My friend and I used to do this thing where we'd go to each other's houses on the weekends and get wasted, the excuse being that neither of us wanted to drink alone, and it was dangerous going out to drink with strangers.
We'd start with something very innocent--listening to some of the music he'd have been working on, or I'd plug my little iPod touch into the aux; we liked sitting in his dad's car because it had a heating system and the inside of his house was very cold, I'd listen to his foot bouncing against the dash, or his silent critiques of Alphaville and Jason Molina's vocal structure as heard from his perspective--alone, legs up and in the back seat, totally distorting any sound coming from the main speakers.
If I had known, at the time, that he had these--understandable--crushes on the male singers he listed to with me, I would have understood his fascination--and further, talked to him in attempt to break his mind away from whatever was holding him hostage in this cage of fragility and internalized self-hatred.
After a while, the watered-down rum would wear us down, and I can only very vaguely recollect on what we sounded like or spoke about--we'd eventually start laughing at something, or nothing, he'd roll over to put his hand over the back of my seat and gently mull over my shoulder with his thumb. I remember the touching because it wasn't something either of us experienced casually, so my--and I assume our reminiscing on these, presumably soft-spoken conversations that lead us to moving over each other's bodies never came without a following undertone of hesitation or enthusiasm.
He showed me a magazine. I kind of figured after that.
He came up to me at school and said something along the lines of
"I found this in my dad's room", then pulled out just the top of the mag from his backpack. I didn't immediately recognize it because I wasn't a deviant, but during lunch he asked me to go in the courtyard with him and nobody else. It was an old issue of Cybersocket.
We arranged more plans, adding on to the ones already in place to meet at his place on Saturday, that meant for us to hang out twice in the same week.
I showed up around ten on Tuesday. I didn't have anything important, school-related, Wednesday or Thursday. I could open the door to his house pretty easily, and without a key because he didn't believe he was under any risk of an intruder or masked-cartoon-villain burglar in the neighborhood he lived in.
He was moving furniture around when I opened the front door. I could hear him in the kitchen, it sounded like someone hitting metal with a hammer. He had stacked the bar stools up on eachother like children's alphabet blocks. I asked him why he did it and he didn't give me an answer immediately. I wasn't blind, and he had enough social patency to estimate when conversations could escalate to the realm of becoming undignified and awkward. I recognized an almost sweet sense of vulnerability in his eyes, when he looked at me for less than a second, then back down at his barstool creation--I also recognized the redness on his forearms and low-hanging eyebags.
I'd seen him high on medication before, but only when he was actually sick, and it was an accident that he had taken a small, barely-considered overdose amount of Benadryl.
I dragged him into the bathroom by his shoulders, and gently pet his hair and soft cotton on the back of his shirt as he threw up into the toilet.
I don't remember how long he cried afterwards. He wrapped his arms around me and let me gently kiss the back of his hands. I didn't want to let him feel as though it were his fault; at this point I had only walked in to find him like this--had I come any later, I don't like pondering on the outcomes.
There was something in the back of his mind, he kept telling me, that made him want to do this to himself. And constantly, he said.
He told me he'd sometimes lay awake at night and jerk off to the magazine. I told him that it was alright, it didn't really mean a lot. He disagreed, but kept his arms wrapped around my body and head curled against my chest as we rocked back and forth on the bathroom floor.
We probably stayed for an hour or so. There was no governed prospect in anything I said to him, because I felt as though the only things I could tell him were very simple, anecdotal statements, and had to be meant only as encouragement or, as I saw it, compliments.
We were whispering. He asked me if I thought his hair was stupid and I kissed the top of his head.
"Why would I think that?"
"Because it is"
"No, it's not"
He shook his head and slowly began retracting his arm from around me. I let him, and he very graciously--yet in a seemingly-painful manner, sat up. His leg was still folded over mine and from afar we must have looked reminiscent to a paper crane. I moved my hand over his upper back and he looked through my eyes like a ghost.
"You staying the night?"
"Yes." I didn't retract my hand. He slowly turned his back on me, only to lean on my stomach, over my knees, and rest his head in my lap.
"You don't have stupid hair." I pet over his hair as I softly spoke, my mouth almost directly over his forehead. He smelled vaguely like the incense he burned by the fireplace to keep the weed stink to a minimum. He didn't reek, though, so I assumed the only drug in his system were the pills he'd taken.
It was Codeine. I knew because he took Acetaminophen occasionally before school to stop the headaches that kept him in bed all the time.
I asked him calmly if he'd been drinking. He said he hadn't, and I leaned in very close to the side of his face to smell his breath, but he turned to face me and our noses crushed into each other. I didn't move. He didn't smell like alcohol. I gently kissed the top of his mouth.
