1/25

Beginning when I was 9 years old AIDS entered my consciousness, gleamed from celebrity deaths, bringing the original facts I had about homosexuality to me.   I learned of the need to doctor acceptable variations of myself, deferring to others to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating narcissistic chaos that ultimately resulted in implosion.

I was diagnosed with HIV on 1/25; Marvel Comics had published the death of the human torch.  And I was single.  I had contracted HIV after a break-up, and I indulged in work and play.  Numbed myself with drugs and experimentation.  I made a few poor choices.  In relationship of my youth I was a chaos creator, which resulted in me contradicting HIV.  The behavior was me shouting, Don’t act as if I was just something you accidentally stepped into.

When my ex eventually learned of my HIV-status in February 2011, a month after I did, I was told that ultimately, he felt betrayed.  As the summer of 2011 rolled in and out my ex’s cowardice told me he was unsure of being with someone with HIV, with me, because he didn’t want to catch HIV.

What’s horrible about dating with HIV is friends who set up – in their infinite kindness – forget that I have HIV.  The friends don’t anticipate the nerves that come with offline dating and having to revel status of a person that is liked and hopes like back.  If they do like back who is to say the HIV isn’t a deal-breaker?

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David is maddeningly confused

David is maddeningly confused.

David says has been spending evenings with Ex, who spontaneously stopped by. I only know Ex came-by since I sent David a text at about 3:30PM, when I was certain he’d be off his double shift. He was still working because he changed shifts. So, I asked what he did last night, even though I had already surmised the answer through a gut instinct. David, to his credit, was very upfront. Since I know the answer about what he’s doing and with whom, I wonder if I should even ask. See what he says if he even rings up being with the Ex. it’s not to trip him up because I believe already have made up my mind, but I won’t ask because it’s none of my business. If what David has said about the ex than what does it say about what David wants if he’s undecided about being with Ex. If it’s me vs. a club/drugged-out/abuser, that David must choose between, I can make that decision for him – by removing myself as an option. Should we had progressed, I wasn’t going to go forward having the thought that I was picked because Ex had changed their mind. I won’t think of myself as second choice.

I’m more disappointed that I couldn’t regain a sense of hope in dating, or the future. I wanted something to show that the risk was worth the benefits. I didn’t expect forever but something that shows I can date. What I got was wondering what is so wrong with me that an ex is appealing? I return to the old idea from when I was in high school – back from when I was 16 – that I’ll be journeying through adulthood alone. I always had a belief I would be perpetually single and alone.

When I was younger I’d hide my singlehood with the declaration I was too unique for a match. A wild horse. Any metaphor that makes me the gypsy or vagabond. A person living by the wind.

I’m mad that this David-experience feels like a repeat of my youth – guys would always choose their ex or another (such as their crush) over me. While true time has not decided who he shall choose I have a suspicion he will select Ex. I thought David was a different caliber of guy I was used to, but he’s the same.

In middle school, ‘gay’ was a pejorative

Playgrounds, as evolutionary survival, teach the necessary fact that it is important to be like everyone else, to find acceptance into the group dynamic.  From pre-historic to ancient-times, and beyond, avoiding being ostracized meant avoiding death.  This evolutionary hold-over pushed stagnation in the formation of an authentic identity from others, keeping interests, past-times, and loves from friends and families.  Unsurprisingly, children are acutely aware of the differences amongst each other, particularly when there’s one who doesn’t participate in the same activities and games.

Feeling distant from classmates and peers, particularly the boys, began in elementary school when I wasn’t naturally inclined to want to participate in the same games and activities.  While I could rough house and play with the best of them, my over-exuberance must’ve rung inauthentic to those around me.  The thing I had that other boys did not have was my father’s Playboy magazines, which he kept openly in the living room on the end table near where he sat.  The other boys would accept invitations to play or have sleep-overs in the living room, allowing free perusal of the Playboys.  They were in awe that the nudity was on display so openly.  I explained that my parents thought it was better to see healthy relationships than to see violence as natural solutions; when I turned thirteen I still hadn’t seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day, but had seen 9 & ½ Weeks.

