Out of the Past

Ten years ago. I was 19.

I was at a summer math research program many states away from home. I fell in love (or what I thought was love) with another student in the program (let’s call him Guy). I didn’t know he was gay until there were only three weeks left in our program.

We had some fun together for a couple weeks. The long hugs and cuddling for a couple hours in the afternoon were the best. But Guy didn’t want a relationship. We went to school in different cities, and he was against long distance relationships (he had been cheated on in the past). I tried to convince him to try (I certainly wasn’t going to cheat on him) but it’s hard to argue logic with a math major. We reverted to being “just friends” for a while.

July 26, 2002. We both got a little drunk at a party (there was a lot of drinking that summer), and things heated up again. We ended up alone in his room. Here is an excerpt from something I wrote the next day, in an old journal I used to keep:

So I asked Guy if he liked me and he said he did. But I think when he’s sober, he likes me as a friend. When he’s drunk, he likes my body. Nowhere in there does he like me for me in a more romantic sense. I finally began to realize that as we were making out last night.

Guy wanted to take things a little further but my body and my mind were telling me not to. Like, my body refused to feel what was going on, and my mind was thinking about our relationship and how it could never work. So I wasn’t feeling sexual, and Guy was getting frustrated at me. I wanted to make Guy happy, but my body didn’t let me. He called me a 13 year old child and said that I’m not a man. He also said I’m not gay, because being gay means I want to have sex with men and all that stuff.

I thought I had buried this experience a long time ago, but the ten year anniversary of that summer somehow stirred up a lot of old feelings. I think a big reason why I still consider myself a boy and not a man stems from that night.

I started seeing a campus therapist last week. I think seeking counseling has been long overdue. It’s been good to talk through a lot of my feelings, both past and present. I hope I can finally move forward.

Two Dates In Two Weeks

Back in late January, not long after my last post, I started emailing with someone on a popular online dating website (reminder: my old boss/friend gave me the remaining paid time on his account). The online guy (hereafter called Online Guy in this post) and I had similar values (like education and not rushing into sex) and some overlapping interests (like anime and boy bands), so we were able to connect on both superficial and deeper levels. We emailed back and forth every day for a couple weeks before I asked him to come visit me at my school and have a lunch date.

Online Guy and I met around noon at the center of campus on an unusually beautiful sunny Saturday in early February. Because we already had talked about many different topics by email, it felt like I was meeting a friend rather than a stranger. There wasn’t any initial awkwardness that usually accompanies an online date (or any date for that matter). I took Online Guy to my usual spot on campus for lunch. We sat outside and had paninis and coffee. We then went up to the top of the campus clock tower to get a view of the entire campus.

We walked and talked for quite a while. At some point, Online Guy mentioned that he traveled to Europe a few times and always enjoyed going to museums there, so I took him to a large museum on campus (my school has a really big campus). We looked at nearly everything in the museum until the museum closed. We made our way back to the center of campus, where we sat on a bench in the middle of a large open field and talked for another hour. Eventually, I walked Online Guy back to his car. The date ended around 6pm with a hug and an exchange of phone numbers. It was a great day.

Only about an hour or two later, Online Guy texted me, saying how much he enjoyed the day, and that we should get together again soon. We ended up making plans that evening to meet the following Saturday. We had just finished one date and made plans for second one almost immediately!

Online Guy lives somewhere between my school and The City. Since he drove to see me at my school, I figured the second date should be in The City. We both had the same idea to meet at a particular Japanese restaurant for lunch. I found out later that driving from his house to either my school or The City takes half an hour, whereas it takes me two hours to take the bike/train/subway to The City. Oh well. The City is more interesting than my school anyway.

The second date seemed even more comfortable (less awkward) than the first date (which already wasn’t awkward at all). We ordered our favorite dish from the Japanese restaurant (we both had the same favorite dish) and caught each other up on the events of the previous week. We both have an incredible sweet tooth, so we each had two desserts (ice cream crepes and cupcakes) after lunch. Online Guy then took me to a few Japanese discount stores (like dollar stores with exclusively Japanese stuff) and bookstores that he likes to frequent whenever he’s in the area. At some point, I remember thinking that the date felt more like two friends on a routine shopping trip than a date (not that that’s bad necessarily).

