A Reflection by Rick R Reed
For my partner Bruce and me, June and July are celebratory times. Our anniversary was June 15 (yea! we have made it to nine years now…and I see many more ahead of us) and both of our birthdays fall in July (mine on the first, along with our Boston Terrier Lily) and Bruce on the 12th.
Bruce and I were having dinner at a little French bistro in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle on my birthday last week and, as the wine flowed, we talked. He told me how content he was with his life and that, really, there was nothing else he could wish for. I felt the same way. It’s nice when you’re on the same page. He said we had something special and that one word summed up what we had.
I’ll get to that word later.
But it wasn’t easy getting to this page in the book of our lives. And thinking about Bruce and me has made me consider my other special love, and that’s writing. If any of you out there have followed my career at all, you’ll know that, lately, my stories have plotted out the course of love just as much as they have the build-up of suspense or horrifying revelations. I can proudly say I am now just as much a romance writer as I am a horror or dark suspense writer. Heck, even my werewolf novel last year, THE BLUE MOON CAFE is, at its heart, a love story.
You may wonder why my writing has slipped off in this new direction. I certainly have. And I think it has a lot to do with Bruce. See, we’re happy. We’re content. We’re settled and in a love that only continues to grow with the passage of time.
I don’t know if this is a leap of logic that makes sense but I think that I am more drawn to writing stories that map out the connections made by the human heart these days because I am not expending as much energy seeking out that connection in my own personal life. Now that I have found my one true love, my soul mate, I can open up and write more freely about what draws people together and what keeps them apart. I find those connections fascinating and I don’t believe I could write about them objectively until after I had found, after much searching, a relationship that would work for me, one that would nurture and sustain.
Before Bruce, there was a marriage to a woman and having a child. Both of those were–and still are–wonderful in their own ways. But trying to live a life that was not my own was not only emotionally exhausting, it was dangerous in many ways. With a lot of heartache, I had to let that dream, which really was never for me, go. I came out in my early thirties, in a world where gay marriage was not really even being discussed yet and the specter of AIDS loomed large. It was not necessarily a good time for a gay man to be experiencing the world and finding himself. But then, when is it ever a good time? But my point is I went through a lot of searching, a lot of experimenting, a lot of bad choices, always in search of love, and always coming up empty-handed.
A lot of those disappointments occurred because the real love I needed–the love of myself–I had yet to discover. I look at my thirties as my true adolescence, with its attendant growing pains.
It wasn’t until I was 43 that I met Bruce. Gone were the hopes that I’d meet a special man in some bar or even a gay social group. The era of the Internet was on us in a big way and I placed an ad with the picture below and the headline, “What’s Your Story?” Bruce was one of several who responded, and the only one with whom I connected. He sent me some pictures of himself, one of which is below. He said things in his very first response to my ad that resonated, things like, “OK- as far as “fun” is concerned– at least the fun that isn’t entailed in my listed interests above- I mentioned I’m a pretty versatile guy, though that includes being romantic as well. When guys say they like everything “mild to wild”, I chuckle. Just strikes me as funny, I guess. ( Humor is a big thing for me– gotta have a good sense of humor.)” and “Ambivalence is a turn-off for me. And attraction is such a subjective and somewhat nebulous thing. I’ve learned to trust my gut instincts about it.”
I wrote back. He wrote back and we started a daily correspondence that would last two weeks, two weeks before we even laid eyes on one another, even though we lived less than two miles away from the other. We began to get to know each other and we both liked what we saw, what we read in our lines to each other, and what was between them. We had both reached a stage where we were ready for the other. Timing is everything.
We met in person and it was magic.
I won’t say we didn’t have some bumps in the road, though, getting to where we are today. Nothing really good ever comes easily. But Bruce and I were always willing to talk–whether it was face to face or through e-mails (and now texts and Facebook updates!). The line of communication has always been open and I think that’s what’s made the difference with us.
It’s also made it possible for me to be able to sit back and be more objective about writing romance because finally, at age 53, I finally, finally, have a handle on what works and what doesn’t. Until I had that key, I honestly believe I couldn’t have written convincingly or effectively about romantic love.
So you can expect two things from me–one, that I will always be in love with Bruce and two, that you will enjoy many more stories of love and romance between two men–because of Bruce and what he gives to me.
Oh, and that one word I alluded to above? The one Bruce used when he said it summed up what we had?
That word is family.
Rick R. Reed is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a two-time EPIC eBook Award winner. His work has caught the attention of Unzipped magazine, “The Stephen King of gay horror,”; Lambda Literary, “A writer that doesn’t disappoint,”; and Dark Scribe magazine, “an established brand – perhaps the most reliable contemporary author for thrillers that cross over between the gay fiction market and speculative fiction.” He lives in Seattle. Visit him on the web at http://www.rickrreed.com or at his blog .