«They Want Me Dead»

They paint the ceilings with the refuse
of the long since passed
until they’re camouflaged in heartache
My mother warned me not to leave
without my shadow cast
Because my shadow is my namesake

They pick the fruit from
the lowest branches
Bite the stem off and spit in my face
Their words like parachutes, gently
falling all around me
And detonate with valor and grace

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Asleep In The Smoke

My legs wrap around your waist comfortably, your knees supporting the small of my back. I can see with perfect vision your violently beautiful blue eyes mere inches from mine. Your warmth blankets me as you collapse onto my chest, digging your arms through the sheets, and up and around my shoulders until your hands form a cradle ’round the back of my head. When you exhale, I inhale, so that our bodies move in sync and I feel as though I’m secure, cocooned in your presence. You’re here, and that makes me nervous, but you move in for a kiss and your slightly stale, smokey breath feels like home on my tongue. I don’t know that our nights will go beyond this one, but I relish in your low groans and warm skin, in case they don’t.

A Few (876) Words On Sexuality and Self-Discovery

I went to the post office yesterday and noticed that they now offer Harvey Milk themed postage stamps. Maybe they have for a while; I don’t know. I rarely go to the post office because I rarely send packages, because I don’t have any friends.

Forever_Alone_(God_dammit,_Ross)[1]

I’m kidding.

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Half kidding.

Okay, I’m done with that.

We’ve been progressively prying our minds open wider and wider in favor of same-sex marriage for years. Earlier today, this wonderful little bit of news popped up in my Facebook newsfeed:

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Way to go, Fourth Circuit! Blue and yellow have slowly but surely been wiping the board across the country over what once was red. I hope I live to see the day when same-sex marriage is so common that it’s naturally accepted, much like interracial marriage has become.

But that begs the question: Why is sexuality such a prominent thing in our lives? People assign a public label to the most personal human capacities. What’s more is that society places a label of importance on them, as well. This has led us to believe that we have to exhibit perfection in every aspect of our personal lives for the sake of the opinions of others.

If you aren’t a size 0, you’re urged to cover up, because somebody might not like it.

If you’re not white, you’d better not move into a predominantly white neighborhood, because somebody might not like it.

If you’re a practicing Christian, take note to use discretion when you go out to spread the word, because somebody might not like it.

Similarly, if you’re not straight, you really should take caution while publicly displaying affection with your partner, because somebody might not like it.

No matter the circumstance, whatever you do, whoever you are, whoever you love, somebody might not like it. This ‘somebody’ always seems to take precedence over your own convictions. This world is far too caught up in other people’s business; that’s why tabloids are so wildly successful. I can’t speak for other countries, but Americans are too eager to learn what goes on in the bedroom of celebrity couples, or which famous person has been charged with tax evasion, or which celebrity chef may or may not be plagiarizing recipes. And it’s all the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever witnessed.

That’s why the ‘issues’ of same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, or age disparity in relationships are even considered issues. They really aren’t problematic. The people are problematic. They cause more roadblocks on the way to personal happiness and contentment than anything else on the planet. They’re concerned more with preventing other people from doing things that go against their personal beliefs.

There’s a proverb that suggests to live and let live. So why can’t we do that? Let other people do what they want. Remember that what you believe in isn’t what everybody believes in, and that’s OK. That’s what makes this world beautiful: it’s a gargantuan melting pot of colors, sizes, shapes, cultures, languages, belief systems, lifestyles, and practices. I’d rather recognize the beauty in the difference than fight for unanimity.

Ever heard of the Self Evident Truths project by iO Tillet Wright? Check out this video:


 

Whatever rules you live by, please be aware that the same rules do not apply to everyone. If you’re a strict vegan and don’t ingest any sort of animal byproduct, that’s absolutely and 100% fine. But your neighbor might not feel the same. Your parents and siblings might not, either. As long as they support you, what does it matter if they don’t share in your convictions? I know how easy it is to be so passionate about something that you just want to spread it around. Excitement is infectious, this much is true, but don’t be disappointed or feel obligated to ‘convert’ other people to your side.

