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I know everyone’s doing this, but I didn’t care. I had to get a preview of what Derrick and I would look like on the dance floor.

I think we look smashing! And very hip and loose. And cool. And frankly, I’ve never looked better in skinny pants.

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Derrick and I figured this would be the iconic photo of my visit. It pretty much captures it all.

Hot Dogs

(Click to see larger, bien sûr.)

This was taken in front of the Smithsonian castle. Fortunately, you can not tell how unbearably hot and disgusting it was outside.

Oh, and yes, that’s an exploded Mac shirt. Thanks for asking.

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This is how Derrick greeted me at the airport in D.C.:

Derrick greeting me at the D.C. airport.

(Click for bigger, of course.)

The trip only got better after this.

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.

Wow. From this to this: Fuz and I are no more.

I was going to type, “How does this happen?” But I know all too well how it happens. I’m part of the process when it does happen, and so I have a very keen insight—an insider’s point of view, you might say—into how this happens.

Fuz has been maintaining for months that we have nothing in common. I have maintained that that’s true in certain aspects, but not in others, and that we can end up finding our very own “in common” things. Somehow, this lack of things in common became a seed.

The core issue for me was communication. We didn’t have communication in common. That includes talking about our relationship and our problems, as well as how we act in social situations. On the relationship side of that, I thought he was terrible at communication, he thought I was terrible at communication, both while we each thought of ourselves as being good at communication. We could not even communicate about our communication without messing up the communication.

I’m tired of that word. After this post, I’m retiring it for a year.

And so now, right before the holidays, another relationship ends. I was so excited for this season. Fuz was flying to Denver after Christmas to meet up with me. He was going to spend New Year’s Eve with me. He was going to be part of one of my favorite things to do ever, stay at the house at Grand Lake. He was going to meet my Colorado friends and hopefully find out why they are some of the most important people in my life. And then he was going to drive back with me to L.A., stopping in Grand Junction for the night and meeting my parents. Was. Was, was, was.

I did a quick tally, and Fuz was my 9th relationship. That includes people I dated seriously for any length of time. Some of those relationships were immediately doomed, and I knew from the start. Some of them became doomed over time. Bryon (here and here) didn’t work as a matter of geography. From each relationship, I’ve learned something and I’ve grown. I think I’m better at relationships now than ever. (Fuz would politely disagree.)

Now here was someone smart, funny, cute, sexy, sociable, free of the usual vices (drugs and overdrinking), and I loved him. Somehow, still, despite even wanting it to work, it did not. You’ll have to forgive me if I spend a few weeks pondering the possibility that I’ll never find someone. That’s normal behavior. What does it take? Why hasn’t it worked yet? Is it L.A.? Gay guys in L.A.? It must be L.A. And so on.

One unfortunate side effect of having had “so many” relationships is that, as time goes on, I grow more wary of the “publication” of that new relationship. Though he and I hit it off so quickly, Fuz was someone I didn’t announce to everyone with grand fanfare. News of him trickled out. You see, I have this idea—all in my head, I’m sure—that when I say, “Oh, I’m dating someone and he’s great!” my friends all go, “Uh, right. Okay. You mean, like the last half-dozen times. Call us when it works out.” My friends aren’t so callous. In fact, they loved Fuz. As I said, this is all in my head. I simply don’t want to come off as the blonde bimbo who is in love every fourth week and who falls for everyone she (she???) meets. I know I take every relationship I have very seriously, but, come on, #10? Who is that gonna be? Another mad crush? Another deep love? Another person to ease into my world? Why am I up to #10 in the first place?

I have learned from all of my relationships that staying together out of convenience is the worst thing to do. So is staying together out of embarrassment, or because of travel plans, or out of habit. Fuz’s issues with us are valid, and I hope he thinks mine are, too. When I take into account what we’ve talked about and argued about and gotten moody about, this is the best choice.

