Justin's Life...

~ February 2001 ~
~ February 2nd - 17th ~

February 2, 2001 - Friday

Well, as I'd planned, yesterday I drove to San Diego and signed the lease for the new apartment... but as I'd only hoped, the apartment inside the door I viewed on my apartment selection day was exquisite.

It had the smell of new construction inside and the carpet on the floor was newly laid. The real wood cabinetry and the real wood fireplace added to the large pane glass windows to make even the details near perfect. Heck, the parking space was ideal, too, as there's no car on my left and only one to the right, stuck in a little cubby hole, safe from careless drivers and free of a tight squeeze getting out. In fact, I couldn't have hoped for more. All I could do once I got inside was walk around saying "awesome, awesome, awesome." Even the view and the patio are GREAT! I'm so incredibly psyched... more incredibly psyched than I have been in months.

And today, I called to arrange for movers to come on Tuesday. Paying for this apartment or not, I'd be heckuva lot happier in San Diego, so I'm getting out of here ASAP.

AND things with Steve are still going well. I'm tempted to fly up there this weekend, but by bank account needs a break and I think it'd be good to have an emotional brake, too. He's already got his ticket to come here next weekend, though, so things won't slow down for long.

All in all, life continues to be dandy... and I'm enjoying every minute of it.


February 4, 2001 - Sunday

Friday afternoon, I toyed back and forth with the idea of flying up to San Jose... until I purchased the ticket. An Instant Message conversation with Carlos later, my trip had become a surprise for Steve, and by 8:30PM, I was in Carlos's car riding back to their apartment.

When we got to the house, I went around to the front door while Carlos parked in the garage. I rang the doorbell then hid. Rang it again, then hid. Then finally rang it then poked a cheesy battery-lit plastic rose around the corner of the doorway. Steve was on the phone with his mom, and needless to say, he was dumbstruck that I was there. He smiled, he bounced, he gave me the phone to continue his maternal conversation.

So, anyway, the night continued and the next day came. 4:20PM was my scheduled departure; it was the last flight out to hang with the guys, but Noam was sick and Bryce had called to say Alex had forgotten. If we hung out, Bryce suggested, it would be just him and me, and as I'd be moving to San Diego this coming week, he thought I should stay in San Jose as we'd soon have plenty of time to hang out just the two of us. So miss the flight I did. The night continued and today came.

Then this morning, as I layed next to Steve in bed, I let my guard down a little more and said something about still feeling like I was in "presentation mode." In total candor, I'd thought about Larry the night before and realized while I was having a fun time just hanging with Steve and Carlos, I was not at that comfortable, familiar place I was with Larry. On the surface, it was more fun, but it was indubitably less familiar, more "tense", more forced. Was I doing the right thing? Was it ok that I wanted the expensive vodka? Were they judging me because my dinner had meat in it? On and on the questions, doubts, and possible faux pas entered and exited my head on a near subconscious level. Indeed, Steve and Carlos had decided to play a joke on me in return for my "dishing it (smart ass sayings) out" the night before. They'd convinced me that I had little bugs crawling around on the top of my head, and I, myself, had wanted to crawl into a hole and never see them again. I was speed racing thoughts through my head as to how to get out of the house and hide, at least until the bugs were gone, when they told me that they were joking. If Larry had told me bugs were in my head, I would have simply dealt with it. But with them, I simply wanted to hide out, perhaps forever. And so, while I don't think the bugs in my hair joke increased my unfamiliar feeling, it certainly highlighted it.

Back in bed, to my "presentation mode" statement, Steve responded that he understood; that he was similarly worried he might say or do the wrong thing. He followed with the avowal that it took him about a year to get totally comfortable with Carlos, and I do know that that comfortable, familiar quality only comes with time... but I still miss it, and think perchance that we're trying to force it.

And so, on that order, perhaps it would have been better if I hadn't stayed the extra day. Yet I'm not alone in my thoughts, so that's actually more encouraging than one would think. When I talked to Steve a few hours ago, I was short with him. I called back to apologize for being a hair snippy, and he responded that he understood. We talked for a few minutes as I was walking down the isles in K-Mart, but basically we both agreed that things seem to be moving a bit fast. He assured me that he still liked me, and I knew exactly what he meant. It really has nothing to do with me or with him, but we're both trying too hard to force that comfortable, familiar feeling... and it's something you can only get with time.

So who knows, on one hand, I'm a little melancholy tonight as I'm no longer wearing rose colored glasses, but on the other hand, I'm actually a bit relieved that we're talking about it and that Steve is experiencing similar feelings.

