As one flies off, another self-destructs before my eyes. I’m done with all of this. It’s just not worth it anymore. I’m tired of being tired with the merry-go-round that is my dating life. There’s a guy at Duke I have my eye on, but otherwise I think I’m ready – after a year of searching – to recognize the fact that my Mr. Right isn’t nearby, he’s not even in the same state. Instead, this will be the year of friends, the year of no-more-missed-opportunities, the year of fucking awesome. This year I will turn my support network into my joy network and let the chips fall where they may. My happiness is all I can work towards, and at this point I don’t think a man can provide that in any lasting way.
To all of the men that I’ve met, dated, and shagged over the last year, I salute you. You’ve made me realize that I’m worth it, that I never should settle, and that most of you aren’t up to snuff. If I’m supposed to spend my life with one man then I don’t need to have 5 on the line. I’ll find him, and until then I’m going to have a damn good time without him.
Every night these silhouettes appear above my head, little angels of the silences that climb into my bed.
What do you write when you feel like you’ve written everything? When that existential need to express yourself falls hollow? I would say I am an upbeat person, I’m certainly an optimist. I would say that my friends care about me. I would say that I would be remembered.
But, then you have these moments, these paradigm shifts where the Earth trembles and suddenly you’re falling. In that flash, you doubt – what’s going on? will I be ok? who’s going to catch me?
I’ve gone many places, I’ve done many things, and I’ve cemented many friendships, but more than that I’ve met many men in this last year. However none stood out so much as Hollen. In the course of a few nights we had become as most couples do after months of dating. There was an effortlessness then, an effervescence that sparkled in every ounce of me. It just felt right, and who questions that feeling? Something so fleeting, so craved that even if it is ephemeral who cares? Seize it.
And so we did, and the story unfolded as you have already read and I have bemoaned.
But, recently I have changed. I don’t need a knight-in-shining-armor anymore. Months of almost complete gay isolation have given me time to recollect myself, to reprocess who I am, what I want, and why it’s all worth it.
And my answer to all of these is I don’t know.
Who does? And why do you have to? Sure I could be writing this as some sort of cathartic expression of psychosis, but I think that the worlds of black and white, of gray and grayer, are rational attempts to define the irrational. Try to define your essence in a few sentences and see how little you know of yourself. What we want must be beyond our absolute understanding, otherwise wouldn’t we all be happy? Or at least on the path towards happiness?
Which is why I’m glad that I’ve written Hollen off. I don’t care anymore about how great he was because no one who truly cared about me could so completely brush me aside later. A friend could never do that. I will not linger in the corners of despair or the shadows of melancholy. Instead, I’ll find a clean, well-lighted place: a place beyond the horrors of the shade, where the menace of the years finds and shall find me unafraid. I need find no mate, I need pay no toil or toll. I am master of my fate, the captain of my soul.
In these final days abroad, these last hours of pause before my regular life recommences, I can only reflect on the fact that life in and of itself is meaningless. And so we must fill it with meaning, bring it to a frothy foam. A foam that drips over the edge, that bursts forth and sloshes with every toast, every dance, every nod, every touch.
I may not know where my soul need go, but I will lead it.
Today is a new day. A day past the last and before the next. A day which neither you nor I can ever reclaim. In this day I have not done particularly much aside from indulging in my love for Downton Abbey and rehydrating myself after a true night of debauchery chez moi with my host sisters and their friends while my host mother is away.
Yet, I believe today I am forcing a change upon myself. I have been reflecting today upon a quote I recently heard, “You are being tested, and do you know what they say, my darling? Being tested only makes you stronger.”
It was uttered to a desperate girl, a woman trapped between the life she has and the life she believes she should be living. In the aftermath of one of life’s true tragedies, being left at the altar, she breaks down, her last hopes evaporating like a lake dammed from the waters that had nourished it. I watched her cry and writhe. I felt some of her pain, understood some of her tears.
But I will not be Edith.
I am fed-up with myself and the maudlin musings that I make in lieu of change. It’s scary to face myself truly, but I can’t avoid it anymore. I am skinny, even gangly, I am rather lazy by my own standards, I have unrealistically high expectations about whom I want to date, I can be irrational, impatient, impersonal, and impossible. I don’t like doing that which I am not good at, and I don’t like putting myself in situations in which I could truly fail. In short, I hold myself and my world to impossibly high standards, but then refuse to try to meet them, only to then mourn the universal failings of myself and those around me.
So today I will change this. I will. And I have to. I have been unhappy for far too long to keep doing what I have been doing.
I will not make a list of what they are because whenever I make a list it assuages my worries and allows me to put them off for longer. So instead I will have to do it on my own, and I can. I will. I must.