Online Guy drove us back to his neighborhood, where we had a third dessert (boba) for the day. At the end of the day, again around 6pm, Online Guy drove me to the train station. The next train was scheduled to arrive only a few minutes later, so we awkwardly hugged in his car before we parted ways. While I was still on the train, Online Guy texted me again, saying how much he enjoyed the day.

From our conversations, I knew that he was busy for the following two weekends, so we didn’t make plans to meet up right away. In the end, we never made plans again. While Online Guy and I got along really well, I never felt a spark between us. Perhaps if we had met under different circumstances (not on an online dating website), maybe we would have been good friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like there was any romantic potential. I never initiated another conversation, and neither did he. As Valentine’s Day was only a few days after our second date, I texted him “Happy Valentine’s Day” (I wanted to send an e-card or something, but I ran out of time that day), and he replied “Back at ya,” and that was it.

My New Years resolution was to go on two dates in the entire year, not necessarily with the same person. Even though nothing came out of my time with Online Guy, I can at least say that I went on two dates in two weeks, both before the middle of February, and both with the same person! That’s progress, right?

My Officemate/Roommate

My new office is in the environmental science department (which is the department that actually funds my research, even though my affiliation is with statistics). One of my officemates is a new Ph.D. student in environmental science who has the same advisor as me (i.e., he’s part of my “research group,” in a broad sense). He’s originally from (a Scandinavian country), and he just arrived less than three weeks ago, so he hasn’t yet found a permanent place to live for the year. He was sleeping on the floor of a friend on campus, so I offered my place as an alternative (with my roommate’s permission, of course). I don’t have an extra bed, but I have lots of space and a couch (which is technically in the living room aka my roommate’s room). He took me up on my offer late last week, and he’s been staying with me for the last four nights (tonight will make five). He sleeps in my room, using the couch cushions as a bed on the floor.

Quick side story. My old roommate from last year graduated and moved out at the end of the summer, so a new student fresh from undergrad took his place (he’s so young!). He’s a lot cleaner than my old roommate, so I never have to worry about a powerful stench coming from my kitchen anymore. He actually does his dishes right after using them, which is the same way I was taught to do dishes. We get along pretty well too. We’ve gone grocery shopping together twice in the last three weeks, and I sometimes chat with him after I get home late from my office. It’s been good living with my new roommate.

Anyway, back to my officemate, who I guess is currently my officemate/roommate. It’s been a lot of fun having my officemate stay with me. I get a lot of opportunities to get to know him. He a tall, blond, athletic straight guy. He’s exactly my type of guy, except for the straight part. More importantly, he’s a really nice guy. His two best friends are gay, and he even let one of them stay with him rent-free for a year. He also plays the saxophone and used to be on his college rowing team. I could probably gush about him more, but I trying really hard not to crush on him. It doesn’t help that he sleeps in his underwear…

Since my officemate is so new,  the department hasn’t made him an office key yet, so he relies on me (or our other officemates) to open the door for him. I like that he relies on me for both opening the office door and for a place to stay. It somehow makes me feel valued or important on some small level. The shallow/self-deprecating side of me thinks I like to be needed by good looking people because it somehow makes me feel better about myself.

Regardless, I like having a friend around. I’ve been in my office so much lately that I don’t see my other friends very much. I spend most of my time with my advisor (I’m turning into his right-hand man), so it’s great that there’s someone else around I can talk to.

Food-Flirting

Out of the new people I’ve met in the past month and a half here, I’ve only maintained any form of a consistent friendship with one couple who live in my building. I met them a couple days before classes started, during a social event specifically for residents in my building. The girl is a graduate student in sociology, and the guy moved here with her.

One interesting thing about my university (I don’t know if it’s true elsewhere) is that they have housing for couples, even when only one person in the couple is a student. It’s a nice deal. I also found out during that social event that the vast majority of apartments in my building were for couples, which could explain the initial setup of my apartment having only one queen-sized bed.

Anyway, beyond a few Facebook messages every couple days, I only see this couple of friends about once a week. We’ve been trying to go to dinner once a week, usually on Fridays or Saturdays. I think we’ve only missed one weekend so far, probably because I was in The City. As the couple are new to the city (moving here from way out of state), we try a new restaurant every week. In past weeks, we’ve done sushi, Japanese BBQ, and Greek.

