Trading Spaces

Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad

It’s December of 2007, and I’m sitting in my Chicago condo alone and surrounded by moving boxes. Thoughts are racing through my brain like a tornado in a trailer park:

“Will we miss Chicago?”

“Does it make sense to start over with everything?”

“Will we be able to get on the adoption list quickly?”

“Will we like Connecticut?”

“Will Connecticut like us?”

Just to name a few out of the million concerns that were troubling me. We were relocating because my partner (at the time) received a life-changing job offer, but we also wanted to escape the city and try life in the suburbs. As thrilling as all of this was, it was also equally terrifying. I was giving up my job as the manager of a renowned luxury boutique, and starting my new role as Suzy Homemaker. We were readying ourselves to adopt a child, and moving to essentially Stepford, Connecticut seemed like a perfect next step.

Months later, we settled into an oversized brick McMansion, and I would wander around on a daily basis staring at the vast empty rooms. It required about ten times the furniture that we owned, so I knew I had a several-year project on my hands. Our son joined the family within a year, so I had officially become a “gaytriarch,” but was still trying to make sense of this new person I was. Since I was a stay-at-home dad, I spent the years pouring my essence into that house. I designed every nook and cranny to the nth degree, but was probably proudest of my son’s nursery. I transformed that place and made it Architectural Digest-worthy. I was comfortable, it was truly stunning, and it gave me so much pride. Having to leave it was one of the most painful experiences in my entire life.

It would have been impossible for me to keep the house after my divorce. I’m not going to divulge the financial reasons, but I realized that if I truly went through with my divorce, it also meant that I would be leaving the house. Originally I assumed we would sell it and each find new homes, but it actually made more sense for my ex-husband to stay put. It also created a more stable environment for Briggs, who has always been at the forefront of our decision-making. So, after months of toting around the “Suitcase of Wrong,” I spent the final night in that house, this last May. That evening, I wandered those rooms just as I did when I originally moved in. This time my feelings were much more bittersweet. As I stared at the moving boxes – now a staggering number compared to our prior move – new thoughts came to my mind:

“Holy fu*k, this is happening.”

“What the hell am I going to do?”

“I haven’t had a job in over 7 years, how will I start over?”

“Will I love the new house?”

“Will Briggs love the new house?”

“Will Briggs understand I’m not leaving him?”

Just to name a few out of the trillion concerns that were troubling me. I certainly didn’t expect any of this, so it was just a jumbled confusing mess. A lot of those moving boxes were covered in tear stains, which is quite the contrast from the move we made years ago. And let’s face it, no one wants to move – it’s awful, and I had to do it while in the midst of being in emotional turmoil. But I pulled it all together, took half of what was ours, and moved to a more urban setting. And I love it. And Briggs loves it.

The first thing that caught my attention when I found my new house was the backyard. It contains an amazing playscape and swingset, so I felt like it was a sign from God. The house itself is contemporary and funky, and probably about a quarter of the size of the McMansion (which is a huge relief for me). My son’s room has a gorgeous mural on the wall that was painted by a local artist, and it makes him smile every night he stays with me. I feel a synergy with this place that I have never felt before. All of my friends say the exact same thing the first time they see it which is that “this is much more me.” It’s safe to say, that together with my son, we made this house a home.

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