Thursday, April 03, 2003

The Dance of Intimacy

I had my hands around his back and could feel the dampness of his sweat. It was awkward, because he was so tall. My hips rotated in a stationery position, mirroring him. He reminded me of a big, boyish teenager suddenly awakening to his sexuality. His closed eyes gave him a sweet, innocent look. Every now and again he would open his eyes, place his hand on the back of my head, and draw my mouth to his.

I was both turned on and embarrassed by our public display of attraction. I was afraid of looking sleazy, but also enjoyed feeling desired by him. We both loved to dance, but our styles were very different. I grew up on disco and electronic rhythms, so over the years had perfected a detached, indifferent mechanical trance - I moved like every other generic gay-boy.

But BC's dance was less polished. He moved his hips around in a stationary, circular motion. With his lanky legs bent deep at the knee, he rocked his pelvis back and forth to the beat. He reminded me of a straight boy used to dancing to rock, attempting to adjust his style to fit the repetition of disco. I found it difficult to move in sync with him for very long. I had to extricate myself every few minutes to dance on my own.

Afterward he said to me in a low, husky voice (his mouth brushing my ear), "That was so sexy. I"ve never danced like that with a man before."

I met him on the first day of summer. It had been three years since my last relationship and I had just began to feel comfortable again being single. Dimly, I remembered having someone to enjoy the warm summer months with, and faintly missed the intimacy of sharing a sleeping bag in the forest or lying on a towel at the beach together. The twilight was turning to evening that day before summer, when taking my garbage out to the back alley, I paused. It was as though the world became vibrantly still for a moment. The summer grass, clear blue sky and orange azaleas saturated my senses. I breathed in the fragrant, warm air. And a knowing washed over me - I would have a companion this summer, with whom to share this summer.

We met at the Odyssey, on the dance floor. I noticed him because he radiated gentleness and an easy masculinity. Impulsively I swung in front of him, my back facing him, and moved slowly closer into him. I could feel the heat coming off his chest, just before he put his arms around me. We left soon after dancing, and emboldened by alcohol I unzipped his fly in the car. He quickly grew hard, long and thick. My thumb and middle finger barely touched each other as I gripped his shaft.

The next morning I awoke with my arms and legs around his tall, solid body. Again we had sex, then lay in bed talking. I asked him about himself, his family and upbringing. He surprised me with his openness and thoughtful answers.

It was already close to noon when we left my apartment. Since we were heading in the same direction BC offered to give me a ride to the beach where I wanted to write. During the drive he confessed to being bisexual, divorced and had recently dated a woman. He confided that he hadn't had a serious, nor monogamous relationship with a man before. He had several friends with whom he had regular, casual sex.

But, he added, he would like to try dating a man, because, "They're less demanding than women in relationships. You don't need to see each other all the time. It's more like buddies just getting together once in a while to have a good time." He removed his gaze from the road and looked me in the eyes.

Afterward, at the beach, BC's presence stayed with me. A part of him had gotten inside me and remained there. I was drawn to him even though I knew better than to date a bisexual man. Especially one with little experience in same sex relationships, and who clearly expressed his need for emotional detachment in one. It was a formula for heartbreak, and I didn"t have the stamina to deal with another one. I decided not to call him.

Arriving home that evening, the beeping dial tone indicated I had messages. The first was from BC - he had called me shortly after we parted that afternoon. Warmly, his message opened with, "I hope you enjoyed the beautiful summer day at the beach." He lengthened the word 'beautiful,' saying it like 'bee-ut-e-full.' He expressed his pleasure in meeting me and hoped we would get together soon.

I planned my approach. I'll be careful this time. I'll protect my heart. This time, I won't ignore the clear signals - he wants to casually date and isn't interested in a long-term relationship. I'll stay focussed on my goals and myself. I won't fall in love. So I waited until the next day to call him, and said I wouldn't be available until next weekend. He said, "I look forward to it," and I hung up. My heart danced.

When a relationship ends, it's in those quiet, meditative moments that forgotten memories surface. While folding my clothes, still warm from the dryer, I found myself reliving the day we went to Lake Ann for a hike.

In a clearing, just off the forest trail, we paused to get our bearings. We had taken a wrong turn and were moving away from our destination of the mountain peak. There was a stillness in the moment; the song of birds and the waves of wind, rustling through the leaves, became intensified. We reached out to each other, as if to waltz. Pulling closer, we kissed, and soon found our shorts at our knees. Later that day we laid naked on a narrow rock shelf, overlooking the ocean. My hand tucked between his thighs, my head on his chest listening to his heart-beat. Inhaling his scent. Not knowing where our relationship was going, but wanting to be there.

Momentarily lost in the memory, I returned to my laundry. I used the t-shirt I was folding to wipe my eyes. I wondered how BC let go of these moments. So effortlessly.

Screaming, we fled upstairs to the washroom and dashed inside. I threw my body against the door and locked it. My sisters held each other, terrified. My mother banged on the door, yelling at me in a drunken rage to open it. "No," I screamed, "You're going to hurt us." She began slamming her hip into the door, pushing with the force of her weight. I held my ground.

A few hours before we were cuddling next to her, eating Neopolitan ice cream while she read us The Velveteen Rabbit. I had felt safe and loved. Then she started drinking red wine.

We heard my mother collapse onto the floor, weeping like a child. "You don"t love me," she said in an eerie little girl"s voice. We were quiet, stunned into silence. "You don't want me," she cried, then began sobbing.

I spoke first, behind the door. "I love you mom, please don"t cry." Trying to comfort her.

After a few minutes she left to get herself another glass of red wine, downstairs. It was an hour before we cautiously unlocked the door and tiptoed to our rooms.

I learned that love and intimacy always ends in rejection and abandonment.

Piles of binders, books and reams of paper covered every flat surface in my studio apartment. Every fall my workload increased threefold, but this year, I not only had my teaching duties, but company had taken off. At first I managed to keep most evenings and weekends free to get together with BC. But by October my work demanded most of my attention. I'd wake at seven a.m. and begin working, even before showering or a morning coffee. Often I'd be at my desk until ten in the evening.

Frequently I'd have a deadline to meet and have to cancel plans with BC. He appeared to not mind too much, although he said he would miss me. And he was often late or changed his plans, so it didn't seem to be a problem.

By November I was burned out from the constant demands of work. I'd get together with BC and be too tired to have sex. It felt like another demand on my energy. Although I knew he wanted to get together more often than we did, he was understanding. We went on a few weekend trips together, but I usually needed a day to relax before I could enjoy myself. The stress made me impatient with him.

"Stone Angel," I named him, in my head. The morning sun lit Andrew's pale white skin and golden hair and made them gleam. Asleep on his back, I examined his chiseled face and body, as pliant and warm as marble. He reminded me of a young Robert Redford, But he didn't like to be touched. If I walked up and embraced him from behind, he would recoil and push me away. When we watched television together on the couch, and I put my arm around him, I was not allowed to caress. He didn't like to be called endearments, didn't want comments about his attractiveness, and asked me not to call him "cute." "Handsome" was acceptable.

Sex was a weekly privilege, routine and predictable. Work was his priority, and our relationship came somewhere after food, home chores, exercise, time alone, his family and JB (his cat). My heart got used to hurting, from his distance. When it was over it took me a few years to recover.

I promised myself never to be with another Andrew. But somehow, with CB, I found myself become the "Stone Angel. "

To be continued...