Monday, November 21, 2011

Gracias

My brother and I just got back from Peru. I had always wanted to go to Machu Picchu. It was truly amazing. The Incas (or more correctly the Ketchuans as Incas were only the Kings) really knew what they were doing. Their civilization focused on the stars above...their gods were the Sun and the Moon and the stars.

Machu Picchu was more organised than some of the present day South American cities. Built on top of a hill surrounded by amazing mountains. It was truly the highlight of this journey...more inspiring than the ruins in Turkey or the modern marvels in Rome.

The Ketchuans never wrote anything done...no hieroglyphics were found in Peru. They were more verbal like modern day Latinos..verbalizing their everyday thoughts. Could explain why I’m so verbal! I like to think that I have a bit of Ketchuan in me..their civilization did stretch all the way to Colombia.

I’m back in Bogota with two more days before I head to the USA for Thanksgiving. This is one of my favourite holidays. Not because of the sales or the food..but for the fact that you stop and give thanks...for what you have...who you have....in your life.

I’ve been distressing things these last few months...terrible poverty in Africa, despair in South America..orphans in Colombia and violent protest in Argentina. There is so much inequality on earth...why do some have so much..others so little..some of us can change and improve our lives...others do not have access or tools to change our status.

I am so thankful for this journey..no matter what happens...or how much I invested..it has been the best thing I ever did in my life. The best investment...in me and life changing...this journey may change where I live and what I do in the future. The friendships and memories..will really last a lifetime..even if I lost all my pictures from Peru...I left my camera in a taxi in Lima!

No matter where I go...though..there are some common themes..that search for connection, meaning and happiness. It is reassuring in many ways that even though we are separated and divided by language, race, religion, gender, customs...there are some unique values that bind us as human beings...and sometimes you find common ground through humour or a hug.

USA, South Africa and India. Next stops...the journey and the year are coming to an end soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Time

It is the middle of November. Where has this year gone. Time never stands still. I am also done with my journey. It has been an amazing six months filled with new people, adventures a lot of food. Have I found what I am looking for? possibly. I have found myself. India and the USA remain.

I can see the end though. I can’t be the traveller forever. At some point, I will need to settle down, get a job, buy a house and live like everyone else. But I will always be better for it, for jumping into the unknown..packing a suitcase and traveling around the world. I’ll have no regrets...

I still believe something wonderful is just around the corner? a new love? a new job? a new city to explore...and many friendships to be made. The trip was not cheap but it was certainly an investment in myself. I read somewhere that the happiest people in the world were the ones that invested in themselves (education, travel, new car) not the ones who held cash in the bank or stocks in the market. Maybe I am just trying to rationalise it all.

I feel like my mission here in Colombia has been accomplished. I came to reconnect with my family and I have...I have realised that you can never really disconnect from family. They are always there...even if you are not around. I’ve realised the importance of family in my life.

I’m off to Peru tomorrow to Machu Picchu the land of my ancestors. Well...I guess they could really be all of our ancestors. I hear there is amazing positive energy around Machu Picchu, similar to that experienced at the Pyramids in Egypt. I am going with my brother. We have not travelled in a while and this is an opportunity to bond and have our own unique experience. Time has not stood still. My brother is no longer my baby brother...he’s got a serious job, a mortgage and a girlfriend. He’s a man who I have not spent time with in a long while.

Time never stands still even when you are traveling back in time...so make each second count and do what you want to do tomorrow today. You never know if tomorrow will come.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We are family

They say you cannot pick your family or your sexuality. After many years of not being happy with either, I feel that I am comfortable with both. I would not change either....It is month six of my amazing adventure. So much has happened, it is hard to find the time to write. I partied in London, swam in Turkey, studied Italian and drank delicious South African wine in Cape Town.

I am in Bogota now, the city of my birth. My father and my brother live here. My father is getting older and is ill. I wanted to spend a good month here. I find it really important to be in touch with my roots...my history. I’m an avid history fan. To me history is like one of those amazing stories that your grandfather tells you at dinner time.

When I was young, the lights would go out in Colombia. There still are electricity shortages at times. My father or grandfather would tell us stories about their youth...how they were very poor (everyone in Colombia was poor in the old days) and how they came from the country to the big city to find work. Both my father and grandfather were self made men..who had little schooling but managed to have their own businesses and do well.

I spent an afternoon with my grandmother who is 82 trying to trace back our family line. So much has changed in her generation. She now uses her mobile phone and still lives alone. She’s adapted to society - she was the type of person who used to look down on women who lived with their boyfriends before marriage. Now, she’s open to having a gay grandson and having grandchildren who have children without getting married. Times changed and she has changed with it.

I went out with grandmother the other day. We went for dinner and to drink wine. She’s so wise and never misses anything. She has been widowed since my grandfather died a few years ago, but she seems content and happy being alone. She married very young and raised six kids, never really had anytime for herself. After she cared for her children, she cared for my grandfather who had al. What a remarkable woman...a real inspiration...and someone who loves me and supports me unconditionally.

I never know how far I can push the boundaries with grandma. We never talk about boys or sex...but every once in a while she’s make a joke or comment...and I’ll think..she definitely knows what is going on....I think she reads Cosmopolitan.

I hope she’ll live for a long time. The clock is ticking and living abroad away from family makes me miss them even more. I’m trying to cherish each and every moment.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oi! Brazil Calling

I’m back in the continent of my birth. It has been a long time since my last post. I guess I’ve been living my life to the fullest each day...instead writing about it. I’m the type of person that worries a lot about life...I usually spend my day reflecting and in thought about everything I do...everyone I meet. But lately, I’ve just been living...doing...not thinking...not worrying but just in the moment. My shrink used to say that if you spend all your time worrying about the future...you are not living in the present. He is right. Although I can’t help but worry that something bad is happening....I am never this happy...life is never this good (not for me)...so the pendulum will swing one day....maybe I’ll get cancer..or my plane will crash but until then..fuck it. I’m gonna enjoy it...and probably write a bit less than usual.

So much has happened since my last post. I sit here on a cafe at Avenida Paulista...pondering life. Avenida Paulista is the Avenue of the world....it is where all the beautiful people in Sao Paulo come out to see and be seen. Brazilians are just HOT! You can feel the sensuality in the air....I like the bustle and hustle of the city.

But the truth is that I left my heart in Cape Town. I had an affair to remember. Ten wonderful days with a wonderful man. I have not had those feelings since two years ago..when I was with my ex partner. I like Sven. I have not told him that....after all I was leaving...but I do. He is sexy. He makes me laugh and we have wonderful chats. He’s a great kisser...cuddler. We went for walks on the beach..great coffee chats...wine..romance...all with the background of Cape Town, the most beautiful city. We enjoyed every moment.

“I do not want to have my heart broken,” he told me. I think we both hesitated about jumping in...he lives in Cape Town...I live in Australia. But we both knew there was a connection. What will be..will be...so I’m here and he’s there.

I started this journey because I was looking for something....trying to find myself. Maybe what I was looking for was Sven. Maybe things will not work out..but I found that I could fall in love with someone. I let someone else into my heart. It is healed. Mission accomplished.

I’m flying to Colombia on Monday. I am going to spend a month with my father. My brother has moved to Colombia earlier in the year. My father’s health has been getting worst - and I need to spend time with him. I’m not sure how long he’ll be around for...and I have this feeling that it will not be long. I like to think I live my life without any regrets but I probably regret not working on my relationship with my father. I have a great relationship with my mother but with my father - there have always been issues.

I am seeing Sven in December - another 15 days to figure out if what we have is for real...I need to make a decision about where I’ll be based from 2012. That’s when I’ll start worrying again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Out of Africa

It has been a while..I have been too busy living life to have time to write. Where to begin...New York...forget America. I’m back in Africa. I’m in Cape Town, my most favourite city in the world...I’m having an affair with this magical city....it keeps calling me...drawing me back.

When I was contemplating moving to Australia, I also considered South Africa. Fate would send me to Australia twelve years ago. I always wandered what would have happened if I had come here. What if... I came to South Africa for the first time last May and even though it was winter I fell in love with Cape Town.

There is something about Table Mountain, the coastline, the mix of people - cultures and energy. It is European, African and beautiful all in one. I need to live here..somehow..sometime.