I have also learned across the years that making the best choice doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Fuz and Map

Tripping the Bridge Fantastic

Yes, this is Fuz. While it would be unfair for me to partially blame him for my lack of posts lately, it’s true. Which, I suppose, means that it would not be unfair at all.Every single time I’ve started a new romance, I’ve forgotten what happens: you lose time! In this case, as I grow to love Fuz more each day, I am losing more time than usual. We are together often, ever since we met in February, and when I’m with him, the last thing I want to be doing is posting to my blog. It simply means that I need to blog more at work. I’m sure they will be amenable to this arrangement.

Fuzzy Hugg

One thing I like about Fuz is he’s capable of socializing and being fun and silly. It’s hard to find someone like that whom you don’t also want to strangle out of annoyance.

Robb and Fuz and Me and Strangulation

Fuz and I just got back from a weekend in Palm Springs. It was wonderful. I’m used to going away with boyfriends for a weekend and fighting most of the time. This was the complete opposite of that, whatever that means. Oh, I think I know what that means. Er, never mind. None of your business.

Reservoir Puppies

These pictures are from a trip we took to Disneyland with friends from Life from the Inside. (What’s Life from the Inside? Oh, you’re just being funny. Ha ha ha.) David Beall is the magnificent picturographer. Thanks to him for letting me steal them!

Golden Hour

To all you potential boyfriends out there, I have to apologize in advance. I know, I often wish I could have the comfort of someone to be with, to do things with, to share with, and I’ve tried to find someone. It’s been a dry few years. My searching has not been successful, and I know that it is my fault. But I have only just now figured out why I have been so strangely unavailable. I’m already in love. Yes, I just realized it, like a shock, and it makes perfect sense.

I am in love with Apple.

It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true. Apple has been there, like a great friend, for years… hell, since I was a kid! Apple taught me to create, program, write. Lemonade Stand! Apple Basic! The 80-column card! Through childhood, through college, through the big move to L.A., Apple came along to support me, listening to me complain on my Mac via e-mail, my blog, iChat, making me feel happy with just the right kind of music at the right time on iTunes, letting me create movies and CDs to share with other friends, helping me drown my sorrows with online buying sprees… Yes, Apple was even there while I rummaged around the Web in Safari, answering who knows how many online personal ads. It never laughed at me once.

It’s not been a one-way friendship, oh, no. I have been there to give succor to Apple since day one, defending its honor and integrity, singing its praises to all who would listen. But I have been too blind to this new level our relationship could attain. That steadfast friend who helps me in just about every facet of my life tried to get me to see, gave little hints here, little hints there, but I was blind. Well, I have smelled the Aqua. It’s time to recognize my feelings, that I have always been smitten to Apple’s every Core. My love has been with me nearly all my life.

My revelation came to me this morning, when I was forgoing important work to hang minute-by-minute on every new announcement, large and minuscule, pouring out of Steve Jobs’ lips. Updated iPods. A beautiful and elegant new iTunes. The tiniest MP3 player you could imagine. A device to finally get all my entertainment from my Mac to my TV! iPod games! Gapless playback! A painfully gorgeous new iPod ad! Style! Beauty! Technology! Oh, sigh!

Everything Apple does is just about the coolest thing in the universe. Okay, sometimes it stumbles, but even its stumbles are infused with freshness, creativity, and effort. Apple tries! It tries so hard! And I have to admit now that I am smitten with such toils. It has won me over. I love it for its faults, I love it for its successes. I take it as it is. Isn’t that love?

So I’m sorry, future significant others. I’m too busy, too enthralled, too entranced to pay much attention to you now. I know it means I may miss an opportunity or two. The man of my dreams may come and go, but I’ll be too busy admiring the album art on my iPod as I listen to Sufjan Stevens, or I’ll be engrossed in my NetNewsWire, awaiting any hint of the Apple Phone I hope to get as a present one of these Christmases. I apologize for the pain my aloofness, my ignorance of your presence will cause. But love is love, and I’d be a fool to ignore it any longer.

I love you, Apple. I want to be yours forever.

Apples of My Eyes

For those that have experienced the all-consuming pain of deeply loving someone who was almost right there with you but proved to be unwilling or unable to love you back in the same way – you’ll feel it when you see this movie. 

For those that have strategically repeated every word, every move, every laugh, and every step in each crafted moment together in hopes for that perfectly dealt hand to win that happily.ever.after - you’ll feel it when you see this movie. 

