Is This Love?
Then give way. Cord
“So you’re telling you finally had to put a pillow between you two?” Lila asked as I recounted the weekend with Andre.
“Yeah. I don’t know what happened, but it was me who couldn’t control himself. I would wake up and find myself… well,” I paused, “… rubbing against him.”
She burst out laughing. “You can’t be serious. You had it figured out.”
“Well, I thought I did, and I don’t suppose it’s a bad thing that I did think that.” It was apparent I was still processing the whole situation. Sexuality was in some ways as scary as always, and in others practically benign.
“You horny, horny boy” she continued to tease me throughout the night as we lay there on the couch, oddly making the idea of sex more appealing. I was horrified, astonished, and fascinated by this new element of identity I had yet to grasp. It was something as integral as any other part of me, yet somehow removed. Still, it’s naturalness was as difficult to acknowledge as the possibility of being happy for myself had been.
My natural reaction was to be guarded and not yield to any change without seriously considering its effects upon the rest of my life. As the confusion of another raucous party at The Wood House sauntered on around us, I processed what all of this might mean for attending and participating in church.
Lila’s teasing and questions such as “How did it make you feel?” and “Do you think you would have enjoyed going farther than that?” only prodded me further in that direction. Any miniscule preconception that there was a possibility that being gay was some sort of fabrication I’d constructed for myself (so as to focus on the professional aspect of my life and never grow up into marriage and family life with a woman) vanished in that moment.
The topic psychologically and emotionally exhausted in that moment, we allowed ourselves to enjoy the party a bit more. We turned our observations towards the crowd at the party. It was the usual crowd of gays and alternative-types seen in the house on a weekly basis.
“Karl’s wearing his ‘pedo’ hat again.”
“Carli went to school with my little brother.”
“Amos and Scott broke up again this week.”
It was the usual barrage of witty observations no one would be offended by. As the lone sober people at these parties, we’d formed an insular relationship in our own little corner.
“Who’s he?” I confided to Lila, casually motioning to a boy in hotrod red skinny jeans in the corner.
“I’m not sure. He’s new here,” she said.
I continued observing him and thinking how unafraid and happy he was with his body to strut around in clothes that demanded so much attention. Noticing the attention coming from us, he made his way to the couch and plopped down in between us.
“Hey, have we met?” he asked Lila and I.
“I don’t think so,” I said slightly out of breath. My phone buzzed and I felt a tinge of guilt over ogling the “Twink of the Hour.”
“Excuse me while I take this. It’s Andre,” I explained to them as I grabbed my jacket and made my way to the deck for some privacy,
“Andre! How was work?”
“Work was fine. I just called to check up on my boy,” he said.
“Oh good. I’m at a party with Lila. We’re sitting on the couch talking the night away. Any plans for tonight?”
“I’m with some friends now, too,” he said as it became apparent he’d had a few to drink.
“You have fun with you’re friends and don’t let the night get too crazy.”
“Alright. You, too.”
Without much thought, I returned to my spot at the couch with Lila, who had quickly made a new friend in skinny jeans-clad Jerrick. “We missed you,” she said as we immediately returned to our observations.
Moments later, my phone buzzed again. “Hey, Andre,” I answered.
“I forgot to tell you I love you,” he said.
I was floored. It was something I wasn’t used to hearing from family or friends, so I melted a bit.
“Andre, that’s so sweet. It makes me really happy to hear that,” I said struggling for words. I didn’t feel like I could reciprocate in that moment in that way. If and when I said the three little words and admitted to feeling that way towards another man, it wouldn’t be over the phone with boozy gays in the background.
Even before he could respond, I sensed something was wrong. “Oh,” he said. “You have fun with Lila and your friends then. I’m going home for the night.”
“Okay. Be safe,” I said unsure if he’d heard me before hanging up.
“There’s some drama going down,” Jerrick pointed out.
“Yeah, I’d rather not think about it,” I said. “He’ll be better in the morning.”
“Are you alright? I asked answering the phone five minutes later. Before I could make my way to the freezing patio again, he asked me to pass the phone to Lila. “Why?”
“Just trust me, I need to talk to her.”
I handed off the phone to her as we shared a puzzled look. She listened, intermittently offering him a yeah and covering the mouthpiece to offer occasional observations from the standpoint of a psychology student: “He wants to hear you love him.” “He’s drunk.” “You’ve got a codependent one here.”
After a ten-minute talk down session, she returned my phone and I left for the patio.
“Have a good talk with Lila?” I asked.
“It was fine,” he guardedly responded.
“What are you up to now?” I asked.
“Driving home. I need to be alone,” he said grimly.
“Just wait around a bit longer. Are you sure you’re okay to drive?”
“I’m sure,” he said.
I paused for a moment not sure of what I could do. How far is he from home? Should I call the police? I don’t even know where he’s driving. My heart and mind raced as they flooded with questions.
“GMB, do you love me?” he asked.
I paused. I didn’t want to be disingenuous. I knew I didn’t feel anything eternal or abiding at that point, but I had no idea what to say to him.
“Love is a really important word for me, Andre. It has a lot of meanings—” He isn’t looking for a lecture, I told myself. Tell him what he needs to hear to be safe, dammit!
I sunk down in tears from the stress, sitting in the snow bank on the patio and said, “I care for you a lot. I love you and just want you safe,” I said compromising myself only slightly. The tears and the frustration let up slightly as a breeze pounded past.
“Are you almost home?” I asked showing the care and the type of love I’d spoken of.
“Ten minutes,” he said.
I sat there hovelled up in a corner, barricading myself from the wind and offering words of comfort and recounting happy memories until I knew he was home safe.
“You get some rest and we’ll talk in the morning,” I said.
“Okay. I’m really sorry, GMB. I should never have put you through that.”
“We’ll talk about it in the morning,” I reiterated as I stood up to pull myself together and join the party.
I was so upset I could go home and fall asleep on a tear-drenched pillow, so angry I half-wished he’d gotten in an accident and learned his lesson, and so numb I wanted to forget all of my feelings in that moment and give them all to Jerrick in that moment to get even with Andre for what he’d put me through.
End, Part 5.