Goodness… Music truly is magic for me. I had completely forgotten that this song (and artist honestly) existed. That is until someone posted one of Tori Amos’ the other day on twitter. My memory whirred to life and every detail of my first boyfriend came rushing to me from deep within the archives. I was back there and filled with so much to write about that, without a second thought, I knew what song to do next.
I have had internet friends since I was 12. I nagged my mother to get it until we signed up for AOL. I wanted to recreate my own version of “You’ve Got Mail.” The moment our computer was connected to the world wide web I was in search of people to talk to. In a very roundabout way, one in which I cannot recall how we met, I started exchanging lengthy digital letters with a girl named Mary. (I still have all of them printed and held in a manila folder somewhere.) She lived in Minnesota, older than me by a year or two, and completely obsessed with the Broadway musical Les Miserable. She had broken the rules messaging me and when her parents found out about our exchanges they forbade her from sending any further correspondence. (Anyone can be anyone on the internet.) But like most teenage girls, she found a work around that wouldn’t get her into trouble. Mary commissioned her friend Tessa to type out and send me her handwritten letters in secret. That lasted for about a month when, eventually, those messages ended all together and, instead, Tessa and I became friends. The two of us were close enough that for Christmas one year she sent me a CD with a bunch of her favorite songs. On that disc was this one by Tori Amos.
At first I had no interest in it. It wasn’t really my vibe. I had just turned 17 and was going into my punk rock/emo phase. The tone and lyrics of this did not match how I felt inside. At least, when I first got it. It would however become an obsession later.
I only ever came out to someone by accident. Not so much that, but unexpectedly. I had been invited to an old friend’s, Becky, birthday party at a bowling alley. I went with the intent on telling her that I was “bisexual” because I had this gut feeling that she would accept me. However, because I brought along my friend Jenny as a buffer, I did not end up doing that at first. Instead Jenny and I stayed in our own lane and bowled. I was too scared to talk to Becky and, as the star of the evening, getting her alone was impossible. The party wound down and then Jenny and I both decided to head out too. I left feeling “relieved” I hadn’t said anything. Saying it would have made it real and my deeply held Christian faith wouldn’t have allowed it.
When I had gotten into my parents’ aquamarine station wagon, I turned the key to discover a completely dead battery.
“That sucks,” Jenny laughed and left me to fend for myself.
My parents showed up to help and as we waited for triple-A to come and bring “the bitch mobile” back to life, I went back into the bowling alley. I had to get one more look at the guy I had been salivating over all night.
I thought he was so handsome. Dressed all in black, with dark brown eyes and a brooding expression. His face was pockmarked by bad acne, but his smile was captivating. He was one of the handful of Becky’s friends still bowling, as my friend sat by herself playing with her brand new phone.
“I thought you had left” Becky had said.
I gave her the run down as I stared at her friend. Then from somewhere deep in myself I built up the courage to lean forward and whisper my confession in her ear. For the first time ever I told someone that I was bisexual.
“And your friend Sergio is really cute.”
She laughed and told me that he too was a recent recruit to the “friends of Dorothy.”
“Oh, really?” I had said. “Do you think you could hook a brother up?”
“I think I can do that,” she had replied.
The following day, as my parents drove us down to our family’s early Christmas party, I berated myself for having said anything. I regretted it. I wanted nothing more than to call her up and say, “I don’t know what I was saying. I’m not bisexual.” Even now as I type this I can feel the same churning in my stomach. “If I just hadn’t gone back inside…” I kept telling myself.
Even though I felt that then, when Becky called me to meet up with her and Sergio at the mall I jumped at the chance. I had already made it past the first hurdle, might as well keep going. See where it goes. We walked the length of the enclosed shopping center, Sergio and I hit it off instantly. Well, for me at least. I can’t speak for his experience.
My dad came and picked me up and took me home where I immediately got back in the car and returned to the mall. I joined back up with them and then went and saw the Two Towers. There Sergio and I sat together and held hands. My heart could have burst.
Every chance after that I would get together with Becky and have her call Sergio to come over. I was truly smitten. He was all I thought about, who I wanted to be around. I loved the smell of him. He wore a particular cologne that even to this day if I catch a whiff of it I’m taken back to the day we made-out on Becky’s bed.
