Life Is Beautiful

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My life is beautiful

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…when I close my eyes…

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…and travel back in time and find myself again. I’m exactly like I was, exactly how I’m still supposed to be, as I run the streets through life, happy, naive and unaware of what is lurking in the world. I have no idea that my future will be a total failure and mess. I see big things, I see bright lights on the horizon, ignorance is bliss.

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It’s heaven to re-experience how magnificent life truly can be when everything is an option, nothing standing in my way. This exercise in regression works every single time, as I’m reborn, and I’m innocent once more.

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How amazing this is, I have chills, as an intoxicating feeling shoots through my veins. How could I ever forget this sensation?  It’s a feeling of perfection… how can I explain it… it’s this ‘feeling’, this ‘knowing’ that nothing stands in my way.

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Every dream I have is realizable. I’m on a level playing field with the rest. I have no handicaps. It’s GRAND feeling this way as there’s no need to worry, no reason to feel ashamed. 

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Yet I still manage to find something… I just can’t leave GRAND enough alone… I allow this something to trump that GRAND feeling repeatedly, that something being: love.

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Or lack thereof, as I can’t seem to find it, or a partner, or even a date. I experience loneliness, despair, hopelessness. All because I can’t make a relationship work out, I feel like I’m failing life.

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Love unrequited: rejection is the only love I know. I’ve yet to meet its nemesis. So why ‘love’ even matters to me, I don’t know, it’s not rational. But for whatever reason, it matters such that it controls how I feel.

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So far I’ve just been flying solo through the last 20 years of of life. It’s me and my little dog, but at least she can still see and hear right now, and that makes me smile.

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But then one evening I meet him, and within hours he claims to be my “soul mate.” And suddenly I’m awe-stricken, I have found what I’ve been searching for my whole life.

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It couldn’t be more romantic as we meet… online, on adam4adam.com, yeah right. But I give him major credit: unlike other guys on this site (whose catch-phrase is “get on, and get off”), his pictures are really him! They’re not fakes, nor those of yesteryear minus 50 pounds, and he’s wearing clothes in all of them. Brownie Points +++

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Out of nowhere arrives an internet pick-up line that makes me smile: “My friend wants to know if you think I’m cute.” This is different, it’s sweet, and makes me laugh. I’m intrigued: it’s not the typical greeting I’ve encountered before, nobody’s asking about my penis size, or straight up addressing me with vulgar requests to have sex, it’s just someone being friendly. What should be everyday chat becomes a philosophical dissertation. His ease and forwardness in communication, albeit written, is quite impressive.

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He has countless ideas to share, so many relevant questions to ask, and he doesn’t have much filter, either: he says whatever he wants to. One thing is clear: he’s really confident, a trait that I lack, maybe, a little. And our conversation moves like wildfire as 2 hours pass in what seems like 5 minutes. It’s beyond engaging, it’s engulfing, it’s enough to make me think that maybe… this could turn into something major… and my fingers begin to burn.

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From my job to my childhood, from my education to my sexual history (those answers are the easiest to answer… I basically have no sexual pass!), nothing is off limits in his initial inquisition. But I answer everything fully, and I’m totally digging this attention as I’ve never gotten anything close to this before. But his reactions are… what? They’re exactly what I hope for, how can this be real? Come to discover we have so much in common, strangely, almost everything; I don’t want to jinx myself but this seems too good to be true. His interrogation turns into an all out chat-war. We’re cutting short each others messages with our inpatient fingers; fingers that have gone from burning to callused at this point. My heart is actually pounding I’m so engrossed in this.

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He asks me for my number, and calls me after finishing dinner with his brother, Steve. We talk for more than 2 hours without a single awkward silence. He’s just so full of energy, and optimism, and positive thinking; this is something I definitely need in my life. And I find myself talking at ease for the first time in eons. I’ve never spoken to a stranger like this ever, it’s like I’ve known him for decades. It is odd, it’s unique, it’s refreshing.  And… drum roll… he even loves all the weird musicians I do, like Bjork, I’ve never met another, this has to be the beginnings of something major.

