He was gorgeous. Kristen and I sat on the lawn at Orange Glen High School, watching Chris walk by on his way to the cafeteria. It was winter in sunny Southern California, and he wore a brown pullover sweater with a red reindeer across the front. It looked more sophisticated than the T-shirts and jackets that most of the boys wore, and his longish, shiny brown hair made us swoon.
He was in Kristen’s art class, and she told me about the stunning paintings that he would create. I wished I had art class with him. Just to be near him made my heart pound and my knees weak. He was the cutest boy in school and was popular with the girls. He seemed to be with a female friend every time I saw him.
Kristen introduced us, and from then on Chris and I would talk out in front of the school each morning as we waited for our friends to arrive. We talked about simple things, such as what teachers we liked best or how he got started painting, but it was the eye contact and his constant smiling that I was concentrating on. He seemed to like me yet never asked me out. Finally, my crush on him grew to a fever pitch. Without any regard for Kristen’s feelings (she was secretly hoping he’d ask her out, too) I invited him to a movie. He accepted, and for days afterward I was hip-hopping on the moon.
We were inseparable soul mates and spent long hours on the phone. There was nothing I couldn’t say to him, and everyone at school picked up on the joy we had. One teacher even commented to her class about us.
But underneath, problems were brewing. I graduated from high school while Chris still had a year left to go. I got a job in a car wash and had to pay for most of our dates. I had to drive him around to look for a job because he hadn’t gotten his driver’s license yet. I began to feel more like his mother than his girlfriend. I looked with envy at the guys my friends were dating.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Chris met a new friend at school. He and Stuart would spend a lot of time together, and Chris and I double dated with Stuart and his girlfriend, Doreen. It seemed as though Chris and Stuart had a secret world together, one that grew a little larger when a third friend, Kyle, joined the fray. It seemed that Chris was enjoying their company more than mine, so one day I called Chris and told him that it was over.
Because he had been abandoned by his father as a boy, he took the news hard. He yelled and sobbed in front of my parents’ house and even pulled a wrought-iron fence right out of the ground. My mother called his mother and asked her to come pick him up.
A few months later, I started college. I found it to be a boring and lonely place. I longed to have someone to talk to again and to go places with. My thoughts kept drifting back to Chris and the soul mates that we once were.
I called him one evening and asked him if he’d like to drive down to SDSU with me to go to the library. I picked him up and marveled at how good he looked. His acne had cleared up, and he sported a shorter haircut. My desire for him was so great that I decided that we did indeed belong together. As we walked to the library, I stopped, took his hand, and said, “I’ve really missed you. I’d like to try getting back together.”
“I’m gay,” he said.
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