Middle school was a complicated time – while other boys discovered girls, I had no interest in them.  What I found more appealing were the boys, who became the subject of fantasy and infatuation.  In middle school. there were no boys to roleplay intimacy or boundaries; everyone’s burgeoning masculinity was too fragile.  Other students’ sexual exploration didn’t have many venturing far from home, but my search had me travelling far into the realm of gay-other, which at that time was predominately found in the character Jodie Dallas, from Soap reruns on Comedy Central.  Jodie Dallas was ridiculed and dismissed every time he came out.  He was a sad sack that never was taken seriously by his family, and was unable to find happiness with another person that was similar, whom to divulge his thoughts and feelings to.  Jodie was constantly alone, single, and friendless because homosexuality separated him from his family.  This was a typical portrayal of homosexuality in the early & mid-1990s, and Soap was from the late 1970s.

In middle school, ‘gay’ was a pejorative for ‘stupid,’ ‘sissy,’ ‘girly,’ or ‘less than.’  With group acceptance as the primary goal being labeled the outsider was unacceptable, so I steered far from the homosexual labels.  I was intimidated.  I wasn’t ready to be placed in any box, let alone the wrong one.  kept any suspicious ‘gay’ buried through comic books.  A lack of interest in sports was chalked up to geek, safely hiding within the group.  I ignored the adventure of exploring a gay identity, and embraced the descriptions that avoided me being ostracized into the group with the more flamboyant homosexual boys – the ones labeled “sissy.”  So, when a girl asked me to be their boyfriend I said yes, lacking the vocabulary and experiences to know that it would be an ill-fit.  I withdrew and couldn’t muster the interest to mimic boyfriends I saw modeled on TV, and waited for the inevitable implosion.  When she did call to break-up I didn’t feel relieved, or even numb – I simply went about my afternoon watching cartoons.

Me vs. His Ex

By the Wednesday after my birthday, David reported that his ex is asking to take him back, and David tells me he is confused because the ex has had since May to ask him back, and he doesn’t know what to do.  They had been together for four years and even been engaged.  Apparently, David’s ex heard that he was talking to someone (that’s me).  From what David’s described was not a pleasurable experience, and was so bad he had to sell the home he had owned where his children grew up.  It was a borderline abusive relationship, with the Ex taking financial advantage of him.

David surprised me with a text reading, It was your birthday last week, and then asked if I wanted company.  I stated Yes.  Who was I to turn down an additional date that week, to the planned Friday to Saturday of the next night.  We had planned on me bringing my computer over and watching Patty Cake$.

That whole evening, as we sat on my couch, with David’s head on my shoulder I kept thinking David was just comparing experiences; Me vs. His Ex.

The biggest let-down is that for all the Ex’s biggest flaws they’re still not so grievous as to give David pause.

While I was unsure of the future, I was hoping I’d see that I can put myself out there and not be damaged.  A break-up or fizzle-out because of a miss-match I could handle, but not David’s unintentional douchery.

The next morning, I asked David if he wanted me to bring my computer over for a movie, like we had planned earlier.  David said that he couldn’t that night.  I had thought last night was in addition to tonight, not replacing.

David and I barely conversed that day, ending with me sending the first text asking how he was, and he said, “I’m good.  I’m always good.”  I heard echoes of my ex Ben’s, I’m Ben, no one worries about Ben.

I repeated my question to David, with a bit more authority, “You are not – you’re stressed about your ex and concerned about work.  How is everything?

He didn’t answer all the rest of the afternoon.

I sent David a text that evening asking how work was.  He didn’t answer.

Did David come over last night to cancel tonight to spend it with his ex?  Was it the ex’s turn to be compared to me?  It is really none of my business, but it kind of is if he’s cancelling to be with his ex.  I deserve to know (I guess).

My second text was, “Everything ok?”

Nothing.

 

New Year Optimism

A new year brings with it a refreshing first few days, when the year is barely known enough to be more than enamored, barely smitten.  It’s personality and the way it shows concern is quaint. I do like the year enough to hope.

