This story involves sexual contact and male/male relationships.
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Just Say It
God damn it!
God dammed suitcase stuck in the god dammed overhead compartment! My freaking elbow is killing me because some idiot wasn't watching where they were going and bashed into it with their suitcase, you know, the one they managed to get out of the overhead compartment with no trouble at all, and...
Damn it, calm down. Just... calm down...
Take a deep breath Christian, seriously. Alex is out there waiting for you, to meet you, face to face for the first time, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to meet you like this.
It's funny how anxiety, nervousness, it has a way of making every task seem a million times more difficult, every feeling magnified with apprehension, the way your heart feels like it's beating so hard and so fast that it's going to pump right out of your chest any second, and that's only if you can manage to not throw up before that happens.
Tension is slightly different and only slightly higher on the scale of uncomfortable feelings. Tension involves a tightness, a firm hold on your feelings, your emotions, working so hard, not letting your overactive mind and its' vast amount of thoughts terrify you from doing anything at all. Immobility and indecision caused by the tight grip that teeters back and forth between your head and your heart waiting for clarity to win out, hopefully before it's too late.
Clarity, and Alex McDermott, were standing somewhere out in that airport waiting for me to emerge from this airborne beast I had just spent the last five hours on, and while that thought obviously scared the hell out of me, it wasn't like a paralyzing, terrifying fear, but more like an anxious, jittery feeling that left you with that permanent grin on your face, highlighting your perfectly blushing cheeks, and leaving you breathless. I really couldn't figure out why I was so nervous, I mean it was a big deal getting to finally see Alex and look at him, face to face, instead of through some picture on some computer screen, but... this was Alex.
My friend Alex, my exciting, beautiful, amazing, intelligent, creative, funny, witty, loving friend Alex, with his brown hair that he kept cut short because he hated the way it would curl if he let it get too long and his chestnut eyes. They had those golden specks that seemed to float on the surface of that rich brown background, and his smile that would change depending on what mood he was in. It would go from sly, to one that looked like he was imagining something fantastic, to dreamy, but I think my favorite one was the one that he would get when he was excited, hopeful about something.
The one that I saw first when I finally managed to get my god damn suitcase out of the uncooperative overhead compartment and get my shit together just long enough to get my sorry ass off the plane and go find him, but I'm jumping ahead of myself here. It wasn't always this way, or maybe it was, I guess it depends how you look at it or which one of us you ask.
I met Alex one day in a chat that I was in, and while that wasn't anything spectacular or out of the ordinary, the rollercoaster my emotions went on over the next few months as I talked more and more with him was enough to thoroughly confuse and frustrate me to a point of what some might say could be classified as juvenile or even pitiful behavior. I can admit it now, I was an asshole a lot of the time, and I was lucky that he stuck it out and gave me enough space, room to explore, to come to terms with my feelings, and to not hold my past offenses over my head.
Maybe it was jealousy or envy, maybe it was my need to compete, or the way I hate to be wrong, but there was something so completely perfect about him from that very first day, from that very first conversation. He was just so secure, so sure of himself, so confident about everything, and I don't just mean the way he was always right about everything, but the way people surrounded themselves around him, almost in an effort to absorb some of that magic he had.
He wasn't cocky about it ever, he wasn't overbearing or demanding. If you didn't agree with him, that was fine, all he really wanted was some space to believe in what he did and to give you that same chance to believe too. I'm not gonna say that he didn't love a good debate, because the man was definitely a force to be reckoned with, but he was always so respectful of a few simple facts that you couldn't ever imagine him being anything other than the amazing man he was.
I can still remember the first fight we ever had. It's pretty funny now when I look back, but if you can imagine me cussing out my own computer because I was so pissed that he was so calm you'd have a small understanding of the affect he has on me. It's not even the fact that he was right... again, and I was so wrong, but the fact that he was so calm while I was thoroughly frustrated and working so hard to make him show even the tiniest bit of emotion.
I would have been so... I don't know, gratified maybe... to see him get frustrated too, angry, hurt, something... but it's like the man is untouchable. He was just so calm and collected, unaffected really, and I think at some point I realized that I wanted more attention than I was getting from him and so, I did anything I could to get it, good, bad, or indifferent. I was like that child that fought and argued and exhausted every possibility before finally giving up.
I had nothing left to give, not one insult, not one taunt or tease, no fight left in me at all, and that feeling is beyond words. Helpless, unable to be effective in your own life, it's something I never want to feel again. I became withdrawn, I stopped showing up to chat every day, and when he was there, I said very little. I just couldn't understand why I wasn't enough, why he didn't feel anything at all when it came to me. I mean if he at least felt some frustration or anger or anything at all that meant there were some feelings there, all I had to do was figure out how to change them, but no feelings at all... that's a whole different matter, one that left me cold.
