Not too long ago I was celebrating one of my last weekends as a college student at a club that everyone went to because of the discount Long Islands and the discount gay men. I don’t think the building was initially intended to be a club — especially seeing as there was an “actual” gay club literally across the street — but I guess that’s what happens when you decide to stay open until 2:00am and play house music.
I was having a good enough time. I had more than enough to drink, and was drinking some more — probably knowing somewhere in the back of my mind that it was all destined to return to this world vis-a-vis a toilet later that night — but whatever!!!11
Shaking my body in some limbering motion that could only generously (and drunkenly) be called “dancing,” I began to move closer to the boy that I had a crush on for almost six months. I was behind him, so I only saw his curly black hair tucked under a blue hat. But even that small piece of him, I wanted. I approached him closer still, and suddenly his motions broke out of tune with the song. Suddenly the room felt awkward. He called off to another friend. I left the stage.
This was an unusual way for me to spend a Friday night, truth be told. For almost my entire senior year of college, I had worked weekends. I told some people it was because I needed the money — which was not particularly untrue, but it left a lot unsaid. I had gotten the internship of my dreams over the previous summer, and the weekend schedule looked to be the only way it could continue into the year.
So every Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday — for a total of twenty hours a week — I worked.
As I walked away from the club’s dance-floor I approached a friendly face who was sitting at the bar. He was an old friend, one of my first “gay friends” after slowly slothing out of my glass closet. I sat down next to him and ordered a drink.
“How’s your night going,” He asked me.
“It’s fine,” I replied probably (this part of the night is a little fuzzy). “I just feel like things aren’t really heating up between me and this guy I’m into.”
“Ah,” my friend replied, adjusting his smooth blonde hair. “I know exactly what you need to do.”
“Here’s what you do. Buy him a drink here at the bar, and then go up to him; wrap your arm around his shoulder and give him the drink,” My friend concluded with an air of wisdom while taking another generous sip of his own drink.
Was it really that easy for people?
About two months after that night in the club I was in New York City, working from the headquarters of my new job. My work as an intern throughout the year had paid off, and I landed a coveted position as a staff writer at a very lean, but extremely fun, digital media company.
It was the first time I had been at the office, and naturally, the first time I had met all the staff there. In the spirit of getting to know each other a little better, the company President asked me if I wanted to grab a meal with him that week.
During the dinner — which was actually a fundraiser of the likes I will not be able to afford on my own in the next ten years — I felt reasonably comfortable and confident. At least, as comfortable as one can be in a room filled with celebrated persons you’ve never met before.
We talked a lot about work, and I didn’t feel nervous about giving free and frank feedback to my boss’s boss. It felt like just casual chat.
As we stumbled home from the club I slowly faded out of conversation. My college experience was over, and the craziest stories I had gotten out of it were probably akin to what most freshman had by Labor Day.
And it was never a choice of what I wanted. It was never a tradeoff, I had no things to trade between. I never had a choice. Pushing myself too far out of my comfort zone socially jeopardized my mental health.
One time I hooked up with a cute guy who is much more famous than me, and I had panic attacks for the next two weeks because he never texted me back. It’s not like he had to. It wasn’t his fault. It was me that was wired to not be able to handle casual human connection. It was me.
We finally got back to the campus area, and everyone began to go off in their own separate directions. My building was closest, so I broke off from the group right as we all walked past the shitty UDF where I frequently went to buy ice cream to eat alone.
I quietly bid my friends goodbye, and I walked across the empty street alone. It was surprisingly quiet — even for 3:00am. There could’ve been a tumble weed blowing across the road for how barren the place was.
Suddenly, I protested. I knew that my destination was the last night of being a student, my last night of being somewhat a kid. So I stopped. I stopped and sat down right outside the Law School building that was immediately in front of my building.
I was drunk. Too drunk. With the world softly spinning around me, I sat down on the concrete wall lining the crack-free sidewalk. I sat there and reflected. I sat there and cried.
And I want to be ashamed or embarrassed, but it was probably one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done.