Insignificant Preamble

I moved to Austin, TX in 2012. It wasn’t a huge move for me having lived an hour down I-35, in San Antonio, for the previous six years. Still, I was excited. I was moving to a new city for a new exciting job. At the nexus of my excitement, however, had nothing to do with Austin or my new job. The “what-if” variable is what really had me pumped for this change. At that point in my life, I needed a stiff kick in the ass. I was in my second semester of Grad school and hating it. I was tired of going through the motions. I was burned out from school and ready for more appealing and challenging real-world experiences.

So, on a whim, I applied for a state job in Austin. Two months later, I was hired. I knew breaking the momentum I had toward attaining my Masters Degree was a risk, but it was one I needed to take. I could feel myself slowly drifting into a place I knew I didn’t want to be a part off; I could sense myself growing weary and complacent–slightly depressed. Quite frankly, I was not happy. So when I was offered the job I was excited beyond measure. Looking back, I realize that it was the potential that’s always attached to change that had me fervently preparing for the move. So, I packed up, with my sixteen year-old persian cat in tow, and made the move.

As it turned out, the move was only an ancillary one. Looking back, I smile because I can still remember how much I thought my life would change. At that very moment I was transformed. And at this very moment I find myself working toward my next transformation. I seem to never be satisfied with who I am.

A few months after moving, I read that the high school filmed in Dazed and Confused was located just down the street from my apartment. Naturally, I geeked out and had to watch the movie (my favorite Linklater film) that very same day. What I appreciate most about this movie is its accurate portrayal of high schoolers reaching a pivotal point in their lives. Life seems to be full of those. The movie focused on future expectations and present choices.

My favorite scene comes when Cynthia, Tony, and Mike are cruising through Austin. Mike announces that he’s questioning his plans to pursue law and working for the ACLU. He mentions that he’s come to the realization that he just doesn’t like the people he thought he wanted to help. He then becomes impatient with them driving aimlessly around town and wants to do something. In fact, at this very moment, he says they should just be up for anything.

Cynthia then says, “I know, we are. But god, don’t you ever feel like everything we do and everything we’ve been taught is just to service the future? What are we preparing ourselves for?” Mike responds with “Death”. To which Cynthia replies, “If we’re all dying anyway, shouldn’t we be enjoying ourselves now? You know, I’d like to quit thinking of the present as some minor insignificant preamble to something else.”

This is the trap I have fallen into. Yes, changing and improving is essential. We all have to do it. It’s how we learn, grow up, and become better people. But I have abused and continue to ignore my present while waiting for the future. I’m caught in a doorway looking out unto what will be, instead of in toward what I already have. What comes will come, but it isn’t my reality. Not yet, anyway. And by constantly being focused on that, I’ve lost a sense of myself. There’s an important quality to life that comes from being present and to understanding that all you ever have is now.

New Age

Every morning starts the same. I normally scour the headlines of Fortune and Entrepreneur reading articles discussing the latest business trends or advice columns suggesting the newest ideas in social media marketing.

I enjoy reading these articles not only for the subject matter, but because of the backstory. I love reading about people. People who turn ideas into a business model. These people live unordinary lives. Everyday is different; they’re faced with new people, challenges, goals, failures, and successes on a daily basis. Reading about these people drives me. It keeps me going.

Personally, with the job I have now, I’m beginning to understand how important living an unordinary life is to me. My passions do not align with how I currently make a living. But I take solace in two things: First, I make a pretty good living which is something I’m grateful for, but knowing that making money is not enough to make me happy, well, it’s opened my eyes. That’s an important realization.

And secondly, this is not “it”. I see my current situation as a conduit for what I really want out of life. Being comfortable may be what most people are content with, but for me, life is more than finding my cozy crevice in the World. I want to create something. I want to live a life driven by my own mind-made externalities.

Hopefully, by creating and serving others through creation, I can be comfortable and fulfilled. That’s it.

2001

When we first met, she would regularly write me letters. I would oblige and respond. This went back and forth for a few weeks, before I finally realized that she was into me. I felt like such an idiot for not recognizing it sooner. I mean, I had actually thought that our written conversations were merely us sharing experiences/views about life and not some potential boyfriend vetting process. So, I freaked out and kept my distance without being too obvious about it.

Luckily, an excuse fell into my lap. I had just started working at a local McDonalds and was given more hours. So, I had less time on my hands.

