onsdag 29 oktober 2014

Novell: Falling Into Heaven

The first time I kissed a girl turned out to also be the last time. No, it wasn’t horrible. She was very nice and she didn’t get mad when I slowly pulled away. She understood when I told her it just didn’t feel right.

I’m a boy who likes other boys and let me tell you this: I am not very different from boys who like girls.
I turned out to be gay when I was fourteen; when I kissed the nice girl who understood. It wasn’t easy at first—this society makes sure of that. I didn’t tell my parents until two years later. It kind of went like this:
“Mom. Dad.” I stood up so suddenly it made them jump a little. I looked at them and they looked at me as if I had a monkey on my head and I remember digging my nails so hard into the table if left marks.
Quiet. Waiting. Falling.
In the end I never said it. I sat down and then I started crying and somehow my parents knew. My mom rubbed my shoulder and said it was okay and my dad went into the hallway and rushed out the door and I thought he was mad but ten minutes later he came back with a cake. Chocolate. My favorite.
“What’s that for?” I asked.
“We need to celebrate.”
“Celebrate?”
“We need to celebrate the fact that I was blessed with a homosexual son.”
He looked dead serious, which was kind of awkward since all I wanted to do was laugh until I couldn’t breathe. It was a funny evening.

The first boy I kissed was Logan Crawford. We met at Starbucks one summer. I was just sitting there drinking my chocolate tasting coffee and all of a sudden he walked in like the almighty God himself. I was not the only one who stared. He had this very thick blonde hair that curled a little, a muscular but not too muscular body, and holy heaven was he tall.
There was a 99% chance that he was also a douchebag. Society taught me that: judge people by their looks. I don’t want to sound mean, but society kind of sucks.
Anyway, he caught me staring and I turned away and when I dared to look again I was pierced by his blue eyes and a smirk cuter than sugar. He was making fun of me, I thought.
I finished my coffee pretending I didn’t care about the smirking gorgeous creature behind me, before I left.
It took three weeks for us to start talking. I kept sneaking glances at him when we were at the Starbucks café, and I sometimes caught him doing the same. I still believed he was only playing though.
Then one day when I had just started to walk home I heard someone calling: “Hey, wait!”
I turned around and there he was, reaching into the sky with his incredible height. “Can I help you with something?” I asked, because my inner voice reminded me that that’s what normal people ask in situations like this.
“I just…” he started, before he fell quiet. He blushed. Oh-my-god-please-have-mercy he was adorable.
“You?”
“Yeah…”
“Yeah… What?”
“What?”
The whole situation was just so weird and embarrassing all I wanted was to dig a hole and disappear. Apparently no one taught either of us how to pursue an acceptable conversation.
“You’ve been checking me out”, he finally said.
I wished I’d been drinking coffee now so I could spit it out all over the street.
“No, I haven’t.”
“Yes, you have.”
Maybe he thought I was some kind of stalker, or just a very creepy teenager. Still, he’d been smirking at me. He was the creepier one here.
“So what if I have? You’ve been checking me out too.”
He nodded. I had like no dignity left and he could just stand there and nod.
“I’m Logan”, he said and reached out a hand. I shook it.
“Joseph.”
“That’s a nice name.”
“Yours too.” I was being very lame, indeed.
He just smiled. “Nice to meet you, Joseph.”
And that was it for the first time we talked to each other. Before I got to reply he’d turned around and walked back into the café.
Things proceeded very slowly from there.
We sometimes talked a little at Starbucks, but that was it. It wasn’t personal at all, not even slightly. Until autumn came, and he asked me to go to the cinema with him. It was just a friendly thing—two dudes watching a very crappy action movie together. For me, it felt like something more though. Sitting there in the dark beside him, sharing all that time in an empty space that no one could interrupt. He shifted a little, and his leg brushed against mine. And stayed there. I was now officially in that awkward scenario where you don’t know whether you should move or just pretend you didn’t notice. Or pretend you like it, which I didn’t need to pretend since it was true. In the end I pretended not to notice.
Since that day we started to hang out more. Our conversations slowly turned more natural, and I often caught myself smiling and laughing a lot when I was with him. I was falling in love and there was nothing I could do to keep myself up. I was falling, and oh was it a lovely fall.
Our first kiss took place on New Year’s Eve. We were standing outside Starbucks, waiting for the fireworks to start.
“I think I like you,” he said quietly.
I froze, which meant I almost died because I’d been freezing before he said that already. Like come on, it was 12:00am and it was winter and it was not Australia.
“Well…” I couldn’t look at him. I believed my face had the color of tomatoes, and it was not only because of the cold. “I like you too, I guess.” I said it without any deep feelings, like it meant nothing.
“No.” He shook his head. “Not like that.” And then he cupped his hands around my face and bent down and kissed me, and I could hear the fireworks explode all around us, just like in the movies. It was cliché as hell, but it didn’t matter. I closed my eyes and took it all in—his soft lips against mine, the taste of coffee, the lingering scent of his perfume that smelled nothing in particular but so good it made me all weak—and then I wondered if it was possible to fall upward. Because if it was, I had definitely fallen right into heaven.

