We Are All Beautiful.

Discerning Daddy

I grew up in and around New York City in the 80’s and 90’s. Some of my mother’s closest friends were gay men. Most of them have died from AIDS. When, at 45 years old I found out I was HIV positive, regardless of what I knew intellectually, I felt the devastation of all those men my mother had loved who had died. I felt afraid, alone, suddenly cut off from the rest of my community.

Of course the truth was very different. I sero-converted in the age of PrEP and Treatment as Prevention, an age where more and more of my community understood what being positive meant, the age of the Undetectable Status.

But I was now a 45-year-old man. My age and my HIV Status, the way I felt about my body in a culture obsessed with body image: these things fuck with your self-worth. It is easy to feel undesirable, it is easy to begin to feel like life is coming to a close, to start looking back and saying: what the fuck have I even accomplished?

Who the fuck am I?

In May I turned 50.

For most of my life I never liked the way I looked. I was too short, too stocky, too fat, too skinny…always too something that amounted to never being quite enough.

We live in a world that tells us, through advertising and fake news and PR campaigns, that we aren’t pretty enough, happy enough, successful enough: that nothing will ever fix us until we buy or try or wear or eat or fuck this one thing. Our worth and our acceptance is contingent on this product, service, whatever.

Because, they tell us, we are broken.

On Saturday night I went to my favorite underground warehouse party in LA. Severino from Horse Meat Disco was DJing. We arrived at 1:30 in the morning to an old warehouse behind a large parking lot in downtown LA.

Ushered from the street inside, we stood in a large waiting area, kids in colorful outfits and masks, horror movie and glamor make-up, drag queens and muscle bears in leather and jocks, girls and boys, genderless and gender queer, the music could be heard from inside, people were already dancing as we waited to be allowed entry.

On the dance floor the music pounded: Disco mixed toward a darker edge, then flowing back into that ecstatic memory of my childhood when my mother and her friends would dance wildly in the living room to Parliament and Donna Summer, bottles of red wine and joints, laughing and howling at the possibility of a future. They would scream into the night, they would hold each other and cry, my mother would do Tarot Cards and channel alien entities, she would cast spells as she held court over these men, and I would hide, quietly under the table, allowed to watch as long as I stayed in my little hidden fort.

I remember my mother saying to a friend of hers who had lost so much weight he seemed to be disappearing,

“We are all beautiful. Every single one of us. We are like these great shining lights, gorgeous and magical and full of existence.”

Underneath the disco ball as it captured and sent transcended light back to us as we danced, I closed my eyes, feeling the heat of the room, my body drenched in sweat, the floor shaking underneath the weight of us, bodies pushing against me, touching me: fans clapping loudly, people cheering with each new shift of the music: lost for a moment in the infinite possibility of who we all might be.

In that room I took my shirt off, no longer trapped by all the hateful shit that swirled in my head, no longer caring: I was more than my body, more than my HIV status, more than my age or my gender or my sexual preferences: in that room, underneath that disco ball I was part of something that extended way beyond myself, way beyond any of us.

It is easy to feel scared. It is easy to look at someone who appears beautiful, or of a different race or gender, someone with more money, someone with more power, and to think they are not scared. It is easy to be divided from each other, to forget that we are all human, and that we are all scared.

Before leaving the party I wandered into the Dark Room. I watched as a muscle man in a jock strap was bent over a chair, men taking turns on him, a shaved headed boy covered in tattoos knelt sucking the dick of a short, slender, gorgeous person, their shimmering black dress pulled up, golden high heels reflecting what little light was in the room.

In the middle of it all stood a tall vision dressed in white-netted cloth that reached up over their neck, covering their face, obfuscating them. They stood silently watching: as all around us men took turns fucking and sucking, jerking off onto each other, making out and laughing, talking quietly, moving to the music.

As men moaned, as someone said, over and over, “Fuck me harder, please, fuck me harder,” the white dressed obfuscation raised their glass, as if in toast, as if in blessing, and then turned and walked out of the room.

I followed them out, but I lost them. I looked everywhere but they were just gone. Maybe they had changed clothes, now walking naked through the party, or maybe they had left, walking out onto the street, or maybe they had come, just for a few minutes, to celebrate with us, to dance and fuck and laugh with us: blessing us before fading back into whatever strange and beautiful existence they had appeared from.

It’s easy to take all the hate and shame and fear I have and turn it on someone else: to judge them, to categorize their flaws, to hate them: it is easy to forget that, like my mother said, we are all beautiful, and we are all afraid.
I don’t want to be afraid anymore, to judge myself as if I am somehow flawed, not worthy.

I like to think of that white clad creature extending their drink over all those fucking men as some kind of angel come to say, “You are beautiful, and we love you just as you are. You are absolutely fucking perfect just like this.”

Loss.

Discerning Daddy

Recently, a Facebook friend of mine told me that she missed my Facebook stories.  I told her that I would write something just for her.  That was a few days ago.  But I have felt empty lately, at a loss for words, at a loss for meaning.  Not sure what I should be saying anymore.  Not sure what is important.

And I know that is intrinsically linked to the loss of Jon.

There have been a few moments in my life that have truly changed me.  My mother getting diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, my getting sober, finding out I was HIV Positive, and now Jon’s death.  Each of these events have taken the course of my life, the direction I believed I was meant to be heading in, and radically shifted them, changed something essential that I believed about life.

Each of these events have left me feeling like I am fumbling in the dark, grasping at faith that my life will once again take on shape, will once again feel purposeful.

When I was a child my grandmother, Sadie, gave me an antique money bank.  It was a smiling clown with a red gloved hand.  You put your pennies into the red gloved hand and then pushed a lever and the hand would shove the pennies into the clown’s mouth.

For months I was terrified of this leering, hungry clown.

And then I began to talk to it.

I was a strange child.  I spent a lot of time alone.  I believed in ghosts.  I believed in demons and Magick.  Both my mother and my grandmother believed they were witches. They cast stones and read tarot and threw spells and set intention and explained our lives in deep tapestries of myth and reincarnation.

I remember imagining all the fury and dark anger I had as a child and putting it into the clown’s red gloved hand, watching as he opened his mouth wide to devour it.  He became a place to store all my deepest fears, all my dark and angry thoughts.

As I grew older I found other ways to combat my demons. Heroin became a way for me to quiet the world, a way to take all the chaos and pain and turn into something soft and beautiful.

And for years that worked.  Until it didn’t.

Heroin became that devouring clown, monstrous and hungry: no longer just eating the darkness, but eating all of me.

I thought nothing would ever hurt me again the way I ached walking away from dope.  To this day I can feel that warm blanket wash over me, that safety, that absolution: I can taste the drip in the back of my throat, the urge to walk, slowly, throughout the City, that endless sense of possibility that would never really be realized because there was no reason: there was nothing else I needed in that fairy tale opioid landscape.

But eventually that safe and perfect beauty died, and turned into something monstrous and destructive.

I ended up homeless, I lost my car, my relationship to my family and friends became strained and full of hurt and betrayal. I was lost, fumbling in the dark.

And somewhere inside all that darkness light appeared.  It wasn’t immediate.  It took time and there was pain.  I remember lying in my room, alone, crying, the ache inside felt like it would rip me in pieces.

But it didn’t.  And the person who emerged was stronger, clearer, the shapes around me more defined than ever before.  And from those strange and new shapes I built a life that was my own.  Separate from my family’s money, separate from my past, from all the darkness and hurt, I built a life of hope.

My mother has lived with Stage IV cancer for 8 years. I have been sober for almost 7.  I have been HIV Positive for four.