About 2 months later, I was asked to train a new employee. When I first met him, I found him very attractive, but being the closet-case that I was at the time, I really made no indication of that. I had become a pro at hiding my feelings. He was sweet, authentic, had a rugged charm to him, and became a reliable co-worker.

About a month after he was hired, I was working on a research paper in the library. Halle (the aforementioned friend) came in and sat right next to me, and Gary (my new co-worker) right next to her. I didn’t think much of it, until he leaned into her and started talking to her. It took me a few minutes to realize that they were dating. They laughed upon my delayed realization, but they happily confirmed that they were seeing one another and I was convincingly happy for them. Obviously, I was veiling a small amount of jealousy.

A month or so went by and Gary and I started spending more and more time working with one another. Halle would come in on Fridays to visit and things seemed to be going very well for the two. At that point, having been able to get to know Gary a lot better, my crush had completely subsided. His personality quirks really sealed the deal for me on that end. Every time he spoke, he became less attractive to me.

Anyway, a few weeks after that, I went in to work a later shift. As I clocked in I noticed something was stirring. Everyone was glancing my way in a “boy, do I have something to tell you” kind of way. Gary was working the front counter, and I was scheduled to work right alongside him. About 10 minutes after the dinner rush, he told me that he had something he needed to tell me. As he told me this, I saw a few of our fellow co-workers side-eyeing us. I was like, “Ok, sure. What is it?”

He looked at me dead in the eyes and said, “I’m gay”.

At first, I thought I was being pranked. At that point in my life, I hadn’t come out yet. I was terrified of being outed. In fact, it was my worst fear. I remember looking at everyone around me thinking, “They know. This is their way of getting me to admit it.” This hot wave came over me as I probably flushed with red. I rolled my eyes, chuckled, and said, “Shut up. Stop messing around.” This was in line with Gary’s type of humor, after all.

He then stopped me from walking off and said, “No, I’m not kidding. I really am. I’m telling everyone.” I stood there confused, and it was only because of the incredulous faces of my co-workers (half-working while fully-listening to this conversation), that I realized he was being honest. He was being far more honest that I would have ever been capable of being. I then looked him straight into his eyes and said, “Okay”, and I got back to work. I wanted to be as far away from that situation as possible. I knew people questioned my own sexuality–there’s only so much you can hide–and I didn’t want to risk having my “situation” compromised.

We didn’t discuss it any further that night, but my co-workers sure had a lot to share. I tried to have my half-hour break alone away from all the cackling hens, but one found her way to me. She told me that Gary was already seeing a guy, he owns a mustang, and had been coming through the drive-thru for about 2 weeks straight just to speak with him. I instantly knew who she was talking about. Then, it suddenly hit me, what about Halle? Does she know?

At the end of our shift, those working the lobby counter registers have the disgusting responsibility of going through the McDonalds playground cleaning all the slides (yes, bodily fluids are a common finding). I noticed that Gary had already started. Normally, I would pretend to have other matter so attend to while he finished cleaning that multi-colored cesspool, but this time, I grabbed a wet rag and hauled my ass up those slides. It was the perfect place to get him alone. No one could see or hear us while we were up there.

I quickly made my way to him (breathing only with my mouth to avoid the awful smells), and found him looking at me curiously as I fought to catch my breath crawling to him in utter disgust.

“What’s up?”, he asked half-laughing.

“Look, I’m happy you came out. I really am. I wanted you to know that it’s not going to affect the way I see you in any way.”

He smiled.

“But, what about Halle? Have you told her?”

He instantly looked down to his hands as he scrubbed, “No, not yet.”

I sighed, “Why the hell not?”

“It’s not that simple. I really like her.”

“She should have been one of the first to know, Gary!”

“I know.”

“Tell her as soon as you can! Otherwise, she’s going to find out some other way, and it will be so much worse.”

“Ok, I will.”

“Good”, I said. And I slid back down to pretend to work.

Well, the shit hit the fan over the next few days. I heard the whispers, but I never took part in it. I felt a little guilty. I know it had nothing to with me and everything to do with Gary, but I felt somewhat responsible. Here was this closeted guy hiding himself and, as a result, hurting a genuinely good person.

I remember running into Halle as school a few days after Gary came out. She knew I knew, but we never spoke of it. To this day, we have never discussed Gary. As of today, he is not a part of our lives.

We all graduated and went off to college. Halle and I stayed in touch. We remained friends and I really valued her as a confidant. But as distance and time does, we slowly grew apart, and our friendship faded yellow. We each developed strong friendships in college and moved on with our lives.

