The word of the day is sex. Parents and family members of certain discretions, turn away from this article because I am about to be extremely candid and the last thing I want is for you to look at me in a certain way once the family reunion comes around. Or you can read on; I am not your boss and it is your mind that is about to be rewired. Happy Reading!
*Previously posted on Elite Daily.*
It’s an old tale about a fork in the road; honestly, that’s about as much as I can recall. I feel it has something to do with our decisions and how we have to commit to those decisions, even if we end up regretting them in the end. I could have also started with that poem by Robert Frost, but that’s too often misinterpreted, so I’d rather not bring it into the mix. I could easily droll on about the impact of our decisions and the importance of thinking something through, but I feel that that issue is something so often represented in the decision-making trope that it rarely ever needs repeating. In fact, I firmly believe that the mere repetition of it makes it, not only redundant, but less impactful. There is a beginning, middle, and end to everything, and I want to discuss the middle; the path after the decision is made.
As of late, I have gone through a lot of different life changing experiences: I graduated college, I had a major break up, I came out as gay to the world, I cut all my hair off, and I moved back home. I admit, some are much more trivial than others, but life changing nonetheless. After having made these decisions, I started walking down this path; at times it was riddled with felled trees and moss and mud, while other times it had a beautiful cerulean ocean that stretched for miles into the sunset. But along this path I chose to make, there came the inevitability of unwanted scenery. What I mean by that is, I could still see everyone else around me on their own paths.
Some went at glacial speeds while others appeared as if they couldn’t stop moving. I started moving slower so I could compare my place to theirs. Was I moving faster than those behind me? Why wasn’t I catching up to those already miles ahead? That guy over there has a better view of the ocean, why didn’t I take that route? All of these questions never brought me answers. Before I knew it, I was on the side of my path, letting those behind me get in front and those in front disappear from my view. I was so aware of everything else, I lost sight of what I was doing. I cared way too damn much about the trivialities of people I wouldn’t ever see again.
If there’s one thing post-grad life can teach you, it’s that you can’t regret the major you chose in college. You can’t regret the decision you made four years prior, because a part of you, deep down, chose to commit to it and not one part of you ever let you give up on it for four years. Thing is, there will always be someone in front of you, someone behind you, and someone next to you. And if you keep comparing and contrasting and dwelling on pointless nuances, you’re not going to be happy. You’re not going to move.
Different choices bear different paths and the path that we choose to take may be more difficult than others. It may not reward us with the same kind of benefits and privileges and it may even add weights to our ankles as we forge our paths. As sad as it is, we are able to see those paths everywhere: on social media, in real life, or on television; and we are somehow inclined to exaggerate and emphasize these so-called success and compare it to ourselves. In essence, we never feel good enough.
Truth is, no one else matters. At that point, yes, it sucks. There’s no need to invalidate that feeling, but that moment isn’t forever. That moment of disappointment is not a defining moment, the defining moment is when you decide to get back up, put on some horse blinders and keep moving. So here I am to tell you to stop comparing your path, and to move forward dammit, because there’s a lot of ground to cover.
disclaimer: It’s rare that I ever feel victimized for who I am. For that, I am grateful and privileged. Every day people are judged and persecuted for actively portraying to the real world who they are and that’s a terrible injustice. I felt like it was just to recognize this fact before I go into this nonsensical anecdote because not everyone has it so easy.
It was the night of my cousin’s birthday party; with music resonating and wine in abundance, the night was set to be one that we’d probably remember. But first, a little lesson on what kind of party this was. It was one of those special birthday parties, not unlike a cotillion or a quinceañera. In the Filipino tradition, when a young woman turns eighteen it’s called a debut. When a Filipina decides to have a debut, they typically have what’s called a ‘court.’ A set of nine couples (totaling eighteen) to be her posse, and a set of eighteen ‘candles’ (close female-identifying friends and family members who recount stories of the celebrant) and ‘roses’ (close male-identifying friends and family members who dance with the celebrant). I was one of her roses.
