I need Closure
Sometimes there is no Closure. Sometimes, there is only cold comfort
I grew to maturity in a pseudo-rural countryside with certainly its share of people (and kids) but a lot of bucolic barnishness and a somewhat snobby social stratification that stirred itself in with the generationally descended farming locals. High school for me was a hodge-podge of elitist private academies, monstrously large public emporia, and finally a small rural-ag country high school where I had started out in kindergarten and lived a thousand lives in between…..by eighteen years of age. I was an old soul in a young body with a head start on a life of wonder steeped in fear and loathing…until it wasn’t.
Recognizing the other gay folk in my high school proved to be an easy mark; they were the ones who all the girls befriended, and the jocks left alone. Great territory for a terrified, suicidal, gangly, redhead like me. Those funny, gregarious, confidently cock-sure young men were where I needed to reside. And so I moved into that space with all my baggage and once there, began the process of shedding my skin and leaving my past lives behind with it; as paper-thin, fragile, and beautiful as a snakeskin draped lazily over a tree branch; not speaking to the growth and effort that the snake had undergone to then leave this outer shell of itself for others to happen upon.
My history needed to be left to be happened upon. My future needed to happen. Now.
One boy/man stood out from the lowing heard of humanity that is high school. Ned was handsome, extremely witty, street smart in the most guileless way, and sex on wheels enticing. He created in me (and the teeming masses I was to find out) an electric arc of a current that alternately froze and fried my teenage libido. Lucky we were young, there was plenty of him to go around.
We began our relationship as most rural kids do; fondling and fucking in barns and trucks and cars, and rec rooms; anywhere we could climax out our needs and not be discovered. The rest of our crowd kinda knew, kinda didn’t care, and were a whole lot busy trying to get on with their straight version of our gay sex lives. Looking back, I’d say we were a lot more successful, at least in the completion of fantasies fulfilled and orgasms expended.
We each hooked up with girls along the path, not that we had to, but I suppose we were trying to prove something to ourselves. But what? That we preferred dick? Mission accomplished. But after our female fumblings, Ned would always find his way back to me and our “love” (I was always on a romantic mission) would be so sexually charged and transcendent that we just fell into the rhythm of reverting to each other even as we broadened our worlds and encompassed others.
I had years of college floating around the country in the 70’s, finding myself in strange and wonderous situations and places while Ned went right to work in our hometown. Holidays were always taughtly pulled emotional bungee cords for me. I knew coming home would be full of friends but I never knew when Ned, the primary focus of my lust and love, would find his testosterone levels topping out and would cull me away from the heard for some private time alone. I lived for those times.
A decade passed. I landed in San Francisco the week I graduated from college and Ned remained back home with the latest of his true-love boyfriends who I would get an occasional three-way with on trips home. A booby-prize? A runner-up reward? Always second never first; an also ran. And then Ned (with the latest new love in tow) moved to San Francisco.
How was this going to work? Of course, he melded right in with all my new-found friends, he assimilated like a chameleon. We were all twenty-somethings in the best city in the world; Gay was God back then and San Francisco was Heaven. He and the boyfriend had an unctuous bumptious relationship and they would have their emotionally undeveloped tussles and late-night fractious fights and Ned, not one to confront and resolve, would end up in my bed at midnight doing what we always defaulted to; me giving in to my wanton desires and him using those desires to sooth and try and erase his own missteps into an adult world. Who left the most fractured in the morning was up for grabs.
And then the dying started and the party ended; almost as if someone turned on the lights in the gym and turned off the ones in the parking lot simultaneously. We were children fumbling our way in the dark not knowing where to go once we walked out the door. I moved on. Running? Sure. I fled to the desert to live until the death I assumed was around the corner could take me. I was barely thirty. And Ned was still around, on occasion, between BFs. I found an actual real paper photo of him cleaning the pool at my house exactly thirty years ago this year. I keep few photos. You do the math.
