Ten years ago, as Spring evolved into Summer of 2005, I met a guy who transformed my life from dusk to light.
At the age of thirty – one, I accomplished a goal I never thought possible; I was the first and only person in my family to earn a college degree. Personally, it was an amazing feat because once I graduated high school, I swore I’d never return to the halls of (m)academia.
I was so inspired by my achievement that I started graduate school soon afterwards.
Towards the last semester of my undergrad, I met Jose; a twenty – one year old who knew exactly what he wanted out of life. While my life resembled a series of hapless missteps with books and papers scattered all over the floor, Jose walked all over them and into my life.
Our friendship took off from the beginning. As I look back we were both starting new chapters in our life and our slates had been wiped clean from the past. He wanted to be a high school counsellor while I studied to be a teacher. As we moved into graduate school together, we became even closer. His twenty something year old energy energized me in new and exciting ways. I went along for the crazy ride as we both dabbled in the lifestyle and night life. Although I had been involved in the night club scene since I was eighteen, I never attempted any alternative lifestyle before than. The summer of 2005 was not only a time for new academic beginnings, friendships and new found freedom, for me, it was also the beginning of my gay awakening.
Then, as with all relationships, our time together started to wane. We’d put our hearts and minds through a lot and it the pressure of it all started to show. As I was nearing forty, I realized that I had to start focusing on my career and grow some roots. Jose on the other hand was approaching thirty and wasn’t ready to make a permanent landing. Without much thought or input from me, Jose left for China to teach English abroad.
I. Was. Devastated.
Today, with the passage of time, I’ve figured out that I was jealous of my friend Jose. I couldn’t handle that he up and left me without asking if I wanted to go with him. We had been through so much together I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that he wanted to go off on his own. In anger I stopped speaking with him after I’d gone to China to visit him because our dynamic was no longer the same. He met new people, experienced new places and I was left to figure life out on my own.
Almost five years have past since my friend left for China and ten years since we first met. If I were to describe the person I was back then I’d probably start with the word afraid. I was trying new things and starting to shape new values for myself when Jose came along. His arrival ushered in a new season. When he left, I couldn’t handle life on my own. I had grown so dependent, I didn’t know where to turn.
We’ve since reconnected through email but really haven’t established anything new. Life has moved on for both of us and has taken us in different directions. Last I heard he’s helped open several schools in China that cater to students with special needs. He’s also travelled the world and experienced many different cultures. As for me, I’ve settled into life and am just starting to begin the process of learning how to live life on life’s terms.