I shouldn’t be sad, but I am. Inexplicably downtrodden is the best way to describe how I feel.
I’m sitting here at 4am in my Oxford dormitory, unable to sleep, which is going to result in a terribly sleepy tomorrow. I was exhausted earlier, but had to finish my French placement exam, and ever since I haven’t been able to get back to bed.
I guess the best way to understand where I am right now is to recap the last seven days. So my last week wasn’t anything like I envisioned it would be. I nearly broke my toe (Michael – lame friend – creepy walk home – oh my!), studied extremely hard all week for Multivariable only to blank on the final, Hollen and I parted under confusing circumstances, and my time so far in Oxford has been fun but strangely empty, which I will discuss in a post tomorrow.
Suffice to say I do not miss Rice in the least. Wonderful school, not for me. The final was fair, but there was just so much to know. I froze in fear many times, terrified at the thought of failing the test. I pulled it together and finished, and I’m confident that I did well enough to pass, but who really knows. (I did pass!)
Hollen and I, well I have no idea. I don’t really know what to say, either way. From his texts in Chicago and our conversations the week before I anticipated a messy, complicated heart-wrenching conversation about what exactly these last two weeks had been and how we would go forward. Instead, we watched TV and got tacos. Which would have been fine, I just let my expectations get the best of me. I know that he is going through a very tumultuous period in his life, and I’m trying to rationalize everything along those lines, but I still just feel like everything is incomplete back there. Every now and then I’ll briefly think back to Houston and just get this little pang in my stomach, the pain of ambiguity, of incongruity. I really have no idea what, if anything, will ever come of those five dates. On the one hand I’m glad that I’m not longing for him or missing him so terribly that I can’t enjoy Oxford, but at the same time I don’t like loose ends, and at this point it’s too late to tie them, which brings me to the most recent reason for my malaise.
Gay Oxford blows… The worst dudes I’ve ever interacted with. In 3 hours I’ve already had 2 hardcore fake profiles, a douche who said after a 15 minute conversation that I should read his description again because he only likes “muscular men and clearly you are not one.” Plus everyone is ugly and boring. Thank god my class starts tomorrow. I really think I might just completely hold off until Paris at this rate, but even Paris scares me. It has the second largest number of Grindr users in the world, after London, and in a city with that many gay men how will I compete? How will I set myself apart. With 155,000 unique users and only 200 men visible on the app how will I even find the good ones? I don’t know, I’m just at a very low point in terms of my relationship outlook. I’m going to check out Oxford’s gay bar and gay club, but I think I’ll take a break otherwise, a sad admission after only one night on Oxford’s grindr…
Everything just seems to be coalescing in a negative way, and I can’t help but shake the feeling that somehow this malaise will always be around me. That I’ll never be happy and satisfied with my life. I mean I’m at Oxford University right now… how is it even possible that I’m not overjoyed? And to that I have no answer. Tomorrow when my tutorial starts I’d like to pour myself into it, to learn as much about modern British politics and economics as possible. I think that Oxford might be the time I need this summer to turn inward, to really find out who I am and what I want before Paris starts. I have 6 weeks and only 4 hours of class a week, plus it’s history so I won’t have any issues with the material. No, my issue currently is myself and why I can’t find happiness. Tomorrow I’m going to get my room in order, organize my computer, start working on some belated research for my boss, and read a lot about Britain.
Maybe when it’s not so late and I’m not so confused I can elucidate things better and come down from the abstract to the finite, but right now I just… I just don’t know anything.
I’ll try to skype all of you that I promised to skype as soon as possible. After tomorrow we should know our schedule and from there I can start planning things. Given my emotional fragility right now I think my trip to London this weekend should be postponed, so I’ll be around Oxford. Didn’t postpone, met Taylor, who knows how my life would have been had I skipped that bus. But no regrets, life is meant to be lived.
Well, Andy (Matt) is officially gone. He had a great soul, and we truly did have an amazing connection, but I cannot found a friendship in the rubble of the greatest deceit I have ever known. I told him that I sincerely wish him the best, and that I know he is going through a confusing, even treacherous, phase in his life, one in which I have also struggled through. I will support him if he needs it badly enough, but generally I want nothing to do with him. I had already started to emotionally disconnect from him because of the impossibility of it all, and the fact that he misrepresented himself and betrayed my innocence only makes it that much easier to move on. Today I feel good. I feel ready to begin my life abroad and live life for what it is. I deleted our texts, the pictures, and blocked his skype account (which he would only call through, never video chat, for now obvious reasons).
