As we get older and each year passes, more often than not, we will accumulate what some will call “baggage”. This so-called “baggage” is otherwise known as our past and present. This “baggage” is what we carry around for our entire adult lives. It consists of losses, gains, love, hate and everything in between. There will be people we come across that has more “baggage” than others and it’s our responsibility to figure out if this person’s “baggage” is something that we can handle or comfortable with bringing into our lives. When it comes to “baggage” …what do we claim and what do we check-in at the front door?
Two weekends ago, I did something I never thought I would do in a million years. My good friend and I rented a car and drove from New York to a land called…Ohio. We were attending a wedding for mutual friends of ours and we had no idea what to expect. I drove most of the way and on that drive, I got to know my friend even more. We laughed and talked the entire nine hours it took and shared some of our own “baggage”. We both discovered that while Ohio has lots of beautiful farm land; it is not for us but the wedding was one of the most beautiful weddings I had ever attended. On the drive, back to New York, I realized that in a couple of days it would’ve been my birthday. I was having a hard time processing this birthday since I was doing the cataloging of my life and what I’ve accomplished and things that I haven’t. It is a pressure that I’ve put on myself and part of that pressure was associated with my own baggage. Was I letting my own baggage stop me from achieving some of my personal goals in life? The answer to that question is…most likely. I just wasn’t sure how to fix it.
Last Tuesday, the day of my birthday, I was flooded with cards, text messages, phone calls from all over and while it made me feel rather special I just felt that there was something missing. The day of my birthday was also cold and rainy which is unusual for New York this time of year. I managed to get myself in such a funk that I turned down every invitation that day and instead took myself home and spent it alone. Right before I went to bed that night, I told myself that I needed to check my own baggage at the door and it was time to move forward.
The days following my birthday I told myself that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and that is exactly what I did. I celebrated a good friend of mines birthday at the Standard Grill and the next day had drinks with another friend and by the time Friday rolled around; I had a group of friends meet me in the West Village for drinks and our usual social antics.
This past Saturday, I woke up feeling good and excited. I managed to take my favorite spin class, followed by an afternoon of beauty and then it was time to get ready for my date. My date was with the retired cop that I had met a few weeks ago, at the bar, RISE. He was someone that also came with more baggage than I was used to. He was older than me, had an ex-wife, three children and has only been out as a gay man since this past December. So, with all of his baggage plus mine; we certainly had a lot to discuss over dinner and drinks. We met for drinks first and that was followed by dinner at this new Italian restaurant that he picked for us.
His moves towards me were something I haven’t experienced in a very long time. Every time we would leave a place, he would let me go first, open the door, kiss me hand over dinner and pay compliments. He is also someone that listens to every single detail of what I’m saying and I pay him the same respect. It sounds odd that this behavior should be common and not come as a surprise but as dating these days is based on swiping left or right; it’s refreshing to sit across from someone that is an adult. During dinner, as we were going into further details about our lives, the entire setting was romantic. The food was delicious, the cocktails were amazing and we had two lit candles set out our table. As my date tried to reach for my hand (a gesture that I was unfamiliar with) I was startled and pulled my hand back and as I did, I knocked over one of the candles and hot wax went all over the table. Unfortunately, some of the hot wax went onto a patron’s shoe at the next table. They weren’t upset at all but laughed at my clumsiness and all was well with our table and the shoe. After dinner (which he paid for in honor of my belated birthday) we went to Atlas Social Club for a few beers and while I was there, I ran into people from the wedding in Ohio. My date said, “Everywhere we go, you seem to run into someone you know.” The particular night, I did happen to run into someone in each of the places we were going to but I think it put him at ease knowing how social I am.
After the drinks, it was cold and rainy so we walked up Ninth Avenue to my apartment where I asked him if he wanted to come up and dry off. I knew that he had to be at his parents’ house early the next morning for some Irish football game was playing and they were watching it together. He came up and we hung out for an hour before he needed to leave. It felt nice with him there and before he left, we agreed to have another date on Labor Day. This date would also include him bringing an overnight bag for I invited him to stay the night. I wasn’t sure what I was doing but sometimes in life; it’s alright not knowing what the next moment will bring.
I woke up on Sunday feeling lazy, so I had my coffee and read a book before I needed to get ready for my friends’ baby shower in Brooklyn. It wasn’t your typical baby shower since it was filled with booze and playing the game, Cards Against Humanity. It was still a beautiful shower and I can’t wait to meet my friend’s daughter!
Yesterday, my friends and I were originally going to go to Long Beach but none of us could get our act together so we all had a picnic at the pier and we were out there for hours before I needed to leave them to get ready for my date. I got home, quickly got ready and as soon as I finished getting ready, my doorbell rang. I opened the door and my date was all dressed and ready to go. He dropped his bag off, gave me a kiss and a hug and we went to a bar where I introduced him to the Cosmopolitan drink. We had three drinks at the bar before going to a Mexican restaurant where we would get margaritas.
Over dinner, we went into further detail about our lives and as we were sharing, I was starting to realize that my baggage was heavier than his. Here was this man that had gone through all these life changing events and there was a part of me that was jealous that he got to experience the marriage, the kids, etc. However, he got to experience these things because he is older and made those specific choices. He has no regrets and it was refreshing to hear that. After dinner, which I paid for this time, we walked back to my place and got ready for bed. I already knew that I didn’t want to do anything too intimate because over dinner he took my hand and said, “I could see myself falling for you.” All I could muster up in response was a smile. I still have no idea about the future with him and if we were to be intimate that would complicate things for both of us and I couldn’t do that to someone. Instead, we got ready for bed, cuddled and talked till we fell asleep.
This morning as his alarm went off on his phone, he got ready for work and I tried to fall back asleep but I couldn’t. My mind was going in a million places and I guess that is common when you let someone sleep over for the first time. I won’t be seeing him for a week due to his travels and my schedule but at this point I can say that I’m looking forward to the next date. I’m open to getting to know this person.
So, that is where we are at. I’m a week into my life as a thirty-nine-year-old and still learning, processing and adding items into my bag or “baggage”. Our “baggage” is something that will be ours to own till the end. How we present it to the world is entirely up to us. What we chose to share and what we chose to keep private but regardless of how you handle your “baggage” the most important thing is to be proud of it, own it and claim it.
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