Dear Diary

My soul has been broken for so long I've forgotten what it feels like to be alive. That white hot electric shine of meeting each moment knowing, with full certainty, who I am and how to meet the next challenge barreling down on me. The quiet serenity of confidence in my ability to meet the future, and the blazing inferno of rage that anything should stand in my way. That secret, sacred, insatiable center feels cold and empty and dead. It has for some time. I'm 29 years old and I don't think I can honestly say I've ever really truly been in love. I sit here trying to think what that feels like and I come up empty. Crushes, infatuations, casual flings, hatesex, good friendships I've tried to develop into more--nothing that came even close to what I expect love to be. To my credit, I don't think I've ever told someone I loved them either, so at least I seem to know myself. I know that I've so wanted to experience this unknown that I've been willing to overlook real facts that stand immovably in the way of achieving it. I think I've hurt people that way. Part of the problem is I just don't let anyone in. I'm already convinced no one will meet my high standards, so I just shut everyone out. I'm just so used to having walls up, I've forgotten that they're not supposed to be there. Perhaps I never really knew what that was like. I don't date. I don't go out on weekends. I don't socialize with anyone. Other people have ceased to interest me. All I see are the faults, and none of the beauty. Can it really be that there aren't beautiful people in the world anymore? I may be dead inside, but I'm not so far gone as to believe that. I can't blame anyone else for this. I'm doing it wrong. Or just not doing anything at all. People used to know me. I was out in high school. Catholic high school, actually. Recently, I watched Glee (in a marathon, both seasons) and was struck by how sexy Kurt's confidence was, especially near the end of season 2. I found myself thinking, "where are the guys like that?" But then I remembered that I was one of those guys in high school. I was damn scared, but I was never paralyzed by fear. In my sophomore year I came out rather spectacularly, with a dramatic if slightly overwrought open letter to everyone at the school. I wish I had a copy of that still. I wish I were still that same person, who could tremble with excitement and anxiety and even terror, yet still act and act fabulously. And I had friends. Mostly girls, but some guys. Straight guys. Jocks. No one fucked with me after that. At my Catholic high school. Years later, when I was applying to take the bar, I had to go back to my old therapist from when I was depressed in high school because the State Supreme Court insisted on knowing every little detail about my mental health history. To get a letter from him saying I was sane, he made me come in for another session, ten years after my last with him. Of course, we disagreed starkly about egoism, and he had difficulty understanding that, ultimately, egoism was what kept me from suicide during that time. But he mentioned to me that he had spoken to the headmistress of my school some years after he last saw me. She knew I was seeing him, so there was no issue of confidentiality. He said she told him that she was still, to that day, impressed by that letter I wrote, and that it was the most courageous thing she had ever seen a student do. I thought, "well that's interesting." I guess I was already dead inside by then. I was out all through college, but somewhere along the way I grew to really hate gay people. The way they politicize their sexuality. The way they think shoving it down everyone's throats is the only way to get some people to accept it. They way they package deal everything. The way they stereotype themselves and then conform their behavior to those stereotypes. And while these are all perfectly valid reasons to feel disgust, somehow, the disgust became the whole of it, so there was nothing left to like. I guess that's when I started slipping back in. What I saw so disgusted me I wanted nothing to do with it. Really, I didn't want anyone to erroneously associate me with that. So I stopped telling people. It was two years of law school before anyone knew, and when, in the third year, I chose to tell someone, it was the ultra-christian right wing girl and she, oddly, turned out to be totally cool with that. I guess at the time it threw me for a loop that people didn't know, but now I think about it, I realize I'd been moderating my behavior and checking my pronouns the whole time. About a year ago, I was visiting some law school friends and I said something that definitively telegraphed "homo" to them and, although they tried to act as if they'd known all along, I could still tell that they hadn't been sure. I thought at first, "this is your fault, because you weren't observant enough to detect the signs." But now I think back on it, it was probably my fault, because I was hiding who I was. When did that happen? When did I start giving a damn what anyone else thought? When did I become that guy? No one at work knows. Or if they do, it's not because I've told them, or done anything that would give them any clue. Technically I can still be fired for being gay. Possibly, that's just an excuse I use to let me remain utterly chaste, passionless, and impersonal at work. There's no one there I feel particularly close to. They're nice, but they're not the people I want as friends. I don't know what kind of people I want as friends, I guess. I don't really have any. Not local, anyway. There is a small handful of people I know on the Internet who I can say, certainly, that I want as friends. None are local, and I need--crave--personal contact. I have one semi-local friend, who lives 45 minutes away. We work the same job in different offices, so we talk every day. Just about stuff. You might know him as The Vegan. Not a romantic prospect for two reasons. One, he's a vegan, and for all the wrong reasons. Two, he's not gay, which, believe it or not, is a major turn-off. The rest of the people I still know from law school or law school-adjacency I either don't know well enough or have come to know too well to care to remain friends. The same problem. High standards, so I just shut everyone out. I don't mind being slow to make friends, but really this is ridiculous. But how is anyone supposed to get to know me if I don't talk about myself? If I just expect they'll be turned off by my religious views. Or my political ones. Or my ethical ones. I don't blame the views. The philosophy isn't at fault. It's my failure to implement it. Maybe I've always know that. Maybe I realized that years ago when I gave up advocacy to focus on practice. Heh. Now there's something I can get fired for. I wonder what would happen if anyone at work knew that I loathe ARDIWA, the corrupt government that created it and the rotten culture that lets it continue to exist. I don't hate my job. It's challenging, at least for now, and it pays well. But I still wake up every morning wishing it didn't exist, and I can't help going to sleep each night feeling a little soiled for having helped it persist another day. I don't hate my job. Maybe if I keep telling myself that, eventually I'll believe it. But this is the sinking ship I've chained myself to for the next 9 years and 4 months. I'll be eligible for a judgeship in 5 years. That was my original goal going into law school. So maybe there's that to look forward to. It'll still be a judgeship with ARDIWA, though. And I'll still wake up wishing it didn't exist, and I'll still go to bed feeling soiled. Maybe by then I'll have learned not to hate it. But what else can I do? I've already given up two dreams to get where I am. I'm financially semi-stable, if living paycheck to paycheck while carrying $100,000 in loan debt and expecting to pay only interest for the next ten years counts as semi-stable. The union at work disgusts me every time I have to have dealings with it. Recently, a number of the judges I work for decided to nominate me for an outstanding service award for some special work I did for them a few months ago. The Agency pays the cash awards, but the union picks who gets them. Union membership was one of the nomination form questions. I don't expect to win. At least here I don't have to join the union, and the union cannot strike. I gave up my second dream because I couldn't do it and make money (i.e., live) without joining a despicable union. I loved film. Before that, I loved acting, and after it, I loved the law. I still remember what that passion felt like. But I've given it up so many times, each time it feels less and less like what I think love should feel like. Now, I have an obligation to myself. A $100,000 obligation. I must try very hard not to regret law school. I think in general I am miserably unhappy. I feel like I'm falling into the future with no way to see what's coming and no way to be prepared for it. I'm terrified of the political and cultural direction things are going and I have zero confidence in my ability to handle whatever's coming around the corner. I feel like an out-of-control ragdoll, tumbling along, bouncing off of or slamming into whatever ends up in the way; obstacles I created for myself with all my past decisions. I think I could bear it all if I weren't so heartrendingly lonely. They say there's a difference between being lonely and being alone, but I don't think that's true. It's tough to draw fire from distant stars. I need a blazing sun within my reach, and with my last dying candle going out, there's little chance of me ever finding one.

This will probably prove to have been unwise.

Tom G Varik