January 2010 Cover
We were all standing in Speedos around a pool aboard a cruise ship,
while the great Pacific whooshed in the background. There was no land
in sight. We were a portable island of gays traversing the great seas,
clad in little more than thin strips of material over our loins, naked
to the elements. I was more exposed and vulnerable than I realized.
I was sharing a stateroom with my gay cousin
who introduced me to his poolside buddy.
"This is my good friend Mike."
Mike was a short, muscular, brown-skinned man with a goatee and
smiling eyes that drank in my tan, lanky body.
"Nice to meet you," Mike said.
"You're hot," I countered, my eyes surveying his Speedoed flesh.
"You too," he grinned widely.
"Let's go down to your room," I advised.
"Okay!" he quickly agreed.
My cousin glanced over his sunglasses. "For God's sake,
I've never seen two guys get to it so quickly!"
Mike's stateroom floated above the wide ocean like a cloud. The
bright sun shone through white curtains, and as he moved on top of me
the room lit up like an overexposed photograph. We were amid some sort
of imaginary thought, entangling ourselves in one another, trying to
press into each other in an attempt to become one.
But once we came, reality, as always, crashed in around our
heads and we reentered our own separate bodies, and I got up to exit
our shared vision.
"No, stay!" he implored. He was so adamant about it, I simply
crawled back into bed and pressed myself against his calm, sweaty body.
His sweet smell was intoxicating.
We stayed like this for two days, naked, with streams of
sunlight filling the room. We ordered in food, we napped, we kissed, we
chatted. I even wrote him a moving poem on a piece of paper while he
quietly snored on my shoulder.
Mike attached his body to mine for the duration of the cruise,
and it felt like a natural extension of my own being. Few times in life
had I felt this, and even though I am slow to warm up to a new romance
(which too many times I have seen fizzle and die in the course of a
week), I was beginning to attach myself to him too.
Mike and I returned to our lives in New York. I curled up next
to him in his two-story apartment in Greenwich Village, we watched
movies, and somehow kept the nascent fire burning.
I took a one-week business trip to Egypt, and before I left he
professed that I was the one he had been waiting for all his years. As
I stumbled through the desert across the great stone monuments to
eternity, my heart broke open and I realized I loved him.
Upon returning, Mike offhandedly mumbled something about always
being there for me no matter what happened. The words rolled around in
my head until I realized he was dumping me, passively yet aggressively.
In a haze, I scooped up my clothes, somehow got them on, and
stumbled into the night, a storm of tears and stabs to my gut. The pain
lasted for days, for weeks, for months, and I realized that my heart
had finally opened too quickly for my own good. I would never be the
same again. It was a deep, jagged wound that had changed the shape of
my soul, exposing a part of me that would forever have great empathy
for anyone who had been ripped open by another person.