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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.
The next morning, I woke up early to work out with CK in his rooftop gym. It was our first time up there, and we were finally going to workout together, or at least we both thought so. It turned out, we had different ideas of working out. While CK was on his cleanse, I too was trying to lose weight. That was only going to happen for me if I did cardio workouts. Lifting wasn’t going to help me shed any pounds, and that was the priority over bulking up. He wasn’t willing to join me for cardio, and I wasn’t willing to lift, so we worked out at the same time on opposite ends of the gym. When he finished, I was nearly done my three-mile run, sweating profusely from head to toe. I wanted to take off my shirt and use it as a sweat rag, but I wasn’t sure if that was P.C. in his gym, and there were others working out as well. When I finished, we rode the elevator back down to his place so we could shower and get ready for work.
As per usual, we showered together. This had become a regular thing for us. We rarely showered alone anymore. We weren’t always making out or having sex in there: It just seemed a better use of both our time to shower together. We were beginning to work out a system between us. Our routine was falling into place.
The one thing I slightly resented when sleeping over at his apartment was the lack of breakfast. It was getting expensive for me to continuously purchase breakfast every time I slept there. I made sure to provide him with the necessary items for breakfast, but we hadn’t seemed to get to that stage at CK’s apartment. I wasn’t going to make a stink about that. One thing at a time. I was happy he finally had all his boxes unpacked and a bed to be honest. Breakfast could be dealt with down the road.
We got ready and were out the door. We’d also managed to figure out we could commute together to work. Originally, he was walking to a different subway than I was, but after further investigation, I learned we could both catch the necessary subways from the same station, and it would be the same distance for CK. Every morning we walked together and said goodbye with a kiss on the platform. It was a simple routine, but I was already thoroughly enjoying our morning walk to work together.
That night, CK had to work late. I went home and went to free outdoor yoga on the pier in Hoboken with my roommate instead of CK. We were spending the night apart. He had to be at work early the following morning for a pitch. When I got home from yoga, I made dinner, watched TV and fell asleep in my bed alone after chatting with CK about his day.
I woke up early the next morning feeling lost. The man I loved wasn’t there. It was shocking how much of a difference it made having him in my bed. I didn’t sleep nearly as well as I did when he was present. It was like I was an infant all over again missing my mother’s heartbeat. I needed to feel him close to me to get a good night’s sleep. I forced myself to get out of bed and motivated myself for a nice morning run along the Hudson. I stopped to take pictures for Instagram of the city where I knew my boyfriend was still soundly sleeping.
I ran back home, finished getting ready and stopped by the allergist for my shot before heading to work. I was really committing to getting in shape and losing weight, so that afternoon, I took lunch at the gym. I wanted a six-pack again, and I wanted shoulders, arms and pecs I could be proud of again. When I finished, I was in a spectacular mood. I shot CK a text to remind him how much I love him. I was also horny from the endorphins running through my veins. I started to sext him, telling him all the things I wished I could do to him in the gym shower.
Warning: The following may be too graphic for some. That’s always been a fantasy of mine, however, I never had any desire to do it with complete strangers. In an ideal world, CK and I would go to the same gym. We’d walk in together, but not acknowledge each other while we were in the gym working out. When he was finished, he would head into to the lockers to shower. He’d strip down in front of me, not acknowledging my existence before strutting to the shower of his choice. I would follow just behind and slip into his shower stall and close the curtain behind me. We’d have sex under the hot water without causing too much commotion to attract attention from others. After finishing inside him, I would rinse off and leave the shower like nothing happened. He would finished washing up and recovering from our tryst while I got dressed and headed home like nothing happened to start making dinner. He would follow a few minutes behind, and the first time we would acknowledge each other would be at the door where I’d welcome him home from a hard day’s work at the office with a big kiss. We’d eat our dinner with big smiles knowing we have an epic sex-life. Some day…
So in shorter terms, I described this situation to him over text. When I first began, he thought I meant to text someone else. He must have thought I was cheating on him with someone at the gym. I assured him the texts were for him and reminded him how the conversation begane explaining that this was my fantasy. I also pointed out the irony of the situation and detailed how he was the one who sexted the wrong person, not me (just like the first day we started chatting and he wanted me to come over for sex).
That night, I had plans to see Porgy and Bess with my coworker, so I didn’t see him again. I think he felt a bit left out, but I’d been coworkers with this girl for over five years, and the two of us had never hung out outside work together. I also had to head to our Chelsea office to work early in the morning. I took the opportunity of being off the radar a bit to hit the gym again that afternoon, this time for a run on the treadmill. I began thinking about CK and I in the gym once again, but it would remain a fantasy.
When I finished work, I went to my volleyball game, came home to shower and made my way into the city to spend the night in CK’s bed. We’d spent a decent amount of time apart considering we’d been spending every waking minute together outside our workdays. I was thrilled to see him and even more ecstatic I was sleeping with him that night. After a late-night romp, we dozed off in each other’s arms. When we woke in the morning, we hit the gym once again. Alas, we worked out on opposites sides of the gym once again.