The only pains I still have are the pangs of his voice in my head, the flashes of the false friend I thought I knew so well in objects around me, and the memory of what I had. Yet, I’ve learned so much. I can connect with someone in the deepest possible sense, something everyone fears they are incapable of, and I don’t need some ivy league ibanker to be happy. Music, fashion, engineering, or the culinary arts are all possibilities, and yet even they are but a few of the possible professions my future love could have. It doesn’t matter what he does. All that matters is that I love him, that we respect and trust each other, and that we complete each other. Only God knows all of my flaws and foibles, and any man that could fill in all of those gaps, blemishes, and scars would truly make me happy beyond all measure.
But I’m not waiting for Prince Charming. He will come, as always, whenever I least expect it. Instead I will live for me and believe in him. One day we will be. Until then I’ve gotta make do with just me, and I’m ok with that. In fact, I’m positively ecstatic about it. Now I have a whole lifetime to discover who I am, what I love, where I am happiest, and how I can be my most authentic, fulfilled self.
Now, of course I didn’t just want to write another “I shall overcome post.” No, instead this was to preface you, dear reader, for the wonderbomb that just exploded all over my bleak skies. He came innocently enough in the guise of yet another guy on Grindr.
Hollen, well, Hollen is lovely.
In all of my dates, only one other guy has rivaled Hollen in holding my attention, but the ways in which they do are entirely different. For the first guy, inevitably, he was the ray of sunlight, the guy that proved that the rule had exceptions. Not all gay men are worthless sacks of shit. He was adorable, sarcastic, and empathetic in his own unique way. Hollen however, is just endearing to the core. He’s incredible: genuine, caring, humble, ambitious, intelligent, and, of course, adorable [don’t forget real! (too soon…)].
He took me to an incredible restaurant perched in an outdoor garden with a beautiful contemporary, Napa aesthetic called Little Boxwood’s. It was the best place for a first date. I had a delicious angus burger on a brioche bun with pesto aioli and homemade pickles accompanied by a sumptuous medley of blackberries, strawberries, and pineapple. However, the star of the meal was the cookie… It literally returned me to a primal state, all I could think of was this tiny disk of paradise melting in my mouth. The only response I could utter was a series of guttural exclamations paired with a series of rapid hand flourishes. I was beside myself. This cookie was better than Olympus’ finest ambrosia. This cookie was life itself, plus tons of butter.
Of course, while the food may have been divine, I was here on a mission! What mission you may ask? Ehh I didn’t really know. But I had one! Kind of…
Mostly I just really wanted human contact with someone, and of all the guys I had talked to in Houston, Hollen stood out the most.
We talked about everything, his three great loves, my recent Matt/Andy saga, our lives, dreams, futures, values, beliefs, little comforts, and general opinions.
My favorite quote of the date was, and I use some creative license on this, when Hollen said, “I just want someone that will look at me during one of my vapid designer socials and be like, ‘Do you just want to go home so we cuddle and watch Jeopardy?'” That’s when I knew this guy was truly a kindred spirit.
I won’t bore you with the details of our conversation, but suffice to say, it was captivating. The three hours at the restaurant flew by and we went to my, now, favorite furniture store (EVER): Restoration Hardware. It’s modern vintage meets classic elegance, ergo, ravishingly beautiful.
So here we are, running around this three story palace of interior decadence, talking about everything under the sun, and honestly it was the craziest thing. I was on a first date with a guy combing the chambers of a store designed for profligate housewives and fabulous gay couples, and yet it all felt so normal, so subtly enchanting.
And that is the beauty of Hollen, that more than ever, and especially at a time when I needed this lesson reinforced, I can believe in good guys. They exist. They may not be everywhere, but isn’t that what makes them so grand?
I have no idea what any of this means and I don’t care. This is the moment I have, and I’m going to run with it. Surrounded by darkness I am my only beacon, and I choose to shine.
Only with the time can I truly analyze what has transpired tonight, yet, through the rearview mirror of recent memory I can only say that I am shocked.
After coming back from a night training at his summer camp, I had a few questions for Matt. The number of the friend I had requested from him didn’t work (I was going to send that friend a gift to give to Matt), and then when I went to run that friend’s name through the UT student directory (to try to find his number if Matt had sent me the wrong one) I couldn’t find it… Or Matt’s… or Matt at all. He didn’t exist in the system. I texted Matt demanding an explanation, assuming of course that he had one. He just kept saying, “I’m really busy right now let’s talk when I get back.” I relented and let him be. An hour later he calls, we joke for a few minutes then he broaches the subject, “Ok so there are few things that I haven’t been completely honest about.” My heart immediately sinks. “Those aren’t pictures of me, they’re of my friend Matt.” I instantly go into shock, unaware of what I’m saying or thinking. He says he’ll send a picture of the real him, and, before he sends it, I tell him that the physical component is a huge part of a relationship and that he should know that before I see it. After all we had talked for over 100 hours, there’s no way anyone could lie this well so I figured he had just used a friend’s pictures for anonymity. Then I saw the picture… and I knew this whole thing had run its course. He had finally come clean, but he had waited so long because he knew what the outcome would be.
