Posts Tagged half-price

Highlights From My Trip

CK and I were about to hit our two-month mark. It was two of the best months of my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I learned I could truly find love in a man, and slowly but surely, I started to give more and more of myself to him. The wall I built up around my heart was not only cracking but also crumbling. There were a handful of guys in my past I had come to enjoy the extended company of beyond a hookup, but CK was the first man I ever really came to love.

My life was no longer my life. There was no longer a me. It became our life and us. I stopped making plans for one. CK was front and center in my thoughts at all times. We were living together in two homes. We were dining together, drinking together, taking trips together, etc.

CK’s move to an apartment with roommates allowed him a new cashflow he hadn’t had before, however, I was trying to prevent us from blowing that on going out to dinner in the New York City. It’s not cheap, and if we were going to build a life together, he needed to start saving. I wasn’t thrilled with spending all that money going out to eat either. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford it, but we felt it was a bit of a waste. When I was living on my own, I made dinner for myself almost every night. Going out to dinner felt like a luxury and a treat. I wanted to get back to that. We both agreed to live more economically wherever possible. Since CK isn’t the biggest cook, I even started making food and taking it to his apartment so we could have convenient meals prepared. For instance, one night after work, we grabbed some groceries and thawed the frozen spaghetti sauce I made for dinner. We cooked together in the kitchen and ate in front of his TV. It was nice, it was cheap and it was delicious. That meal cost us pennies compared to what we’d spend going out to an Italian restaurant. We were also taking advantage of Groupons and Living Socials whenever possible so on the nights we didn’t feel like cooking, we could grab a nice dinner out and not pay full price.

As a gay man, I’m not quite as mirror conscious as some, but I am a bit vain in some aspects. I love how I look with a great tan, and I love it even more when my hair has a bit of depth and volume. Sadly, a few years ago, my hairline started receding. There was little I could do to prevent it, so I did what I could to mask it. That meant getting my haircut in a certain style, but it also meant highlighting it so it wasn’t one solid color against my scalp. This is one of my few gay vices.

Since I was in junior high, I stopped going to my father’s barber and started going to my mother’s hair stylist. Granted, since moving away from home, I didn’t go home every time I needed a haircut, but I did make it a point to go home and get it highlighted periodically throughout the year.

My hair got naturally lighter in the summer, so before the sun worked its magic, I would always try to trek home for some carmel colored highlights. My hair stylist was a magician. He never measured, but he always got my color just right. The one time I was left under the heat too long, everything slid to the back of the cap, bleaching the back of my head. He managed to dye my hair back to it’s natural color. You couldn’t tell anything went wrong.

My hair stylist also charges me a measly $30 for the highlights and the cut. Granted it’s in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania, but it would cost more over $100 to have this done in New York City. Whenever I get my hair cut by someone in the metro area, they ask about the highlights. They compliment them, and I get a big kick out of telling them how much I paid for them — Their jaws hit the floor.

It was particularly difficult to get home before the summer sun this year. My sister wasn’t being cooperative about trips home, so I had to plan something on my own. That meant hopping on the motorcycle and making the two-hour trek home (costing me $10 in gas). I didn’t want to give up my weekend because that was when I went to the beach with my boyfriend, but it was nearly impossible to get away during the week. On top of this, it had to be planned around nice weather. I couldn’t make the trip home if rain was in the forecast.

Summer was passing by, so I decided to take off a half day from work to get it done. After work Wednesday evening, I sped home trying to avoid traffic and made it to my parents’ house just before the sun went down. I found it very sweet that CK was worried about me. He was very concerned with my safety, even after riding with me on the bike many times. I was truly touched. I told him when I was heading home, and I texted him as soon as I got to my parents’ place. I told him it would take roughly two hours, and he was texting me worried after about an hour and a half. It showed me how much he truly cared about me and how much he loved me. “I don’t know what I would do if I lost you babe!” he said.