I believed that finally I understood life, I understood hope and love and what it meant to be alive.

And then Jon died.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my room reading. Something in the way the light moved, something in the way the air seemed suddenly denser, full of something other, and then I smelled him.  I could feel him right there, his breath, those blue eyes, and you will call me crazy and you will never know what I am talking about until you have felt it too: but he was there with me, his lips up against mine, his hands briefly connecting to mine.

It could have been seconds or it could have been hours. It was endless.

And then it was over and I could breathe in a way I had never been able to breathe before.

And I am left with this sense that I do not know anything about life.  Once again I am changed.

The ache of Jon feels too large to comprehend, too vast to make sense out of, so I don’t try anymore.  I just let It be.  And I when I come upon it I sit there, as still as I can, my body shaking with the pain of missing him, until it is gone, and I remember that moment when out of thin air Jon came to me and kissed me.  To let me know that he was still there.  That he would always be there.

I have learned so much about love.  Through my relationship to Jon and Alex, and to my relationship now with the man I call Noah.

Someone recently asked me if I thought it was “healthy” that Alex and I continued to live together.  He insinuated that maybe I shouldn’t share with Noah my feelings about Jon, that maybe I needed to leave the past behind me.

But that is bullshit.  Alex and Jon are my family.  My love for them will never not be one of the most important things in my life.  Just because the direction of that love has changed does not mean the intensity of it has.

And my love for Noah encompasses all the love I have ever felt before him, it emerges from that love, it is because of that love.

The one thing I am sure of, the one thing I know for certain, is that love is at the core of all this.  All of life.  It is the only thing that matters.

I can be petty and sanctimonious, I can gossip and lie, I can be jealous and spiteful and unkind.  I am human.

But then I think of Jon, who died alone in his car in a parking lot in Montebello.  And how loved he was.  Whether in those final moments he knew it or not.  And while maybe in those final moments that love couldn’t save him, I think it has the opportunity to save those of us he left behind.

Jon loved me so much.  And I loved him.  And that love is something that will live forever.  It will change us.  And I think of Alex and I think of Noah.  And I think of all the men I have ever loved and I try to hold on to that.

Who we are and what we do matters.  Maybe everything we do matters.  I don’t know.  But in that darkness there is a new shape forming: something hopeful: something full of integrity and kindness.  And I want to hold on to that.

So for now I have no idea what words to say, no stories that make sense to me: I am still searching for meaning, for understanding, but I can see it, shimmering out there in the distance: the vastness and the potential, and when I lose sight of it I can close my eyes and remember that kiss with Jon, or the first time Alex and I went to dinner, all those endless walks we took, or Noah, and the quiet moments in bed just holding each other, or the long drives across America, listening to music and exploring the world together, in the way we have all come together in this life to take care of each other.

In all the love.

 

TRIAD LIVING PART SEVEN

Triad Living

There is no space. No where to go, no place to find that can be your own. That is the hardest part. Maintaining yourself and still being a part of the relationship. That is true of all relationships. Finding a place that you can sit quietly and just be. We live in a three bedroom house. We have two guest houses. Every spare room is rented out: either on airbnb or to friends. It is how we subsidize our lives. How we afford to live.

And yet there is no space. Someone is always moving about. Always shitting. Always doing laundry. On the phone.   Someone is always washing dishes or sitting on the couch, people are talking, laughing. Rarely are there ever times when it all stops. And then there is work. Or having to take care of the car. Or the bills. Navigating outside relationships with friends. Family. Dying mothers. Ageing fathers. There is Facebook and the phone and tumblr and blogs that have to be maintained.

There is no space. No one can breathe. Everything private occurs publicly. Witnessed by someone. Even if we didn’t rent the rooms out there would be no space. There are three of us. There are three cats and one dog. There are groceries to be bought. In the space of just these few paragraphs someone has walked past me four times. My computer has alerted me, in the upper right hand corner, that someone is trying desperately to tell me something on Facebook Messenger. I have events coming up. It’s someone’s birthday.

There is an endless amount of things that must happen. Right now.

This morning I broke down. I ended up back in bed, after having been up for half an hour, sobbing. Uncontrollably. Sobbing so hard it hurt in my stomach and lower back. The weight of everything spilling over. I realized: this is just what it is. This is life.

A few weeks ago Paco, our little dog, jumped out of our bed and did something to his spine and couldn’t walk anymore. We had to take him outside to pee, expressing him by pressing on his bladder. He shit in his bed at night and didn’t know it. One of our cats began pissing blood. He had crystals in his urine. My mother tried to grow her hair back but it fell out again. She doesn’t like the chemo infusions. She says she can’t sit there like that, for endless hours, having chemicals pumped into her. I’ve had bronchitis for the past six weeks. At night I find it hard to breathe, like a great pressure pushing down on me.

Laying in bed, the blankets pulled over my head, I wondered: can I do this? Is it actually sustainable? Am I capable of this? Outside I knew Jon and Alex were fed up with me. Tired of my tantrums. Maybe I should leave. Even though I say we are broke I could leave. The money would be there if I needed it: plane tickets and a new life. An allowance to buy me some time while I re-figure out who I am. The money is always there when I need it. And I’ve done this before. Disappearing into new cities, leaving everything behind. Maybe that is what I should do now. Just disappear. I’ve failed at this life. Maybe it’s time to make a new one.

Ten and a half months ago I got married. We are discussing buying a new house. Laying down roots. More roots. More restrictions. More shackles. And I think about freedom. I think about space. I think about escape. I think about who I am and who I am becoming. 13 months and a few days ago Jon moved in with us. Taking up more space in my life, in my head, in my heart, and in the bed, on the couch, using the bathroom and his shirts and underwear taking up room on the floor and in the dresser. In two weeks Alex will go back to work, in six weeks he will leave for six months. He’s barely been here at all. I feel like I haven’t even had the chance to spend any time with him: because there is no time between the loads of laundry and the doctor and the constant negotiating of all the aspects of our lives. He just got here and now he is leaving again.

I look around my house. I look at all the books. At everything I love. And I feel the burden of things that are trivial, empty, meaningless: and yet all those trivial, empty, meaningless things grow into one giant weight, while the love seems to lose whatever power it once had to help elevate me.

There is the car honking outside. There is the neighbors fighting. There are all those bills: endlessly appearing and subtracting what I have. From my bank accounts. From my relationships. From my self.

I find myself thinking a lot about “a room of one’s own”. A quiet space where I can disappear for a while. I’ve been talking about going to Berlin or Madrid. About living in those dark, poetic skies in Kreuzberg, or on the Chueca Square. Of quiet and space: lying on the floor, no noise, no people, just thinking…my thoughts flying away from me, forever spiraling into new dimensions. Of going for long walks through strange new neighborhoods: a life of discovery.

Of being alone.

There are so many of us. There are so many socks and shoes and shirts: so many different feelings and thoughts and needs: there is never a break: never a moment when you can sit back and just be.

Or at least that is how it feels. The truth is: this is all wrong.

When I am frustrated or upset instead of getting sad or quiet or asking for help I yell. I get mad. I am conflict driven. I work it out through fury.   This can be exhausting for those closest to me. For those who have to suffer my bursts of unexplainable rage. I like to blame everything else around me for the inadequacies I feel inside: the amount of people in the house at any given time, the laundry, the noise, Alex and Jon laughing or talking, the lack of money, the constancy of bills, the political climate and the whole fucking world. The problem is always outside of me. And I start punching.