And finally, I had the guts to come out. I came out at 21 years old.

I instantly started dating and felt more alive by the day.

Somehow, it got back to Halle.

It may be because we aren’t as close as we once were, but she’s never really been able to reach out to me in the same way anymore. My approach with her has not changed one bit, but I sense a change in her. I can’t help but feel she feels betrayed by me. Perhaps she feels guilty of her sense of betrayal. Then again, she might not.

For the longest time I never understood why it was important for Gary to come out the way that he did. But now I feel he did it because it was eating him up inside.

And it was eating me up as well. And when I crawled up that slide that night, I wasn’t necessarily upset with Gary. I was upset with myself. And Gary knew it, too.

Reawakening

I woke up this morning with a headache. It was one of those headaches that, no matter what you do, just nags you all day.

nag nag nag nag nag

And it did just that.

Now, of course, I probably woke up that way because I spent about three hours the previous night suffering through SEVENTY-FIVE pages on INSURANCE TAXATION! This certification exam is killing me slowly. But, I digress.

So, I was at my office, praying–that my super large extra-strong cup of black vanilla-flavored coffee would send my headache from hell back from whence it came–and feeling like total shit. I was tired, hurting, and just annoyed in general with everything at that moment.

I began scouring news sites right quick, you know, trying to avoid having to work. And I came across an article that caught my attention. It was an article about a break-through in treating paralysis.

The article explained that a neuroscientist was sending electric waves down the spine of a patient with a broken spinal cord in order to study nerve pathways. While doing this, the patient was suddenly–and miraculously–able to move his toe. This was completely unexpected.

Five years later, electric stimulation continues to show breakthroughs, and some patients have even been able to do sit-ups while under electric stimulation. This is all extraordinary and great. But what really got me, was when a patient described his improvement in bladder, bowel, and sexual function as “extraordinary and amazing”.

That stopped me dead in my tracks.

I felt like a selfish little bitch. A complainer.

What was even more fitting, was that a doctor described the progress as an “awakening of the limbs”.

I could use an awakening of another kind. I know it’s all relative, but stories like this really make you realize just how fortunate you are. I just wish I could keep that thought present. I believe that if I could, I’d been a much more effective human being.

But in then end, I’ll most likely fall back into old habits. A mental paralysis, if you will.

Maybe a dog shock collar would work for me?

 

 

Every Sunday

I hate Sundays. I have always felt this way.

When I was kid, Sundays were always the same.

We would get up, have breakfast, go to church, visit my grandparents, go home, and prepare for the new school week.

Every Sunday, the same.

I hated it.

Sunday meant having to get up early to attend an hour of mass I hardly could comprehend (11am mass where I am from was done in spanish), enjoy what little time I had left of my weekend, and prepare for another cycle of an overly-repetitive existence.

I guess, what I truly hated, was what Sunday meant for me. It meant the beginning of a another week, a start to the mundane process of my life, and a return to the inevitable.

A beginning shouldn’t be so predictable, boring, and familiar. It should be fresh, exciting, and new.

Knowing this, and taking a step back from it, I realize that everyday is Sunday to me.

I love reading stories and news articles detailing the reasons why  people took important risks in their careers. Every story usually touches on the risk the normally risk-averse would take in order to change the fabric of their lives.

For these people, every day was different. Every day was new. Every day was a beginning.

How important is it to step into each day as if it were a new beginning and not some habitual cycle of secure familiarity?

I think I found the answer to that question long ago. But how can I apply that to my life?

I’m going to work on that. But until then…

I live a life of Sundays.

Wants, but Needs…

I don’t know what I need, but I know what I want.

And what I want, isn’t always what I need. It oft-happens that I stubbornly fight my way towards certain things, achieve them, look back, and realize…wait, this doesn’t work. This isn’t me.

I still do this. A lot. I really don’t know how to change it. But I do know one thing.

I want everything I never knew I always wanted.

And that’s enough, for now.

Resolve

So, today is Friday and I am determined to get a huge chunk of my certification studying done.

Work has been so busy, that I could only afford to spare a few hours on Monday to study. And it has become so bad, that I had to cancel on Angie and won’t be attending WEBB party this year. I’ve gone every year since 2009. It inadvertantly become a yearly tradition for us, but I really need that extra day to prepare for this exam. I don’t want to spend the entire month preparing for this exam. I’d actually like to live my life!