Going back to the prevalence of sexuality, I tend to feel that too much emphasis is put on sexual preference. To explain further, I don’t consider myself a gay man. I’m simply a man who happens to be gay. Sexuality is a single facet among thousands of others. There’s no need to treat it as some outstanding anomaly; treat it as you would anything else. Who you love does not define you; there’s no reason to accentuate it. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have pride or that you should hide it, however. That’s also not to say that your right to marry shouldn’t be fought for. Press on, and the battle will be won. It’s sad that it’s become a dangling carrot, of sorts.

But being anything other than straight is a mere part of who you are- it isn’t all that you are. On a broader scale, there are so many layers and complexities to every human being that it’s impossible to define by a single attribute. You can pick and choose which aspects of your life you want to represent you, but it’s counterproductive to try to define yourself. To define would be to squeeze inside a box, and we thrive best outside of it.

Do whatever makes your heart content; so long as you are kind, the rest shouldn’t matter.

Be who you want to be. Know that you’re limitless. Preach love, not hate.

The Story of DC Dan

He sits across from me. His eyes, an argent grey. They’re inviting; warm. Not cold and empty. When he speaks, I shift my focus from one to the other and back, subconsciously taking note of the minor differences. His elbow rests on the sill of the window to his right. The window is not housed by a traditional wall; it finds its home in a garage door. But this is not a garage. We are in a coffeehouse, and the garage door is a stand-in for the barrier that separates the wintry, frost-laden outside from the tepid, cozy inside where we sit.

He dons a jovial sweater, which peeks out only slightly from the unzipped portion of his coat. I take mine off, and wonder why he hasn’t done so yet. But I don’t outwardly question it.

Minutes pass, and I find that I’ve pulled my sleeves into my palms, and press my fingers against the cuffs of my shirt to hold them in place.

“Are you cold?” He asks. “You should put your coat back on.” I know now why he hasn’t removed his. Though it is stylish and suits him well, I’m curious for a better look at his physique, and outerwear tends to skew any perception of it that I may have. An unsettling breeze seeps in through the cracks of the unsealed “wall” that is the garage door, and even bundled up I am still chilly and uncomfortable. There is a lit fireplace some twenty feet away, but there is no available seating closer to it for us to move, and its warmth does not reach our section of the coffeehouse.

I notice an idle coffee cup on the table between us, pushed off to the side. Residual froth lines its interior and a used napkin has been stuffed inside it. It appears as though it hasn’t been touched in a while. Why would somebody leave their trash here, I think. Why wouldn’t he have thrown it out?

“This isn’t yours, is it?” I ask, regarding the cup.

“It was,” he says, “I just haven’t gotten up to toss it away.”

I wonder how long he’d been here before I arrived.

“How long were you here? I hope I didn’t keep you waiting. I’m sorry,” I express, concerned. He reassures me that there’s nothing to worry about. He sits with one leg stretched out; the other is crossed over and resting on his thigh. He appears anxious as he violently shakes his foot. I know many people who do this. Maybe he is just nervous, as I am. Instinctively I grab hold of his foot to slow its shaking, and lightheartedly grin. I see this as somewhat of a playful gesture; I wonder if he does, too. He doesn’t pull his foot away or ask me to stop. He doesn’t warn me against touching him.

This was an intended short story I wrote in early January regarding a man I had an immense crush on. It is more of an anecdote, as it abruptly ends at the final sentence in the above block quote. In writing it, I was describing my point of view during the first and only time that he and I met; the mental notes I was taking, both of my surroundings at the time and of him. I’d planned to keep writing as our story continued to unfurl, but sadly it didn’t go much beyond a few months past January. Things between us abruptly ended, much like the anecdote did, and I think if I were to go back and try to continue writing, it would hurt too much. That said, I believe it is better to leave it imperfect and unfinished. Since it doesn’t technically have a name, the file is saved as the first few words of the first sentence; a presumption taken by Microsoft Office Word when your document doesn’t have an official title. Even so, I’ve since gone back to title it Mamihlapinatapai- one of the hardest words to translate- derived from Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, described as ‘a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves.’

Dan was a man I’d initially messaged in August of 2013 on one of those revered dating websites simply to pass the time. The reason being that I’d noticed he’d looked at my profile, but he was in the nation’s capital (hence the name- alliterative and clever, huh?) while I was in Buffalo. But I soon realized he offered so much more than just a time killer.

