Monday, April 23, 2007

Roommate

This was to be the story of a straight roommate who fell in love with me. But, obviously that sort of statement is in need of a lot of qualifiers. Was he really straight? I think he was. Was he really in love with me? My wife thinks he was. Regardless, by all other accounts we were best friends and closer than I've been with anyone except my wife. I would have asked him to be the best man at my wedding, but he disappeared shortly after I left for medical school--no e-mails and no phone calls. Sometimes I wonder why a guy who was closer than a brother would suddenly drop off the face of the earth; why he would go from driving me and my stuff halfway across the country to ignoring me altogether. All I can figure is that he suddenly became aware how tied to me he had become and got scared.

Let me rewind a couple years to the beginning of the story. My wife and I had been dating for years, but parted ways when she graduated and our relationship hadn't progressed. She moved on with her life and I got a job in the real world. I lived in a BYU student approved complex even though I was no longer a student (shame on me) and enjoyed life finally pulling a paycheck and having my evenings study-free. At the end of the year the perennial student turnover emptied most of the complex and a guy from my ward I didn't know too well invited me to move into his apartment.

At first I didn't like the idea--this guy wasn't really a great friend, just an acquaintance. But the fact that I could go from a shared bedroom to a private bedroom sealed the deal. My then current room roommate deserves a whole chapter of his own, but we'll forgo that for now! So, I moved in with Jeff.

I don't remember exactly how the following months played out, but the fact that he had all the cool electronics meant that we spent a considerable amount of time hanging out. For whatever reason, he was really nice to me. He would wash my dishes and clean up my messes in a way that invited reciprocation, and soon we were just always looking out for each other and pretty close. He would use my stuff and I would use his. We traveled all over the country together and took every weekend we could to go camping in southern Utah. We hung out with each other's family. The lines of who owned what in our apartment were blurred in a way that felt like family. We just got really close.

He was brilliant and had landed a high paying job (six figures!) right out of BYU. He got me a job at the same place and with that transition we were together pretty much 24/7. One day a coworker discovered porn on an office computer and I was asked if I had been the culprit. I honestly answered that it hadn't been me, and Jeff defended me. After that fiasco had faded and we were chatting privately about it, he said he had been 100% sure it hadn't been me because it wasn't "my brand." He had become aware I was gay quite a while before as he used my computer in our apartment. I had been less than tidy with covering my internet history. But nothing really changed after he knew. I had no idea that he was even aware.

The nice thing about the experience was that it gave me a chance to be honest with someone and talk about things. I gave him my speculation that part of my problems with sexuality were related to my repressed upbringing. We compared stories and his history intrigued me. When he looked at porn as a kid and his dad caught him, his dad (a bishop) said, "that's my boy," and didn't give him a hard time. The expectation was always there that he not look at porn, but he didn't feel guilty or shamed by the experience. His dad had an openness about things that took the "forbidden" element out. It normalized issues. I, on the other hand, felt I needed to confess to the bishop if my eyes fell on a swimsuit pinup as I walked down the halls of school.

He said he thought I needed things normalized. I needed a brother. Someone who didn't judge me for being gay, or looking at porn, or whatever. Someone who just accepted me and loved me anyway.

We kept hanging out, getting more affectionate over time. We slept in the same bed sometimes. One of us would fling an arm around the other one in a way that some would call brotherly and some would call flirty, and we'd fall asleep that way. I liked him well enough by this point that things could have gotten inappropriate fast except for one thing: he was straight. We discussed it more than once and I held some doubts whether it was really true. But without going into all the situational details, I had seen what turned him on, and it wasn't guys. Sure, maybe he was bi. If he was, he wasn't turned on by me, but he still loved me in a way that was hard to explain.

The summer before med school we planned a big trip with two girls (I married one of them later!). My wife tells me now that it was on that trip that she first really suspected that I was gay. Just seeing us together, how we played off each other, how much we really loved each other, she was convinced that we were BOTH gay. A few weeks later, I came out to her and she told me she already knew. But she loved me anyway. She liked Jeff too, up until the time she believed he was a rival for my affection.

And, there you have it. One weekend in the fall, we piled all my stuff into the jeep and drove across the country to my new home. We slept in the same bed for the last time and Jeff drove off into the sunset never to be heard from again. We had big plans that after I finished med school we would start a business together. Or maybe we would take flying lessons and buy a plane together. We had a good track record of sharing possessions. But, somewhere along the way I suspect he may have realized that he had been changed by our relationship more than he intended. Rather than just me feeling more "normalized," maybe he was brought to consider some gay feelings he never knew he had. I don't know. I still love him and miss him and now that my wife doesn't feel like she has to compete anymore (she definitely doesn't), I sort of wish he'd step back in and pick up where we left off as friends.

13 comments:

FoxyJ said...

In a ward I lived in there were two older single ladies who had lived together for years. I even heard one refer to the other as her "special companion". They were definitely on a level more than roommates, but I really doubt that it was sexual at all. It was kind of interesting to observe that level of affection that they had for each other.

playasinmar said...

