Sigh


I’m drinking my coffee (whom my housemates in Fire Island have affectionately called mud since I like my coffee the way I like my tops, alpha strong) as I write this with the a/c buzzing in the background. I live in a studio and this wall unit suffuses my entire apartment with cool, crisp air as if it were centralized conditioning. Tim, still tired from his OffBway show last night, is still sleeping, huddled up in my purple comforter (which, at 4 years old, is ready to be replaced by a bluegreen one I just got on sale at Bloomie’s Home.) I’ve been reading the Sunday Times online and browsing through the website of my newest athlete crush, the Serbian player Novak Djokovic. (He replaces my old crush, the hottest torso in town, swimmer Michael Phelps, who replaced Spanish tennis star Tommy Robredo who replaced the yummy Jewstud ballplayer Gabe Kapler. Anyway, you get the picture.) It is the first Sunday in June and I’m happy to have found my life at a momentary standstill, It’s surprisingly quiet I think I could still hear my heavy dinner last night churning in my tummy.

I had dinner with my old spinster aunts last night. (My friends have branded them my lesbian aunts, which they’re not.) We went to our reliable, fave Chinese restaurant on Grand Ave. and I feasted on duck, lobster, sea bass and salty fish fried rice. I must’ve practically starved myself all day to prepare for the meal. (After eating so much meat last weekend at the Pines house, this was a refreshing treat.) I always feel bothered by a sense of distancing from my family (in both the physical and emotional sense, a la the film, Babel) and every opportunity I get to bridge this gap without crossing intimate personal lines, like non-threatening dinner at Ping’s, is always welcome. (I’m not out to my family which my friends disclaim since they do claim that anyone who hears me talk – well, there is a fem inflection somewhere – and sees me act – okay, so I flail my arms when I’m excited with fey abandon – with half a brain can make their own educated guess,) But what struck me last night was not so much the news at the table (such as my bro-in-law, this yummy but pretty dumb surfer dude shacking it up with my sister in Waikiki, getting busted for cocaine, which I already knew before they did) but the scene in the Asian supermarket. I’ve been so used to going to my neighbrohood Keyfood chain that I forget what happens in Asian ones. Suddenly, I feel like I was back in my mom’s kitchen, recognizing the different stuff she uses for her signature dishes. What rekindled this memory, I guess from sheer repulsion, is watching the fish vendor go on with his routine. I was supposed to look for flavor sauces to take home to Brooklyn but instead got transfixed at the fish counter. A customer selects a fish from this murky tank, which the vendor scoops out with a net. He raises the caught fish high enough so that the buyer can see it, wildly moving, in its final seconds, before he overturns the net in this single theatrical swoop and drops the fish to the ground where he deals it one fatal blow with a mallet. (It was a thud followed by a bop.) He hoses the fish down, scales it and guts it with this badass knife, as he pulls out its internal organs, all these while the fish’s tail is still flapping wildly. The fish vendor puts the bloodied fish in a clear plastic bag, labels it $4.99 and hands it to the client, as if he were at a deli handing over half-a-pound of pepper jack cheese. (I forget that dead fish never shut their eyes — which I blame on every anthropomorphic animal animation from the Little Mermaid on — so gazing at the bloodied dead eye, lolling itself on one corner through the clear bag, was enough to make me shudder.)

Come to think of it, I had fish at a Chinese restaurant less than a mile away from that Chinese supermarket last night. I think I’m getting a tummyache.

Advertisements

I have always been a musical theater queen. Growing up back in the 80s. my second cassette tape (after my first purchase of Madonna’s Like a Virgin) was a compilation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Broadway hits. (I still wonder why I never came out sooner. Of course, I blame my parents’ atmosphere of naivete/sexlessness at home but I also blame myself for not making the connections. I mean, Weber and Madonna were as simple a formula as 1 + 1 back then – now, where everyone can seem to be into just about everything without falling into a box, is a different story.) I had known every word to I Don’t Know How to Love Him after listening to Yvonne Elliman’s rendition of this anthem to the circumstantially celibate and their crushes everywhere before learning what was material to school and homework. Now, in NYC, I go see Broadway musicals as much as I happily can. Plays, not so much. I have recently enjoyed Douglas Carter Beane’s The Little Dog Laughed last fall and the Public’s Theater in the Park presentation of Brecht’s Mother Courage (from a Tony Kushner translation) last summer. (But even the latter seems some sort of musical hybrid with Meryl Streep battering her heart on stage both with word and song.) The ratio of plays to musicals that I go to see is quite heavily disproportioned. Dance doesn’t even fall on my radar. (My two left feet are more than enough explanation.) Opera remains the other frontier.

