Some of the most treacherous stretches of road to drive in winter span between Chicago and West Michigan. Lake effect snow is unpredictable and can quickly turn from light falling flakes into a blizzard.
A number of years ago, I journeyed from Chicagoland to Grand Rapids to return home for the holidays. By all accounts it was to be a gray day, nothing more. As I reached the Indiana border, however, it started to sleet and freeze. I discovered then that my wiper fluid was frozen and I couldn’t easily clear my windshield without the assistance of semi-trucks splashing significant moisture on the front of my car. My field of vision shrank to a small square immediately above my dashboard.
So I hunkered down and drove on.
It was the turn of the millennia and I was lonely.
So begins the story of how I watched my first season of reality TV. I had recently graduated from college and found myself in an apartment with three other guys and a cable subscription. I didn’t yet know these guys and all my college friends had spread themselves across the country.
Thus, I found myself watching MTV’s Real World—which, as I quickly found out, was nothing like any real world I’d ever known. In the first episode, we’re introduced to the “characters” as they arrive at the home where they’ll be staying for that season of the show. It’s here we’re introduced to a young man with a “secret.”
He’s quite intent on telling his housemates that he has a “secret” in spite of the fact not one of them knows him or shows an interest in hearing this secret. Seeing this tactic isn’t advancing his mission, he starts sharing the secret (you guessed it)—he’s gay.
I first told someone about my sexuality while sitting in a dorm room at a Christian college in Middle America. The couch on which we sat had seen better days—frayed along the edges of its arms and missing its feet so we had to sink quite low, almost to the ground, to finally meet the seat cushions.
I can’t remember why I chose that night to tell someone after 19 years of silence. Perhaps I felt particularly lonely or maybe my spirit was as low as that couch. I also can’t recall the words I used to share this secret part of me. I imagine they were halting and slightly evasive—just enough to set the scene, but not give away too much of the back story.