The problem with letting yourself love who you want for the first time is you run the risk of feeling too much all at once. For so long I had deprived myself of allowing my true homosexual feelings. So once the cork was popped, all the pressure that had been building behind it exploded. And not in a fun way. I gave too much of myself too quickly.
After we had been kissing, again, on Becky’s bed, I whispered in Sergio’s ear that I loved him. He hesitated for a second and said it back. I was elated. I had never felt so amazing in my entire little life. However… it was after that in which his response to me changed. He became distant and avoided me like a mask mandate. I knew something was amiss but I couldn’t place it. Finally, a few days before the winter formal, he dumped me over the phone. It was my own fault. I forced it out of him. He was told to hold out until after the dance, but I was too much for him. The “gay thing” was too much for him. He wasn’t even sure he was queer. (Turns out… he’s just not gay for me.)
I was absolutely gutted. I had never been dumped before. Prior to this I had dated two other people, girls, and I had been the one to end things. This time… The pain I felt was intense. Like I said, once you allow yourself to feel things, for real, you have to also face the other side as well. And the emotional swings are just as broad.
I obsessed over him and re-ran every moment, especially the night I forced him to break-up with me, for months. I picked apart and analyzed everything trying to figure out what I had done wrong. It only took me a few years to realize that it had just been too much for Sergio. I absolutely came on wildly too strong, too fast. Sergio wasn’t ready. And, honestly, neither was I.
The break-up threw me into a depression, where it was so noticeable that my mother asked me repeatedly what was bothering me. Somewhere around the sixth time she had inquired, I snapped a response.
“My boyfriend dumped me,” I had said.
The look of shock on my mother’s face was intense. The color drained from her cheeks and her eyes bulged from their sockets.
“What are you saying?” She had asked.
My response is lost to the wave of raw emotion. I just remember saying I wasn’t full gay, but “Bi-bi-bi.” (Aka a lie-lie-lie.) My mother scurried from the family room and went to bed, crying.
Overcome with guilt at my mother’s response and fear of my mother knowing I liked men, I shuffled into her dark bedroom and lied, “I was just joking.”
“Why would you do that to your mother,” my father’s methodical voice said out of the darkness.
For the next few months, I moped around trying to cope. I blogged about it whenever I felt the pangs of sadness, but I could hardly get past my emotions. It was such a foreign concept to my young heart. How something could be alive and real in one moment, but gone forever the next, left me befuddled.
The worst part was that since Sergio was a close friend to Becky, he still came around. So, I had to make nice with this son-of-a-bitch whenever I saw him. And my heart would go from one extreme to the next. In one moment I want to grab his pudgy cheeks and kiss him, while in the next I wanted to knock his lights out. The best part was that in this friend group they would play the “slug bug” game but with two additions: out of state license plates and mustangs. Mustangs were included just because the dude who had originated the revised game hated them. And they were fucking everywhere. So, I got to hit him hard and often.
In the wake of the break-up I was set adrift and I rediscovered the song above. It captured me by it’s poetic lyrics and this ending where it leaves you wanting more. It inspired a short story I wrote to it’s tune, with the intent for the reader to listen to the song as they read. I think the term most artists like to use is it was “experimental.” It’s written in broken up scenes, almost like a dream or snapshots. I will include it below for the more curious minds. Just know that it is truly terrible.
I also seem to have written with this weird British accent. Gosh, I’m adorable.
Him until the End
The news came like a wave and hit each shore of ears all at the same time. The whole idea of it crashed into their ears and flooded their minds with foam. With each collision, a different response was expelled out of the crevasses of their minds through the mouths of the people; and each response varied from the negative, to the neutral, and to the positive, but how anyone could have a positive to such is a surprise; but nevertheless how people took it was the bulk of the story.
* * *
Jonathan Abhor awoke to sun and birds every day since he had found happiness; he pulled himself from the mountains of blankets and pillows and dressed with speed, for he couldn’t wait to see the thing that had brought joy into his life. He could hardly contain the happiness that broiled within him; there was so much that he couldn’t help but smile and laugh at the idea of ‘him.’ ‘Him’ was the coming and reason for all, just remember that, for ‘him’ was a benchmark moment within the life of Jon. ‘Him’ was responsible for the change that had occurred in the boy, he was why Jon even dressed differently.
