The one that got away. A reflection.



All of us experienced it.  It all seemed perfect but somehow, somewhere along the way, it didn’t work out.  The reason could be anything.  That one reason could be because of something small or silly.  Or, it could be something that is huge that no matter how you try to fix it, it will never have a chance.  You know what I am talking about, right?

I have a story to tell.  Yes, I had a relationship way back in the past that is considered the most perfect person whom I could have ever had a relationship with.  Someone who, to this day, haunts me as if I should have given it another chance.

I was very young then.  I was only 22-years old when I met him.  I was way in the closet at that time that I rarely go out to bars or clubs even though I had all the opportunity to do so.  I was deep into my faith as a Christian and wondered if I should simply abandon my homosexuality and do something that would give my life meaning.  I have always wanted to become a priest ever since I can remember.  Having a relationship with another man was never a dream that I had.  I have always felt ashamed to be labeled as “gay” or “bakla”.  I tried my best not to disclose that I have an attraction for other men.  I kept it as a secret.

One night, I decided to go out to a famous club in Baltimore called The Hippo.  I remember being so afraid and naive that I chose to stay in a corner and watch everyone.  I had a couple of drinks so I decided to stand next to the doorway so I can see the people entering the club.   After a few minutes, a girl approached me and told me that her friend wants to find out what my name was.  She pointed to the other corner of the bar and I saw this guy, wearing a green sweater, hanging out with a few women by his side.  I thought he was cute so I smiled at him.  He smiled back and nodded for me as if asking me to go over where he was standing.  I walked over, talked with him and we hit it off.  I went home with him that night.

From that day, we were inseparable.  He had his own apartment in Baltimore and I would spend nights there on weekends and nights when I have no work the following day.  We talked all the time, and I would cook for him once in a while.  I told him how important my faith was for me and that I am a very religious person.  He even went to The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception with me one day and his reaction was something that I have never seen on anyone since.  As we walked into the shrine, his eyes welled up with tears (he’s not religious at all) and found so much beauty in the art and sculptures in the shrine that all he can say was, “This is so beautiful!”  He really appreciated the fact that I brought him there to have that experience.

We spent a lot of time together. I had keys to his apartment.  He met my mom.  He would even pay his respects by kissing my mom’s hand (a Filipino tradition) and say, “mano po”.  We had lots of fun together.  When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, he was the one that took me to the dentist and he drove me back to his apartment afterwards.  He gave me a small plant and bought me ice cream to help me cope with the pain.  He even carried me up to his place as I was still groggy from the medication.  The relationship would have been perfect except for one thing.  I, being a religious person, could not reconcile my faith with my sexuality.  I always felt guilty when I made love with him.   In the back of my mind, I will not be happy because I never really dreamt of being in a relationship.  I dreamt of serving God as a priest and that is what I wanted to do.

After six months, I had to make a decision.  As I was applying at a monastery in Washington, DC, I tried to distance myself from him.  I didn’t want to hurt him so I did it in a very subtle way.  We would sometimes fight because he felt that I was so distant and I wouldn’t tell him why.  I had to sit him down one day to tell him the reason why.  I had to tell him that it was not because of him but because of my confusion and my determination to find out if the monastery was the right place for me.  I told him that I will not be at rest until I do what I have to do and with this decision, I will have to end our relationship.

I can still remember like it was yesterday how we cried together as I handed him his apartment keys back.  We also watched the video of Amy Grant in Concert.  We cried and hugged each other tightly when the song, “Friends” came on.  He was the best person to have been with me at the time.  He accepted my decision even though it was very painful for him.  He didn’t want to stand in my way to finding out the real me and to realize a dream that I have always wanted.

We parted ways.  I went on to go to the monastery and had a discovery experience in the meantime.  While I was there, I realized that as a gay man, I cannot stay in a place where there are good, spiritual, and beautiful men.  I knew that if I did, it will only be a matter of time before I fell for one of them and break the vow of celibacy.  I had to say no to the institution I pursued for so long.  I left.

I moved away.  I went to New York and I found a job there.  I did not keep in touch with him nor did he keep in touch with me.  But I always thought of him.  I wondered what he was doing and where he is all the time.  After two years of being in New York, I had to go back to Maryland.  I requested a transfer and it was granted.  As soon as I got back to Maryland, I tried contacting him.  I only knew the address of his cousin where I drove to drop a letter off and provide him my contact information.

Brian called me right away.  We were talking on the phone when I asked him if we could go for coffee sometime.  He told me that he would like that.  He also told me that he is seeing a Brazilian guy. I said that it was fine.  I was only asking him as a friend.  He said that the guy isn’t working at the moment because he did not have the proper papers to allow him to work.  By that, I made a comment that may have caused Brian to get upset.  I told him that I know many people who do not have papers but they work.  They clean houses, they baby sit children, they do something.  But they don’t just sit around.  That statement made Brian upset that he told me he had to go.  He did not give me his phone number.  And that was the last time I heard of him.

Every year, I kick myself for saying that.  It was a guilt I carried for a long time.  I never meant anything with what I said but I guess it did sound pompous.  That was 26-years ago.  When social media became available, I searched for him.  There are millions of Brians in Baltimore.  I don’t even know whether he still lived in Baltimore or not.  I’ve moved to several states already.  I have lived in California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.  Yet, I was not successful in tracing him down.  Did Brian every think of me?  Did he search for me?  Whatever happened to him and his Brazilian boyfriend?

You won’t believe what happened just recently?  It has to be divine intervention as I never though that I would ever connect with him again.

You will have to read my next post as I tell you the story that is hard to believe, even for me.

Until next time…


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