I clasp my hands together. I shut my eyes tight. I focus.
It’s raining in Paris. The wind raps on my window. I stare out into the dark night wondering about what has happened in these last few hours.
The just side of me lashed out. With vengeance I read scores of articles on guns, murder, and American society. But all of that’s on facebook, and I don’t come here to write down what my just side thinks.
I come here to let my fragile side breathe. Waking from a dormant sleep it rises, gasps for breath, and then I set it down here. My little creature of hope & despair, fear & loathing, and longing.
Its voice is weak from lack of use, but as it stumbles out it can’t but help to wonder like Miranda about this brave new world.
But I’ll let it speak for itself.
Sometimes I think back to when I was a kid and about how much I would dread going to school. Sometimes I think about those fights my mom and I got into when I was 7 and so mad that she was late – that she wasn’t there for me until all the other parents had taken their children home from latchkey. Sometimes I think about the night my dad let me watch a scary movie and I was convinced that every shadow was about to bring about my premature demise.
Then I come back to today and I realize that I’m still weak in these same ways. So much of my life is beyond my control. I don’t take solace in this fact. I’m not going to lie and say I love the spontaneity of it all, or that the predictable is boring.
Routine is fucking great, as are safety, stability, happiness, comfort, and love.
In this crazy world of ours we forget that we are fragile creatures, or as one of my favorite lyrics goes, “What a shame we all became such fragile, broken things.”
Except I don’t agree. We don’t become fragile. We are born this way. We have to accept that we live in a world that is weak and broken, a world of souls pushed out into something they were never prepared to handle. So, we learn to handle ourselves, and by golly we come to think we’re pretty good at it. But to be honest, to be.. completely, brutally honest..
we aren’t very good at it.
Sometimes I stare up at the ceiling and wonder about things, like most people. I wonder if people love me, if I’m happy – actually happy, if my life will be a success, and more than anything else, I wonder if I’m good enough.
I think these are important thoughts to think. In the nebulous void that my thoughts dance around in I kind of lose track of myself. In fact most of the day I feel like I’m just floating through, like nothing is real.
And then there are these moments, these wonderful moments in which, for those precious seconds, I feel alive. I’m connected again. And all of my weakness fades. And all of my thoughts crystallize. And I’m back.
I like those moments. In fact I love those moments. I’d like to have them more, not less, as seems to be the case with each passing year. But to do that, I guess we have to show ourselves a little more, take those risks that take us out of our routines, even if they are fucking great.
I didn’t start this for any reason, and I don’t have some profound thought to impart to you before we go.
Instead, I just wanted to say that I love you. I want you to be happy, as I also want to be happy. In this scary world we live in sometimes we act just as irrationally as I did when I saw that movie with my dad. Sometimes, we’re just kids in big kid suits. And as one kid in a big kid suit to another, “Let’s run away. Don’t stop running. Take it all off. Shake it out. Bring it in.”
My only faith in myself and everyone else lies in the fact that we have emotions that run deep as mine shafts, broad as the surging sea, and shine like the Hope Diamond. I am not great, but we… well… we are.
Grab someone by the hand and tell them a secret, then tell them you love them, then promise you’ll never let them fall.
I’ve never cried in public. I’ve never punched someone. I never thought those limits would be tested this weekend. What follows is the worst night of my adult life.
To preface this post I have to give you some backstory, though I’ll be brief. The Sunday before last I met some gay US military guys at a bar in SoHo after gay pride. Afterwards I messaged one of them, Taylor, and we started chatting. He was endearing, cute, interested, and fun. He texted me more than I ever texted him and seemed like a great distraction after my Hollen confusion.
Hence, after a stressful touristy weekend in London I was so excited to settle down in Cambridge and get to know Taylor better.
I arrived for free by train (gotta love a BritRail pass that you leave blank 😉 and Taylor picked me up at the station. We went to this karaoke bar in Cambridge where we talked, though rather sparsely, and in general had a great time. When we got home we watched some TV, though on separate couches, which seemed odd to me. After a rather uneventful night we crawled into bed and suddenly he was terribly interested in me. And I made the gravest mistake of my young adult life. After deciding to wait to have sex again until I had a boyfriend, I broke my vow to myself after four months. It wasn’t worth it in the least. I liked Taylor, but though that beast may have had two backs, one was incredibly bored.