Most stories would have ended there. We got our very big cliché-kiss and yeah, it was wonderful and all, but it didn’t make things easier.
I remember one day very clearly when we were walking down the street. We talked about something we were planning for the next day, and suddenly he reached out to grab my hand. I jerked away. “Not here…”
“Why?”
I looked around, at all the people passing by, and he understood.
“Don’t care about them.”
“It’s just… I don’t want…”
“What? What do you not want them to think? That we’re gay? Because that’s what we are, alright?” He said it in a joking kind of way, but I could see that he was slightly frustrated.
I shrugged. “I just don’t like being judged by people, that’s all.”
He stopped, put his hands on my shoulders and turned me to face him. “Does anyone?” He smiled. It was a tender smile this time, and it made my heart skip a few beats. “But it’s a judgmental world, you know. We’ll always get judged. Everyone’ll always get judged. There’s no escaping that. But hey, would it make you feel better if we walked around here judging people who dress weirdly? Like oh my god look at the woman over there—it looks like she’s wearing a paper bag. Is that supposed to be a dress or…” His gaze suddenly let go of the woman, onto another victim. “Holy Christmas tree that boy’s pants are almost falling down to his feet. Does he think he’s got swag, walking like that? Do you think he’s got swag? Because I don’t.” Logan then turned to me. “I can try to be sassier, if you want.”
I just shook my head, trying not to grin like an idiot. “You’re incredible, you know that?”
Yet, I wouldn’t hold his hand.

Our relationship was a happy one, it was. But only when we were alone. As soon as there was someone else there, I acted as if we were nothing more than friends. I hated myself for it.
“Sometimes I feel like you’re embarrassed of me,” he once said when we were sitting on a pair of swings in the park.
“I’m not. I could never be.”
“Then…” He looked down. “You’re embarrassed of us.”
I didn’t answer, which might have been what destroyed everything. I wasn’t embarrassed by us… like, personally. It was just that we were two boys, and people tend to make that a bigger deal than it actually is.
“At first,” he continued, “I thought you just needed time. But it’s been months now, and nothing has changed. We’re still a secret.”
“Does that really matter though? If people know about us or not?”
“Yes, it does.” He sighed. “Because I love you and I’m just so damn proud over having you as my boyfriend and I want people to know. I want to be able to say ‘look this is Joseph, my overly perfect boyfriend, please keep your hands off.’”
“I’m not overly perfect.”
“But that’s exactly what you are! You’re overly perfect for me.” He looked at me then, and I don’t think I had ever seen so much honesty before. “All I’m saying is that… It would be nice to show-off a little sometimes. Don’t you think?”
But I didn’t. I wanted to keep us a secret forever. I didn’t want anyone to destroy the happiest part of my life. Logan didn’t believe that was possible. He believed we were strong enough, and yes, he was, but I certainly wasn’t. I wasn’t strong enough to not be affected by what people said.
“I’m sorry.” That’s all I said, in the end. And it wasn’t enough to keep him with me.

I wish I could say this story got your typical happily-ever-after-ending, but that would be a lie. Logan couldn’t handle keeping it a secret to everyone, so one day he kissed me in a clothes store. It wasn’t as nice as it may sound. It felt like everyone stared, it felt like everyone whispered about us, it felt like we did something forbidden, and for the first time ever, all I wanted was to get away from him.

Why is it so bad to love someone?

He was a boy. I was a boy. It shouldn’t have mattered. But it did, and we broke up that same day. I don’t believe it was anyone’s fault in particular—we just weren’t on the same page in the end, and that pulled us apart.
I remember lying in my bed that afternoon and forcing myself not to cry. You can’t. You can’t be that weak. He’s not worth it. But he so was. He was worth every single tear in the universe, and yet I wasn’t honest enough to give him even one.
Until my parents waltzed in, that was. They were the only ones who knew about us, and once again they knew what was up before I said anything.
“It’s okay to cry, honey,” mom said. “It’s okay.” So I did. I might not have cried every single tear in the universe, but I must have cried at least a river.
“Do you want me to buy a cake?” dad asked.
I shook my head in response. In that moment, I was burning in hell, and there was no need to take the cake down there as well. Better keep the cake up in the light.

We only saw each other one more time. He disappeared after that.
It was on New Year’s Eve. I was standing outside of Starbucks, waiting for the fireworks, when he suddenly walked down the street together with another boy. They were holding hands. A long time had passed since we broke up, but it still stung.
He raised his free hand when he saw me, and I raised mine too. He smiled lightly. I smiled too. I was glad he was happy. He deserved it.
Logan turned out to be one of many heartbreakers that I would come across, but he was the first one, and I couldn’t have been more grateful for that. He showed me what a good relationship looked like, and if I was slightly more awkward I would have walked right up to him and said it. I didn’t. All I did was sending him a small little thought that didn’t mean anything but at the same time meant everything. Thank you.
I looked up at the sky, at that incredible darkness that hovered all over us, and I imagined the two of us walking up a road made out of stars, hand in hand, for everyone to see.