I promised myself that I wasn't going to cave in and do this. I mean, every February somehow the entire world breaks down and talks about, sings about, and even writes about love. As such, love then becomes this grand goal, this absolute destination and February fourteenth is the one day of the year that we must recapture the depth of our windswept emotions and sum them up with a card or box of chocolate or something pretty. I didn't want to conform to this Hallmark conspiracy yet here I am. Going where every man has gone before.
Of course my first thought was to go anti Valentine's Day; to write about the injustice of there being one day set aside for people to prove their love to one and another. About how I planned to wear all black and go out with my single friends and protest with an Alanis Morrisette mentality. "Valentine's Day sucks and you ought to know." But that was only creative back in junior high.
Maybe I would write about the other forms of love. That in Greek society friendship itself was the utmost form of love. Maybe everyone should focus on the less "traditional" themes of love; family, friendship, brotherhood of man type stuff. Ban song dedications and cheesy poetry and those special episodes of 90210 or Ally McBeal. But that would make me more pretentious then usual. What to write about then?
Romance. Not the Harlequin version but the sexless, childlike idealized love. The type that is in fairy tales, the type that Shakespeare and Dickens and Austen made immortal. Love without sex or rivalry, where individuals are unprepared for how truly perfect everything can be. Love as the soul infinity.
Now that I had a topic the next course of action was to find a gay angle. Something that would speak to me as an evolved gay man. A story or play or even a song that would sum up the best our way of loving, our emotions, our concerns and struggles. I thought about all the films I had seen, all the novels I had read and yet, alas, there is no "Romeo and Julio".
I guess then, I can only share what I have experienced and let you see what I believe it is. You can take what you will from it, disregard it, or even laugh at it. As long as you think about it, feel about it, wonder about it. I'm not say that I have any new insight but I can share and hope that it changes something.
My first time was when I was much younger, about the age of thirteen. There was this boy whom I had been what Kinsey would refer to as "experimenting" with. The sex continued off and on over the course of a year till he moved several towns away. We reconnected briefly on a camping trip and began our old habit of fighting. For me, it was because I felt used in our previous arrangement, more like an extra hand then an equal partner.
Eventually though we ended up alone in our tent, in the midst of a rain storm, me trying to sleep. I had no interest in resuming anything and found myself waiting for a sign that he was asleep so I could relax. The tension was thick and I was about to say something when he suddenly leaned over and kissed me.
Now, this was an important moment because this had never happened before. He had never done anything endearing towards me, it had been a routine of roll around and pull the pants on and leave. As he continued to kiss me I felt like I had somehow fallen through a rabbit hole into a strange new place, somewhere where everything else between us had gone mute. After a moment we broke apart and he whispered one thing, "sorry" then rolled over to his side of the tent.
I never figured out what to say to him after that moment, instead the camping trip ended and we both went back to our real lives. No letters or phone calls, no other trips, instead I was left with this feeling of amazement that something had happened. Of course, I assumed that I felt this attachment to the moment because it was my first kiss and all. That the magic I felt was because it was new experience and that I would probably never feel that way again.
Instead I became a much more sexual person. I did what I wanted with whomever I wanted. I would have sex (safe sex) with boys whose names I didn't care to know, meet men in bars and parks and strip malls; I became a person of experiences more than emotions. It was during one of these times that I had another brush with the magic. I had been out one night with friends when I saw this boy, low slung cap and perfect teeth, just staring at me with something close to longing. I was never one to let an opportunity pass me by.
Later that night, after some amazingly public sex, we were both standing there, fumbling with belts and coats when he took my hand. I was immediately on guard because when you take strange boys on you learn some unpleasant things about people. Instead he looked down at my hand and then kissed it. Surprise must have shown on my face because he just smiled and said, "Do you need me to walk you home?" I shook my head and turned to leave but he still held my hand. "Thanks." Then he kissed it again and let go.
That night walking home I cried. I had never felt like such a fool before, I wanted to run back and say "yes, walk me home". Maybe we would have talked or exchanged numbers or something. But instead I stopped having casual sex and settled into a stage of denial. A chance at romance bit me on the arse and I just walked away. Crying nonetheless.
Needless to say I was unprepared the next time. I was doing some research for something when I ended up in a random conversation on line. We were talking about various things but after a while we both started to get sloppy. I told him how I liked to write and so he asked me to try and write him something. "A romance of course." So I started to write this cheesy over-the-top epic via our instant messages, something that used our screen names and was amazing abstract.
Somehow I became involved in the moment and didn't end the story till several hours later. The two of us exchanged e-mail addresses and nothing more but the next time I logged on I found this letter that he had written me. It included our story along with this e-mail. "Never thought I'd go on-line and have a story written about me. Thanks"
I guess if anything that sentiment is the truth behind romance. It can be the kindness in a smile, the warmth of a touch or maybe just giving a random piece of yourself away. It is the unexpected moments in life, the chances where we do the nice thing, the sweet thing, the heartfelt thing. Maybe that's why there are so few books about it; straight or gay. To plot such a story, to try for such unplanned moments seems forced and, in the end, faked.
In the end that means only we can control and create it. Maybe that's what I'm trying to say here. That instead of flowers or songs or even gifts I would rather try for romance. Maybe if we all did for a day then we could try for all year. Maybe.
Rory aka Glamkatte@hotmail.com (Now appearing in current issue of XY!)