Afterwards he said he didn’t cuddle as soon as we finished… it was an awkward way to end things. The next day he slept until almost one, made us breakfast, and barely spoke. I assumed he was tired, and I had a mound of decolonization documents to sift through, so I was glad to have some peace to work. However, the day continued in a boring, monotonous kind of way. We watched Burlesque, which was awesome, but he fell asleep… once again on a separate couch…
Chris (another gay US mil guy, very friendly and conversational) came by around 6 and I finally had someone to talk to. Around 7:30 we left for dinner at this Italian-American restaurant called Frank and Benny’s. Chris and Taylor knew everyone there so I kind of felt like an outsider, but overall it was fun. However, twice I leaned my leg onto Taylor only for him to pull it away within a minute or two…
I didn’t want to go out… at all… but Chris did, and Taylor was on the fence. I thought maybe if I played along he’d stop ignoring me. Maybe if we went to the club I’d discover this pessimism had all been in my head, that we did have a connection of some sort, especially given that I had sex with him the night before… the second time I’d ever even had sex…
We went to a bar before we went out clubbing in Cambridge, and unlike the night before Taylor was not paying for anything of mine (dinner, drinks, covers, etc.) which would be fine if… we hadn’t just had sex…
To fast forward through the evolution of the night, which consisted of random pairs and triplettes of gay brits meet up with us at the bar before we headed to Ballare, picture a smoky club with a long glass countertop, neon lights enveloping it, and an generally sketchy, sexual atmosphere. Oh, and absolutely devoid of people… well at first. I noticed that Taylor had been talking to this random short pimply white kid a fair bit, and that they had exchanged phone numbers, obviously making me jealous, but I didn’t want to give into such petty emotions. The night continued with Taylor ignoring me except for the occasional exchange of cordial phrases… nothing profound…
After finally getting fed up with this I left for Fez, the club Chris and some of the others had already headed to. With Chris, it was so nice to finally be able vent to someone. I had almost started crying on my way between the two clubs. Sex just makes emotions so much more painful, so much more real.
Chris told me about how Taylor’s “Cool Guy” personality made him treat men poorly, which, coupled with what Taylor had told me about his past, makes me think that he has led a very lonely, broken life. He’s become so calloused to the world that, especially in terms of romantic interests, he will not risk being vulnerable.
I had fun at Fez, but I was ready to go so I texted Taylor, grabbed Chris, and went back to Ballare about an hour after I had left. It was about 2:45am at this point and I was ready to go. I wanted wifi so I stayed outside and received a text from Taylor saying “I’m bring Dylan home!” meaning that as his guest of two days I would be sleeping on the couch my second night as my bootycall replacement got it on with Taylor in the room next to me. Fuck that.
I demanded in all caps that he come outside. I was furious. WHY THE HELL WAS I IN CAMBRIDGE!? What explanation could there be for such a narcissistic, selfish act? He asked what I wanted to talk about. I responded, “YOU.” He refused to come outside saying he couldn’t leave his friends. I texted Chris saying he needed to come immediately, I wanted someone there to break up a fight if it broke out.
Chris and I waited for a few minutes, but the douche never came out. After a few more minutes we headed back in the club as it was shutting down and, after taking drunk Taylor’s keys, we headed outside to a food truck and a taxi. On the way to the truck Chris grabbed Dylan and the other member of our late night crew, Chase, and let Taylor and I go ahead. For that I am forever grateful. I needed to express my hurt, my frustration and without that opportunity I don’t know how it would have manifested.
“Taylor, we need to fucking talk.”
“Why the hell am I here!? Am I not good enough for you after one screw? Do you not have the common decency to hold off on having sex with another guy until I leave TOMORROW MORNING?”
“We were just having fun last night, I don’t see why you’re getting so upset.”
“Are you kidding me??? Do you think I came up to Cambridge, left my amazing friends in Oxford, and wasted a ton of pounds just to see you fool around with some dude as I’m stuck on the couch? You were the one that wanted me here!!!?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not feeling it, I can’t control how I feel. This is life, get used to disappointment.”
