Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To Hurt and to Hold

"Bobby, your boner is poking me," he mumbles. He says it in a way that implies the appendage is no more offensive than a leg or an arm. He came from a part of my life when people called me Bobby.

"Sorry," I say, shifting my body away from him.

He's a nurse from an old group of friends, a group that used touch as a form of communication. Boys and girls, resting our heads on each others' laps and casually draping our legs over shoulders. We could fit seven of us on a couch and still be comfortable. We embraced the warmth and care of each other without the pheromones and motivations that came with sexual exploits.

I guess that's what he and I are doing, considering we've been sleeping with each other for months but haven't so much as exchanged a kiss. When we sleep together we abide by the definition of the word, keeping our genitals and body fluids to ourselves but reveling in the connection of entering the twisted reality of dream with another person.

Besides, he smokes and I don't appreciate the taste of ash the way I used to.

I run my hand through his hair. His Chinese ancestry gifted him with sleek, wispy hair and high cheekbones, a strong but balanced brow and a wide jawline that seems to have a Western influence

A few minutes later he rises from bed, the bruise I planted on him last night blossoming on his side. The muscles of his stomach are always more defined in the morning, dehydrated and craving nourishment. His shoulders are wide from the push ups he frequently partakes in, like the ones he's currently doing on his bedroom floor.

He's been teaching me to spar in his living room, sometimes the back patio if the weather is comfortable. We exchange fists and feet in a flurry of violence then collapse into a heap of tangled limbs and affection on the couch, sometimes discussing our new love interests and other times soaking in the silence of our souls. I used to attempt to avoid that silence, fill it with music and books and movies, conversations with strangers and bottles of beer, but I've become more comfortable with it over time.

Usually we'll only spar for an hour or two a night, but sometimes when we're feeling frisky we'll go for hours, sweat spraying into each others eyes and knuckles sliding across shoulders. But we always remain to nurse bruised bones and bleeding elbows.

Someone to hold, someone to hurt, isn't that what everybody really wants?

We sneak in and out of each others' apartments, discover new ways to cover cuts and bruises, avoid intertwining our fingers around friends. The parallels to an abusive relationship aren't lost on us.

Eventually we mentioned our situation to friends. Some were hostile, others curious and full of questions we weren't quite sure we knew the answers to. We were met with some rolling eyes and we answered with shrugged shoulders, often responding with "I don't know." Some don't believe us and others ask "what's the point?"

Our friendship is defined in a way that crosses the boundaries of traditional camaraderie but doesn't quite roam into the realm of romance. We walk the borders in between, nomads declaring ourselves citizens of neither and left to fend for ourselves between the opposing sides.

It's about finding what's comfortable.

And sometimes running your fingers through the hair of a close friend while he rests his head on your lap, splitting a six-pack of Shiner Bock, and watching an episode of Misfits together is what's comfortable.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Put Your Hands Up for Detroit.

Wait... I meant Denver. Don't put your hands up for Detroit. I mean, have any of you guys been there lately? That place is tragic.

I went to Denver for a cousin's wedding last week, traveling across the country by van with some family members. We set up residence in a swanky hotel, my room on the second floor while my parents stayed on the fourth.

I woke up Friday morning and decided to head upstairs to see if my parents wanted to get some breakfast. As I walked down the scarlet-carpeted hallways I noticed remnants from the night before left outside each room. Some rooms had two wine glasses on the floor and others just one, indicating a night of romance or a quiet evening alone. Others had a single plate covered by a napkin, revealing that the room's resident had indulged in an exquisite meal.

My parents' room was at the end of the hallway, and after a long trek, I arrived at their door.

Where I found this:

More like Queer's Light, am I right?

I guess my older brother was lying when he claimed I was adopted.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It started with a pharmacy book.

It was January of this year and I was working as a library assistant. When he arrived at the front desk we made eye contact and there was a pause in the way he looked at me.

It was a look of curiosity, mixed with fear and relief and topped off with recognition. He didn't recognize my face, but recognized something in me that was similar to him.

I was instantly smitten. More handsome and charismatic men pass through the library every day, but I could feel the same recognition that the man across the desk was experiencing, and that was more desirable than the never-ending line of chiseled jaws and smart mouths that passed.

Was it because he was a pharmacy graduate student? Maybe I was attracted to his knowledge of pharmaceuticals, the way he was already familiar with my past romances, pills with odd behavior and exotic names. Names like Darvocet and Ritalin and Xanax, they were the kind of names that brought a sharp zest to the tongue when spoken, names like the people I've dated in the past. With the likes of Klonopin and Strattera and Vicodin already filed away in his mind, I wouldn't have to explain how they took me in and the way we mistreated each other. He would already understand.