The truth is simple: there is never time for myself unless I take the time. I know this but I don’t do it. Instead I am constantly caving to the endless chatter of Facebook and the New York Times: the constant call to pay attention to things that don’t actually matter.

Time and space and individuality are, for me, the biggest challenges in this relationship triangle I find myself in. All I want to do is be with them and all I want to do is get away from them.

Yesterday I blew up. I was sitting at my desk: which currently sits in the middle of the living room. When Alex is in Spokane and Jon is working and everyone is out of the house it is my favorite place to be: just me surrounded by all my books. When everyone is home it is chaos. As I sat there, frustrated because I couldn’t write, listening to Rene’s Mexican pop music and Jon and Alex giggling on the couch at Tumblr gifs I began thinking about how impossible my life was. How I had no space, no time: that I could not write and it was their fault. Everything was their fault.

I started huffing and puffing, stomping around: I was mad and they were going to know it. Everyone was going to feel what I was feeling.

Part of what happens, I know, is I pre-fight in my head. I work up a good fury before I even take it to the people. I imagine all the things I am mad at, all the wrongs done to me: I see how no one else is living up to my expectations of them. How everyone else is fucking up my life. I talk to them in my head. Hold lengthy monologues where I tell them how they are fucking up. In my head my arguments always make sense, they always add up: I am always totally justified in what I am feeling and in how I express it. I am always right.

Of course, none if it went as planned. Because they are there too: they are not the them that live in my head: they are real people with their own inner dialogues and their own expectations: their own needs.

I was hysterical with fury and panic. What started out as “I can’t think. I need space. I can’t write.” Turned into a discussion about our entire relationship and whether or not we should even continue. Five hours dissecting every aspect of every possible problem. When all I was really upset about was not having a space to myself. But they had their own upsets. Their own complaints and worries and fears: they were their own universes with their own needs and dogmas. Their own internal monologues. And it all ended up being dumped right there on the floor in front of us.

Alex and I discussed divorce. We discussed my just leaving for six months, moving to Amsterdam or Barcelona, where I could finish my novel. We discussed just giving up sex and opening our relationship up. I was melodramatic. I made them each promise not to leave me right away if we broke up.

I always wonder at people. At their relationships. At how they behave with each other when there is no one else there. I wonder at people beyond Facebook and the bars: I wonder at the truth. I wonder do they go as crazy as I do? Do they ever get angry and yell and scream? Do they say unforgivable things to each other? Do they worry that they are more Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woof and less Love Actually? Do they ever think about all the shit that keeps piling up, suffocating whatever love is there? Do they fight endlessly about nothing, worrying themselves down to the sharpest nerve? Or are they calm and quiet and perfect? Do they live in houses cluttered with clothes and books and the debris of life or are their floors clean and swept, white curtains blowing eternally in the gentlest wind? Everyone else always seems to have their shit together and I always seem to feel like it’s all falling apart.

We didn’t get divorced. We didn’t “open up”. We also didn’t necessarily solve any of our problems: in truth I’m not even sure exactly what our problems are. I’m still trying to figure that out. We all left the bedroom a little broken, a little sad: those kinds of conversations never really work out. I’m beginning to think “talking it through” might not always be the best idea. Maybe sometimes the best idea is just walking away. Getting a little space. A little time for yourself. Maybe a hike in Griffith Park. A walk to Larchmont. Sit in a café and read. A matinee alone. Sometimes we are so up in each other’s faces we can’t even breathe anymore.

I am realizing something about myself: all this talking isn’t about the talking: it’s about fear. About being afraid that I am no longer loved. Or enough. That no one wants me anymore. All this talking, this fighting, this round-about endless dissecting has very little to do with solutions. I want everyone to stop and just pay attention to me. I want them to all be happy and behave exactly how I want them to behave. How I expect them to behave. And that is the fucking endless problem. My expectations of how they should be behaving. My expectations of how life should be: how my life should look. My endless expectations of how everything and everyone around me should behave.

And so I am endlessly let down.

I want space but I want you to always want to be around me. I want time alone but I want you to be always thinking of me, always wanting me: content to just sit around waiting for me. But I also want you to go out and work: just in a way that is convenient to my needs. I want Alex to be successful but I don’t want him to go away for six months: so I get mad. I want Jon to write but I don’t want him to sit in the living room writing when I want to write: so I get mad.

I want the world to conform to me and it will not. It absolutely will not. And that makes me fucking furious.

I am like a five year old kicking and screaming and demanding that everyone listen to me: give to me: save me.

And even knowing this I still think that everybody would be much happier if they just did things my way: if everyone just did what I said. I’m smart. I’ve lived a pretty crazy life. And I’ve survived it. I know what the fuck I’m talking about. I’m pretty sure I know better than everyone else how they should be living their lives.

People should fucking trust me.

This morning I was talking to a friend of mine on Facebook Messenger. He and his husband recently opened up. I asked him how it was.

“Fine.” He said. “Less than I thought.”
“Less how?”

“I’m still not getting laid.”

He was mad at his husband. They hadn’t had sex in a month. They kept fighting about it. Talking about it. All the fighting and talking had begun to make the idea of sex seem not just unsexy but kind of repulsive.

“I don’t even want to fuck him anymore.”

I’d fuck his husband. He is hot. While listening to my friend I found myself imaging me fucking his husband. See, if we were open, I could fuck his husband. It would be okay.

Then I wondered if Alex would fuck him. Who would Alex fuck? And Jon? And I started getting mad. I could feel it building. It’s okay if I fuck the world but you better not want to fuck anyone who isn’t me.

Alex and I share a tumblr account. We post pictures of guys (mixed in with pictures of the three of us) that we think are hot. Recently Alex reblogged a picture of some hairy muscle daddy. I kept going back to that picture. Staring at it. Trying to divine what Alex liked so much about it: fine, it is obvious, the guy is hot. Hotter than me. And that was the problem. I didn’t mind if Alex reblogged chubby older white guys: but lately he’s been reblogging younger guys, muscle guys: super fucking sexy guys. And I didn’t like that. In fact, it made me fucking pissed. Because he shouldn’t want them. He should want me. Why isn’t he taking pictures of me and reblogging them (For the record, if I were honest: he is…it just isn’t enough…but then it is becoming clear none of it is enough)? Why isn’t he texting me and talking to me….and honestly, why does he jerk off in the shower? Why does he even jerk off at all? Why can’t he always fuck me? Why does he….and on it goes until the fury builds and I am ready to fight. To tear it all down. To fucking destroy everything.

“Do you and your dude still fuck?” I asked my friend.

“No. But that’s why we decided to do this. He says he isn’t in a sexual space, whatever the fuck that means. He isn’t horny. But I know he’s fucking other guys. I’ve gone on his phone and looked at his Scruff account. If he isn’t feeling sexual why does he even have a Scruff account?”

“Do you have a Scruff account?”
“Of course.”

I told Alex and Jon if we ever opened up I didn’t want to announce it on Facebook. I didn’t want to know about their adventures. I didn’t want to see it.

But here is something I have learned about me: I can start out adamantly against something, and I can begin to reason with myself.   Begin to see where maybe I have been wrong. I can be opinionated and arrogant and judgmental, but I am also willing to change. To see other sides of the argument. Maybe not while the argument is happening: I am designed to fight to win, but after the battle is over: I begin to think about it. To consider it: to let the opposing sides in. So maybe I would want to know about it: maybe their adventures would become my fantasies. Maybe this could become the new tool in our sexuality. A way to flirt with each other.

Because I want to be involved. I want to be included. Not just because I am selfish and greedy and want the world to revolve around me (all basically true statements) but also because then it feels healthy, it feels like we are still intimate on some level: participating in each other’s sexuality.