When we finished, we continued our routine of getting ready for work and were out the door. That night, after work, I ran home and grabbed my things for the weekend. We had a big weekend coming up, and I had to pack for many different options. It was EXTREMELY frustrating because I wasn’t sure what we’d be doing, I wasn’t going to be home again until Sunday at the earliest, and it was Pride Weekend. I asked CK for help on what to pack, and he was of no use. The fight was quickly escalating over the phone, and my frustration level was at its peak. I wasn’t used to going to gay events and circuit parties, and I was feeling a lot of pressure. This was a burden I’d been carrying around for weeks, and the moment of truth was arriving. This was going to be my first full Pride Weekend, and I had no idea what I was about to get myself into. I was scared sh*tless!…
Today is a Fast Forward Monday!!!
Hope you are enjoying these. It will help bring the blog a little closer to real-time. If you’re keeping up with the stories chronologically, please skip down to this morning’s post first, then read this one. I think it’s a good one! Enjoy!
Back to your special edition of One Gay At A Time…
After spending the day with The Navigator at the beach and then sharing a pretty spectacular relaxing evening together, I slept great. There was a sexy naked man in my bed, and I knew just what to do with it. We fell asleep spooning each other. When I woke in the morning, I couldn’t stop smiling when I realized it wasn’t a dream.
I rolled over and pulled him close to me. He was still slipping in and out of sleep. As he woke up, we picked up just where we left off the night before. Everything we did was fun. We were constantly ribbing each other and joking around. When we ended laying face to face, I said to him, “I just want to climb up to the roof and shout, I love my best friend, [The Navigator]. Boop!” as I reached my finger out and tapped him on the nose (an homage to Super Bad).
We both laughed for some time. We continued to cuddle all morning. I didn’t care if I stayed in bed all day. I was happy.
We were interrupted by a call from his roommate. I’d already learned he was a really good friend, and he liked to placate his friends. While he was on the phone, I took out my camera and snapped a few pictures of him lying naked in my bed. I don’t think he realized what I was doing because he had his back to me, but I wanted some souvenirs to take home with me.
Turns out, his roommate wanted to go to the grocery store that afternoon. They share groceries, so he regrettably turned to me and told me he had to go with him that afternoon before we went hiking. I was very disappointed, but I wasn’t going to make a stink about it. I quickly hopped in the shower and got ready for the day while he packed up his things and got dressed. As we walked out the door, I pointed out the Marilyn Monroe portrait saying, “My week with Marilyn.”
I drove him home and dropped him off. I was already sad to see him go even though I knew it was a matter of hours before I’d see him again. I grabbed some lunch and made my way back to the pool. I relaxed with some light reading. I needed to finish off the Tickle My Tush book so I could write my review.
When most of the afternoon passed by and some noisy kids arrived at the pool, I texted him to see how he was progressing. He was on his way home, so I decided to go get ready to go hiking and make my way over to his place.
I pick him up, and we take a short drive to the base of the mountain. I grab my camera and we make our way up the trail. When we get to a decent height, he suggests we climb back down part way and hit up another trail that had a much better view. We were having fun just being together. On our way back down, he pointed out a shack along the trail: “I wanted to surprise you, but this is going to be where we live when we get married. :)” While he said this, he took hold of my arm. I knew he was completely kidding, but it was also a sweet gesture.
When we got to the top of the other trail, we had quite a view. We could see LA and Burbank off in the distance. He took my camera from me and took some pictures of me. Again, I thought this was a sweet gesture, as were many things he did. He was just very conscientious. You didn’t have to ask him to do things; he just anticipated it. I was falling for him more and more every minute, but I still maintained my mental state.
I then turned the camera on him and snapped a few pictures. I wanted to remember the great guy I met in LA. I hoped we’d remain friends even after I returned to New York. It would certainly be nice to have a friend on the West Coast. Maybe I could even come back to visit some time.
We climbed back down the mountain and made our way to Burbank. We joked about PDA. We both agreed we weren’t really into it, but at one point he casually reached out his hand and grabbed my junk while looking the other way. I pointed out to him that just because he wasn’t looking at it doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t see it as well. We both laughed and continued to joke about other things. We walked around for a little bit and grabbed some ice cream. He was cold, and I was trying to do my best to keep him warm without making him feel uncomfortable. That’s when he broke the bad news to me.
He’d already prepared me for the possibility he’d have to go to work that night at 1:00am. He was on call, and they hadn’t gotten back to him yet. He needed to go home and nap before that shift started.
My heart sank a little. He wouldn’t be spending the night in my bed again. I needed to be a big boy about it though. I drove him back to his apartment and said goodbye. We talked about seeing each other the following day since it was my last day there; I had a flight out at 10:00pm.