Taking a step back, though, it is amazing how life continues to be a growth experience. As Steve pointed out this weekend, I've been keeping this journal for seven years now. You might think I'd done it all, have written about it all, but life continues to grow in new ways. I'm still liking it, still glad I'm moving to San Diego, and still happy to be me. For the rest, as always, time will tell.


On a note slightly related to that last paragraph, Steve gave me my very first hickey. (Yep, 25 and never had a hickey.)

Actually, that should be "my very first hickeys" : one on my chest and one on my right butt cheek.


February 5, 2001 - Monday

Last night, not only did the bloom fall from the rose, but the rose fell to floor and was stepped upon.

During our phone conversations yesterday, Steve seemed to be in angst, stressing over everything from credit card debt to the decision, or not, to move to San Diego. I, in turn, tried to point out how $5000 worth of credit card debt wasn't that big for a computer programmer making that amount each month, and how his decision to move or not was exactly that; his decision. I pointed out that he didn't like his current location or job, and that I did not know how he and I would turn out but that I thought he'd like San Diego far better than Silicon Valley nevertheless.

But, as the conversation continued, Steve told me that he was having doubts as to whether we were compatible due to my being sexually repressed. He went on to explain what he'd wanted to do, and I shot back that he never even asked or gave any indication. I didn't say no to his request: I didn't say anything... because he never asked. Moreover, I felt I was being more sexually adventurous than ever. True, this past weekend was the first time we'd had an orgasm in the other's presence, but he'd complimented me on how it was great that I wasn't overly body conscious (worried that he'd think I was too fat or that my dick wasn't big enough). I'd slept naked next to him. I gave him a blow job. I just didn't get it. How was I so sexually repressed that it'd merit a decision that we wouldn't work out... yet he never even asked me to do anything to which I said no?

So, by this point, 45 minutes or an hour into the conversation, I'd determined that Steve was making excuses... and accusing me of something of which I felt I was not guilty. I told him my canned response would be, "I like myself. I don't need this shit. Goodbye," but that I wasn't going to give him my canned response. Yet that was the thought going through my head. I mean, I was darn proud of myself in the sex department, feeling freer than I ever had been, and yeah, maybe I am a bit repressed, but I thought I was doing well. For him to summarily decide that we're not compatible because of that, whenever that hadn't even been discussed was just a load of hogwash.

So, anyway, we talked a bit longer before I hung up, completely disenchanted. He called back to apologize and to say that he still liked me, but it was like I still didn't get it. Sure, I'd thought we were taking things a little fast, but I hadn't found any reason to end it. I was having a nice time... was having a nice time.


This morning, I got e-mail from Steve:

Date: Mon, 5 Feb 2001 01:45:20 -0800 (PST)
Subject: well, no one's perfect...


I'm sorry. If someone that I barely knew had unjustly put me down for something about myself that I was trying to change, I'd be upset. In fact, I'd have a hard time letting it slide.

Like we talked about before, things are going really fast, and maybe you're right. Maybe this is some sort of defense mechanism to slow things down. All I can say is that I really like you (a lot) and had no intention of hurting you. If it was possible, I wish I could just rewind tonight and edit out the call that I made to you.

I don't want the stupid remark[s] that I made to end or change things between us. As you can see, I'm an extremely emotional person and sometimes my emotions get the best of me (which, is something that I need to work on too).

Anyway, I truly had a lot of fun this weekend, (especially during the sexy stuff) and I hope that I won't have to cancel my tickets for next week.

Call/msg me at work if you feel like talking.

talk to you later,

The "especially during the sexy stuff" rang out and stung like a air horn blown in my face. It couldn't have been that fun if I was so frigid that it merited saying that I was "sexually repressed" and that it was such a point as to stop seeing me.

I wrote back:


Just letting you know I got your e-mail... I'm still pretty much feeling like... you put me down... for something I don't feel I'm guilty of. And maybe I am sexually repressed, but damn, you should have seen me before. I was actually proud of myself... able to not worry about your pre-cum in my mouth (after that at home HIV test), to sleep naked with you, to just go for it on the living room floor... and you make me feel like shit.

If I weren't determined to not let it get to me, I'd be crying now. This is what I meant last night by "I like myself. I don't need this shit. Goodbye." So, knowing you were making excuses or not, it still stings. It still makes me doubt myself, in an area where I was already doubting.

So who knows... I'm off to San Diego to take some stuff and get the new keys.

Talk to you later,

As I drove down the road, little messages appeared on my phone...

  • Subject: so I'm really stupid - As u can see, I have issues. Issues about control, unrequited feelings, and whether or not I'm doing the right thing
  • Subject: so I'm really stupid II - I just wish I had thought about what I was saying last night. Cause this morning I woke up feeling like total shit
  • Subject: so I'm really stupid III - And reading your email made me realize how much I want you to be a part of my life. And I actually cried.
  • Subject: so I'm really stupid IV - i just hope you can forgive me.
  • Subject: so I'm really stupid V - i just hope we can get back to that 'dating' phase. where we send each other flowers and continue to dote on each o

We talked on the cell phone for about half an hour, too. And when I got back to my apartment in L.A., flowers were waiting.