So it was quite a welcome treat when I went to go see Edward Scissorhands at BAM on Thursday night. I revel in every new opportunity and going to see a dance performance is as fresh as they come.

However, I was not without prejudice. I knew this was a much-hyped Matthew Bourne piece. But I had seen Mary Poppins at the end of January and I was so underwhelmed, or, rather, unimpressed. Bourne had also choreograohed this Broadway spectacle. Maybe I had such high hopes for it that night that I had set myself up for such frustration. But could I blame myself?! Mary Poppins is, after all, up in the canon of great musicals and to do a mediocre stage adaptation of it would be a disservice to the Sherman brothers and their company and a dishonor to everyone who made the 1964 film a classic like, ahem, Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke.) It had also been a London import and I shamelessly have more respect for the West End than for Broadway. (I had seen Mamma Mia in London when it first came out and was bowled over by it. I saw it again on Broadway last year to take my family out to see it and regretted paying such a high price for something so flat.) I thought Bourne and his fellow English would deliver Poppins on Broadway. But I was disappointed. I mean, Gavin Lee walking like SpiderBert all over the the 4 corners of the stage was fascinating and Ashley Brown flying into thin air as if SuperMary was heart-stopping. But it seemed the gimmickry took precedence over the choreography. When the flying umbrella becomes the highlight of the show (like the flying car in Chitty Chitty Gang Bang was) instead of the people holding the umbrella, then I think the artistic draw from the audience becomes problematic.

Taking the train from the city into Brooklyn with Tim and his college roomie (who went to see it with me) Thursday night, I pondered over the Poppins disbelief and decided to suspend it and box it under Bourne Disneyfied. As soon as I sat myself , I looked around and began to wonder if I was indeed in Downtown Brooklyn watching Scissorhands at BAM or in Midtown West watching Terrence McNally’s new play, Some Men. The audience was (mostly) gay. gay, gay all the way. (I even bumped into 2 friends I knew in the restroom, but not in the George Michael sense.) There were, of course. hetero couples too and some family couplings. I, unfortunately, had to sit right behind a girl (who kept on asking her mom what was going on through the show) and her brother,a boy who had an incessant cough problem. (Her mom’s female friend kept on giving her water. I could only stop myself from pulling her hair and telling her to give the kid a cough drop instead to stop the annoying coughing.)

I’d have to say it was an odd choice for a ballet adaptation, Tim Burton, long shears and all. But, like a Tim Burton movie, it was terrific. Hearing the movie’s dreamy music live was otherworldly and watching the sets come to life (since they were integral in telling the story on stage as much as the performers were) was enchanting. The stage’s transformation from the dark cemetery atop the hill to Middle America’s everysuburbia to a lavish Christmastime banquet hall all tied in by the topiaries constistent in their form but constantly changing in their attire was thrilling in their seamlessness.

I’ve never been a good critic of dance but I was struck by how good, not great, most of the pieces were. Some of them actually left me wanting for more when the pieces, each an amalgam of pantomimic deftness and dexterous ballet, ended. But, almost at the end of Act II, during the Farewell Duet, where Edward danced alone on stage with Kim, I saw the genius, if not the conceit, in Bourne’s show. Here was a man dancing ballet with a woman while he had foot-long shears attached to his hand wherein one small mistake in movement could end up being a big bloody one. (I knew these shears were not merely dull blades as, in a display of brilliance in the middle of Act I, Edward actually made a topiary, cutting and shearing through leaves with the blades on his fingers.) The two principals were gliding and comingling and, yes, dancing in every possible sense all across the stage that was both grand in its effort and most graceful in its execution. It was riveting and breathtaking, all the way into the end, when in one final moment of spectacle, confetti rained from the ceiling which, coupled with brilliant lighting, gave the illusion of falling snow.

