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Exit ArchiveArchive for April 11th, 2008

I was possessed last night, around midnight, to pull out the collection of letters, faxes, and pictures I have from my time with Byron. I have kept them all together, in a neat stack, in the back of one of my closets. On top of this stack has always sat a little stuffed bear, wearing a sweater knitted with a British flag.

I was looking for one thing in particular, but once I had pulled out the stack, I was sad to see that the silverfish have been at it. Silverfish eat paper, I was told by the last exterminator who’d been to my place to spray, uselessly, for the buggers. The envelopes and papers were covered with silverfish droppings, and I knew I had to go through and try to shake out any insects and clear the dropping off the papers. I was hoping the bugs hadn’t eaten away too much of this history.

As I went through, I opened every envelope, reading some of what was inside. I really wanted to sit and read every single word, but that would have taken hours. Mr. Fear and I were wordy in our missives.

One of the first letters I skimmed through was his last letter to me, after we broke up, over the phone, 5,500 miles apart. I had told him I could not talk to him afterward, that I had to cut him out of my life until I could get over loving him. His letter was pained, discussing how he was deciding to get over his guilt at the breakup being his fault. It wasn’t ever his fault; there should have been no guilt on either side. But there is always guilt.

A couple letters down into the pile was the first letter he wrote to me, when I still lived in Boston, was not out yet, and had really only begun to ponder what it might mean if I were to maybe somehow potentially consider the remote possibility that I liked guys. It was a giddy, happy letter talking about his Boston trip and how he’d pretty much fallen for me during it. He was careful to try to get that across without scaring me away as a potential friend. I had fallen for him, too, but couldn’t admit that yet. It wasn’t until I’d moved to L.A. that one of my letters revealed to him that “my heterosexuality is not set in stone.” Yes, those were my exact words.

The rest of the stack was everything in between the tone of those two letters, blissful and sexual and pining and mournful and hungry and hurtful and silly. Bryon is an artist, so his letters were often illuminated with his trademark black ink drawings, precise and perfect. There was a small stack of sepia photos he’d sent me from one of his L.A. visits, when he and I and Catherine and Steve R. went to El Matador beach. There were stories and scripts he’d written. There were ridiculous but charming faxes both he and I had sent each other. There were comics he’d mailed me that he knew I loved at the time… Calvin and Hobbes and Mutts. There were the “bedtime tales” we wrote each other, from loving to erotic to pornographic, sometimes all within the same page.

By 1:00am, I had made my way through. I had only found two silverfish, but they did seemingly crawl out of nowhere, so I’m sure more are hiding in the stack. There was some damage to the paper, but nothing terrible.

Bryon and I chatted on IM not long ago about what our love was and how it is still, to this day, for both of us, the love to which we compare all others. He’s been with someone now for a couple years. They are in love, but Bryon said it’s very different. It is the same for me, when I have loved others since. None of my other loves have been as hotly passionate or so all-encompassing that I spend days thinking of nothing else but the other person, failing to get work done, failing to fall asleep because the other person haunts my every cell and neuron.

There are some clichés about all this that I sometimes go through in my head, those occasional times I think about Bryon and our love. Sometimes the cichés are brought up by other guys I’ve dated. I always smack each of the clichés down.

Bryon was my first true love, and nothing can match that. So far, this is true, but I know what the love was, and I know I can feel that way again about someone else.

The downy halo around the relationship is a product of time. With this, I completely disagree. I am keenly aware that there were problems, but those problems did not diminish the love itself.

I am clinging to the past. I do have very fond memories of he and I, but I don’t cling. I appreciate.

Carrying a torch for the love I felt for Bryon will taint any new relationships I try to have. I also disagree with this. I am not carrying a torch. I am keeping in touch, on occasion, with my emotional ability to love someone and what that ability has meant to me, as well as what it will mean to me.

I am still in love with him. This one is more difficult. I have seen Bryon in the UK a couple times in the last few years, and we e-mail and chat occasionally. I do still love him, but it is not the passionate love that got kindled in our hearts over a decade ago. It’s a love for someone who I still admire and with whom I’ve shared something amazing.

That final cliché is the most painful to ponder. I moved on from Bryon years ago, now. I knew that would have to happen when we parted ways, despite that knowledge setting everything in me shuddering from grief. Getting over a love like that happens only when you allow the hottest flame of that love to die out. It’s painful and cruel, doubly so because it involves someone else who will have to let that same flame die. The pain today comes from knowing that I have moved on, and the passion of our love is dead, something that I helped to kill out of necessity, but not out of desire.

I will put the letters in a plastic box to keep out the bugs. I do not want them to vanish by vermin. Time alone will eat away at the clarity and brilliancy of my memory, so to keep these physical reminders safe is as important as protecting any history that shapes, steers, grows, transforms, lifts, enlightens, and devastates.