I don't fear growing older, but I do acknowledge that I am entering my early-late twenties. I took a survey yesterday and noticed that 27 was put with the category 27 to 34. In just two days I am joining that group. In the gay world I am suddenly becoming "that older guy," at least on paper, fortunately I look younger than I am, which will buy me a little time.
The last year hasn't been easy. As I've stated elsewhere, the last year and a half have been the hardest of my life. Last November, I was just beginning my new job after six months of unemployment. I am still there and still dissatisfied with it, but I can pay my bills. Career-wise I've been frustrated. I just want a job I love. I have a passion for teaching, but need to be somewhere that truly values education and will let me do my job well. The job market is scary right now and I'm not sure when it is going to get better. This has put a shadow over the last year, but when I seriously look over it, there's been just as much positive as negative.
In the last year, I have grow leaps and bounds with my poetry work. I have gotten more poems accepted for publication than any other year. I started this blog, which has been a great experience for me, so far. I started a Twitter account which led me to networking with other great poets. I have been a finalist for two chapbook contests and I have written a lot of new work. I'm most proud of this, because my greatest fear after grad school was that I would slow down my production of new work, but the exact opposite has happened.
I also find myself part of a gay community, which I've never had before. I go out every weekend and am surrounded by acceptance and love. Some weeks I live for the weekend. I live for the moment I can go and see a drag queen and forget everything else. I live for the moment I can dance with my wonderful boyfriend and just have fun. I live for the moment of dancing with a stranger and having that moment of connection. I live for the old guy in the bathroom looking at my dick. This has truly been one of the best parts of the last year. I've never felt so comfortable and accepted in my entire life.
Then I have Dustin. We celebrated our sixth anniversary in September and are closer than ever before. We continue to grow and define ourselves and I wouldn't have made it through the last year without his support and love.
At nearly 27, I have completed an MFA, have taught college English for over four years, have published or will soon publish 23 poems, have a job that pays my bills, a boyfriend of six years, and a 3-year-old dog. I don't think I can complain too much.
I look forward to what the next year will hold. I hope a new job, maybe a new city, and for sure more poetry and sex.
-Stephen (Saying Goodbye to 26)