Lesson over, back to the story.
The night goes off without a hitch. The wine had hit me in the right spot and I’m about as loose as I chose to be (it was my cousin’s birthday after all, so I didn’t want to unleash anything I’d regret the next morning. I know how to keep myself tamed). The roses all go up one at a time and dance with her. The music choices switch with every other dancer to keep the audience interested and I am about as nervous as all hell for a reason I can’t seem to remember. Regardless, my dance with my cousin isn’t the main plot of the story, just the foundation. Sorry I couldn’t tell you all of a terrible incident wherein I step on her dress and send her careening into the three-tier cake. I’m a pretty decent dancer and that would never happen on my watch.
I dance with her for a few seconds, wow the audience with an unexpected twirl of my cousin, and walk off to where the rest of the men are standing. Now we are getting somewhere. The last man makes his way to the hoard of men awkwardly canoodling at the end of the dance floor and the photographer asks for a group shot. Not uncommon. As we scoot together to fit in the frame of the camera, one of my cousin’s friends (I assume) puts his arm around me and promptly says, “No homo, bro. No homo.”
Naturally, this wouldn’t and doesn’t offend me. It’s essentially harmless. But with the wine flowing and my mind racing, I was able to trace this thing all the way out into a full tirade in my head.
“Excuse me, person who I don’t even know, but that’s pretty regressive. ‘No Homo?’ Right, because your armpit in such close proximity to my shoulder would release a secret homosexualizing pheromone that (unless neutralized by the phrase ‘No Homo’) would make you irresistible to me. Let’s not even acknowledge the fact that I do identify as a gay man, because I was gay before I met you and your arm isn’t what ‘turned me’ if that’s what you think you’re capable of. In your saying this phrase, it makes me think that you’re trying to repel me like I’m a case of the cooties. ‘Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot, now you have a lot of explaining to do cause I queer, I’m here and I’ll fight you if I have to.’ Furthermore, be inclusive. Who cares if you’re being chummy with another guy, it’s essentially what you all do in a locker room together when you’re doing sports things. It’s a picture, shut up, smile, and move on with your life…You’re not even that cute, so there. And don’t bro me, if you don’t know me.”
Let’s note that this rant lasted the entirety of the picture taking process, which was much longer than it should’ve been and I never saw him again.
Moral of the story is: Words may not hold the intention of hurting someone, but they can still hold weight that can trigger something in someone. Watch what you say and let ‘No Homo’ die. It’s not manly or cool, it’s just sad.
Take a second and turn back the clock. Your first day of college. Your last day of high school. Your kindergarten graduation. Your last relationship. If you could, would you go back to those moments with the full consciousness you now possess and attempt to notice what you couldn’t before? If you could go back, would you?
There are specific moments, like prom or a breakup or graduation, where I’d think about seeing it all from a different perspective. Would I have enjoyed prom more if I had danced on a different side of the room, would I have been happier hugging different people at graduation, would I have seen the warning signs before it all blew up in my face? But what I’ve come to realize in all of this retrospection is that things are never what they were. In the moment, you’re greedy and self-righteous. You don’t think because there simply isn’t any time. You dance where you danced because there was free space, you hugged the people you did because they’re the ones that mattered at the time, you said he was an ass because at the time you couldn’t fathom to see it from a different perspective. Only in time do we realize that things begin to change, because we are changing. We’re growing up. Congratulations, you’re an adult. I suppose it then becomes the question of, is it worth going back?
As of late, I get these flashbacks to the happy little moments. Sharing a joke with a friend in class, noticing the exact moment I felt love for this person, and the absolute joy of hearing my name as I accepted my diploma case (sorry to break it to you kids, when you graduate you just get the case and then wait four to six weeks for a diploma to come in the mail).
