I felt a level of anxiety, emotional lockdown, and coolness when I first arrived at my parent’s summer home. Two adjacent houses in a lovely New England town. I am in one house with my partner and a good friend of mine and his boyfriend. My parents and sister are at the other house.
Coming to this summer vacation spot with my boyfriend, partner, and lover is like coming back to my childhood home. We are in this place where I never felt I fit in and now we are here for a week of vacation. Those impressions of not fitting in were formed in some of my earliest years. Even as a child, long before I knew I was gay, I found it difficult to make summer friends with the other vacationing children.
As a teenager, those feelings of loneliness and isolation grew. I remember coming up to our vacation home as a teenager when we just had one house. I would stay in the attic, the most private place in the house, and go on a sleepy depressed reading binge, hiding in my room and alternately reading Agatha Christie’s who-done-it books and sleeping.
At fourteen I looked eighteen, the drinking age at the time. At night I would wander the town. I might try to get into the local dive bar to drink and watch people dance or I might sit on the portico of the large library in town, hiding between the massive white columns as I wrote in my diary. I found these summer visits lonely and depressing.
As an adult, my relationship with our summer home evolved. I came to the house with my wife, which later included my son. Usually for no more than a week each summer. These trips were busy with a flurry of activities and seemed to go by quickly. My extended family, brothers and sisters, two sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews would all come for a week together and the house would be filled with a non-stop energy and chaos. I liked those visits but also felt our little group was separate from the rest of the vacationing crowd.
Now I am back for a week with my partner and my friends. We are four gay men in a straight resort town with my elder parents and sister staying in the next house. It is an interesting mashup but one that gets better with each passing day.