Saying goodbye and some half-finished context
I met Andrew just over a month before I planned to leave the country. He was so tall—I have often said I would compromise a lot for tall—he was also kind and surprisingly interesting. We met in the same bar, where a fortnight prior I last saw John (number 90)—the most beautiful man I will ever sleep with. My missing of John is probably what drew me to Andrew: tall, handsome and mature—he was the perfect substitute.
We spoke intermittently throughout the night, he spoke about his art—which I happen to have seen at a festival a year back. I thought it was quite trivial. A 3x4m arachnid looking metal octopus, decorated with CDs, LEDs and other trinkets; all hypnotically illuminated by a central light display. As he spoke, I can still remember the fantasy I had: him shirtless at the apex of a giant wooden structure, drenched in sweat under a merciless sun; barking orders down to his crew, as they themselves became a form art. I heard very little of what he said that night, but what I did manage to hear gave me the impression that Andrew had an inner drive, the ember of a zeal. And I wanted that! Our lust for the intangible—the most human of afflictions. With Janus (number 80) it was adversity. He told me about how his parents disowned him after his then boyfriend’s parents outed him. How he had to give up his car, his flat, how he had to leave the university and what he was studying: as his parents refused to support him any further. How his entire life, his future had been so utterly affected by this singular act. And all I could think was: I could love you for the rest of my life (for this)…
Andrew is quite closeted, as I have come to learn—but so am I. He says: ‘My parents must know because they don’t ask me about my relationships anymore’ and ‘my brother must know, because I have slept with some of his friends’. I am the same, for the comfort of our families and some of our friends, we put a part of ourselves aside when we are with them. And over time an unspoken agreement is reached: I will refrain from being wholly myself, as long as you pretend that a part of me is not missing. An impasse is reached, likely borne out of mutual respect—but an impasse nonetheless. Perpetuating stunted, one-sided relationships, secret resentment and anxiety. I often compensate for my closetedness with either public displays of affection or outright indecency. With Christo (number 27), I chose an elevator. Stationary elevators can be quite the stage: the mirrors, the rails, the risk! We were eventually interrupted—in flagrante delicto—by the elevator lights suddenly turning back on as the doors swung open. Christo jumping to his feet, as a rather tall muscular man (Congolese and a bouncer most likely) stepped inside. Pants around my ankles, and the awkward silence of our ride up together—I couldn’t help but break into unabated laughter.
My close friends call me a flirt, and often comment on how alarmingly intimate I become with complete strangers. With people I rarely have any intention of sleeping with, or even seeing again (Janus called me ‘that type of gay’, the type that thinks PDA is a form of protest, a right even! Also, regrettably the very type Janus could never love). My friends describe this intimacy as superficial, faux and pointless. I plead guilty, mostly; however, I am not very direct in my wooing of men—and therein my plea for leniency. Normally taking a more passive form of predation—like a girl if you would. They moved first, so… The bait of an inviting smile or the sensual sway of one’s hips surely can’t be a crime? God, if it could be this easy with girls—for most women you to have really fight (appearing gay also doesn’t help the situation probably). Honestly, I don’t like to work very hard. Perhaps the vegan in me just doesn’t care so much for the hunt; I would rather sit patiently and wait… wait until they are pliant, and only then will I pounce. With Andrew, competition mostly spurred me into action. My friend David (number 9) and some other tall-and-handsome were showing increasing levels of interest (which is normally the case after 1AM in the morning). And as more and more direct propositions from my side seemed to fall short, I eventually just pull-in and kissed him. I wasn’t very impressed with Andrew’s kissing; but again, he was tall. And I was already imagining kissing him poised on one leg, on my very tippy-toes, like a ballerina under the warm glow of some Parisian street lamp. When Andrew didn’t want to take me home with him, I said goodbye, thinking that would be the end of it.