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As I look above at the heavens, I’m hit with a life-altering revelation: maybe, just maybe, the powers that be have granted me that ‘something’ I’ve been searching for forever: love. I’m starting to believe again that maybe, just maybe, true love exists after all.

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He calls me piecemeal as he travels back to DC first by metro, then by bus, then back on metro, and then he manages to twist his ankle walking home. My inner-nurse talks him through the pain and ensures he gets home safely. Ironically I discover that he lives exactly 1 mile west of my condo – and how we missed this coincidence during today’s massive discussion is baffling, but a great surprise.

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He asks me 5 times to come and meet him; I decline the first 4 requests because I’m focused on  the big picture. I’ve never clicked with someone like this, there’s so much potential that I want to make the best first impression possible. If we meet tomorrow, after I’ve gotten a good night sleep, once I’m clean shaven and looking dapper, I think things will go better, as it’s past 2AM. But then he uses the guise that his ankle needs medical assessment, so by invoking my profession I ultimately say, “yes.” It’s a short, 5-minute drive, and I somehow manage to get lost, though.

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I think I made a wrong turn at that sign back there. But my GPS seems to wake up out of nowhere, and lands me at the front of his building. I sit for what seems like eternity waiting nervously in my car.

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Finally I muster up the strength to walk up to the main door.  Shaking, I ring the buzzer to his unit,  I’m so nervous I’m about to turn around and leave. I’ve never felt this anxious in my life.

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He buzzes me in, I go inside and find his unit, he opens the door and I’m hypnotized. His eyes meet mine and pierce my soul. I’m hypnotized…

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We both stare into each other’s eyes for a lifetime it seems… time stops, everything stops, and I’m glued to those dark eyes… they read my mind…

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What I see standing in front of me is breath-taking, I can’t help but stare and just… keep on staring. He’s standing there, smiling from ear to ear, wearing these tattered jean shorts and nothing else. He’s a sculpture, he’s exquisite, he’s everything, at least physically, that I could ever dream of; he’s not perfect, perfection frightens me actually, but he’s just the right amount of handsome and edginess. And I’ll admit I’ve never been with a guy whose body is like this, it’s insanity.

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I can’t take my eyes off him for nearly a… year lol.  And he likes what he sees, also, as he doesn’t stop all night with never-ending compliments until I’m more than blushing, I look like a big tomato, but I feel like a giant fire is burning in my soul.  This may sound cliche, but it really seems like… love at first sight here.

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In finally meeting him in person, he’s beyond charming, intriguing and funny, and he’s captivated by my persona also. He “catches” and celebrates my politically incorrect humor and all my weird nuances. His compliments are flattering and seductive, he must say I’m “hot” at least 35 times that night, and I am melting into a sappy puddle. And he seems to love my deepest insecurities, and I don’t mention what they are, it’s like he reads me, he can sense what I really am deep down. 

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My friends and family (initially) fall in love with him instantly just like I do. He’s a dream, he’s the total package, he’s a fantasy; he’s me melt away into a place where I forget about my solitude… he has this personality that makes you instantly fall in love, feel comfortable, feel at ease, feel entertained.

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He offers me something to drink: “Red or white wine?” I’m not a big drinker, and I have no preference honestly: “Either is fine by me, thanks.” And out he comes with a bottle of… Pink: “This is my favorite,” he declares, opening a bottle of cheap Moscato.  (In hindsight I should have recognized this as a major red flag… Moscato… that’s not wine, it’s like generic Kool Aid with alcohol. I should have ran as fast as I could, but I don’t know any better.

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20 questions evolves into 20,000 questions. And he focuses on one topic in particular: my experiences, my wants, my desires when it comes to romance, sex and love. These are easy for me to answer, I don’t want an open-relationship, I don’t cheat, I work in HIV after all, I want to be in a relationship that’s sexually healthy. If there’s one thing that I’m certain of, without having much experience, it’s that. I didn’t cheat on either of my exes, I think cheating is not only wrong, but dangerous. Fidelity is the only thing I’ve come to believe in, it’s all I’ve ever known in fact. I tell him I think that “open relationships are broken relationships,” and I’m being honest. When it comes to sexual health and trying to make a real relationship function, there is no diverging from what I see to be the absolute truth.

