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    Messy and long–be warned!

    Only twelve hours left in this week. Good. Last Saturday, I got a message from a church friend of my parents–like an older sister to me growing up–that another friend of ours–like a little sister to me growing up–had died. So I wrote back asking what had happened, of course. I’m thinking, Oh, no, leukemia. Or a car accident. Well, that wasn’t it. I don’t want to name her or give details, but suffice it to say that I was listening to Zen Arcade this week, and “Pink Turns to Blue” hit me like a sledgehammer. I’ve lost touch with most of the people I knew at home–I can’t blame anyone, since I’m the one that was eager to leave–but (I know this sounds dumb) I just kind of assume that the friends I went to church with are okay, you know? Sure, there were a few who had scarily repressive parents and ended up rebelling and getting pregnant at sixteen. But most of us turned out okay, even those who didn’t stay in the church. And C. was so sweet. She was neurotic, she dressed in black, she listened to the Cure–I hated the Cure and was always pushing New Order on her, go figure–but unlike me, she wasn’t a neurotic and brittle and mean teenager. She was disaffected, but she didn’t resent other people who were ordinary and happy. Knowing she’s not around anymore has made me feel hollow all week. She’s buried in my hometown, so it’ll be easy to make time to visit when I’m home in the autumn. 安らかに休んで下さい。

    So I’ve been feeling low, and last night, I had the misfortune to run into two of the people I’d hoped most to avoid. 30 million people in this city and–again, go figure–there they were a few feet down the bar. One is an old acquaintance who refuses to shut up about how he thinks Atsushi’s moving away is the perfect opportunity for me to be a ho. Normally, I’d be happy to walk away or push him off the bar stool if he didn’t cut it out, but last night he was so pitiably schnockered that it would have made me look like the one who was picking on him. I know what the popular image of urban gay life is, but in truth I know very few effed-up, insolvent alkies and have a hard time dealing with those I do know.

    Thankfully, my buddies behind the bar weren’t far from cutting him off. But he managed to get in a last dig: “It’s easy for you to talk about self-discipline, because you’re one of the guys who get to choose, and everyone does what you want.” I’d shrug something like that off normally, but something about the way another guy we know giggled gave me one of those moments of paranoia: Jeez, is that the way people see me? I mean, I’m probably the least attention-courting man in the free world. I take no pleasure whatever in rejecting people who are attracted to me–unless they obviously believe they’re irresistible. I’m very fortunate to have Atsushi, but it’s not as if we don’t work at being good to each other. And furthermore, the only reason we were talking about this in the first place is that this character wouldn’t change the subject even after I tried the old “The weather is really extraordinarily muggy this summer, isn’t it?” routine twelve times.

    So the last thing I needed, having been accused of being a princess, was to keep talking about myself. Enter acquaintance #2. Well, actually, it was two friends. They’re in college, both 20, and they come out together. We met a few weeks ago, and one of them grilled me about Atsushi and me for–I swear–two hours. I kept trying to ask them what they were studying, how long they’d been in Tokyo, you know, keep the conversation two-way. No such luck. And I couldn’t really get irritated, because here’s this kid who’s 20 and saying that he never meets any guys who are interested in anything but one-night stands, and what a relief it is to know a foreigner in a committed relationship with a Japanese man. I was flattered–who wouldn’t be? (And yes, I know what it means that he’s extra gushy and chatty around me, and yes, you can trust me not to do anything about it.) When I was coming out, I made older friends who took care of me, you know? Sometimes they practically had to body-check me away from scummy guys. One of them gave me the talk about not getting so into having sex all the time that you forget how to connect with guys any other way–all that big brother stuff. So now I’m 32 and it’s my turn. I’m happy to do it. But last night, I was no longer in the mood to make my relationship the topic of conversation. Unfortunately, my 20-year-old friend can’t talk about anything else. And being 20–was I this oblivious to older people’s wisdom ten years ago? Sheesh!–he doesn’t seem to understand what I mean when I tell him that he’s not going to find the guys he’s looking for by hanging out in pick-up bars. There are 100-odd gay bars in Shinjuku, and only four or five are flat-out cruising spots–want me to introduce you to one that’s not? No, it’s late. So okay, let’s sit here and talk about me.

    Time to go home. All this talk about Atsushi has helped to remind me that I really am lonely without him, a lot of the time. I can deal, and that’s life, but it isn’t easy. So just to cap off the night, I came home and gave an unsuspecting friend of mine an avalanche of raw it’s-hard-to-be-faithful-pity-me drivel, probably convincing him to give me a wide berth from here on.

    It’s hard to write about any of this without coming off smug, I realize. But I’m really not looking for a backdoor way to brag about how perfect my life is. What drags me down is when other people act as if being happy and together somehow puts you outside the great human drama that everyone else participates in. I’m not going to start publicizing all my disppointments for the sake of “humanizing” myself (my whole point is that I’d like not to talk about myself), but I’ve walked around this week feeling like some kind of museum piece. It sucks, even though my friends have, naturally, told me not to let it bother me. My next post will be back to normal–I know how to ride out my down cycles–and the week will, in any case, be over soon. Can’t come quickly enough for me.

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