UP/DOWN & IN/OUT
I see them in movies, I read about them in books and magazines, I watch them walk by hand in hand. Cuddling, fucking, laughing, sighing, tickling each other, wishing they were flying away together. I am focused, OK, maybe obsessed with duos.
Couples, through and through and through it all yet I get so frustrated with being solo…still…that I’ve begun to realize while others ARE already matched, I wonder curiously why am I not just like that? If I put as much time into a career for myself as I have drinking, fucking, thinkin’ and smoking my way through pages of journals and posts on here I’d at least have that to keep me company on the cold nights that crawl on by year after year; so familiar I expect my written words to call me by name. But it never happens.
I was on a train recently coming from a friend’s house when I noticed a guy, about my age (OK, younger!) hopping on board. Just him, in a pair of shorts and t-shirt that were slightly sweated upon, and he sat on a seat facing the direction I am facing. He’s actually riding so the outside is rolling by backwards while I see everything going forward.
He’s super cute, in my opinion, and I bet he’s heading home from the gym after an afternoon of letting all the shit from the day he spent fall away. No wonder he’s sweaty. I watch him, while reading my “hello mr.” magazine curious to who he’ll gaze or rather, look, at. Will he check out boys or girls getting on, or off I guess, free to smile, or speak as he sees fit?
I catch him looking at me for a second, remember, I’m just a guy reading across the train car, and his eyes “say”….well they say nothing. He looks out the window, rubbing his forehead & shutting his eyes for a second, then looking back out.
The article I’m reading in “hello mr.” magazine is also about a man’s habit or obsession, except in the piece it’s with Instagram, the Facebook for photos. The article, titled “Infinite Scroll: Always Looking” begins with “I’ve been single for nearly two years in New York City. That, coupled with the slow crawl to thirty…” I immediately feel a connection with this author as I too have been single for two years now, I once lived in New York City, and I experienced the “crawl to thirty,” and the “skip to forty” and well…. there’s a connection between us, totally, because I feel it.
The author goes on to write about the evening in his apartment, solo also, and his take on Instagramming, the “scroll that proceeds is second nature” to him (more connection!) and what he “likes,” what he’s thinking while scrolling, and then, unusual point of view, he wonders “how is a relationship different when it has an audience?”
This is my first time to read “hello mr.” and while I’m not curious about what the author is curious about, I’m actually feeling just like said audience member while watching the sweaty guy across the train. The author goes on to mention several Instagramers, who it seems have 1000s more followers than I do on the site, and, what fascinates and also hooks him on watching these popular photo posts. Actually naming two couples by name, with their Instagram handles written out, he says “these men are matching-tattoo-level in love. Their Instagram feeds are are a less-than-true reflection of a nevertheless true romance.”
More connection as he is a single man in a well-known, infamous, big city, at home on a perpetually “right night” to go out on, wondering what’s the real deal with these I bet-hip and obviously popular, gay couples and their actual relationships. Shit, I’m doing exactly the same thing except in a different city, on a train heading home, oogling the hot, sweaty man in this traincar, wondering what his actual day was like, or will be like, right now!
Suddenly I’m jump-skipping all over my (life) history remembering old partners who came home sweaty from their own workout, or ones I wanted to partner with who chose another option, I mean, their own man, and my own actual Instagram friends, coupled or not. And in a way I am scrolling through the memory-feeds that are in my head and if I wasn’t on Wellbutron, I’d be tearing up, sad to prepare my walk away from this man here, just as I have with more men than I can count on my fingers. Ugh.
I grab my phone ☎ and send myself a text that reads “I’m a man who doesn’t just look at hot men coming back from the gym as pretty. I look at them as examples of what I am not and think “He must have the most beautiful husband at home. Wonder if he’s looking at me with similar interests and thoughts?”
In the past I would have moved closer to this guy, sat by him and asked “Where do you workout around here?” or brought up Instagram. Something to break the non-existent ice! But instead, I look out my own window, wish all the peeps in my thoughts a “great day” and jot down a final text to myself:”I want to have the ultimate romance story happen with me in it, meeting a man of my dreams in the weirdest way, falling in love anyway and getting together regardless of real life crap like trying and still getting sexually denied or, as often, frowned upon because I’m not his type.
Ugh. I go back to reading and think “Whether I’m up or down, in or out, I am worthwhile, I am a great fuck and an even better repeat dinner date. But, I keep on going solo, still holding a hope that “my” guy IS out there on his own train, wondering where “the single man in his forties, reading “hello mr.” is” as he stands to step off.