I am living with two crazy gay guys in a bed and breakfast in the middle of town. Everyone calls John “Mama” as he likes to take care of everyone else. Mama is in her mid 50s and is from the UK. He seems to not work but lives a fabulous life. I still do not know what he did back in London but he seems to enjoy the most of Cape Town. He chases after younger boys and drinks from breakfast until sunrise. He reminds me of Patsy in Ab Fab. He never seems to eat but is always smoking a ciggie.

His business partner is my friend Daniel. He’s a bit older than me and also lives in the guesthouse helping Mama run it. Daniel and I shagged last time I was in Cape Town. He’s become a good friend - but the attraction is no longer there or maybe it was never there.

Capetonians are very friendly. And I’ve started dating. I’m having a bit of an affair with a Kenyan born South African named Sven. His family is German. I’m really into him. I like him and we have had a few great dates and nights. I think he’s worried and hesitant as I am leaving in a week but we both know we have a special connection.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Arrivals and Departures

When you are a traveller...there are always arrivals and departures....a bit like in life really. Ends and beginnings. I can’t believe my month in DC and the USA has come to an end. Time seriously flies when you are having fun.

I think I accomplished everything on my mental list. I spend time with my family, I experienced this city like I never did when I grew up here. I applied for jobs, wrote and met some amazing people. I dated a great guy - and had hot porn sex with a black guy. My batteries are charged, my suitcase a bit heavier...(and I am too) and I’m ready for my next stop...next continent.

I ate my way through Washington DC. I think I know why Americans are so fat. There’s just so much food available. And yes, everything comes with French fries...and a salad and a five litter cup of Coke for only 2 cents more.

I’m not sure if DC is the place for me..but it is definitely a special place for me. I got in touch with a lot of memories and friends from the past. I feel like my relationships have been reinvigorated and with it..so has my soul. I got my self esteem back...I feel good..sexy (could be all those donuts)...even if I could loose 4 kilos. There is really someone for everyone in America. No matter what you’re into..what your scene is...there’s someone who’s into it.

Start spreading the news...I’m coming to New York. A good city to end my American adventure. More food, friends and museums.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Those who can't do....teach

I saw DC boy. He called me. He knew it was my last weekend in Washington DC. We went to see a movie (Contagion). Not very romantic “Don’t touch me!”.... it is about a killer plague that spreads through body contact. But what followed was romantic - dinner and drinks at Poste - the original post office building that has been turned into a trendy bar/restaurant.

It was a muggy night in Washington DC. The sky had this pink colour to it. Poste has a indoor courtyard surrounded by the old post office building (white and government looking). The pink sky made the whole thing seem surreal - or maybe it was the fact we lived through the movie.

Wine, cheese platter and antipasto. It took me back to our first date back in Roma. I really miss Rome. I dream about it. This was the best summer of my life. I often forget how good life is...really. I have everything that I need and want - living it minute by minute.

I got to know DC boy a bit better - he told me he was in a bad once - had long hair and lived in Boston and New York. We lived in Boston at the sametime but funny how our paths never crossed. I told him about Australia and South Africa and how one little decision (accident actually) had taken me there - and changed my life. Funny - how sometime live turns out.

Earlier in the day I had bumped into old work colleague from Sydney on the Metro. He’s gay too. I was shocked. So random. The world is so small after all. He too had taken time off to travel - told me I had inspired him. We worked in different floors and projects - but I saw him from time to time at random work functions. 2011 really is the year of change.

DC boy is a teacher. I told him I thought everyone really was some sort of teacher - I’ve learned so much the last few months - from random strangers to friends to family - everyone and every connection can teach you something - teach you to love, to be patient, to be yourself - Italian, to cook, to paint...to mourn....to be a better person.

We went back to DC boy’s place. We definately have a connection - no labels...there just is..I know and he knows. We see it in each other’s eyes. It was a magical connection - night and day. I forget that you can really connect - two men can... in the now...not worrying about what it means...where it is going...what will happen next. Tonight we’ll be lovers..tomorrow...who knows. Who cares.

I feel good about myself. It is not because of a man. I think being happy makes you feel good - look good. I have never gotten so much attention before. I do not need a man - but I am connecting with them. Three months down and three more more to go - South Africa, South America, India...more learning..and hopefully more teaching.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chase Me if you Can

So DC boy got me sick. I have pash sore throat. I really know how to pick them. I’m not sure if it is my body reacting in some way - but whenever I have a full on pash session I end up with a sore throat, fever and overall yukky feeling.

Last Friday night I had date #4 (sleep over #2) with DC boy - the Catholic boy I met in Rome. For a bit I thought he was standing me up. He was running late from his happy hour. I was not happy sitting at the restaurant waiting for him - but he did pay for dinner and I drank a few cocktails.

What I do not like about DC guy is that he fits my normal boy patterns - he likes to be chased and I chase him. I feel like I’m the one booking the next dates, messaging him, etc. He told me he’s not a chaser - more like a catcher. I think everyone likes to be chased - but for a relationship to really work it takes two to chase! What I do like about DC guy is that he is a great kisser and he knows how to push all my physical buttons. And kiss we did...for hours...all night....body contact...sex...and start all over. DC boy likes it when I stay over. Normally I would really enjoy this, except that I can never actually get any sleep when I sleep next to a boy.

So by Sunday, I had a sore throat. Monday I had a fever and was feeling yukky. Thoughts of seroconversion ran through my mind. “OMG I have HIV!” I did get tested a few weeks ago. I’m usually very good but I did let DC guy inside without a uniform. But he did put it on after a bit. No body fluids were exchanged. Never google Seroconversion symptoms on the internet. Pretty much any flu or cold resembles on the onset of HIV.

I know. I should know better. But in the heat of the moment - barebacking can be a romanticised way to have gay intimacy. And I wanted DC guy in - for a bit without any barriers. But like most guys I like, I somehow end up hurt - luckily I have not been eating any solids so I’m sure that I’ve lost at least 2 kgs. There is a silver lining in everything.

I’ve decided not to contact DC guy again. I have not recovered yet and I’m not at all horny - nothing like reading about HIV to not get me into the mood. If he wants to see me again, he’ll need to chase me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

He Said...She Said

Part of why I decided to take eight months off my life was to spend time with my family...this includes my urban friends....boyfriends, fuckbuiddies, partners...come and go but true friendships last a lifetime. I make an effort to keep up with my friends..no matter where they are...I’m lucky to say that I still have close friends from junior and high school.

James and Anne were two fellow classmates who graduated back in 1995. They were high school sweethearts. Both went to University in Virginia and married a year after graduating college. They settled in DC and had two children. Ten years later, they are separated...James is having a Twitter affair and Anne is on anti-depressants. Breakups are  messy.

I am seeing my straight high school and college friends go through the normal life plan: get engaged, get married, have kids and some of them are now getting separated or divorced. As a child of divorced parents (mum had 3, dad not even sure!), I do not believe relationships are meant to last forever. It is a nice thought. But people change...people grow..and sometimes they grow apart. I love chick flicks as much as the next gay guy, but no one ever lives happily ever after. They live happily ever after for 10 years, then go through a divorce and re marry again.

I am friends with both of them. So this week I caught up with both of them, individually of course - to listen to their side of the story. People like to vent to me...and having no relationship of my own...I am happy to listen.

Anne found James was having an “emotional affair” with some woman in Illinois on Twitter when she borrowed James’ iPhone on a business trip. Although he claims he never met the woman, his emails were very graphic. He wrote to her that he loved her..that he wanted to be with her. Anne was devastated. She thought everything was going well. She was not happy but content. She figured... “this is my marriage” and I just have to live with it. She felt hurt and betrayed.

James told me he felt like Anne was not engaged in the relationship in the last four years. As the children grew, he found that they had less and less in common - leading totally different lives with different interests. What brought them together in high school - no longer existed. James felt Anne was a total nag - and Anne felt like he was the third child she never wanted.

I kept quiet. I’m not a counsellor. Just a listener. James had no hang ups on his electronic affair as there was nothing physical. Anne felt betrayed. Next month will be a year since they separated - so that they can apply for an official divorce. At least for the children, they are keeping things civil.

