1. I used to call it “Adderall love,” because that’s what it feels like, sometimes: Love that comes fast and hard, all those heady surges of exhilaration and want, a quickening pulse, your heartbeat sticking in your throat, sweats, a speedy rise and a big empty numbness after it’s over, crashing down and wanting more, a growing panic that things may be spiraling out of control, even though they shouldn’t be, and it gets scary. This was supposed to be safe, I think. This wasn’t supposed to be quite so intense.
“Intense” — that was the word he used, lying in bed in the morning. We’d been up all night and he’d drawn shut the blinds in his bedroom, heavy wood slats shielding us from the summer daylight. We were trying to keep it from coming in. And he said, “You’re just really intense.”
“I know,” I said. I rolled over on my side, and I felt that familiar embarrassment again, of having shown my hand too quickly, of having revealed myself to be just as emotional as I’m always trying not to be. And then, after a minute, I felt his arms snake around my torso and pin tight around my chest, and I thought that maybe it was okay after all.
2. In Manhattan this weekend, a gay man was shot in the head point-blank on the street while the gunman yelled homophobic slurs at him. The police are investigating it as a hate crime.
My best friend sent me the link to the story. “Terrifying,” he said. “He was just wearing a tank top.”
“Thank God I have fat arms,” I responded — instinctively, glibly — and then burst into tears. Out of sadness, out of fear, out of some stupid helplessness.
3. I was thinking today about safety: The things that frighten me and the things that don’t. A shot in the dark, a baseball bat; I’ve always been too fortunate to fear those things in any way, although maybe I should. Hate crimes are increasing in New York City, and even if there’s a part of me that wants to be proud and brazen, if facing down the choice between risking getting beaten to death and holding hands with a boy I like, I’d choose survival. I’m politically ignorant and borne of millennial privilege: I don’t have anything insightful to say about what it means to be a gay man living in fear in 2013. And it makes me feel so frivolous and self-involved that the things that feel most dangerous are the unanswered text, the too-vocal admissions, the displays of vulnerability. The dizzying feeling of being too high, knowing that eventually — necessarily — it has to end.
The night after he told me I was intense, I called a friend. “I think he’s fine with it, though,” I said. “I think he might like it.”
“Then what’s the problem?” she asked.
“How can I trust him?” I said. “How can I trust him when I know that everyone always leaves?”