Another unedited excerpt of Wrecking Ball
Here We Go Again
I’d found another ward crush. She was overly nice to me, letting me borrow an interesting book and generally keeping close company. Her presence was remarkably restorative in a place full of misery and hurt. After spending most of two days together, I learned she liked smart men with curly hair. This meant I fit the profile. The desire was evident, but ward crushes must always stay a fantasy, at least for a while.
I know I often use as a reference point the woman with whom I was involved at the time. One might say, cynically, here comes another one. My foremost desire in life since the age of twelve was to have a significant other. Unlike many men, I could not feign to be wholly independent, finding romantic entanglements distasteful. I wanted a significant other the way that those dying of thirst crave water. Without one, I felt incomplete.
Friends around me had different priorities, different goals. Some wanted a new guitar, some wanted a better job, and some wanted to lose weight. My priorities were monolithic in a way. My number one ambition in life never changed. And in this case, seek and ye shall find, but beware of what ye might receive.
I speak about boyfriends with lesser frequency because my same-sex relationships were very short-lived, even by my standards. Lord know I tried, of course. Love was there, buried deep below the surface, but it was overshadowed by sexual desire. I find I cannot fall in love with a man, though I can appreciate his presence in the bedroom.
For this reason, I tended to get involved with men who were already with partners. That way, there was no chance for feelings to develop. It’s much more commonplace for queer men to assent to mutually agreed upon open relationships. In my dalliances, I admit I was sometimes the other man, sometimes just the latest one. Most of my stories about men focus on one consistent outcome, and though sex is interesting, my life is more than a series of sexual escapades.
Upon my discharge from the ward, the female patient and I exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses. I was headed back home to live with my parents for a while. I needed extra care for a few months, until I got myself back on my own two feet. I’d never accumulated that many possessions, and what I did have fit easily into my car. In front of me was a dull two-and-a-half hour trip to the place I’d grown up.
Even with music playing constantly in the background, I managed to grow bored. That stretch of interstate highway must contain the greatest concentration of Waffle Houses per capita in the entire nation. I often counted them, one by one, on my way back and forth. I ended up with a different tally every time. This was only one of the tactics I tried to keep myself from nodding off at the wheel.
Having left early in the morning, I parked the car in the driveway with a decided feeling of gloom. This wasn’t the first time I’d had no choice but to return home.
The living situation with my roommate hadn’t been the best, even before the hospitalization. He micromanaged insignificant details. Four drops of water upon the granite counter top was an emergency. The same went for the times I’d soak particularly dirty dishes in the sink. His paranoia kicked in, believing the stainless steel sink would now be decidedly less stainless than advertised.
After a while, he became similarly obsessed about whether I’d paid him rent in a timely fashion. Usually good about remembering particularly important details like this, I believe he was trying to force me out in an indirect way. Leaving was probably the best thing I could do for myself under the circumstances. He owned the condo outright and intended to sell it eventually, for a profit.
That being said, I believe that houses are meant to be lived in, and those who treat their living spaces like mausoleums or museums are only deceiving themselves.
Mom heard the sound of the car’s engine and walked down from her bedroom. She met me in the drive as I was beginning to unload the contents of the vehicle. She looked exhausted, as though she hadn’t slept, but still gave me as hug, indicating she was glad to see me. Once more, I arranged my things in the downstairs apartment that been originally built to house my aging grandparents.
My entire social network had been shredded a few short months before. I didn’t really have anyone left, except for the woman I’d met while in the hospital. She seemed to be as lonely and isolated as I did. Our conversations spanned hours. Within a week of being home, she told me that she’d wanted to kiss me the whole of our time together; I confessed the same.
If I could escape the roadblock presented by my parents, who wanted me to rest long enough to make a full recovery, we might just get our wish. Plans were made. She provided direction, since the house she lived in was located in one of the oldest parts of town, a section modern maps did not document especially well. Once again, I fled at dawn for the four hour drive ahead of me. She was waiting.