Another one bites the dust! I wonder if relationships are worth all the effort, drama...when most will only last a few years. It is even more challenging to find a long term gay relationship. Another friend recently admitted that he cheated on his partner. This guy had been married for a long time to a woman (but never cheated on her). Yet in a gay relationship - he can’t seem to keep his dick in his pants. I’m not judging. I’ve chatted. I wonder if men are just meant to cheat - if it is just a built in mechanism...like getting an erection in the mornings. “Must fuck anything that moves.” Are open relationships the key? or maybe just being single...and having fun.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Needs versus Wants

My grandmother always says there is a big difference between needs and wants.  I want a big chocolate brownie but I probably do not need one as I had a piece of cheesecake yesterday. I struggle with needs and wants. I probably only need a few things: shelter, water and food. But our marketing society tells us otherwise.

This is even more apparent in the USA. Here you are bombarded by advertisements for drugs, informercials for gym equipment and fear tactics. “Bad breath??? - you need this...and that...” - “are you fat???” do this and use that. Of course all have very fast spoken disclaimers “Side effects may include seizures, fainting spells, anal warts and or death.”

America has been labelled Prozac nation, with estimates that more than 50% of the population is on some sort of mood elevator. This is the only country in the world where they sell anti depressants for people already on anti depressants (anti-anti-depressants).Here many patients get their prescriptions from television and pushy drug makers lobby doctors. Probably why there is no universal health cover.

Back to needs and wants. I’m learning that I need less than what I think...I can live with a suitcase of clothes. I do not need so much baggage - stuff...both emotional and physical. I’m lucky to have what I have...and people all over the world have less...need less. It is liberating...

My friends have started calling me a “gypsy.” I’m ok with the term. I’m just a traveller wondering from place to place...learning. I’ve never been happy. Everyday is an adventure. Amazing sights...and fellow travelers. I’ve met some amazing people along the way - from each person I take something...I walk away learning something. Everyone does have a story.

I’ve finally realised that I do not need another person to complete. I may never have a partner...or not in the next five years (that’s my average time between relationships). And that’s ok. No panic, no fear. I can travel the world in six months, six continents and be content....happy blessed. I do not need a man, a boyfriend or partner. It would be nice but I am just as content without one. I can have a relationship with me. I can learn from friends, strangers...the world.

I think I also needed to be needed. I see families, children, couples....someone needs them. I often wonder if anyone needs me? if anyone cares that I am no longer there...maybe that’s the price of being a gypsy. No one needs you. It is the challenge when you do not need anyone.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Connections

I’m very interested in human relationships...in our need to connect with other human beings. In my opinion this is what really drives us...that need to connect...to love..to feel. It is what really matters in the end...not our work, salaries, cars or homes..but really those connections.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the USA. I have been watching some of the coverage on television. Most of it focuses on the victims...and their messages of hope...love...and the loss of a connection by the survivors. There were many messages of love recorded on 911 calls and answering machines from those on planes and on the world towers. We are reminded to count our blessings... “do what you plan to do tomorrow today...say what you need to say now. Hug your loved ones tighter today,” said one of the survivors on TV.

Tragic events change us....near death experiences put things into perspective. Death is so final. There’s no way to undo it.... it is never too late until death. I have not had much experience with death - until the recent suicides of two close friends. I still feel them... “hear” or “see” them. I miss them. I miss our connections.

Even though technology has made us more connected (I can skype friends in Sydney, download TV shows from South Africa and view traffic cameras in Bogota), people are feeling more and more isolated and alone, according to various surveys. We live in cities full of people....we have options...high standard of living yet rates of depression have never been higher. Even though we seem more connected...there is a lot of disconnection.

I’m working on my connections. This weekend I feel re-connected to a number of Boston friends. I have also made two new connections - both through the blog. I think that’s the most positive thing about this blog - the connections, the friendships I’ve made. From all over the world...these may be my thoughts or fears but they resonate with others. The human experience and journey is similar. What we seek is similar.

Everyone has a story...the woman on the subway; the waterpolo player on the plane...3.6 amazing connections.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Boston Memories

I am in Boston, Massachusetts. It was where I went to University...where I spent the best four years of my life...in the late 1990s. I wanted to come back and see where it all happened and catch up with special friends...and places.

I find that in order to figure my future, I need to revisit my past. That’s what this trip is all about...going back home...visiting friends and family...learning about the past...whether it is in Rome or Istanbul or Boston. I love history. It was one of my favourite courses at college.

I used to have a lecture in this old planetarium building. It was a huge hall, there were probably 300 students. It was dark and comfy. Most of my fellow classmates would sleep through the lectures. My professor had this amazing voice - deep and with authority. His lectures were like stories..about the past. He’s who I picture when I think of God - he had a beard and just seemed so wise..he knew it all! He told us all about history from 1945. Best class I ever took. He used to always say that in order to know the future, you only needed to study the past. It is true...history repeats itself sometimes...over and over again.

I walked through the lecture halls again and through the campus - most of it had not changed. I was surprised by how young the students looked - or maybe it was the fact that I was feeling old. I went to my old faculty buildings, my old dorms...the library, the student union....the coffee shop. I have many fond memories of this place..this city. This is where I had my first gay sexual relationship...where I met my first gay friend...where I came out to another person...where I decided to run away to Australia.

The American college experience is very unique..you live in a small bubble...all of your friends are within walking distance. You are constantly learning...you learn about yourself more than anything else. It is a very positive environment. When I graduated it was the dot com boom...we were all going to work in start ups and change the world. We were so active...excited...full of enthusiasm and energy.  Life was full of opportunities and hope...and luckily for me..it still is...there’s still a college student in there...I’ll probably be a student for life.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Second Date

I think Washington DC is the dating capital of the world. Everyone here wants a date. The guys are preppy, clean cute...and well they want to talk..date...get to know you. I am confused. Coming from NSA sex central Sydney...it is all a bit of a new experience.

I had a second date with DC guy. I actually met him in Rome. He’s 33, preppy, a bit chunky...he’s a Catholic school teacher He’s a nice guy. I find myself drawn to him for some reason. He’s not my type but I find him sexy..interesting.

We had chatted on GRINDR for two weeks. I think he messaged me while he was on his family vacation. The night before he was leaving Italy, once he family left, we caught up in Rome. It was one of those perfect nights...perfect first dates...dinner, music, wine...more wine. We ended up making out in his room. He’s a great kisser. But when I like someone, I want to delay full on sex. I joked with him that our date had to be PG13. So only some touching and shirts off..but nothing hard core.

My friends always tease me - I’ll fuck anyone but I become all shy when I like someone...when I want it to be more than NSA. He told me we should meet up while in DC.

So meet up we did last night. I went over to see his new apartment (Catholic teachers are paid well!) and we went for Mexican. I recommend trying plum Margaritas. At dinner, he had told me how we was not ready to be in a relationship, blah..blah..how he kept attracting all these guys that were really into relationships and needy and clingy. How he was not romantic and was not a good guy to date.

I get the hint. I thought to myself. I guess if I lived here, I would like to date him. But I always seem to attract the commitment phobic guys!!! He got out of an 8 year relationship like a year and a half. So he needs to have fun.

I was trying not to be clingy. I thought we could be friends. He wanted to show me his balcony view. So one thing leads to another...ok...maybe friends with benefits. This time the fooling around was NC17. It was hot. I do not think I’m good at sex but last night...even I knew I was doing something good. The weird thing is me and DC boy have this chemistry. He’s not my type yet when we make out or fuck..it’s like fireworks. It is really strange. He pushes my buttons. But he’s just after some fun. I’m leaving for South Africa in a month. So why not...if it is good why not.

The sex was definitely couply sex. Not porn star sex. It is like we had known each other for years. It was sex with a partner that knows you...knows what you like..what turns you. I think that’s rare so life is short...

I have another date on Monday. I know...weird huh. But that’s what I needed to experience. I am ready to date. I know what I’m looking for....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From Journey to Destination

When you travel, you sometimes either focus on the destination or the journey. For some, the whole point of travel is getting to the destination....where you will stay...what you will do...where will you go...the sights and sounds. For others..travel is less about where you end up and how you get there.