This week (this was yesterday), we went to a local restaurant fairly close to campus. I suppose the food would be classified as “American,” but in an upscale way (like lamb and duck entrées instead of burgers). Actually, every restaurant we’ve tried is upscale, some more than others. The city surrounding Prestigious University is a very rich area, so all of the restaurants are pricier than if we were somewhere else. The portions are a bit smaller too.

My sociology friend loves dessert almost more than I do (and she doesn’t restrain herself the way I usually do), so we always get dessert after dinner. This time, we went to a Cold Stone Creamery that was in the same plaza as the American restaurant. As usual, I took a long time to decide what to get, so I ordered last.

I ordered a scoop of Oreo cream ice cream and a scoop of chocolate ice cream, mixed with cookie dough and chocolate shavings, all in a chocolate-dipped waffle bowl (I had never ordered one before). The guy behind the counter was friendly and talkative (and possibly a little high), so my friends and I reciprocated (we didn’t get high). Before putting my ice cream into the waffle bowl, the guy mentioned that he would make it “a little special” and added some chocolate syrup to the bowl. When he rung me up, he didn’t charge me for both the chocolate syrup and the waffle bowl. I was appreciative, so I put a couple dollars in the tip jar.

Once my friends and I sat down to eat (and for me to take a picture of my huge dessert), my sociology friend leaned in and told me that the guy behind the counter was “totally food-flirting” with me. I was, of course, completely oblivious to it, but the free chocolate syrup and waffle bowl were strong evidence. My two friends didn’t get any discount for anything.

I never officially “came out” to my new friends, but I’ve made small comments in passing to subtly hint that I’m gay. Our exchange about the guy food-flirting with me confirmed that they got the message. I’m at an age now when my sexuality really shouldn’t be an issue anymore. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, and neither did they. It was perfect, and it was exactly what I wanted. I really feel more grown up now, and it’s wonderful. Well, I’m not completely grown up, since I clearly can’t read flirting cues.

My friends and I sat at Cold Stone until it closed. We were the last customers to leave. When we left and were walking past the front window, I noticed that the guy behind the counter was watching me (not in a creepy way). I looked at him and smiled as I walked away.

It was a great evening.

A Signed Lease And A Street Fair

I went to The City again last weekend to fulfill my landlord proxy duties. Despite “my” cute/hot new tenant being confused and late to our meeting, the lease signing went off without a hitch. We did a quick walk through of the condo, I briefly went over the major points of the lease, he gave me the first month’s rent with the security deposit, and then we both signed the lease. It was so official. I felt like a real landlord!

Towards the end of our meeting, my cute/hot new tenant asked for my number. No, it wasn’t because he thinks I’m cute/hot. Don’t I wish! It was because my English is much easier to understand than my dad’s, since I don’t have a Chinese accent. My tenant prefers to deal with me as an intermediary between him and my dad. I was definitely flattered. I like feeling important. He put my number in his iPhone. Next to my name, he almost put “Landlord,” until I corrected him to say “Landlord’s son/brother.” It’s a little confusing to the tenant as to who is really the landlord, considering he’ll probably never interact with my brother.

My old officemate from my previous graduate school (reminder: he’s doing a postdoc at Prestigious University) and his girlfriend live in The City, so I met up with them the next day (Sunday). We went to the gay neighborhood of The City, let’s call it Gay Street, because there was a big street fair going on. It was very similar to a pride parade, except there were more booths from community organizations or businesses and less parades. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out during the day with a lot of other gay guys around, so it was a lot of fun. I got a free rainbow pride rubber bracelet!

I’ve been friends with my old officemate for about six years, but I never officially came out to him. It was his idea to go to the Gay Street fair, so he’s definitely accepting of gay people, but I think it would be strange to make a big deal out of my sexuality after all this time. I’m sure I thought a lot more about this than he did, so I still didn’t say anything. I just acted like myself while we were at the fair, as if he knew already. He probably does know and has known for a long time anyway. There has never been any awkwardness between us, so I saw no reason to change that.