Well, I’d first have to have one. So, once I pass this exam, I’ll dedicate myself to just that.

One step at a time.

Losing My Touch

I remember why first semester at St. Mary’s University.

I was a 21 year-old living in a freshmen dorm. I hated my roommate. And I ate my feelings.

That was over 8 years ago.

Today.

I’m a 29 year-old living in my own apartment. I have no roommate. And I eat my feelings.

So, basically, I’ve become older, more alone, and fatter.

Within those eight years, I came out, had one terribly unsuccessful relationship, graduated from college, became a financial analyst for the state of Texas, and am working my way up. 

But it’s not fulfilling. Because, ultimately, I’m not living. I’m only existing. It’s such a struggle. And it shouldn’t be.

And it’s so easy to sit back and say, “Ok, tomorrow, things are going to be different. I’m going to change the way I live my life.” But, how can I make that change when I’m nowhere near ready in taking it on? I live a very formulaic life. I’m a lemming in a shirt and tie from 8 to 5, come home to nothing, and live for nothing. That right there is the truth.

So, in the end, what was really accomplished in those eight years?

There are some areas of my life, that I have completely let go, and I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to get them back?

Here’s a list:

  1. I used to write everyday. I had a blog that had several followers and it was complete a joy to share my life with people. I miss that.
  2. I was funnier. I am so not funny anymore, what the fuck happened to me? Does age dull the funny senses? It certainly has for me.
  3. I met people. I no longer put myself out there. Ever. And I make excuses for it in order to hide the harsh realities.
  4. I loved spending time with my family. Now, not so much, but not because I don’t care, but because I don’t know how to be myself around them anymore.
  5. I have lost my health. I’m not dying or anything, but I know I’m not living a healthy life. Far from it. In all aspects.

I’ve lost my touch. I want it back.

And hopefully, writing all of this down will by my first step back again.

I want myself back.

The Decision

He met him at a bar ten years ago. The man that would single-handedly change everything.

Every memory and every moment of that week is still so painful and real. I had so much to learn, so much to ask, and so much to love. But this one moment, this one circumstance, changed all of that.

==

Twenty years ago, she woke up from a long mid-afternoon nap. The sun was going down and realizing that she had errands to run, she drove to a nearby grocery store to pick up a few things. On the way home, she stopped at her bank’s ATM to deposit a check she had received as a Christmas gift from her parents. On her way home, she made a life-changing decision.

==

He was the kind of man my father was incapable of measuring up to and she was the type of woman you would have wanted your daughter to grow up to be. Both of them have three things in common: a bad decision, Austin, and Me

My Uncle Junior, I knew my entire life. He moved to Chicago right out of high school and lived there for about ten years. Even then, our connection was strong. He eventually moved back to San Antonio, got a degree in Computer Programming, and landed a job working for IBM in Austin. He was probably the only uncle I felt 100% comfortable being myself around. That’s not to say I don’t love my uncles. My family was so tight back then, that I felt as if I had six different fathers. Each of them taught me something important, but I knew what my Uncle Junior could teach me would inevitably be the most important.

You see, Junior was gay. Everyone knew it, but hardly anyone acknowledged it. I remember one year he brought a guy home to meet all of us. This guy was so flamboyant (he had polished nails for pete’s sake!) that he was practically telling everyone in the family, “Hey! You see here! This is who I am am! Deal with it.” I for one enjoyed how uncomfortable everyone got. Everyone didn’t want to bring attention to this glaring proclamation as they didn’t want to upset my Grandparents. The thing is, I’m pretty positive they had known for years. It just wasn’t talked about.

His pent-up frustration with having to hide who he was came up during our last one-on-one conversation. We were at my cousin’s quinceneara. I had just finished dancing with my Mom, brother, and sister and saw him standing alone to the side. I went up to him and immediately noticed a change in him. He was un-characteristically unhappy. Something was stirring in him and his eyes told me he needed to let it out. So, I went and stood along side him, we watched everyone dance for a few minutes, and he nudged me on my shoulder.

“You graduating this year?”

I immediately noticed he had had a few beers, but he was trying his best to hide it

“Yup, I’m almost done”, I told him.

“Well, we need a party as big as this one for you, mijo. We’re so proud of you.”

I looked at him and smiled. I really had no idea what to say. Then my Uncle went on…

“You have so much to look forward to. Everything’s beginning.”