It can be similar in relationships. I spent the last six years writing about relationships, love...I’m in the process of turning my previous blog into a book. I’m fascinated by human relationships. To me, this is what drives us...our relationships. We need them. There I used the “n” word.

For some...the relationship is the destination. They do not like the journey. I used to have this view. I hated being single...dating...the chase....the whole process. I wanted to have the relationship...quickly...over night..hello Love.

But I decided to put myself on a journey...alone and it’s not that bad. It is actually empowering...I’m doing the opposite of what I would normally do...instead of picking the safe choices I’m choosing the unknown...the unsafe. And I’m finding out a lot about myself - and learning that you can enjoy the journey.

I spent the day with my friend Jimmy. I know him from University. He is on holidays so we decided to catch up. Jimmy is gay and single as well. He’s the destination type. He desperately wants a relationship yet he finds himself in the gay cycle. You know...you sleep with men hoping that it turns into a relationship but in the end he feels even more empty and alone. Yet his penis drives him so even though he vows to focus on the destination, a week later he’ll hook up with another guy. He’ll get all excited...like him and then the guy turns into a one night stand and never calls him again.

“It’s like I’m a sex addict,” he told me over lunch. I wondered if he was really addicted to sex or just love or just intimacy. I fall for the gay cycle all the time. I know I do not want just sex...I want something more...a journey...love, romance..all that stuff...yet I find myself repeating the NSA (no strings attached) journey of random hook ups...that may satisfy my physical needs but leave me empty and feeling emotionally unfulfilled. I vow to stop hooking up - giving up on GRINDR and manhunt - but a week later I’m back...searching.

“Why do I do this?” Jimmy asked. Cause your horny...I thought...but instead insisted he look at why he thought he needed a relationship. Maybe he was too focused on the whole husband search. Maybe try focusing on other things - things he enjoyed outside of men. There is a lot of pleasurable things out there - I read a book that said you should find pleasure in the little things of life...and think about how much happiness they bring you..maybe a good chat with a friend, a beautiful sunset...a walk...seeing something amazing or just learning something new. Focus on the journey of life...sometimes you are alone...but we are all in a similar journey..so you’re not really alone..maybe just lonely.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Change

My friend Jenny sent me the following quote. “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” It is very true. Sometimes identifying that you want to make a change in your life is the hardest part of making that change. Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom before you can consider any action. But change is possible. It is hard. It may take years. It is a bit like jumping off a swimming pool. You know it is hard....the cold water will make you feel cold...but once you have jumped...you did it...

Over the last three months, I’ve been feeling a great sense of empowerment. For a long time, I’m doing something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve changed where I live, my job, my friends. I’m jumped into the big swimming pool. It was scary...scary to finally get to the edge. It was work...saving money, selling my apartment, packing my life away and saying goodbye. But it has been all worth it. I’m halfway through my journey of six months...three months down, six countries down, six more to...thousands of miles travelled...and a dozen new lifelong friends. I’ve learned Italian, had mind blowing sex with a Serbian water polo player, eaten kilos of pasta and drank raki until I past out.

I’ve learned a lot about myself. I can be alone. It is ok. I am a good guy. I can give love and deserve love. And men outside of Sydney find me sexy. I’m a catch. I feel like my broken heart is finally healed. I’m ready to fall in love again. I’ve got faith in myself. I’m ready for a new chapter.

We all need to make changes. Life is about change. Relationships end, jobs end...relationships start, friendships start...people die...people are born...people come and go into your life. We all change. We grow up. We learn...we feel...we love...we die. It is pretty simple.

I’m in the USA now. I realised that I belong in Europe or South Africa or Australia but not in the US. It is too busy. Too loud. Too medicated. I like to visit my family but I no longer belong here. I think I have a distorted view of life here...maybe I like to romanticize life when I was growing up. But I think I’m really more European on the inside.

I will take this time to reconnect with friends and family in the USA..and to loose the weight I’ve put on in Europe! Diet starts today - luckily I’m not a big fan of American food. Plus everything here is fat free!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eat, Move, Learn

Grant from Melbourne shared these videos from an STA Travel campaign. These guys spent six weeks travelling the world. Very inspiring!
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Man Binge

So I do not need a man to be happy. But men and sex in particularly can be very pleasurable. Specially in the form of tall, tanned, muscular Serbian males with nice packages and who like to kiss.

My friends had warned me about coming to Serbia. “Homophobic, war criminals, aggressors,” were some of the things I had heard about Serbian men. But I have to say I am impressed by how friendly the gay men are here...and how sexy they are without the attitude. I was getting GRINDR messages from guys here that would never give me the time of day in Sydney. Frankly, I think Serbian guys just wanted to fuck...anything that was on offer.

I found myself feeling like a kid in a candy store. When in Belgrade, I figured life is short...and you should always try everything the local culture has to offer.

First up, hunky doctor. What is it with medical professionals this trip. Tall, chunky, hairy and a sex addict. “I have sex three times a day,” he told me. I was the second fuck of the day...lunch time. I guess I prefer being second than the night one! It was nice...but a bit selfish and vocal. “Open your mouth....” - dirty Serbian talker. I hope he does not talk to his patients that way. At 35, I’m really not into rabbit sex.

Second Serbian hunk - was a marketer. He’s a bit chubbier. But I have realised I like chubby...not obese but a real man. Nice smelling...solid and a great kisser. He was a bit more giving...but still it was all about him. He wanted to go again...but one ride was enough for me. “I love fucking. I fuck girls, guys..just love to fuck,” he told me. He basically is bisexual and will fuck anything that moves. Serbians have a reputation for raping thousands of women in Bosnia. Horny bastards.

Third and last is Mr cutie pie dentist. He had brackets. He told me he was 33 but he looked like he was 27. Very preppy and clean cut. He came to my hotel at 11 pm. Total booty call. He was a bit too skinny for my liking..he needs a bit of meat on him. I had promised to give him a massage - and so I did. He was not really into kissing even though we had talked about how much we liked kissing. He wanted to get right into it.

Normally, I love a nice long session but again Mr Dentist was a rabbit fucker. Ouch! There is only so much you can handle.

So I had a slutty day in Serbian...I needed to live in the moment. Do not worry - all safe - half a condom box gone. Serbian boys are very considerate - clean and into safe sex!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Man Hunt

I am in Serbia visiting a friend from Italy. My friends often ask me..why Serbia? “Why not, I answer.” The war is over, there are a lot of attractive young men and the country is halfway from socialism to a free market society.

But the post is not really about Belgrade. It is about a conversation (more like an email exchange) I had with a fellow blogger. He is happily partnered (as happy as a gay man can be) yet he is still searching...he’s still playing with fire...he’s flirting...pushing the boundaries...trying to fuck it all up. I am not judging him. I do it all the time. We all do.

Not just gay men...humans. We fear getting what we always want or we are never really happy with what we have...we want a bigger car, a bigger house, more money, bigger dick. When we get the boyfriend...we still wonder if there is a better model out there. Maybe a younger one? Relationships break up because we keep searching...we get bored. Society is about change...newer...better...bigger. So we trade up.

I was lost...unhappy in Sydney. My life revolved around a man hunt. I figured that if I found a relationship...a man who loved me back my life would be complete. It was the magical words I needed to hear. “I love you.” That would fix everything. The search would be over. The truth is probably that would not make me happy. I’d be thinking if he was the right one...if I could do better...I would try to fuck it up.

The last three months, I’ve been looking inward. I’ve been in touch with me...building a relationship that does not revolve around another man...finding a man...dating....and I’ve never been happier. I’ve also met more potential partners in three months than I did in three years in Sydney. Why? Cause I’m doing things that actually bring my pleasure and satisfaction. I’m studying..learning... I am doing things that bring me joy, passion, love...travel, food, history, museums. I’m taking chances....being alone in the world is not so bad. It is not so scary.

I’ve also learned to count my blessings. Seeing other people in other countries...living differently to me has taught me that I’m very lucky. I get to see the differences...to be thankful for what I have...which I never did before. The glass is always half full....I need to stop focusing on what I lack and see what I do have...

In getting lost I found myself. And it is a great feeling. To know that I can be alone...and still be happy. To find pleasure in little things...like eating pasta or learning a sentence in Italian. That life is more than the next shag (nothing wrong with that) or finding a partner..or the next dance party... I realised I was in a toxic cycle of man hunting that was just leading me nowhere and making me depressed.