Anyway. I had a great weekend, but it set my study schedule behind a bit. I’ve had a very time consuming homework this week (which I’m taking a break from to write this), so I’ve been spending every spare minute working on it. This homework is due tomorrow, so I hope I can catch up (and be ahead of the game) over the next few days.

Landlord Proxy

My university is about an hour (by car) away from the city (let’s call it The City) where my brother owns a condo. Since my brother is so busy with medical school, my dad generally handles most of the landlord responsibilities. He flew up this last weekend to show the condo to some potential tenants, so I met up with him in The City.

Aside: Whenever I type “The City”, I keep thinking about The Emerald City in Wicked / The Wizard of Oz. I’m seriously addicted to that musical!

I don’t have a car, so I had to use public transportation to get from my apartment at the university to the condo in The City. For some strange reason, the campus shuttles don’t run on weekends, so I had to walk about half a mile to the nearest public bus stop. I took a short bus ride to the train station, where I then took a 40 minute train ride to the nearest subway station (it’s not exactly a subway, but close enough). The subway took about 35 minutes to get to the station closest to my brother’s condo. Door to door, the whole journey took nearly three hours.

Out of four potential tenants, three of them flaked on their appointments. The one who didn’t flake didn’t seem very enthusiastic about the condo. She spent only about five minutes looking around before saying that she liked it but was still looking at a few other places too. Not a good sign.

My dad and I almost started thinking that the weekend trip was wasted until someone called my dad asking to see the condo a little later in the day. The guy who called turned out to be a potential tenant who had originally flaked but actually just wanted to reschedule. About an hour later, the guy showed up at the condo.

He was really cute/hot. He brought his girlfriend along, but we don’t care about her. He was really cute/hot. He had a great personality, an amazing smile, and he spoke fluent French! Be still, my heart. I know, I’m terrible. I would be the worst landlord.

My dad wasn’t selling the condo very well, so I became more proactive in showcasing the highlights. I certainly learned a lot in my brief stint as a salesman! I actually love my brother’s condo, and it’s easy to sell a product you actually believe in. The potential tenant and his girlfriend stayed for nearly an hour.

Long story short, the cute/hot potential tenant was very interested, and it looks like he’s definitely going to be the new tenant! Out of everyone in my family, I live the closest to the condo, so I will be acting as a mini-landlord (or, more accurately, a landlord proxy). I have my own set of keys to the condo, as well as the two sets we’ll be giving to the tenants. I will probably have to make another trip to The City next weekend so that the tenants can sign the lease. It’s a long trip, but at least I’ll get to see the cute/hot tenant again!

Verbotene Liebe

I reconnected with an old high school friend last week over Facebook. We actually met in junior high, but we haven’t met since the end of high school. We were commenting on the same side of an intense argument about morality on a mutual friend’s status update, which led to us chatting over Facebook’s built-in instant messenger. The next thing I knew, she called me up and we talked over the phone for four and a half hours! We certainly made up for lost time!

I love that my old friend is so different and yet so similar to me. I studied math and statistics while she studied English literature and theatre, but we seem to think the same way on many topics. Among the many (many) things we talked about in our long phone conversation was my sexuality and our different tastes in guys (there’s some overlap). A couple days ago, she sent me a link to YouTube videos of a German soap opera called Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love). The videos are condensed clips of a storyline between two gay guys on the show, Christian and Olli (Oliver). She prefers Christian (the tough athlete), but I prefer Olli (the patient romantic).

Since my friend sent me the link to the videos, I haven’t been able to do much else. I was up until past 4am the last two nights watching these two adorably cute/hot guys go from practically hating each other to falling head over heels in love. The two are quite possibly the cutest fictional couple I’ve ever seen.

Their storyline started almost three years ago, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Luckily, I’m beyond addicted. There are currently 310 clips (and counting!), and I just finished watching Part 177!

It’s hard to choose a clip that isn’t incredibly full of spoilers, but this one is a pretty good place to start. It is Part 40.

My friend suggested to start from this video, but I started from Part 1 so I didn’t miss any of the backstory. The link to all of the videos is here!

Side note: If you happen to get addicted and watch the videos too, you’ll find that Christian and Olli are not the only cute guys on the show. They’re everywhere! Yay for cute German guys!