He had one of those names. I would later learn he grew up in a faraway place where the weather is warm and the people are dark.

When discussing him with friends I began referring to him as my Pharmacy Student Crush, a way to make a joke out of it, an attempt at sucking the tension from the air.

One Sunday morning in spring I found him in the lobby as I waited for my supervisor to unlock the doors to the rest of the library. He struggled with the Coke machine, feebly attempting to get it to accept his tribute. But like the printers and computers and other mechanisms of the library, the machine was temperamental and unwilling to sell. After he gave up, I slid a crisp dollar and fresh quarter into the machine, change from the bars the night before, purchased a Cherry Coke, and handed it to him. He gave me that same look as always, brown eyes filled with recognition and confusion.

"It's what you wanted, right?" I asked. I couldn't recall how I knew Cherry Coke was his preferred method of contracting diabetes, it was one of those notes about him I just knew without memory as to how.

He stammered, "Uh yeah. Thanks, I owe you one."

Weeks later I would accidentally spill an entire cart of books in front of him, a clumsy spectacle that embarrassed me to the core in a way that is rarely experienced past childhood. The various motherly figures I've accumulated on Facebook were quick to console me. They have a way of taking the silly and trivial and transforming it into something beautiful:

Months passed and soon it was summer. I was working at the library full-time while looking for work after my recent graduation. My job with a before-and-after school program ended with spring, as well as the writing internship I was participating in. I was at a point where my job search, after several incredibly promising, potentially life-changing leads and interviews, had flatlined.

I was in a morose mood. I shuffled about the stacks on the fourth floor of the library, a pair of the library's giant, seemingly ancient headphones covering my ears and blasting them with modern bass. I was unshaven, trying to recall if I'd showered that morning and came to the conclusion that I hadn't. Had I even bothered to brush my teeth? I shelved book after book, a repetitive task that couldn't keep me from thinking about my impending doom when my college job and lease expired in September.

After I finished putting the books in their proper place, I began my descent down a stairway left dark and dingy by recent construction in the building.

I heard his footsteps coming up as I made my way to the landing of the second floor.

We passed on the second floor. He was there with his dark hair, his olive-brown skin, his plain but functional clothes and his triangular nose.

In a split moment my brain declared war on itself.

The right side, controlled by my mother and fueled by creativity and impulse, whispered "Fuck it. Why not?"

The left side, reigned over by my father and functioning with rationale and logic, screamed "WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU CAN'T JUST MAKE OUT WITH PEOPLE IN STAIRWELLS THIS IS HOW PEOPLE LOSE THEIR JOBS."

The two sides are usually able to come to a compromise, but in that instant the right side won.

Without provocation, wordless, I took his chin in my hand and kissed him.

There was a slight recoil, the bite one feels when licking a battery, the bitter taste of alkaline. As time passed the initial jolt remained but relaxed itself, like the electric beat pulsing through my ears. My right hand held his chin and my left hand brushed along the hair near his ears.

When it was over he looked at me, that same look of curiosity and recognition, but this time with a wider smile, the kind that releases noise, almost a laugh. I took my headphones off and left them on my neck as they cried for attention.

"How did you know?" he asked.

"Uh..." I hummed, rubbing my neck, "I'm not sure I did."

He gave me his number and told me to text him sometime, but warned me that "this stuff" was a secret for him.

I gave him my number and told him to call me in a few years when he was more comfortable with himself.

It's been a few days.

He still hasn't called.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tears on Linoleum

I've been MIA.


Wait, AWOL is the name of the bar I stole my gay Coors Light coasters from.

Beer is manly you guys.
Where the hell have I been? Just chilling with my bros and ice cold Coors Light like those dudes on my coasters, obviously.

Long story short, somebody I used to date was bothered by this post, something about how its depiction of me dating a girl (over two years ago) bothered him, even though I wasn't dating him anymore, or something? I don't know, we were drunk so I'm sure it made sense at the time. The point is, it forced me to reevaluate what I put on this blog...

Just kidding!
That would be silly.

I've actually been sort of busy getting in car accidents, graduating college, working here and here and here and here, going to Pennsylvania with friends, celebrating my 23rd birthday, attending my high school reunion, and looking for a job.

Looking for a job.

Searching for a job is sort of like a dating game. You put yourself out there to someone that interests you, showing your best face (just look at all these other places I've made happy!), then stare expectantly at your phone praying they love you back. It usually ends with no response and you crying on the bathroom floor with a Four Loko while your roommate worries that she won't get her deposit back because of the ass print you've left in the linoleum.

We'll return to our regularly scheduled fuckery after I wipe my tears from the linoleum.

If I had to guess I'd say that it will take me until Monday.