For those that have foolishly once believed in love running so deep, it could compensate any empty cups brought to the table by him – you’ll feel it when you see this movie.

My barely English speaking mom asked about Brokeback Mountain and when she’d be able to purchase it at her local Sam’s Club. My friend asked me to download an illegal copy and burn it for her because her pastor husband won’t let her go see it but she really wants to.

Yes, it was slow paced. Yes, it was detached.  Yes, it was intentional. Yes, that prevented some from being drawn in. Yes, its not a movie for everyone. Yes, some folks are just hop-ons to the band wagon.

Felicity Huffman’s Golden Globe speech felt like a spin-off from the Brokeback phenomenon. “I know as actors our job is usually to shed our skins. But in I think as people our job is to become who we really are. And so I would like to salute the men and women who brave ostracism, alienation, and a life lived on the margins to become who they really are.”

No energy to tie it all together.

I loved it.

Today, I canceled my Friendster account. It took me a little while following the spam incident in part because it was hard to delete the kind and funny testimonials people had written about me.

Well, in all the time I was on Friendster, Matt had begged me to write a testimonial for him. I just couldn’t. Our relationship was/is too complex for me to capture in any sort of sprightly, forced, or off-handed manner. I knew any testimonial for him would have to include elements that he might not like. So inspiration never came.

Of course, today, after my account is gone and I can not post something about Matt, I get my spark. I am posting this without his approval, so I hope he doesn’t get mad at me. But here it is, Matt: Your extra-Friendster testimonial.

Matt is like an unusual-tasting dish. You’re not sure at first if you get him, but you like him right away. His abrupt disavowal can leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, until you hear him laugh and the flavor then returns. You can recognize him on the outside, but once you dig in, you realize there’s too much going on inside for you to comprehend or distill. You may devour him and shower him with praise while he remains oblivious to your hunger, and when you stop eating, he looks over with the cutest face and wonders where you went. Sometimes you can’t get enough of him, and several servings can’t satisfy you. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for the complexity. You think you can live without him, but when you get a hint of his bouquet, you need some of him right away. And as surprising as if such an exotic dish were to become animated off the plate, if he responds and embraces you in return, you blink, curious, and then melt.

I have never seen any version of Love! Valour! Compassion!, either on the stage or on the screen. When fellow CCPT actor Colbert said the run of the version he’s in was extended, I thought I should go see it. I assure you that knowing he would be naked for part of the play had nothing to do with it. I also love seafood.

The set at The Attic Theatre was spare. The house was not quite half full. When the show began, it smacked immediately of “PLAY WRITING.” It had that cadence, that stage verbiage and shape that made it, well, sound play-y. None of these were bad beginnings, but for a night of theater in Los Angeles, you have to be prepared for the worst.

The show was going well. The characters were introduced with the sort of predictability one expects from a play, though the form of narration bleeding into action was interesting, promising. A bit into the first act, I was still uncertain what to think of the show, but was settling into it just fine.

The only person I’ve ever really truly loved in a romantic sense was Bryon Fear. I have loved others on a variety of levels, but Bryon was the kind of love you hear about, and the kind of love you think is impossible or bogus until you find it. Like all genuine, honest, reciprocal relationships, it was not perfect. One of the worst disagreements we ever had was over something so ridiculously misunderstood, it could only happen to two people who loved each other.

I had picked up Bryon from the Hollywood Hills, where he was working with a producer. I made a comment, hard to recall as I write this, but something regarding my having to pick him up. It made Bryon go quiet. He would not talk during the rest of the car ride to my apartment, where he was staying while in the States. I knew what I’d said had made him angry, but I honestly did not know why, and I did not have the courage to ask him outright.

When we got to my place, right after parking my green Honda, he walked to an art store that was many, many blocks away—which in L.A. is like walking from Miami to Poughkeepsie. He refused my offer to give him a ride. I waited in my apartment, confused and angry and sad.

When he returned from the store and the quiet became too much, we finally got into it. He told me what my comment had sounded like to him. I told him I had not meant it that way. We argued over the salient points of the misunderstanding, somehow ending up sitting in the floor of the bathroom.

