How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being, and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use.
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I've been in love a total of three times in my life. Three. God, it sounds like such a small number when compared to all the guys I've fucked. All the guys I've given my body to for a night's pleasure then off home to bed alone. Nameless, faceless guys who left their nondescript fingerprints on my body as they passed through me, cumming in me sheathed in a thin layer of latex and false promises of forever. And forever only being the distance traveled from either getting their dick sucked or ramming my ass to their destination, which is orgasm. Hot breath on the back of my neck as they huff and puff as if doing intense labor. As if I where some fucking field to be plowed.
Sweaty hands circumventing the equator of my being. Finding places that seem familiar but not because it's not me they're even thinking about. I'm just a hole they entered and took shelter in. A place to hide for as long as it takes to spew the days frustration then out. Gone, lost in the crowd of Babylon, looking for mister right because they've already had mister right now. And so have I.
A vicious cycle of wanting love, looking for love and knowing love won't be found at Woody's or in the clubs. Not that night, not any fucking night.
It's amazing sometimes how little you can love yourself while purporting to. It's amazing how much you can deceive yourself into believing the lies you tell yourself when no one is looking. They start out as these small little white lies. They seem harmless on the surface and they get you where you need to go. No one knows but you and the man in the mirror how many of them you have to tell yourself during the course of the day to make it all turn out okay. So you go on telling them. Until they pile up like dead leaves blanketing everything.
My first love was and is Brian Kinney. I know...I know. But that doesn't change a damn thing. If it did I'd have been out of Brian's life a long time ago. Knowing only means you understand the conditions under which you're trapped you come to terms with your confinement, you make peace with it. Knowing only means it stings that much more when he looks past you and at someone else. Knowing only means you bury what you know so fucking deep down that it allows you to go on loving him anyway. Because he needs you to love him and has since he was fourteen. Because loving him for the longest time was all you knew, all you wanted to know, and there was no option of not loving him. If there were there would have been times when the pain was so blinding that you would have stopped loving him to protect yourself, to save yourself.
For a long time I convinced myself that one day Brian would open his eyes and see that all those other guys where just places to hide who he really was and what he really wanted. I believed (and this was how fucked up my logic was for a long time) that if I waited long enough and was patient enough I could have him in *that* way. In the way he so freely gave to men who didn't love him and would never love him. Men who got off more on the thrill of being fucked by the mighty Brian Kinney then they did anything else. Men who admired him, wanted to be him, but couldn't touch the core of him. Men who saw the superficial Brian and lay prostrate at his feet because of his arrogance, his confidence and his level of fucking conceit. Being beautiful was never enough for Brian he wanted to be a god and so he created one. The myth of Brian became more important than the man. The façade more important than the foundation.
The love I have for Brian started out as this thing that overwhelmed me. It tunneled itself into the very core of me and dug it claws in then took root spreading its fingers throughout every inch of me. It was so fucking painful at first then it dissolved into this slow dull ache. It calloused over and the scar tissue form on top of it. And now it's just part of me. I don't know how I lived without it before I knew what it was and I can't see how I'd live without it now that I do.
Then there was David. My love for him was fleeting in that unlike with Brian I was in love with David for what seemed like an instant. That doesn't take away from the fact that I did love him passionately. It's just that David washed over me like a fine wine. Coating my palate and intoxicating me with his sheer presence. Everything about David was urgent and intense.
He wanted me, he loved me and he fought for him. He put his big arms around me and promised me all the things I'd been longing to hear from Brian. And I don't know I just fell. I wanted to fall, I realize now I'd been waiting to fall for a long time.
For the first time when I had sex it was more. It was fucking huge. I was lost in this place I'd never been before. It was warm and I felt safe like he could protect me or something. Like him loving me would answer all the questions I had. Erase all the nagging doubt about myself, put everything into perspective.
But there was this tug of war going on. As much as I wanted all the things David promised me, all the things he could give me. I wanted Brian too. And it tore at the fabric of my relationship with David. Which I now know was never that strong to begin with.
