Writing this makes me feel strange, pathetic, old, and disconnected from my own life. I’m sitting here trying to conjure up the feelings of what it was like to care for someone and to have sex at a young age. It’s a hard thing to do seven years later (!) when all of that is dead and gone. The wounds aren’t fresh, there are no ghosts haunting the relationship, no innocent bystanders around to make a statement saying, “Yes, this relationship did happen. I saw it with my very own two eyes. I have photographic evidence of the lust that existed between these two boys.” Sometimes it almost feels like it never happened at all, which I guess is the point of me writing this post. To remember.
I’m thinking of that one car ride to Santa Barbara when we held hands in the backseat and I was shaking like a leaf. Sometimes I wonder if I would still be able to do that—have my body shake from a simple touch. It was the good kind of shaking, but it was also clearly rooted in fear. Knowing that you like boys when you’re a boy is one thing but actively trying to love them is quite another. Because even though you’re turned on by men, even though you know that’s all you could ever want and there is no other option, there’s still a pit of fear and shame that exists deep inside your belly when you go down on someone for the first time, when you let them see all of you, when you spoon them at 3:30 in the afternoon in your mother’s bedroom. Because oh my god, you’re a boy who’s able to love another boy. You’re really able to do it. You can love them beyond their genitalia and they can love you back.
I don’t miss my own teen romance anymore (I spent way too much time doing that), but I guess I do miss the feelings. It’s kind of similar to a person with bipolar disorder who doesn’t want to be medicated because they’ll miss the euphoric highs. Maybe I don’t want to endure a relationship that’s on medication and neutered by maturity and careful use of “I” statements. Actually wait, that’s not true and if it were, I would be in serious need of some therapy. I definitely don’t want to be a 24-year-old who loves like a 17-year-old. I guess I just miss the naivete and, like, the moment you realized you were worth loving. Someone finally saw you and was like, “I could love that.” I mean, are you serious? That’s music to a closeted gay teenager with severe cystic acne’s ears! You always hope that one day someone can love you and a part of you may even know that you deserve it. So when it happens, it’s like a self esteem explosion. You are the shit because someone else thinks you’re the shit. It’s sort of sad actually that you have to outsource to, like, India/a boy for some sense of self worth but that’s just a reality of being young.
The funny thing about loving someone when you’re a teenager is that you knew how insane it was. You knew that it would never be the same and that things would be different the next time around. That’s why you try to soak it all up while you can. That’s why you bask in the absurdity of things like, “Are you seriously grounded? Ugh, I hate your parents! Can we still hang out at Snapper Jack’s after school?” You hate (but love) that there is nowhere for you to have sex. Ever. Doing it at your house is always tricky because your parents might be home so you have to get creative. Cars are the next best thing and practically an aphrodisiac. Having one when you’re a teenager is basically like having your own apartment. It’s where you have sex, eat, drink, and get high with your friends. But sometimes you have to resort to hooking up in public places. I remember getting a handjob once in a cafe in the middle of the afternoon after school. Why? Um, because there was nowhere else to go, and you are just down for whatever. The crazier the better too because then you could tell your friends the next day at school about it and have them be jealous of you! And that’s what it was all about, right? In high school, your popularity is measured by how many people want to be you. And everyone wants to be you if you’re the person getting handyjays after school in some cafe.
Unfortunately, being gay and having a boyfriend in high school doesn’t exactly place you at the top of the social heap. In fact, it makes you terrified for your life. Personally, I couldn’t have come out of the closet without having a boy there to love and support me. It needed to be, “I’m here, I’m queer, and I have someone to help me deal with it!” I didn’t want to be single AND queer in a beach town that mostly spoke Bush. My relationship provided me with much more than love. It gave me the courage to be honest with myself and others.
I guess that’s what made my teen love so different. I went through the same highs and lows as everyone else. I lost my virginity, I experienced pure elation and eventually pure devastation when it ended. But it also was the reason why I became so comfortable with being gay. It assured me that I could be gay and be loved. It seems obvious, but you often don’t know that in the beginning. In essence, my romance killed two stones with one fag. And I was so blessed to be able to do so. I was so lucky to be a teenager in love.