I covered this way back in December 2009 in the post Yours Truly?, but since it's unlikely that all the same people still read my blog (and because of what I'm about to write about this exact subject), it bears an updating. When you write about things that happened to you years ago – especially when you were high for many of the years in question – there's always a certain degree of how you remember it involved. That would be true for anyone I think. For me, in addition to that, there is the question of how I remember it today. There are certain things that I've written about on this blog that I might remember differently if I were writing about them today. And there are things that I'm going to write about this month that I almost certainly would have recounted drastically differently in the first couple years of my sobriety. And then there is just the variable of my mood when I'm writing. When times are good and I'm feeling grateful, my memories of how things occurred and what they meant take a more upbeat and hopeful tone than when I'm barely dragging my ass out of bed and struggling to get through the day.
Then there is the black and white nature of writing. I love the extreme words like never, always and absolutely because they drive home a point better than occasionally, usually and to some degree. So when I write that I never did something then or I always do it now, you can always assume that I never mean that absolutely. Plus, since some things that happened occurred more or less in a vacuum, I tend to tweak the time and the exact circumstances to include something that happened, but not necessarily on the day I'm writing about. Without creating outright falsehoods or misrepresenting what my life was like, I still live by the same philosophies I've always subscribed to: “The truth is overrated” and “Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.”
Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on. Part of the reason I chose today to include that passage is because what I'm writing about here will probably seem like a total contradiction of things I've written in the past. I assure you it is not.
By the time I was a daily meth user, the drug had shut down most of my real emotions. I'm sure I thought I was happy or sad. And I remember distinctly that I believed I was one of the most empathetic people on earth. But most of it was really hollow. By the end, the only emotion I was feeling anywhere beneath the surface was terror.
That wasn't true at the beginning though. Before meth became the problem it was my most brilliant solution. It was August 2004 and I could not stop crying over the loss of my father, who had died in April. I had just moved out to Queens after ending a three-and-a-half-year relationship and I was fully isolating myself. I was hardly leaving the apartment, spending all my time online but really not even trying to actually meet anyone.
There was this one guy though. I had met him several months (maybe even a year) earlier at club. My then-boyfriend introduced me to him. Almost from the first second I saw him I was completely drawn to him. But because I was aware of exactly how much trouble that would cause, I basically ignored him. When my boyfriend would mention him I would try (with I have no idea how much or little success) to respond blandly and without any hint of interest. And when we would run into him at a club I would excuse myself to smoke a cigarette after barely a nod and a wave. The odd thing about this is that this was not my usual M.O. If I thought someone was hot, I would almost always find a way to get as close on the dance floor as possible. But not this time. I just didn't engage.
But then I was single. And he was online. And there was a rumor that he had access to crystal meth, which at the time I did not. So, I chatted him up. The first several times we talked, it was a hello/talk to you later sort of thing. But then one night I said hi and he asked what I was up to that night. Yadda, yadda, yadda, I invited him over. I was so nervous and excited waiting for him to show up, which was the first time in a really long time that I was excited about anything. I can't say for sure whether that anticipation was truly all for him or if it was his traveling companion – meth.
What I do remember is that I was sober when he walked through the door and my knees almost buckled at the sight of him. I've experienced wanting someone badly the minute I saw him before, but I don't ever remember my heart jumping like it did that night. Whether love at first sight exists I can't really say, because if I had never seen him again I might have moved on pretty quickly. But that's not what happened.
We started dating and before October even rolled around, he had a key to my apartment. I'm not going to be too coy here because the people who read this blog and know who I'm referring to know, and the rest of you would never have any reason to know. I won't go with the real name, but it's important to know that he was not from this country. Important because one of things that I fell in love with first was his almost-perfect knowledge of English, but with just enough mangling of words and syntax to make it adorable.
I know I wrote about this story before, but it's buried in a sports post that hardly any of you read. And it just bears repeating. It's the story of the night I knew I would love him forever.
I'm a huge Redsox fan. I've been since I was about 11 years old. And by 2004 I'd already had my heart broken by them more than a couple times. For non-baseball fans, the Boston Redsox hadn't won a World Series at that time for 86 years. In the interim however, they got close a number of times and always seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This year, however, they came back from a three games to none deficit against the Yankees in the League Championship Series and made it to the World Series. In a year that was just buried under loss for me, this seemed like some sort of divine intervention. And then they went and won the first three games of the series against the Cardinals. I was giddy.
(Aside: early in our relationship, we joked about being one of those sickening couples that is so affectionate that no one wanted to be around them. In unison, we referenced the “schmoopie” episode of Seinfeld. From that day forward, we referred to each other as Schmoopie – I often called him Schmoo for short. So that's what I'll call him here.)
Schmoo asked if I wanted to do something that night, but it was the fourth and possibly last game of the World Series. Now, he's from a country that isn't really known for baseball, so I was a little apprehensive. In general, gay guys don't always react well when they find out they might have to take a backseat to a sporting event. And he might not have even ever seen a baseball.
I took a chance and asked if he wanted to watch the game with me, explaining as best I could 86 years of failure and what might actually happen that night. I was surprised, but not completely delighted, when he said yes. He had no idea what a minefield he was walking into. If he in any way infringed on my enjoyment of the game, he was doomed.
Instead, exactly the opposite happened. I got up to get us drinks in about the third inning. As I was getting the ice, he called out (in his adorably fractured English), "Petr, come quick! Mueller is on base one." I can tell you for sure that I hadn't smiled that genuinely in all of 2004 before that moment.
When The Moment finally came and Doug Mientkiewicz squeezed the last out in the ninth inning, I just sat there stunned. It even took about two minutes for the tears to start rolling down my face. It was right about then that I realized Schmoo had disappeared. As I looked up, he walked into the living room with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. "I thought maybe you'd want this if they won."
Where am I going with all this? Well, here's the thing. I've had longer relationships than this one. I've probably even had relationships that were less chaotic and dysfunctional. Once, he didn't talk to me for three days (literally not one word) because we were fighting and I walked by him while he was eating a piece of fruit and said casually, “I hope you choke on that clementine.”**
BUT, I really don't think I've ever been as in love with anyone as I was with Schmoo. I have no idea if it showed, but he caused me to light up inside just by walking in the room sometimes. Before the drugs deadened my soul, I remember that I would feel a smile involuntarily form just by saying his name to someone.
I don't know if drugs conceived my love for him or killed his for me, but I know more than five years later all those feelings feel just as real as they felt then. And I know that drugs or no drugs, meeting Schmoo and loving him the way I did was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. Regardless how it ended up, I'm not sure I'd have made it out of 2004 alive if not for him.
**I think I will have to revisit this relationship in future posts because there is definitely more gold to be mined here.