A bus passed me as I walked home today carrying empty boxes for my upcoming move. An ad on its side declared; “One out of ten Asians has chronic hepatitus B”, and underneath someone had scrawled “And ten white guys are always bitching about nothing.”

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Attended the Living Sober conference this weekend; a gay AA and Al-Anon convention of sorts, in the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium downtown. My second time at the rodeo. On Friday night one of the main speakers, a funny Latino boy from L.A., was talking about his childhood, and the lack of real life skills his parents had given him. He recounted a conversation he had with someone when he first got sober. He was bitching and moaning about how his parents taught him nothing when his friend stopped him by saying, “Look, Carlos, they never taught you how to suck dick either, and you know how to do that pretty good, right?”

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Yesterday evening Bearbait and I arrived early at the convention to save some good seats for the final meeting in the main auditorium. We slipped through the doors into the vast dark space and out of the shadows ahead I saw a figure approaching, a familiar swagger of sorts that sent a jolt through me, a warmth that spread outward from my belly as Ski emerged from the darkness, smiling, saying, “Heeeyyy” in his deep Jersey voice. When we embraced I could once again feel the entire length of his body against mine, holding him to me for as long he’d allow.

I bought him a Coke from the convention vendor and watched as men walked by and stared at him, feeling that uneasy envy and possessiveness kick within me. We went outside and leaned against the stone building and tried to catch up as people began arriving for the final send-off. Constant minor interruptions, boys to greet, each of us pulled in other directions. It wasn’t the time, one half of the Studly Couple reminded me gently, to resolve the situation; a resolution I both crave and dread. I need to get over it.

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After the big final meeting a young woman lugs crates of vinyl records into the auditorium and they clear a large space in the center, near the stage. A sober dance; something that I’ve always found…lacking. I’ve stayed out of the clubs for nearly two years, kept still my feet that love nothing more than to get lost in the beats from towering speakers. But I stay for a bit, drag the Studly Couple out on the floor and, as the familiar grooves shake me about, I kick it out and relax and smile at the people around me, dancing for nothing but the sheer love of good music. Around me in the dark figures jump and spin and sway from one foot to another. My friends drift away but it’s been too long for me, I stay put, my feet finding their way again, my bright new Adidas gliding in the intricate patterns I’ve settled into over the years. I sweat, my jeans stretch out and fall lower on my waist. A boy passes me on his way off the floor, shakes his head at me and smiles ,” You’re a great dancer”, he says, almost incredulously. I’m a white boy from the Midwest, a child of two uncoordinated farm kids, and I don’t know why, but I can dance.

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I ask Bearbait for a ride home, dumbly missing the fact that he was in the process of leaving with someone he had just met. “All right,” he says, “but I’m dropping you off first.” The three of us step out into the cool night, my wet, warm clothes hanging limply from my body. I happen to look back and see this very adorable dark-skinned boy with a shaved head watching us walk off. I know his name but little else, and in a moment of tired contentment and courage, I smile at him and he smiles back. It lasts a couple of seconds, long enough to count for something.

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I turn the key in the door quietly at home; it’s one in the morning. The house is dark and silent. I slip into my room, thinking “this is the last Saturday night I’ll spend here”, but something is wrong. Before I switch on the light I know my roommate’s cat, the one who spends all of his time in my room, has pissed somewhere in my room. I turn on the lamp and the fucking cat has pissed all over my bed; the dark circle is a foot in diameter, and the urine has soaked all the way through to the surface of my mattress, through my sheets and the new $200 down comforter I just bought. I am so exhausted, and I cannot seem to escape fast enough.

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This morning the roommate left his dogs in his tiny room for a few hours and I woke to the sound of one of them alternately barking and chewing her way through the wood door.

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I take my last Sunday walk from the house to the gym, determined to get back into my routine. As I close my locker and head for the weight room, Mr. Adorable, he of the smile and the shaved head, is walking in. We both startle a bit and smile again. I introduce myself and we chat inanely about the conference, grinning in that goofy mutual you’re kinda cute way. I’m feeling rather conspicuous standing with him in the heavily heterosexual locker room, and I chicken out before getting his number. I tell myself I’ll see him again. It’s a small town.

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