Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Italian Village

Gabbie and I saw each other every day, except one, from Christmas until January 3rd when I went back to school.

Every meeting was instigated by her and although I tried to make excuses not to meet, I soon realized that I either needed to break up with her or continue to see her whenever she asked---at least until I left for school. I knew that once I was thousands of miles away for more than six months, Gabbie's infatuation with me would fade. Then I could break up with her and it would be easier for both of us.

When we said our goodbyes on January 3rd, I'll admit that I was somewhat emotional. Gabbie wept for nearly an hour before we parted and seeing her that sad made me sad too. But I still couldn't wait to go. I loved school, hated living with my parents, and was really looking forward to some freedom from Gabbie.

I was at school for less than a day before Gabbie called. At the time it was a big deal to call long distance---a 15 minute phone call cost nearly four times as much as a gallon of gas. She wanted to know how I was, how everything was going, etc. I gave her my update and quietly wished that she would not call very often.

But then she called three more times that week and sent a letter.

What am I going to do about this girl? I asked myself.

What could I do? Every time she called she was very sweet. How could I possibly just say it was over, without any notice or reason? I couldn't tell her I was gay. I had already lied about that. And, even if I did decide to fess up then I would be the most cruel person ever. Imagine being dumped by three different gay boyfriends by the age of 20?

What was I going to do??!I kept asking myself.

The answer? Continue to respond to her daily phone calls and letters.

***

In the beginning of March she told me, "My mom is so mad at me. My last two phone bills have been more than three hundred dollars each."

Ah, a perfect excuse! "Maybe you shouldn't call as much. Maybe once every few days or something so the bill isn't so high."

"Maybe..."

She kept calling every day.

A few days later she told me, "I have a surprise for you!"

"What?"

"I have enough money saved to buy you a ticket home for Spring Break."

"Really? You shouldn't do that. You should pay your mom for all the phone bills. I've never come home for Spring Break before. It's ok, really. Besides, I don't want to spend any more time with my parents than I have to."

"You're not going to see your parents! You're coming to see me. In fact, you're not even going to tell your parents. You'll be staying with me."

"Um...well...ok."

***

On the plane to California for Spring Break I carefully reviewed my options. I mean, this was crazy! My plan to lay low and let our relationship fizzle had completely failed. Never in my life would I have guessed that Gabbie would call so much and write every day and buy plane tickets for me to come see her. And there was the problem...if she liked me that much how could I tell her that she had it all wrong? How could I tell her that our whole relationship was a lie and that it had completely snowballed beyond my expectations simply because I didn't want to admit to her that I was gay?

I didn't have a good answer. The best I could do was to wait for an opportunity to put some doubt in her head about the future of our relationship.

When Gabbie greeted me at the airport she wore the biggest smile and she squeezed me so tightly that I could barely breathe. In a way, it was really good to see her because it was awesome to be cared about so much. It was nice to be wanted.

As we walked through the airport and to the parking lot she whispered to me, "I want to sleep with you. I want us to do it."

I couldn't help but to grin widely.

Before we got to her dorm room we grabbed some fast food and toured her school's campus. Gabbie excitedly introduced me to everyone we saw, "This is the mystery boyfriend I keep talking about!" Eventually we settled into her room at around 9:30pm.

"Well here we are---I'm going to take a shower. Light some candles for us. This will be quite a romantic night together!"

The prospect of putting doubts in Gabbie's head was quickly pushed aside by thoughts of sex. Real sex, with a woman. How could I turn that experience down? I mean, when would I ever have this opportunity again?

Gabbie put a lot of effort into making the night special. Champagne. Candles. Incense. Soft music. Satin sheets. The actual sex was not as intense as I had hoped. Maybe my expectations were too high. Also, when I tried to penetrate her she went rigid with pain. Even when she said it didn't hurt "that bad" all I could think about was trying to be as gentle as possible. I wanted her to enjoy it as much as I did. In the end, however, I was the only one who got off. "It's ok baby. I'm really sore, it's not going to happen. I know the first time usually hurts so next time will be better."

The next morning she was still sore but we did it again that night. She came that time but I found it difficult to truly relax because I was afraid of hurting her.

All in all, my first experience with fucking a virgin was that the idea was much better than reality.

By the end of the week, Gabbie complained less about the pain. Overall it was a good week. No school to worry about, just sex and parties.

On the airplane trip back to school I realized that my attitude toward Gabbie had shifted somewhat during the week. The fact that she decided to lose her virginity to me made me rethink our relationship. I knew that her father had studied to be a priest for 13 years and that she adored him. Therefore, for her to have sex before being married was a huge sacrifice. Also, it wasn't like I was her first boyfriend. Beside the two gay ones she had dated a number of straight guys, including an older Australian she had met the previous summer. But none of those guys was worthy. Apparently I was.

Her sacrifice made me think: what had I done to deserve such adoration? I cheated on her with a guy in the first month. I only masturbated to thoughts of guys. I was annoyed with her constant phone calls and tendency to smother me.

The truth was, I was a major asshole. I was not worthy.

I resolved to be a better person and to be more patient and less negative about Gabbie. As in England, I decided to take each day as it came and to enjoy the positive aspects of having a partner.

Gabbie continued to call me every day at school. I was careful to never say anything to encourage her, but I stopped trying to think of ways to escape.

When summer arrived I had no choice but to stay with my parents. One perk was that I got to work with Qais again. I wrote to him often when I was in England; I told him all about my travels and my experiences with the Germans-who-don't-talk-to-you-in-gay-bars. I also told him about Gabbie.

