A Life Filled with Awesome Loveby Ryan Field
In 1959, the options for men like Travis Swanson tended to be stifled at best. Some would have said nonexistent. Twenty-year-old men who noticed other men instead of noticing women kept this dark secret to themselves. They didn't dare confide in anyone, not even a minister or priest. They knew once the line had been crossed there would be no turning back. And they… See more details below
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In 1959, the options for men like Travis Swanson tended to be stifled at best. Some would have said nonexistent. Twenty-year-old men who noticed other men instead of noticing women kept this dark secret to themselves. They didn't dare confide in anyone, not even a minister or priest. They knew once the line had been crossed there would be no turning back. And they weren't willing to take that risk.
Travis figured out a way to deal with his situation the only way he knew how. He pretended to be interested in women so no one would question him in public, and in private, he took what he could get. Living in a small town in central Montana and working as a ranch hand by day didn't offer many possibilities; however, he'd learned there were others like him in some of the most unlikely places. The bowling alley was one of those places. On a Friday night after ten, he could find what he wanted at the last stall in the men's room. At rest stop on the interstate five miles outside of town, he could find enough action to last him weeks. There was a wooded section out back frequented by truckers and other men who were all looking for the same thing.
He worked as a bartender by night. Though the extra money tending bar helped build a small nest egg he kept in a checking account he rarely used, he took the job mainly to get out of the house, not for the money. He still lived at home with his mom, dad and two slightly older sisters. He slept on the bottom of a set of bunk beds he'd been sleeping in since he was five years old, in a room that still had the same faded white dotted Swiss curtains his mother had made over twenty years earlier while she'd been pregnant with him.
The sisters never stopped cackling about their boyfriends, their daily experiences at the "Clip and Curl" where they worked as beauticians or what Elvis was up to. The mother cooked, cleaned and went to church socials with women she'd known since grade school. And the father came home at six from the feed and grain he managed every night, ate dinner at six fifteen and then plopped into the same chair he had since the first year of his marriage. He fell asleep watching television with his mouth open and both arms hanging from the sides of the chair.
At times, Travis felt invisible. As he watched everyone else's life move forward, his didn't seem to move at all. At other times, he felt their eyes on him, as if they were scrutinizing him and wondering why he seemed so different from other young men his age. He didn't look different; he didn't sound different. To see him at a glance, no one would have looked twice. But he knew the people closest to him were wondering about him, and he wasn't sure what to do about that.
Whenever Travis thought about the future, he felt uneasiness deep in his gut that lasted for hours. He knew he had no future there.
- Ryan Field
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