David seems refreshingly sweet.  While he is not the antithesis of everyone prior, David does feel like an evolution.  Someone happy with their life, striving to do and be better, it is very difficult to put my finger on it.  He seems to have his act together.  Comparing David to my previous boyfriends is inaccurate because I am not the same person, and so am not pursuing the same type of man.  David seems like just that – a better caliber of person.

What do I want now?

We held hands which was nice – but I greatly was the clandestine rubbing of knees, the forbidden hand grazes, and secretly hooked fingers.  David’s open affection is a divergent course it isn’t unpleasant, or off-putting.  I enjoy it – but am unfamiliar.  David’s seemingly genuine concern is the same.  Perhaps, I have fetishized the underground code of homosexual life – removing the norm as stimuli.  It’s possible – have spent so much time with masks and hiding, dodging glances, and finding life in shadows.  There’s a lot about David that is brand-new to me.

He is divorced, has three college-age sons. I am unwilling to be a rebound, but if he just wants to have fun that’s OK too, if he tells me that’s what he wants.  Has it been long enough for David to be dating?  Or long enough for me to consider him for dating?

For my birthday on Thursday David came over on my birthday. While he suggested both going out or eating in, I went with eating in at my place, since he’d be parking on the street and that would be difficult to find a space again.  We ordered in from Red Fern and watched Call Me By Your Name; a very good romantic film.

The Narcassist Boy [01.2018]

Liar!  That’s the very definition of manipulation.  It dawned on me in that conversation that James thought I was going to keep my life on hold while he kept putting his together.  Just fuck off!

Now you’re being spiteful.

That would require giving a fuck, and I’m fresh out of fucks. He had made his affection ebb and flow until I was no longer able to care that he was completely gone.

He said, That doesn’t make any sense.  I’m not moving in!

I was relieved because if James moved in and if I didn’t thoroughly cater to him it would trigger an explosion of his anger towards life.

James made all his internal struggles my fault – just as Ben had.

James took advantage of my hard work to have a life of luxury – just as Frank had.

James made me bend and compromise into exhaustion – just as Joey had.

Every moment with James had dripped with desperation.  In the time between Joey and James, I had convinced myself that I only had one relationship before throwing the towel in (had one relationship left in me) and retiring to perennial bachelor.  James turned out to be that relationship.  I didn’t want to be alone, to be forgotten, and I had many fantasy-futures.  I had made a promise to give-up, and I really didn’t want to – I am a rom-com fan, like “What’s Your Number?”  I was hell-bent on not being a male-spinster.  I’m sure my desperation didn’t make me easy to live with, but – there is no but.

I would’ve been living for him, continuously biting my tongue, and living in the name of fear of abandonment; pretending to be stunted, but all that brought was being walked over, and misconstrued; I couldn’t keep surviving like that.  I was better off because it took too long to stop the tape of disparages telling me I am cruel, uncaring, and cold from playing in my mind.  I convinced myself that I loved him, but it was only a relationship.  James was every poor choice in one person, and by dating him I managed to begin truly exorcising ghosts of the past.

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Narcissist Boy [2018.01]

Bent Dating Mirrors

In high school, while I explored life through the internet, adults were just as eager to meet as peers.  I exchanged emails and messages more with adults, but their eagerness to meet only reinforced my Jodie Dallas induced greatest fears.  Still, though, I quickly accepted an adult’s invitation to meet.  In adult companionship, I saw a greater possibility of the exciting homosexual adventures, like those in Queer as Folk.  I had wanted big city Sex & the City adventures with Mr. Big, who’d take me to theatre and art openings.  And older men had seemed like the best way to experience that.  What I found instead was sneaking off to the backwoods of Upstate New York and trailer parks, where their own inauthenticity funhouse mirrored my own.  They were adults trapped in adolescence, attempting to stay past their prime by hanging with the freshly prime.  I was an adolescent playing adult, attempting to stay out past bedtime by hanging with those without a bedtime.

