Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018


I sit at my desk at home on this snowy Sunday in Salt Lake City. Two dogs are wrestling at my feet, occasionally humping one another even though both are neutered. Apparently we have perverted pets. Skylar has just made a mess of my kitchen attempting to cook pancakes. And it's time to pen a year-end post.

I started this tradition in 2010. Nearly none of you were around then. I mean, around Stranger. I'm sure some of you were alive by that time. In 2010 I wrote to an audience of about five. In fact, in that year-end post, I wrote that during that year "I blogged and wondered how many people were actually reading."

There have been so many dramatic changes in my life and in yours since I quietly wrote those words eight years ago.

One of my favorite things about this tradition, and the biggest reason why it brings value to me, is that it gives me a chance to share a layered list of memories I want to keep--layered, because the words have dual meanings--some for you to understand, and some just for me. Every list I make includes some coded language to help me think about, years later, memories that I want to keep, but not fully share.

This makes reading these old posts a really nostalgic and sometimes sad experience for me. Take 2010's post, for example, which I read again just now.

I included a line about something I had done that year: "I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's and thought it was sad."

I wrote those words because I wanted to remember that 2010 was the year I devastatingly and finally accepted that I was not going to be able to live the life I always thought I would have.

I was in my second year of law school at the time, living in Provo Utah, and attending BYU. There was a young woman in my apartment complex. She was a remarkably wonderful person.

Over the years, I had very clumsily tried to date women, sure for about 100 reasons, most of those religious, that I could figure out a way to make that kind of relationship work, even though I knew I was gay. None of these relationships went very far, and none were serious. But I hurt some feelings along the way as I quickly lost interest time and time again. It has taken some concerted effort to forgive myself for that.

I had told myself that maybe I just needed to find someone who was perfect for me, and then it would click. I was losing interest so rapidly only because those matches weren't right, I thought, and eventually I would meet a young woman who was a right match.

Then I met Alicia in 2010, that remarkably wonderful person.

Her personality was completely compatible with mine. I thought the world of her. She was driven, and smart, and funny, and artistic, and kind. She was as beautiful as anyone I knew. I was really surprised that she was interested in me, frankly.

We started dating. And the exact same cycle that always happened took over. I would lie in bed at night, sick with terror about the relationship. I found myself looking for excuses to try to get out of it as quickly as possible. Normally I would have just ended it and tried to move on. But it was different this time.

I was devastated by the realization that if I couldn't make it work with Alicia, this remarkably wonderful person, I could not possibly continue to hope to make it work with someone else.

"I will be alone, without hope, forever."

I actually thought that. I would be a pariah in my church community for the rest of my life. I couldn't ever marry a woman, and if anyone found out why, I would be pitied and probably judged. And if I ever pursued a relationship with a man, (which would be out of the question for another year and a half), I would be wholly condemned.

Alicia invited me over to her apartment one evening to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's with her. I had never seen it, and we both liked old movies, so she insisted we put it on. This would be our last date, although I didn't know that when I heavily walked to her place.

I spent the entire movie trying to stave off a panic attack. By the time it was ending, my eyes were red and I was choking back tears.

"Why are you crying?" she asked me.

"I thought it was sad."

I needed to remember that experience when I wrote 2010's review. That and much more.

I told you that story just now because I want you to really understand how beautiful 2018 has been for me, and why that matters so much.

I had decided that 2018 would be The Year of New for me. I wanted to start a whole new life this year. I wanted to make decisions this year that would be impactful enough that when I looked back later, I would remember 2018 as the year when everything changed. I wanted that, largely because of how broken I was by the end of 2010, and how hard I had to work over the next seven years to learn what it really means to be brave.

It worked. And I'm really proud of that.

In 2018, I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's with Skylar and thought it was beautiful.

I cleaned an old bike. I got robbed in San Francisco. I rode in the back of a limo through some vineyards. I got rained on during a tree-lighting ceremony. I haggled with a Ukrainian hostel. I DECIDED TO BE GAY on the internet. I got engaged. I got shingles. I saw The Last Supper and thought it was huge. I tried to bake cakes and failed miserably. I lost in court and then cried. I spent a lot of time in a recording studio. I cried with a congressional candidate. I went on a ghost tour. I spilled a stranger's drink on a pool table. I watched the sun rise at Delicate Arch. I went to a white coat ceremony. I was nostalgic at someone's high school reunion. I filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. I helped start a pop culture podcast. I cried with a homeless man over someone we both loved. I tied my best time in a half Ironman. I walked through Central Park in the dark. I bought a painting in New Orleans. I got trapped in a warehouse in the middle of the night. I donated money to a political campaign. I played fetch with a little black dog.

