Read Chapter Three here.
My temple is invaded and destroyed.
The bed bugs have taken over and made my space their new home. I am a guest in my room now. The mattress is infested to the highest degree and the box spring has given home to the colony that has lived off my blood as I slept for the past few weeks. I’ve been taking solace in the guest room downstairs. The guest room is free of bed bugs but I still have a hard time trusting the new space after feeling so betrayed by my own harbor. It’s hard to feel safe when I sleep now.
I feel each pluck of skin that has been taken from me…
In an email sent from the pest control company, I was told I must discard everything that could be infested, and remove all items from underneath the bed so there would be nothing in the way of the pest people when they arrive to handle the situation. I decided to take this as a blessing, removing all the clutter I held on to. My sentimental hoarding had gotten the best of me. I lifted up papers, yearbooks, backpacks, cardboard boxes, and discovered tiny little devils crawling in, out and around these things, the things I held on to for so long. As I touched each object, I felt its meaning. I felt each reason I had held on to these things. I found a short story my little brother wrote when he was 8 and had thrown in the trash. I had saved it. I found cards dated back seven years ago. My binder from sophomore year of high school, complete with unfinished homework assignments and a decorative collage cover of Evanescence lyrics and photos, was also found pushed up against the same wall as my bed.
If I had killed myself already, this would’ve been my legacy…all my love and sentimental belongings infested underneath an infested bed.
I took a break from clearing the space and went downstairs to write in my diary. I looked at the previous entry. August 8, 2014. It’s been seven days since my night with Damien.
I began to reflect on the conversation I had with Damien the other day. We were talking about patience. He told me I had to learn not to rush things, and not put too much force on something to happen. He was indirectly referring to us. I had mentioned earlier in the conversation that I wouldn’t be opposed to a kiss happening again, I told him it was something I would be down for. He had changed the subject. And now we are talking about patience. I also mentioned that I want to meet up and talk about things…he didn’t really seem to be too into that either.
Patience. Is that the key? Is that what I have to do? Let it all happen naturally? Damien and I are very different people when it comes to getting what we want. When I want something, I want it NOW. Damien takes his time, he does everything with great detail and attention…he flows easily. If Damien and I were going to kiss again, it would have to be on his terms. With his innate patience and my lack thereof, Damien and I keep twirling around the subject of us, avoiding the mess that could be us. Each time I push forward, Damien pulls back. My mind has been running relays since that night, passing the baton to each new thought, theory and proposition.
Round and round and round…
Damien, Damien, Damien.
I think it’s time I signed up for the Crazy Bitch Olympics.
At this point, I wish I hadn’t told anyone about the kiss, because now I fear our friends could ruin what I have going with Damien, and I don’t want to scare him away right when I can finally feel him on my fingertips.
Damien even made me promise not to tell anyone. I told him I wouldn’t dare. But naturally I called six people to deliver the news the day after it happened. I received mixed reactions like:
“Yes! I always knew this would happen. I’m so excited!”
“He’s a whore.”
“I’m not surprised.”
“What does this mean?”
The most depressing reaction came from our friend Deidre. I got the sense she felt bad for me. It’s as if she knew there was absolutely no way Damien could possibly ever be into me and I was doomed from the start. It’s as if my comment to him on the way home was justified and that indeed, Damien can do better. I can’t help but wonder if that’s the real reason why I keep thinking about that night. I don’t need Damien to tell me he likes me, I think I just need him to tell me that he could like me if he wanted to. I think I just need validation.
At least I get validation from Jasper.
Jasper says I’m gorgeous.
Jasper says I’m beautiful.
Jasper says I’m handsome.
And I was at Jasper’s apartment last night.
We began talking a few weeks ago after meeting on Instagram, then later continuing conversations on Grindr. We eventually exchanged phone numbers. The 2014 gay dating struggle is very real. Last night was our first time actually hanging out together.