“I don’t give a shit how you feel, I’ve never been so disgusted by anyone in my life as I am right now. You are a vile sack of lies. and shit. What happened to ‘You’re just different from the others Dan, you seem like such a great guy, I can’t wait to hang out and show you the smaller parts of England’!? And shut the fuck up about ‘this is life.’ Life is not a series of events that just happen, you decide its course, you define it. You really have no idea where I’m coming from do you?”
“I just don’t like guys smarter than me”
“You’ve got to be joking… I could have told you I’m smart [almost said smarter] from the beginning [and here I almost set myself up for a punch in the face, but I recovered it], and that you are… not someone who is intellectual. My entire identity is predicated on my love of the world, of learning its secrets and pushing myself academically and intellectually. You clearly do not have a similar desire. I’m not here for a boyfriend, or even dates Taylor. I just wanted to have a fun weekend with you and I don’t see why you cannot have the decency to respect that.”
[he says some half-assed remark that doesn’t matter… none of his replies really did… he always tried to shirk the blame and push it off of himself]
“We’ll sleep at Marc’s, you’ll sober up, and you will drive me back to Oxford tomorrow morning.”
“Can’t you just take a bus or something.”
“We had an agreement you asshole. You were going to freaking stay with me at Oxford for a few days, and now I’m invisible to you. You even talked about coming to visit me at Duke! Do you even know what the truth is?”
“You will drive me back to Oxford tomorrow.”
“Well Dan, since we’re staying at Marc’s Dylan isn’t coming so this is all pointless.”
“Yes, This is all pointless.” I turned and walk away, back to Chris, Dylan, and Chase, before Taylor could respond.
The rest of the night I rode higher, completely ignored Taylor, and tried to have a good time.
In the morning, after three hours of sleep on my part, I woke everyone up with a succession of 12 ringtones. I could give a shit about their sleep deprivation (well Taylor’s, I quite like Chase and Chris). I threw up on the way to get Taylor’s car. I can’t explain it, but sex just made my emotions so much heightened, so much less controllable or explicable.
We drove back to Taylor’s place. I said a heartfelt goodbye to Chris and continued my complete silence towards Taylor. After he ran to fill up his gas tank for the 2 hour drive to Oxford we finally left for Oxford. I’ve never been so excited to get back a shabby dorm room. We blared the music the entire time and I didn’t say a word except in the final 20 minutes I quickly asked if he was “clean,” and if my aloofness on Sunday-day had been the reason for his withdraw. He responded that he had no STDs and that I hadn’t done anything.
Then it hit me, when the switch had flipped. On the very first night, on the way to Karaoke bar I had talked about MSA and my math class this summer/genius math friends from MSA, and probably other things about Duke/my academics. I’m not going to hide who I am, what I’ve done, and what I love. However, that’s when he got intimidated, that’s when he decided we didn’t click because he couldn’t dominate me. At that point he just wanted a bootycall, and from there everything makes sense.
I hate him, but that will pass. Mostly I pity him. I pity that he can’t enjoy the company of someone that enjoys both his platonic and romantic sides. From the way he interacted with his friends and the things he said it seems like everything revolves around sex or friendship, in clear delineated terms. Of course I don’t know him, I’m just piecing things that I observed and his friends told me together.
He is the most clear-cut stereotypical Velvet Rage gay that I’ve met. He desperately seeks validation, then spurns whoever gave it once he’s secured it.
I finally exited the House of Lies when we pulled up to New College. I grabbed my things as he was slowing down, unlocked my door when he hit sub-5mph and opened it as he rolled to a stop.
He said, “Take it easy.” I bolted out of the car, tersely responding, “Yeah… you too.”
I defriended him when I got back to my computer, and sent him a message with a link to the Velvet Rage and “cya”
Walking to my dorm room I actually cried out, “WOOOO!!! Home!”
I guess some quick personal lessons that this painful trial taught me:
1. Never trust a gay man clearly interested in sex above all
2. Never have sex outside of a relationship
3. Many gay men, even the young ones, are calloused. Stay skeptical, but never let your heart harden.
4. In the end only I can stand up for myself, only I can live my life. Always assert myself.