Brace yourselves... double-take... imminent...

"We slept in the same bed sometimes."

(O.o)

Kittywaymo said...

What a moving story...Jeff sounds really nice~ oddly enough, my former husband had a roommate (weekends only cause his dental practice was mon-thurs) while we were dating named jeff. this was in florida, a divorcee, used to clean up after spence, iron his clothes make homemade cheesecake(we were all in the singles ward together in orlando) and i suspected jeff liked spence, but was in denial about spence at the time.

anyway, did you think of trying to find your friend jeff on Zaba search? It's free and I have found lots of people for friends and relatives.

Of course it would be for a "legit. be good" friendship:) I'm curious if your jeff ever married, or where he went off to. If you find out, give us a part two. I think your friendship with him sounds very sweet, and it was good for you to have a male friend who loves you unconditionally, with moral affection. Do you and your dad have a better relationship today then when you were young? Spence's strict guilt driven parent was his mom. It was very sad for him. P.S. tell us who was in the pin-up pic in H.S. ?lol

Love, Kittywaymo~

Ron Schow said...

Thanks for sharing this great experience from your life. A friendship like you two had is an incredible gift, a blessing. I hope you find him again, but he may just need some time. It may be just too hard for him to see you in another relationship when you two were so close.

Are you familiar with D.H. Lawrence? He wrote a book that reminds me of this story. It is called Women in Love. You might want to read it or see the movie.

Another film along these lines is Jules and Jim. It is worth a viewing if you haven't seen it.

santorio said...

also did a double-take with "slept in the same bed," though i guess i'd have to ask if it was a single or a double.

although my college roommate and i keep in frequent contact, it's mostly politics and how's your family doing. i do have one friend which is a true hug when we met, but non-sexual relationship.

i think that along the line of "all men have nipples," every relationship, male and female has a sexual component, often suppressed but occasinally surfacing. you're welcome, sigmund.

Beck said...

That wasn't so painful to share after all, right? Thanks for doing so... I can relate in so many ways. There are such things as non-sexual, but really close and even physical relationships... They are rare!

Ron Schow said...

-L-

Recently you recommended I start my own blog in order to discuss some questions about the HH Scale and related issues which came up in discussions here. I've just posted as a guest contributor on the www.SunstoneBlog.com site. Hopefully, some of the discussion we have been having here about MOMs, resources, benchmarks, etc can continue there. I invite any from here who may be interested to join that discussion.

playasinmar said...

Oh Ron, you firebrand, don't let your voice dim in the cacophony over at the Sunstone blog!

You have enough opinions to run your own Blogger account. :)

Stephen said...

I don't know, it takes a lot of opinions to run a Blogger account... I mean, you've got to have like... at least two...

playasinmar said...

There Stephen goes and the gauntlet is thrown!

Ron, time to create a blogger account and prove you meet the two-opinion-minimum requirement.

Ron Schow said...

I offered two movie opinions up above very much related to the Roommate story by -L-. Does that count? Is there anybody else who has seen those movies?

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

Wow, that was a beautiful post. Sad too that things ended the way they did. Really an interesting story. I wonder where he is now... Do you have any desire to look him up, or would you rather let things fade away in this mysterious way? Thanks for sharing.

-Cas

Mel said...

This is the first post I've read about you, so with that in mind, here are some comments I have.

I had a similar relationship with a friend (girl) of mine through high-school and college. A very nurturing, relationship. We too went out of our way to do nice things for each other, gifts of flowers, took each other out to dinner, slept in the same bed, shared clothes, cars, went on vacations together, spent hours parked in the parking lot just talking etc. There was never any jealousy and we seldom if ever had a problem. We dated guys and lusted over the same movie stars just like ‘regular’ gals do, we just fell in step with each other from the start. It was in no way considered or interpreted as being 'gay'. For a time of reference, this was in the early 1990’s.

She transferred to another University and I went to work. We would get together every once in a while and could pick up where we left off. (Still can!) This was all before email, cell phones and blogging mind you!

We are both married and have children and meet occasionally for lunch with and with out the kids. Her life has led her in a different direction than mine has, and I wouldn’t consider calling her my best friend now, (although I love her dearly) but I am so grateful for the friendship we had and for how it helped me feel better about myself.

Once I was sexually and physically attracted to the man I married, the closeness of the relationship with my girl-friend naturally lessened. Again, there was no jealousy because that was what we wanted for each other, to find someone who would care for the other as we had. One can’t be that deeply involved with two people at once, sexually or non-sexually.

I believe relationships such as these, non sexual but very personal, are extremely rare. Lucky is the person who is in one, or has been in one.

I see nothing 'gay' about it. Which leads to a question: Is it more ‘gay’ if a man has such a relationship, but not if girls do? I think it is very human to be in this type of relationship. We love to feel loved and cared for and seek it out whether we know it or not. Society has made it ‘wrong’ to have these needs but we inherently do. To be able to fulfill these needs is a blessing, and a gift if it is returned.

I don't expect a respose to this, but wanted to post it just the same.