Move-in Day

The day had finally come for our time in different zip codes to end.  We talked about moving in together about a year and a half into our relationship, but we’d already renewed our respective leases.  The remainder of our sentence – separated by that hour stretch of interstate – was less than a year, but progressed slowly all the same.  Our relationship was pretty easy-going, so when we were together on weekends, our roommates and the antics of their relationships were the main focus.  His roommates did nothing but suffocate any available space on the couches, argue, and add to the stench of the cat-littered apartment, while two, of my three, roommates lived out a screwy relationship that’s usually only seen on seasons of MTV’s The Real World.

Excitement, wonder, and fear were the three feelings that resonated most with me during our move-in day.  I was excited to escape life with roommates, and to begin a new chapter with S. I wondered where we would be in a year or two, and how we would be getting along. I feared thoughts of unknown hurdles we would have to clear; not wanting to lose him – lose us – for any reason.  I guess that’s normal though… the fear. There are so many young couples these days that commence living together at the very start of their relationships; this hasn’t worked for anyone I know.  Moving in together is not marriage by any means, but it’s an act I respected.

Each trip between the moving truck and S’s apartment was filled with adrenaline and anticipation.  I’d left my Bloomington address a week prior to start a job I’d accepted up in Indianapolis, and was looking forward to escaping the stink of cat and the unorganized mess that were his roommates.  We managed to get everything loaded on the truck in a timely manner, unloaded at our new apartments, and ended the day with pizza and beer.  Full from the conclusion of our day, we were finally home.  There would be no more hour drives, weekend visits, or roommate drama.  We were officially beginning a new, grown up, phase of our relationship and the skies were clear. As I look around our new apartment, those feelings of excitement, wonder, and fear lingered.  I was thankful, though; thankful for our new couches, thankful for all our belongings being under the same roof, thankful for the bottles of champagne, and above all… thankful for him.

Dark Clouds Interlude

Booze stripped our judgment and wisdom while we attempted to get our respective points across to one another. We both consumed high percentages of alcohol that night, and probably shouldn’t have driven home.  “Is he serious?  I know I’m making perfect sense, right? Who gives a shit; he’s being a sensitive queen right now.”  Part of me wished I could hear what was going through his head in between the audible explosions we were triggering. Thank goodness for roommates that’ll take you on a walk down the street at however-many-hours-past-midnight to make you vent; expelling any venomous thought that remained.  On this particular night – filled with dark, inquiring clouds – there would be no understanding, reasoning, or love.  Was this part of love? Blinded by the event of our first big fight, the only thing we felt that night was the air tunnel our parted bodies forged beneath cold, wrinkled sheets.

These Sexhiled Walls

It’s my birthday weekend and S has come to Bloomington for the occasion. After dinner at La Charreada – a glorious Mexican restaurant with delicious fish bowl margaritas – I and a small group of friends enjoyed some drinks back at my apartment.  As the night started to wind down, my roommate pulls me aside and explains that he would be staying the night at a friend’s place because he didn’t want to hear any late night noises.  By that point in the night I had already consumed enough alcohol to not give a shit about where he was going to sleep that night, or why, so I let the exchange slide not fully processing what had just occurred.  At the time I lived with a female and a male, both of whom slept together if the other wasn’t tangling sheets with some other warm body, and the sounds that came from that room definitely never went unnoticed.

From the start of our lease, I was aware my male roommate had never lived with a gay guy before,  so who knows what the sounds coming from my room did to his masculinity the one time a week my boyfriend was in town.  I never brought up what was said to me that night, and continued to live as an out gay man; never pressing my sexuality onto any individual. In the past I had lived with straight couples, and never thought once that I should tell my roommates “hey, I’m going to go so I don’t hear you having sex.” My personality is one that doesn’t regard how a person feels, especially if I sense the feeling could be a result of common ignorance.

A couple months had passed since my birthday, and my roommates were now an item.  He asked me one day if I could be absent for a night so he could do something special for her birthday. I got the hint, respected his wishes, and told him to clean anything their bare asses touched.  When he first asked I was a little resistant because I understood that his goal was to fuck like a rabbit without having to worry about who was in the next room. I returned home at the end of the weekend to find his bed mattress in the middle of the living room floor, complete with balloons, and empty champagne bottles.  Seeing the mattress in the living room was enough for me to know what took place while I was away, but I sat on the couch and joined the end of the birthday celebration anyway.

Three weeks had gone by and the mattress was still in the living room.  I really didn’t mind where they slept, but coming home to condom packets sitting in the living room, or receiving text messages asking “when are you gonna be home tonight” was enough to make the blood boil.  Reaching a breaking point, I eventually said something and we discussed the situation.  Knowing how he felt about “gay things,” I had to put him in my shoes; the gay being sexhiled by his straight, coupled roommates. “If S and I were sitting on a mattress in this living room with condoms sitting out, you would have a problem with it; knowing we had just fucked in your living room.” This was enough to get my point across.

Any opportunity to enlighten an unfamiliar – with my version of what it is to be a gay male in today’s world – is welcomed. Very rarely do you hear gay men shunning straight sex, or running away from it; the gays just want everyone to get some ass on a regular basis so people can be happy and leave us alone.  At the end of the day we are all human. We live, we make mistakes, we learn, and we have sex.