He was engaging, witty, charming, entertaining, and funny, all rolled into a single entity, all within the first week of contact. I am not necessarily opposed to the idea of anything long-distance, but I normally have apprehensions in the beginning, since there’s potential for so much to go awry. But I took the chance, and even in retrospect, I’m glad I did.

After about a week of communicating exclusively online, he offered me his phone number, along with the suggestion that we talk later on that evening. This was a pleasantly surprising and welcomed change from what I was used to; finally, someone who values the archaic art of conversing on the phone. There is so much more insight to be gained about the other person through hearing their voice rather than by texting.

I fell in love with his voice the instant I heard it for the first time; it was strangely familiar and like I imagined it might be. We spent hours on the phone together. I’d even frequently sacrificed sleep necessary for the early rising the next day in favor of hearing his voice. Over time, it put me at ease; it kept me in a consistently good mood; it kept me going. But as with many things, the initial excitement began to wear thin. Nightly phone calls became a few nights a week, which then became once a week at the very minimum. We were both busy with our respective obligations outside of each other, and life didn’t allow for us to talk as often as we once had. But we still made time.

Fast forward to December.

Dan is an elementary school librarian. He used to live in Buffalo, and had family and friends here. On Christmas night, after all the festivities had ended for the day, I optimistically asked if he might be making a trip into town during his vacation. He told me that it wasn’t likely, but that he’d let me know in anticipation if anything changed. The very next night, I received a phone call from Dan to inform me that he was in fact in town, that he’d remembered a friend had asked him to visit, and that he drove in over night. I was ecstatic. My heart was pounding out of my chest; I was finally going to meet this incredible man that I’d developed feelings for over the course of four months. And when I did, my expectations were nothing short of surpassed.

Five hours. We spent five hours of the day that we met over coffee, sitting in a single spot for the entirety of it. We talked. We laughed. We fostered a more solid connection. He was beautiful. He stood just over six feet tall, had icy grey eyes, a shaved head, and a lanky, almost carefree stature to him that I thought was adorable. I couldn’t get over how attracted I was to him. Sadly, however, the curtains slowly drew to a close on our evening. We expressed our yearning to spend more time together, hugged tightly, and parted ways.

I truly didn’t think that was going to be the last time I’d ever see him, but as fate would have it, it was. After the turn of the new year, we continued our routine of talking a few times a week, whenever we could. He reassured me on multiple occasions that we’d see each other in the summer when he would visit again for a few days. He even made mention of some things we could do when he was in town. I was still enjoying just as much the time I was able to spend speaking with him; my feelings were only growing as time passed.

Despite how I’d felt about Dan, we were never a couple, nor did we ever officially date. We’d only met one time, after all. I figured that in case things didn’t pan out further between he and I, especially because of the distance, it couldn’t hurt to keep my options open. I began to stop ruling out the prospect of going on dates with others. That’s what people do- they date. It wouldn’t necessarily mean anything, and Dan and I were not committed to one another. So, I began casually dating the guy I allude to in this post, in March.

Ironically, that’s when mine and Dan’s communication abruptly dropped off. There had been occasions when I wouldn’t hear from Dan for a week and a half, if his schedule didn’t permit it. I didn’t think much of it considering he was a lot busier than I was. The week I began casually dating, I hadn’t heard from Dan at all. That week turned into two weeks, which then turned into three. I became a bit concerned; he and I had never gone this long without talking, and everything was fine when last we spoke. I found it strange, but I tried not to let it bother me. I was preoccupied with what else I had going on in my life at the time, anyway. However, soon it had been almost a month since Dan attempted any sort of contact with me. In that span of time, I’d left a couple voice mails, sent a couple emails; I never received a response to any of them.

I was incredibly frustrated. I thought I was building a solid foundation with someone I was essentially crazy about, and at it this point, I felt that our chemistry was dissolving. Being the neurotic individual that I am, I blamed myself. I thought maybe I was in too deep. Maybe I told him that he was on my mind a few too many times. Maybe he met somebody else and was afraid to tell me. The frustration soon turned to minor depression, and in being depressed about the circumstances, I elected to send him one final ‘goodbye and good luck’ message. Despite my being hurt, I still didn’t want things to end on a sour note. I sent the message, and to my surprise, I received a reply a couple of hours later. In it, he said this:

I wanted to let you know that I’ve had some bad shit, so to speak, going on in my life the past few weeks. I’ve only just managed to get things back together.  Give me some time, and I’ll be in touch with you soon. 