Sex matters to me. I believe sexual intimacy is important…maybe even essential to what I want from a relationship: but I’m also beginning to see it doesn’t have to be limited. Maybe being open is a way of allowing all of us to explore what we need, and then bring those experiences back to the relationship. A way to learn more about ourselves.

Alex used to say, when we were first dating, that he didn’t want to limit my sexuality. So much of who we are and what we need or want gets limited: restricted: inside a relationship. But we don’t necessarily have to give in to that. We can step out side the constraints and try something new.

And still be us.

Life is not easy. Often it is hard and messy. Sometimes it feels designed to oppress us. To hold us down. To keep us trapped inside our narrow worlds. But we can step outside those boxes: walk around our self-made prisons, consider life on the outside.

I believe that the only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves. That doesn’t mean I will become a world class Opera singer or president: but it doesn’t mean I have to live a small, narrow life either. I can go big if I really want to. I can go as big as I allow myself.

And the other thing I am beginning to realize: all those things that are driving me so crazy: my cellphone bill, my car insurance, mortgage payments and the constant people who are always around me, loving me: wanting and expecting things from me, little Paco and our cat Ash, Henry and Dorian, all these things that are driving me so fucking crazy right now: they are blessings. Things I have fought for. Things I have built. Things I love. I love my house: our home. I love my books and the computer that Alex and Jon bought me for my birthday. I love our crazy little world of animals, I love the two men who sit on the couch and giggle and whisper to each other: even when we forget that we are friends and not enemies, I love them: I love the car my father bought for me when I met Alex and was embarrassed to tell him that I was recently sober and had lost my car along with my house and everything else: I love my father who never stops supporting and loving me, my dying mother who has beat the odds over and over again: I love this life that just three and a half years ago, drowning in drugs and alcohol, seemed so impossible, so far away: I love the way sunlight plays across the wood floors: all these annoyances and distractions are mine.

I have fought hard for this life. And I am lucky. I can remember so clearly living at 1036 Sanborn Ave, high on oxy and whiskey, standing naked in front of a mirror screaming at myself: hearing voices telling me to jump out the window: to die: telling me I was alone and I would always be alone. Forever.

But that was just a lie. I am not alone. I am surrounded by love. Even as we disappoint each other, even as we save each other, even as we scream and yell and cry: if I can just remember: this is mine. It is what I have always wanted.

And while everything comes at a price: it is never so high to make it not worth it. And so maybe my white curtains never seem to flow as perfectly in that gentle warm breeze as I would like, and maybe there are dishes in the sink that no one seems to be doing, and Paco is always barking, and Jon is doing the fucking kitty litter box again, and Alex is watching some stupid video, and maybe Facebook keeps reminding me to wish some asshole I don’t know happy birthday, all of these things…are mine.

I have been given the chance at a new life. Most of you never knew me when I was high. Will never know how far I fell. How desperate and scared and ugly it got. How fucking alone I was. How in those moments late at night I would have sold my soul for the life I have been given.

And then I remember: this is magic. I listen to a lot of people talking about how horrible the world is. How mean humans are. How terrible and ugly everything is. And I know: life is what I want it to be. Even as my mother dies she goes to book clubs and she has lunch with friends: even as she coughs up blood she tells jokes and makes dinners for the people she loves.

There can be so much ugliness and despair and hate. But all the things that seem to hurt so much are all the things I have loved so deeply.

A few days ago, driving down Fountain Avenue, I pulled over on the side of the road and began sobbing. My mother had been telling me about a book she was reading. I could see her there in her apartment, Don asleep, shadows surrounding her, it would be cold outside: and she would be both frail and endlessly strong: she would be this woman who was sick and old and she would be my mother, young and healthy and beautiful, a woman famous for the parties she threw, famous for the artists she knew, my mother standing on the banks of rivers conjuring ghosts. After we hung up I pulled over to the side of the road, alone, and sobbed. I screamed at God. Because if he existed he was a monster. My mother did not deserve to suffer like this: she did not deserve this ending to her life. She did not fucking deserve this pain. My mother did not deserve this and fuck God and the Universe and fuck everyone who lived on this miserable ugly planet.

And then my phone rang. It was my mom calling again. I picked up.

“I forgot to tell you!” she said, her voice raspy from coughing.

“What?” I asked, trying to hide the fact that I had just been crying.

“Just how grateful I am. You know, I’m not grateful I got cancer, but I am grateful for what it showed me. I keep thinking how every thing I’ve ever done in my life was selfish. I left you and your brother, I’ve cheated on so many men, I’ve been selfish and petty and yet tonight, all these women came over and made dinner with me and we watched Sherlock and then we laughed and gossiped till after midnight. I mean, think about that. And I am grateful for you. And for Damon. I don’t think I deserve the life I’ve gotten. I am the luckiest person I know.”

I do not think I deserve the life I have gotten. I have cheated and lied and betrayed those I love. I have squandered the gifts I have been given. I am rarely grateful and when I am it is usually a prelude to wanting more.

And if there is a God I’m still pretty sure I do not like him. Not one fucking bit.

“We are blessed, you know.” My mother said to me. “You and I. We have been blessed. Kissed by heaven. My whole life I’ve been giving God the finger. I’m glad he has been more tolerant of me than I have been of him.”

 

THE STORY OF US PART FOUR

The Story of Us

THE STORY OF US PART FOUR

It is important to explain that Alex had been gone for six months. He came home, in October, from Season One of Znation. Our focus was supposed to be on our wedding. That was supposed to be the only thing we thought about.

We decided that I would fly to Spokane and meet Alex and we would drive North to Vancouver and then slowly, over three weeks, back down to LA. It was a strange period in my life. It was almost a year ago that I had found out I was HIV positive. Alex had been gone for six months. I would be getting married. Life was changing in strange and mysterious ways. Just three years ago I was still a drug addict. October is a heavy month for me. It is the month I got sober and the month I found out my status.

In a strange way I like to link these things to Rosh ha Shanna and Yom Kippur. I am not religious and I certainly don’t believe in the kind of God described by Judaism, but there is something healing in the idea of a new year and redemption, forgiveness.

I once asked a Rabbi why the Jews blow the shofar at Rosh ha Shanna. He told me the Jews have a contract with God, and every year, for Rosh ha Shanna, we renew that contract. That each year mankind’s fate hangs in a sort of existential balance. Will this be the year God finally gives up on us? Or will he find something beautiful, something worthwhile in man, and be our King for one more year?

One of my favorite things to do is go listen to the Rabbi blow the shofar. The sound does something to me, conjures something up inside me: it reminds me of something I think I have forgotten. There is a magick to it. The Rabbi told me that we blow the shofar in order to cry out to God, imploring him, reminding him that we are worth another year of existence. Begging him not to give up on us: to renew the contract between man and deity. But it is also the cry of humanity into the great darkness, the void, the endless scream, howling for our creator: because we have been severed, cut off from the source, and the cry of the shofar is the cry of our pain, calling out to God to know us. To believe in us. To have faith in us.

In some strange way I believe this. The sound of the ram’s horn blowing, the Rabbi standing there, dark and mysterious and wrapped in cloth: it is desolate, full of despair and pain, full of loneliness and terror: the sound pierces me. For one brief moment, wrapped in that wail, I am the one standing alone, trembling, shaking, waiting for God to decide: am I worth it? Am I worthy of this existence?