“Yeah”, I said, “It’s a little scary.”

“It’s suppose to be.”

My Uncle took a long look at me, and then looked back to the dance floor.

“Just be who you are and fight for what you want. Don’t ever compromise.”

“I won’t”, I told him

“I hate that. Compromising. Hiding.”

As he said those words, I could feel it was something he begrudgingly had to do time and time again. He went on…

“I was seeing someone special. And last month I had to end it. And do you know what? It was probably the best decision I ever made in my life, even though it didn’t feel like it at first.”

“Oh?”, I replied

“Yeah, it hurt like hell at first. But God damn it, I was tired.”

His voice began to shake.

“He had the nerve…the fucking nerve…to introduce me to his parents as his best friend.”

That was the first time my Uncle had ever sworn in front of me, and the first time he had openly acknowledged to me that he was gay.

“I’m too old for that shit”, he said.

“So, do you know what I did?”, he asked me while smiling.

“What?”, I asked smiling back.

“I told him right there in front of them to fuck off, threw my soda at him, left, and never looked back.”

At that point, my mother came up to us and asked Junior to dance with her. He did. And I watched as they laughed and danced across the floor. He was her rock on my Father’s side of the family. My mother trusted Junior with all her heart. And seven months later, her heart would be shattered…

==

She was on 60 Minutes, Unsolved Mysteries, and a variety of other Crime programs on TV.

But before all that, she had lived in Louisiana. She moved to Austin where she was working as an accountant and had been dating my Godfather Oliver for a while. Oliver had gone through a terrible divorce with my Godmother, but Colleen had mended that. She was beautiful, intelligent and full of life…and I know this, I remember this from our one and only meeting in the Summer of 1991.

It was a typical hot July day. My Mom’s side of the family had all gathered at my grandparent’s house for a BBQ. This occassion was especially important because I was to see my Godfather. Everytime he would come to visit, he’d bring me something. I still have a few collectible coins he brought me to commemorate my holy communion. Anyway, my Father told me that he was brining his new girlfriend, and that she would potentially be standing in for my Godmother when I received my Holy Communion the next Spring. It never happened.

Nine months later, in the Spring of 1992, my Godfather returned to visit…alone. It was time for my Holy Communion, and I was the only one without a Godmother to take part in the services. It didn’t bother me. I was proud of the Godfather I had. He was bright, honest, compassionate, and lived the city life in Austin, TX. All small town boys like me, especially the gay ones, dream of breaking out into the world. When you come from a small catholic socially-conservative town like I came from, you can only hope that the world beyond the borders of your current life can provide you with the path you prayed existed: a path to something better; a path to connect yourself to something fulfilling. My father had a catalogue of UT-Austin in his library. I loved flipping through it every now and then. It gave me hope. And it was while flipping through those pages, that I realized that college would be the only way past those borders. It was my only chance.

After Holy Communion mass, my Grandparents held a party at their home. I still remember the sign my Grandmother made and placed on her front porch with the words “Congratulations, Josh!” written on it; it was surrounded with balloons. We had a BBQ, and I caught my Father and Oliver talking in private away from the others. Oliver was saying, “It should air on Sunday in about 2 weeks.” He then noticed me nearby, smiled, and furtively changed the topic of conversation. Later, I questioned my mother about it, and she begrudgingly told me.

“He’s talking about Colleen. Do you remember her? She visited last Summer?”

“Yea, I do”, I replied.

“Well, she was killed earlier this year. She’s going to be on “60 Minutes”.”

I was stunned. No one had told me this.

“Can I watch it?”, I asked.

“I’ll have to ask your Father.”

He agreed. And our family watched it together.

Colleen was a popular CPA who worked for the Lower Rio Grand River Authority in Austin, TX. Oliver was her supervisor, and when he left for a better opportunity in the private sector, they began dating.

Below is what was reported by 60 Minutes:

On December 29, 1991, she awoke from a nap to Oliver calling her. It was Sunday, and Colleen wasn’t feeling well. She had spent the morning doing volunteer work as the Austin area had been subject to some recent flooding and she was helping work the phone banks. On the phone, she told Oliver she was upset with herself because she overslept and had errands to run. She needed to deposit a check in the bank, had grocery shopping to do, and her car was filthy. Oliver told her those things could wait until tomorrow. She agreed. However, after they hung up, she changed her mind. She decided to get them done that night.

