My partner loves to sit in our gardens in the back yard and relax. He watches the birds flutter around the feeder, the squirrels play “catch me if you can,” and soak in the marvels of Mother Nature in her glory. He worked very hard to make our backyard retreat the quiet, soothing, comfortable place that it is. He says that in some ways, it reminds him of “backwoods” where he grew up, in Western Pennsylvania.
I joined him on a bench back in our backyard retreat the other day. This was one of those times where we sat, relaxed, and had a quiet conversation. During that particular chat, I spoke about some guys I have gotten to know who also have connections with his home state.
My best friend, AZ, was born in the same hospital where my partner was (albeit a decade later), and lived in Pennsylvania for quite a while until he moved for a new start on a new life in Arizona, where he is well-settled and happy. My partner knows all about AZ, as we have talked about him and our friendship a lot. My partner appreciates that AZ and I have such a strong bond of friendship, because he knows that AZ is a quality man.
Within the last year, I have “met” (via email) two other fine men from Pennsylvania. I choose not to reveal too much about them out of respect for their privacy. But I can say a little bit.
One guy lives and works in the central part of the state. He has a responsible position with a well-respected employer. He travels a lot. He likes boots, but admits that his boot-wearing has been limited to a few favorite pairs. He travels a lot for his job. He is really smart and introspective. He is gay, but lives a quiet life and has kept his interests in other men pretty much to himself. Lately he has begun the process of coming out by getting involved in groups and meeting people. He has told me that my blog has helped him be more comfortable with being himself and who he is as gay man. I have learned a lot from him, and really enjoy our frequent email exchanges and discussions.
Another guy lives with his partner in Western PA. He comes from a strong, supportive family. He also has done a lot of civic work in helping to protect and care for his small town and surrounding areas. He likes boots, too, but usually only wears them casually (and he is quite attractive in his Wranglers and boots!) He works in a specialty field but in a corporate environment. He travels a lot, too. We have exchanged many emails and some phone calls, and I have learned a lot about his qualities, intelligence, wit, and charm. His nature of being a confident, masculine man has helped reaffirm much for me, as our outlooks on the nature of “gaydom” are identical.
I have blogged about some of the conversations I have had with these friends. What brought us together, perhaps, was a mutual interest in boots, but what built bonds of friendship with all of these guys is more than that. We have mutual interests and outlooks on life. It is not surprising that we have formed solid friendships. These guys are down-to-earth, intelligent, thoughtful, and pleasant men who have a lot to share. They know how to be a good friend. They are forgiving of my occasional lapses in communication. They ask insightful questions. They give support when they sense it’s needed (and they are quite able to sense that need without my having to say so.)
As I was having that conversation in our garden with my partner, he remarked to me — and he’s right — there’s something about those Pennsylvania connections. Sure, I have friends here at home in Maryland and all around the world. I treasure, though, my “PA Connections” which first brought me my partner, and ongoing have introduced me to quality men who have brought joy, calm, and fun to my life. Thanks, guys!