The "C" word.

I am directionally challenged. If you tell me to take two rights and then a left, my anxiety filled response would likely be, “Wait, what? Can you write that down?” I would then proceed to miss the first right, take the second left and then have a little melt down. It’s frustrating, because as a man, you would think that I would never ask for directions, but as a gay man, I can do it. I just can’t retain it. At a gas station, I can remember the exact shade of Martha Stewart robin’s egg blue paint on the walls, the sunglass display and which one would work best with my facial shape or the unfortunate pairing of shirt with slacks that the cashier is wearing, but not “Take two rights and then a left”.

I posted my dating profile online several years ago, and quickly ran out of viable choices within a five mile radius of Boston. After casting the net to include a 60 mile radius I figured if anyone did respond to my profile I would never be able to find him. And then I found Paul’s profile in Manchester, NH. He amazingly agreed to meet me in person, and left it up to me to pick the place. Thank goodness, because if it had been Manchester, I would still be in the car, possibly somewhere in Canada.

The other thing about driving that anyone who knows me will tell you is that I hate to commute. Anything longer than 15 minutes in the car is a torture worse than water boarding in my book. So, it was somewhat ironic that I ended up moving in with Paul after several months of dating. The commute to my job in Franklin, MA from our home in Manchester NH was 87 miles each way. Clearly, I was blinded by love. “Oh, it will be fine. I can brush up on my French by listening to those language CD’s, sing along with the radio. Really, it will be ‘me time’. You know, time to reflect and decompress”. I told my friends. The look on my friend Sam’s face was “Are you fucking crazy?” but the words out of his mouth were a peppy “Yeah, sure it will be great.”

After six months of commuting hell to Franklin, I found a job in Cambridge which was roughly half of the distance. I was thrilled. The first week of commuting was a breeze. Then suddenly, the cast of Mad Max returned from school vacation week and the 47 mile commute became a combat zone. My personality began to resemble those of soldiers that have seen horrible, horrible things. I would be quiet and pensive one moment then combative and hallucinatory the next. Instead of saying “Hello, how are you?” my greeting was “Two fuckin’ hours!! Can you believe it?” Fucking 93. My friends quickly began to avoid the “C” word. My friend Sam, who commutes one mile garage to garage and drives two blocks from his condo to his gym tried to be sympathetic, but eventually cracked under my constant regurgitation of commuting hell vomit. “Would you shut the fuck up about the fuckin’ commute, already?!” Sam said.

Something had to change. Paul, bless his heart, tried to make it easier for me. He would greet me at the end of each day with a homemade dinner, sparkling clean house and a glass of wine. I would down the glass of wine like a shot, grimace, and then quickly pour another while talking about the only thing in my life, the “C” word. Paul in a soothing, let’s talk you down from the ledge voice, said “Pookie, I know the commute is tough, but you have a fabulous home, a wonderful dinner and…” and before he could finish, I spit out words in a possessed Linda Blair animal voice “Fuck the fucking fabulous house, I’d rather clean the bathroom floor with my tongue and live in a crack house in the city!” The next weekend we went looking for a pied-a-terre in the city.

It’s been a year since we moved to the city. I don’t drive anymore. That horror is behind me now. I take the bus or the T and what others call the “Chariot of dirt” I call a God send. No more navigating or driving. The rage has dissipated. Sometimes at night I dream about driving up hills so steep that the car tips over on its rear wheels and then I wake up dripping in a cold sweat. I walk over to the open window of our small bedroom window and listen to the birds chirping at the early morning light and just under that is the soft electric whir sound of the T on Comm Ave. And though I can’t possibly hear it, I know out there on 93 is the rumbling sound of some road warrior hell bent for his destination in the city. But, it’s not me. It’s not me.

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