I wish I had seen Swan Lake. Tim’s friend saw it and claimed that this piece, Bourne’s big all-male coming-out piece, was genius all throughout. But I’m glad I saw Scissorhannds. I enjoyed the whole experience — the sublime sets, the wordless music, its pure dancing. It’s always a good thing when I learn to like even more a new genre. I find it even better when I renew my admiration for someone I’ve quite fallen less fond of. I mean, I even bought the CD of Bourne’s show as I rushed out of the theater, holding Tim’s hand on the street on the way home that rainy night.

I did something on a Friday night that my mother would be extremely proud of. I actually went to church. No, I am not (again) at a particularly churchy period in my life. I was drawn there knowing that the Jesuit priests from my old school were going to be performing their hymns that night. (I went to a Jesuit school in Manila and, back then, was enamored with liturgical music — don’t ask me why — of whom the Filipino Jesuits were at the forefront.) Also, the venue being St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit parish in Union Square, was inviting enough. I believe that this domed space is testament to God’s big tent on earth, where the faithful, both pious and sinful, come to meet. Xavier, after all, has always been refuge to Gay Catholics in NYC (as it is home to Dignity, the homo Catholic group) and includes in its apostolate a lesbian prayer group and an HIV spiritual support group. (In light of a Black Southern Church issuing a statement on the gay rights issue relative to the civil rights struggle to not compare the sin [of homosexuality] to the [color of their] skin, this church is most comforting.)

I arrived and sat myself on a pew, observing the many others who took their places. Here was a veritable crosssection of the transpacific parable — the jeans and t-shirt folk sitting together with the corporate crowd. I have always found it remarkable how this tropical people have adapted to this land of autumn and winter. I found Filipinos flapping their coats as they sat a sight to behold — Burberry’s dark tartan comingling with the nondescript black of Canal Street knock-offs. (I had come from work and my coat, Metropolitan View, Bloomie’s house label, sat indistinct on my lap.) Filipinos have always been a tribal people and here they were, on this brisk fall night, coming from all walks to gather as one throng, supporting their own.

So many were instantly moved by the music, flailing their heads and clapping incessantly. I sat fidgeting with my programme (and trying so hard not to be irked by the lady whose coat was brushing against me intrusively) and listening quite impatiently. Had the music lost its movement in me? I remember vividly how I was so captivated by it in Manila. Now, I sat listenting to it with my thoughts splitting into the recently-uploaded Scissor Sisters songs in my IPod. Maybe it was because the singing really wasn’t that exceptional (except for the two religious women from the Cenacle who were quite divine.) But this was already expected as issued from the disclaimer noted by one of the priests (who I realized used to be my spiritual director — yes, I used to go for spiritual direction) at the start when he said that they were not professional singers but simply people who wanted to share their music across the Pacific. Then, again, I wasn’t paying $113.25 to see A Chorus Line (which I did see last week and was so moved by that I had to buy both soundtracks – the original and the new cast recording — where I realized that everything else was sung better at the original except for Natalie Cortez who did a way better Diana than Priscilla Lopez. I had never seen ACL on stage before and am now a new convert to the Michael Bennett fan club. But I digress.) I was only donating $20 to a worthwhile cause (which I realized was over a tenth of a tenth of the cost to build a house in the Philippines as shown through a video showing the work of a charitable organization who was going to be one of the concert’s beneficiaries.)