And for the record, S and I were never as loud as my roommates. If the future-sex-love-sounds of two humans in hot, stoned, heat can be heard through a fully turned up iPod, and through a wall… Yep, you win.

Dirty Distance

Actions speak louder than words.  I found this to be the case when it came to my experience with a long distance relationship.  Bloomington and Indianapolis are an hour apart, and by the end of our first date back in Indianapolis, I knew I had to see him again; let’s call him S.  Some reservation set in because I had never been in a relationship before, and was not confident with my feelings about dating a guy that was an hour up the interstate.  Long distance is relative to those in a relationship where the majority of time spent is apart; i.e. different towns, hours of driving, or in some cases plane rides away.  Luckily for S and I, we only had an hour separating us, and spent most weekends together.  I considered this hour to be long distance, and a challenge over the nearly twenty-two months we were in different zip codes.

Traveling one hour may not seem like much to most, but there were factors in my life at the time that made the distance between us – 48 miles to be exact – seem greater.  I did not have a car, and I didn’t want him to feel like he had to make the drive for me.  Was I worth it to him? What if he found someone in Indy that he could spend every night with… someone he didn’t have to pick up from the airport because they had to take a shuttle from another town… Insecurity would eat me alive when we were apart. The state of my life – a struggling student who was barely making ends meet working two retail jobs – had me intimidated by the success he had already reached.  This self-induced inadequacy lingered in the early stages of our courtship, and would visit frequently while we remained in two different locales.

Adding to my insecurities was the presence of social media, and its ability to monitor activity.  Grindr is a popular hook-up app that displays guys based on GPS location, and allows you to chat and trade pictures.  I set S’s profile as a favorite early on, and as a result I could now see when he was online; even when he was back in Indy. This would drive me insane because we had talked about the end of our bachelor lifestyles, and being serious about building a future.  Seeing the little green dot in the corner of his Grindr profile picture, after saying goodnight, would cause my blood to boil.  I was more curious than I was jealous, yet I never brought any of this up to him. Something anchored me inside, and told me to ride the wave; see where this thing goes.

Distance has the power to breathe life into any piece of negativity your mind will allow. Each month I would grow more confident with myself; realizing we were both making sacrifices to make this relationship work.  There was strength found in the many grey areas of mixed thoughts and emotions that clouded my mind Monday through Friday.  The biggest lesson from my experience with a long distance relationship was to not over-think little things, and to take one day at a time.  All the dark emotions in the beginning were a result of the new (love) feelings I was experiencing, and trying to apply these updates to oneself absolutely cannot be done over any short period.  It’s a scary thing to let the universe bring what is meant onto oneself. Had I not yielded to this – let go and let love – realization, where would I be?  Where would he be?

Sparks

It’s the wedding day of one of my best college friends, and I am leaving her reception early.  The only obstacle between me and this date is the bride’s mother.  Leave it to me to overbook myself, and schedule a date the night of a friend’s wedding.  I manage to escape receiving every ounce of understanding and well-wishes from the bride and her mother. “You’re going to be in more trouble if this guy doesn’t pan out! I love you, good luck honey.” Mrs. S was one of my Indiana moms; always looking out for me and treating me like one of her own children.  As I make my way back to the hotel in downtown Indianapolis, my mind reels as I scroll through mental images of he and I’s past encounters during our college days.  Wild and free, we ran in the same social circles but somehow managed to not cross paths; actively avoiding friend’s pitches for blind dates. “You have to meet my friend! You’ll love him!” was a common exclamation heard as a gay male in college with a healthy number of female buddies.  I hate blind dates.  The gesture of being set up by your friends is nice, but ninety percent of the time, they miss the mark.  He and I never saw each other regularly, but there were two drunken hook-ups after a night at the bars, and my pursing him (unsuccessfully) for an actual date.

We had not been in contact for a couple of years now, and ended up reconnecting shortly after I moved back to Indiana just a few weeks prior to the wedding.  “Did I choose the right outfit? Did he look at my good Facebook pictures?” These thoughts make me seem like a clammy teenager, but I had lost about forty pounds since the last time we physically saw each other, and I was actually nervous.  Nervous was never a present trait when it came to me and dates. What was it about him? “I’m parking” was the text message that came through. I’ve changed from slacks and a tie to dark, slim jeans, a black tank top, and my favorite mustard cardigan.  “I’m here.”  I grin as I get on the elevator. Not knowing how this night will go, the peaks of excitement are that of which I’ve never experienced entering a date, and the elevator ride feels too long and too fast all at the same time. This level of stage fright was intense, but not unwelcome.

Turning the corner and walking into the lobby, I spot him. Have you ever put together a soundtrack to your own life? Okay, maybe that’s a little cheesy, but I own my cheese… all of it. I’m not sure what song was playing when our eyes met, but I knew it was a song we would both know; whether that be in this moment, or in the future.  My nerves vanished, the roller coaster, stomach tumbling sensation remained, and my confident strides turned into weak, timid advances. He wasn’t that string bean of a boy I once rolled around with back in college.  In front of me was a man… a comfortably familiar man that I was meeting for the first time it seemed. His fitted jeans paired with a blue button up shirt, his milky skin, and his scruff… man, that scruff, caused my smile to gain at least an inch or more. The hug we shared was both inviting and telling. His body spilled his nerves onto mine, and I could sense it would be a night to remember.  Looking into bright brown eyes, I let out a simple “…hello” as shared sparks continued to exert their influence.