In case there's any remaining ambiguity there, yes, I believe in signs. I don't get them often, but when I do, they're usually pretty clear, like this one. I am not under any obligation to do what is expected of me. It's okay to ignore them completely if I want. But almost always, the consequence is that I am delaying my own development.
I rang the next-door neighbor's doorbell, carrying the rug. "Hi, are you Howard?" I asked. That's the name on the address label. "No," he said. "Does Howard live here?" I asked. He said "No, he used to, but he moved out about a year ago." Beat. "So you don't know anything about this?" I asked, indicating the address label on the rug, which shows this guy's address, along with the name "Howard Shore." "It got delivered to our house," I said. "When?" "Yesterday." "Hmm. Guess I'll have to get ahold of Howard and see if I can get this to him."
So that started us talking. I remember the guy who lived in the house and moved out a year ago, I just didn't recall that his name was Howard. He was gay, and lived with his boyfriend.
I can't remember if I've covered this before or not, but we are living in The Flaming Neighborhood. The women living on the other side of us is a lesbian couple. The women who live across the street, one of which has a son, also gay. That's one small bit of diversity I get to revel in, which helps offset all the borderline racism.
The guy living in the formerly gay house is named Rob. He invited me in. He's quiet, doesn't have a lot of furniture. He's divorced, and there's plenty of evidence that he dotes on his four-year-old daughter. He said he's been working with another guy operating a dance studio for ten years, but he's ready to try something else. I asked him why, and he said that it takes up too much of his time. I asked him what else he wants to get into, and he says he doesn't know yet. I told him things about me too, but it's all stuff you've already read about.
A couple of months ago, Rob's dad came to visit. I saw him sitting on Rob's back porch, reading a magazine. Thinking he was the new guy who had moved in next door that I hadn't yet talked to, I struck up a conversation. One of the things he said was that he regretted the career he had chosen, because it had taken up every minute of his time. I repeated that to Rob, since it seemed to echo what he was saying about his own career. Rob said "It's interesting my dad would say that. The whole time I was growing up, he only played catch with me once." I said "Only one time in your whole life?" "Yes. He was at work late every night. After mowing the lawn on Saturday morning, that was it for the weekend, too. He was out of it." Kind of an interesting conversation, considering I'd known him for a grand total of about twenty minutes.
Here's more evidence that I was supposed to meet Rob. I told him that one reason I've stayed in Nashville as long as I have is to mend fences with my family, which led to me mentioning that I go climbing with my cousin's husband. Rob said that he has just recently decided to take up climbing as well, although he hasn't yet started. We have an appointment to go to the gym together on Wednesday night, to rid him of his climbing virginity.
I think I just found Kevin's replacement partner, for when I move away.
That'll be three nights at the gym for me this week. The muscles in my shoulders and neck aren't all the way healed from my last climb on Thursday. Good lord, I'm going to be exhausted.