I asked myself why I had come as I sat quite frustrated during the seemingly endless intermission. (It was already 8:30 and I haven’t even had dinner yet.) I realized that I had been so pampered by Broadway theater that I now sit through every performance wanting to be entertained to an excellent standard. Sound and structure were critical forms if they came on a stage. Here was a bare altar with 3 microphones and 10 spirited singers. They had come to do more than entertain, to be more than a spectacle; they had come to affect on a visceral level. I grappled with what it meant for me to come to the concert as I realized that the music had lost its grip on me. I don’t think it was because I was any less spiritual. (To the contrary, I think I have remained sane in this most mundane city because I have continued to make sense of my daily struggles beyond the lens of the material and the superficial. There is always a greater mystery that I continue to grapple with.) I figured it was because I was less of a believer, more of a skeptic, much of a cynic. I am much more guarded these days, and rightfully so. To trudge on in this urban jungle with blind trust is foolish, if not deadly. Everything, even liturgical music, is cast in a shade of doubt. This blanket of melodies sits with an agenda and I listen to it with cautious ears. I know it sounds scarily like borderline paranoia but that is how I do with who I am where I am — amateur critic and relentless cynic.

But I am not such a basketcase. There was this one song towards the end that battered at my ego barriers. I used to sing it back in school when I was part of a choir (among other things in that streak.) As the priests sang it, I was brought back to noontime masses in an airy chapel; classes in philosophy and theology in humid rooms; Saturday afternoons in the decrepit slums of Manila as a teacher; a year atop the mountains of Palawan, a Southern island, as a volunteer social worker. For a very short while, the memories that had already been so distant became fresh. The Jesuit Provincial of the Philippine Province (who is incidentally in NYC and came to the concert) summed it quite succinctly at the end when he said that the hope for the concert last night was to bring Filipinos back to a sense of home of which he painted 2 pictues: one of a country so deeply mired in corruption that has led to its people’s own sense of doom wherein salvation solely lay outside the country, and one still breeding hope in the faces of its young visionaries who strive to make the country better in the midst of so many insurmountable obstacles. I find myself having been on both sides of the picture.

I took the F train back home. But I knew that I had already been there for a few moments in that church at Xavier.

The NY Court of Appeals concluded Thursday to strike down the right of homosexuals to marry in the state. In a 4-2 decision, Judge Robert Smith writing for the majority decided that child welfare is best promoted in a heterosexual married relationship than it is in a homosexual one. Marriage is deemed an institution for procreation that could only be born as a result of procreation between a man and a woman. Tradition that dictates marriage as between persons of the opposite sex was upheld.

I am so disheartened by this loss. NY, after all, is the bastion of Northeastern liberalism and to see it fail in its spirit is utterly deflating. I don’t even know why I’m so affected by this decision since I am not so convinced I want to marry myself. But as sure as I am of this ambivalence, I am unwavering in my conviction that gays and lesbians should be given the same rights as the straights as guaranteed by the Constitution of this land. The cop-out in civil unions (as is done in Vermont and Connecticut) is not enough. Separate, but equal is not equal.

I went to the Rosie O’Donnell Famiy Cruise Vacation last year as a guest of my friend, Eric, who was invited to write about it as part of press promotions (since he writes for a Broadway magazine and there were lots of Broadway stars performing on the cruise.) The cruise was marketed to gay and lesbian families who deserved a summer cruise vacation as a family but who would otherwise have felt uneasy on a more conventional cruise ship. The ship, holding 2000 strong, went into Nova Scotia in Canada, and Boston, Provincetown and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. I had been to a cruise before heading to the Bahamas (which ended up being a booze cruise since, apparently, it coincided with spring break for Midwestern college kids) but I had never seen anything like this. There were so many different families — gays and lesbian parents alike — from so many different places built up in so many different ways. There were children from previous heterosexual marriages; from legal adoptions; from artificial insemination; from the foster home system. The stories were all different but the spirit was radically the same — unconditional love. I distinctly remember this one night when a kid came up on stage and thanked her lesbian parents who had taken her out of her previous violent foster home in Texas. Or this pair of gay lawyers from California Eric and I met at the start of the cruise who had brought their high school kid with them — he was in every way the blond, blue-eyed basketball jock who seemed perfectly at ease with and proud of his two loving dads. Or the 2 lesbian moms from Ohio with their daughter back home from college together with their young baby. Or the 2 gay dads from New Jersey who brought along with them all of their 7 kids! There were so many more heartwarming stories that overwhelmed me during that week that I was helplessly crying during the last night’s show when I was just choked up with the whirling sentiments of being sad over it ending and being totally grateful for having witnessed such wonders. (Of course, Melissa Etheridge — who was there with her family — rocking the house down in a surprise performance — since she had just recovered from cancer and was still bald from chemo and was not scheduled at all to perform — just threw me over the edge.) Even at that time last year, the culture war was being waged against the homosexuals in defense of traditional family values. That ship was all about family values. I have since firmly believed (of which it now becomes significantly poignant) that child welfare is best promoted by loving parents regardless of their sexual orientation.