In Seattle we fucked a sexy bartender we had met on Scruff. We had spent the night wandering around Seattle’s Capital Hill, eating dinner, checking out all the bars: we flirted with a sexy bear couple, watched a drag queen do karaoke, sat on stone walls and watched as people walked by, the endless parade of humanity that fills cities on weekend nights: are we happy? Is this fun? Is this it? Is this everything? Is there more? Can I be more?… a silent chant flickering in the eyes of everyone we saw.

We had seen the bartender at one of the many gay bars we had been to. I was unclear on how sexy I thought he was until he sent us a picture of his ass: he had one of those asses that you don’t say no to.

It was four am. We were staying in a studio we had rented on airbnb. Alex was drunk. I told the guy to come over, get naked, bend over the couch, and just let us do what we wanted. He seemed to like that idea. I went down stairs to let the guy in. When we came back, Alex was sitting on the couch, a drunken silly-sexy smile on his face, completely naked, hardon sticking up proud as ever. I fell so madly in love with him in that moment. He was outrageous and funny and ridiculous and stupid sexy all at the same time.

We fucked that bartender with the amazing ass until none of us could stand, and then we sent him home, Alex and I curling up in the small loft bed, the sun coming up, birds loud and obnoxious out the window, and held each other as we fell asleep.

I tell this story because it stands out for me as a visceral and gorgeous testimonial to my love for Alex. He was the first guy I was ever able to truly be myself with. In all aspects. I didn’t have to hide my sexual sides: the dirty dog who wanted to fuck some dude bent over the couch at 4am and than send him home, barely speaking two words, and then cuddling with my lover, wrapped in sweat and cum and ass funk, and laugh at how amazing our lives were. I could be vulnerable with him and stupid with him and scared: he has never rejected me, never looked at me like something was wrong inside me, never found a flaw with my desires or fears or insecurities, he has never made me feel dirty or unworthy. And it makes me think of that shofar: the two of us standing on a mountain top, the world vast and endless, the sky above us eternal: infinite in its alien intelligence, and suddenly I no longer feel so alone: together we will wail and scream and howl at the world, at God, at the terror: and together we will celebrate ourselves: in all our dirty, shit mongering, diseased, beautiful, disastrous ways.

And it will be okay. We will all be okay.

The next day we drove to Vancouver. We had rented an amazing one-bedroom apartment at the End of Davie, at the sea-wall, on the 18th floor overlooking the beach and the ocean in one direction, and the city and the mountains in the other. We spent three days in Vancouver eating bagels on Granville, wandering the City, meeting new friends and fucking on the couch overlooking that incredible view.

Then we drove the long drive to Portland: I don’t really get Portland as a City. It feels strangely detached and cold to me, sexless in an oversexed way, but the food was fucking amazing. Seriously, I’ve had some amazing meals in that town.

In San Francisco we became friends with our Uber driver: I still regret not inviting him up to our apartment and fucking senselessly: it was so obvious we all wanted it, but it just didn’t happen. He did meet us later that night and we’ve all become friends, but have no doubt: I plan to fuck that Uber driver into the ground the first chance I get (or maybe let him fuck me into the ground, Alex and Jon holding me down). We made out with a sexy bearded man at the Eagle, and stayed up all night sitting on the balcony of the house we rented in Twin Peaks and watched as the fog devoured the City, enshrouding it in a kind of ecstatic gloom. During the day we drank Phil’s Coffee and wandered used book stores and magick shops and bought a new dildo for me: I love the reverence Alex shows towards my ass, an idolatry toward it: this makes me want to show it off for him, put myself on display: offer myself up to him: when it is just us my whole being becomes focused on his pleasure: submissive and hungry and madly in love.

We decided on a wedding date. February 21. I had grand ideas about our wedding at first. I thought about renting a house in Cambria or Big Sur. I considered Ojai and Idylwild. Moroccan estates in Palm Springs. Beach front properties in Malibu. Then we decided maybe just have it at the house. We have this tiny but amazing 1910 craftsman with original detail in Hollywood. A cute little back courtyard. Why spend thousands of dollars on a wedding when we could save it all for a grand honeymoon adventure…we love travel adventures.

The future was open. We thought we knew the course of things. We had no idea that in a few weeks we were going to meet Jon, fall in love, and invite him in to our adventure.

The Rabbi told me another story. This is when I was 22, in the midst of a dark and heavy heroin addiction. I had been sent to him for counseling. Rehab and AA and therapy hadn’t worked. Maybe a man beholden to a mythical God could save me. He told me about a boy in a small Russian village who had been very sick and was dying. His parents went to the Rabbi and asked for his help. The Rabbi prayed and prayed to God, and still the boy was sick, dying. He brought together all the elite holy men of the village, and they prayed to God, begging for a reprieve, but the boy only got sicker. Then the Rabbi went to the other side of the village, where the thieves and murders and whores lived and he brought them to the boy’s bedside and together, with those thieves and murders and whores he prayed to God. And the boy got better.

“Sometimes, Jeff, it isn’t the good or the holy who save the world. Sometimes we need a thief to break into the kingdom of Heaven and get God’s attention. Sometimes we need a whore to remind God how beautiful we can be. This path you are on, it is your path. We can not judge you for it. We can not condemn you for it. It is the path that you must walk with your Creator. Find a way to make it wondrous, find a way to make it a testament to God.”

When people ask me why I write I think back to that Rabbi, and I think, this is my testament to God. Together my Creator and I wallow in filth and debauchery, in sex and in vile beauties, and together we redeem ourselves, and together we grow: hand in hand, each of us completely dependent upon the other.

TO BE CONTINUED….

TRIAD LIVING PART FOUR

Triad Living

My Best friend, Andrea, is a successful journalist. She writes for places like the New York Times and Huff Post and other big name venues. She gave me one piece of advice when I told her about my Vice article, “Don’t respond to the trolls who are going to attack you in the comments section. Read it if you want. Read all of it if you want. But don’t respond.” She told me to stay out of the conversations that were going to arise. On Facebook and elsewhere. If someone wrote me personally, or on Twitter, and they were being nice, or at least trying to be nice, respond. “But ignore the assholes. They aren’t talking to you anyway.” Andrea has a lot of experience in this. She’s waded into some pretty controversial territory. I trusted her.

And she was right. There have been some assholes. People who want to tell me why my relationship with Alex and Jon can’t work. Why it is wrong. Some talk about Christianity, some talk about exploiting gay marriage. Everyone has an opinion and they feel those opinions intensely.

When I wrote the piece for Vice my goal was not controversy. I was naïve. It didn’t even really occur to me that this piece, about love and friendship: about learning to be happy could possibly be controversial to anyone. I mean fine, besides the gay aspect, which is always controversial to someone, I just didn’t think most people would care.

I was wrong.

There was one scathing comment from a gay guy who lives in LA, someone I kind of know indirectly, who told me I was being selfish. That it was hard enough for him to find one decent gay guy in LA to date (he’s single) and that here I was taking two, and in the process ruining my marriage because there was no way this could work, as well as ruining his chances at finding true love. He told me my whole article was just selfish justification. Another woman said that no one will take gays seriously now. I was proving everyone right: that we were over sexualised, promiscuous, etc. Some people wrote, Ewww, or just Gross.

I was surprised at how mostly these people didn’t bother me. I felt sorry for the gay guy. He seemed really sad. I thought it was strange that he made my being happy about his being sad. But I could almost understand what he was saying. He was lonely. And the woman: well, I don’t really know what to say to her. Yes, I have fucked a lot of guys. Yes, the three of us have fucked A LOT of guys and honestly, I hope we fuck a hell of a lot more guys. Fucking is fun. I don’t know why anyone should feel ashamed of enjoying sex. It’s one of those rare win-win situations as far as I can tell. I’m also not a fan of slut shaming. If you want to be a slut, go be the best fucking slut in the whole world. I am incredibly grateful to some of the sluts I’ve met. I’ve really enjoyed them.