The relief of the talking and the stupidity of the discord became too much. We both were crying. I can not say where his tears came from, but I know where mine came from. I was crying because I had hurt him and had inadvertently caused him pain. His pain was mine, and that was something that was kind of new to me, and that meant… something I balked at embracing.

About 30 minutes into Love! Valour! Compassion!—maybe more, maybe less—two characters, Perry and Arthur, who have been together for 14 years, get into an argument over Perry’s black, pessimistic explosion during dinner. Up until now, you wonder why these two are together, wonder how Arthur puts up with Perry’s bitter outlook. But they talk, and the writing, still with a theatrical conceit, belies honesty and reality.

Still on the bathroom floor but now past the most difficult stage of the argument, Bryon and I ended up in an awkward hug, crying into each other’s neck. He told me he loved me, and he was worried that I had not told him the same. I knew what I was feeling in the pit of my soul, but fear of it still kept me cautious. I had to tell him I did not know why I could not say it. I could not say it. I had to be sure, and could not say it yet.

Perry and Arthur, on stage, the structure of their relationship now more obvious to me, are winding down their tiff. “I love you, Arthur,” says Perry. “Don’t give up on me.” Me, clutching Bryon tight, my fingers digging into his clothes, my head filled with his sobs and his scent, can only say, “I don’t know. Don’t give up.” “On what?” Bryon asks. “On anything.” “Does that include you?”


I loved Bryon, and I knew it. I knew it then. I could not say so. I was afraid of saying so if I did not believe it would be true forever.

The remaining 2½ acts of Love! Valour! Compassion! were mesmerizing, funny, and genuine. I could not help but see myself, my life, people I knew, the companionship I had and lost and long for again. This introspection made it difficult to talk to people during the two intermissions. (I went to the show by myself, yet ran into three people I’d met before.)

I thanked the actors genuinely after the show, and Colbert and I talked for a while outside in the chilly, dense air. He asked me what I think is the best way to meet someone, but I didn’t get to answer fully. I don’t know what the answer is, really. But I wanted to tell him love can happen any way, without warning or expectation. It can happen and you won’t know it until it’s already begun. Trite but true.

With Bryon, I eventually got over the fear of semantic expression. I told him I loved him, and it was true. The honesty of love was exhilarating.

I have not had that kind of love since, but I know I will someday. When I do, I hope I will have the guts to ignore the doubts that overthinking creates and be able to say “I love you” with elated heart. And I hope I never again have to say “don’t give up” because I will know he won’t need to.

After posting the full e-mail exchange between Van and I—something that was not exactly in the best of taste—it is only fair for me to say that he has sent a follow-up that is much more level-headed and not at all immature. I will not post that here because it is more personal.

He did not re-ask me to choose a day, so that’s good. He apologized for not handling this the way he shoud have. His explanations in this new e-mail for his not wanting to even talk to me are not surprising to me. I know it already. But it’s good (well, not really GOOD) to hear it again.

Possible solutions to the dilemma:

1) Find another group to play volleyball with;

2) Keep going on Wednesdays and go to Marix and let him deal with it;

3) Completely ignore him;

4) Write him back, tell him to get a life and grow up.

Personally, I prefer 3 or 4.

How is it I dated this guy and never saw his dark, cruel side? Well, time for my dark, cruel side. I’m gonna post the e-mails. Hang on!

* * * * *

On Jun 8, 2005, at 10:29 PM, Van wrote:


Hey. I’ve really tried to be good about this, but I can’t. Volleyball for the last two years has been sort of a form of therapy for me, a way to just relax and enjoy and be myself. After our break up it was a way for me to connect with other gay men and sort of find my place in the gay community. And I know it might be juvenile, but your showing up has honesty interfered with my enjoyment of it primarily because when I said my goodbyes to you two Februarys ago, I had meant it as a goodbye, and I thought that you would respect that decision.

I know that I don’t own the groups and that I don’t have the right to disinvite you to either day, but out of any semblance of respect for me and what we had gone through, I would ask that you pick Wednesday or Sunday, whichever you prefer. And I’ll play on the alternate day.