Matt is not Matt. Matt is Andy. While Andy may have been the personality he purported to be, his physical body was certainly not the same. Instead of the 9 I was falling for I was brusquely made aware of the fact that the real Matt is well… not a 9. There’s no way to put this nicely, so I’ll be blunt: I am in no way physically attracted to the real Matt, Andy. I don’t expect to date Adonis but when you weigh twice as much as me we have a problem. To carry on such a titanic lie for two-weeks prevents any sort of continued connection. I should have known that I was being deceived based on some of the things he said about what he’s done in the past and on some of his character flaws, but I cannot hate him. At the moment I do not like him, and I really can’t respect him. I do understand the insecurity that led him to do what he did, I’ve even done it myself once before, but only very briefly and never for a serious, two-week saga. He does not deserve to be in my life, and he needs to know the wrong he’s committed. If he had truly cared about me he would have told me earlier, not after hundreds of hours of phone calls and thousands of text messages.
But I digress, my emotions are cool. I am calm. I will not dwell on him. I had already moved on emotionally and I will not allow his deceit to affect me. I will not succumb to the belief that gay men are destined to be betrayed, alone, and damaged. I am strong. I will better myself, turn inward, and focus on the possibilities that lay before me. I’m not 40, and I’m certainly not wanting for suitors, even if they aren’t Mr. Right, yet.
No, instead I have to take this as the capstone to my tumultuous first gay epoch. If I had to give it a name I guess I’d call it “The Search,” and while it has most obviously been a failure in the most quantifiable metric (BFs=0), I have found myself. Or at least, I have found the beginnings of myself. I still have so much more to discover about who I am and what I want, but for now, to codify it all, this is what I’ve learned:
1. I am attractive. After years of believing myself to be solidly ugly and unwanted, all of the attention and compliments that I’ve received over the last 8 months have buoyed my self-confidence to its highest level ever. I may not be a 10, but no guy has the right to look down on me and believe himself to be better.
2. I am the most important part of myself. This has been one of the hardest lessons to learn. Basically I have to be whole in order to have any sort of a relationship. I need to develop myself mentally, emotionally, and physically, and be proud of who I am and who I am striving to be. I’ve come a lot closer to “wholeness,” but I still have a long way to go. Happiness has never been a simple place to find.
3. I cannot control life. The world exists outside of me, not because of me. I am merely a hopeless participant trying to pass Go and survive. I’ve got to enjoy the moment – I can’t worry so much about the future. At the same time I cannot let a fear of the future’s difficulties dissuade me from attempting the seemingly impossible (ex: Multivariable in 3 weeks at Rice…). I can control so little of my life that I have to strive to make real my ideals in my own daily life (SPi shoutout), but also accept that the world spins without fail. I have to go where it takes me.
4. I am lonely but not alone. My loneliness is self-inflicted. This ordeal has taught me just how incredible my friends are, especially Liz, MC, and Akshita, who have been there with me through this whole thing, every step of the way. I need to treasure my friendships, cultivate them, and give them as much attention as I do to the men that seem to float in and out of my life. I am nothing without my support group, and I owe them everything. They anchor me.
5. I deserve someone great. Not just some good, not just someone that makes me happy. I deserve someone that makes me better, someone that challenges my mind, my body, my spirit, my soul. I need someone great to complete me. Any attempt at filling that void with someone lesser will only make it painfully obvious over time that there is still a gaping hole in my heart. I care a lot, and I put my everything into the man I like, maybe one day love. Just from talking to other guys, I’ve slowly realized just how rare my qualities are, and that I’m willing to wait for another guy who is loyal, loving, intelligent, attractive, interesting, witty, and genuine. At this point I don’t care if that takes 10 years, or even if it never happens. I refuse to settle. I think I’m engaged to 4? maybe 5? women currently. So when I turn 40 I certainly won’t be hurting for a wife. Yet, I’m not so jaded, and I never will be, to think that my love doesn’t exist somewhere. Even if I never find him, I know he exists. And the fact that he does will always give me hope. It will always give me strength.
I am a man. And this is my life. I don’t know how to live it all the time, but I try. Really hard. And I just want to be me, whoever that may be.