Part I Here Goodbye, My Love, Part I
When I wrote part one, I was at a critical juncture in my life. I had just come back a two month vacation in China and Thailand, which was very indulgent, to say the least. I was just beginning graduate school, and I was studying for a pre-licensing exam. Both doing well in grad school and passing that pre-exam were going to be my ticket to career success. I was partied out from my vacation, and determined to do as well as I could in school. A close family member was also dying, so I was traveling back home a lot of weekends. It made staying away from the scene pretty easy. I buckled down, spent hours every night after work and every Saturday and Sunday grinding away, doing work and studying for the exam. I didn't go out once in September, October, and half of November. I thought I had finally broken the grip the scene had held over my life for the totality of my post-college life. All I needed was an intense distraction that commanded my entire attention, and I had found it.
Then my pre-exam date was the next day, and even though I had been studying for two months, I was convinced I wouldn't pass. The morning of the test came, and after three and a half hours of exhausting mental gymnastics, I passed. Not only did I pass, I passed with flying colors. I was in such shocked elation that I couldn't even think. On the train ride home, I blasted music through my headphones and had the biggest smile on my face. As soon as I got back to my apartment, I went over to the Chinese takeout place and ordered enough food for three people, and ate it all. I was still riding the natural high of passing the test, and caught a train back downtown and went on a shopping spree of new clothes and shoes. I spent way too much money, but didn't care one bit. I called up some friends, and planned a little celebratory party at my apartment and then hitting the Gayborhood. We started around 5 in the afternoon and didn't stop till about 6 the next morning. It was like we were back to being the irresponsible, anything goes, who-gives-a-fuck group we were in our college days. It was all so over the top. It was as if all that pleasure I had been denying myself the last couple months came flooding out like a hurricane, and I had no desire to try and control it.
After that night and coming to my senses when the mental high of freedom wore off, I realized how dangerous what I had been doing was. Since graduating college, my identity has been built around my "gayness", and the scene in particular. Growing up, I felt completely out of place and had zero sense of identity or belonging. In college, that transitioned into a sort of half-way in/half-way out mode. I had come out to close friends and started exploring some aspects of gay life, but the vast majority of my word was still lived in the sphere of 'straightness'. I felt comfortable enough, but still not entirely there yet. Then I moved to the city, and suddenly there was this huge, well-established gay community that one could live a pretty self-enclosed life in. I realized this was my chance to finally find that belonging and acceptance that I didn't get growing up. I dove head-first in, and for better or worse, became immersed in it. Clubbing and dancing became my outlet from working in a stressful job, and a way to connect and feel a part of the gay world. It was more to me then just something to do. It represented the ending of my coming out process and the completion of a search for belonging that began as a miserably depressed, fake-faced teenager. Simply quitting cold turkey as I did stripped me of something that had been such an identity marker. I tried telling myself through all those months that I was better off without it, but truth be told I craved it in the back of my mind.
I've gotten to the point now that I realize that going to either extreme is just not a good way to live. I went from a full-time party boy to a workaholic basically overnight. Because I'm a person who tends to operate at extreme ends, I thought the best solution was to do a total 180. As the night after the pre-exam showed, I really failed to control those extremes. When 2018 rolled around, I knew I needed to try and find some kind of balance. I needed to reconnect with the part of me that needed that social outlet that going out provided, but also balance it with the massive amount of time that grad school demanded. Going out every Friday/Saturday night till 4 in the morning wasn't going to fly, but neither would working 12 hour days and every weekend either. Admittedly I'm still far from perfect in this. Whenever I do too much of one thing, I sometimes tend to chastise myself by swinging far the other way. Finding some kind of agreeable middle ground is tough, because the two things seem to be so much at odd with each other. I guess I'll keep trying until it reaches equilibrium or eats me, whichever comes first.