I met him on a Saturday morning.
Most dates between young gay men are set at the earliest for two or three in the afternoon. I found his response to my inquiry of "when?" with a time several hours before noon appealing and distinguishing.
Our connection began with shaky and nervous discussion of work, school, and such banalities. As we then over a cup of tea continued talking for an hour, and a second, and a third, I discovered in him something genuine and childlike. He answered and discussed with gentle fervor mundane questions that had provoked disinterest when I had posed them to others.
Physically, as well, he was engaging. By the end of that first twelve hours I was infatuated. His face with glasses resting upon it I found maddeningly cute, with the spectacles removed equally handsome.
The next times we met our conversations were just as stimulating. He was forthright. He revealed his passions and frustrations. He didn't retreat when I probed, he let his internal emotional response out freely. I told him about me, and he me about himself.
As weeks and months passed I found the initial image I'd created of him - mature, experienced, wise - was true in some respects and completely false in others. Sexual and romantic inexperience had implications.
I ended up lying to him. I lied extensively.
I looked back on my dishonesty and felt sick.
He felt his first sting of betrayal and jealousy. Worried about my physical possessions, I told a lie I realized was unforgivable.
I left the country. It was wonderful.
Years later I returned. Our relationship had cooled, but inside me deep-seated embers remained. I felt no desire to return to where we'd been. But I missed him, and so much of what we'd had.
I didn't know how he felt by then. I felt lost between a desire to check myself and remain modest, and the sickening knowledge that it might be a fulfillment of all the twisted needs for affection that slither around inside me.
I hadn't been back since then. I arrived in --- and spent two weeks in a stream of consciousness. I awoke in clandestine rooms and ate breakfast in fields. I slept for twelve hours, was awake for twenty, then switched. I danced. I fucked. I conversed with strangers and thought about how much I'd changed since my days as a child stumbling about in discovery, about how everything was still the same.
I boarded a train and pondered if the two weeks had meant anything.
I strolled through towns and cities and forests I'd once known. I hugged old companions and felt the delightful warmth of reunion. I found everything again and tasted the fruits of nostalgia I'd carried around inside me for years.
A few weeks later I went to --- and we met in a coffee shop.
We talked and laughed and enjoyed ourselves. It was lovely. It felt so familiar and natural and easy.
He had been in love again, and now found himself alone. He told me it had meant more than the first time, but had hurt less.
I told him that I lied to him.
I told him the extent of my falsehoods. I had told him that substances had ruled and rule me, that I had counted the days until could run away, that the stress of forcing myself had bred pimples in my skin. I told him that the three words which must have been so important to him had been true, as I'd realized later, but at the time had merely been filth ejected from the mouth of a liar.
He sat back and thought for a few minutes. Then he got up and left.
Later he wrote me and told me that he had loved me once and that our time had been important to him. He told me that he wished me happiness. And he told me that we would never speak again.
I felt empty. I thought about all the years I would have to ponder and mourn this, in which I would ponder and mourn it.
I looked up and out the window. Rolling fields stretching into the distance, coming and disappearing. Soon I would arrive and we would meet again.