So now I need to find out how to keep that going...a change of scenery is very important. The next is to keep doing those things that I am passionate about - without focusing on the gay dating- manhunt aspect.  Time changes everything..but sometimes you have to speed up those changes. Jump in the hope that everything will be ok...and if you have faith in yourself everything will be ok.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Turkish Love Making

“I think I could fall in love,” wrote Turk #2. It was the sweetest text message I have received in a long..long time. We had just met last weekend and he had told me never to trust what Turkish men say, but still sweet. I need those kinds of messages.

In Sydney, I was just lucky if the guy told me the time of day.

Many gay guys here want to show me how to make Turkish Love. I”m not sure what that entirely means...but I think it involves me giving pleasure to them and them thinking they are with a woman. I’m not sure I want to find out. I’m happy with Turk #2. He’s coming up from Ankara for the weekend so hopefully we will get to see each other.

He says he wants to get married to me - could be the visa even though gay marriage is not legal either here or in Australia. Turks seem to be expressive...even if they are checking out another guy while they tell you how much they like you.

I found the best co dependent t-shirt today. It reads “Never leave me alone.” I had to buy it. Yes. I’m needy. And no, it is not all bad. We all have needs. I’m just more up front and honest about them. Ok. I’ll start going to codependents anonymous when I settle down.

Time for my idea of Turkish Love making. Some kebab followed by Turkish delights - no need to involve a man. Although the guy on left (who is a Turkish male model) would be just as good - a lot of guys look like that by the way. Plan your next Turkish holiday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sinners and gypsies

In Catholic school, the nuns taught me the point of live was to suffer. Human beings were sinners and we all had to pay for their sins. Happiness, joy, freedom...all bad. We all had to carry a cross...and deal with it..otherwise we would also be punished after death.

Words like “suffering,” “sacrifice,” and “duty” were the favourite words of the nuns. Don’t get me wrong, there are some positive beliefs in the Catholic faith - the idea of helping others and social justice. I always felt like Catholicism really failed to “empower” me. It taught you that you had no control over your life - it was all decided by God and if it was pretty crappy you just deal with it.

I now feel as though my life has been divided into two: pre-trip and post trip. Pre-trip, I was depressed, sad, lost and was settling. Post-trip (or during trip) - I feel empowered. I feel like I am making my own decisions. You really can do what you want - provided you plan and save money.

My friends think I have turned into a gypsy. Originally they all thought I would only travel for four months. That has been extended to six..possibly eight. They use words like “when are you going to settle?” and “when will you face your reality?”

I have one friend who is from China. I think what I’m doing is hard for him to understand. He’s unemployed at the moment and would give his right arm for a job. I had a great paying government job and and I gave it all away. Now...I’m just traveling...spending my savings. He thinks I’m mad. Maybe I am...but that’s the joy of being gay. You can break all the rules. You never have to settle...or do what everyone else is doing...or settle down..or face reality.

The reality is as homosexuals we have already broken most of the rules - no marriage, maybe no children, no adam and eve. So really...why do we have to follow the rest of the rules.

I’ve decided not to settle any more - not to do things just because I’m expected to do them or because it is what I should be doing. I’m going to start doing things because I want to do them...life is not about suffering...or sacrifice...it is short and special and exciting. There’s no dress rehearsal and no time to waste.





Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ankara

I am in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. There is something about capital cities...history...power of government. I grew up in Washington DC. I lived most of my life in a capital city..maybe that’s why I enjoy them so much.

I came to see a famous Turk..the most famous Turk actually...Ataturk (see his mausoleum on the left). He was the father of the modern Republic of Turkey. He gave everyone last names, made them wear hats and western clothes, did away with the Muslim courts and laws and made Turkey the country it is today...so everywhere you see his picture...his statue and most cities have an airport, train station or bridge named after him.

I love studying modern history - my history professor in college used to say by knowing the past we can know the future. And in history like in life, sometimes we keep repeating the same patterns over and over...or repeat history. Turkey is facing some of the same issues that were dealt by Ataturk.

I found a tour guide - a very cute one. Actually he was one of the reasons why I decided to come down to Ankara. We chatted a few times on Skype. He works for the government and is an urban planner. Let’s call him Turk #2. He’s coming to Istanbul later in the week. We had a very deep conversation. He himself also suffers from depression and we talked about therapy and medication and shrinks...very New York.

We had a wonderful three days together. He even showed me where he studied at University. I’m very fortunate that everywhere I go I seem to meet wonderful people...who go out of their way to tell me their story. Like SBS TV in Australia says, 3.6 billion stories....everyone has a story. I’m lucky to be able to come into contact with these strangers...who I connect with.

I forget how amazing the world is...that you can connect with people from different backgrounds, who speak different languages and who have different values. The more I travel and interact with people..the more I realise we are all deep down the same. We have the same insecurities...needs...hopes and dreams.

The Turk is depressed because he’s stuck. He’s me back in Sydney. He’s unhappy with his work, getting over a relationship...not going anywhere. I do not even remember that me...it seems like I left him so long ago...far..far away.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

35

I am a little bit older but probably not much wiser. I spent my birthday in Cologne in Germany with my friend John. It was a special birthday. I’m officially old...in gay years. I did get trashed from too many tequila shots...and did grind with a 28 year old chemist from Dusseldorf. Yes. I still got it.

I’m not where I thought I would be at 35. But when is that the case? We all have life plans...checklists and very few of us end up where we thought we would be. I never thought I would be spending my 35th birthday in Germany dancing to 80s German pop music and downing tequila shots.

If your friends can’t get you drunk...then who can?

I left Italy..a bit fatter (4kgs and counting) filled with amazing experience and more proficient in Italian. I learned the art of doing nothing and living la dolce vita. Germany provided a transition for my return to Turkey.






I am realising that you can do what you want in life. I do not need to settle (well, I will eventually when my savings run out). The world is my home. 85,000 kilometers travelled: Bangkok, London, Istanbul, Brodrum, Rome, Naples, Milan, Torre del Lago, Cologne. Next stops: Istanbul, Ankara, Belgrade, Zurich, New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Cape Town, Nairobi, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Bogota....?

I left my heart in Istanbul. I’ve decided to come back to further discover this amazing city. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lost

I know I have been slack. It has been a month. So much has happened. I have not found love but found myself. I feel alive. Instead of writing about life, I have been living it. That’s what I have learned in Italy. My Italian sucks, but I have gained some passion and have met some amazing people along the way. I’ve have time to think...to ponder..to eat....to drink...to laugh and to stop and see wonderful things. La Dolce Vita. I’m in a space that I can write again. But then again, is anyone reading this?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Naples

I had heard that Naples had the best looking Italians and the best pizza in Italy. So when my classmate Valeria from the Ukraine recommended we go on Sunday, I did not hesitate. Pizza and ragazzi (men!) sounds good to me. So off we went on the morning train.

Naples or Napoli is only about an hour an a half on the express train from Rome. We had been told to expect less English speakers in Rome which suited us just fine. I am finding that whenever I try to use my limited Italian in Rome, everyone just responds in English. It is like they are too busy to be patient with my very limited vocabulary.

We arrived at the central station after lunch time and headed straight for the waterfront in search of good pizza. Valeria wanted to find the pizza shop in Eat, Love, Pray but I was way too hungry. Any pizza would do really. I still do not understand how the guys can be so fit with all this amazing food - we finished our Napoli pizza with some gelato. It is very hot in Italy at the moment. I love heat - plus it is dry heat. My tan is amazing - I look so dark!

Everyone was right. The men here are even hotter than Rome. I think they are more Italian - more Mediterranean. They are definitely younger - and the fashions were different to Rome. A lot of rolled up jeans shorts - tight t shirts and chains. If the guys weren’t making out with girls, I would swear that they were GAY! They had beautiful hair - great eyebrows...perfect skin and beautiful eyes. What’s in the water? or the pizza...Valeria and I wondered.

We passed several beach towns on the way to Napoli. The view was that of a postcard. My feet were sore when I came back from Rome. Maybe I’ll burn all of those pizza calories with all this walking.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Roma

It has been a week since my last post. I know. I’ve been slack. I guess instead of writing about my life, I’ve been living it. I’ve spent the last week, walking around this amazing city. I think I know why Romans do not gain any weight even though they consume large amounts of carbs....walking.