* * * * *

On Jun 9, 2005, at 5:10 PM, Steve Lekowicz wrote:

Hey there.

I’m sorry, Van, but I can not choose a day. You know I am rarely able to make Wednesdays, so feel free to make that your night. I’ll be going on Sundays as often as possible. I can not promise I’ll never show up on Wednesday again.

Out of a semblance of respect–actually out of ACTUAL respect–I have stayed out of your life as best I can. I have respected your decision to tell me good-bye. The only reason I’ve been chatty as of late is that you seemed open to a bit of cordiality. Ignoring each other entirely at the beach seemed silly to me. And your e-mail reply to me in December sounded friendly, as if we could at least be polite to and sociable with each other though we would not be friends again. In case that friendliness to me has been a front, I’ll be sure to not talk to you from now on.

I love volleyball as much as anyone there, even if my skills are lacking. I think it’s a form of therapy for us all. If my being there is disruptive to you, that is an issue for you to work out, not me. I can help you no more than I have to keep physical distance between us. If I do show up a couple Wednesdays this summer, I can try to bow out of any after-game trips to Marix. I have a feeling that was what got to you last night, and since it’s volleyball I love, I can perhaps forego the dinner afterwards. Again, no promises, but that is all I can offer.


* * * * *

On June 9, 2005, at 11:42 PM, Van wrote:

Actually, this doesn’t come as a surprise to me. So I’m just going to lay it out on the line here: as far as the “out of ACTUAL respect” and staying out of my life, the fact that you’ve showed up initially to Sunday and now on Wednesday, we both know that the “best” you have to offer as far as staying out of my life is bullshit. So show up to both days if you like, so long as you know where I stand. Yes, out of my typical attempt to stay away from conflict, I played nice just so things didn’t get ugly, but you should know that by now considering I was always more than cordial to people despite my true feelings.

So like I said show up to whatever and whenever you want, just know that honestly I don’t really want to have anything to do with you, so don’t approach me…and it wasn’t JUST Marix, the annoyance definitely began when I first noticed that yes you showed up on a Wednesday as well.

Yes, it’s harsh, but this way there’s no room for misinterpretation…again.


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While last night’s post is still fresh in my mind, here’s something that makes me think, well, at least Van hasn’t come to my house and stabbed me in the heart!

I am bowled over. I can’t believe it. It just never ends.

The group I play volleyball with plays on both Wednesdays and Sundays. I have been to Wednesday volleyball twice. I never go on Wednesday because of work and all.

Since I was not able to play volleyball last Sunday and won’t be able to play again this Sunday, I decided to leave work a tad early today (a whole 15 minutes!) and go to play on Wednesday for the first time in years.

It was wonderful. The weather was perfect, if a little windy. Of course, I played like crap, re-injured my thumb, and won only one game. Or maybe it was two. But volleyball is so much fun, and I enjoy it so much, I can put up with my own inadequacy.

We played until after 8:00, with barely enough light by which to don our flip-flops. Then we headed over to Marix, a Mexican place right near the beach.

Van was playing tonight, and he was already at Marix when I arrived there. He was sitting two seats away from me, so in the interest of trying to be cordial, I asked him how our mutual friends Cameron and Doug were doing, since I never hear from them. To be honest, I have felt that Van is now a better friend to them than I am, and while I try to call and e-mail them from time to time to find out how they are doing, I have talked to them exactly once since last September. The souvenirs I got for them and their dog on my October Hawaii trip sit in my bedroom to this day. I dust them regularly.

Van was pleasant and seemed concerned that they hadn’t made much of an effort to call me. He even said good night to me at the restaurant with what sounded like genuineness. I thought this boded well for us not having to ignore each other at volleyball… at least some day in the near future.

Just now, as I sat down at the Mac to wonder when the money I transfered from ING would arrive in my Wells Fargo account, I saw an e-mail from Van. I thought it might be some note about Cameron and Doug or something conversational.

Instead, I got a request to, in effect, not show up on Wednesdays ever again. Actually, I was given a choice. Since volleyball for Van is a kind of therapy—and so it is, I might add, for every guy who plays—he asked me to choose, “out of any semblance of respect for me and what we had gone through,” Wednesday or Sunday, and he would show up on the alternate day.

