When I was coming back from seeing Joan Didion read the other night, I was seated across from this sexy man on the L train. He looked like a better-looking version of an ex-boyfriend of mine. I kept looking up from my book to look at him. He would occasionally catch me looking at him and I would look away, pretending I was just looking around the train. I wasn't sure that the man was gay, had my doubts, didn't want to be too obvious, didn't want to get my ass kicked. Gay cruising is such a fraught activity. It often exists in straight spaces, trains in this case, and there isn't always the guarantee that the person being cruised is gay. There is the hope that they are and you look for a signal, a look held just a fraction of a second longer than appropriate, a slight smile in the corner of the lips, eyes that show their hunger for sex. And so there is bound up in this cruising a fear, a tension, a riskiness; there is the fear, sometimes large, sometimes tiny, that the person might not be gay, might be offended by your looks, might get aggressive or even violent toward you, well-founded fears in the homophobic world in which we reside.
I was never entirely sure with this person and so I did my best to not look at him too much. He got off the train a couple stops before me and that was that. In earlier days, I may have gone home and written a Missed Connection about him. Instead, I went home and sat on the couch with my boyfriend.
That was our last friendly night with each other, Jacob and I. The next night he did not invite me out with him, despite me telling him I wanted to go out. I took great offense to this, probably more so than was fair, but I can be quite sensitive when feeling slighted and then I turn very venomous and mean. We have barely talked since then. I have gone into the other room when he has been home, have tried my best not to talk to him. I thought a lot about whether I should be with this person, thought I shouldn't, wanted to be alone and on my own.
After lying in our bedroom while he sat in our living room last night, a real rager of a Saturday night at our house, I left to go meet Erica and some other friends at Midway. A few five dollar beer and shot combos later, I had softened, missed Jacob, and texted him that I loved him. I somehow convinced all these people, most of them straight, that we should go to Metropolitan instead.
I was talking to someone at Metropolitan about Werner Herzog. They had recently met him and I wanted to know everything about their brief meeting, Herzog someone I admire dearly. Behind this boy talking to me, I saw him, the boy from the train. He saw me too and smiled, clear that we both remembered each other from the train the other day. I left the Herzog conversation abruptly and went to talk to this boy. We chatted for a long while about things I can't remember on this hungover day. I remember a Robyn song came on and I sang along. We walked back to his house.
Once there, he told me he had HIV, that he wanted to let me know that beforehand. That's fine, I said, who cares. We were already naked. He said that it was a dealbreaker for the last few negative people he had brought home, that they had left. We made out and he sucked me off for a bit. There was talk of other stuff but he didn't have condoms. I came and he licked the semen off my cock and fingers. We talked about Bjork. I got dressed during this conversation. I said goodbye to this guy and he seemed a bit sad. I asked him if he was. He said no. I didn't believe it. We hugged and I sang along some more to whatever song was playing on his stereo at the time. I was really in a singing mood last night, stirred to feelings by being out late on a Saturday night with whiskey and beer in my system and an extra hour in the night.
I walked home through dark, mainly empty streets, feeling very sure of my footing, walked with a strong awareness of the present moment and my place in it. Home, I ate some cold pizza, and then slept next to Jacob.
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