Not that we didn't love each other. But we wanted different things out of life. David was looking for a partner. Someone to grow old with, someone to fill the silence with. And I was looking for a fucking boyfriend. At twenty-nine my first fucking boyfriend...It's pathetic I know. But then back then so much about me actually was.
And Brian became the excuse. I know that now looking back at it through the luxury of time and distance. But at the time going threw it, being in the middle of it, wading hip deep in it, it was just fucking hard. And the only way I could think of to make any of it easier was to follow him to Portland.
I thought I'll make this break and bleed a little but I'll become stronger for it and I can be what David needs and wants me to be. I was wrong on so many level. Because all leaving did was expose the gaping wound in our relationship. And we picked at it, never letting it scab over, never allowing it to heal in any way.
But I had to go through what I went through with David. Because in ways I didn't understand at the time it did make me stronger. It made me open my eyes to what I really wanted and it started me on the path of getting it.
And then there's Ben. I don't know if I can describe it in a way that anyone would understand in a way that would make sense to anyone but him. Ben kinda just caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting him, which I guess is why I found him. It wasn't volcanic like Brian, or intense in like with David. No this was more gradual. See with Brian and David I could physically feel myself falling in love with them. And it was exciting and it was hard and it was fucking complicated. And I was confused and overwhelmed by them, by it, by every thing.
I know the instant I fell in love with Brian, and I know the instant that I fell in love with David. I can give you the day and the time of both events in my life. I can tell you what we were doing, what we were wearing and I can tell you what the weather was like outside. I can't tell you the instant I fell in love with Ben, just that I feel like I always have. Like part of me didn't come to life until he was there, and then it felt like he's always been there. Like he was part of myself unknown to me until he walked into my comic book store that day.
He didn't make me any promises about the future, he didn't question me about the past. All he offered was the sweet intoxication of the present. The moment in all of its glorious wonder and frightening uncertainty save for the assurance of his presence in it. He offered me his hand and I took it. Granted there was some trepidation on my part in the beginning. Not so much because of his HIV status but because when he told me I started feeling the void of his absence. It was like the warmth of the sun had departed leaving its ghostly visage behind. The memory of warmth, the knowledge of what it felt like, the imprint of having been touched by it, the cold thick darkness of living everyday without it. It was a dreaded thing. Something that came in and clutched at my heart with a pain I'd never experienced before. It devastated me and the harder I tried to ignore it, the harder I tried to pretend like it didn't exist the harder it got to breathe. And none of it was helped by the fact that my family and friends were pressing on me to let him go. To avoid the implications of what being with him would really mean.
He offered himself to me and only wanted me to love him in return. He never pushed or pulled at me to choose between who I was and who I wanted to be. He waited for me to tell him, to show him.
I'm not pretending to be someone I could never have been. I'm not longing for that thing I can't have. I'm not with him because I can't have what I want because he is what I want and have always wanted. He's the promise I made myself a long time ago in the dark when I realized I was gay. His is the hand I reached for out in the murky cold of my isolation. And the roads that took me there were Brian and David.
I told you I couldn't explain it. It's just a jumble of words set down on paper tying to decipher itself. It's lyrical happenstance recorded in sentences that amount to nothing but the feeling of it, and only then scratching just the surface of it. It's just a cliff note of what is actually going on.
It's like explaining sex. Not the function of it but the feeling of it. The golden haze created by it, the dusty hue of it. The traveling hands, the press of bodies, the sensation of tingling skin. The pain and pleasure of penetration, the ghostly feeling of having left ones self. The high when orgasm is near, the stimulating rhythm of bodies in motion. It's like describing a kiss, the slow dance of tongues, the sweet inhalation of breath, the sting of oxygen deprived lungs. The reverberating sound of his moans echoing in my chest.
It's the difference between fucking and making love. Of having felt like someone went to the bathroom on you and feeling as though your body has been praised. It's knowing what you know and eliminating the guess work.
I've been in love three times in my life. Three. And they have been more than enough. Each man leading me to the other in his own way without ever knowing or understanding. Brian lifting me up and allowing me to see David. David lifting me up and allowing me to see Ben. Three though. Doesn't sound like nearly enough does it for a lifetime? But you'd be surprised.
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