“And I know it might be juvenile,” he said, “but your showing up has honesty interfered with my enjoyment of it primarily because when I said my goodbyes to you two Februarys ago, I had meant it as a goodbye, and I thought that you would respect that decision.”

I have done nothing but respect that decision. It has hurt me since. Looking at him at the table at Marix tonight, I realized, yet again, how good a friend he had been and how much it left a hole in my life when he left.

I even respected that decision way back when he was posting scathing entries about me on his anonymous-but-soon-to-not-be blog. He skewered three of my friends, one he never had gotten along with, and two that had never done him any harm. (You can read about this, in veiled tones, at the beginning of The Wren Forum.)

In December, I wrote him an e-mail explaining that I had, for one day only, read his blog, then left it alone, knowing it was not meant for me to read. I chided him for lambasting my friends, but also that I was sorry for certain things I’d done. I told him I did not expect an apology, since none was required. “I’m just writing to tell you that I did read what you had to say, and I understand, and I am sorry.” He wrote what sounded, again, like a genuine response to that e-mail. I felt perhaps the animosity and hate was gone. Indeed, he said he simply felt indifferent now. Indifference is better than hate.

So now I am sitting here, and I do not know what to say to him. I will wait until I am less hurt and less angry. Before, as this drama was unfolding at the founding of The Wren Forum, I did not post much in the way of details. By posting this, in fact, I’m breaking my own rule to be grown-up and not let my emotions lead me to post things about Van that might be considered childish or vengeful. He at least never said my name in his blog, referring to me only as S, and, sometimes, just mentioning things that some stupid ex of his did. (Perhaps he did this to maintain anonymity rather than out of consideration.) By posting actual quotes from our private correspondence and calling him by his name, I am perhaps revealing enough to infuriate him were he to read this.

He will not read this, I know. He has cut me out of his life.

So what do I tell him? Do I bow low and say, okay, you can take Wednesdays and I’ll take Sundays? Or do I tell him that, yes, his request is juvenile, and while I will remain a regular player on Sundays, there may be days that I, too, need my volleyball therapy, and if Wednesday fits, I’ll go? This is all so Fight Club, it makes me sick.

I do not know why I need to help him retain his distance from me. That’s his issue now. I’ve made my apologies and been respectful of his wishes regarding my presence in his life. Maybe the response I need to craft is one that tells him this. I already have the power to ruin his enjoyment of volleyball; surely it’s impossible for one stern but honestly-worded e-mail to do any more damage. Maybe I get to be the one who’s right for a change.

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Sometimes there’s nothing you can do when you are told you’re wrong when you’re really not. There’s nothing you can say. Charlie Brown will always be wrong, and Lucy will always be right. After a week of stomachaches and heartaches, at least Charlie Brown and Lucy made me laugh at the ubiquity of it all!

I had the best day on Sunday…

On Sundays, I love to play beach volleyball. I look forward to it every time, and I’m dismayed on the days I can’t make it. This time, however, I was a bit apprehensive. While the group I play with is very laid-back and full of friendly, funny, and welcoming guys, I noticed part of it had been self-segregating into “better” teams. Instead of the entire group getting together every few games to re-organize randomly into new teams, these “better” teams tended to remain together for the entire day.

I’m not a great player. I am merely okay. My worst trait is that I am inconsistent. So the week before, when I was playing on a court with a couple of the other “better” players, a few faux-innocent, gay-catty “it’s all in good fun” comments were thrown my way, and some unvoiced and no-doubt half-imagined frustrations simmered. I became too self-critical.

I think it’s morbidly amusing that, at 36, I still begin to doubt myself if any self-appointed upper-tierer reminds me that I’m not as good as I think I am or want to be.

The last time I played volleyball with a group who was too good for me was two summers ago, and it was a depressing experience. It started off well, the first couple weeks being full of, “Ha ha, it’s okay!” and, “If you’re cute, we don’t care how well you play!” But the charms of being new wore off, and people began giving me helpful but frustrated pointers so often that I couldn’t just relax and enjoy the game. I then, of course, played even worse. My last day with that Saturday group, I had played several games with a team that made every effort to keep me from making contact with the ball. It was nearly amusing in its obviousness!