The public transport in Rome is not very good. They are building a third subway line, but like everything else in Italy...it is delayed. They are taking their time. So everyone walks...and I get to walk to the Colosseum or to the Vatican.

I take long walks around sunset which here is late. I have been going to the Colosseum pretty much every day. I just sit and watch it as the sun sets. It is amazing. I am not bored by the city at all. Everyday I find a new building, a new water fountain or a new lane or cafe. I’m trying different neighborhoods.

I went out on a semi date with a lovely Italian guy who had lived in Barcelona. He wanted to practice his Spanish and I wanted to get to know some real Roman areas - away from the tourists. He took me to San Giovanni, a couple of metro stops from where I live... not tourists! We had aperitivo - Italian happy hour. You buy one drink and get free food...for hours.

I realise that italians take time...their time for everything....you can spend an hour at the post office getting stamps..or you can spend four hours having dinner. No one sleeps yet the country somehow operates...the important things are food and communication. Time is such a luxury in some countries.

Andrea has not contacted me since our last meeting. I guess that Italian men are a bit like Sydney men. It’s ok.

Ironically, I’m spending a lot of time on my own..on long walks...at cafes....in bookshops. I loose myself in the city...walking. And It is ok. I left Sydney to find my great love but I’m starting to find myself.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Italian

I met my first Italian ragazzo (guy). And no that is not a picture of him. That's a hot Italian model.His name is Andrea. We met on GRINDR. He works in the area and he agreed to help me with my Italian. We met for aperativo (after work). This is the Italian version of happy hour. Italians never serve you alcohol without feeding you. So you pay for drinks and you get free tapas. It is a student’s dream.

He is tall, dark features and has a small beard. He looked just as cute in person. Hello....Pronto...Prego!!!

His English was much better than my Italian. I learned that I could actually flirt in Italian...specially after two glasses of vino rosso. Italian gay men are so masculine - it is a real turn. Ok, I’m generalising but the ones I have met are so masculine in comparison to camp old queen in Sydney.

So we chatted. His name is Andrea and he works in communications - marketing. He likes to travel a lot but has not visited Australia...only America. He’s 33 and lives with his sister in northern Rome. Meeting guys is somewhat difficult for him as he can’t bring them home. It is actually an issue for a lot of guys in Rome as they all live with family or with flatmates. No one can afford to live by themselves.

It was a perfect Roman date. Wine, a kiss and a bit of Italian here and a bit of English there. I saw him again on Friday night. We met at Villa Borghese - Rome’s very own Central Park. This used to be a bit plantation and palace back when this part of Rome was the countryside and it took a day or two to arrive to Rome. It is an amazing park now which is open to the public and home to a number of museums. Inside there are lovely gardens and a large lake where you can rent boats and paddle around waters filled with ducks, swans and turtles.

My Italian took me there - and we again made out in the bushes. Villa Borghese becomes a beat after dark - I guess gay men back 2,500 years ago also needed a place to hook up. It was a lovely spot -a perfect summer night - not too cold or warm and a bright moon.

We ended up going back to my place and we had sex like students - on a single bed. It had been a while since I had sex in a single bed. I think it was back when I was in college. It is not comfortable - but it was fun...hot...and sweaty. His sexual vocabulary was limited and so was mine...so we just used non verbal communication.

I have a suspicion that the Italian may be married or leading a secret life. I told him my bed was really uncomfortable and that we should go to his place next time. He said he could never bring anyone there - a wife maybe? mother? who knows.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Villa Adriana

I met my language exchange buddy Sergio for the first time today. The school I go to teachers English and Spanish as well as Italian. So they try to pair the Italian students with the foreign students; they get to practice their English or Spanish and we get to practice our Italian.

Sergio suggested he take me near to where he live in the town of Tivoli, about 25 km from Rome. He figured I would see a lot of Rome so best to see the outskirts. Tivoli is home to the Villa Adriana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 2nd century. The villa was used as a retreat from Rome for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. He did not like the palace in Rome so he liked to leave away.

The villa was impressive - with a swimming pool, theatre and rooms to fit a large court. Not a bad place to get away from Rome. In the 2nd century it took 10 days to get to Tivoli, today it is only a 30 minute bus ride away.

Sergio has been studying Spanish for four years now. His Spanish is so much better than my Italian. I suggested we speak Spanish for our first lesson. I figured I could do with a bit of practice of Spanish as well. We walked around the villa. Sergio was very proud of his hometown. He is still studying at University as well, hoping to one day be a diplomat. I too studied international relations at University - so we seemed to have something in common.

He told me about his girlfriend and his life in Italy and his interest in traveling around the world including Australia. He asked if I had a girlfriend. It is always a tricky question, coming from someone you just met.

Italy seems conservative to me. Maybe it is the fact that it is home to the Catholic church. I guess in some ways it is liberal - lots of female nudity on TV. But when it comes to family - and homosexuality, it seems they are conservative. I guess I need to do more research into this!

My flatmate who is American-Italian and gay says many Italians are still closeted about homosexuality. The gay scene is very underground here as well.

“I’m single,” I told Sergio. I figured I was still being honest - I am single.

We ended the day with a full three hour sunset meal. If he had not told me he had a girlfriend, I would have thought it was the most perfect romantic Roman date. There was a first plate, two plates of pasta and dolce! The sunset was amazing and the whole place was a scene out of Under the Tuscan Sun. Now I felt like I was in Italy - having an Italian feast with a Roman Sergio!

La Dolce Vita!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Italian Melody

My Italian teacher Marco says Italian is like a song...you need to have a melody...there’s a certain sing feel to it. Today was my second day of class. There’s about 12 of us...all from different parts of the world. There are the two American guys doing their study abroad, the token Asian girl from Singapore, two Dutch, three Mexicans, 1 Brazilian, a German lady, one from Iceland and me.

We had to introduce ourselves on the first day - in Italian say why we decided to study in Rome. I wanted to tell them that I was hoping to find love, to meet my Italian husband who would take me away to Tuscany to feed me pasta and wine. But I only learned the words for “my name is and I’m from Australia. I study Italian because I like it.”

I realised it is actually hard to study another language. I forgot how hard it is...it has been a while since I learned a different language. Knowing Spanish helps. I feel sorry for the Dutch girls. They have no clue what the teacher is saying - and have the most terrible pronunciation. The Americans are not doing any better - they speak Italian with no melody as though they are trying to speak Spanish like gringos!

In Italian, like in life there are a lot of rules to remember. This article follows these words, except when they start with a vowel. The grammar part is the part that I find the most boring....I like when we do our role play. Yesterday, we learned how to ask someone about a bus stop.

Scusi, e questa la fermata de l’autobus centotrentra?

no, debe andare in fondo a la estrada a destra.

I used this the other day - and I was understood. The person on the street did not respond in the same way I learned. But still it is progress.

I am having a bit of culture shock. It is normal after all. I am in a foreign country - trying to learn a new language and culture. Rome is just as I expected but it is a bit pricey. Everything here is double the cost of Australia. If only my savings were in Euro. But then again, it is hard to put a price on this experience. It is an investment in me...and I should not be cheap with me.

I love to sit in a piazza and just hear and see people go by - Italian men are very attractive and well dressed. There are arguments on the street - couples kissing; lots of hand gestures and loud speaking. You are never alone in Rome even if at the moment I am feeling a bit lonely.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bella Roma

Sam and I arrived to Roma on Saturday. I’m home. It feels like a dream. I started my Italian course today.

My teacher said Rome was built for the outdoors. There are piazzas everywhere....cafes, wine bars, music playing...at all hours of the day. Great city for a single guy ...you are never alone no matter where you go in Rome.

I’m living in a beautiful four bedroom flat with four flatmates. One American guy - Joseph. He’s here for a few months just traveling. I suspect he’s gay. There’s Filippo who is a 22 year old computer student. He mostly spends his time in his room. He speaks very little English so we never talk. There is a Ghana guy who I have yet to formally meet as he is never around. And then there is Giovanni...a 32 year old Italian student. He speaks a little bit of English and is my crush. He’s beautiful. I share the room next to him.

