If you follow this website, then you know my boyfriend recently moved to Gainesville, FL, where his company transferred him to a super job he could not pass up. His apartment is two blocks from the University of Florida campus, where I attended college, about one hundred years ago.
Yesterday, after I worked out at the YMCA, I made the 2-1/2 hour drive to Gainesville, to spend a few days here. This morning, after my boyfriend left for work, I took a one-hour walk through campus, passing so many spots where I have memories of events from my college days, most of them not particularly good memories.
I wasn’t a happy guy when I went to school here. I struggled with my sexuality. Being gay was not socially acceptable here in the early 1970s, and I tried to fit into the straight, fraternity boy subculture. It didn’t work, and I only made myself more miserable. None of that, of course, was the university’s fault. But those four years were painful times for me, and for the longest time after I left here, I had no desire to come back for a visit. Frankly, I hated the place.
But I started re-visiting in the 1990s, when I’d take one of my sons to a football game, or when I’d take one of my European exchange students up here for a football weekend. And slowly, I began to appreciate the beauty of the campus, and the value of the education I had received here. I guess I’ve “made peace” with the university, now that I’ve “made peace” with myself. Does that make sense? They say you can’t like much in this world until you like yourself. I struggled into my mid-twenties, before I came to like Martin for who he was. It’s all okay, and I am glad to be in Gainesville today. I’m glad to be Martin, too.
Today at noon, the UF Gators play University of Kentucky, here at the stadium in Gainesville. The tailgaters are out in force with their blue and orange tents, barbeque grills, and ice coolers. A party atmosphere reigns on campus. The students all wear their Gator t-shirts, and I’m sure I’ll encounter many a sexy undergraduate in a state of drunken excitement, as the day wears on. (How awful!)
I could attend the game if I wanted to, but it’s too damned hot in the stadium at noon, in September. I’ll watch the contest on my boyfriend’s TV, in the coolness of his apartment. Oh, and you can’t drink beer in the stadium, which tends to dampen one’s spirits when watching football. The fridge here is stocked, so I’m good all around.
Students are already streaming toward the stadium in their Gator gear; the game begins in about ninety minutes. I think I’ll sit a spell on the front porch, and soak up the beauty of this lovely day.
Have a nice Saturday, everyone.