We went on a date (drinks date) a couple of weeks later. I had another date the day before, with MC (number 98). With MC we went to some hipster restaurant in Melville (of my choosing). MC is quite something, I liked him from the very first moment I met him: he has the face of a barbarian, but the mind of an artist. And he carries himself as I would imagine a very well looked after muse would. To be in his company is mostly like a dream. Our conversation was fun and fluid, but challenging; and often hinged quite heavily on the abstract. I suspect if I were to stop trying—I would bore him. Our sex was rather boring, I basically just laid here. MC is so open and unencumbered, and often that in itself makes me quite closed off: but that night I was especially so. MC is HIV positive, but we didn’t manage to talk about it. Maybe he assumed I knew, as I asked him on the date and we have mutual friends; perhaps I should have asked. Either way, I was uncomfortable. But I sympathise with him, I can’t even imagine what is must be like to come out to people as HIV positive. To have to deal with their prejudice, their stigma and fear; and on of top of all that, what being HIV positive does to how you live with yourself. How it punctuates your life and co-authors your dreams. I was bit more at ease next morning, MC is so loving a person, he placates your insecurities and it is so easy to just be silly around him. And although we didn’t really have sex, we still manage to have some fun. We were just messing around in bed, playing like children under the sheets—I really liked that.
A good date, in my opinion, requires some whimsy. After our meal, MC and I laid under a blanket on my car’s bonnet as we talked nonsense and watched the stars. And at some point during my date with Andrew, the lights went out in the busy bar-lounge we were in; I recognised opportunity, straddled his lap and kissed him. Whimsy. Sex with Andrew was much better. Andrew is quite shy and restrained, and this—unlike anything else—makes me truly blossom. Andrew is also very loving and kind in bed, like John before—but even more so. I have often struggled with erectile dysfunction (which is one of the reasons why John stopped seeing me), but to Andrew this was a non-issue. He was not at all put off by it, he would blow me and really enjoy it, even when I was arguably not even nearly there. He on the other hand was hard as a rock nearly all the time. And just like his cock, he is so affirming; always telling me how amazing I am, how beautiful I am. I am attracted to Andrew, and even more so to John, but my penis has a mind completely of its own. I suspect my erectile dysfunction is porn induced. My brain is not wired to be aroused (or to remain so) by actual people; to the subtlety of their mouths and anuses. I feel so disconnected from my penis when I am inside of someone else, like it is no longer there—it is so disheartening. Actual people also come with smells, hair and many other acquired tastes. Shy or restrained people help though, I am very aroused by being in control. Being in control of both my partner’s pleasure and pain: choking, pushing them against a wall, pinning their head down to side, sitting on their faces, making them moan! I am not a top; I despise the idea of tops and bottoms. But I do really like it when it is my turn to be dominant. I find fingering someone combines all of my needs so beautifully; how with the flick of my finger I can make someone palpitate and so utterly melt right into my hands—I love it! Even though Andrew also really likes to give, he was very open to allowing me to exert myself on him (and in him). And because he is also somewhat restrained, he drives me to try new things; if only to freak him out more and make him squirm just a bit harder.
Living in Secunda I could never entertained relationships—I never made any space for them. I also chose to believe that nobody in Secunda was good enough for me; which was an important coping mechanism that made resigning easier. And having a relationship two days of the week in Johannesburg was also not what I wanted. So I focussed on my work, exercise, friendships and primarily myself. I could never come to regret time spent with myself—it is so sacred to me. So many of us never get the opportunity to fall in love with ourselves. Many of us never fully grapple with our existential angsts. They rather let themselves be swept away by their relationships, marriages and families. They grow as a union, or as a set—intimately dependent on each other. And because finding the strength and tools to stand alone takes so much more time—time is a luxury they no longer possess—they choose to rather find their foundation in the pillars of family, society and religion. I want both. I want to be fiercely independent and hopelessly dependent. I want to meet the eye of existence firmly on my own two feet; but also be swept away and succumb to the blind courage of love. My twenties I have given to independence; although there is still much to learn. Im my thirties I will yield; let down my guard and find comfort in other people. And this journey, in my 29th year, is intended to facilitate this change. To help me find the maturities I am still missing, the experiences I am still lacking and hopefully allow myself to come love another as I love myself.
It was sad to say goodbye to Andrew. We had so little time, before I had to leave for my long trip around the world. Traveling teaches you many things, but first and foremost it teaches you how to say goodbye. Goodbye to your loved ones, goodbye to every other city, town, friend and lover you will meet along the way. You are forced, through the quick succession, to accept that all your relationships are temporary. And that the very act of saying goodbye has ultimately brought you every new relationship and experience that you have come to treasure. I think about that at every goodbye.