Eric (California) and Neto – Hervatska (Croatia)

Posted on February 13, 2010. Filed under: Stories |

Kako Sam Upoznao Moju Ljubav (How I Met My Love)

By: Eric

How do I start? There is so much to tell!

I remember sitting in the living room with a dear friend of mine on her couch. We were looking out her window at the rose garden when she said, “you are going to meet the man of your dreams”. After having just sold my home in Alameda, left my job and sold pretty much all of my personal belongings- the last thinking was meeting the man of my dreams. I was getting ready to leave on the journey of my life to travel the world, visit museums and see the world that I had only read about till this point in my life.

A little history…

Mom was a teacher and dad was a cop- they raised us four kids and provided a pretty good life, at least they did the best they could. I was fortunate to have grown up in the country living on a ranch with lots of animals, places to play and friends and family to love. Then my parents lost the home that we lived in due to a bad investment deal. They had purchased the land our home was on from a family member who was being forced to file bankruptcy- that meant my parents did not own the land our home was on- talk about uprooting my young social calendar. We lost pretty much everything and had to move down to the SF Bay Area to live with my grand-parents. How yummy humble pie tastes!

It was difficult because I was just entering puberty and I was sensitive and slightly- well…gay! My sexuality was not easy for me to accept mostly because I had always been very close to God as a young boy. That all changed when the pastor at our church told me that if I didn’t change my ways- that I would go to hell. I guess he suspected that I might have been gay- you think? His comment really screwed things up for me mentally and helped fuel a life long struggle for acceptance and security. Struggling with thoughts of suicide and self torture- I often begged and bargained with God to help me change myself. Funny it took me years to realize he left me just the way I was and waited for me to accept how he created me. It took a long time and I still even struggle till this day to accept this.

I ended up leaving High School early because of threats to my safety and distraction. There was just no way to focus on education when I was coming out- meeting men that would help me find my way into adulthood was all that would avail itself to me at the time. I remember once some friends from High School had followed me to where I had arranged to meet the first gay man I ever knew. He picked me up in his black sports car and we sped off to the city where he would take pictures of me in Golden Gate Park. My friends drilled me the next day- “Are you gay?” they asked curiously. My best comment about coming out came from my sister- when I told her that I was gay- she said, “Oh my God, how cool- I have a gay brother”.

My first partner and I moved in together when I was about 16 and we were together till I turned 21. Being in a monogamous relationship with him is probably what prevented me from contracting HIV/AID’s. For the remainder of my 20’s and 30’s I was a typical Gay Guy living in the City of San Francisco- moving up the corporate later and doing very well for myself. Struggling with addiction to food and alcohol has also always been a part of my life.

Why did I all of the sudden digress- because I felt it was important to include a little bit of history in my story. I am not unique and I understand that some of us have struggled with religion, acceptance, and many other social stigmas that are imposed on us by society and our government. I have always wondered what my claim to fame would be in life and as I now turn 40 realize that it’s to watch and be a part of GLBT history. Being a part of the GLBT experience has shaped who I am as an individual, a partner, a family member and friend. Someone said once that you might not know it, but GLBT’’s are all around you. I loved that saying and to this day think it is more profound than how simple it sounds as I write it out.

Story resumes…

So I fly to Germany to meet my best friend from High School who ‘s husband is stationed in Iraq. I stay there for a couple of months and decide to take her on a cruise of the med. During this cruise, we stop over on a day excursion in Dubrovnik- OMG. I am in love. I couldn’t get over how beautiful this city is. It was like something out of medieval history 101! I felt like the first time I saw SF or NYC- transformed. I go back to Germany- research Dubrovnik and Croatia and am enthralled. I find out there is an American University there and apply to get in so I can get a visa. I am accepted and the adventure begins.

I had already purchased an Intrepid trip from Saint Petersberg, Russia- to Austria. I have three months till school starts so I figure I better get my travel going since I am now going to be a Student living in Dubrovnik. I travel up through Denmark, Sweden, Helsinki and take the train to Saint Petersburg. I meet up with my group from Intrepid and we go south for a couple of months and numerous countries. I have the time of my life- so far!