In a way, I would want to go back for those moments. The ones that made my heart flutter, my eyes water, and my hands twitch. Those are the ones worth it. If I could bottle those feelings up and save them for a bad day, life wouldn’t feel so bogged down. The other ones make me wonder why I would pose such a broad question. Who would want to subject themselves to a torturous moment? No one wants to see their heart break in front of them or see their friends drift off into nothingness. That’s just terrible. It may make for a great Oscar worthy scene in a movie, but there’s no space for such torment in the real world.
Everyday we should strive to be happier than we were the day before.
Let me ask you again, dear reader:
Would you go back? Is it worth going back?
For eighteen years, I was a follower.
I’m not sure if it was the way I looked, the way I acted, or the way I talked; as far back as I can remember, the people around me have made my decisions. Not in some executive assistant type of manner, rather in one of condescension, as if they know me better than me. I wasn’t awarded the stereotypical, coming-of-age story arc every “twenty-five year old actor playing a sixteen year old” character got. I was told what I should wear, what classes I should be taking, and even what girl to date.
Oh yes, I cannot give myself the much coveted title of “Gold Star Gay,” because I have dated women in the past (two of them, in fact). Even so, the latter of the two relationships almost ended in utter disaster, due to the fact that it was built upon the fact that my friends told me to date her. They wouldn’t shut up about it; day in and day out, they would say: “You two are always hanging out together and you’re both so cute. You’d make a cute couple. Go for it. Ask her out!” Lo and behold, young, impressionable Jason said “Okay!” and asked out his poor girl and wasted a few months of her life. Months where she could’ve dated someone that actively and independently thought about dating her and wasn’t egged on by his friends to date her.
Oh, and someone who wasn’t gay. Granted, I didn’t really know at the time, so I think I should let that one go.
Even in the vein of my career (yes, I am going to touch on this top as frequently as possible until I am actually employed), family members and friends and ex-supervisors have told me what I should be doing with my life, just because I’m good at it. By such a logic, I should begin my career in the ever-affluent path of Netflix bingeing. Lord knows I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.
Here are several, aggregated commands I’ve received in the past months:
Relative: “You should teach English in another country! It has good pay and is what you should be doing.”
Immediate Family Member: “You were an RA, right? Here’s this student life coordinator position. You need your M.A. and ten years of experience, but it can’t hurt to apply!”
Ex-Supervisor: “You were a great RA. YOU SHOULD BE IN STUDENT AFFAIRS. IT WAS MEANT FOR YOU. GO TO GRAD SCHOOL AND JOIN STUDENT AFFAIRS. #RAFORLYFE #STUDENTAFFAIRS #jointhecult.”
It gets tiring every now and then, but you learn to put up with it and tune out the unsavory ones. Like most posts, there really isn’t an answer or reason for this being here. Mostly because I don’t know who I am.
I’m twenty-two for fucks sake. I shouldn’t know a lot of things. Above all else, I still have a lot more to discover before I ever have to ask myself that question. As for being a follower; well, I guess you can say that I’ve learned to take the lead.
When I went away from college, I decided to leave any problem or issue that happened at home, at home. For four years, I chose to focus on myself and what I was doing and where I was going. What I didn’t know at the time was that at the end of those four years, that was exactly where I’d end up: back at home. So imagine my surprise upon entering my old room and realizing that the place where I was at that moment, was no longer the same place I left.
There was an odd air of tension; not unlike those moments when you walk into a room and realize that the people in there were just talking about you. It wasn’t that I felt victimized, it was more like a huge battle had happened and I so happened to walk into the scattered remnants of bodies and cannon fodder. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like the home I once knew.
For weeks after, I would go on mini rants about how this “new” home I somehow wandered back to was dysfunctional and “not normal.” The entirety of my college career, I could calculate that I went home no more than thirty times and the home I would come back to, was unchanged. A façade. Smoke and mirrors. If you would like more cliches, I’m sure I can fabricate some. The wools were pulled over my eyes (there you go). I’d walk through the garage door to happy faces and welcome back hugs, completely unaware that anything had happened or anyone had just fucked up big time.
