Today, 1 May 2007, would have been Allen’s and my 14th anniversary. Denied the trappings of “polite” society by the fearful and fear-mongering Christians, rightwingers and other demonspawn, we had to choose our own Anniversary Date: the date we first met in person.
It also happened to be the day—abetted by three and a half years of interacting with someone online (back in the CompuServe days)—that we, each and together, realized that we were Together.
It was in St. Louis, a meeting-in-person confab for folks who were regulars on CompuServe’s chat rooms (back when they were largely social and not sexual). I was living in Chicagoland at the time, and decided to drive a rented car (didn’t trust my old 1985 VW Golf) to St. Louis. I was to share a room with Allen Howland, but the only reasons were my lack of planning for the event and my general lack of funds. For the record, it was a room with two separate beds.
I’d arrived at the hotel coincidentally when Allen was out with a few others being shameless tourists. A room key was there for me at the front desk. I let myself into the room, and while waiting for Allen to return to the hotel, laid down to continue reading one of the Tales of the City books, consciously, conspicuously choosing the bed which had gone unused: my bed for the weekend.
I fell asleep while reading, a light, nap-time kind of sleep I’ve never been able to achieve since then, and dreamed a dream about Anna Madrigal and Michael Mouse and where Jon’s ashes were buried in the yard at 28 Barbary Lane. Allen entered the dream and Mrs. Madrigal no only registered no surprise, but was expecting him.
Just as she was sending me off with Allen to St. Louis (still in the dream here), I was awakened by the multi-click of the early electronic card-key hotelroom doors.
A tall, lean man entered the room, his very long legs being thrown one in front of the other in a kind of gait that I would still recognize today.
He smiled and said, “Hello, finally.”
I knew exactly then where my heart belonged. I suspect he was feeling the same thing.
We spent that night in the same bed. He’d asked me if this was my first time and I laughed. He followed, “I mean with someone who’s HIV+.” I admitted it was, but also admitted that I’d been hurt enough in my year of Midwest Gay Pretense Tricking and “would it be ok if we just lay here together?” I also admitted that I felt there was something between the two of us and simply being close was the right way to honor that.
I think that was the closest I’d ever felt to anyone up to that point in my life.
At one of the planned events—some banquet of sorts that felt more like an age-unrestricted prom than anything else—Allen’s 6’4“ and my 5’6”, and the obvious connection between the two of us had one (straight) man across the table commenting: you guys look like Yogi Bear and Boo Boo!
“Yog” is what I called Allen for the rest of our days together; it suited him such that he warmed up when I first started calling him that and simply responded to the name out of habit after that.
I know I have talked quite a bit about Allen in these pages, but that’s because the experiences of a truly wonderful and real and honest relationship—no matter how time-limited its run—is a metric by which I measure my successes in forming friendships and other relationships, and even dealing with meeting new people. I try to lead with openness and honesty, and sometimes I persist overlong in it, open only to being used and only losing honesty in confusing optimism with naiveté.
In any regard, there are things I have written, details of our life together that have visited me unexpectedly but are never unwelcome. Links to some are posted below.
- Two Months and Three Days
- Measuring Yourself
- Living in Interesting Times
- Skippy’s Culture of Death
- Shining Moon, Stubborn Moon
- San Francisco, My Beautiful City
- Postcards from the Rehg
- Morbidity & Mortality
- Koan #003
My Favorite Marsupial recently told me that Forever and For Life are a kind of naiveté, but I’ve never been able to accept that.
I was a very lonely man after Allen died, but I never questioned that it was a temporary condition: I was still alive! It just never occurred to me that I might be as lonely again, not because of Allen’s absence, but just because.
I am a very lonely man these days. Some kinds of naiveté evaporate with age and I’m asking the questions now…the questions that never occurred to me nearly twelve years ago. But I sitll hope there are no concrete answers, but only better questions.