Before I got to Jim's apartment I slipped off my wedding ring and pushed it deep into my pocket.
I hadn't told him that I was married because I didn't want him to reject me before we actually met. Based on our letters and the phone conversation, I really hoped we would be a good match.
Jim answered the door immediately after I knocked. The very first thing I noticed was that he was even better looking in person than in his picture. He looked similar to Elijah Wood in this picture, except his eyes were brown and he had no sideburns.
One of the first things that impressed me about him was his maturity. He was only 20 so he easily could have been geeky or flighty or hyper. Instead he was composed and friendly. I instantly liked him.
He welcomed me into his apartment, which was sparsely furnished. As I entered I saw that we weren't alone. Jim introduced me to his roommate, Wes, who was a friend from school. The three of us stood in the living room for a few minutes, making small talk. Then Jim said, "Let me give you a tour."
The apartment was a standard two bedroom with a kitchen and living room so there wasn't a lot to tour. Once we were out of earshot of Wes Jim whispered, "I'm sorry. I didn't know he was going to be here. Can we go somewhere?"
I had expected to be alone with Jim so it was easy to answer his question, "Sure. Let's go."
Jim lived about 30 minutes from me in a part of the Bay Area that I had never been. When he asked if we could go somewhere, I really had no idea where to go. Although I was very excited about our date, I hadn’t given any thought to what we would actually do. I just wanted to get to know him; I wanted to see if we could be good together.
We said goodbye to Wes and hopped into my car. Then I just drove.
Alone together at last, our conversation began very simply: Did he like living in Benicia? Did he have a job? Did I get many replies to my ad? What kind of work did I do?
Jim was very open and easy to talk to; our conversation flowed effortlessly. The only problem was that as we started to get more personal I realized that it was going to be hard not to talk about Gabbie. The best solution, I decided, was to keep the conversation focused on Jim and his life.
After about twenty minutes of driving aimlessly, I confessed to Jim, “I’ve never been to Benicia before, so I have no idea where we can go to talk. Do you know of a place?”
He thought for a minute and then said, “A few weeks ago I went hiking in a regional park not far from here. I think it’s back the other way, though.”
When we got to the park's entrance, a long metal gate blocked the road. It was late summer and the sun was setting, meaning that it was after 8pm. The park closed at 7.
"Think it would be ok if we parked here and talked?"
"It'll probably be ok. If the police come, we might have to move."
I parked the car as far off the road as I could then turned to Jim and said, "Tell me everything about you."
And that is exactly what he did.
He started by telling me that he had not started at UC Berkeley yet. He was a transfer student and was only a few days away from his first semester there.
He told me that he had been living with his grandparents in Napa while he went to a junior college there. He and Wes had only recently become roommates but they had met at school. Wes did not know he was gay but Jim wanted to tell him soon.
We talked about many other things: about his childhood; about his experiences with men (very few); about what he hoped to find in a relationship; about his hobbies and interests; and about his plans after he graduated from Berkeley.
The most consequential part of himself that he shared had to do with his family. He had grown up in New Jersey but what brought him to California to live with his grandparents was the failure of his parents' marriage. They divorced while he was in high school and the split was vicious.
He explained in vivid detail how both of his parents used him as a pawn to hurt the other, all without any regard to him. It was an awful situation and he couldn't wait to leave as soon as he graduated.
Jim's parents' divorce was obviously very fresh and very painful to him. I was surprised that he was able to talk openly about his suffering; I had spent my entire life internalizing anything bad that had ever happened to me. His naked honesty made him all the more appealing; the more he shared, the more I liked him.
Eventually our conversation reached a natural lull and I debated whether I should take him home. It was already past 10pm on a weeknight---but I didn't want our night to end; I felt we had already developed an intimate bond, a connection.
The way he looked at me, I think he felt it too.
As I thought about how adorable and smart and charming he was, I couldn't help but to gaze into his deep brown eyes and grin like a fool.
When he smiled back at me, my insides went all gooey.
Breaking the silence Jim reached over, took my hand and said, "Now tell me all about you."
Normally I would have given a short but polite answer to such a question. Over the years hiding my sexuality had evolved into hiding myself. The reflex to conceal was so automatic that I almost didn't know how to be open about any part of myself. But Jim's warmth made me feel unusually secure; somehow he had disarmed my natural defensiveness. Once I started to talk, I surprised myself as the words just started to flow.
I told Jim how I had known from age 12 that I was gay; how I had tried to convince myself otherwise; how I had accepted it---and myself---less than a year later; how I was afraid to come out; how I met Brian; how wonderful it was to have a boyfriend; how sad it was to lose one; how much I loved college; how I had studied in Oxford; how I had...
As I came to the next part of my story, the part where Gabbie dominated, I had to make a decision. I had to decide whether I should go with my natural instinct to hide the truth, or, I had break free of my fear of rejection and be honest.
I decided, for a change, to be honest.
"I...I'm sorry Jim. I really like you and I'd like to spend more time with you but I have to apologize for not telling you sooner...I'm married."