I returned to my hotel room and watched TV in my bed. I knew he was napping, but it was make or break for me to ask him if he would come with me for my ride up the Pacific Coast Highway. After debating for some time, I decided to text him: “Lonely here without you already 😦 haha. What are the chances you’d wanna ride up the PCH with me after work tom?” I really didn’t want to take that ride alone. I loved his company, but I seriously feared a disappointing answer.
The Navigator wouldn’t let me down like that: “LOL. I know. I wish I were cuddling with you!!!!! That sounds like a swell idea.” I was thrilled. I was prepared for the worst, and I got the best. I was looking forward to tomorrow’s road trip so much more now that I had my Navigator! “Marylyn Misses you too,” I added.
Shortly after that text, he requested I send him some pictures of myself. “You’re most handsome ones,” he added. “Whom are you showing me to now?” I asked. Apparently, he wanted to show off his “super long first date” to his roommate and his other friend.
I was pretty crazy about him, but reality wasn’t absent from my brain. It did, however, bring a big smile to my face to know he was showing me off to his friends. It made me feel special and gave me hope I would have a longtime friend from what started as weak Grindr banter…Follow @onegayatatime
Waking up with the feeling of dread is never a good thing. Upon opening my eyes, I immediately knew something was wrong. It all came crashing back. I remember the conversation I had with Smiles the night before in my bed. It didn’t go as well as I would have liked it.
I needed to reassess the situation and make a decision before proceeding. One thing was for sure; I was going to proceed with caution. No longer was I going to invest so much of myself into a one-sided relationship. Smiles was still interested, and I had optimism the relationship could still progress towards something good. However, I could no longer devote so much of myself to someone who wasn’t doing the same for me.
I had that day off, but I had to wake very early. I needed to get my friend’s car keys before he went to work so I could take Smiles to the airport. When I volunteered to take the day off from work, I thought it would be a perfect way to see him off. I wanted to be both helpful and selfish. I wasn’t going to get to see him for a week, let alone on Christmas. The next best thing I could get was sending him off at the airport.
I climbed out of bed, put on clothes and rode my motorcycle over to my friend’s place. I swapped the bike for his car and drove back to my apartment. When I got back to my room, there were a few minutes left before Smiles was supposed to wake to get ready for his flight. I undressed and climbed back into bed.
Since we went to see the stage-show the night before, and he was working through the day before, he wasn’t able to pack yet. When my alarm went off, we woke and got ready to make our way into the city so he could pack.
I drove him through the Holland Tunnel and stopped in front of his apartment. There were no legal spots available, so I had to sit in the car while he got ready. When he got out of the car, Smiles checked out another street and texted me from his apartment: “If you wait another five minutes, you can park on the other street at the meters.” It was nice of him to check that out so I wouldn’t have to sit in the car alone the whole time.
My question from the night before was still in the back of my head. The car ride was rather quiet. It was as if we were both searching for something to talk about. I had yet another question burning a hole in the back of my mind. I had no New Year’s Eve plans, and all my friends did. I didn’t want to spend it alone, but Smiles hadn’t mentioned it to me. I had no idea what his plans were, but I wanted to spend it with him. The conversation from the night before didn’t change that. I was about to ask him if we could spend it together, but as we neared the airport, things got hectic because he wasn’t sure which terminal he was flying out of. That question would have to wait until later.
Once we had that settled, I found a space at curbside and helped him unload. We exchanged a very quick hug and kiss as he set off for home for the holidays. It was very unceremonious. I don’t know if he was self-conscious because we were in public or if it was because he still felt awkward, but I was very disappointed. That was not the way I wanted to be kissed by the man I was dating but not seeing on Christmas. That was not a proper goodbye.
As he walked away, he turned back and said, “I’ll call you later tonight.”
Since I had my friend’s car and the rest of the day off, I decided to run an errand I’d been neglecting. I took a route home that allowed me to stop by Michael’s to pick up a large panoramic photo I had framed. All that alone time is NOT good for me. It’s a sure to produce over-thinking and slight depression. I really didn’t know how to proceed. There was a fork in the road, and I wasn’t sure which road to take.
I decided to make a stronger effort to engulf myself with my friends. I wasn’t going to give so much of myself to Smiles, and in turn, I would fill that void with friendship. After I ran my errand, I went home and watched TV on the couch. I needed to distract myself with some form of entertainment, but it wasn’t working. I was still thinking about what I was going to do. I hopped on Facebook while watching TV and got a message from N: “I miss you buddy.” I hadn’t hung out with him since we broke up with the exception of my holiday party. Maybe it was time to give friendship with him another chance. I hit him up to see what he was up to. He was going out that night and told me he would keep me in the loop regarding his plans so we could hang out.
I know Smiles was settling in the with family, and I wouldn’t expect him to call. But, it would be nice if he called, even if just to let me know he landed safely. That night, I never heard from Smiles…Follow @onegayatatime