Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fire Island

On a recent business trip to New York, it turned out that boyfriend number 2 was going to be in the city at the same time, so we decided to spend the weekend together. A couple of weeks beforehand, we had a chat about what to do.

"Actually I fancy going out of the city," said boyfriend number 2, "I think we both know NYC itself well enough!"

After mulling over the possibilities, we decided to look into the idea of spending time on Fire Island. Many gay readers will have heard of Fire Island, but for anyone who hasn't, it's a place about 2 hours outside of New York which is a magnet for gay men who want to escape the city at weekends. Actually that's a bit of an understatement, it really is THE magnet. To get there, one drives or takes the train to Sayville on Long Island, from where it's a 20 minute ferry ride over to Fire Island itself. There are several communities on Fire Island but in two of them, Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, the population must be about 99% gay, if not more! All the houses there seem to be gay owned, and are either owner occupied, or rented out for the season which lasts from Memorial day in May to Labor day in September.

But finding somewhere to stay on Fire Island at short notice can be problematic. All the houses which are available for rent are usually booked months in advance. As luck would have it though, boyfriend number 2 was able to find a house to rent for a few days in Fire Island Pines, although I had to take it for the week just to get it for a long weekend.

"This place sleeps six", I said to boyfriend number 2 after I'd reviewed the description of the house, "so have you got any friends in NYC that you'd like to invite to join us?"

"Sure, that's a great idea, there are a few guys I could try :-). But I don't want them to find out about boyfriend number 1," he adds, "I've got no idea what they'd think about the situation, and I don't want to find out!"

Um, is that a straight guy over there? Oh no sorry, my mistake!Unlike boyfriend number 2, I had actually been to Fire Island a few times before. A few times during my banking career I've found myself in NYC at a weekend, and a trip to Fire Island is a great way to relax. It's always a very uplifing experience too, because in the language of one of my previous posts, the place is full of guys at black belt level of gay lifestyle confidence :-). I really can't think of anywhere else like it!

"Can we do low tea AND high tea?" asks boyfriend number 2 on the ferry over to the island on Friday evening.

"Um, OK, what are you talking about?" I ask, sounding slightly confused.

"Well I've been asking around, and apparently everyone goes to a tea dance in the early evening, and then there's another later in the evening too. The first is 'Low Tea' and the second is called 'High Tea' for some reason. It's one of the local rituals!"

Once we've unpacked, we head into the central area of Fire Island Pines to try and find something to eat. The best place looks to be the Blue Whale, which doubles as a bar as well, and soon we're sitting down and being attended to by quite a cute looking waiter.

Ever since the weekend away with boyfriend number 2 last month, I'd been worrying that he was secretly hoping that one day we'll be able to live together full time. The subject comes up over dinner:

"I've got to be realistic GB," says boyfriend number 2, "I know you're not going to leave boyfriend number 1".

"I'm glad you said that," I say. "I love being your part time boyfriend, but it's very unlikely that I'd ever be able to take that role on a full time basis."

"It is great having you around though :-)."

"Sure, but I definitely think you should try and find someone who can share your life with you more consistently that I can."

The next day, boyfriend number 2's friends don't arrive until lunchtime by which time we've settled in, done the shopping, and worked out where Low Tea will be in the evening. Apart from lots of great looking guys wandering around, I also notice that many of the guys have one (or more) pet dogs, especially the couples. I get on well with boyfriend number 2's friends, and over the next two days we all have a nice time, chilling out together.

Instead of my usual Sunday morning run with the guys from the gym in London, I end up going for a run with a couple of boyfriend number 2's friends instead. After running for 20 minutes along the beach, we decide to head slightly inland for the return journey, so that we won't have the sun glaring at us in our faces all the time on the way back. Initially this takes us into Cherry Grove, the other gay community on the island, but soon we find ourselves in the wood that lies between Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines.

"This area is known as the meat-rack," I tell my running companions sounding knowledgeable, "it's an infamous outdoor cruising area, but if we stick to the main path we probably won't get involved in anything."

But gradually the main path peters out. Soon we're lost, in so far as one can be lost on an island that's only about 200 yards wide. While looking for the way back to Fire Island Pines, we find two naked guys at the end of a cul-de-sac with one guy kneeling in front of the other, and they look mildly annoyed to be disturbed while engaged in activities. They don't stop what they're doing, and we just turn back to try and find another route. Why did they look annoyed though, I thought the possibility of having other guys around and perhaps joining in was one of the pleasures of outdoor cruising?