That was in April, and was the last time I heard from him. I still sometimes reread the email when I’m thinking of him. Maybe you think I’m being melodramatic. Maybe my feelings are coming off as obsessive, or you don’t think I could possibly feel so strongly for someone I only met once. But there are no rules in love. Here was a man who had taken me completely by surprise; he’d turned my world around, opened my eyes, and essentially, he changed my life. Love and chemistry are felt differently per individual; nobody can tell you you’re wrong in how you feel. When you know, you just know. That’s it.

That’s not to say I was in love with Dan. But I certainly felt something I hadn’t felt before, and I was thrown completely for a loop when it slipped through my fingers. Even if he were to resurface, I don’t know that things would be the same.

I honestly don’t think about him too much these days. But just when I’ve begun to move forward with my life, he will appear in a dream, or a song that reminds me of him will come on Pandora. Despite being sad at the thought of him, the memories I have are exclusively happy ones. I am grateful for all the stimulating conversation we had, the ways in which he challenged me, and that he was a part of my life, even if only for seven months.

People come and people go. They enter your life with a predetermined allotment of time, they serve their purpose, and they leave. Some stay longer than others. Whether their purpose is to teach you, help you, hinder you, love you, or hurt you, your eyes are opened more upon each lesson. Everything happens for a reason.

If You’ve Ever Felt Slighted in Love

I was fifteen feet behind you
at the walk
The buoyancy of your head
and its tendency to swim
in the current of
my sightline stream

I saw you hand-in-hand with he
whom I’ve taken
under covers
Came up for air, only
partially alive
I got quiet,
She noticed

I called out to you
in my head
but I
hadn’t been thinking loud enough
since the most
I felt from you
was the bitter air
given off
by the glacier on
your shoulder

I realize now
my mistake:
I dug my teeth into
your neck
deep, but not deep enough
Drawing blood, but not
enough
Your eyes went dark
but the blue
came back

The blue came
back

I couldn’t coax you
to my side
of the universe
Not even by wolves
dragging you by
your apprehension

You wouldn’t budge

I took little
bites
out of your heart
Replaced the void
with bits of
my own
But the science
wasn’t right
algorithm incorrect

Now you’re in photos
Happy
crow’s feet
Two men who
took me from within
Left me wilted
without
to grow into their own

Together

The Ambiguity of Dating in 3 Segments

Let’s get one thing out in the open:

I’m gay.

I’ve never taken a high interest in the bar scene. That’s not to say Buffalo doesn’t have a decent one; the drinks here are too cheap to warrant complaining. It’s simply never been somewhere I’ve been eager to hang out. Sure, I’ve been to bars plenty of times before, and to clubs. I’m always accompanied however by a close friend or relative. My point is that I don’t see bars as a conducive environment to meet someone.

It seems to be much easier for heterosapiens to meet organically than it does for us. Maybe I’m mistaken. But if you pick out any one person on the street in a neutral area (meaning nowhere particularly gay-friendly), it is more likely that they are straight than gay. This is because fans of the opposite sex outnumber those of the same sex. That being said, because I don’t rely on serendipity to bring mine and my future potential mate’s paths to cross, I utilize online dating as a means to meet other men. This way, I know that every profile I come across displays a man who is both interested in men and single. Right?

Wrong.

Each person involved in an open relationship should probably be aware that it’s open.

I’ve admittedly struggled in the past to accept and support the concept of an open relationship. I personally choose to practice monogamy, and for the longest time I couldn’t get my head around the idea of someone who doesn’t. However, if it works for you, and you’re happy, then by all means.

People often seem to think it is acceptable not to keep your partner in the know about how you’ve decided to open your relationship up. It isn’t. Stop it.

Case in point: I’ve come across profiles of good-looking guys who seem grounded and stable, and listed under ‘relationship status’ is ‘single.’ So I start up a conversation. Things seem to be going smoothly, until I’m abruptly informed that he is actually not single, is committed, or even married, and his boyfriend or husband doesn’t know about his still-active online dating profile. What? Why would you do that?

