Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Adam

This is a reposting of an entry from Spring 05. It is about my friend Adam, who at the time I wrote it was in Beijing. He resurfaced this week, and since I finally got a picture (of him photographing bacon I believe) I thought I'd put the two together.
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John and I are lucky to have many good friends, some of whom are straight guys. I've decided to blog over the next few weeks about our straight brothers. I'm using the term "brothers" to distinguish between deep friendships and those "I-have-lots-of-gay-friends" relationships you hear some politicians talk about when they are working to limit their "friends'" freedoms. I believe these brother relationships are under-reported phenomena that, like crop circles, should be celebrated.

Today I want to honor my friend Adam. I have known Adam for about 30 years--since we were kids growing up on Goff Drive in Batesville, AR. In our group of Batesville friends, Adam was a middle child. Not the youngest, but still a younger sibling of one of the older kids (we are all in our thirties now). His sister is Mandy, whom I also adore and who likely will have a blog entry devoted to her one day.

Anyway, Adam is known for a lot of things that when seen in print might make you wonder if he is well-liked at all. He is famously cheap--the kind of cheap that will start a conversation with "guess how much I paid for these shoes?" He is actually only cheap when it comes to himself (and unfortunately for them, the girls he ends up in relationships with). And he is only frugal with his money. He is very generous with his time. In fact, his last two visits to Indy have corresponded with our moves to new homes. Each time he acted like hauling furniture was what he was hoping to do with his free time that weekend and just pitched right in.

Adam blows his nose a lot and makes as much of a scene about it as he can. He prides himself on never being without a handkerchief. He can't really grow a beard and refuses to shave most of the time, so he can look scraggly on occassion. He told me once someone said it looked like he had ants crawling on his face. On a dare, he went an entire year without a haircut. He sort of looked like Kurt Cobain. He loves John Denver, Bod Dylan, and bluegrass. He likes tennis and golf. He is facinated by art and teaches English in China. He is a graduate student in Chinese history. Adam has almond-shaped eyes, though his family is from Virginia. On his first day at school in Arkansas some prophetic kid asked him if he was from China (or "Chiner" as Mary, Adam's mom would say), to which I'm sure Adam, even as a six year old, had an appropriately sarcastic response. Adam also is known for his sense of irony, that greatest of gen-x traits. He is one of the funniest people I know.

Adam came to Indy to spend Thanksgiving with me one year shortly after I moved here. I was still single. And after 10 years of trying to change something that would not be changed, I had decided that I was going to be honest with myself and figure out what it meant to live my life as a guy who could only fall in love with another guy.

My apartment was a tiny studio on the 28th floor of the only high-rise apartment building in Indy. That night as we lay in bed looking out over Indianapolis and talking about his last semester in China, I threw in the ultimate of non sequiturs and told him I was gay.

Actually, anyone who had to suffer through my coming out speech back then knows that it was a long one--full of explanations about how I tried everything to change, hadn't lost my faith, etc. Adam really is like my brother or I probably wouldn't have waited until we were in bed to tell him this. A lot of straight guys, like Jimmy Swaggert for example, imagine that they suddenly become the most attractive and irresistable guy on the planet when a guy tells them he is gay. Adam knew me and himself better.

After my lengthy revelation to which he listened respectfully, Adam was quiet for a moment and then said, "That's fine." Then matter-of-factly, "Have you been to your first gay bar yet? Because if you haven't we should go to one while I'm here."

While I didn't know what to expect from him, this was not on my list of top ten predictable responses. "I haven't been to a gay bar. I've never really been much of a bar person. Is it okay if we don't go?"

"Sure, but where are you going to meet other gay guys in Indianapolis?" He said in a "we need to fix this problem" kind of way that made me realize my dating life now had its own pit crew.

"This church I've been going to welcomes and affirms gay people, so I've been getting to know some guys there. Do you want to go on Sunday?" He said he did, so we went before he had to get back on the road home.

Not long after that I met John at Sunday School and within a year we fell in love. Adam came to stay with us one weekend when John was fishing in Canada with his dad. Adam arrived after John had left for his trip. By then, we were living in a house John owned.

For me, one of the problems with not being able to get married was figuring out how not to overstep my boundaries, which translated in this case to doing my best not to rearrange all of the living room furniture into a layout that actually looked good and facilitated conversation. It has since become apparent just how little John cares about such things.

Adam finally said, "Just do it. You know you will eventually anyway. You might as well while I'm here to help." So he helped me rearrange the entire living room, clean it up, dust, vaccuum, etc. (no small task this). I felt much better. Not too many friends will support your OCD tendencies by helping you put them into action.

I'm happy to say that since I came out to Adam not much in our relationship has changed. Our visits are still always too short, but that is part of growing up. We don't get to hike through the limestone-bluffed hills of Arkansas with our friends anymore. But there is a little more trust and transparency between us. And our time together has the worn feeling of Adam's frayed and faded (and kind of smelly) Yankees baseball cap, which like most of his clothes, he refuses to throw away. It seems that the people who are most comfortable with who they are and who have really thought about their values are the ones who freak least when a gay person shows up in their life. It may be unforgivably trite, but I believe true friends are a gift from God. I'm grateful for the brother I have in Adam.


4 Comments:

Blogger JEB said...

Very nice, Troy. You are so good with words, but I think I've told you that before.
I think I might actually get to see Adam this weekend while he's in Conway!

8:25 AM  
Blogger Troy said...

He said Mandy may try to pull something together. I hope she does, but I wish I could be there. I did get to speak with Mandy be phone the other day! This reminds me, when is President Lincoln's birthday party? Is it still on?

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Jen Kendrick said...

Hi Troy!!! Jen (Hill) Kendrick here-- I haven't talked to you in AGES!! But anyway I saw Adam at Mandy's over the weekend and I was telling him that I stumbled upon your blog around Christmas looking for something on Jennie's I think about Pat's birthday-- anyway it sucked a day of my life away I think!! ha It was so nice to hear your "voice"....you are such an entertaining writer....but I can tell I have to stop with the blog reading. One blog leads to another persons and pow its morning! Anyway-- I just wanted to say Howdy! Lori's coming to see me tonight -- I'll tell her we "chatted"!! Love, Jen PS I love your winter twigs :) -- nor something you hear very often huh ha

12:52 PM  
Blogger Troy said...

Jen! So honored to have you reading! I wish I could have been at Adam's party. I asked him about you. I know you and Mandy get to hang out. I'll be at Jennie's Lincoln party if you hit that one. Would love to see you and catch up.

1:26 PM  

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