He opened his eyes, which I realized he had closed for the moment.
"Do you get it?" I wanted to, but only wanted to.
"I get you, probably more than anyone else." I ran a hand gently down his left cheek as I spoke.
"More than anyone else."
His reaction times were very quick. We didn't move from being so close to each other. I wanted nothing more than to comfort him, but I recognized that he was slowly coming back to his senses.
I knew, obviously, that he wouldn't feel the same. He might--subconsciously--still want something, to feel something, but between me and him, it was strictly friendly.
Later that night, after I spent a good hour and a half trying to convince him to just go to bed, that I would be here in the morning. He eventually convinced me to stay up with him and watch a movie.
Halfway through the tormented but basic love story of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock he told me--hesitantly but sensibly, about the feelings.
It started with the crushes. He told me in both little and crushing detail about the feelings he'd encountered over men. The kids at school--middle school, then the locker rooms in highschool. He stopped going to gym halfway through Sophomore year because he couldn't stand in the locker rooms comfortably.
Looking back, it was his misdirection. This sweet, yet discreet mesmerization in his tone. The quiet movements that seemed so basic and mindless; hand barely even touching my shoulder, yet made me want to jump out of my skin. Arm folded over the blanket, his long fingers bending and worming around the fabric like dancing pairs.
He told me about the celebrity crushes he'd faced; the focus on Jason Molina's personality more than appearance made it apparent to him that his attraction to men was something more than physical, yet the attention he paid to Ben Watt in his younger years--and a member of a band he criticized in the past, made him recognize that there was definitely a sexual side to his inhibitions about men.
I didn't ask him about me, or any of our friends.
He told me, and very lightly, almost casually if he hadn't looked up to me for some sort of approval, with those soft eyes and torturous lips, that he loved me. I didn't ask for any further clarification until after the movie was over, to which he didn't give any reason or meaning to the statement.
He told me he loved me, and he played with the neck collar of my shirt while staring intently at my chin.
Sharing some sort of hoping was coping for him, and the both of us.
I left the end credits of the movie to roll, despite the remote being right beside me, the music being relatively loud, and it being somewhere around 2 in the morning.
We stared at singular parts of each other.
His left wrist. Very thin, kind of pale.
His neck. A little bit of hair beneath his jaw.
Small parts of his body, cemented into my brain. The most important things I can remember.
His body was extremely soft. His neck was like porcelain as I drew my hand across it. It couldn't have lasted more than a couple minutes--the gentle movements, the way his fingers left goosebumps around my stomach, up and down my sides.
We kissed like we'd been married forever. His breath didn't smell great, and I realized I should have gotten him to brush his teeth.
"Do you think of the present like I do?" I didn't know. I knew what he meant, but I didn't know the answer at all.
"I think of right now as anyone does. As you do. But your way is not interchangeable to mine."
"I think a lot about the past. More so than the future."
"We all do that"
"There's this cliff in St Helens. I go there sometimes and there's always other people there. And they're not sad, I can tell"
People make geographical discoveries constantly. I disregard the situation for his remarks.
"I don't think about jumping."
He told me he throws things off the cliff. Little things, like pebbles. Sometimes he throws keychains. He said one time he threw his keys and immediately regretted it. Had to go down into the ditch to dig for them, and it changed his perspective. He said it felt as though he was isolated from the human race, the human planet. He said, at the time, it was so dark out, but being down at the bottom of the cliff, he couldn't tell night from day.
I suppose it had something to do with how far down the cliff went. I didn't ask how he got down there.
He fell asleep in my lap. I was left alone in this community of night lamps and the music from Speed quietly pacing around in the back of my mind. The paint on his wall might as well have been Braille telling me to leave when I ran the back of my hand over it to cool down--his sweat, our sudden uproar of body heat coming together.
I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to wake him up only to kiss him over, all over. Though I felt bad making some sort of sexualization from the experience and trauma he'd encountered, this was my first experience with a man. This was his, too, as I presumed. I asked him a couple days later and he confirmed it through light pink cheeks.
I wish we talked as much as we used to. We carry each other on our backs as much as we can, but after highschool, which was not something I was expecting to be as a frame for our relationship, we really only called when he was going through something. I came to his place, and the old reunion ensued. Now it seems like defamation whenever I even mention his name out loud. If and when he comes across my mind, I get this kind of sick feeling.
I think we've helped each other, and though I consider life through the perspective of nihilism, I'd like to think this is where our lives should separate.
The first man to ever touch me, say he loved me, and comfort me as I comforted him.