We talked some more after I got them, leaving nothing neatly squared away. I think the best we can hope for now is to just try and forget the last 24 hours as much as possible. We both expressed ourselves and now it's just one of those things that time will, perchance, take care of.


February 7, 2001 - Wednesday

Things with Steve have returned to normal, but the big news in my life lately is that I'M IN SAN DIEGO!!! The movers came yesterday morning, and last night I slept here in my new apartment. Awesome, awesome, awesome!

This morning, though, I'm feeling just a hair overwhelmed at what to do next: clean the L.A. apartment, clean this apartment, unpack the boxes, or go buy furniture. The apartment in L.A. is paid for until the 26th, yet I'd like to get it (and it's requisite cleaning) off my list of things still needing my attention. The apartment here in San Diego is clean for the most part, but I need to go through myself and get everything sanitized. (I'm paranoid, I know it, but I can't stop myself nevertheless.)

And as to unpack now or go buy furniture, I can't figure out which one should be done first. If I unpack, where do the things go? If I buy furniture, where can I put it while the boxes are completely occupying the living room? I would guess that I'll unpack before buying furniture, after cleaning this apartment, after cleaning the one in L.A., but who knows.

I do know, though, that last night as I was driving to Bryce's place, I was thinking, "This is really living. I'm finally really living." Being on temporary mode for the past six months took quite the toll... I didn't even hang pictures or have any furniture. Moreover, most of my stuff was still in boxes at Larry's. Now, all my stuff is here; furniturewise, I've already got my nice leather couch again... And I'm planning on staying a while. I'm gonna learn this area better, make friends, and actually just enjoy life. I have no doubt about it... and it's SUCH a great feeling.


February 8, 2001 - Thursday

Today I started to unpack things here in San Diego, and I'm amazed at what I'm finding. Box after box contains things I'd completely forgotten: clothes, towels, clocks, blankets, videos, etc.. Indeed, some boxes labeled "Boston Stuff" haven't been opened in years, and I guess, unbeknownst to me, I've been buying all new clothes at Old Navy to replace the ones I left in boxes at Larry's. I had noticed how all my shirts bore the Old Navy logo, but I hadn't really thought as to what had happened to all the clothes I used to have. Now I know... and my wardrobe has tripled.

So, here I am, sitting in the floor of my new apartment, smiling at where life has taken me. Most Kentucky boys my age have hardly left the state. I've lived in Kentucky, Boston, L.A., and now San Diego.

Oh, and this morning, I figured out the answer to that unpack or buy furniture first question. I unpacked some, stacked the rest, and now there's ample space to hold the first round of desk, bed, dresser, and entertainment center.

The apartment in L.A. has been cleaned, digital cable and a cable modem are coming on Tuesday, and I'll be hitting IKEA this weekend for delivery next week.

Life is good.


February 13, 2001 - Tuesday

This past weekend, Steve flew down to San Diego, and by the time he left yesterday morning, tempers had flared and stress levels had peaked. Perhaps most telling is the physical manifestation of the mental strain for as I was drove away from the airport yesterday morning, I thought to myself how my shoulders felt like a taut rubber band, aching with pain and ever so close to the snapping point.

How did we get to that point? That's the tricky one and the one that gives me pause. In essence, Steve is a combination of computer nerd and bad boy, and like a mother taking care of kids, I enjoyed the childlike qualities for the first part of the trip. But, just like a mother taking care of kids, I was anxiety ridden and ready to scream 48 hours later, having dealt with demands to go to Mexico, with hostile takeover of the thermostat both in the apartment and in the car, and from constant farting and burping.

No doubt also causing the strain was the presence of Steve's ex-, Carlos, who flew down Saturday night to see San Diego as he'd almost certainly move here, too, if Steve does. It's one thing if I want it one temperature and Steve wants it another. It's another if I want it one temperature and Steve and Carlos want it another... but the temperature thing wasn't the issue. It was how they went about it.

Trying to illustrate the point to Steve, I told him that when I first visited his apartment in San Jose, I was cold. My teeth were chattering, but I didn't even say anything. Steve, on the other hand, fought me for control of the thermostat both in the car and in the apartment. I'd put it up, he'd put it down, I'd put it up, he'd put it down. And finally, at least five up-down's later, I gave in to a 70 degree compromise. Then, the next morning, I woke to find that the thermostat had been hijacked by Carlos after I got in the bed the night before. There is no FUCKING way that I'd hijack someone else's thermostat. It's THEIR house, not mine. Oh, and for what it's worth, Carlos was quite cold the next morning. It really baffles me, and of course, it's not about the temperature; it's the attitude. It's so much like dealing with four year olds.

