Saturday, June 29, 2013


Again, she holds back. She offers another disclaimer so as to make things less complicated.

"Fair enough," he says. "But what good is life without risk?"

He takes a step closer and states firmly, "We have chosen to be here of our own accord.  There is a level of attraction here that is unmatched anywhere else.  And so what if the timing is all wrong?  In my experience the timing is always wrong.  Why give it even more precedent to sway us from cultivating something worthwhile?"

Another step closer. "Are you not the least bit curious to discover what great things can come of this?  Are you really so unmoved that you'd rather not try at all to make the most of it while we still can?"

His voices catches in his throat.

Then, finally, once more, he asks, "Am I really that much of a bad bet?"

Monday, June 17, 2013


If there were just one place where I was truly wanted, I'd be there right now. I'd drive all day and night, only stopping to fill up gas and empty my bladder. I'd listen to sad songs on repeat and sing along 'til my voice went hoarse. I'd cry my eyes out for all the bad breaks that brought me so close to madness, to violence, to surrender. So many tears to shed for those missed opportunities and misunderstandings, for the willful ignorance and unmerited disbelief that I encountered so often that I wondered why I even bothered trudging on. Across state lines I'd cry and rage and mourn for the years squandered in countless attempts to build partnerships/fellowships/communities/worlds with others who ultimately couldn't be bothered to give their fair share, who refused to come together when things stopped being convenient for even just a second.

I'd cry because it never had to be this way. It never had to get this bad. There was no reason to brand me as the player, the villain, the rebound, the creep. They had no right to be so dismissive, or apathetic, or cruel. Not to me they didn't.  Not ever.

They had no fucking right.

. . . But maybe this time it would be different. And maybe this time I'd get a fighting chance. Maybe this could be a someone who was naturally adept at distracting me from opening old wounds long enough to let them actually heal. And maybe, just maybe, when I got wherever I was supposed to be, this someone wouldn't ask why my hands kept shaking, why my eyes were so damn red or why I insisted on driving without stopping to rest, or eat, or take a moment for myself. This someone would only have to look at me to know that the distance I covered to get to her couldn't solely be measured in miles but also trials and tribulations. And heartaches – so many heartaches. After such a long and punishing journey, this someone would discover a man laid bare on her doorstep  frazzled, tortured, haunted  and still love him without hesitance, without fear.

Maybe this someone would then take me inside, wash my face with a cold, damp cloth and put me to bed – all the while assuring me that I'll feel so much better once I get some rest; that although the possibilities that await us in the years to come are exciting and scary and unknowable, we can look forward to experiencing them together; that one day soon – far sooner than I could ever imagine  I'll wake up next to her and finally accept that this someone wasn't going anywhere  that this someone had made the choice to hitch her wagon to mine the moment I decided to begin that great and terrible pilgrimage to her door  and until that day she would be happy to remind me again and again  as many times as I needed to hear it  that I was home.

Finally, I was home.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


A derecho fast approaches.  It promises high-speed winds and a deluge of rain the likes we haven’t seen in years.  And I know you barely know me, and I know we’re just getting reacquainted after a long spell, but I am struck by the notion of you electing to come over and sit out the storm with me.  We will light an extravagant number of tealights when the power goes out, and as my apartment building sways back and forth just enough to induce you to hold tight to your second glass of wine, we shall catch up on everything that’s happened since we last spoke.  Delightful, well-worn yarns will give way to poignant narratives of lessons learned, which in turn will give way to an exchange of dazzling epiphanies and hard truths, which in turn will give way to empathy – and unspoken gratitude that we finally have someone to talk to for the first time in a long time.

Later you will break out the fabled ukulele and indulge me with a splendid live set – just three or four songs, really – that will make me want to kick myself for missing out on your shows all these years.  But what luxury to hear them now!  You will serenade your enrapt audience of one – two, actually, if you account for the likelihood of my roommate, too polite to intrude yet too spellbound to disregard the exquisite melodies drifting down the hall, listening from his perch at the kitchen table – with such elegance and warmth.  As the final chord rings out (and is all too quickly dispelled by the sound of thick raindrops spattering against the windows), my first instinct will be to insist on an encore.  But I imagine words will fail me at that very moment, so instead I’ll simply reach out to hold your hands in mine, as if your long, slender fingers might somehow contain faint traces of previously played notes.

Just in case the power won’t come on by morning (even though we both know it will) we’ll eat the remaining ice cream in the freezer.  You will sample freely from the cartons set out on the coffee table while I select a few of my favorite short stories to read aloud to you.  I am confident that you will be amused by just how much I relish introducing people to the likes of Clarence John “Pinky” Softitch, a big-hearted, big-boned custodian who finally takes a chance on love; and Rory, a photographer’s assistant who struggles so mightily to find his significance in the elusive world of high fashion; and certainly Seymour and Salmon Boy, the most unlikely romantic duo on the strangest “nonviolent killing spree” ever recorded in the annals of fiction, and will soon find yourself utterly charmed by each and every one of these protagonists as their stories unfold – and maybe even more so by the boy who gleefully narrates their hopes and dreams and noble efforts.

By the time I finish reading the wind and the rain will have let up. The aftermath won’t be anywhere near as bad as the weather reports anticipated – at worst a few railway underpasses are flooded – but it will be late by then, and seeing as you’re stretched out on the couch, eyes closed, surely right on the cusp of sleep, it will be fair to say that you’re not going anywhere.

And that’s when you’ll reply: “Of course I’m not.”

A tad startled to discover that I said that last bit aloud, I’ll look over to find you still awake after all.  You will sit up, stretch your arms over your head and let loose a yawn as further evidence that you have no intention whatsoever of going home tonight.

“Are you sure?” I’ll ask anyway.

That’s when you’ll get to your feet, shuffle over to where I’m sitting in the tattered green lounge chair and crouch down to address me directly. “It’s time for bed, silly – and yours is much closer than mine.”

“Would you like me to join you?”

“Do you even have to ask?”

“I don’t want to be presumptuous.”

“Such a gentleman, even at this late hour,” you’ll tease lightly as you run your fingers through my hair. “Still, are you sure you weren’t hoping that the storm might live up to expectation and stick around just a teensy bit longer so that I’ll have no choice but to stay?”

I will decline to respond to your query.  (Mostly ‘cause you’ve got me dead to rights.)

“I’ll make you a deal, Justin:  I will stay if you come to bed with me.  And if you’re a gentleman about it, I will even stick around long enough to let you make me breakfast.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” I’ll whisper far too seriously for the offer on the table.

“C’mon then.”

A derecho fast departs. It promised high-speed winds and a deluge of rain the likes we hadn’t seen in years. And I know you still barely know me, and I know we’re still just getting reacquainted after a long spell, but I was struck by the notion that when the last of the tealights extinguish on their own as we clamber into bed; when we’re left to sort out and playfully fuss over blankets and pillows in the dark; when we’re properly twisted and tangled and nestled together in a way that only new lovers would be so greedy to demand of each other all at once, there will be a clear blue sky awaiting us come morning – and quite possibly for many days to follow.

(c) JVH