Overall it's a lovely weekend. However on the last night, in spite of the conversation that we had over dinner on Friday night, boyfriend number 2 suddenly asks me a question while we're cuddled up in bed trying to get to sleep.

"What happens if you never able to come and see me again?" he says out of the blue, with an anxious tone in his voice.

Where on earth did that thought come from? Nothing remotely connected to that subject had been talked about all day, nor had either of us said anything for at least five minutes as we'd been trying to fall asleep in each other's arms.

"Don't worry," I say sleepily, "of course I'll be able to see you again :-)", and with my arms wrapped around him I squeeze him tightly.

It's clear to me now that boyfriend number 2's attitude to our relationship depends on his mood. Sometimes, he's very realistic and fully appreciates that I'm unlikely to ever be available on a full time basis. But at other times, he relies on me heavily, and when he's in that mood his love for me somehow prevents him from looking at other guys, except to fulfill his short term sexual needs.

Previously I was worried about whether I was playing with his affections too much, but now I think I should focus my concerns elsewhere. I know that he understands that I'd be very happy for him if he finds a full-time boyfriend that's not me. But until that happens, I reckon I need to try and ensure that I've got sufficient resources to take care of both boyfriend number 1 and boyfriend number 2.


close encounters said...

"I think I should focus my concerns elsewhere" - what do you mean ?

Are you saying that you accept that you may always have to financially look after BF1 and BF2 ??

btw, Fire Island sounds like an interesting place, but don't you normally advocate integration rather than segregation ???

GB said...

I guess I mean that I'm going to stop worrying about whether I should be boyfriend number 2's part-time boyfriend or not, and just get on with it! All my boyfriends like to be financially independent, but then I think they also like having a guy like me around, because they know I'd try and support them if they wanted me to :-)

GB xxx

Unknown said...

I think the problem is that we often place so much emphasis on the label, rather than the underlying substance, which more effectively describes the actuality of what truly exists. With this in mind, I think our perspective changes as we mature.

Until you're about somewhere in the 24-26 age range, your hormones are in complete control of you. It's the age of exploration... go out and be wild and crazy. People who get married at this age, generally speaking, aren't at all ready to make a commitment (which explains the high divorce rate). If all goes well, you gain a level of maturity around your mid-twenties to recognize "hey, I really am an adult now", and consequently, choices and decisions are made to reflect that.

Still, there are many things to learn as part of being a "full-fledged adult". I think part of that is to accept more "going with the flow" than trying to force things to go your way. As one who is beginning to see myself enter the so-called "mid-life" part of life, I feel much more inclined to go with the flow, than work against it. A saying I've heard.. I think it has Taoist origins.. "If you're pushed, then pull... if you're pulled, then push". In other words, work with energy, not against it.

So back to the topic, as I recall bf#2 is in his early/mid-30's. Seems to me that he might not quite have reached the stage where he understands "acceptance". He wants that label of "boyfriend", because that in his mind, translates to you being there. He loses sight of the substance... the fact you like him, spend time together when you can, exchange emails/MSN messages... and falls back on wanting that label.

If I'm correct, I believe you said bf#2 is Asian. Though I hate sterotyping, I think there is some validity (based on my own observations) that Asian (as well as Latin) cultures are more family oriented than say, American or European cultures. For example, if I read a posting on Craigslist in the hookups section that begins "I am looking for a relationship...", four times out of five said poster is Asian. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but in the case of bf#2, something to keep in mind to help understand where he's coming from.

I think you're taking the right approach, that is.. you can't get wrapped up in worrying whether you're playing too much with his affections. You've been honest and upfront about where you stand and your actions are in complete compliance with this. Since he's fully aware, you really can't take on the burden of how it may undesirably affect him.

Hopefully he'll come to realize that being known as his "boyfriend" really isn't what its all about. It's really the sum of everything you do together, how you interact.. that's what really matters. It's really too bad when some people work so hard on focusing at defining what their "relationship" is, rather than simply kicking back, enjoying each moment you share together, and leave it at that. But that is what goes towards the "true meaning of life".. learning lessons through our choices and actions.


Tapak said...

Nice to know that Fire Island is a nice vacation spot for gay people. Will checkout sometime.

I agree with Patrick. What is more important is enjoying your life in a truthful manner. Dont worry about how others define relationship.

By the way , how you get time to write this long posts while working in the banking field. I heard banking life is hectic and there wont be much time for personal life. But from your story , I see you have more time for personal life.

I am thinking about getting a career change to MBA. But not sure if I do it or not because of the long hours.

cheers...indian bear cub