A conclusion is finally here.
Warning: This post contains some adult content.
“I really wanted that one to work out!” Cole said, turning to me as he drove us home from an evening at the symphony.
It was months after the whole thing had played out with Ianto and Derek, and I was finally getting his take on the story. Although we share a lot, Cole made an effort to distance himself emotionally from the possibilities there. After things had played out, though, he felt more comfortable sharing his feelings about what had happened.
“I suppose it was nothing more than wanting to see two good friends happy and it seemed like a good fit to me,” he continued.
“I know what you mean. I really wanted it to work out.”
If there was one lesson I needed to learn at that moment, it’s very possible that lesson might have been letting someone off gently. In a sort of cosmic way, Ianto did for me that night what I couldn’t do for Anderson the month prior. Rather than avoiding the situation somehow hoping it would disappear, he was completely honest with me on that final date.
Following our last, awkward kiss, he cleared his throat and it was apparent something was up.
“Um… we’ve got to talk.”
Every part of me knew what was coming, though I put on a brave face hoping to at least come off a little surprised.
“Guys like you don’t come along very often, but as you know, I’ve been seeing this other guy, and well…, I just feel like I need to see where things go with him right now.”
It was as if I’d cut my finger with a knife. I’d opened myself up for hurt, but when I thought about it, when I examined the supposed wound, I found no blood, no mark, no scar. “Just this once, everybody lives!” Nobody gets hurt! I thought.
Sure, I was disappointed, but I coped (in the lightest sense of the word) with the disappointment as I always had: by focusing on the positive. I didn’t really have to make a decision between Derek and Ianto because Ianto had done that for me.
In speaking about Ianto with Cole, the inevitable comparison returned to mind. They were so different from one another. Ianto was stable and intelligent while Derek was more adventurous and dramatic.
After a bit of silence, he finally brought it up after several months of wondering. “Derek?! Really, GMB? Why were you ever interested in Derek?”
“He was just fun. He was something different,” I rationalized with a bitter-sweetness in my voice.
Knowing exactly what was going through my head, Cole asserted, “He is something different alright….”
Following that last date with Ianto, all of those dreams for the future were simply displaced. Like water swelling up from the ground, they naturally had to flow somewhere.
I didn’t have a care in the world. Anxiety and fear were the last things on my mind as I met Derek for dinner that night. I didn’t really have any choices to make. Nothing to hide or be uncomfortable about.
We simply went out to dinner and then I showed him around campus. With everyone on break, the place was practically empty. We started in my office.
“Yes, this is where I work.”
“And that’s your desk,” he said, walking towards the desk I’d gestured towards.
“Right. This one’s mine,” I said as I cut him off on his way.
“So…” he paused. “What if I were to do this?” He pushed a stack of papers on the floor. “Or this?” he asked, pushing me up against the desk and sitting me atop it.
My heart raced as he entertained my forbidden workplace fantasies. Minutes had slipped by and I realized it was really happening.
“No. I’d get fired. If my boss [a brilliantly liberal, open-minded woman] came in right now, she might cheer, but I’d also get canned.”
“Okay,” he said removing his hands from the back of my jeans and turning away to button the top half of his shirt
“You know exactly what was so appealing about Derek, Cole.”
He looked over and smirked in that I-could-have-told-you-so kind of way.
“He was nothing like anybody I’d ever dated before.”
“That’s right, GMB. We were always in the same page on that sense….And poor Anderson.”
“Everybody has to date a rebel of sorts. He was my James Dean, my Danny Zuko.”
“I don’t need to call you on how gay that reference was. Do I?”
“Alright, I do regret what happened, but I still learned something. There’s no sense in being bitter about the past when we can’t change it.”
As much as that was true, we knew that what had happened was significant because he didn’t find out from me.
That night with Derek quickly evolved into a series of subversively adventurous make out sessions. In the course of a few hours that warm January night, we moved from my office to the bushes outside.
The thrill that somebody might catch us heightened every sense. Each sound we made was carefully muffled as we paid attention to the world around us and each sound we heard was followed by a breathless pause.
We migrated our way between buildings, ducking into darkened bathrooms or classrooms whenever we heard the sound of footsteps.
“In here,” he said, holding the door of a tiny room open for me. “I hear someone.”
The faint smell of foreign chemicals thickened the air. He placed his forehead against mine then we paused for a moment to listen for the sound of footsteps, but there was silence. Our eyes adjusting to the darkness once again, I realized we were in a darkroom surrounded by hanging photos developing around us.
He pushed me against the counter next to the sink. My heart raced as quickly as it ever had as he moved his 6’3” frame against me. He lifted me up with his firm hands without breaking the seal of our kiss and sat me upon the counter. His left arm moved farther around my waist as he pulled me towards him. Slowly, he pulled his right arm around in perfect symmetry, until suddenly the motion broke and his hand migrated down and rubbed. Then, in a singular motion, he unbuckled my belt and released the top button of my pants.
For the first time, the impulse to say “Wait” or “No” or “Stop” did not win out. The rhythm was entrancing and gratifying—more so as he peeled through each layer until I felt the sensation of skin against skin. Guiding my hand, he invited me to do the same.
I was speechless and lost in the moment.
My left arm extended and on his shoulder, I sensed him motioning to stoop down when I finally said, “Okay. We need to stop.”
After Cole dropped me off at my car, I considered the situation a bit more. Derek was never right for me. He was shallow and wanted in my pants. After that victory, he quickly shared the story of his conquest with everyone he knew (including Cole and a very deceived Anderson) and found an excuse to move on.
Cole knew exactly why I would keep something like this from him. In my eight months of dating, I’d found the perfect balance. I could be gay and Mormon. I could date and be happy so long as it never went beyond kissing. So long as that moment in the darkroom never happened with Derek, that tenuous balance still existed, or, at the very least, I had time to re-conceive that balance in my existential crisis.
Did I really want the celibate life I’d consigned myself to? Or was there something to those feelings I’d finally let myself experience? Was I never meant to experience the range of emotions and sensations I’d been bestowed with simply because those feelings could never be inspired in me by a woman?
I couldn’t bring myself to tell Cole mostly because, as my fears later confirmed, he was right. Despite my excellent planning skills, my ambition, and my emotional composure, I could not have everything I wanted from life. I began to understand why he was so angry following his broken engagement two years earlier—although the trauma of his situation was enhanced by the fact that in his situation he could not please himself or his fiancé in the manner he’d been taught his entire life.
Now that he’d found out about that one night, we connected on a much deeper level even though it we’ve never discussed that night or the spiritual repercussions in the detail presented here. As I considered these consequences and lessons Derek had taught me, I had an ally on my side who not only understood my feelings, but would support whatever decisions lay ahead for me.
End of Series.