I get to Dubrovnik, find a place to live, and at this time am VERY LONELY if you know what I mean. When you are traveling for three months- you don’t exactly have the time for quality relationships. There is plenty of other “stuff” but that is one of the reasons I wanted to leave the US. I just felt like everyone was focusing on instant gratification and I wanted more. I was however a little sick of seeing castles- LOVED the museums and the Hermitage puts the Louvre to shame- that is my favorite thing to say about my travels- lol. Everyone has been to the Louvre darlings! How many have done the Tage? Anyway, I am being pretentious- please forgive?

I am now living in the Old Town- Stari grad. Je ucim Malo Hervatska ( I am learning little Croatian). It’s a very difficult language to learn. I am loving the life, meeting tons of people, and am having the time of my life. Life is good!

Then it happened. I have goosebumps as I type this. I met the man of my dreams. He was staring at me from across the Stradun. He gets mad at me when I tell it like this- cause we actually met one other time, he also says it was more than once. We didn’t really meet yet though. I was hanging out and the VIP Café on the Ploce Gate (two entrances to Dubrovnik and this is the West side). I was chatting with the only very well known “Original” aka (very gay man) and he had called some of his friend to have them check out his new American boyfriend. Of course I had no idea this was happening because I don’t understand Croatian conversations happening at 100 miles per hour.

Then he comes into the café and I see this handsome man and am just speechless while sucking in my stomach and trying to look sexy. I am totally liking this guy- he is HOT! He has this cool silver streak of hair in his goodee (as he calls it) and wow how unique.
However- I was to shy and didn’t think he liked me- till the day he was staring me down across the Stradun. I was being shy and hiding behind the umbrella but couldn’t help but notice this handsome man and the fact that he was staring at me.

Well it still didn’t happen. I had a friend coming from the States and she was do any minute. I met her and immediately we started out and about around town. I took her into this jewelry store that was supposed to be very high end- and guess who was there?

And that is how it all started. We exchanged numbers, met that night, and have been together ever since. It has not been easy for us however. After living in Dubrovnik and being together for about 3 months, it was necessary for me to have to come back to the US. I was out of money and could not get a job to stay in Dubrovnik. It was heartbreaking leaving Neto. We had spent every day together and we were best friends. It was so easy- everything! We were so happy together and I had never imagined I would meet such a wonderful man.

I left Croatia heart broken and devastated. Thank God however for IM and Video chat with Yahoo. The time difference was difficult and getting back into corporate world was even worse. Neto and I were making plans- I was doing a lot of research and we decided that we were going to try and stay together. For six months we were apart (which I realize is not as long as others) but it was very hard for us both. I would try and send some money cause it was the winter months where there was no work for him. I also was not earning as much and the economy was starting to tank.

Eventually Neto was accepted at City College of San Francisco and he made one of the hardest decisions of his life. He left his family and friends, his home country, his life, mother, nieces and nephews. He did that for me- he did that for us. I am totally humbled by this and moved to tears when I think of how much he as done for us. I love this man so much. He has given me such unconditional love and acceptance than anyone in my life. I have had a lot of good things in life, penthouse in SF, diamond rings, multiple nice cars, world traveler- but nothing means more to me than Neto. He is my life, he is my soul, he is my shadow, he is my strength. He is the world to me. We have been through so much together and we are still as strong today for it. But we live in fear. Fear that what we have can be taken away from us at any moment. Fear that our love, our life, our happiness and our story- will end tragically for us without any control on our part.

I told a lot about my history because I want people to know what we struggle with. Societal and Historical stigmas are tearing apart the lives of our GLBT society. This doesn’t make us unique- but what does is that Society in general still thinks its okay to discriminate against GLBT’s. This needs to stop. We need to organize, pick one unified voice who represents us all, and start lobbying like the others till we get our deserved equal rights.

Neto and Eric are living together with our two cats- Sara and Katy. We hope that someday soon Neto will get the DV lotto or that by some miracle; our Government will give us our rights. Till then, we are happy- we are strong and loved in knowing we have people out there fighting the cause with us. Thank you for listening! If you are in a bi-national relationship- just keep the faith, one day our country will love us back!

This story was written by: Eric- (California) and Neto – Hervatska (Croatia)

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3 Responses to “Eric (California) and Neto – Hervatska (Croatia)”

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Thanks for publishing this.

Dear Eric and Neto,

So beautiful to hear your story, in detail. I love you both. Thank you for sharing your story here.

Your cousin and friend for life,

Roxanne oxo

So sweet! Happy that your family.


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