One day after I hadn't been to chat in a week at least, I got an email from him, wondering where I was and what was going on, why I hadn't been around lately. He said he missed me picking fights with him and being my arrogant and difficult self. I smiled all day, which I know sounds fucked up since the guy had pretty much just insulted me... but he emailed me... he missed me... he took his free time to seek me out, and that meant so much to me.
He called me Chris, he knew I hated it. I think that's why he does it, but I guess if it was him I could deal with it, but then, he probably knew that too.
Where the hell have you been man? Things aren't the same around here without you always picking some fight or acting like you know everything so get you're pain in the ass self back here... besides... when you're gone, I don't have anyone to piss off.
PS. I hope everything's okay Christian, I miss ya...
I wanted to be stubborn, to ignore him and his email, to not totally give myself away and reply too quickly, but in the end I just couldn't. My heart wouldn't let me be obstinate and my mind wouldn't let me forget, and the smile that had appeared and then, never once faltered, was staring back at me and I had to try. I had to. I didn't want to make excuses, but I had to say something, I had to give him some reason as to why I had been absent, why I had run and hid, why I was gone. I had been sitting there for months, day after day, trying to get some sort of response, acknowledgment from him, that I was something more to him than... nothing.
There were so many things I could say, and so many things I wanted to say, but I didn't know where to begin. I guess the truth would be a good place... after all, what did I have to lose? I already was hiding from him, I already didn't have his affections, I was already alone.
I've been sitting here, thinking, even more so since I got your email. I can't get you off of my mind. I've tried my best to be strong; I've driven my self insane wishing I could tell you what's really going on, the thing is, I don't think I know where to start anymore. It's all like some crazy extension of my reality and I don't know how to explain it to you.
Things are... okay, but if it's any consolation, I miss you too, more than you'll ever understand.
It was a cryptic message I know, and it didn't say much at all really that would be helpful or informative, but it was all I could bring myself to say to him at the moment. I didn't want him worrying, I didn't want to ignore him, but I didn't want him thinking everything was fine either, because it was far from it.
I was a total mess. It was like this torturous experience living each day and not being able to tell him how I really felt about him, and when it got so bad, I ran. I was scared and hurting and close to giving up and I was so... alone and frustrated. It's not like I hid who I was from people. I may not broadcast it or walk around in a shirt that says 'I'm gay' or anything, but I've never hid it from anyone. If they asked me, I would always answer honestly.
Some people play the pronoun game, you know... I have this friend, or I'm seeing someone, or the other day we went out, and that works for some people I guess, but not for me. Alex and I had even danced around the topic a couple times, but he never came right out and asked me and I never confirmed it.
It seems like it's been so long since we talked... really talked, about anything. Since you stopped coming around so much I feel like I just hang around waiting for you to show up, it's like you're hiding from me, and I don't know why. Did I say something to make you leave? I mean, you were acting so strange, always saying something dumb, sometimes you seemed so mad, and I never really understood why. I wish you would just talk to me, tell me what the deal is. I mean, if there was something I could do, I would do it. It seems like time passes so slowly when you aren't around and I need you here with me. Please... give me a chance... tell me what's going on with you Chris.
Of course I'm acting strange! Of course I'm mad! Of course I'm saying totally dumb and irrational things and making pathetic attempts to get his attention. What does he expect me to do? Just come right out and say that I think he is the most frustratingly perfect man I've ever met and I can't imagine him not being a part of my existence? Does he really expect me to tell him that I can't go more than a few minutes without thinking about him, or that I want to know everything about him, even the silly little things like whether he prefers air popped popcorn or microwaved?
This situation was rapidly becoming something that was forcing me into a corner. It was all or nothing now and while 'all' would be beyond amazing, I don't know how I would deal with nothing. Even the current situation seemed better than 'nothing' would be, but what do I do, what can I do, if I tell him the truth... the whole truth, and then he runs, or tells me to fuck off, or worse... what if he's straight?
I really don't know what to say anymore... well, that's not exactly true. I do know what needs to be said, I just don't know if I can say it. It seems crazy to me that I'm having so much trouble this time, I mean, it's not like I haven't said before, a million times... but this time... it seems a million times harder. Maybe that means it really should be said, I don't know. I want to stop my suffering, but I guess the problem is that I can't decide if saying this to you would stop it or just create more. Maybe it's something I need to walk away from...