This blissful ignorance kept me in check for four years. It held itself together in the form of a dam, keeping the waters of “dysfunction” at bay until I found myself in a semi-permanent position. At that point, the employees quit and the dam was demolished. The waters of truth overwhelmed me in one fell swoop and I had to learn how to swim in less than five seconds.
I’ve been home for a little over a month and what I realized was that the idea of a normal family is just what society wants us to believe a family is (I know i’ve written on social constructionism before, but at the time of this realization, it had decided to take a backseat). Every family has to be The Brady Bunch; no drama, no fuck ups, no bumps. Then you realize, no family is The Brady Bunch. I’m just upset that it took me so long to realize that not one family is really exempt from this. Everyone is affected. It doesn’t make my family any less of one than my neighbors and it doesn’t make me any happier that someone else out there probably has a much dire situation than my own. Fact of the matter is, in this world, normalcy is having dysfunction.
Anything functioning is simply a façade.
One day, I want to get married. This much is true.
Being twenty-two, I am of course pondering this as a legitimate possibility. Having a husband to hold with whom I can begin a family; what twenty-two year old isn’t thinking of that (hint: most twenty-two year olds aren’t thinking about that, so let’s call me a special case and move on)? It hasn’t been until recently that I have seriously delved into the thought of marriage. Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t even received equitable rights if I were to marry someone. Now that I have the option and the freedom to do so, I have one serious question to ask: Whose last name do we take?
It’s a silly thing to wonder, isn’t it? For most people, it’s simple: take the last name of your husband. Done deal, sign the license and get to your honeymoon. But when both of you are the same sex, what then? Do you hyphenate? Do you switch? Who gets the honor of being before the hyphen? Does it all matter? The idea of marriage has only recently become progressive that the inner workings are still a bit traditional. My thought process began there and proceeded to creep its way through the crevices of my brain and plant itself deep within the hippocampus, too stubborn to move and too strong the leave me alone. The idea that the woman has to take the last name of the man is about as regressive as it is archaic. Even now as a society, we are barely grasping the idea that we can do what we want. If Zoe Saldana’s husband can take her last name, why can’t we do the same? Why not pull inspiration from the ‘They’re Just Like Us” spread of your favorite gossip magazine and make an attempt at being different? Why not disregard tradition?
There are so many things society is willing to abide to for the sake of tradition. That being said, what constitutes a tradition and are those bylaws allowed to be broken? Just because your mother and father did it one way, are you supposed to be attached to the idea that you should follow suit? I feel like traditions should be seen as suggestions as opposed to strict rules. This newly imbued malleability allows a person to pick and choose what they feel is relatable to them. If you don’t want to jump the broom, don’t do it. If you want to have sponsors at your wedding, have sponsors. Don’t be confined to such limitations and obligations set within one word.
Where was I again? Oh yeah, whose last name would I take?
Seriously, whose do I take?
Fuck it. I’m hyphenating…
Aren’t people just so damn attractive?
Let’s just, for the sake of this post, leave our knowledge and notions of the male gaze at the door and ride along the stream of consciousness. Buckle in, we wouldn’t want anyone to fall overboard.
I’m about to get extremely candid with you, dear reader, so be warned. If you are a family member who doesn’t mind or has a strong stomach, keep reading. If not, then, well, it won’t be so bad. I’ll try to keep it PG-13…R, at the highest.
When I first meet an attractive person, I can never make contact. I haven’t fully deciphered the reasons why, but here are three that I have come up with so far:
- Their beauty is actually a special ocular repellant made especially for my eyes.
- Little me in the southern region is calling my eyes lower, because he wants to look too.
- I am simply not worthy of their presence.
This always happens and it’s what I’m patenting my “Radar of Sexiness.” In the event that I go blind upon encountering someone, please make sure they marry me because he needs to pay for taking my sight. I first realized the actions of this radar when I went to Trader Joes with a friend of mine. We were about to check out when I caught eyes with this extremely attractive man working the cash register next to ours.
