The story you're about to read
is my first at Nifty. A couple of disclaimers: First, this
isn't going to be your standard stroke-piece. It'll have sex;
some pretty graphic sex, in fact. But for the most part, this is
a tale of the heart. So don't write me and tell me it's not hot
enough. And then, the standard disclaimers: Read, if you're
of legal age. If you're not, you don't have my permission.
Like I'm gonna know. And go away if sex between males offends
you. You shouldn't be here anyway.
I dedicate this tale, or at least the telling of it, to everyone who
understands the feelings of possibility and pain that come with being
not "merely-gay" or "merely-straight."
I took a few days at the end of my final spring break to
be by myself. Instead of the standard beach trip this time, my
crew--jocks, most of us, and their women--had gone to the mountains of
Colorado. I'd be lying if I said I had a bad time. It was
But I'm not really a "mountains" kind of guy. No, for me it's the
beach. The ocean. The sun and the surf. Specifically,
the Texas Gulf Coast: Mustang Island, where I'd played as a child
occasionally, where I'd spent every free weekend I could grab for the
trip as a teenager...and where the tides had turned for me.
I was about to enter into a new phase of my life. I was leaving
college and had it in my head that I was supposed to be all grown
up. Actually, I wasn't leaving college altogether. I was
going off to grad school and delaying my entry into the real world for
a little while longer. But Angie and I had set a tentative
date. I took that seriously; and as the weight of that decision,
that commitment, settled in on me, I needed time to myself.
Angie was fine with that, as she always is. I don't know another
woman as willing as she is to let her man be who he is. I never
feel like I have to hide who I am with her. She understands that
the depths get murky sometimes and that I need time and space once in
awhile to stay in the game. So we flew back to Dallas on Thursday
and she spent the remainder of the break with her parents. She
wanted to catch up on stuff with her sister and brother anyway.
The day after we got home I made a call to an old friend, then drove
over to his house and picked up a key to a condo down on Mustang Island
that I knew almost as well as if it were my own. I'd made the
request of Ruben's parents months earlier, and my old high school jock
crew and their parents, well, we've all walked a lot of road
together. It seems sometimes almost as if their parents are mine
and mine are theirs. There's a bond among families of
teammates. It's not a bad thing. So I knew I could have the
condo, if I asked, for a piece of the week. That's how it
happened that it wasn't being rented out for spring break. Friday
morning, having thrown some gear and clothes and toiletries in a bag, I
borrowed my dad's SUV, and set off for the eight-hour drive to Mustang
Island, the place where I first fully experienced my life as a locus of
powerful, and not-too-easily-navigated, cross-currents. I needed
to be there with myself, my thoughts: thoughts of my future, my
past...but especially, of Matt.
I checked in around five. Did the necessary paperwork, wrote the
check for the cleanup service that would set things right after my
stay, walked around the corner from the front office, took the elevator
to the third floor, and continued a good fifty feet south, until I was
standing at the door of the condo.
I put the key in the lock, turned the handle, opened the door...and
found myself staring into a roomful of ghosts.
Memories assaulted me with a ferocity I wasn't prepared for.
Sounds, words spoken and left unspoken, feelings as familiar as my own
breath, but not as matter-of-fact, all came back to me as I walked
in. A heaviness threatened to settle in and I wondered for a
minute if I should have come here alone.
But these ghosts were mine and nobody else's; and anyway, the haunting
was part of the reason I came. I needed to deal with my
ghosts: phantoms of other possibilities; memories that trail off
into dead ends; wishes for square triangles; and the chimera of The
I shook off the feelings and began to walk back to the lobby.
There I grabbed a luggage-cart, and, hauling out all my gear from the
SUV, wheeled the cart first into the elevator and then into the
condo. After I'd put my stuff away, I stripped off my jeans and
polo shirt, changed into some beachwear, took the elevator back down,
and walked down the long boardwalk to the beach.
If you're a "beach" kind of person, you understand how the
salt-and-sea-life smell can sort of take you away. I spent about
an hour walking up and down the shoreline, transfixed by the beauty,
aching over having been away too long, and remembering.
How does a person live with, and own, the choices he has to make when
life presents him with a prepackaged, limited set that doesn't really
meet the deepest longings of the heart? That's what I was here to
think about. I'd been deeply in love with Angie for years.
To be the love of her life and the father of her children, to grow old
with her, loving her, making love to her...contemplating these things
filled me with joy and optimism about our future.
And yet, even as I looked forward with anticipation to our impending
life together, as I dreamed about our future together as a house in
which our souls, hers and mine, would take up residence...I was aware
that for me, because of the way I'd been made, and because of the
currents that were stirred into being here at this very place along the
Gulf Coast, there would always be in that house an empty room, a place
where I spent time alone and lonely; and I understood that that room
would always be empty.
I also understood that there would be a nameplate on its door,
designating the space for someone who would never live there with
I had come here for these few days to remember, to regret, to love, and
to make my peace with that.
Copyright 2003 by Adam Phillips. I'd love to hear from
readers. Email me if you'd like at firstname.lastname@example.org