(This is a continuation of Will: Perfect, which itself is part of a series that took up most of last week. It has a couple more installments to go.)
I'm most myself when I'm lying down in the dark with someone else, just talking. That darkness, that place where we rely on every sense save sight, is where we fill the quiet room with furnishings of our own words and imaginations. It’s a liberating space between sleep and consciousness. Nothing in it is more important there than memory and past experience. There's no worry about whether my hair's a mess, or whether I’m spitting when I talk. There's just me, and the person I'm with, and our words and touch.
I used to bask in those evenings with Will. The first night we spent together was not the last, by any means. About once a month, or sometimes more if it wasn’t a problem at home, I’d arrive at his house with a small overnight pack, a smile on my face, and a hard-on hanging down the leg of my jeans. Even on the weeks in which we weren’t overnighting together, we’d connect either at his place or at mine and spend the evening together.
It was the one period of my life, after I’d flipped to the top, that I returned to bottoming on more than a once-every-dog’s-age basis. I knew with him that I’d be fucked, that within a few minutes of closing the door behind us, he’d have me face-down on his mattress, clothes discarded on the floor, his strong, relentless dick buried seven inches inside me. I loved giving that to him. I loved that my ass was his playground, where he got to do all the things of which he’d always dreamed during his marriage but never tried. I liked knowing I’d been his first, and cherished knowing that handsome man had chosen me over anyone else as the man to take his gay virginity.
It was the last period in my life in which I once again grew accustomed to the sweet security of surrendering myself and my body, while being held in another man’s arms. I never feel warmer, or more secure.
But then, afterward, when my hole was sore and he was panting and spent, we would fall back onto the pillows and reach out for each other in the darkness. We wouldn’t hold back, when we talked. Anything was fair game.
It was during one of the first evenings we spent naked and talking on his bed that I found myself emboldened to ask about what he’d told me, the night he met. Will wanted to be a priest. Normally the Catholic church wasn’t interested in accepting older candidates for study and ordination, but there were certain orders, in remote sections of the country, that secluded members and set them on that clerical path. It was in the dark that Will confided in me that he felt his everyday job was unfulfilling. He looked in the mirror, he told me, and saw an old man staring back at him. He couldn’t bear to leave his fifties without making a change. Even if it meant abandoning it all—friends, security, family—he wanted to spend the remaining years of his life committed to doing good works. He wanted to comfort those in need.
I admired him for that. He was ready to take a big leap in his life—bigger than the divorce, bigger than his own admission, late in life, of his sexual desires. In my eyes, Will was heroic. He was going after what he really wanted.
I wanted to know how he reconciled being gay with his Catholicism; I was not a fan of the Catholic church, then or now. It has always seemed to me to thrive on on the cultivation of fear and inadequacy. I didn’t agree with its policies or its politics, or even really with its tenets.
He said that he doesn't believe God can make anything bad. Will regarded his sexuality as a gift to be enjoyed with the ones he loved, which always made me feel giddy inside. And yet it's a gift that he was willing to give up, along with the gifts of friends and family and music, in service to an entity he’d never seen or heard speak. There really was something admirable in that.
Every once in a while I believe I'm graced with a glimpse of how different my life could be if I'd chosen another path. Now and again I meet people at forks in the road. I continue down the crazy thoroughfare I've chosen for myself, happy to be traveling it, for the most part. But I often turn back my head, see the smaller artery disappearing off in another direction, and I wonder what might have been.
I could see so easily a life with Will. We both knew it would never happen. Yet in private moments I could imagine myself partnering with him and doing the things I did best—fashioning a home for him better than that apartment for the newly divorced. Making him meals. Encouraging him to do the things that were important for him. Yet when the things that were most important for him were the ones that would soon take him away, what was the use of the dream?
During my time with Spencer, readers occasionally would accuse me of not understanding what it was like for him to love someone who was leaving. But I did, because ten years ago, I was in the same position. I knew that another fork in the road was rapidly approaching. The day was arriving, and soon, when Will would be waving goodbye to me from another car headed a different direction from my own.
It really was an act of grace that made us friends. For a spell, he was the closest male friend I’ve ever had. Every time I think of Will it's still with an affection I don't even feel for most of my birth family. I didn’t want him to go. But I didn’t say anything. If I did, it would be as a joke—I’d tell him it would be a lot easier on me if he'd join one of those monastic communities that makes fudge or cheese, so at least I could get a good hamper from him every Christmas. Making jokes was easier than admitting to him how bereft I really felt at his eventual, but certain departure.
Don’t ever suggest to me I didn’t know how Spencer felt, during our time together. Will, my dearest friend, my lover, each day was coming closer to making a choice to discard our friendship behind with the detritus of the rest of his life. It haunted me, though I spoke of it as little as possible.
He knew, though. When I’d grow silent and teary-eyed lying next to him, thinking of it, I thought the dark would conceal my pain. Then I’d feel his hand searching for mine, warm and strong, giving me the comfort I never told him I needed.