Danny and I started seeing each other the week before Thanksgiving. For the first few weeks, things continued to be extremely casual. We'd hang out, watch some Netflix, I'd get a little something and he'd be on his way. It was a great arrangement, believe it or not. There was no part of me that saw this becoming a relationship at all, but I was having a good time and I had something to distract me from my sadness. It was fun.
We didn't have a lot in common. We quickly realized that we really weren't into the same movies and music, nor did we really like the same types of theatre. We were both stubborn, and our conversations were sometimes awkward and forced. He liked to tease, so I tried to tease back. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes we both took it too far and felt insulted.
But he acknowledged that he was awkward. Which made me so much more comfortable with him, because I'm awkward. He told me I was cute. He told me he liked my body. He texted me. He was excited to hear about my projects.
For the first time since Katie left, I felt like someone cared about me.
And that scared the fucking shit out of me.
But it was fine, because everything was casual. I didn't tell anyone about him. I liked having such a fun secret, keeping an entire relationship from my friends and even my roommate. As soon as Danny and I were hanging out, I lost interest in anyone else. I wasn't at all interested in another relationship so soon after Katie, and Danny was taking care of my physical needs, so the thought didn't even cross my mind to look any further.
The first person that I told about Danny was Shannon, about two weeks into December. I hadn't planned to tell her, but I had consumed a bit of whiskey and was filling her in on my recent dirty deeds. She flat-out asked, "Have you hooked up with a guy?" Which I just loved. There wasn't any weight to the question whatsoever, partially because this friend also identifies as queer, like myself - and I just answered honestly. She was thrilled, and suddenly I realized that keeping this thing a secret was fun...but also, wasn't it kind of fun to tell other people about it, too?
I told Bethany a couple days later. Bethany and I are incredibly close, and have been for years. She was always eager to talk about my sexuality and, often, I enjoyed talking about it. Recently, we haven't been as close - which is the only reason I hadn't told her about Danny from the start. I tell Bethany everything. So I finally spilled the beans when we were seeing a concert out of town together. Once again, it felt good. Her reaction was difficult to read, but that's kind of Bethany these days. I was happy with my little arrangement.
I went to see Danny in a play that month, which was surreal. As I sat alone in the theatre, I couldn't help but feel like I was playing a part. "How did I get here?" I thought. It felt so odd that no one in my life knew where I was, or what I was doing. I had no idea how Danny expected me to greet him after the show. Do I hug him? I definitely don't kiss him, right? But there are people around, and I knew I was 0% ready to do something "gay" in public. I'd go with the flow. (We hugged). A few weeks later, Danny accompanied me to a play that I had written. More on that later, believe you me. I'm just telling you this because:
a. It's important to note that he came to see my play.
b. It's important to note that we really weren't doing just hook up things anymore.
Katie texted me a few days after Christmas and asked if I could talk. Back in October, after she had told me she was seeing other people, I told her that I couldn't be friends with her for a bit. It was too hard. She was understanding and supportive. By December, we had started talking a little bit more, especially because she had a hand in the play I had written. But anyway - I get a text from her asking to talk. This is not a good thing to do to someone with crippling depression and anxiety. I freaked out. I had spent the past few months desperately wishing that she and I could get back together - was that what this talk was about? Was that what I wanted?
For the first time, I wasn't sure. Down the line? Yes. Of course, I ended up with Katie. I saw myself having a family with her, spending my life with her. But also...this thing with Danny was really fun. We went to see Sisters and out to dinner and the waitress commented that we were cute and that made me feel happy and at the time I was in complete denial that we were dating but we were totally dating.
Katie knew that I had been dealing with depression, which is why she was a mess when we started to talk. She just kept avoiding the topic. Meanwhile, I was dying sitting there. I had no idea what she was going to say.
"I've started seeing someone."
Shockingly, my world didn't end. In fact, I found it more odd than anything else. Without knowing anything about this dude, I didn't take the relationship seriously. But I was happy for Katie - look at her doing her thing! And I was happy that I could continue to see what was going on with Danny. This was the best case scenario, right?
And then I started to feel guilty. She was sitting there crying about revealing this relationship to me - didn't I owe the same to her? But...Danny and I weren't dating, so why complicate things? Katie knew about my queerness, but I'm not sure she ever expected me to actually have a relationship with another man. I got very, very close to blurting it out then and there. But I didn't.
I called Bethany for advice. She suggested that it was still too early to tell Katie. I couldn't stop thinking about it, though, which is why I brought Carol into the mix. Carol was one of my college professors, and since graduation, we've grown incredibly close. She is part-mom, part-bestie, and we talk about everything. It was time to tell her about Danny.
I fucking panicked. She has identified as both bisexual and a lesbian throughout her life, so that should be, like, the least scary person to come out to. But for some reason - I was terrified that she would think I had been lying to her for all of these years. It had probably only been weeks since the last time we talked about my sexuality - fluidity is an attractive conversation topic, apparently - and I'd always maintained that I'd give it a go with the right guy. AKA - I had always been completely honest and open with her. Yet, as I sat across from her, holding back tears and reminding myself to breathe, it felt impossible.
I finally blurted it out. She started crying. She couldn't believe I was so scared to tell her, and then felt bad that she had done something to make me afraid. Of course, she hadn't done anything at all. But good luck telling my Brain that. It felt so good talking to Carol. She reminded me that it's okay to not know what I'm feeling, or what I'm doing. She also said that, while Katie would most likely be supportive, that I had absolutely no reason to tell her about Danny at this point. Why complicate things when I wasn't even sure what I was doing?
Carol left. I felt great. The guilt over not telling Katie was gone. The stress I felt over not knowing what I was doing was gone. I wasn't going to tell anyone else about Danny for a while.
Until I told Katie two days later.
to be continued.