After our day at the beach, I still had a few lingering worries. I’d made the mistake of getting involved with the wrong guy before, and I wasn’t getting any younger. I wanted to make sure if I was getting into a relationship it was with the right guy. There was no use getting attached if in the end I was just going to get hurt. Or at least that’s how I saw it.
Sunday morning, we woke up in my bed. In his usual fashion, I woke to a kiss on the lips. With a lot weighing on my mind, I’m sure I wasn’t the most affectionate. I certainly wasn’t cold either. I just had a lot to figure out. I wanted to make sure I was the right guy for CK, and he was the right guy for me. There was no use panicking just yet. I needed more information about CK’s true intentions.
We had a lazy Sunday. After making breakfast, we made our way to the Hoboken pier get some sun. I took along the weekly circulars and a few magazines so I could make my grocery list and catch up on the stack of magazines piling up in my room.
At one point, CK excused himself to make a few phone calls he’d been neglecting. He walked around the entire pier while chatting on his phone for quite some time. I was a little turned off. After all, we were supposed to be spending the afternoon together. Instead, I was spending it with GQ. When he came back, he informed me one of his exes was going to be on Fire Island for the Fourth of July (three days away). He really wanted to go out there for the holiday after asking me to go out there all summer. Of course I wasn’t okay with going out there to hang out with one of his exes. It just didn’t feel right. I also wasn’t sure I wanted to trek all the way out there (my reason for not going all the previous times he asked). We hadn’t made solid plans yet, but I did want to watch the fireworks. One year prior, I was searching for N so I could break up with him. I was unsuccessful, and I didn’t exactly have the best Fourth of July. I wanted this year to be spent in CK’s arms watching explosions of light with the New York City skyline as the backdrop. I told him we would discuss it further. I have to admit, I was also stalling because I wanted to see what my friends were up to as well.
When the sun began to set and a chill developed in the air, we made our way back to my apartment. I agreed we’d spend Sunday night at his place, so I packed a bag so we could make our way into the city before dinner. While I packed, CK made plans to grab dinner with his two friends. We went to CK’s apartment to drop off our things before meeting them at the Statler Grill in midtown. After dinner, we went back to CK’s to watch TV before falling asleep.
Monday we woke and made our way to work. Our only saving grace was the short week. It was the only thing getting me out of bed and motivating me to finish my workday. I even managed to finagle working from home the following day.
That night, CK asked if I would be up for the midnight showing of Spiderman 4. I told him, “I don’t have to go in to work tomorrow. You do. Are you sure you want to do this?” He was all in. Being a big comic book fan, he was waiting for this movie for some time. Of course, we both struggled to stay awake the entire film, and there were certainly portions I was out cold.
The following day, CK went to work, and I stayed home. I had to “work” a half day, and I actually got a lot of work done. I just picked up the social media duties at work, so I had a lot on my plate. That being said, when 1:00 rolled around, my workday was finished. I was out the door on my way to the gym. I just started a membership at the gym near my apartment via Living Social because I would finally be able to get back in the pool and get back in shape. I was incredibly motivated and had a great workout in the pool and in the weight room.
It was also just what I needed to clear my head. It’s amazing what staring at the black line on the bottom of a hole in the ground filled with water can do for you. I thought a lot about CK and came to the conclusion I was overreacting in response to his comments on the beach. I heard his comment, but I also needed to hear him when he stressed how much he loved me and was willing to do what it takes to make me happy. Thinking about this made me happy and made me smile. I learned to let some of my worry go.
This also served as motivation. I wanted to look sexy for my man. Summer was in full swing, but my body was not. I’d fallen into the soft trap — When you date someone and your body goes soft from lack of exercise.
After my workout, I made my way home and got ready to head into CK’s place. We were laying low because I agreed to go to Fire Island with him the following day. We were entertaining the idea of watching the fireworks out there. I was trying to be more flexible and understanding — Something I’m certainly not the best at. Regardless, I was happy to be in his arms and his bed. Whenever I was in his arms, I felt home. This was going to be a much better Fourth of July than the previous one, that’s for sure!
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It had arrived. Although this would be my third year “participating,” I was legitimately scared. I wasn’t sure why it was so scary, but honestly, I was petrified for so many reasons.
