To say they fuck a lot in Berlin is to misunderstand what those words mean.
Everything hurt. The day before we left for our honeymoon I did something to my lower back at the gym. A shooting pain shot down my leg with every step I took. My allergies had taken on a life of their own and I was on antibiotics for a sinus infection. Alex had just gotten home from six months in Spokane Washington where he works on a TV show called Znation. We were still re-learning language and who we had each become during those six months. We were relearning each other. And Jon wasn’t coming with us. He had started a new job as a journalist at a newspaper and it was our honeymoon. We had all decided this was an important thing for Alex and I to do alone.
But it hurt. Everything hurt. Physically and emotionally. I felt distant. Cut off from both of the men I loved. They felt like far off stars I could see and wonder at, but could never quite feel.
This is how love is sometimes. Something you know of, something you can say and think, something you can be a part of and yet it is unattainable: the only feeling inside you is emptiness.
In the weeks leading up to our trip I felt empty: the only emotion I really had was rage. And even that felt weak and false: something created out of desperation to remind myself I was alive. There wasn’t actually anything to be rageful at. My life is basically good. Sure there are places I can improve: money, order, defects I can work on, parts of myself that need building and re-structuring, but for the most part I was…I am…happy. But even that was something I only knew, not something I felt. Happiness, like love, like pain, like hope, like despair and excitement, had suddenly become just ideas: philosophical theories with no practical reality.
And so I watched the men I love move through their lives like distant constellations: whole worlds unto themselves: unreachable and unknowable. And I wondered if this is how I felt to them: something beautiful and yet foreign, something they loved and yet could never quite grasp.
This distance: this sense of being cut off from the world around me: is one of the defining aspects of my life: of who I am. I have always known this. Part of what drove me to drugs was a desire to connect: to something, to anything: to find a pattern to life that always felt invisible: a shadow revealed in flashes, but never fully realized. Humanities’ one truth: we are completely alone. We will never know the truth of each other. Or of ourselves. We will always be just a little too in the dark. No matter how much we think we have figured it all out: we haven’t. And we can’t. That is the rule of the game.
That we never get to know the rules of the game. Or even what the game is. We just get to play.
I marvel at my ability to hurt them: Jon and Alex. Without even intending to. With a casual comment, or an offhand remark, a look: somehow without even knowing it I have stepped into their own private field of landmines and I am blowing the place the fuck up. It is unavoidable, of course. We all carry this history: long and dark and painful. We are all filled with buried treasures of past hurts and failures: of tiny wounds grown into great endless expanses.
We trample all over each other, completely unaware.
And these accidental explosions, these meaningless inflictions build up until sometimes we resent each other, sometimes we hate each other, and sometimes we love each other.
This is unavoidable. And it terrifies me.
Our flight to Berlin was at 5:00 am. We had to be at the airport by 3:00. There was no point in sleeping. We would sleep on the plane.
That is a trick I always play on myself. I will sleep on the plane. It is, of course, a lie. I never sleep on the plane. I know this is a lie. Even as I tell myself it I am aware I am being dishonest. And yet…I believe it. I believe in the possibility of it. It is similar to a game I used to play in New York City when I was just getting sober for the first time. If I wanted to get high I would tell myself: You can. You can get high, but you have to wait till tomorrow. If you wake up tomorrow and want to get high than you can. We will go get heroin and whiskey and Chinese food and you can float away into oblivion. Tomorrow. It was a trick. I knew it was a trick. But I also believed it: if tomorrow I still want to get high I can. The thing is: tomorrow I never want to get high. Tomorrow I always wake up slightly grateful that I hadn’t given in.
Another valuable secret: sometimes the best thing you can do is just go to bed and wait for tomorrow.
We had a three and a half hour lay over in Chicago. Alex was fascinated with the toilet seats in the airport: they were encased in a plastic sheeting, and when you were done they rotated, providing new, clean, plastic coverings.
I was having trouble walking. The pain was acute. I remember once, before flying to Rome, getting some kind of a stomach virus, and spending two hours at the Toronto airport puking. I thought I was going to die. When I got to Rome I spent the first day sleeping. I had terrible dreams of apocalypses and strange insectoid people feeding off the flesh of everyone I had ever loved while I was forced to watch.
Sometimes I feel like my dreams are premonitions of a past I can’t remember. Like some distant flash revealing the shapes of mountains without revealing the mountains themselves.
There are moments in a relationship when the world flows like magic. When you feel connected, like one. Where every touch and every glance makes your dick hard and your head spin. There are times when you know exactly why you fell in love: times when you find yourself falling even deeper in love.
And then there are times when nothing makes any sense. You hate yourself. You hate them. You feel trapped. The constructs of love feel barbaric, poisonous: you feel more like enemies than lovers. Every word is an invitation to battle. Every hidden glance, every thought, every touch repulsive and full of terror.
And there are times when one of you feels one way and the other feels another way. You want to believe being in love means being in synch. But this is just another lie we tell ourselves. To help us ride through the empty spheres, those moments when we feel soul-less and untethered, when we realize the fullness of our aloneness.
It makes me think about God. Or whatever it is you want to call that word. The Universe. Spirit. Nothingness. It makes me wonder about meaning and transgression: about destiny and failure.
It makes me wonder if I am capable of evening knowing myself, let alone another human being.
There are days when the three of us sit quietly on the couch, each locked in our worlds, our heads, our existences. I look at them and I realize that maybe I will never know what they are thinking, what is happening inside them: like all of life the things I know are just projections of what I believe to be true, having nothing to do with truth itself.
But it is still comforting. To see them. To feel their warmth.
I often think about what will happen when I die. They are standing over me. Alex will be crying. The look of loss on his face will be huge. Unprecedented. Alex is larger than anyone I have ever met. Sometimes I wish I could tell him none of it is his fault: its just part of being human. We were the lucky ones: even in the pain we loved each other. Even in the disjointed moments when nothing made sense we were soul-mates. Jon will be trying to comfort us both because that is what he does. He takes care of us. He will cry in the bathroom later, or when he has turned away: hidden. He is always telling us later that he cried. The only evidence we have is his testimony. I wish I could tell him that he is worth it: even if he thinks he isn’t: he is one of those rare and beautiful gifts: something most people will never get, and Alex and I are two of the luckiest people I know. The three of us are. I imagine, like a failed actor practicing his Oscar speech, what I will say to them. I imagine how they will look, how they will hold on: I imagine myself finally slipping away, utterly alone, without them.
It’s funny. When I sat down to write this morning I thought: today will be about orgies. About Berlin. About darkened skies that remind me of heroin and poetry. It will be about kissing the sexy Argentinian, holding him in place, while Alex fucks him, or about the grey haired British dude who fucked me while Alex talked dirty to him, cheering him on, about all the sex. The endless sex.
But instead I have found myself here. Jon is sitting next to the window. The wood slated blinds pulling in sunlight and creating shadows around him. Alex is lying on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, eyes closed and beautiful, Ash, our cat, at his feet. Paco is in his bed, two days ago he jumped from a high spot onto the floor and fucked up his spine, he can no longer walk, we have to push on his bladder to make him pee, we spend hours researching doggie-wheelchairs: and all of this reminds me of how frail we are. How suddenly it will all be gone.
The words: one day I will die: have no real meaning. They can’t. Because like everything else they are unknowable. Untenable. The reality of them unattainable. But the truth is, whether I understand it or not: one day I will die. And so will they. And so will you.