Later that night, a group of individuals were discussing dinner plans on their front porch on Fifth St. in downtown Austin. As they were discussing their plans, they heard a woman screaming in the night, a car door slamming shut, and a car speeding off the wrong way onto Fifth St. They realized the car came out of the car wash nearby, and they drove over to check the place out. When they got there, they discovered an abandoned Mazda Miata covered in soap suds. There were car keys, a purse, and freshly bought groceries sitting on the passenger seat. They called the cops.

It was discovered month later, after fruitless efforts in finding her, that Colleen was the victim of serial killer Kenneth McDuff. He came across her at the car wash, decided he wanted her, drove into the bay next to hers, snuck up behind her, and took her. She was never seen alive again. The only reason he was caught was because he had an accomplice. And he sang like a canary. He divulged all the disgusting details regarding the horrors Colleen went through as they drove her to a rural part of Texas that night. Her body wasn’t discovered until about 7 years later, shortly before McDuff was put to death.

==

May 6, 2002 – My Brother’s 24th birthday and senior prom week for me.

I got out of school early as I was enrolled in a program at school that allowed me to do volunteer work at a local elementary school library for physical education credit. At the time, I didn’t have a car or a driver’s license, so I depended heavily on my Grandparent’s to take me to where I needed to go. I didn’t really appreciate this as much as I should have. In fact, that day I was upset, because by Grandfather hadn’t shown up. He was late. So, I called him from the school pay phone. He picked up, and told me he’d be there right away.

When he arrived, my Grandmother wasn’t with him, which was odd, and he seemed completely distracted. I was just anxious to get to work, but when explaining why he was late he told me, “We just got a phone call from Austin about Junior. Terrible stuff.” I figured Junior may have been in jail and I didn’t think it was my place to ask for details.

After work, my Grandfather was late again. I waited for over an hour, and upon realizing he had probably forgot about me, walked about a mile to a nearby grocery store, and called him again. This time, my Aunt picked up. She seemed frazzled. She told me someone would be down there to pick me up as soon as possible. About 20 minutes later, my Grandfather showed up. He was eerily quiet in the car. The next few minutes would change my life forever.

After what seemed like a lifetime, my Grandfather turned to me while driving through town, “I need to tell you something.”

“Ok.”, I responded realized something serious was going on.

“What I’m about to tell you, isn’t going to be easy to hear. But I need you to be a man, and stay strong for your Mother and your Sister.”

“I will”, I responded.

“Your tio Junior was murdered. They found his body in his apartment.”

My stomach twisted and my heart sank. I didn’t know what to say.

“They’re still looking for the guy. The police believe it was someone who was living with him at the time.”

I was breathless. No words came to me.

“I need you not to tell your Mom until she gets home tonight. I don’t want her driving under duress.”

“Ok”, I promised.

It was a promise I had to break. It was eating me alive.

As soon as he left me at home, I called my Mother. I needed her. I needed someone.

I just lost a lifeline. I just lost my greatest ally. My Mother was all I had left and I needed to know she was okay.

==

The man responsible was found the next day. His trial was held in 2004, and my Grandfather refused to give us any details. We knew he was hiding something. When I became older, I searched the Austin Statesman archives, and found the answers:

My Uncle was a generous man. And it was that proclivity for generosity that cost him his life.

He met a man who was on the outs with his parents and needed a place to stay. My Uncle often helped out friends and allowed them to sleep on his couch for a month. During that month, they were to find a job, and get back on their feet.

This is the part that will be the hardest for me type down: My Uncle seemed to have a drug problem. My brother told me he witnessed it, and it really upset him.

Well, according to Bishop’s defense, the night of Junior’s death, Bishop, Junior, and a friend were out a bar in Austin drinking and doing cocaine. Bishop claimed that he had to defend himself from my Uncle’s advances. And it got worse when they arrived home.

The next week, Junior’s neighbors became worried when they hadn’t seen or heard from him in a while. His friends then stepped in and went to his apartment. They could smell something foul emanating from the apartment and called the landlord to let them in. They found the home in disarray and found my Uncle’s body wrapped in a mattress cover with extension cords wrapped around his neck and a belt around his ankles. He was stabbed 20 times, had been robbed, and his truck was missing.

The defense claimed Bishop killed Junior in self-defense. Feeling that there was little evidence in proving otherwise, the prosecution struck a plea bargain with Bishop and now he’s presently out of jail and free to live his life.

My family was left in shambles. Nothing would ever be the same again.