My first interaction with Pride Weekend was a mistake. I was making my way to Governor’s Island for a polo match with my family when we found ourselves “stuck” in the parade route. The following year was the first year I was out when the weekend came around. It wasn’t pleasant as I witnessed my relationship crumble before my eyes like an out-of-body experience. I missed the parade that year, but I got a sampling of the other aspects of the festivities.
My fear was grounded mainly in the unknown. While I am a gay man, I do not participate in the typical gay culture. I’ve never been a big fan of gay clubs and what goes on there. I come from a background of a traditional relationship. In the gay world, that is like finding a diamond in the rough. The clubs seem to be the antithesis of this. They are a hot-bed of drugs, promiscuity and raunchy behavior. I know all gay men who go to bars don’t fit into this stereotype, but this stereotype is founded in truth. While I’ve been to a handful of gay clubs, and my comfort level was rising, I still had no idea what to expect. Never before had I been to a circuit party. I was venturing into the abyss, and this caused me incredible anxiety.
While I have learned to let go of the men in my past, I still carry the scars of my relationship with them. They’ve all hurt or used me in some way, shape or form. My biggest fear in life is being alone, and this fear is fed by thoughts of cheating, which is birthed from my baggage. The idea of CK with another man broke my heart. I had clear definitions of cheating, but there were worse things floating through my imagination — Like cheating in a form I feel is unfaithful, but the offender does not.
My relationship with CK was building a great foundation, however, the cement was still wet. We were only dating two months and ten days — Very young for any relationship. In the first month, I had strong suspicions I wasn’t the only man entering his bed. Things didn’t always line up and some of the clear indications were there, however, our relationship was still just forming. I knew there would be a transition period. While he told me he was only interested in me, and I was the only man entering his bed, I was aware how we met. I was also aware of his intentions before we even met through his first major slip-up on Grindr. I couldn’t expect monogamy from the first night — That wasn’t realistic.
While I was fairly understanding and looked the other way early on, I was not going to tolerate infidelity as our relationship progressed and strengthened. For starters, my heart wouldn’t be able to handle the pain, and lastly, it wasn’t safe for my health. I needed to trust him to be faithful. Outside the heartbreak, frankly, we were having unprotected sex. We’d been tested, but there are no guarantees. I trusted him with my life, literally, and if he was sleeping with other men, he was treating my life carelessly.
I sincerely had a feeling his intentions had evolved, but I couldn’t be sure how he would react when faced with temptation. I hoped I was the only man for him. As a result, I was petrified for the life of our relationship. I’d watched my relationship with N publicly combust the previous year, and I didn’t want a repeat.
I’m sure many of you reading think I am overreacting. It’s just a party… It’s just a parade… It’s just a weekend… Well, not to me. To me, it was a litmus test for the strength of my love for CK. I didn’t want that love to be tested, and I didn’t want to have to make a decision that could end my relationship with CK. He was my Superman. He was my world. If I lost him, my world would come crumbling down.
We had plans to go to a huge party at XL Friday night, Matinée circuit party Saturday, and the parade Sunday afternoon. I was venturing into this unknown abyss with faith and hope I could persevere. The thought of CK dropping X and losing control of his inhibitions with some other guy caused me great pain and panic attacks. The idea of another man’s hand groping his package caused me panic attacks. Picturing him dancing shirtless against another shirtless man caused me panic attacks. Every time these scenarios and many others entered my brain, my heart rate would increase drastically, I would start to sweat, and I would get light-headed.
All this added up to me being petrified and frustrated. When I asked CK what clothes I should pack to bring to his apartment for the weekend, and I didn’t get any cooperation or help. It all became overwhelming. To begin with, this wasn’t something I was looking forward to, and his lack of cooperation made me lose my sh*t. “Okay Babe. I’ll talk to you in the morning. Have fun tonight!” I said on the verge of tears as I hung up the phone on him.
I think that was the wake-up call CK needed. I don’t think he fully understood how much anxiety this all created for me. I voiced my frustrations for weeks leading up to Pride Weekend. I told him I was going out of my comfort zone, but I was willing to do it as long as I got some hand-holding. I needed help to get over this. It was just another fun weekend for him, but it was a big deal to me.
After a few minutes, he called me back. We discussed things a little more rationally, and CK’s tone changed. He finally realized I was struggling and tossed out the life-preserver. Now that I knew I had him in my corner, I was a little more relaxed, however, I still wasn’t completely comfortable. It was going to be a long, stressful and exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally. I bit down then and there, and braced for impact as I packed my bag and walked out the door.