He was tall, pretty athletic looking, and had hot pink hair.
Okay, that last part probably had some deeper meaning attached to it. Maybe he was involved with Susan G. Komen or was really into switching up his looks. Both of these unsubstantiated truths are ones that I can get on board with, so I am sticking to them. Regardless, my eyes darted straight to the contents of the cart and I immediately pulled my friend in and said, “Holy shit…I can’t. I just can’t.” With no further context clues beyond those words, she understood me perfectly.
However, with my luck what happened next seemed almost too appropriate. He came over and asked if he wanted us to move to his line, which was now open (a fact I didn’t bother to realize because he was too good looking for my own good and I just can’t look in his general direction). My friend, after a five second pause, told him we were good and we went on to pay and leave.
All that being said, I feel like I should’ve just bitten the bullet and gone to that line. Said “Hey. When are you off? Want to grab a drink? Want to go to the restroom and not rest?” Then again, those are only phrases I would write out and never say out loud to someone. I mean, what good would that have been if I actually said it? If those words were uttered, they’d be to the card scanner as I entered in my PIN number. I feel like that’d be very awkward considering I’d rather have sex with the pink-haired adonis and not some machine that gets swiped every five minutes.
Am I alone in this? Does anyone else avert their gazes at the inconceivable beauty of random strangers? Or am I doomed to this radar-related curse?
Better yet, I should just learn how to properly talk and flirt with a man. I think that’d be best. Until then, you can guarantee that if you spot me looking at the ground, someone very attractive is near.
It’s worse in the morning.
I’m not entirely sure why, all I know is that there’s this feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost like you’ve disappointed someone without having done anything. I get up, almost reluctantly, and head downstairs for coffee in hopes that caffeine is the solution to whatever is digging itself deeper into the pit. A temporary relief flows over me, like a morning affirmation saying that everything is going to be okay and that I shouldn’t have to worry.
“This is all temporary.”
“You’ve survived 100% of your worst days.”
“Something good is going to happen”
The same three statements are repeated one right after the next until the words sound so distant and irrelevant that they’re almost foreign to my tongue. I go through the day mostly okay, attempting not to think about anything. In turn, I think about everything.
- My lack of a social life compared to those around me who have the means to perpetuate the type of life I wish to lead one day but cannot seem to manage at the present time
All of these things take the shape of a hanging, nagging finger of obligation that follows me around from day to day. I’d probably be insane if they hadn’t taken the weekends off.
Eventually, I feel the days become shorter and the amount of tasks that I had completed match in length.
Sometimes I never truly know what’s wrong; all I could pinpoint was that I felt like crying. It was like I was writing a book and decided to stop because I was at a loss for words and kept staring at a half empty page.
I’m never sure what clicks in me but, in spite of the emptiness of the page and the hollowness of my gut, I always continue writing.
As far back as I could remember, anxiety has always been my nemesis. Imagine that, being twenty-two years old with a nemesis. Especially one that isn’t corporeal or technically alive. You see, anxiety isn’t something that’s fun to deal with nor is it something that’s interesting to have. I feel like popular culture tends to portray characters with anxiety as “fidgety” and “dorky,” when in reality it’s something that’s crippling and debilitating. Some shows tends to get it right (and I thank the skies that they’re doing it justice) but there’s still so much left unsaid and unheard from the realities of it. I get it, it’s not exactly marketable, but when you’re in the business of telling the truth, not everything is going to be able to be presented in a nice little bow.
What helps me make it through is the thought that my anxiety is actually a piece of me. It’s a part of me that is controlling and annoying, but it doesn’t define me. It can hold me back, but I know I can make it through. I know I can because there’s still so much out there to see and I want to be able to seek it out.
I still want to grow.
Day 1: You were annoying and creepy. My mother advised me against talking to strangers and that night I had wondered if I was right to defy such a directive.