It is never too late to change your life and find happiness.

I love you all, and hope, as always, that 2019 just gets stranger for every single one of you.

~It Just Gets Stranger

25 comments:

  1. I am so glad that you are a peace and happy. I love you and am infinitely proud of you. Dad

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    1. This simple and tender affirmation brings tears to my eyes. All every child wants is love and validation from their parents. Every kid needs a Bob and Cathie in their life!

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  2. I stumbled on your blog one day and really liked it. I didn't know it would soon be one of my very favorite things to read. The changes you have made are astounding. I don't know if I have made as many meaningful changes in all of my 53 years of life. Wow! Keep up the good work. There is at least one woman in California who not only adores you, but also loves you.

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  3. I’ve been reading Stranger for about five years now, and I almost never comment on things online. After reading this, I want to!! It’s been so wonderful sharing your journey, and I’m so happy that you’ve found joy in your life, in yourself, and in Skylar. You both deserve it!!

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  4. Been reading since 2012, and it's my favorite thing on the internets. We were at BYU together but I never met you, sadly. I have mad admiration for you.

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  5. Surely I wasn’t the only reader that went back to your 2015 year post and grinned when reading, “I went to a wedding in Cleavland with good company.” Happy New Year! Thank you for your wonderful posts!

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  6. I have been reading your blog since 2011. In those years you have made me laugh, cry, and really stop and think about the world we live in. I stopped making new years resolutions because of you. I now have the year of - and it has been life changing! I am so glad I accidentally ran across your blog. It has changed me for the better. I can also say that I have witnessed the change in you - and I am proud of you - even though we have never met. Thank you!

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    1. Glad to hear it! Which has been your favorite “year of”? Will be unveiling my own later this week!

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    2. I think it is a tie between the "year of a new me" and the "year of attitude" and the "year of productivity". They really did inspire me.

      The favorites that I have done myself are: The year of smiles and the year of laughter. Both very difficult things for me. 2019 is my year of vision - my goal is to pick up a camera at least once a week and take pictures, to hopefully see the world in a new way.

      I can't wait to hear what your year of will be - always some of my favorite posts!

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  7. This sounds like a very good year! :) No one can know how hard it has been except for someone who has also lived it. So proud of you. Love you & Skylar! XOXOXO Mom
    PS Did you really walk through Central Park IN THE DARK!?! ELI!!!

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    1. Not that he knows what the dark is!!

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  8. Your endeavors and accomplishments in being brave are beautiful.

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  9. You continue to inspire, dear sir. Thank you.

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  10. Beautiful. This continues to be one of my very favorite places on the internet and this post perfectly exemplifies why. Thank you for sharing with us Strangers and allowing us to share with you.

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  11. I love your parents. And you. But I really love your parents.

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  12. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I've been a reader since you were in Palau and though the humor remains the same, you seem so much happier now. I didn't even realize you were unhappy then, but now you just ooze happiness. (It's a little messy, really; perhaps you should look into some essential oils.) Seeing you come so far and living your life authentically is an inspiration to me, and undoubtedly countless others! Happy new year, Eli!

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  13. I started reading your blogs in the winter of 2012. For years I wondered when you would come out, and I sometimes prayed for you, hoping you were simply private. I worried you'd feel pressure to marry a woman for religious reasons. I'm so very glad that you met Skylar, and wish you both happiness.

    Thank you for the years of laughter, for sharing a bit of your life with Strangers, and for witnessing to living a life with integrity.

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  14. In the past week I turned 30 and got Shingles.

    I’m blaming you for the Shingles.

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  15. You put a ring on it - I think you need to start referring to it as "our" kitchen . . . .

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    1. Unless he's like my exhusband and everything that is his STAYS HIS and everything that is Skylar's becomes "OUR'S". Just saying...

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    2. Eli has apparently turned into a seagull from Finding Nemo. Run Skylar, RUN!

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  16. You are really good at getting me to feel the feels.
    I was living in a foreign country while you were in Palau and related so so so so much.

    I'm sorry you had shingles, I've heard that it's the WORST.
    And I'm very glad for all the good.

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  17. Very beautiful. I have read for years as well, not sure I've ever commented. I'm not too into resolutions either but have never tried a "year of". I think I'll do that this year! I turn 40 in a few weeks so I've been doing lots of thinking and reminiscing so seems like a good time to start! Thanks for your words. I laugh outloud at most of your posts, as well as feeling so good about humanity when I read your uplifting, lovely words. Keep writing!

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