So, I don’t usually go for guys around my age, nor do they often go for me. But Jarrod was a different case. He was 3 years younger even, which you could see clearly on his youthful smiling eyes, despite the mustache. He dressed himself in the way kids did in the 90s, with that floppy cap, baggy t-shirt woven with a random text, a nose ring and above-ankle high socks. I met him on the week before I left.
In the restroom of that fancy hotel where I’d brought several men in, including a lonely Christmas date that went wrong right after the sex, a hungry sucker boy called Charlie who felt embarrassed walking into a 5-star hotel with sandals, a cute surfer dude named Jonathan who finally decided to give me a kiss after a year, Jarrod said I was his first. I told him he was my first too. It was true, intercourse wise. The others were just all for a blow. He did that too, and swallowed my cum and looked at me like a dear friend would do.
I took him to the nude bathing site where I first went with Alan 2 years back. I never got back since then since I was afraid. I was afraid that I couldn’t fit in without a cute foreign company. It wasn’t for attention, but it was about mingling in, just like how my confidence got boosted up when the wedding girl walked by my side back in the day. With Jarrod, I could talk to people with less awkwardness. I could find a way to get into that close-knitted circle without too much efforts, sometimes just by acting like a bridge translating things back and forth between the middle aged men there and my boy. And I could feel proud a bit aware of the jealous eyes looking at me with a cute, smooth, youthful white guy.
There was one, grey hair, buzz cut and tattooed legs, whom I thought was quite hot. But he wasn’t gay for sure. Jarrod didn’t like him though. He was a bit shy, following and imitating what I did. When we were smoking, a few guys chatted us up. One sneakily took a photo of me when I was drying myself, which led to my confrontation afterwards. I made him show me his phone and I took one photo of him, straight in the face later, and said it was for the court if I ever found my dick floating online.
The guy even whispered in my ears later. “Let me borrow him sometimes,” he said, referring to Jarrod. I gave him a smirk then left. He asked for my number but I gave him the number of the cop, saying he would just need to ask for me there. I guess I was being too obnoxious after that photo incident, acting like I was something of higher desire while half of it came not from me but from somebody I tagged along. I treated Jarrod like an item. And I treated them like I was any better. I felt guilty. It hit me even harder when I realized the 2 men were couple. At that age, at least they still had each other. What Alan said back then still haunted me everyday, about how one day my youth would be gone and so would the men that found me attractive now.
I gave him a brownie since he said he used to bake for living, a college drop out, of course. Now, living in a different country for the first time, I still think about his smile once in a while. About it there was something so gentle, so innocent, something that gave him a separation from the typical acts he associated with the millennials.
I guess it’s time to talk about a girl. I’d never written anything about her. She used to be my classmate, my desk mate to be exact. There was a time back then, about 10 years ago, that people said she had a crush on me. I thought she was cute too, the day she first got her new haircut and got rid of the pink cap.
Let’s call her Sonic, since that’s what her name means in Chinese. The short story was, she contacted me on my birthday last year and gave me a pair of gloves as present, had beer and sausages with me while I was feeling down about Joey being silent on my birthday considering the fact that we were born not that far apart. She said I had the right to be mad. I thought I had the right to be mad and I got mad at him. Our thing ended on that same night. Now Sonic and I still joked about it, with me blaming her for my failed romance (as a joke of course).
The thing is, I never confirm her belief that I’m gay. I guess she knew since she was dropping a lot of hints. But it was difficult with a cool girl that you used to like. I don’t want to portray myself that way in front of her, especially when she also explicitly recalled past affections with me being among those lucky ones.
The week before I left, she sent over a voice clip. The moment I opened it, I was surprised to find it was my voice. Or maybe it wasn’t, because it sounded much more purified, much more carefree, much clearer, higher and less breathy. I didn’t know how she got it. She was silent but slowly giving it away in the next few days, gradually brought back my memories. It was revealed to me, finally, that I gave it to her. I included it in a final year in high school gift to her. And it was also revealed to me, the reason I put that song, the one whose lyrics I hadn’t even remembered until she sent it, at the end of that CD.
“Someday I’ll pay the bills with this guitar and we’ll have it good.” I sent her a text with that line in the song. She asked me if I still had that dream. Again, I didn’t even know how she would know and remember somebody else’s dream after all those years. I told her yes. She told me I should have stopped smoking.
The day before I left, Runner sent me a Facebook post, together with a Youtube link to Bon Iver’s Skinny Love. It was a short writing piece regarding For Emma, Forever Ago and how it had changed that person. I always thought Runner had a crush on me, but he never admitted it. We never met actually. He just found my photo on Instagram one day and we followed each other. He took photos with a film camera, saying it was interesting no having the date of each shot clearly imprinted, giving more reasons for the mind to fondle and then wrap memories more carefully. But of course, he lived far away, and wasn’t the type of guys I found attractive, physically.
It was 10 years since the first Bon Iver album came out, of course I was aware. I wasn’t a fan back then, actually, I didn’t even know of their existence or Justin. It wasn’t until Birdy did that cover that I knew of their music, and it followed me till now. That was a fact that I tried to hide since somebody would say “that wasn’t a true fan”.
Anyway, Runner’s message, without any words written from his side, carried that nostalgic feeling. I remembered my first one-act proper concert, and luckily enough it was them, thanks to Florian’s mindfulness. And I remembered that night, during Skinny Love, I thought I heard a crack in his voice. It was like he was crying. I always had a thought deep down that if Justin, like Ben, ever opened up to me, and let me touch him, maybe we could help each other heal, one day.