In college, I turned, again, to the internet to acquire homosexual dynamics.  I focused my attention away from the campus to familiar older gay males, hoping they’d be more worldly and attractive than when I lived at home. I quickly accepted invitations to meet.  Jodie Dallas’ specter faded from the peripheral of my concept of homosexuality.  The big city experiences that I had expected, from Sex & the City and Tales of the City, seemed like a greater possibility.  Instead of a NYC Queer as Folk, I repeated my youth in reverse, by escaping dorms into Yonkers, White Plains, and white suburbs along the New York and Connecticut border.  These ticky-tacky suburbs reflected like funhouse mirrors my suburban attempts at escape because now I was seeing behind the neighbors’ curtains, and I didn’t like it.  The men that I hung movie and TV inspired fantasies on, whom I went home with, would close their curtains, citing their need for privacy.

As experiences grew my perceptions, I came to see “privacy” as a bent mirror to my rejection of the homosexual label.

Back on the college campus, relationships were fleeting but sex was not. Sexual encounters were often furious and fleeting, held in others’ dorm rooms while their roommates were away, or secluded areas within lecture halls late/early mornings.  Despite my sexual escapades during this time I continued to rebel from any identity label, that I had no history with.  I was unable to break the cycle that had resulted from middle and high school’s habit of isolating in my room.  The relationship that I had dreamt of, had hoped for during the college experience, eluded me.  I was good enough for a lay, but not to spend time with.

In post-undergrad and grad-school, I doctored acceptable variations of myself, believing my exposed self would not be good enough.  My authenticity was deferred to others to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating narcissistic chaos that ultimately resulted in implosion.

Entering Two Worlds

Adult homosexuals from the internet were just as eager to meet as peers I interacted more with adults, but their eagerness to meet only reinforced my Jodie Dallas induced greatest fears of being queer.  Still, though, I more quickly accepted an adult’s invitation to meet than a peers’.  In adult companionship, I saw a greater possibility of the exciting homosexual adventures, like those in Queer as Folk; their adventures seemed like the safe juvenile antics I should be participating in.  I had wanted big city Sex & the City adventures with Mr. Big, who’d take me to theatre and art openings.  What I found instead was sneaking off to the backwoods of Upstate New York and trailer parks, where their own inauthenticity funhouse mirrored my own.  They were adults trapped in adolescence, attempting to stay past their prime by hanging with the freshly prime.  I was an adolescent playing adult, attempting to stay out past bedtime by hanging with those without a bedtime.  The very nature of my game necessitated duplicity as I navigated the two worlds that I had begun inhabiting, as I tried on various masks and identities.

Suburbian In Reverse

Freedom came with undergrad life.  I was away from home and finally near New York City, of a world that I had dreamed deeply about escaping to.  At SUNY @ Purchase perfect was the antithesis of suburban high school, evolving to from machismo jock to artistic and eccentric.  In college perfect was chased by girls and boys, and perfect boys were more likely to chase boys back.  Perfect was still not the quietly humorous one who liked school and read in his dorm.   He was cool though, which afforded me the opportunity to be entertained by a peer as a possible date.  I freely made my homosexuality explicit and explore relationship dynamics.

Refreshed by a gust of attention, I set my sights on who was deemed the most desired boy on campus: Marc.  He wasn’t a student, but was the friend of students on the floor below me, and visited every weekend.  Luckily, the friends I had made on my floor knew the people down stairs through a mutual friend from Long Island; guess New York City isn’t that big of a city.

Mutual friends who knew of my crush arranged for a chance encounter with Marc.  While nothing came of the meet, I did gain wonderful new friends who are cherished deeply.  Marc, also, knew of my crush on him; apparently, subtlety was not in my repertoire.  His rejection of me (I wasn’t his type; he preferred guys more seasoned than I was) dissipated my attraction.  His friends felt sympathy for me, revealing that Marc gets crushed on a lot.  I thought how if I wasn’t special or a first to Marc I’d move on and I was over him.  We hung out after and it was clear we had nothing in common other than our mutual friends.  During that friendship, I saw that beneath bravado, was a desperate want for stability with a boyfriend, just as I did.

