Thursday, February 25, 2010

Worlds Collide: Searching for My Next Step

In last the few months, I've had these moments where I feel trapped between two worlds. I feel this pull in one direction and then a sudden counter-pull in the opposite direction. This feeling is tied to my own doubts about the future and where I should go next.

This is the first time in my life that I don't have a clear plan. Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to go to college. I made both of those things happen. I picked a good college and I went. Four years later, I graduated and immediately knew I wanted to go to grad school and get my MFA in creative writing. I applied and went. Three years later, Dustin and I were ready to move somewhere bigger than Tallahassee (where I attended FSU) and Dustin wanted to work at Disney, so we moved to Orlando for a year or two (just for fun). Now, we are approaching two years in Orlando and nearly five in Florida, and I have no idea what the next step is and part of me is terrified. Or in other words, the anxious, control freak in me is not pleased.

In the nearly two years we've lived in Orlando, we've found an amazing gay community and our weekends are filled with great gay events, parties, theme parks, etc. We've had a lot of fun (don't believe me? check out my Facebook photos). What I haven't found in Orlando is career happiness or a poetry or academic community. It is hard to find a mixture of these two world. It seems most academic gays turn their noses up at going out to clubs or tipping drag queens or getting drunk and throwing up in the car. It is somehow beneath them. And sadly, many of the party gays I meet, here in Orlando, have no interest in poetry or books or literary theory or analyzing pop culture. They are happy serving the Mouse and dancing drunk on the weekends.

This is why I feel like such an oddity. I love going out. I love gay culture, drag queens, dancing, drinking, pride events, etc. On Friday night at Parliament House few would assume I have the education I have or the publications and interest in poetry that I have. On the other hand, I have spent most of my life being the complete nerdy, academic boy. I've read, studied, and written about amazing works of literature. I've study Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon. I've written a grant and gone to Ireland to study Joyce. Sometimes, I crave just being back in school or spending a whole weekend reading and writing like I once did.

I try my best to blend these worlds, because they are both so important to me, but it sometimes feels impossible. I write as much as I can with a full time job and full time social life and I read when I can (which isn't as much as I would like). I've kept myself to a schedule of writing on Sundays, which has helped, but I don't have a writing community or even people that seem that interested in what I write here in Orlando. I've relied a lot on making internet poetry friends, which has actually gone well, but I miss having people in the flesh. In the end, I often feel stuck in the middle. I want so much that is here in Orlando, but I also want so much that isn't.

I never pictured myself in Florida, and the three years I spent in grad school seemed very temporary. But now nearly five years later, it is feeling more like home and this scares me. Part of me likes the energy of Florida. Florida is a huge vacation spot and my weekends often feel a lot like a vacation and the gays are everywhere at least in Central and Southern Florida. My main issue is that I don't know that I'll ever be happy with my job or the poetry world in Florida, but I also know I can't give up having a gay community. I can't just apply for any teaching job and move to some small town and be that boy again. I spent my first 22 years in almost complete isolation from other gay people and I won't do that to myself.

For now, Dustin and I have decided to stay in Orlando a little longer than we expected. The plan was to move this coming summer anywhere that I could get a good job. We want to make sure our next move includes both of my worlds, but it won't be easy. Yes, we could move off to New York City and find both of these things, but that takes a lot of money and this economy hasn't been too friendly to those of us with MFAs. With time we could do it, but not at this moment. I will continue to try and find my balance and be myself: A mixture of these two worlds. Who says you can't be a gay club boy and a world famous poet and academic?

-Stephen (Caught)


  1. Amen.

    It's a bitch having a brain or even basic intellectual curiosity sometimes.

  2. 若對自己誠實,日積月累,就無法對別人不忠了。........................................

  3. Come to Gainesville. Not much of a big city but an incredible gay community and a thriving poetry community, too.