CK was against the trip from the onset. He didn’t like the idea of me getting highlights, but I told him to have faith. He’d seen pictures of me in the summer and commented how good I looked. I promised him I wouldn’t come back looking like an a$$hole. I think he thought I was getting my tips frosted.

It was also nice to catch up with my parents and have a relaxing night in front of the TV with a home-cooked meal. The next morning, I woke at the crack of dawn to hit up the salon. In an hours time, I looked like a new man, and I was back on the road. I had to get back to work by mid-afternoon.

That night, CK saw me for the first time in person, after asking me to send pictures to his phone. He commented on how good I looked. “Babe, I was really worried. I thought you were going to look ridiculous,” he added. I gave him a big kiss and reminded him how I knew what I was doing, cheekily.

Even if I came back looking ridiculous, I’m sure he would have played along and told me I looked fine. We were in love, and my hair wasn’t going to change that. On the flip-side, I think the highlights worked a little magic and made me more attractive to him because, after being away from each other for a night, we had some great passionate sex before dozing off.

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Back to Reality

Christmas day had passed. My time home was coming to an end. I was happy to be home, but I was also anxious to get back to normal life.

The morning after Christmas, my father and I decided to do a little shopping to see if we could land any special deals to kill time. I would also finally be in cell phone service, so I could text Smiles and wish him a safe flight. When I got into service, I got an influx of text and picture messages. He’d sent me quite a few, keeping me updated on what he was up to. I really was missing him and quite anxious to get back to see him. I proposed we do dinner at my apartment since he had to postpone it before the holidays. He texted back in agreement. I was finally going to get to make us the standing rib roast. I told him I missed him, and he responded, “I miss you too! 🙂 “ I could have melted into a puddle right there. This was so unlike him to express his emotions like this, but I was eating it up!

The day after Christmas is always spent with my father’s side of the family. We all gather together for a nice potluck meal that rotates from house to house year to year.  This side of the family has also shrunk significantly. My grandparents have been gone since I was quite young. My father’s brother is in rough shape these days from his battles with diabetes. His sister died a few years ago and her husband is in a nursing home. I rarely see their daughter, my cousin since she moved away and got married. That left one sister whose husband also passed away a few years ago. But as that generation was shrinking, another was growing in leaps in bounds. The living sister has 5 children, all of which are married and have become baby making machines. They now outnumber the four of us five to one.

The gathering is always a lively one with many children running about. Christmas is one of the two times I spend with this side of the family each year (the other being an annual family reunion). We also have an annual tradition of a “Yankee gift swap” or “white elephant sale” depending where you come from. The tradition has lost a lot of its allure as my cousins have adopted a new tradition of buying crap at Wal-Mart and Big Lots the day after Christmas for half price.

My sister and I had to work the Tuesday after Christmas, so around 5:00 we hopped in the car and made our way back to Hoboken. When I got back to my apartment and unloaded all my presents from home, I picked up the phone and called Smiles. Sadly, it went straight to voicemail. I was hoping to relax after a long car ride with some time talking to him, but alas, that wouldn’t be the case.

My roommate arrived home, and we swapped all our holiday stories. We plopped down on the couch and started to catch up on the programs we saved on the DVR. After some time, Smiles called. I think if you were in New Jersey when the phone rang, you may have seen a beacon of light in the sky that was my smile.

He told me about his trip home and the ordeal he went through. When he got back to the city, he’d gone out with one of his female friends for dinner. He devised a new plan to work out of her apartment going forward so he would be more productive than he was working out of his apartment. He felt if he had a place to go to every day that wasn’t in line of sight of his bed, he would get more done. I told him I thought it was a great idea. Even though they wouldn’t be coworkers, they could keep each other on task. Either that, or it would be a complete disaster, and they would be a constant distraction for each other.

I told him about my time home, my family and how the gift swap has become a sham. He laughed and told me about the rest of his time home with the family.

It wasn’t a long phone conversation, as our phone calls never are, but it certainly satisfied my hunger for Smiles. It would satiate me until I got to see him the following night when he came over for dinner.

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