As college goes relationships were fleeting but sexual encounters were not, with my attention no longer fixated on one person. The relationship that I had dreamt of, had hoped for during the college experience, eluded me.  I was good enough for a lay, but not to spend time with.  I was no wallflower, but I was unable to break the habit of isolating in my room and studying.  I didn’t go to the campus’ LGBTQ Union to meet peers because the members I conversed with assuredly proclaimed their identity to everyone.  Despite my sexual escapades during this time I continued to rebel from any identity label, that I had no history with.

With a false identity in place, I adventured beyond campus-boys to older gay males.  I turned, again, to the internet to dominate my acquisition of homosexual dynamics.  I quickly accepted invitations, hoping that I’d be a step closer to NYC-escape, that I had expected from Oliver & Company and Tales of the City. Behind my more sophisticated and cool mask older men seemed more worldly and attractive. The Jodie Dallas specter faded from the peripheral of my concept of homosexuality, Sex & the City experiences that I had dreamed of seemed a greater possibility.  Instead of the Manhattan fantasy – theatre, dinners, and art galleries – I repeated my suburban youth in reverse.  This version though didn’t synchronize with the ticky-tacky boxes.  Now I saw behind the neighbors’ curtains, and I didn’t like it.  Calling them dates is using the term at its loosest.  The men that I went home with would close their curtains, citing their need for privacy.  As my perceptions grew I came to see “privacy” as a bent mirror to my rejection of the homosexual label.

Elusive Ideal

For the longest time Joey was the elusive ideal.  Joey was sthe one ex that all potential suitors were measured against.  In attempting to write down our first encounter I came to the realization that there was nothing epic, template worthy, about the encounter.  There was nothing grandiose or particularly outstanding about the relationship’s arc.  In fact, the mental glorification of that relationship and its beginning is rather obsessive.

I met Joey just as I was turning 20 years old.  It had been New Year’s Eve, at club Tilt, during the celebratory drag show.  I felt the back of my ear get flicked.  I turned around, “Hi.”

Joey explained he was following an impulse and immediately knew the type of person I was dealing with.

“Alright.”  And turned back around.

Joey got my attention again by asking if wanted to roll.

“Okay,” I answered.

 

While we dated, I believed I was not complex enough for him because all that he was appeared brave and loud.  Two things that I was not.  I was scared the whole time that he’d find out that beneath the image I had designed wasn’t someone worthy.  I feared his rejection, and so created chaos to deflect from being a cypher.  I covered up my exuberance, believing that a demeanor of cold detachment decision making would be impressive, because in my fantasy of you I saw strong and decisive; weighed down by another’s gushing emotion; a man that saw devotion as a flaw.  Instead I became frigid and distracted with constant repair on my ice-walls.  I never learned to thaw for those I care about.

We broke up in 2011 on a Sunday in mid-January.  Thank you for being polite until after my birthday, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.  We hadn’t seen one another the previous night – I had worked late, so was all puppy-dog tails to see him.  When I arrived, I was greeted by a friend of his unceremoniously handing me my things.  I was numb; I needed to understand, so putting my belongings down took out my phone.  Joey’s response was a generic text stating the official dissolution.

I should have predicted the break-up because of the distance for three-and-a-quarter-months.  I persisted by being better at playing house as a new year’s resolution, but it was all too little, too late, and now suspiciously out of character.  His apprehensive glances telegraphed the to end our relationship.

Years later, when I looked backed on the relationship I know I wasn’t particularly happy.  When I recall the relationship with Joey, what comes to mind is his habit of telling him something, then he vehemently disagrees.  These weren’t ideological differences, or rooted in arcane knowledge.  Rather, disagreements came over individual rights and basic operations of politics and humanism.  We’d part in the morning for our separate work, and then return to each other that evening with Joey’s mind changed.  This change of mind arose because he had talked to his co-workers, who told him that he was in the wrong; that I was correct.  That was the routine of our relationship: Joey respected only his friends and their opinions, and not mine.  The chaos that I had sewn had seeped into every aspect of our relationship, leaving Joey unable to have faith that I’d be saying the truth, or respect my stance as having validity.