Day 3: Rebellion reaps rewards. The texts good night and good morning had begun and there wasn’t a part of me that wanted them to stop.
Day 6: I fear that something new and scary may be happening. I’m unaware of where it’ll take me but for once in my life: I don’t give a fuck.
Day 7: One week later and I still don’t believe it. The conversations, the jokes, the flirting. Is this what ‘dating’ is supposed to feel like?
Day 7.5: Does it count as dating if the distance between the two is roughly 2,500 miles? Society says no, but I couldn’t care less.
Day 10: The texts become less frequent and I fear the repercussions of such a short-lived “romance.” I feel the quotes are necessary because even I am unsure of its validity at this point.
Day 15: I’m in over my head. This was stupid. I should stop texting. I should stop checking my phone. Why did I just check my phone? Stop it, Jason, put your phone in a drawer.
Day 15.2: Phone has been put in a different drawer, in a different room, on a different level of the house. The psychosis continues.
Day 17: Move on. This was never, ever meant to work out.
Day 20: Admit feelings in a long, essay length text. Hit send. Regret immediately follows.
Day 21: I never thought I’d get to the point where you were the only one I saw, the only one I thought I would care for, the only one that mattered. I can’t stop smiling, nor do I ever want to stop.
Day 50: I hate you.
Day 80: A month of abstinence. I feel good; Clean…free.
Day 80.5: Why you chose today to text me, I’ll never know…but I can feel myself falling back in. Hands reach out to help me but I refuse. I blindly and gladly accept this fate and am awash in my decision.
Day 95: I’m drowning.
Day 110: I reach the surface for air and breathe in nothingness. It’s lonely in the middle of the ocean; it’s even worse when you can see your ship sailing away without you.
Day ‘Who Gives a Fuck?’: It’s Christmas, I shouldn’t even think about you. I shouldn’t be wondering what your family wrapped for you under the tree, or if your dog is taking sips of eggnog, or how I should be running to your door with a mistletoe in hand. I shouldn’t be thinking that…I shouldn’t be thinking.
The Day A New Years Kiss Should Happen: It never happens.
Day 1v.2: Hello again.
Day 14v.2: Happy Valentine’s Day.
Day 20v.2: A pointless pep talk that leads up to a large, three-worded bomb is the last thing I expected today. But I love it.
Day 25v.2: You called me tonight and I wish I had never hung up. I wished it lasted hours longer. I wished we would fall asleep on the line and act like there isn’t some rift separating us. You said you called because “[you] thought it’d make me happy.” You were right. I was. I am. Very happy.
Day 30v.2: I can feel myself becoming that much closer to saying something so big and life changing that I can’t even begin to fathom the “right” way to start.
Day 45v.2: College is over. RIP Undergrad.
Day 50v.2: I don’t think I’ve cried so hard, yelled so loud, or hurt so deeply. It amazes me how one person can lift you up so high and let you fall so easily and with so much grace. Sadly, I was finally able to say the words I had longed to profess. If only it were under better circumstances.
A New Day: Today, I vow that I will not let something encompass me so deeply. I won’t let someone cloud my judgement. I won’t let someone control me. Yet as I type this, I feel that today is also the day that I vow to break that vow, because I seldom keep the promises I make to myself. In the moment nothing is constant, nothing is set. You were the person with whom I thought I had IT. The person who wouldn’t fail or falter or fuck me over. The use of past tense has never been more appropriate. I want to say that I, in no way, regret anything. This was the best experience, the worst experience, the most fulfilling experience I could have ever hoped to have. But, I felt the need to write this because I can’t even begin to move on without acknowledging where I’ve been. I want to be able to close this chapter of my life and start on a new one. A chapter where you don’t matter as much to me as you once did. I sat here and counted the days where you made an impact on me and those days were plentiful, but they are not inclusive. There will come a day where no one else will matter and I have come to admit that you won’t be the last man standing; I will.