Judith Kaye, the Chief Judge writing for the minority opinion, states that to deny marriage to same-sex couples actually undermines the welfare of so many children in NY considering that so many homosexual couples in this state rear kids. Marriage provides many legal protections and economic benefits to heterosexual couples and their children that to deny these to homosexual couples yields the same effect as taking these away from their children.

I also agree with her when she writes that allowing homosexuals to marry in no way diminishes the heterosexuals’ interest in procreation. Married gay men and lesbians neither care nor are interested in breaking up this heterosexual enterprise. The right to privacy is always prime. What happens in one’s bedroom is only for that one to know and to choose and to enjoy. Gay marriage is not meant for straight homebreaking but, to the contrary, for more of society’s homebuidling. To opine otherwise is sheer absurdity.

Finally, she writes that to conclude on the side of tradition is a distortion of history since the definition of marriage has changed dramatically over time. “The long duration of a constitutional wrong cannot justify its perpetuation, no matter how strongly tradition or public sentiment might support it.” Marriage, as a fundamental right, is as stated, fundamental, and cannot be denied to any particular group based on the ground “that these groups have historically been denied those rights.”

The history of gay rights continues to be written. That myth of homosexuality as a sickness has already been debunked and the act of sodomy has since been decriminalized (if not albeit only 3 years ago.) Even denominational religion has opened the window to recognizing homosexuality as acceptable (considering that the Episcopalians have already elected a gay bishop.) It has hit a roadblock 2 days ago with this loss in the Appeals Court but, now, the long and arduous road of legislating marriage (whether on the federal or state level) is upon us. It may not happen anytime soon but, in case my heart decides to marry with the right guy upon me, then there’s always Massachusetts. Or Canada.

Its been a long time since I’ve posted and it doesn’t help that all I can offer is a tentative excuse. I had thought of trying to pin it on a stricter IT policy but truth be told it was really more of sloth and sadness. 

I had left for Philadephia early February to try to be at my grandmother’s sickbed. It was a strange decision to go there on a day’s notice but if there was one thing that she had taught me, it was that family mattered above all things. I would not have wanted her to feel that I had prioritized minor deadlines over filial devotion and duty. 

As fate would have it, she passed away the hour I boarded the plane. With instructions honored at both ends of the world to not tell me any change in her condition until I arrived, I was spared my grief until I finally laid my overnight suitcase squarely at the doorstep of her empty bedroom. 

I stayed for a few days, to be with family and attend the prescribed rituals. I had hoped to surprise West even for a couple of hours but then light flurry turned to a thick blanket of snow the afternoon of her service and they simply would not hear of it. 

As I spent that afternoon playing in the snow with my cousins, I remembered that as a child we would speak to her over the phone on Christmas eve and she would always promise us that next time, we would finally have a white Christmas with her. That wish had remained unclaimed for so long but finally that afternoon, she had found a way to fulfill it. 

I came here to DC to tell a story. I am leaving this city with this mission that has been substantively fulfilled but, also, with it abruptly and most unexpectedly taking on a radically different form in the most shocking yet welcome manner.

Kevin is a friend back in college. In those years long gone when school was hard and life was easy, Kevin and I shared a bond borne of the same passion for self-fulfillment and social justice. We adhered to religious tradition and succumbed to social convention. We drifted apart when I moved to NYC. I have since found so much of myself being in that place and he has since followed me when he pursued postgraduate studies in international relations in Columbia. We barely hung out since we both belonged to different scenes. I was a gay professional and he was a straight graduate student. Yet despite the infrequency of meetings and even the rarity of emails, we managed to maintain a consistent and faithful friendship. He moved to DC to pursue a year-long research stint at the World Bank which was ending in March. I was excited to visit him this weekend after not having seen him in 2 years. I was delighted to finally have the courage to come out to him.