Jim looked at me in stunned silence, waiting for me to continue.
I told him about meeting Gabbie; about how I didn't expect us to stay together in England; about how I wanted to break up several times in college but couldn't do it; about how she gave me the ultimatum to marry her.
When I got to that part Jim practically jumped from his seat. "I can't believe she did that! That is so unfair and manipulative!"
As I told him the rest of my story, Jim expressed more and more outrage at her---and more support for me.
In fact, he told me everything I had ever wanted another guy to tell me: He told me how great I was; how lucky Gabbie was to have me; how terrible and manipulative she was; how I should never have gotten married.
At the end of my story he asked, "So what are you going to do now Cameron? I like you. I'd like to get to know you better. But you're living a lie."
"I know I am."
He looked at me for a minute, then said, "If you are willing to come out to her, I will absolutely support you. I will be with you every step of the way. But I can't have a secret relationship with someone who is married."
Jim's promise to stand by me was all I needed to hear.
I was so overwhelmed by years of silent frustration with Gabbie that when Jim offered his firm commitment, my interior struggle to be strong and bear my burden utterly collapsed. I was so overcome with emotion that I broke down into tears.
I was 15 when I last cried; at the time I was seriously thinking about killing myself.
Jim pulled me close and held me tight while I cried freely for a moment.
For years I had held back; I had kept my frustrations and unhappiness deeply contained. His embrace gave me the strength to be weak.
With his patient soothing, I soon regained control. When I did, I found that I was exhausted. But very happy.
"Jim...if you are willing to help me---the guy you just met a few hours ago...if you are willing to help me through this...I will tell her. I will tell her the truth."
"Cam, I'll do it. I'll be there for you."
"Oh God, you're really amazing."
I was delirious, euphoric.
I couldn't stop looking at him.
I loved touching him and holding his hands.
I loved when he hugged me---I had never, ever known how good it could feel to be hugged by a man.
Jim had made it all possible.
"Jim, you are the best. You are a great person, you really are. I have to tell you, I can't take my eyes off you. I can't stop wanting to touch you. I...I really want to kiss you so very badly."
My 20 year old savior smiled from ear to ear.
Then he closed his eyes and leaned in toward me.
The instant our lips touched, I was filled with an intense, burning desire. I couldn't love him---I had only just met him, but my body shook with an animal need to show him how incredibly grateful I felt to have him help me.
Within minutes I had peeled half of Jim's clothes off and was ferociously sucking his dick as if it possessed the most precious liquid that had ever existed. Nothing I could do for Jim was enough. I had to give him the most extreme pleasure of his life.
As I felt his warm cum coat the back of my mouth, I was already shaking with pre-orgasmic intensity. Jim took me into his mouth and within two or three thrusts I unloaded into him.
It took a full five minutes for me to recover from the intensity of our tryst.
Once I recovered, reality took over. I looked at my watch. It was 12:20am.
"Jim. My god, it's so late. I had no idea. I've got to get you home."
I took Jim home and we gave each other a warm, tight hug goodbye. I promised that I would call him the next day.
On the way back to my house I checked the time and realized that the date had changed. It was now my 26th birthday. How fitting to meet Jim on my birthday. He is best present I could ever receive.
By the time I pulled into the parking lot it was a few minutes past 1:30am. The time had completely gotten away from me and now I was going to have to explain to Gabbie where I was.
I didn't know what I was going to say.
When I entered the house, all the lights were on and I heard Gabbie frantically say into the phone, "He's ok! He's here now. I'll call you back."
To me Gabbie shrieked, "WHERE have you BEEN? Are you ok??? WHY are you so late?"
"I'm fine. Just tired. It's pretty late, we should go to bed now."
"Do you even KNOW what time it is? WHERE have you been?"
"Um. Well, it's late. I know that. I...I've just been out driving."
"DRIVING?! Driving WHERE?"
"Just, um, you know...around."
"WHY were you driving around at 2 in the morning?!"
"Well....I, I was thinking."
"THINKING ABOUT WHAT?!!"
"Just, you know, things. It's my birthday and so I was driving and thinking."
"TELL ME WHAT YOU WERE THINKING ABOUT!"
We went in circles for a while longer. I tried to say as little as possible and she tried to get me to say more. Finally, out of sheer frustration she was screaming at me to tell her what was wrong. It was clear that she was not going to relent and I couldn't think of a good lie that she would accept. Besides...I had promised Jim that I would tell her the truth.
"I AM NOT GOING TO STOP ASKING YOU WHAT IS WRONG UNTIL YOU GIVE ME A REAL ANSWER!"
I looked up from the spot on the floor that I had been staring at for twenty minutes.
I looked at her tear-stained, frustrated face, and I said, softly, "I'm gay."
Then, suddenly pissed that I'd cracked under pressure, I said angrily, "THERE! Are you happy now? Finally you know the truth!"
She collapsed on the floor in tears, sobbing uncontrollably.