Monogamy is not bad. Trying to build that kind of deep, intimate, relationship is amazing. And I support that. I’m just not sure it’s right for me. I have been in enough relationships where I failed at it, or the guy I was with failed at it, and we all felt betrayed and sad and it hurt. We lied to each other. I became someone I didn’t want to be.

I’ve decided I’m no longer willing to be that person. I know who I am and I can accept that and be happy with it.

When Alex and I first started talking about all this stuff, he said to me, “I really want to honor your sexuality. I don’t want to make you be something you aren’t. I want to share in it.” And that is what we did. We aren’t open. Necessarily. Our goal is a version of monogamy. We fuck other guys together. We have fun. We share our sexuality, the three of us now, together. We explore together. Sometimes, based on circumstances, the rules are looser and sometimes they are tighter. We are fluid. We try to take everyone’s needs into consideration.

Sometimes this is easy.  Sometimes it is fraught with peril.  But mostly we have  found it works, for us.

What amazed me about the negative comments wasn’t that they disagreed with me, or that they were uncomfortable with my choices, but that they were so sure I was wrong. They wanted to hurt me. Tell me we would fail. That I was gross. That my choices, Jon’s and Alex’s choices, weren’t acceptable.

Instead they could have just been happy because we were happy. They could have just believed what they believed but hoped for a better outcome.

But we are all fragile and hurt. We are all scared. Life has a way of breaking us down.

At first I was mad at the comments. Hurt. I thought, shit, if this upsets them wait till I write about being HIV positive, I’m going to prove them all right: Slut gets AIDS. Than I thought, this isn’t about me. What they are saying isn’t about me. I’m happy. This is my life. And look at how amazing it’s turned out. I got to marry the man of my dreams. I got to date this awesome fucking brilliant guy. The three of us get to live together in this amazing home in this amazing city and we get to share each other’s lives and be best friends and lovers and to explore the world and to grow together, not to cage each other, but to really support each other.

I suddenly realized: I am the luckiest fucking guy in the world.

And I got to do what I love best: I got to write and get paid for it and thousands of people read it. And the most amazing thing, besides the few negative comments, was the outpouring of love and acceptance and wonder. I woke up this morning to 57 emails thanking me and congratulating Alex and Jon and I. Asking me questions. Telling me their stories. Yesterday was 196! On twitter my account has 234 notifications at this moment. These are all wonderful, amazing stories, people saying the most incredible things.

A whole world of other happy people!

I am completely blown away. Straight people, gay people, young , old, people from all over the world. I met a triad who’s been together 11 years. Another who met in high school, all three of them, and they are still together 8 years later. They’ve shared their stories with me, their experiences and their truth: that this does work. That love does actually win if you want it to.

There is so much to hate in the world. And there is a lot of fucking pain and misery. It’s amazing to read these emails and think, Look, these people have found happiness, they found joy, they found a way to carve out a life of their own. Because this is our life. This is fucking it. And man, terrible things will happen. I talk to my mother, who has stage IV Cancer every day, and every day I get off the phone I sob. I literally sit there and cry almost hysterically. It isn’t fair, I think. That this amazing woman, this beautiful person, should suffer.

And then I think about all the amazing friends she has. About her partner, and all the people who come together and visit her and take her to lunch. All the love she has in her life. My mother would never say that it wasn’t fair. She says she’s lucky. That her life has been filled with love and friends and happiness.

She loves to ask me questions about Jon and Alex. My mother has no problem asking me intensely personal questions about our sex lives. She likes to hear me tell stories.

When I found out I was HIV Positive my friend Kevin drove me straight to Alex. I walked into the house and before I could even speak I was sobbing. I had no idea what was going to happen to me. To him. To us. To the world. And he held me. He wrapped me in those big arms of his and just held on, keeping me safe. And he cried with me. And he told me, over and over, “This is okay. We will be okay. We can do this. Together.” And he was right. We did. He went with me to my doctors appointments. He reminds me to take my meds. And he still loves me. I was safe. Even in all that fear about what was going to happen now: I was safe and he was with me, and together we were going to be fine.

There are no guarantees in this life. Life is exactly what it is. Maybe I just got a bigger, sweeter piece of the pie. Maybe Alex is right and I am eternally optimistic.

But one thing I do know, it’s something my mother once said, “You can’t control the shit storm that life is, so you might as well have as much fun as possible while dancing in the middle of it.”

I am definitely having fun. I got the biggest, sweetest piece of pie ever. And I have two fucking incredible men to share it with. And this whole thing, all of you out there, have just reaffirmed that for me.

Thank you for all the amazing emails and letters and comments. You have made my life just that much better. We are all fucking awesome.

THE STORY OF US PART THREE

The Story of Us

The day I found out I was HIV Positive I was working security at the Faultline for a Sunday Beer Bust. It was October 13, 2013. I’m sure there is some kind of numerological magic to the date. A testing truck was parked in the parking lot. I don’t know what made me think to get tested. It just seemed like the thing to do. The tester was bored. He wanted to be inside getting drunk. He looked at the results and then at me and he said,

“Oh, I’m really sorry.” Then he looked outside and waved to someone in the parking lot.

“Excuse me?” I said. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was so surprised. There had been clues. Choices made that should have made this less of a surprise, but still…I just didn’t think I would find something like that out from such an uninterested asshole in the parking lot of the Faultline.

I think it was the banality that upset me more than anything else. And the fact that he was so unattractive. It just didn’t seem fair.

“I’m sorry,” he said, and kind of shrugged. “The results are positive. Would you like me to make you an appointment with someone?”

“Other than you? Yes. Please.”

I made up some excuse to leave work. I think I said that the sink exploded at the house, or that Alex had set himself on fire, something outrageous. I had to get home. Away. Just for a few minutes. I had to see Alex.

If I could just see Alex than maybe this might make some kind of sense.

And I had to know if he would still love me.

We had guests staying at the house. I told Alex I needed him to come outside. I needed to talk to him. And I stood there, on our front porch, and I looked at him and my heart broke. I burst into tears. He wrapped his arms around me, holding on to me and he kept saying,

“Baby, what is it? What’s wrong?”

I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to answer. I just wanted to stay like that, wrapped in his gigantic arms, forever, safe.

But if I have learned anything in life, it is that the world will keep going: life will keep flowing, and that we are never safe from the inevitable. When I found out that my mother had cancer I learned about inevitabilities: everything I love, everything I hold dear, everything that I find beautiful and wonderful will one day die. That is inevitable. It is a rule of life. When I found out I was HIV Positive I learned that I too will die. Like everything else. One day I will die.

But I also learned something else. I learned that Alex did not pull away from me, he did not tell me to leave, he didn’t yell at me and he did not reject me: instead he held me tighter, and he cried with me, and then he said,

“Okay. We will be okay. We will take care of this.”

And we did. We found me a doctor. We learned that HIV never really leaves the body, it just hides out, in the belly or the brain, always vigilant, so I have to be vigilant too. Every day I have to take my pills. Every day at two Alex sends me a text to remind me. He has been doing this for a year and a half. Together we are vigilant. Together we stand guard.