Kevin didn’t know I was gay. Then again, I realy didn’t know it either until I moved here so many years ago. I have since found a deep-seated comfort in this profound acknowledgment and am quietly consumed by the desire to share this empowering news to all my friends. Now, I wanted Kevin to know.

He picked me up at Union Station (after I mistakenly got off at the Baltimore Washington station and barely made it back to the car when I realized my folly) and took me straight to his apartment in Addams-Morgan. His studio struck me as a designing mind’s beginner’s bachelor’s pad. There was a bed laid out like a tatami mat in the center of the room. Twin bookshelves that held portraits of his friends, his favorite books and his own artwork flanked either side. There was a flaming Indian mat that hung above his bed and a flowing African runner that flowed from his table. A glazed porcelain bowl with a single apple adorned it. His space was cute and cozy; it was inspired and intimate.

I felt the air thicken enough with tension that one could cut it with a knife and get it to bleed. I was anxious to tell him. Apparently, he was anxious to tell me something too. I let him break it and I was floored by his story. He told me that he was heartbroken. He fell in love with someone in NY but they have since broken up. His name was Greg.

Suddenly, my story became the tingle of a pindrop compared to his blast of thunder. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was looking at the same person from so many years ago and yet, I felt like I saw someone I didn’t know anymore. In a situation wherein the expectation is intimacy owed to reminiscence, an unexpected plunge into the blankness of memory is terrifying. I began to dig deep for signs that could have prepared me for this revelation and I came out empty. I felt like falling from this pit of not-knowing-then-suddenly-too-much-too-quickly. Yes, it was most shocking news but as I calmed down and composed myself, I also found it wonderful.

He was talking about falling in love so deeply and so completely for the first time. Kevin and Greg were roommates in NY. My friend was working at the UN then while his friend was pursuing his own postgraduate degree. Their simply hanging out became intimate conversations that blossomed into them sleeping together. Kevin had always had heterosexual relationships before. I find him to belong to that rare breed of sensitive (straight) men who hold out for the romantic and the most real. His grounded but suddenly extraordinary affair with Greg was utterly groundbreaking. It was also earth shattering when it ended. Kevin broke up with Greg after professing uncertainty in the midst of their long-distance relationship (since he was in DC while Greg remained in NY.) That was 2 seasons ago. Now, he has become confident in who he is and what he wants only to realize that it is too late. Greg is already in another relationship and Kevin is left to face this reality alone.

Break-ups are always hard to read and even more exhausting to talk about. It becomes doubly exasperating when one has to deal with it because his close friend is going through it. How does one help? What can one say? Suddenly, I felt like all the plans for this weekend were enobled with new purpose. I was hoping that our hanging out would provide a nice diversion from his pain. We went shopping in Georgetown. We saw the Arena Stage’s production of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ Damn Yankees. We saw the Studio Theater’s staging of the Neil LaBute play, Fat Pig. We went to see the Holocaust Museum. We had delightful meals at Pizzeria Paradiso in DuPont Circle and Tenpeh and Jaleo downtown. I soon realized that cluttering one’s schedule with too many things really doesn’t do much as a salve for the heart’s wounds. It really isn’t the quantity but the quality that pervades each or any acitivity that really matters. It is not how many things one does that will make him forget but it is how one works in each distinct situation to face the pain, hold on to it and find meaning in it which will empower him to move on.

