Friday, March 16, 2007
22 years ago 4
The months that followed were dreadful, a huge black hole in my gut that nothing could remove. I felt hollow, like every hello and how are you was just a sham, my laughter a traitor. Meanwhile, Em and I clung together like two buoys in a storm, our emotions the roiling sea. We found a different kind of love together, a safer yet bottomless love, the recognition of being cut from the same spiritual cloth. What made things more difficult was that John and I worked at the same place. I didn't mention that, did I? Yes, he was a Hyatt room service waiter, and I worked in the dining room; naturally, we crossed paths often. I was so broken trying to put on a happy facade and I think he saw that a little and pitied me. A couple months after it ended, he asked for a ride home one evening when we finished at the same time and sucker that I was, I went in and we had sex one last time. I didn't know it was the last time until after, when he said, "You know, this doesn't mean I want to start dating you again." One last little mind fuck, but God I was so grateful nonetheless. Pathetic.
Eventually, I quit my job and moved up to LA to live with Pablo, and John and I lost touch. When spouse and I lived in Long Beach (where all of this happened) I sometimes got news of him, who he was shacked up with, "I'll tell him you said hello" kind of thing. I never saw him again. Sometimes spouse and I went out to the old hangout, The Silver Fox. The bartender there knew all of us back when all this happened, he always calls me tiger when I see him and has done so for 22 years now. After greeting me in French (he always practices with me and spouse now) and addressing me as Tiger, he asked me if I knew John had died. He told me the details, complications from HIV, and that he was gone. I wasn't sad, but rather stunned, the little voice I would never admit was there that said, "maybe one day we'll run into each other again" could be put to rest. Liberation.
Then, this happened.
I know I'll never feel that poisonous love again, and that is by choice. My whole attitude about "cheating" has changed too. Why can't the heart love two at once? Who says? I think the heart is, as Woody Allen says, a very resilient muscle. I guess without that experience, I wouldn't be who I am today, but I still wonder what it would have been like if he had been as gung ho on me as I was on him. I don't think I've ever been with someone who shared my depth of emotion - either I care less, or they do, until I found spouse. From day one we said, "we'll stay together until one of us wants out, no questions asked." Which is really just facing facts. And here we are 14 years later. (It seems gauche to announce it, but that is the end of that story.)