It has been several years since we last spoke, yet I often think of you and wonder if you ever think of me. Your name comes up every now and again, both in conversation and in my own thoughts. I should probably have known since the time we met in college back in 1998 that I would one day become a writer. As you are aware, every single facet of my life, regardless of how insignificant it is, is constantly commandeered in my thoughts, and subject to constant examination and scrutiny, it always has been and likely always will be; the typical mentation of a writer.
You took these pictures of me the day that MTV came to campus and we met the band Garbage.
You and I had a lot of very fun times together. So many fond memories of an otherwise difficult and tumultuous time during my college years were brightened, in part, through your presence and friendship. We were able to acquire backstage passes to a Garbage concert via friends you knew, and we also met the band Conehead Buddha. Gerry, you took me to places I never knew existed, gave me invaluable experiences and knowledge of things which exist on the fringes of society. Specifically the underground clubs setup in old warehouses of the industrial district. You knew of my fascination with freight trains and you took me to the local rail yards where we watched coal trains passing through all afternoon. Those were the highlights of our friendship; the good times that I wished would never end.
You were openly gay, wearing it like a badge filled with pride despite the obvious oppressive and closed-minded community you grew up in. You were the center of my social circle of college friends, and I will never forget spending time with you. One moment especially, was the time we went out to dinner with a group of friends, and the restaurant manager said that you were not welcome at the restaurant because they didn’t allow gay people. It was at that moment that I realized just how oppressive people could be, even in the late 1990’s. I always believed in the fair, equal, and just treatment of all people, and would often come to your defense and provide you support, though in the end I often hypothesized that you wouldn’t have had so many problems with people if you didn’t throw the fact that you were gay in other peoples faces.
There were countless times where you acted like a male slut who always threw himself into frivolous sexual relationships with other men centered around lust and superficial things. What was it you were looking for? Why didn’t you ever learn from your mistakes, despite all of your friends telling you, directly, what everyone else would find blatantly obvious. We were young at the time; you had just turned 21 and you had thrown yourself into so many so-called relationships where you stated that these gay partners were your, “soul mate”. Once you claimed that you had finally found the right man for you; he was 18, you were 21. You swore he was your perfect match for a lifetime relationship. That relationship lasted just short of two weeks.
I often stated, and will continue to maintain that there was nothing wrong with being gay, and that it was perfectly acceptable. This seemed to be a recurring theme, repeated countless times through the hundreds of letters and cards, correspondence that helped bridge the hundreds of miles which separated us during times when life took us to different places in life. Our letters back and forth where you mentioned your infatuation with various male celebrities, and made note of what my celebrity crushes, Cheryl Crow and Robin Tunney were up to. As the years went by, our correspondence turned into email and occasional phone calls, though we maintained a very happy yet geographically distant friendship.
I remember twice driving halfway across the country with Angie, to see you and your boyfriend in Ohio, and each time when I arrived you seemed not have had time for me. For whatever reason, I never met your family, despite the fact that various family members would often stop by while we were in college. I never truly understood why; my parents had met you on several occasions and liked you very much. I was introduced to your boyfriend’s family in Ohio and we seemed to get along just fine, but never yours. For whatever reason I felt as if meeting your boyfriends’ family for the first time made you jealous in some way.
Our friendship spanned almost two decades, though it was an unrequited friendship where I was always coming to your rescue. It seemed that whenever you were in trouble or in need, I was the one you would always turn to. I bailed you out, quite literally, several times, and when you lost your college scholarship because you announced to the university that you were gay, I took you in until you could get back on your feet. Every time you predictably got your heart broken, I was the one who would be there to pick up the pieces.
The last year of our friendship you began to follow my lead, stealing my ideas, and copying everything I did. Eventually you started your own pop culture blog, bought yourself a cheap digital camera, and set about photographing celebrities during a year-long stint in Las Vegas. There soon developed an uncanny and uncomfortable relationship between us. It seemed that whatever I was pursuing in order to follow my lifelong passion of writing and photography, you suddenly began to peruse yourself. It all seemed bizarre, out of character, and overwhelming to me, for as long as I knew you, your dream was to become a comic book writer and illustrator. Our relationship turned into the metaphorical two ships that pass in the night. You would call me on the phone now and again to tell me about how much traffic was coming to your blog and when you casually asked me how it compared to my traffic you would get annoyed.
The last few times we spoke on the phone, you insisted on starting a business partnership in which you would contribute to my blog on an infrequent basis, and take your share of half of my business profits. Such a business deal would have parasitically hijacked what I had literally spent a lifetime to build. When I respectfully declined, you got enraged over the phone, making outrageous and merit-less claims as to my character beliefs of being anti-gay, for which you have absolutely no evidence to support. I was compelled to cut ties with you for my own sanity and emotional well-being.
Recently, I looked up your name and saw that you were mentioned in a newspaper article about same-sex marriage in Ohio. It seems you finally married your long-time boyfriend, a doctor. I wish I could have been there, at your wedding, showing my endearing support for someone I used to have a lot of respect, admiration, and support for. As it turns out, you were someone I thought I knew; I naively thought you knew me, too. While I sincerely miss having you as a friend, I’m reminded that, in life, not everyone who comes into ones life stays around forever, though this is the expectation when I become friends with people and often it remains true. Though in limited cases, such as ours, our friendship that spanned almost two decades simply didn’t last.