It must have been the Catalan wine or the pitcher of potent sangria or, simply, the sheer energy of Spanish food done really well. But whatever it was, there was something charged in the air that night that spiced up the conversation at Jaleo. Kevin, who had been terse throughout that day, suddenly opened up about his story. He was basically bearing the burden of blame for the relationship. I could only but respond to his outpouring of emotion. I couldn’t tell him what to do but I could tell him my story and, hopefully, provide him a sounding board for what he’s going through. I told him about my first boyfriend in and my first break-up with Eric. I told him about my last relationship with Carter. I shared to him those many cycles of defiance, regret, desperation and quiet denouement in my post-break-up phase. There were so many different tangents I went off on but the common line that bound them all was time. It took time to get over someone. It will take a lot of time to get over that one who broke your heart for the first time in that defining first relationship. It took me a year to ger over Eric, my first boyfriend, especially since we had a disastrous fling the second time around the following summer (but that is a totally different story now altogether.) It took me 6 months to get over Carter. It takes time to move on from someone you built such a profound connection with in this day and age of such rampant disconnect. But, in those times of regret or overwhelming loss, I always look back to what broke us apart in the fist place and beat meaning out of it. People break up for a reason and there will always be reassuring wisdom in it in hindsight. Ultimately, people move on from those they fell in love with. One lets another go because if he was really loved, then he well be let go to find the joy where he sees fit. Isn’t that what love is anyway? We desire the utmost joy for our beloved, whether he be current or former.

I said goodbye to Kevin a few hours ago. He was still forlorn. He still didn’t have much of an appetite. He still talked about bouts of crying. I kissed him on the cheeks and wished him well. I looked at him and I saw a glimpse of myself for a moment. Stubborn in his passions and seemingly reckless in his abandon but ultimately unyielding in his hope. I hope he fares well and I know he will. His story will continue onto a new chapter as will mine. Time will bind the books that our spirits will pen. Our every ending is a new beginning from which each other will share and grow from. We are kin and we are never left to either take pleasure or to suffer alone. To live and to love is too wonderful to bear by oneself.

It hit me that Carter and I broke up exactly a year and a day ago. I broke up with him after another gut-wrenching hour of counseling with our therapist. It seems that all those grueling hours of psychologized soul-searching actually worked. It illuminated the inevitable.

Carter and I broke up because we had radically different values. He believed that sex was an incidental — a mere plus in an already summed-up equation of vacations away, shared dinners and comings home to the same roof together. I believe that sex is integral to a relationship. Kinsey has his triangle of love, respect and sex. I could make up my own dodecagon of key points for success in a relationship but I’m sure that sex would be one of them.

I’d have to admit that this conclusion was borne in the context of our open relationship. I respect that relationships come in all different shapes and sizes. The challenge is to find the perfect fit for all parties concerned. Carter and I felt that we were set in the midst of a sea of pleasure floating aplenty with available skin (considering that we met under these circumstances — a sexually-charged gay Friday night party.) NY, after all, is the new Babylon. The old moral code of monogamy struck us as such — old and dated. We were revolutionary and experimental. We were brash in our hedonism and brazen in our philosophizing. We pursued our new moral contract in an open relationship, consensually and sensibly.

There lies the rub. Consensus and sensibility are key. One cannot succeed without the other. Senseless consesnsus is pointless and soulless. Sensible points that are divergent and ultimately irreconcileable are diminutive and wasted.

Our relationship hit a wall when I ranted about not having sex and when Carter would hear none of it since he was having a healthy sex life with other men. What was hurtful was that it really wasn’t an absence of desire per se to have sex but that of a desire to have sex with me. He was right when he claimed that he was doing nothing wrong since we had an open relationship. I was right when I screamed at how I was put in an unfair position by what was owed each other in our own construct. There were a lot of hands flailing and voices raised to the roof but what all this noisy effort painstakingly pointed out was this creeping realization that lay stuck in our throats — we were both wrong for each other. Someone had to undo our own undoing. I chose to end it.

It has been a year since and I haven’t looked back. I am single right now but am not foolishly rushing into anything. I’ve had a few relationships in between. None lasting but, yes, all learned from. Carter? The last I spoke to him he said he was happy with who he was seeing. Isn’t that the whole point anyway — to be happy with who you’re with?! I am happy with where I am with myself. I am single but I don’t feel alone. Neither are my thoughts wasted nor am I diminished by words. The wall has been broken down a long time ago and my road lies ahead, that new year after this new year, limitless and potent with passion.

Break-ups after the new year aren’t at all bad. It actually strikes at the essence of the holiday. A new beginning is already a treat. A fresh start twice over is healthy self-indulgence long overdue.