That experience, plus the previous Sunday’s malaise, had me doubting myself.

The day before Sunday, I passed some kind of volleyball tournament near Venice Beach. I stopped the first major Rollerblading excursion of mine in many moons so I could watch the two-man teams compete. Of course, they made it look so easy. Part of me knew it was. Of course there was skill, but this was not something I could watch and say, “Oh, I could never do that!” I could do this. I just needed to play more and not be so demanding of myself.

Standing on the pedestrian side of the cement activityway, I watched how the tourney dudes played, comparing their techniques to the advice I’d been given by the Saturday group two summers ago. I should not have been surprised that while some of the advice I’d been given back then was excellent, some of it was utter bunk. Look at that! I did not have to hold my hands just precisely so… I could hold them however I pleased, as long as my elbows were locked and I steered the ball with my body as well as my arms. As long as I allowed myself to control the ball without panic.

I rolled away from the tournament after giving myself a barrage of tiny little pep talks.

Not long afterward, I passed by the old, too-good-for-me Saturday group at Will Rogers. It was packed! Three full games were up and running, with many spectators and hangers-on lounging in the sun courtside. I saw Van and a couple other Sunday blokes out on the third court, and I wanted to play. I had time to do so, but I did not have the guts yet. Instead, I just sat for 15 minutes on some deteriorating concrete steps and watched, then finished ‘blading back to my car.

So of course, this Sunday, I was uneasy. I had a tenuous self-confidence from Saturday’s observations, but I still felt hesitant walking across the sand toward the nets where the gang was already playing. I paid too much attention to the dingy green backpack I was carrying, heavy with the half-empty one-gallon water bottle inside, and to the flip-flops in my hand, the ones I’d bought in Hawaii after not wearing that kind of footwear for probably decades.

I headed right past the “better” court and a few guys playing ukuleles to join some of the fun folks at a net nearer the ocean. At that net, we were too far away to hear the songs the ukulele guys were plucking out in unison. But it didn’t matter. It was a gorgeous day and it was time to play!

My first game, right off the bat, brought near disaster. The volleyball sped between my outstretched hands, catching my right thumb. The entire court heard the crack. I stared at my thumb in confusion. Should it be hurting more? Was it dislocated? Was it broken? Would I have to bow out already and walk back across that sand? Would Van help me if I needed it?

That exhilarating event set the tone for the day. I had an injury! I had an injury, and the humorous banter was just ramping up on the court. I was a-okay here. I could relax. And I was gonna work at improving my game instead of being worried I couldn’t.

I determined that if it wasn’t dangling or bleeding or protruding bone, my thumb was fine. It was astoundingly sore, but X-rays and such have since determined it was merely sprained. Thank goodness.

Because I was now worried about re-injuring my thumb, I did not play particularly well. I did not play poorly, either. I got very tired as the hours went by, and I had a moment or two of emotional distraction as Van, who has avoided me with the precision of a drum majorette, actually strolled way over from the “better” courts to our humble net to play with us. He didn’t talk to me aside from a “Hi,” and he was uninterested in even making eye contact, but he didn’t avoid being around me, either, which was new.

At the end of a few hours and a good but losing string of games, I began to ponder leaving. A number of guys, including Van, had left by then, but the newly-unwrapped 2005 version of Daylight Savings Time meant there were still some hours left to go in the day, and the mixed-media weather at the beach was perfect. I did not want to leave. My thumb wanted to, but I didn’t. It could have hopped on The Big Blue Bus and let itself into the apartment for a soak and a rest, and I would have stayed to keep playing. I wanted to stay.

Right then, a great thing happened. The remaining guys from the “better” court came over to those of us left on the “other” court to see who was left and willing to play. And that was when the real games began.

I don’t know if it was because I was tired enough to be more relaxed, or because I was having so much fun already with some of the guys on the courts, but my level of play jumped. I became less afraid to take chances, painful thumb or no. I felt more in control of the ball, and more like I was contributing to the team. These four or five games were hyper and alive. Some of the play was astonishing in its quality. Everyone was happy and talkative.