Again, I’ve come to back polyamory 110%. But what I can never bring myself to support is a lack of honesty among partners. It’s not cool. Being honest about intentions from the get-go is so much easier, and keeps everyone informed, all of the time. This is another point I will get to following the next paragraph.

I know I shouldn’t judge someone’s way of living if it doesn’t affect me personally. Except it does often affect me if I’m misinformed that you’re single and assume it’s true. To quote Paramore, you can’t be too careful anymore.

Intentions should probably be clear from the beginning.

Why does it seem so difficult to find someone else who shares the same hopefulness that I do to find a long-term relationship? I know it isn’t easy, but the process is excruciating. All too often I’ve seen guys listed on various dating websites and apps that I’ve used whose profiles all contain some variant of the following statement:

Just out of a LTR/newly single/newly divorced and just looking for friends. Nothing serious.

So, your boyfriend maybe broke up with you yesterday, and your immediate reaction is to create another new account on OKCupid? What that proves to me is that you’re fickle as all hell. What kinds of friends do you really expect to find on a dating service? I can’t imagine anyone ever actually wanting to be a rebound. Sidebar: those who are committed and appear on these services as ‘just looking for friends,’ you’re not fooling anyone. You’re greedy and looking for some buns to place your overcooked wiener between on the side. I’m not even sure what that means. Maybe I’m a bit jaded; I am simply following the guidelines in my copy of the Idiot’s Guide to Being Forever Alone. 

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I digress.

There is a very big disparity between what someone is open to, and what they’re looking for. Oftentimes someone who is open to a relationship but isn’t looking for anything serious will not be able to fulfill you if you’re actively pursuing a relationship.

I was recently dating a guy who I really liked. I enjoyed his company very much so. On our first date, I learned he was previously married and divorced. In his own words:

I’m really looking for good friends. Someone I can hang out with at the end of the day, and then go from there.

I was honestly a tad disappointed that we weren’t necessarily looking for the same thing, but I appreciated his honesty. I continued to date him, and at the end of our second date, he kissed me goodnight. I was surprised in the best possible way, but also confused. Is this normally something friends do? Doesn’t seem like it, I thought to myself. It made me believe that he felt the chemistry I did, and that he certainly felt something more romantic budding; something deeper than a friendship. After our third date, he left for vacation to Key West. When he returned, I saw him out one night, drunk, dancing on and kissing other guys. I felt confused and hurt. Even though we weren’t technically together and he was allowed to do whatever the hell he wanted, I felt disrespected. I have this theory that if you genuinely like someone, you wouldn’t let yourself do things like that. Even so, I didn’t want his little display to ruin something potentially good, so we had a fourth date. Although it went well, I soon realized that I think he was just biding his time and having fun with it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I was beginning to fall for him, though, and he didn’t appear to be taking things between us as seriously as I was. Maybe I should’ve confronted him about how he saw our little dalliance developing, but I refrained. I backed off, and I haven’t heard much from him since. I think that’s closure in itself.

The ambiguity of the entire thing, while some may have found it exciting, I found it somewhat misleading and I had a hard time enjoying myself. That brings me to my third and final point.

Those who have no expectations are probably doing it right.

Dating is supposed to be fun, no? If you don’t have any expectations and simply enjoy the ride, it goes more smoothly, and you avoid disappointment. I know several people who are very much like petals in the wind, so to speak. They go with the flow, wherever life may carry them, and are easily excited and stimulated by new adventures and the unknown. I am not one of those people. I like to know what’s going on. I’m happiest when I know where things are going so that I don’t have to play the guessing game. The only time it’s remotely entertaining is in the form of the children’s suitable-for-all-ages game, Guess Who? If the rules of dating were similar:

What’s my date like? Does he have freckles? Glasses? Is he bald? Does he have a big nose? A hat on? 

All the while you’d be overlooking profiles that don’t fit the descriptions of the questions you’re asking. The last one remaining is your date! How fun. And it would guarantee you a date, which is a feat in itself these days, it would seem. I’ve encountered more men who are less open to going out for dinner or coffee than they are willing to invite me into their bedroom without being able to tell me my name.

But as long as they kiss me while we’re fooling around, that must mean they really like me, right? Right.

I think.