And I made a decision: that day, October 13, 2013, will have power for me. It will have meaning for me. This thing that lives inside me: it will matter. I will let it change me. I will let it affect me and alter who I am: I will take my inevitable death and I will do something with it: because what is not inevitable is happiness, or success, or beauty: I could fail. It is possible to lose everything. To end up alone. I might relapse, shoot dope, become homeless: these things are all possible with a man like me. But I decided that the world would be different for me: even if I failed I was going to try, I was going to succeed in the doing: my life would have meaning because I was going to give it meaning.

I hear a lot that being HIV positive in this day and age doesn’t mean anything: it’s manageable, it’s not important: it doesn’t mean I will die or get sick, not anymore, and they are right. I am healthy. I am strong. I am not sick, and for today, I am not dying.

But it does mean something. It is like a sign along the way: a reminder: none of this is forever. My mother will die. Alex will die. Jon will die. You will die. Everyone will die. It sounds like such an obvious thing. Of course. But feel it. Really know it. And it changes you. At least it changed me.

I am lucky. I have always been lucky. I have a beautiful life. I am surrounded by love.   I’m happy. Happiness is one of those things that comes easily to me. I want to be happy. I like it. It feels good.

Recently, when the three of us are all together: Alex is gone right now, in Spokane, working on season two of the TV show he is on: But when we are all together I like to lay in bed and listen to the two of them while they sleep. Their breathing encases me, it wraps me in warmth and love. There is a magic in those moments, a power, that is another one of those signs along the way: Yes, you will die, but you will also live. This is living. This is it. Right now.

Sometimes all we are doing is watching TV. Sometimes I am sitting at the desk writing and they are on the couch showing each other stupid tumblr cat gifs and giggling: they do that a lot: look at cat gifs and giggle, sometimes we are arguing or we are fucking, sometimes we are eating ice cream and pop tarts till we are sick, sometimes we are cleaning up cat piss or dog puke or stressing the fuck out or going for a walk: sometimes we are doing nothing and I will see them, or I will catch the light as it falls across them, and I will think: I am the luckiest man alive.

This life is a kind of magic. It is a spell: we are like magicians: conjurers. My mother once told me, you have two choices in life: You either believe in magic or you don’t. It doesn’t matter if it is real. Just choose. Which seems more interesting to you?

Three weeks before we got married we asked Jon to move in. This, in retrospect, seems like a strange choice. Maybe we should have waited a few months, let married life settle in: not just for us but for our families. But things were moving: life was moving. So we kept going with it.

We decided that we would introduce Jon to our families at our wedding. This made a kind of sense at the time: I wonder though, if maybe a pizza night before hand would have been easier. I can still see Jon, in a corner, surrounded by all our family and friends, a little lost, so handsome, and people asking him, “How do you know Jeff? How do you know Alex?” And he would say, “I’m Jon. I’m their boyfriend.”

…TO BE CONTINUED

THE STORY OF US: PART TWO

The Story of Us

THE STORY OF US PART 2

For much of my life I had been a heroin addict, and then, in 1998, I stopped. I had been living in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn next to a dominatrix named Zanny. Zanny was saving up all her money working in a Dungeon in Chelsea to move to LA and be a movie star. At least once or twice a week I would sneak across the fire-escape that connected our two apartments and crawl through her window and steal a couple hundred dollars from the shoe box she saved her tips in. I would use this money to buy heroin.

One morning I woke up to find Zanny standing over my bed. She had a gun in her hand. It was pointed at me. In her other hand she had the number to AA. Zanny gave me an ultimatum.

She had this amazing red, curly hair, and a southern accent that reminded you of peaches and cream and sugary deserts, and pale white tits and she laughed a lot and shared her whiskey with me and she loved me and still I stole from her: I can tell you this, the fact that I loved her and the fact that I stole from her never seemed to conflict in my mind. I did love her and I did steal from her. I am surprised at how little these two realities converged until that day I woke to find her pointing a gun in my face.

It was summer when Zanny gave me my ultimatum, July. A week later, broke because of me, the man who stole her dreams of moving to LA, she moved back to North Carolina. And I had seven days sober.

Two years into my sobriety I moved to LA with my partner Jordan. I had convinced him that we needed to be in LA to get our careers started. Jordan bought a beautiful apartment in Los Feliz overlooking the park and downtown. A month later I broke up with him for a guy I met in AA.

I remained sober for 11 years. And then, a week before I was to fly to Amsterdam to meet my mother, I decided maybe I could drink. I spent weeks wandering Paris and Amsterdam and Venice drunk.

That four year relapse was the coldest, darkest place I have ever been. I met strange and captivating demons, monstrous entities inhabited my mind: a darkness flowed through me that was insatiable: I hungered for my own destruction and created palaces of despair, a life of loneliness and isolation. I believe that I had allowed a demon inside me: that I became possessed. My mother told me that she thought maybe I was cursed. It was the only thing she could think of. Someone had cursed me. She believed that by relapsing I had forfeited whatever good will I might have gained in those 11 years sober: and that I would fail. I have a clear memory of some hallucinogenic night standing in front of my bathroom mirror staring at my reflection and a voice telling me to smash my face into the mirror. To jump out the window and fall to the street. To pick up a knife and stab myself with it.

I was possessed by darkness during that time. I lost everything: my home, my mind, my life, my friends, my job, boyfriends and family, all in ways so unexpected and shattering, so horrifying that the very fact that I was eventually able to get sober again and regain even a small percentage of what I once had is mind boggling in its mythic miraculousness.

I have learned something very important from that four year relapse: inside me there is a demon, and he is growing stronger every day. The longer I am sober the more vicious he becomes: and he is waiting for me to fuck up, to make one mistake, so he can pull me back into his darkness. And it is possible that I will fuck up. It is completely possible that one day I will convince myself that I need a xanax or a joint or a glass of wine: something small and innocuous, something harmless in appearance: just to cut the edge, to smooth over the blandness of daily life: I am fucking apocalyptic and if I am not careful I am capable of destroying everything.

I can’t tell you exactly what made me get sober. I had broken up with my boyfriend. I had been evicted and was living in a strange and dark apartment in the building next door (I had created an elaborate lie that lead me to court where I was able to sue the landlord who was evicting me, giving me enough money to move and to live for a few months), my car had been repossessed, and my family was basically done with me. My father, who had been supporting me for years had finally decided, at 43 years old, to cut me off. No more new cars or rent checks or allowances. No more grand trips to Europe when I felt trapped. I would sit in my apartment alone reading old interviews with Allan Ginsberg and jerking off to gang bang porn online. My friends had all moved away. Or were just as fucked up as I was. My life was small and it seemed to just keep getting smaller.

So I went to an AA meeting and I found a sponsor and somehow, a few months later, I got sober.

I was also evicted again and ended up, in some kind of magical moment of grace, moving in to a large and beautiful Silverlake Mansion in the junction with views of the Hollywood Sign and the Observatory and on those incredible clear LA days maybe even a glimmer of reflected sunlight off the Pacific.

And here is the other thing I know about sobriety: there is a grace to it, something strangely magical and miraculous. If I can just get out of the way and let it happen: life seemed to fall into place for me. I went to meetings. I did step work. I meditated and jerked off endlessly and watched a lot of TV and went on epic midnight bike rides through Los Angeles. There were some nights, still detoxing and unable to sleep, that I would ride my bike all the way to Santa Monica and back. Or through the hills of Silverlake, my calves burning. Anything to escape the screaming panic that was my head. For me, that bike, was faith. It was God. It was magic. I rediscovered the world: I rediscovered color and hope and beauty on that bike.