If I had to describe Jasper in two words, it would be “magically delicious.” I choose those words because when I think of Jasper, I think of a sweet red forbidden apple ready to be plucked from a tree. Something about Jasper feels dangerous, but I suppose it’s not really danger that I see, it’s adventure. I think it’s the way he creates his music…it’s the fire within him that burns bright with passion and I want to dance with him in the flames. He is a beautiful disaster and I can tell he likes it that way. Jasper clings to his struggles to feed his art, and his art in turn feeds his soul. Tortured artists wanting to be loved by the world are always that way. I see a lot of myself in him.
“You are absolutely beautiful, you know that?” Jasper whispered.
Blue moonlight poured through the cracks of the closed blinds. The air-conditioned room was crisp with silence, as we lay side-by-side in his bed. His head rested upon my chest. I caught the faint scent of coconut and cherry blossom.
Could Jasper’s compliments be sincere? I would say so. But part of me still doubts a gorgeous man who says I’m beautiful. Jasper is an artist after all, he sees beauty from the inside, so when he says I’m beautiful, he might not mean physically. I mean, is that so terrible? Is it terrible to long for someone to gawk at you and objectify you? Is it terrible that I long to be wanted for my outer beauty? I feel as though I am a good person, I can hold interesting conversation, I am intelligent, and I am funny as fuck. I’m confident in these things. Where my confidence lacks is in the way I look. It’s just always been that way. The word ‘beautiful’ suddenly doesn’t have much weight to it anymore.
The only thing I really could say back to Jasper was a long drawn out, “Really?”
The night was truly splendid, though. With Jasper I am able to engage with someone who understands art and music. We share the same love for our favorite artists; we both enjoy discussing philosophy and the nature of humans. He understands my crazy and hyperactive mind. I would never be too much for Jasper because he’s just as insane as I am. With Jasper I feel like I can express the strange thoughts in my head that some friends might label pretentious. But Jasper understands. Maybe we are both a bit pretentious and don’t know it. It’s OK though; our creativity is all we have.
I began to close my eyes in Jasper’s bed as his arms lay across my chest. He and I floated on what felt like a lily pad in still water, with just the faint sound of a sitcom laugh track echoing from his roommate’s room. I felt safe, I felt good. I haven’t felt safe in bed for quite some time. I started to think that maybe I don’t need help from a therapist, maybe I’m not depressed…maybe I just have amazing days and terrible days…maybe my sadness comes from nowhere and hits me for no reason. Jasper’s soft lips glided across my shoulder and to my neck, then up to my cheek. Each kiss whispered, “You’re beautiful.” His lips now on my mouth…exchanging auras. I used to think Jasper was so untouchable, so unattainable…he’s the guy you admire from afar but never does it occur to you that you would one day end up in bed with him, like this, feeling your skin touch, moving together in this moment. I felt validated. I felt good. Jasper is untouchable the way I once thought Damien was untouchable, but here we are. I turned over and looked Jasper in the eyes…two translucent crystal balls hanging in the balance, full of secrets, just like Damien’s. The only difference is I feel like Jasper and I think the same way…I think our secrets could be the same…I think we share that. Damien still blocks me every time I reach inside his brain. I couldn’t help but wonder if Damien would be jealous of me being with another guy. I wondered if Damien would be sassy about it, make a few jokes and pretend like he didn’t care, but deep down be annoyed by it.
Well Damien did all those things when I told him about my night with Jasper at our friend Deidre’s birthday dinner this evening. Damien was sassy, he made jokes about how he hated Jasper (even though he has never met him) and he acted like my night with Jasper wasn’t anything special. Tonight was also supposed to be the night that Damien would come over to smoke me out for the first time, but in an effort to make Damien even more jealous, I told him I was going to have Jasper come over instead.
“No, Jasper isn’t coming over. Tell him he’s not coming over. I am coming over.”
Damien is going to be here in about five minutes.
My heart is beating faster than ever before.
Round and round and round…
Damien, Damien, Damien.