A month ago I met a guy I'll call "Don" from Claremont. Nicest guy I've met possibly in years. Seeing him and going out with him was a breath of fresh air, to say the least and he should be credited as being a true gentleman. I saw in him something I hadn't seen in any guy since, well...since I first came out, and for the first time in a long time I went out with someone who was available and not taken, i.e. "D" from Palm Springs.
And so began my 1-month stint in getting to know Don, and coming to understand more about him and how at age 23 he was so smart beyond his years, and he too is very much into writing (which is the quality I found beyond beautiful in him) and so we instantly talked about books (the Great Gatsby comment comes to mind) and the fact that I admitted to him why I re-read that novel each year. So, for a month I got to know him. For a month things seemed great, until well, things did change. And I will say I kind of figured as much.
When we met it was an almost instant kismet but it did move fast. And in getting to know one another I did find myself wondering many things, for instance: he is 23, and I am 31. There is an age difference...but honestly the age difference topic never came out, at least I never heard it from him. What I did feel and now this is hindsight working wonderfully 20/20 is that maybe we were in some aspects similar but the overall content not as much.
So, a month later after hanging out and talking about an upcoming trip we had planned we went to dinner at Fifty-Fifty, a local restaurant in Claremont. After dinner we went for a walk and talked, well, he said and this is from my memory now, so forgive me if I paraphrase: "I feel that you and I don't have too many things in common as I thought we would have, or as I thought we would, and I have thought about it and we simply don't have too many things in common. I can sense that you, Erick are looking for a serious relationship" (to which I nodded and said Yes,) and which surprised me because it finally became evident to me that I am, and because I have been fighting against it for years now, I was shocked when I told him Yes. He said: "I don't think we want the same things..."
He continued, as I began to get teary-eyed, but not upset, remember I still and may always believe that he is one of the few, most genuine guys I have met, he said: "I find you attractive, I think you're a nice, caring guy and you deserve to know that. It's hard for me to tell you this but I want to tell you now rather than later."
To which then my reply came: "Don, thank you. I appreciate your honesty. I knew that in the past week things had changed. Intrinsically I sort of knew this but I am glad we are talking about it. Yes, you're a great guy, and I like that we can talk about writing. Don, you deserve someone who can give you what you want, and what you need."
I saw his eyes twinkle. Sadness came over me. All I wanted to do was hold him. But I knew I couldn't. Not anymore.
When I first met Don a month ago I made a conscious decision to be the best guy I could for him, because he reminded me of me when I first came out when I was his age, 23. I remember my first dating experiences and they were not the best. The guys were on a different level than I and they made sure to tell me. They were on Planet Queer as Folk, and I was on Planet Barely Coming Out.
So when I met Don I told myself: Treat Don in the best way possible, care for him and show him you do care, in every sense of the word. So, I am proud to have cared for you, Don...no matter how briefly.
In the end we hugged. We held each other for a long time. It seemed the ages of the world passed by.
I let go, and gave him a kiss on his left cheek. He kissed my cheek, and then we smiled. His beautiful brown eyes continued to twinkle in the now, incoming night. We sat on the bench where we had talked, and held each other for a moment.
We got up and he walked me to my car. I told him to keep in touch. We hugged once more, and as I looked up at him, I brushed his cheek, and smiled.
Don, you truly did mend my broken heart. I will always credit you for that. Always.
I do hope to keep in touch with him. And I hope that years down the road if, and when he thinks of me I hope he remembers me, an older guy of 31 who was at least kind and nice, and cared for him.
When I look back at Don I will think of the man I told about the reason I re-read "The Great Gatsby" each summer, it's because I secretly hope that Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan end up together.
For now, my dating experience with Don will remain a summer affair I will always remember. I hope to think back on him years from now, with fondness.
Don, keep on writing. One day...I want to read your wonderful words.
I want to read them, and re-read them on Summer nights like this one.