Thursday, August 13, 2009

Talking A Lot, But It's Still Talk (or: How restorative a day in the sun can be)

My last few posts have been a bit heavy, and in reading over them I realized just how stressful the last few days have been, and how susceptible the human being is to external influence. J. has been dealing with the bullshit of a shady roommate, one I've come to think of as a pathological liar--a deeply troubled person who must be very unhappy, and very lonely. My own intellectual project addresses this phenomenon, loosely characterized as shifting people out of a paranoid position to a "neurotic" one, where instead of sealing off the world with reactive, defensive ideology we become increasingly receptive to the world, trying to see through the eyes of others. These last few days have been instructive insofar as I've been afforded the opportunity to be a spectator of the drama surrounding the confrontation between these two world-views (the paranoiac and the neurotic). And, I've come to see how just by virtue of witnessing these events I became embroiled in them myself.

The blood work came back and things are good, which was expected but always a relief. I spoke to J. about the counselor who ripped into me while awaiting my test results and he pretty much dispelled any lingering afterthoughts about the validity of that guy's criticisms. J. said, "You went to get tested to be responsible, so we could be safe." And I said, "I know!" to which he ruffles my hair and smiles at me. He says, in that gesture, I appreciate your being responsible--for us. I suppose I needed to hear that from him. I did make some careless decisions in the last two years, decisions that I am infinitely grateful didn't have any repercussions. It would have been miserable to have a conversation with J. about living with HIV, and I would be so afraid that it would have been the death of our relationship.

We talked last night about why J. started doing drugs when he was in High School and he said it was because it allowed him to feel detached, but mostly he wanted to numb to the point of obliterating his homosexual feelings. I suppose that there is a parallel between his experience and my own, only inverted: I never wished to escape my homoerotic desires, I wished to amplify them to such a degree that I could no longer deny them, so that they appeared "natural" and not constructed, reinforced. When I was young, high school through about 20ish, I worked very hard to make the sum total of my being a homosexual existence, all the while naming this "work" a "discovery" of "natural inclinations." The whole undertaking was so terrible that I ultimately fled to the comfort of a heterosexual relationship to escape the monolithic identity which had become more a straight-jacket than a means of liberation.

J. and I talked about how for the first time since he's been with guys he feels like he can be himself, and while this conversation was took place in the context of sexual roles--top v. bottoming--I could hear in the subtext of our discourse a more generalized appreciation for my ability to allow him to express himself without fear that it not conform to some series of expectations I had of how things should unfold. He was scared about being pigeon-holed as a bottom because of his size, and afraid that this reification of his sexual role would start to calcify other parts of himself, too. I remained emphatic that all I want is for him to be happy, to feel safe to explore himself and me, and to feel comfortable communicating his desires and ambivalences. It was a wonderful conversation, actually, that left me feeling really happy, and confident about our relationship. We are building a solid foundation of trust, openness, and consideration that I think will weather whatever may come.

Yesterday we went to my friend's friend's roof-top pool. It overlooked Hollywood beach and we had a grand time swimming, playing marco-polo, and taking under-water pictures. It was the perfect curative. We both just needed to get away from the toxic atmosphere of J.'s apartment and enjoy fresh air, good company, and laughs. And a little elicit public play ;-) It was a chance for us to clear our minds of all that bullshit and just enjoy one another. We were with the Barrister and his boyfriend and a couple of their friends--all of whom are just wonderful, sweet, caring people. J. was immediately welcomed in by the Barrister and his b/f, who made us a delicious breakfast of pancakes, sausage links, eggs, and cantaloupe. It was also nice to show J. that there are gay couples who are good people, who commit to one another and make it work. Each of them have been together for 1.5-5-8 years respectively, and I simply don't think J. ever met anyone like that. I hadn't until last year and it was such a relief then when I did. So much of what we see in mass-media, and even just out on the scene, is one night affairs or 3 month long flings of convenience. It was nice to show him, and experience with him, the company of men who are like us, like who we want to be ourselves.

Back at J.'s apartment we hung our with his friends and cool roommate, and J. got a bit too drunk and promptly availed himself of the toilet before passing out, which was fine because I was pretty tired, too. This morning we hung out again, and after some wonderful sex I left him so he could share some time with is bromosexual roommate (who I am quite fond of: the boy is polite, earnest, good-humored, and clearly cares about J. I trust him, and J. does too, and he has been very welcoming of me, not getting freaked-out about the fact that, for instance, he will walk into J.'s room and I'll be half-naked in bed with him. It's my first time interacting with a straight person where "acceptance" transcends cliched platitudes to actually mean "welcoming". There is simply nothing like being welcomed, and I truly appreciate him for extending that to me.)

Today will be slow. I work and have some reading I want to get done. I get paid tomorrow, so the phone will be back on soon. And then I'll also have some money to throw around for a while so I can take J. out for dinner and a movie. Or make dinner and just go out and see a movie. I need to call my landlord and work some sort of payment plan out with him about September's rent, but I don't anticipate that being a huge deal. He's become much more understanding now that I showed him I'm financially solvent. Surprise, surprise.

Enough for now.

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