==

Clearly, my Family’s history with Austin has not been a fortuitous one.

And here I am: A gay single man living in Austin who works for the State and also hopes to become a CPA one day.

My Mother was clearly not overly-thrilled about my moving here. I could sense the fear in her heart. I hated putting her through that. And I couldn’t let her see that I too hold those same fears.

I know it may not be logical, in fact, it’s all emotional. But the scars are still there.

And I’m writing this all down for one purpose: To show myself how illogical this type of fear is.

After a year in Austin, I felt those protective walls coming down and I began to pay no mind to any history that is not personally mine.

However, this past month, there was a another story in Austin about a single gay man was who killed in his apartment because he was too trusting.

It sent me into a tailspin of emotions and brought everything back. And I hated it. I don’t want to live in fear of something I can’t control.

The only way I have learned to get through all of this is to understand that every action I take will have a reaction. And I can’t be afraid of that. Otherwise, I’m robbing myself.

Otherwise, I won’t be living at all. So, what’s the difference?

We make hundreds, thousands of decisions everyday. And even the innocent ones–as in running errands or helping someone out–can change your entire World.

I’m going to choose to live with my decisions. And if I ever make bad ones, I will fight to survive them. And I refuse to stop living for the potentially adverse outcomes.

And this entry will be my reminder of that.

The Words I Couldn’t Say

So, I have this friend. And no, I’m not actually referring to myself. I have this friend who I met about six years ago. We met through a mutual friend on MySpace (Which I’m kind of hoping would make a comeback lol) and became good friends. About 2 months into our new friendship, I realized he wanted more than friendship from me. But I wasn’t (and I’m still not) attracted to him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great person, but he just doesn’t have what I ordinarily look for in guys. And although I knew in the back of my mind that this friend of mind had a thing for me, I refused to acknowledge it.

Then one drunken night….he kissed me….and I idiotically kissed him back.

The next morning I knew what a fucking stupid mistake I had made, but I was determined to undo the damage. I hated that I gave him the indication that I was interested. The only way to fix it was to be upfront about it, I told myself.

So, that opportunity came….and I wussed out.

Later that night, we went to the Saint. We got drunk off of bourbon and danced all night. Toward the end of the night, I saw him looking at me “in that kind of way” and I knew I had to do something to put at end to all of that. So, in a drunken stupor, I went up to him and told him that I really liked him…as a friend….but I didn’t want him as my boyfriend. He looked at me, eyes full of hurt, and asked, “Why not?”  I’ve never forgotten that moment as that was the first moment I ever broke someone’s heart.

Despite the pain, we got through it. We became great friends. And we really enjoyed hanging out. I was actually pretty surprised at how natural things seemed. I had thought things would become awkward and inevitably the friendship would end. Naturally.

But it continued…until I met someone.

This someone become someone very special to me. And this friend of mine became very bitter. He became so bitter that after one dramatic altercation at The Bonham Exchange, our friendship ended. And on MySpace six years ago, I wrote this:

I’m Burning this Bridge

I kissed him. Twice. So I can understand why there might be confusion and I can understand that despite me telling him incessantly that I have no interest in him, he might think otherwise. I can understand that he might think the only reason I say these things is to protect the relationship I’m starting with Eric.

Then when I decide not to be understanding, I’m faced with someone I really don’t think I would want in my life. He is all kinds of shades, and can change his attitude the second something happens with me and another guy. He’s able to deal with Eric and I being together. That’s not a problem for him anymore. But if any other guy comes up and poses interest he immediately draws into himself, puts up a steel wall, and acts as though I’ve commited an unforgivable sin. A question I have is, why is he no longer threatened by Eric? Eric is the closest thing to a relationship I have right now and <name removed> is NOWHERE in the viscinity. I remember a few months ago, he said that he was thinking of breaking someone up. He looked straight into my eyes when he said this. He made great strides to accomplish this on Tuesday. He intentionally took advantage of a situation. So much that he hurt people in doing it. But it was all done in the hopes that he’d get what he wants. Not only did he insure himself of that NEVER happening, but he’s made it clear that he’s nothing but a bitter, insecure, selfish, impersonable backstabbing sorry excuse for a friend.

And I’m happy to know it.

And here I am, about to burn this bridge again. And not because I’m angry. But because I’m tired. I’m tired of trying to make a friend of a Frenemy. Because that’s who he’s been all this time. And THOSE are truly the words I couldn’t say.