Then, after I told Steve and Carlos how I was stressed out Sunday evening, Steve got mad at me... and acted FAR more like a four year old than he had previously. As we drove in the car, to go to a restaurant, where I figured Steve would calm down, he consistently tried to talk over Carlos, continually threw out insults, and seemed just one breath away from saying, "FUCK YOU! I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever you say bounces of me and stick to you." It was so obvious, I no longer even needed to say, "See Carlos, he is acting like a four year old."

As the night continued and we met Bryce, which had been arranged earlier in the day, things started to improve. Carlos and Bryce really hit it off and the feeling carried over as much as possible. It was still strained, still had moments of sheer hatred streaming from Steve's eyes, but it continued, for the most part, on a more pleasant track.

Finally, just before we went to bed, with Steve on the couch, Carlos on an inflatabed in the living room, and me on my inflatabed in the bedroom, Steve came in and we talked. Knowing that he was on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, I told him as delicately as possible that I really thought his behavior earlier in the night was due to a chemical imbalance in his brain. I said that 22 year olds wouldn't have behaved like he did in the car, not even the most immature of them. I tried to make him understand that it really was that level of behavior, and he responded that it was really hard for him to understand/believe because he couldn't see it himself. I followed by saying that even if I couldn't see something, if all my friends told me it was true, I'd have to think they might be right. We continued talking for the next few minutes, then he crawled into the bed with me and we feel asleep.

The next morning, things were strained yet amicable. I took Steve and Carlos to the San Diego airport, then drove on towards L.A. in an ineffectual attempt to de-stress.

Also, it's probably worth noting that even before the blow up in the car and before Carlos arrived, I said to Steve that I was having doubts about us being dating compatible. Yet on the other hand, it's probably also worth noting that last night, having not spoken to Steve all day, I sent him this e-mail:

Subject: Today...


I didn't like not talking to you today. It's like something's missing... and I want it back. I still have very serious doubts as to whether we're dating compatible, but I think not talking to you today has shown me in the very least that we're indubitably meant to be friends.

Missing you/Talk to you tomorrow,

Shortly thereafter, Steve called to say that he was having the same thoughts exactly. We talked for just a few minutes then I went to bed, exhausted and unsure what would happen next.

Now today, I'm still quite tired, my shoulders still feel like a taut rubber band, and I've still got no concrete grasp on what will happen next.


February 17, 2001 - Saturday

For the past couple of days, I've been unpacking and if not putting things away in newly bought furniture, at least sorting them into like categories for easy storage once the furniture has been purchased. Yet giving everything its place has not left me feeling resolute: It's left me doubting and a bit lonely.

I guess it really all started the other day when I got e-mail from Larry. It was just an e-mail, saying nothing substantial one way or the other... yet the sheer presence of it reminded me just how far my relationship with Larry has transformed. We were best friends, sharing everything, and now it's like he'd prefer every possible tie to be severed. The e-mail itself was to inform me that I'd received a jury duty notice at the house and to say that I should think about getting my server out of his office. It wasn't demanding, or terse, or hinting of hostility. It was simply, especially in the server part, indicative of a let's-move-on attitude.

Of course, moving the server is a hassle, but I felt as long as it was there, we were somehow connected. The same thing went for the DSL line at the house. While I haven't used it for months, I've continued to pay for it, postponing the bill switch and the move of the associated phone numbers (which I use for my company) at least partly because I didn't want to sever all ties. I could have moved the phone numbers to my apartment in L.A. and saved myself the $79.95/month for the DSL line, but I didn't want it to be 100% over. Indeed, I had a second line installed in the apartment just to have the numbers forwarded there. I wanted to keep the connection... but now it's obvious that it's no longer there and fading more with each passing day.

And today, as I was unpacking Boston boxes, I found a glass Larry stole the weekend I met him. That's happened a lot opening boxes; finding stuff long since forgotten. On one hand, it's nice to be reminded of those times, but on another, put plainly, it sucks. I've matured enough to realize that nothing stays the same, no matter how much you want it to remain unchanged, and knowing that helps make some things more understandable, but it doesn't generally help to make them more pleasant. Today, too, I found a sweatshirt I wore a lot with Chris, the red headed straight guy I feel in love with in high school. It, too, brought bittersweet memories.

Things continually change: I've got that concept.

What scares me though is what I learned in physics: As things change, they move towards chaos.

Click here for the next set of entries.

© 2001 Justin Clouse
Justin's Life...Justin's