent mostly at home cleaning out my closets (rather appropriate for National Coming-Out Day). I am in purge mode in preparation for my move. I'm letting go of things both mentally and materialistically in life. I said goodbye to my pink Ultravox sweatshirt that I got at their concert in Oxford in 1986. I'll keep the memory. I don't need the sweatshirt to remind me. The amount of stuff going to donation is startling, and it's just the bedroom. Over the coming weeks, cleaning out the kitchen, living room and bathroom will be startling.
In essence, I'm ready to start my new life. I came out five years ago as a gay man. Today, I come out as Brendan, a proud man ready to start my life again. I am ready to face the bad with strength and dignity, ready to face the good with grace and gratitude, and the unknown with excitement.
I have so many people to thank for that. Some who would be surprised at how much getting to know or re-know them has meant to me.
If a man is judged by the people that he surrounds himself with, I truly am, even after all the hell of the past six months, a lucky and blessed person. Thank you!!
Tony, for you, I have no words to express my love and gratitude. I don't know if you can realize how much you mean to me, how much you have given me, how much you have helped me in my journey over these past five years. I look forward to the day that we live together so that the next part of our lives and our relationship starts. I promise you that when we get through this rough patch in my life, I will be the man that you remember. I'll try my best to start that now, even though the valley is still laid out before us. But I see the mountains in the distance finally. I know that the climb back up to the top will be easy with you by my side. As we reach the top, I promise you that the journey there will be filled with fun, love, and happiness. And the views, they'll be amazing, like you.