Friday, December 13, 2013

On Spencer

I can’t evade thoughts of Spencer, this week. It’s been a year and three months since I last saw him mere days before he moved to Europe to finish his education and pursue a career. A year and a half earlier, I’d left him to move to the east coast. But oh, during that long year when I was alone and trying to sell my house to make that move, he and I were inseparable. For the better part of a year he slept in my bed, ate the meals I made just for him. He returned my kisses. When we made love, he surrendered completely.

How can I escape Spencer? His presence lingers still as a tall and broad-shouldered apparition who wanders through my life with proud and graceful steps. I see him sprawled on my sofa, his toes pointed to the ceiling as he practices in the air the nimble legwork he picked up in ballet practice that afternoon. I see the books he gave me on the shelf by my bed, every time I rise in the morning and right before I crawl into the sheets after dark. Every time Spencer watched me dole out dried mackerel flakes to the cats as a treat, he’d wrinkle his nose and exclaim, It smells like a Korean whorehouse in here! I say aloud the same words now, almost nightly, as I divide up a palmful of the stuff.

I still have an old bottle of his lotion beneath my bathroom sink, left over from before the move. There are some days I’ll sit on the edge of the tub, pop the cap, and remember his scent. Just for a moment, though. Then I attempt to stuff the hundred pounds of pain I’ll feel back into the seventy-five-pound container that’s all I have for it, and attempt to ignore the overflow.

Originally I’d intended to write something sexy this week, but my plans went off the tracks over the weekend. I was already having one of those frustrating days when nothing’s absolutely wrong, but everything wasn’t really going my way. If I set something down, it was certain to spill or tumble; if I looked for milk in the fridge, the carton was sure to be empty save for a teaspoon. The clock stopped. All the batteries in every remote conked out. The mail contained nothing but bills. Then I sat down with my laptop, opened up one of my personal pages of social media, and saw that Spencer was getting married and staying in Europe.

I’d suspected it was coming. He was finishing his program this month and hadn’t made any noises about coming home or about what he’d be doing after he was done. Instead, he’d moved into a new apartment with a new roommate. He’d made a couple of vague posts that sounded domestic. I wondered if he was seeing the guy with whom he’d moved in. I didn’t ask, though. I didn’t want to hear the answer.

To find out that he was planning to marry the guy, though, came as a shock. After all the mild disappointments of the day, the news hit me in the midsection like a baseball bat. I sat in my chair for a minute, stunned. Then I had my first, genuine reaction: Well, good for him. I’d managed to run across his announcement just moments after he’d posted it. My congratulations were the first he received.

I hit return. I bathed for a moment in all my memories of Spencer—the nights of lovemaking, the evenings watching television, the long snowy days when we cuddled beneath blankets and talked into the night. I let it all flood over me, losing track of the real world as every sense and sound and relived joy roared past. Then I came to, and numbly thought, Well, that’s that. This time, though, it felt as if I had to pack away two tons of sadness with only the same old seventy-five pound container.

All week I dragged the remnants behind me like Jacob Marley’s chain.

I keep going back to the moment when I found out, and parsing my reaction. I was genuinely glad for him. Spencer is amazing, and talented. I want him to be enormously happy and successful; he deserves to be with someone who understands and wants him and who can take care of him in a way I couldn’t—in a way that doesn’t have an expiration date built into it, anyway. He needs that. I was happy for Spencer first, and mournful for myself second. That’s the absolutely correct order.
Spencer was unexpected joy during a dismal time in my life. He made a dark year not merely bearable, but wonderful. Special. I’ll never stop loving him for the light he brought into my life, or for the laughter and passion we shared in equal amounts.

We were both lost boys when we clung naked to each other. Now he’s been found and taken home. Still, I think neither of us will entirely forget those cold nights made warm by being in each other’s arms. Nor will I ever be rid of his shadow as it tiptoes through my life from time to time, reminding me of the beautiful dancer who once, for a time, was mine.


  1. Hi, my friend --
    We both know it's going to take a long time before the pain completely diminishes, but this is one of the most beautiful things you've ever written. Processing grief into beauty is the wise and appropriate way to go. But I still feel for you as you navigate all these broken memories in your bare feet. Sending you much love.

  2. Rob,
    What you and Spencer had was beautiful, thank you for sharing it and him with us. Today, I will feel glad for Spencer and sad for you, but there will finally be joy that something so beautiful and tender existed. Again thank you and know that the good memories will outlast the sorrow.

  3. I know it's Spencers life to do as he pleases, but I also now it effects your life also. From your past writing of him, you will always have a spot in your heart for him, and over the years will still think of times gone by spent with him. And when you think of those times, you will smile even cry, but you'll always be grateful for those times together.

  4. Beautiful--brought tears to me eyes. But you are so lucky to have those precious memories.

  5. Beautifull, in a way it's a re-closing chapter now. For good.
    Simply wonderfully written.

  6. You never forget a love. I don't think you ever completely get over a love until you fall in love again.

  7. This post had me in tears. I am happy for Spencer. I just wish your heart didn't hurt because of it.

  8. beautifully written, thank you for sharing.

  9. Oh Rob,

    My heart aches for you but I thank you for sharing the story with us, as you have with so many of your Spencer stories. All of them are beautiful and are what first got me hooked on your blog.

    I just saw this today after solving some computer issues so I hope you are feeling more sanguine by now.

    Paul, NYC