My room faces a very noisy road (but Rome is noisy) and I have a wonderful window and room with high ceilings. I suspect the building is 500 years old - very much what I expected. It is hot.

I start formal classes this afternoon. The school has over 200 students - Americans, Russians, Germans, Dutch, Chinese. I am the only Australian in the beginners class.

I live in Termini near the station - this is an odd area full of migrants - lots of Chinese. It is strange to me to see Chinese people speaking fluent Italian. I know it is normal as this is Italy but just a bit odd.

Sam and I have been walking..a lot. We’ve seen the Vatican and Colosseum. Sam goes back to America tomorrow. Then my real journey will begin. I’m just doing the touristy Rome for now. My school has a full schedule of activities planned - we did also check out the gay scene which is a bit underground.

I realise this sounds like a post card - just not enough time to write! The food is amazing - I have already gained 2kgs on this trip!

But Rome is beautiful in summer - la dolce vita!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Endless Summer

Yesterday I visited Greece for the day. That’s the amazing thing about Europe - in an hour you can be in a different country. Sam and I took the ferry to Kos, an island about 1 hour from Bodrum. It was a beautiful summer day. The sun was out and the Mediterranean just looked amazing - like it does in the movie.

We decided to go bike riding around Kos - there is a large cycle pathway. I felt like I was 16 again. I had not ridden a bike in that long. I remember when I was in school, the summers were the most amazing time of my life. Those were the carefree days when the days were long - you could play until late and there was not need to wake up early for school. I was reliving my summer days again as an adult - and biking my way around a Greek island.

It has been a month since I left Sydney but I felt years away from that life. I have a sold tan and I feel like a kid again.

Sam needed this vacation as well. He just finished a three year course in the states and this was his first overseas trip in a while. He and I are very different but we travel well together. We’ve only had one minor argument - over our political views. Never discuss politics or religion.

So we end up talking about sex and relationships. We’re both romantics at heart but we have different views on gay relationships - based mostly on our gay life to date. I came out at 22 and have had two long term relationships. I’m pretty out in life - with family, at work and with friends. Sam really did not come out until after he turned 30 and he’s probably still somewhat in the closet. He’s not as comfortable in the gay..gay world. Many people would not believe he’s gay - he’s very masculine and butch. I feel like the girl in the relationship - and I think he brings out my feminine side. It’s like I need to balance his masculinity.

In many ways though, Sam is more “gay” than me. It’s a common dilemma with gay men. How to be gay without being too gay. “Straight acting” and “masculine” are generally seen as positive qualities in a potential partner. “Queeny” and “camp” and “girlie” are seen as negative ones. We all try to be butch..to be tough...to go to the gym and get big muscles. We fear being the camp ones who get picked on.

In high school, I survived by trying to be non gay. There was a really gay guy at my school. He always had a hard time. He dropped out before graduating as he was being bullied. He was just himself. He was not trying to be feminine. He was just the way he was...the rest of us gays were acting...straight acting....masculine acting. I wish I had stood up for him. In truth, he was the strongest male at our school.

Gays come in all stripes....butch, camp, feminine, girlie... sometimes opposites do attract...sometimes likes attract likes. Through diversity there is strength. Maybe that’s why I looked forward to summer so much...it was my chance to be free...to stop acting...to be myself. Summers were about being me - not worrying about being too gay or having to pretend to like cars, sports or beer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Point to Point

I read somewhere that the happiest people are those that invest in themselves. I guess this whole adventure has been an investment in me....in my happiness, in my development and in my search for love. At times, we feel selfish for doing what makes us happy.

In Catholic school, I was taught that life was meant to be a sacrifice and that you were meant to pay for your sins for life. You were not meant to be happy to have pleasure but instead “carry your own cross.”

Colombian culture to a certain extend follows those believes - the group and family are important and the needs or desire of the individual are not that important.

As a gay man living in Sydney, I often felt like I was living a very selfish life. “What do I want..., Where do I want to go? What do I want to buy? Who do I want to fuck today?” I felt like it was all about me. There was an emptiness about it...a life that only is projected inward. I decided to do a number of volunteer activities: work with the homeless and telephone counseling with a gay and lesbian hotline. That was the good teachings I took from Catholic school - the idea of social justice of helping others. Helping others and volunteering does make you happy. It did for me. I realised that having that external focus helped.

So quitting my job and traveling the world did feel a bit selfish - this adventure was all about me. My development, my journey...but at the same time right now it is all about me. I’m single. I have no children, no mortgage and no real responsibilities. As grandma would say, if God gives you lemons, make lemonades.

So if you are a free spirit...then take off. That is one advantage of being single..of being alone...no plus 1...just me and my suitcase.

It has been a month since I left Sydney..since my old life...my old job, my old apartment...my ex boyfriend...my broken heart...and I feel free. I am excited about each and everyday. I have dreams of a lover in Rome and of a wonderful new life. I took the plunge...sink or swim and a month in...I am swimming and loving the view.

I realised that taking control of my life - making changes and going down a different path is what ultimately will make me happy - going where I want to go...which at the moment is Rome. I do not know where I will end up...or with whom but I know it will be different to where I started from. That’s the thing about travel...once you go from A to B, you tend to come back to C. You are never the same after a big journey - your mind and heart will have grown, new memories will affect your outlook on life and you’ll discover new and wonderful things about you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Table for Two

We are in Bodrum. Just two of us, Sam and I. Victor stayed in Istanbul to see his family. Bodrum is a holiday resort in the south east of Turkey. It is very popular with Brits and other Europeans.

It no longer feels like we are in Turkey (except for the Mosques and call to prayer) you could easily think you were in Greece. The weather is amazing, cloud less days and cool nights. I can see why the Brits (who often do not see much sun) want to come down here.

The beaches are full of young sun worshipers (sometimes in small speedos) and the drinks are cheap.

We spent the day in the beach yesterday. Sam and I are travel buds. We met in Sydney about six years ago when he was doing a work stint. He was going through a bad break up - he had come to Sydney with his Scottish boyfriend but the minute they stepped off the plane they broke up. It was his first love and Sam took it badly.

We became friends (after a few non dates) and since he moved back to the states, we’ve done a few trips together: China, Hawaii, San Fran and now Turkey. Sam is in many ways a total opposite to me: he is reserved, quiet, drinks a lot and uses the word fuck. But we seem to travel well - low maintenance for an American. We are both romantics - always saying that on our next holiday we’ll bring our partners. We’re both husband hunting - confused as to why such great guys like us (employed, drug free, attractive) are still single!

We talked about life and relationships - a favorite topic of gay men and Turks. Everyone seems to want to settle down. It is nice to travel with friends  - but nicer to travel with someone you love - boyfriend, partner, husband. Bodrum is made for couples - romantic walks on the beach, romantic dinners on the beach, sunsets....you see couples everywhere. It is a perfect holiday destination. Even the managers at our hotel thought we were a couple - they wanted to give us a double bed. “We’re just friends,” thank you very much.

I fear being alone. I wonder if I’ll ever take that romantic holiday with my ideal partner. Travel is my passion. My last boyfriend only wanted to travel to English speaking countries. I hope to travel to at least 70% of the world before I die. I want to travel with someone I love...I want to tell the hotel manager “yes, we’re a couple. We’ll take that double bed with rose petals on it!”

Sometimes single life is like being in a few city - you’re looking for that new neighborhood and the next adventure. Sam and I are not sure we’ll have perfect husbands for our next planned holiday - maybe we’ll be traveling together until we are 60. Boyfriends and partners may come and go but good friends will stick around and drag you to many places.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lawyer, Dancing and Bodrum

I know. It has been a week. I guess I have been too busy living life to write about it. I have fallen in love...with Istanbul. I guess like with any relationship in the early stages, I have neglected my friends and my blog. I love the energy here and for the first time in a really long time, I feel happy. I feel really happy - excited about life and excited about what tomorrow will bring...another adventure, another magical discovery, another boy??

I can’t help but wonder if this is what life should be like always - all the time.