When I saw Qais for the first time in months he was as nice as always---until we were alone. Then he teased me and said, "So are you not gay anymore?"

"Yes, I am. You know how that works. Once a fag, always a fag." He laughed.

For the summer, Gabbie shared an apartment with two friends. The friends were superb roommates because they were never in the apartment. Gabbie and I pretty much had it to ourselves. And almost every free moment I had, Gabbie made sure that we spent it together. She was just as clingy in California as she had been in England.

Speaking of England, Gabbie told me that she brought so many full suitcases back from there because of the "great shopping." It turned out that Gabbie liked shopping just about anywhere. Other than drinking it was her favorite recreational activity. I had no objections to the drinking but the shopping I had to tolerate. Not that I had a choice. If she announced that we were going shopping, that's what we did.

Her favorite things to shop for were shoes, purses, and jewelry. I could understand why she wanted to look at every day items like purses and shoes but the jewelry I didn't get. She would look at rings and say things like "I want a thin band with at least a one carat solitaire stone." And, although my reply was "Uh huh", what I really wanted to say was "I hope you don't think that I am going to give you a ring!"

On one particular Saturday in early July we stopped at five different jewelry stores. I had had enough. "Gabbie, why do we keep looking at all these rings?"

"They're engagement rings. They're for, you know, when we get engaged."

"I didn't know we were getting engaged."

"Well, I can't sit around waiting forever. Every time I go out lots of guys want to talk to me you know."

"What am I supposed to say to that?"

"Say whatever you want. But if we are not engaged by the end of this month, it's over. I can't wait forever."

"Um...ok. I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to say about that."

"Think it over. The clock is ticking."

At least two more times in the following week she reminded me that she was serious: I had to either propose or she'd find another boyfriend.

I was not prepared for that pressure. And I couldn't talk to anyone about it. All my friends at school---and especially Qais---they would all tell me that this was ridiculous. I already knew that. What I didn't know was how to handle the situation.

In the course of evaluating my options I asked myself an easy question: did I want to be engaged? No. There was no doubt about that.

The more difficult question was: did I want to break-up with Gabbie? If I set my sexuality aside, I had to admit that I liked being with her. She was fun and interesting--always an intellectual challenge. We didn't really disagree about anything or argue. She wasn't a perfect person but all things considered I really did like her. The fact that I, without a doubt, hungered for sex with men and was indifferent about women, was the only reason that I would want to break up.

The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got about Gabbie's ultimatum. It wasn't right, it wasn't fair...I really felt unprepared to make such a big decision. I needed more time to figure things out. Yes, I knew I was gay but my sexuality did not define me. Gabbie and I were a good match but I had no idea how to reconcile the fact that I lusted for men far more than I lusted for her.

The pressure of the decision hanging over me got to be too much. I knew all the facts, I knew how I felt. I just had to make a decision and move forward.

Time is the problem, I decided. I need more time.

I needed to find a way to give myself more time to figure out what I wanted. Suddenly the answer came to me: I'll give her the ring but tell her that I'm not ready to set a date.

***

In the 1920s the northern, rural part of California was a popular summer vacation destination for San Francisco residents. Hordes of people, especially Italians and the Irish, would pack up their families, travel three hours north and stay for a few weeks in clusters of small cabins.

At that time Gabbie's grandparents began a family tradition of going to Lake County every summer. Her mother had gone every year of her life, as had Gabbie. When Gabbie told me that her parents had invited me to join them for a weekend at the lake, I decided to bring the ring with me. I knew it was a special place to Gabbie so maybe it was the place where I should give the ring to her.

We arrived at the "Italian Village" shortly before noon on a Saturday. Gabbie was thrilled to have me there. She pulled me around the whole resort, from cabin to cabin, introducing me to every adult she could find. By the time we finished the tour, lunch was ready; Gabbie's grandmother served the family cold sandwiches, Italian style.

After lunch we swam in the pool for hours, until about 4pm. Around then all the older Italian men in the camp converged on the resort's central kitchen and started peeling potatoes and slicing meat.

Dinner was communal, around 75 people from 18 cabins. Salad, antipasto, ravioli, garlic bread, veal scallopini, pound cake for dessert, and of course, coffee. I had never eaten a home-cooked meal like that before. I loved it.

After the dinner clean-up all the older people went back to their cabins. The younger ones mostly sat on their cabin's front porch and talked, or played cards, or yelled at their kids.

Gabbie asked me, "Want to go for a walk?"

"Ok."

We had been around people all day long so the walk in the moonlight was our first opportunity to be alone. This is my chance to give her the ring. Or so I thought. The problem was that we were walking in almost complete darkness. How could I propose to someone I couldn't even see?

After about twenty minutes Gabbie said that we should turn back. Eventually, as we walked toward the resort, the lights from the cabins became brighter and brighter. Near the entrance of the resort was a brightly lit bocce court. No one was playing.
When we drew near, I pulled her into the court and nervously fingered the ring in my pocket.

"Gabbie, I have to talk to you."

"What?"

"I, um..." I pulled the ring from my pocket but kept it hidden in my hand. "I was wondering..." I got down on one knee, while still holding her hand. "..if you would marry me?" I opened my hand to show her the ring.

As I said those words, I watched her expressions change and reveal a series of emotions. First she looked embarrassed, then she looked effervescent, then she looked afraid.

"No."

"You won't marry me?!"

"No. You don't mean it."

I was stunned.

1 comment:

  1. damn I didnt see that coming either - not sure I could tell my story as well as you are

    ReplyDelete