After making some adjustments to his appearance, he rushed to his car, hopped in, and immediately started the engine and backed away from the house. From that point he raced to ‘heavens rest,’ the meeting point of where it all collided.
Anna Kismet’s room was a haven for all who didn’t wish to be seen, who could only do things there and not be judged, and peace and love would be found. Anna was a great reason for all of this, if it hadn’t been for her none of the recent events would have happened, she was perfect to Jon, for she had given the boy ‘him.’
‘Heavens Rest’ was almost silent as some movie played in the background, but none of that mattered for now because right now all that existed was Jon and ‘him.’ Together they laid in each others arms, gazing into the others eyes trying to find who they truly were. Without thinking, lost in the exchange of gazes, Jon leaned forward and kissed the lips of ‘him.’ A feeling of electricity flowed through his lips and continued in a steady stream through each of his limbs, until the two finally broke and together again they looked into the others eyes. Both smiled slightly and then ‘him’ leaned in and again they kissed innocently, but before Jon could realize what was going about he found himself locked into a kiss he didn’t want to end. Beauty existed and grew and before long they broke, and swimming in the scent of ‘him’ he said softly, “I love you.” Those words hung lightly in the air until a response was tossed up and it was no longer alone, “I love you, too.” They kissed lips softly and wrapped together they lay with the other.
* * *
It was evening and the whole of the small town world was moving about, carrying out their lives through the streets and stores, trying to make sense of things that normally were fuzzy. Jon was alike those who lay before him. His world had stopped spinning and the sky had shattered and crashed to the earth, and the shards had cut his skin leaving him behind a bloodied mess standing alone. It was a night before the school dance, and oblivious to what was to happen, he and his friends were all busy getting things prepared. It was all frustrating and consuming, but to make his life complicated even more it was also the night that him decided to rid his life of Jon. ‘Him’ had spilled everything against his will, so on the phone he told his plight to a broken hearted boy, saying that he still wanted to be friends. Though through his strained eyes he looked back at the month they had lived as a pair, and those words “let’s be friends” held no effect to the scarred human being who only wanted to scream “Why? What was all of that? Was it all lies?” But using every fiber of himself he held back the words and just accepted the ruthless murder of his trust and love.
Anna was there that night, for Jon was at her house, and she watched his face as it reddened with pain and his eyes welled with tears. She had to look away for fear she would soon cry too, and she was meant to be the strong one at this point in time. So, where it all began it ended and that was where so much more happened. Sobbing so hard on her shoulder Jon lost a giant piece of himself, a piece he would never get back because it was too great and large to lift and replace.
* * *
“Why did you break up with me,” Jon uttered from his lips against his better judgment.
“Because,” he began, “I never really liked you, and while we were dating I was sort of liking someone else. Plus, I was scared people would find out about us. I mean we couldn’t have kept it a secret forever.” ‘Him’ had spoken this without any human remorse or sorrow, he spoke it almost maliciously as if to destroy the rest that was left of Jon; and it was there that the last piece of the boy broke away and in the darkness of an abyss he fell hoping to reach the end soon, where he knew he’d hit the ground and die.
* * *
The window of Jon’s room lay open, allowing in the sound and sweet scent of the spring rain as the boy penned his life’s tale upon paper. The more he recalled and wrote about the past month the more he hated his existence, and in time his story turned into a letter of good-bye. It was at the moment he finished that he decided to end his duration; he couldn’t take the pain for there was far too much. So, the story now told and able to be heard he leaped with hope to his car and climbed in, taking flight immediately to the school, and there his ending would commence.
* * *
“I don’t believe he did it,” said one girl, after the letter Jon had penned had been read by the school. “He was dating a guy! Was he gay?”
“No. Weren’t you listening? In his letter it said he made a mistake falling in love with a guy, but that it was nothing more,” said the guy she had been speaking with.
* * *
…I’m killing myself because I loved him more than I’ll ever be able to comprehend; my life got better with his existence but what’s a life without him? There is just too much hurt for me to carry on without Cameron.