I transferred jobs and moved on to San Diego. Ned and his then BF announced they, too, were moving to San Diego! Small fucking world. My crutch, my crotch, my ersatz best friend was following me once more. Over the years I had made a tentative ceasefire with all of his myriad BFs; they knew our past, they knew our really soul-felt connection, and they knew he sometimes strayed into my bed. All was forgiven or at least ignored. I was the one with no permanent fixture of a man. I was a serial dater, the third in many a marriage, and always pining to have what it seemed to me then, everyone else had….Someone. And I eagerly took the scraps when Ned offered them wishing always for more of him, all of him, him alone when he was between men. Not realizing that it would be a toxic potion if I were ever to drink from that cup.
Throughout all of these years, as soon as I would begin to date a guy I thought I could really like, the fabulous, funny, sexy, Ned would emerge, befriend…..and the fuck my date and fuck up my life. It was a psychologically viscous pattern that had real-life consequences that it seemed only affected me. It lasted for decades.
I moved again, across the country…again. He did not follow this time. On my own now, fully, still waiting for the death that was steadily stalking me, I became a better version of the man I had wanted to be; happy with me, a new place, new friends, new job. Life was good. Being single was fine!
And then I met a man. I was forty years old and upon sight of him across the bar I was as hormonally imbalanced as a teen. Handsome, smarter than anyone I had known, sexy, deeply humble, and the single most honorable person I had ever come across. Six weeks was what it took. Six weeks and forty years if I’m honest.
And then Ned and the current BF came to town. I told my husband; “I don’t care who you sleep with but if you ever sleep with Ned we are done. End of sentence, End of us.” We were all friends, as always, but Ned was NOT pulling back the sheets on my bed any longer; even on that nineteen-hour drive in their motorhome down to Key West. Ned’s BF was dying, sadness was on the horizon and in the sunset.
When he died, we offered to have Ned come and park the motorhome with us for a few months and let us tend to him. Me? I always want to fix things, people included. He demurred. It was the best choice he would make from there on out in his life…or the worst. Best for me and my husband, worst for him and his future.
We flew to San Diego for his husband’s memorial, we were friends after all. Sadness all around, people still dying. It was the mid 90’s. A few months later we had a week in San Diego, my husband for work me, a stop with Ned before flying off to the Olympics back in Atlanta. I was excited on so many fronts and hoping that Ned’s sadness had lifted some in light of the fact that he had caused a nineteen-year relationship to implode so that he could get a new, hot, much younger BF.
When we arrived at his house, where we were staying, he announced that we had to drop him at the airport as he was going on sex vacation with some old trick he had reconnected with…….without the hot new BF…….who knew none of this. As I write this even now, I have a hard time believing the torturous road I had navigated all these years had turned into a full-on car wreck.
Oh, and the car he was leaving for me to wreck was unregistered and uninsured. Bye Felicia before there was a Felicia.
The BF he left behind, Ricky, was stunningly handsome, super sweet, the whole enchilada. So we, Dave and I, slept with him….and not Ned…..Ned was fornicating in some flop house in Mexico while we enjoyed his hospitality, all of it.
My husband left for home and I stayed on, with Ricky, for a week. Ricky wouldn’t
let me drive the pile in the driveway so he gave me his car while he used his corporate car. Ricky and I had corporately long lunches away from his office, romantic dinners, fun nights out with friends, his and mine. It was like speed dating for a week knowing all the time that that final buzzer of Ned’s arrival home would be the end of us. Bittersweet but beautiful. My husband would be jealous, a bit, but home when I got there.
I came home from our last evening together after dropping Ricky at his house and saying goodbye. When I walked in the door there was Ned, sprawled out on the couch and fiercely curious as to where I had been; as if I were supposed to be still pining after him as I had done for our entire history together.
“And what are you doing driving Ricky’s car???” he spat out.
“He wouldn’t LET me drive yours. He’s a really considerate, genuinely great guy.”
As I started to walk into my room for the night I paused, turned, and succinctly said; “Oh, and I fucked him too, he’s fabulous.”
We have not spoken since in over 20 years. People, mutual old friends for 40 plus years, ask if I don’t want to at least close the loop with Ned, “Get some closure?” they intone.
Sometimes There is no Closure.
And sometimes, that’s just fine.