“I am not the only traveler, who has not repaid his debt.”
Traveler, Ben was one. He was actually the one that introduced me to the world of backpacking. He is a Science teacher now, finally living up to his nerdy side which was also part of what made him attractive in the first place. He’s got a girlfriend. He’s got loads of students. I bet the kids now also like him, just as much as the ones he met and now put in past tense in Ayutthaya did.
It was his birthday. I sent him a message which read personal but distant enough to make it sound like I was just a regular long-gone friend. This is the 2nd year that such message went unresponded. It didn’t really cause much thoughts though, since I’ve known for long the space I belong was shared with those former students and his backpacking years after college.
After the fight that night, I was glad to wake up to Matt’s message, saying that we should meet for food. He sounded genuine, as if he had wanted to clear the air and set things back to normal. But again, what was normal anyway?
I remember a phone call from his about 1 year back. He was asking the regular questions “Do you miss me?”. I hated that. When we first met and didn’t meet for 2 days, he came back with that question. When he left, he posed it again. First time we Skyped, another one, to which I had to admit yes. Last Friday, here it went again. But that time, I had the courage and complete confidence to say “You’re 3 years too late.”
That was the last time he seemed sincere, before I saw him turn away with a frown, asking me “You think I’m that conceited about how I look, and what I have?”. I wanted to believe that the answer was no, that it was all just an act he put up to play along with my sarcasm. That’s why I took Damian & Hamiz’s advice and say yes to another meet up. He didn’t answer until late last night, claiming he was tired and had stomach problem. I told him to get rest and take pills if needed. Wise and kind, that was what I tried to be.
I was cycling late that night, about midnight I think, to the lake area. I never really enjoy the dominant occupation of foreigners around certain parts, despite having quite an amusement checking out some fine pairs of derriere walking by. But there was always some sense of loneliness, cycling on a Saturday nights. I did think that it would have been great to have some company, even Matt’s.
And then his message came, a while after I’d asked him to rest and do lunch the day after. It was a booty call. He wanted me to come over and spend the night. That was quite straightforward after what had happened. I was cycling and would do OK with a company anyway. I’d noticed he had been on Grindr a lot, and probably Tinder too, so having a date might not be that difficult. Still, he was looking forward to seeing me, rekindling what we had that night in March when we took a walk under the pale streetlight corners.
I was about to steer my wheel when the next message came in. Having heard no reply, since I was still trying to sort out my feelings, he urged “Come over, bitch”. The next one read “And leave your ridiculously high emotions at home.”
Why didn’t you get it, Matt? I was trying to be nice and kind to you, to at least save a friendship, for the sake of memories. I was trying to maintain one of the very few gay ties that I had left since the rest seemed to get screwed up after a few shags. I was trying to enjoy it while it lasted. But that was the drop.
I reasoned with him, telling him not to call me by such words anymore, even if he didn’t mean it. He told me to stop playing the victim. I just turned off the phone, went home and slept.
In the very same couple of days, I realized I’d left the ring Florian gave me at the gym. I went back for it the next day and it’d been long gone, unnoticed. I almost lost it a couple of times already, all thanks to my absent-mindedness, but somehow it always managed to find its way back to me. This time, it seemed permanent.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you.”
I first came across the song while watching the series 13 Reasons Why. There was the bluesy feeling of Girl Crush by Little Big Town, and the interlude harmonies bearing strong resemblance to Night Owls (also another LBT’s cut). Such tones always could set you in a nostalgic place.
But as soon as the first line kicked in, it struck a place inside where none of the faces that had passed could be immediately crafted out. It could be Ben but actually not. And it definitely wasn’t Matt since I didn’t regret what had become of us at all. But still, there was this need, to find a path, to an adventure somewhere which I once had, and to the him that I’d never known and met.