I went to Starbucks and met up with a cute lawyer. He was young and Turkish but had a lovely smile. Turks are happy people - the economy can be crap, it can be expensive to live in Istanbul - but they’ll eat, drink and be happy. This is a very different Muslim country to others I have visited - they like their alcohol and the partying starts at 1 am. It is more Mediterranean then Muslim.

So back to the lawyer. He’s lovely...his English is not that great but we communicate. He works near Taksim and he lives at home with his mother and sister. This is normal in Turkey. Everyone lives at home until they get married.

We talk and talk about travel, work and gay life in general. He tells mea bout Tek Yon, this club I need to try out on Friday. Tek Yon actually means one way - as in a street sign.

He asks where I am staying...and wether he can kiss me at my hotel. How sweet. I text Victor to see if he is in the room. He’s out. I tell the lawyer to walk with him heading for my hotel. There are two guys at reception and I’m pretty sure they will not let the lawyer inside. There are strict no guest polices at most hotels - specially for male to male visitors.

But it is only 7:30 pm. So I hesitate. But what the hell. He’s a cute lawyer. Kissing is allowed! So I take him in and the hotel guy says something in Turkish. I tell him in English that this is a friend of mine who is collecting something I brought back from Australia - he tells him something in Turkish and writes down our room number.

We start kissing in the elevator. I feel the beer rash. We get in and get into the shower. I was surprised we could both get inside. I tell him I’m giving him a hamam (minus the painful massage) and he laughs. We kiss some more. These Turks know how to kiss...even the young ones. They can make something like kissing so passionate and special.

I had to meet my friend Sam for dinner. The lawyer decides to join us. In Australia, a guy would leave the minute he climaxes. In Turkey, he takes you out for dinner - along with your travel companion. We went to Midpoint a lovely restaurant in Taksim overlooking the city. It was a great date - plus Sam. It was sorta the other way around - sex and then date. The lawyer told us more about Turkey, more about his life (closeted) and his siblings and other things we should do while in Istanbul. I tried to ensure Sam did not feel like the third wheel. It was the first time I had a date with a shag.

On Friday we did go to Tak Yon. It was a typical gay club -except for the fact that it was playing Turkish music. There were so many cute guys - but no sign of the lawyer guy. We had less smoke and more dancing than our last night out in Istanbul. This time to avoid being hung over we stuck to water (Su). But like the Turks, we did not start our night until 12:30 pm and ended up going to bed at 4 am. No picking up, just hanging out with the boys.

I saw the Turk again on Saturday. He kindly agreed to take me to buy a cable adapter for my computer. Yesterday was the last time I would get to see him. He’s so sweet and giving. We had a good time and chat about life - about relationships - the challenges of gay relationships in Turkey. It is rare that you connect with someone so quickly - but I had been warned about these Turks by Myra - their passion and intensity is amazing and I found myself feeling sad when I said goodbye to him. I promised to keep in touch, to come back to Istanbul after Rome.

Today we flew to Bodrum on the south east coast of Turkey - a beachside resort town which feels more like Greece.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Make Over

The men in Istanbul have perfectly coiffed eye brows and beards. My friend Victor said that Turks are hairy and therefore they need to maintain their hair well groomed. While men in Sydney prefer to be hairless, it seems that Turks prefer to style their man hair, particularly on their face. In true Istanbul style, I decided to have a Turkish make over and have my eyebrows and facial hair done. So off we went to a local barber.

He spoke no English and only charged me 2 Turkish Lira but within 10 minutes, my monobrow was gone and my ear hair burned off...literally...he used a lighter to burn it off. I also got a type of wax mask to remove my facial hair - felt like waxing.

Having felt more Turkish, it was our turn to get the rest of our body done with a traditional Turkish bath (Hamam). It involves a lot of sweating and hot water, followed by a heavy duty scrub and massage. This literally removes all of the dead skin and you feel really clean. Turks have been having hamams for thousands of years and in Istanbul it is a bit like having a spa day.

I have never felt so clean. I felt like I had a new layer of skin. The rooms were very hot and the scrub was very rough. The semi naked massage guy was a chunky Turkish guy who did not speak much English. The more my friend and I squealed the more he seemed to enjoy roughing me up. He used a lot of pressure on the massage and I felt a bit sore afterwards. I normally like my massages, nice and relaxing...not hot and hard.

In half a day, I felt brand new...my face had less hair and less skin....I figured I would spend the rest of the day getting to know more about Turkey through date 2 with doctor #2. I refer to him as “the Turk” from now on....just easier.

He was kind enough to pick me up from my hotel in Taksim. In Sydney, I can never get guys to call me back..but in Istanbul after just one day, I had a doctor boy come and pick me up and take me to dinner. We had a traditional Turkish meal and I was able to get to know the Turk much better. We actually had a lot in common. He had his own adventure a few years back when he quit his job and went to the UK to study English for seven months. Like my decision to leave Sydney, it was difficult to make but it ended up being the best thing to happen to him. He ended up changing jobs and focusing on a different area of medicine. He had always wanted to study overseas.

He told me about his family - the fear of coming out but the hopes that one day he will be able to live openly as a gay man. It is even harder to be an openly gay doctor in Turkey. He only has one gay friend in Istanbul, but his passion like me is to travel...and see the world. He loved living in London.

After a check up - we talked about life...decisions....outcomes....the Turk was very passionate. Myra had warned me about how quickly the Turks moved....he was saying all the right things....and this was exactly what I wanted...why I had left Sydney. “I would love to be with your forever. You are not only a sexy man but also a mature friend with a rich brain,” he texted me after I left his place. Total make over - of the guys I attract.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Love

In London I went to gay heaven. In Istanbul, I went to Love. The place where gay boys find love...temporary or long term. It is the happening gay club in Istanbul where drinks are strong and so are the bar tenders. My friend Victor who is Turkish and Myra and I decided to check out the scene...when in Istanbul. We had to take a power nap as clubbing does not get going until 1 am. It was the latest I went out in a really long time..normally I’m coming home..not going out at 1 am.

There is something very sexy about Mediterranean Turkish men...maybe it is all that testosterone which could explain why they go bold. But you do not see the camp types you would see in Sydney. A gay club is a gay club no matter where in the world it is located..you’ll hear Gaga and Britney and Whitney - the usual gay anthems. But the guys seemed friendly..except it was hazy...even though smoking is not allowed, I think Victor, Myra and I were the only non smokers.

I learned from Victor’s friends that finding Love at Love is just as tricky as in other parts of the world. “All the men are either gay or married,” one girl told me. It sounded like a broken record. Amazing that in a city of 17 million people, you could not find a date.

I was not hoping to find love at Love but possibly see the cute Turkish doctor who I met at Heaven in London. I wondered if all the Turkish men at Love were as good kissers as him.

I left Love early - without a Turkish pash and enough second hand smoke to shorter my life by five years...and was amazed to see the traffic at 3:30 am in Istanbul. People were just going out...finishing drinks and getting ready to party - there was a full on rush hour. I ensured that Myra arrived safely home.

The music from the club was still buzzing in my head - that and the two drinks I had at Love were keeping me up. I logged onto GRINDR to realise that my other doctor friend was logged in...maybe he was getting ready to head out. This Turkish doctor was a pediatrist. He was my height, good body and thinning hair. We chatted online a bit and I told him about my experiences at Love. “I never go there cause I do not smoke,” he told me. I think he was the only Turkish guy who did not smoke.

We decided to catch up on Sunday night - not for Love but just for a Turkish tea. I went over to his area, a suburb in the south of Istanbul. This was less trendy than Taksim and more Turkish - more Muslim too. Doctor #2 was single, and had only recently started sleeping with men. He was only out to his sister. “I’m single because in Turkey I cannot have a boyfriend. Everyone would gossip,” he told me. His family lived upstairs in the same building where his apartment is located. He lives in a spacious 3 bedroom flat.

After a second cup of tea, he made his move. Yum. It is official. All Turkish men are great kissers. He was sweet. Expressive. Talented (physically) and definitely knew what he was doing....how to press buttons. There are the selfish guys who just want to cum and guys who like to seduce. The doctor was the latter type - full check up. “When will I see you again?” he told me. “I can’t believe you do not have a boyfriend,” he added.

All I need. A boyfriend in Istanbul when I’m moving to Rome. I wanted to tell Victor’s friend that all the good ones are married or living in Istanbul.