Why can't I just say it? It's never been this hard before, then again, everyone I cared about was already so accepting and I figured everyone else could just fuck off if they didn't like it, but this time... damn... I guess that just further proves my point which is that I think I love him and if he can't love me back I might just cease to exist. The pain of that moment, I'm sure it would do some amount of lasting and irreparable damage that I can't even begin to comprehend right now.
Even clicking send to deliver another not so informative message to Alex caused a battle in my mind. How can I make this so difficult when it really should be so simple? I learned that lesson a long time ago. Live for yourself, be yourself, and anyone who doesn't want to be a part of your life has that choice.
Just say it...
Nothing like short and to the point. No way to evade that statement or misinterpret it is there? It was going to come out sooner or later, or... I guess I was, but... in an email? If I was gonna do this... with Alex, it was going to be while I could hear his voice, hear the feeling behind his words, good or bad, I wanted to hear it for myself. There was no other way that would even be acceptable... so, after much deliberation, I called him. Really, that's an understatement. It wasn't a deliberation... it was a pity party and a temper tantrum and a freak out session like no other.
I can still remember every word of that conversation in my head, every emotion in his voice, every thought and fear in my mind. How do you go about telling someone you think you could be in love with that you're gay, and on top of that, you're hoping with all your heart that they feel the same way, which, how could they since they don't even know you're gay anyway? I think I made myself dizzy contemplating all the possibilities. Then again, how many ways are there to tell someone you like dick... and it's even simpler for him to tell you to fuck off or worse.
No one said it would be easy, I knew that, although it gets easier the more you do it... or so I thought, until Alex came along and turned my life upside down and my heart inside out. I don't think anything can ever prepare you for that, and when it happens, it hits you like nothing else ever has, and you have no defenses, no chance to run. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even know if, given the chance, I would run, even if I could. All I knew was... this was Alex, and I was pretty sure this was love.
He made me feel funny, in a great way, he made me feel happy and frustrated and he knew just what buttons to push and how to get just the reaction he wanted from me. He made my head spin sometimes; he knew things about me, not facts so much, but details about my personality and how my brain managed to barely function at times.
I'm surprised the guy I was sitting next to on the plane didn't reach over and smack me. I couldn't seem to sit still, I kept tapping my feet and I swear I was clinging for dear life to my backpack that was on my lap. It was the longest five hours I think I've ever spent and the little old lady to my right was talking non stop about her trip to go see her great grand babies for the first time, I think... I couldn't really concentrate on anything for more than a second anyway, so I just started nodding.
All of that seemed to melt away though as soon as I stepped into the airport and saw him standing there, waiting, for me wearing that excited, hopeful smile. There he was... Alex in his black jacket with his tight fitting ribbed shirt underneath and his even tighter jeans. His brown hair was cut a little longer and spiked up in the front and his eyes, once they spotted me, lit up and I saw him deciding whether or not to run over and jump on me or play it cool and wait for me to get to him and for us to be somewhere more private.
I didn't care, privacy or not... I was going to hug him and smell him and feel his body against mine, chest to chest, his arms around me, holding me close. We had talked on the phone almost every day since that day, since that first phone call, and we had exchanged pictures, and sent gifts, but this was different. I mean, it was Alex, but in the flesh. Real and close enough to touch, to grab onto and never let go, to nuzzle into, to inhale and just breathe him in and make him truly a part of me.
I had imagined this moment more than a million times, even before I told him I was gay, even before he replied, "Yeah, I know." Before he said, "Me too," and before I couldn't stop smiling for at least a whole week. Before I finally was able to admit to him that maybe I was being ridiculous and juvenile because I didn't know how to act while feeling the way I was feeling, or that what I was feeling was love, but now, as I walked toward him as he stood there in the crowded airport with his hands shoved in his pockets and a shy smirk on his beautiful face, I knew my imagination was lacking.
Totally and completely lacking, from the way his arms wrapped strongly around my neck to the way his hips bumped mine unexpectedly and we both groaned out loud and then giggled to the way that our legs so easily slipped between the others' to get all that much closer. He smelled fantastic, clean and fresh and manly, just showered and his hair was still damp against my cheek. His back was warm and strong as my hands slipped up underneath the back of his jacket and I just held him there in the middle of the airport in a little world of our own.
I had underestimated it in every way. My heart felt fuller than it ever had before and this was just the beginning of the week that I had planned to visit Alex. Who knew how I would feel in a few hours or tomorrow or the day after or in a week, but what I did know was this was real, the man in my arms was real and I loved him and as he squeezed my neck even tighter he whispered, "I can't believe you're finally here Chris. God, I love you."