As each game ended and my body made more strident demands regarding my leaving, another game would start up, and I’d hop back in, excited and eager. Two Asian guys I recognized from the Saturday group were playing here for the first time, and they even commented on how much more relaxed the Sunday group was. The two guys are great players, but this time, I was not intimidated. I played damn well, and didn’t doubt myself or shrink back from the game.

We finally called it quits as dark, wintry clouds rolled over the mountains in the north and the air got gradually colder. The lines were wrapped on their plastic spools, the Hawaiians got their ukuleles together while wrapped in blankets to keep warm, and the lot of us headed for the tunnel.

It must have been just after 7:00 when I parted from the others and headed toward my car. As I walked, my back was killing me and my not-broken thumb was swollen and throbbing. My backpack was heavier though the gallon bottle was now three-quarters empty. I had sand all over myself. My fingers were caked with grime. My dirty feet were back in the flip-flops and would have been shuffling were it not for my dislike of that lazy sound. My sleeveless arms were cold from the rapidly-cooling sea air. My throat was dry and getting sore.

I felt great!

I won’t be back to volleyball for three weeks. Sure, it’s because I’m going to Paris, so I won’t complain. If I could play this Sunday I don’t know what I’d be expecting. I don’t think I could expect another unexpectedly meaningful day of beach volleyball. But I can long for it and appreciate that Sunday happened as it did. I had the best day!

What is wrong with me? What is wrong? I was dating the perfect guy. Not perfect in an obnoxious Ken doll way, but truly perfect. He is sweet and kind and smart. He is thoughtful and caring. Sexy and together and selfless. Confident and goofy and sometimes shy. And I had to let him go. That’s a horrible way to phrase it, but that’s how it ended up playing out.

I am sick as a dog right now. Add this to the heartache of last night, when he showed up at my door with medicine and treats and ended up leaving without me, and I don’t know why I’m not at home in bed under the covers whimpering.

I do know. Work sounded like a good idea today. And I had to see the doctor.

What is wrong? How can it be that someone so wonderful is not the one I fall in love with? Is this not reverse of normal? The intellect is telling me I’m an idiot because he was the nicest and most attentive anyone has ever been to me. My emotions tell me it was not to be. But why? Why are emotions so fickle and cruel? Why does love need to be so unpredictable and uncontrollable? Why can it not come on command?

I’m afraid I’ve let something fantastic die an early death. I’m also afraid it was the right choice. These two things should not go together. He deserves more than me, and more than I was giving him. But it’s so unfair, to us both, I think. Unfair that his love and adoration could not be reciprocated, and unfair that I could not summon the reciprocal despite my longing so much to do so.

I held back my enthusiasm for him in fear of hurting him, but it happened anyway. It is so painful. I am so sorry, David. I wish I were someone else today.

So I wanted to add my own entry regarding John’s pack-rat post.

During my apartment overhaul, I have also come across many items stuffed back in closets for many years. Most movingly, I re-discovered my stash of items from my first ever—and so far only—true love. I have every letter, story, drawing, and note ever sent to me by Bryon Fear.

When we broke up (a long time ago now!), I had put all this stuff away where I could not see it. The breakup was mutually painful, and I needed to cut Bryon and all these mementos out of my life while I healed. What I did not do, even though a tiny part of me wanted to at the time, was throw the stuff away. I could not have done that. I never would have.

Items like these are more important to life than things like DVDs and a new sofa and lamps that look like they belong in a medical office. Memories are more important than other of life’s “stuff.”

Bryon and I are friends now and talk and visit and all those good things. I think we will always love each other, though our time to be together has passed away. Keeping the evidence of our mad love was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I don’t care if it takes up valuable space or if I never read every one of the letters again, just having them there to see and hold and glance through is important to me now and forever.

So John, pack rat all that stuff! Tax forms? Toss ’em. Documents from work years ago? BURN ’em! But always keep the real stuff.

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Good night and sleep tight Steve. I want you to get good rest. I care about you very much and I just want you to know that.