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Things weren’t exactly progressing smoothly in my mind between Smiles and I. In fact, things weren’t progressing at all when I come to think of it.
Instead of abandoning my relationship with him, I decided to put forth greater effort to ensuring its success. I’m not one to quit without a fight, so when Smiles texted me to ask how my day was going, I was quite elated. I told him it was going well and was anxious for work to be over. We made plans to go to dinner that evening after work. I was looking forward to it and was ready to make sure it wasn’t a repeat of our last date.
In turn, I asked him about his day, and he responded with an explanation. I explained I wouldn’t be done work until a little later, and I wasn’t sure exactly what time that would be. One of my coworkers was dragging his feet, and my day was beginning to drag on. It was a Friday, and I wanted nothing more than to see Smiles after a long day.
Smiles was running errands in my neighborhood and called when he was finished. I had a feeling I would be done shortly, but there really was no telling when I’d finish. Smiles occupied himself for some time. When he called again to check in on me, I was able to tell him I was about to be walking out the door. He was about to hit up Barracuda to have a drink with his bartender friends, but instead, we picked a place to meet.
I snuck up on him on the street and startled him with a big hug. We exchanged a kiss and started to walk towards Chelsea. We quickly found a spot to grab dinner. Smiles wasn’t drinking, but I certainly needed a drink. I ordered a glass of wine and took a big swig. I’d been talking up a storm from the time we kissed on the street. I was going to make sure the conversation flowed like a waterfall. He was well engaged all throughout dinner at Bar Baresco. I really felt very comfortable with him and was appreciating his company greater. It was night and day difference from the last date we had. I was realizing why I fell for him in the first place. No awkward pauses. No blank stares.
During my workday, I began drafting plans to build my new closet since I was moving. Smiles had much experience in this sort of thing, so I asked him for advice and to look over my plans. He gave his suggestions, and I appreciated his advice.
When we finished dinner, we hit up Barracuda. Smiles suggested it because he figured we’d say hi to his friends. When we arrived there, we found they weren’t working. Smiles ordered us two drinks. After relieving myself, we found a quiet corner to tuck ourselves in to sit and chat.
We discussed age and the ability to hang. He talked about how he used to be able to go out all the time all night long. We talked about growing older and looking forward to staying in and sitting on the couch on a Friday night.
We were growing even closer. As time progressed, I realized he was growing weary. I asked if he would like to get out of there, and he gladly obliged, but not before we played around with his scarf in about 20 different permutations around his neck and head.
As we walked outside, I proposed coming back to his place with him. He agreed. I thought I was sending a pretty clear signal of my intentions. We walked over to Seventh Avenue to hail a cab to no avail. I was not properly dressed for the weather. I was freezing. The Smiles did one of the sweetest things. He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me to keep me warm. I reached up and grabbed his arms and brought him in closer. It was extremely romantic, and I wasn’t about to let this moment run away from me. It took a long time to get a cab, but I was relishing every second.
When we finally hailed one, we hopped in. He extended his hand beckoning for mine. He was winning me over big time! It was a complete 180. I was thrilled with his new-found affections. It painted a clearer picture of his true feelings for me. He was still interested in me. I was thrilled.
When we arrived at his place, he started cleaning. I kept yelling at him to stop. I didn’t care about the condition of his apartment. I would have liked to think of myself no longer as company, and more as companion. He sat on the couch, and I sat on his computer chair facing him while we chatted. After a while, I realized how ridiculous this setup was. I aimed to remedy it. I got up, walked over to the couch, moved the pile of papers from it, and sat next to him. He looked slightly uncomfortable by this, and I couldn’t fathom why.
He suggested we move to the bed. My goal was being accomplished. I was all too happy to move things to the bedroom. We climbed onto his bed. We talked and then began hugging each other. This morphed into spooning.
I was happy and hoping this would progress to sex, but I was sorely mistaken. After spooning for about ten seconds, he had his fill. He was ready to go to bed, and apparently I wasn’t part of that scenario. He went to brush his teeth, and was giving me all the signals it was time for me to go.
We said goodnight and exchanged a kiss at the door. Yet another night without sex. It was an enigma to me. I couldn’t figure him out. He spent the earlier portion of the night being utterly sweet and affectionate, but when it came time to end the night, the sparks were quickly doused.
I wished the night ended on a more positive note. I would have liked to go home a happy satisfied man, but yet again, I was debating in my head Smiles’ attraction to me…
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