That period in my life, when I was just getting sober, was incredibly magical. But no more or less magical than the dark magic of my relapse. Both events, relapsing and getting sober again, opened me up to a world of spirituality and magic and endless possibility. I learned that I am capable of things that even I, on a surface level, can’t understand. That I make choices and bring about futures that seem unimaginable to me. Every single day I choose between annihilation and success. It is that simple. But around me there are forces rooting for me, pushing me ever forward, hoping for my happiness: just as there would seem to be forces rooting for the opposite: parasitic entities: leeches that have latched themselves to me, feeding off my pain.

Three weeks before my relapse I was walking home from work, east on Sunset Boulevard, toward Silverlake. I was happy. I felt free. I felt connected. I had been meditating and casting spells of intention and I thought I understood the world, I felt strong and good. I looked up into the sky: blue, cloudless, and I watched as a large black bird soared: wings expanding and merging with that endless blue, and for a moment it was as if the layers of reality were pulled back and I could see behind the curtain: an endless flow of energy where time and matter were the illusions, creations of thought. I stumbled and fell, and all the world melted into color: shifting forms, people like burning stars exploding and reforming before my eyes: the street was a river of golden light. In the distance the hills shimmered like diamonds: the world was aflame in light and color and I could feel it all move through me, become one with me and than separate: I understood that that was the constant play of the Universe: becoming one and separate, endlessly moving between the two.

When I got home I sat on my couch and tried to understand what had happened to me. I was completely sober at the time. To this day I sometimes wonder if I had a glimpse at God, at who we really are.

It is strange that three weeks later I decided that I could have a drink. A glass of wine at Stella’s Café with a friend of mine, a new ageist who affirmed for me what I already knew to be true: I didn’t need AA or some God outside of myself: all I needed was will power and intention and to believe in my personal strength: she kept saying, over and over, “The world is what you believe it is. What you say is what you are. We create our realities.”

I now know this is absolutely true and complete bullshit at the same time.

When I met Alex I was a week short of seven months sober. We met on Scruff. He was supposed to be a trick: just a fuck: a really dirty fuck. The first thing we established was that we were both tops. Alex said he was versatile, which, I was later to find out, was a lie, but he has a seduction tool: he has one of those famously large Dominican dicks, what I’ve come to think of as his bottom maker.

We spent a few days talking on scruff. Alex was working on a movie for SciFi at the time: he does special effects make-up and I was spending a lot of time in prisons and jails talking to criminals. We made a plan to get dinner: he insisted we go on a date, I had been hoping we would fuck right away. I like to get the fucking out of the way first: how else do I know if I even want to go on a date with you if I haven’t fucked you? Somehow, over the course of those days, I went from being the top to being the bottom. We had a solid plan: dinner than sex. I hadn’t been fucked in over a year. He sent me a picture of his dick. It made me nervous. But it also turned me on. I liked the idea of getting owned. Of being dominated. Taken.

I was suddenly in the mood to be seriously and righteously fucked.

Alex showed up and still insisted on dinner. This was a date. Later he told me he knew that I was going to be more than just another fuck. He had a feeling about it. I was living in that run down, decayingly beautiful Silverlake Mansion.

We went to a Thai Restaurant in Hollywood.

While at dinner he gave me his card. Which I thought was strange, but somehow endearing. I had recently had some interest in a horror script of mine. He was learning how to network. Looking back, of course, he was networking with me. Months later he told me he thought I was out of his league, “I kept waiting to step into some bad lighting and for you to see me clearly and realize you’d made a mistake.” This idea, of course, is ridiculous. Alex is stunningly handsome. Breathtaking.

Alex insists that two weeks later I gave him the keys to my house. I’m pretty sure I made him wait at least three weeks. He also likes to remind me that I didn’t invite him to my birthday party. We met on May 4th, my birthday was May 8th. I had decided that I couldn’t invite him: what if he bought me a shitty gift? I could never forgive that. It was safer to just not invite him.

I still think that was the right choice. And I still think I made him wait three weeks to give him the keys to my house. Either way, I definitely made him wait 8 months before he could move in.

Magic is strange. The way the world works is strange. Somewhere in the middle of my relapse I met a Persian boy named Arman. He was a dark and violent young man: painfully beautiful. I believed he was going to be the love of my life. The first time we fucked I woke up covered in bruises. Arman liked to hurt me. He enjoyed it. He had a long fat dick that I loved to feel inside me: at first the biting and the brutality seemed sexy, passionate, but there came a point where I thought: can’t we ever just fuck? Like people? Can’t we just have fun and kiss and get off and then go to bed? Does everything always have to be so fucking epic? Sometimes, late at night, I would wake up to hear him in the living room of his West Hollywood apartment talking to himself. I would walk softly to the door and listen to him madly whispering to ghosts or demons; I was never sure which. We spent a weekend at a friend’s family’s estate on Lake Tahoe where we dropped acid and sat on a dock in the lake, looking up at the stars. Arman held me tight, telling me strange stories and somewhere in the middle of that night I knew: he was not mine. He was dangerous. This knowledge flew through me in shadows: as if I were seeing a reflection of the future; I could see the future the way it would play out with us. It was a future neither of us would survive.

Arman’s family was wealthy. They were art dealers and he spent a lot of time with his father in Tokyo and Hong Kong, Paris and Rome. Once, after a trip to Lisbon, he returned to meet me in New York City.

“He’s evil,” my mother said, and I laughed. She said things like that sometimes. Hyperbole was a way of life with us. “He’s dark. Susan saw him standing over you. A knife in his hand. Bloody. You were gasping on the floor, dying.” Susan was my mother’s psychic. She channeled an entity named The Omega. While the name was stupid, something about Susan’s predictions always came true. She had a way with the future. Omega said that time was like a flat plane. It was like looking out over my front yard. That is how he saw our lives. Like blades of grass flickering in the garden: whole existences existing simultaneously: all time like a magnificent pond, shimmering in the afternoon sun. “He will kill you if you stay with him.”

Two nights later he pulled a knife on me. I ran onto the street, and east toward 7th Avenue. I called my mother. I was terrified. She told me to keep heading east, toward the River, where she would meet me. You’d think that would have been the end of Arman. But it wasn’t. He bought me Rayban sunglasses and a beautiful Cartier watch and cried and told me he loved me. We flew back to LA. For a week he was amazing. Gentle and loving. But then the voices came back, the late nights locked in the bathroom, chasing me through the apartment with scissors.

I bring Arman up to say that I was not always the best judge of men. Sometimes, if they fuck me right, I can lose whole years of my life to a man. But Alex…he was different. I felt it in my soul. He was my partner from the beginning.

I have thought a great deal about the idea of a soul mate.  The idea that one person can be everything to me, that there is one person who is magically created to fit me perfectly.  My other half.  This idea gets even more complicated when you know the future and know that we end up with Jon, the three of us coming together to form something new, something larger: but still…I can’t seem to shake the magic that surrounded the events that lead me to Alex.  He protected me.  Sheltered me.  Carried me.

Maybe I believe that there are souls that call out to each other, and once united they are stronger together than they are alone.

I became stronger with Alex.

This is not to say that there hasn’t been darkness.  Remember, I am possessed.  I have a demon living inside of me.  Gnawing at me.  Chewing at me.  Clawing its way out.

But I also have a lightness in me.  And sometimes, in those darkest moments, if I stand really still: I can feel Alex’s love for me and I feel that maybe there is a purpose to all this.  That maybe love does matter.  And that maybe I might find some kind of redemption for my past.

It was almost a year and a half into the relationship that I found out I was HIV positive. And again, I think, the world moves in strange patterns.

To Be Continued….

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