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His eyes grow wider with each answer I give, and so does his smile. He says that cheating, infidelity, and promiscuity are the ultimate evils, and exactly what he’s looking to avoid now that he’s single again and on the hunt for true love. It seems like past experiences have led him to hold these core values quite strongly. Whatever the case, to me, the sexually-repressed HIV nurse, this is music to my ears.

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He shares his dislike for [most] gay men – “they’re all total whores, they’ll sleep with anything.” He seems to have a little animosity built up here as his words are strong, a bit harsh in comparison to his previous tone tonight. But I won’t deny I’ve also come to view guys as being sexually irresponsible and flat-out stupid. I’m beyond cautious with guys I meet but pleased to finally find another that concurs. I’m oblivious to what’s actually going on. I’m still rather sheltered and inexperienced. I’ve never been in a relationship before. I’ve had 2 make-believe boyfriends, both were great guys, but neither connection was going anywhere from day 1, but it sure was fun to pretend. 

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I fail to realize he’s plagiarized every line used to reel me in from pinterest. I believe they’re all a creation of his witty, brilliant mind. I fall for all of them…

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I’m an empath; I’m a fool; I’m about to have 33 years of work and discipline, 33 years of dreams and forward thinking robbed from me; and I allow it to happen unknowingly, yet right before my eyes. But my past has led me to believe that others intrinsically are genuine and out to help you, just like my family, just like the people I knew in my home town. 

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Naive doesn’t touch my lack of worldliness at this point in time… I’m still innocent… not for long.

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I feel enlightened. Finally meeting someone I click with has given my life new excitement, new meaning, and new possibilities. Why did I convince myself this wasn’t possible for me?

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He’s got so much going for him. And he’s passionate about his career, not about the bar scene, more brownie points. His  face lights up when describing the marketing position he co-created with his boss, it’s perfect for him he says. He works for a non-profit and hopes to have his own non-profit one day. So he has aspirations and plans for professional success, as well; I’m even more impressed.  

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But what wins me over is a monologue about his troubled past, and how it shapes his current views on love. His experiences leave him traumatized, weary of and unable to trust men. His last 2 ex-boyfriends were cheaters and abusive, and the suffering he endures is difficult to listen to.

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I know each of his exes by name (address, date of birth, SSN, just kidding… kinda!) by the end of our first week together – they are despicable as far as I’m concerned. The last one, Leroy, kept a diary where he recorded all of his sexscapades. After finding this, he confronted Leroy… and found him cheating in their basement. But Leroy ended up assaulting him, next throwing his laundry out a window before finally pouring bleach on them from above as he ran outside to salvage what he could from the dirty street. Only to end up getting slapped with court date for a restraining order… yup, while outside, Leroy called the police. And hit his own leg with a frying pain, feigning a fake injury he blamed on him. And he and his trick lied when authorities arrive, and their side was taken: “Because he called first, plus it was 2 against 1. And he had connections in the force… guys he knew, guys I know he’d slept with, too. They always take the side of the one that files the complaint first,” he tells me. But he still files a counter-suit, and ultimately the case is dropped in court. But still, he says, going through the ordeal was a living nightmare, something he wouldn’t wish upon his worst enemy he says.

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The ex before this, Enrique, cheated also, as well as hiding his alcoholism until several months into their affair. And when he confronted Enrique about his cheating, he (intoxicated) went ballistic, beating him so badly that he was left bleeding, his nose broken, and all alone to die on the bathroom floor. But neighbors heard him screaming and called 911; and brother Steve was also contacted, the two had an apparent falling out some time before, but Steve overlooked this disagreement and saw to it that he received the medical care to save his life. The schism between the two was repaired. And he got better, and from the looks of him, had one hell of a good plastic surgeon because he looks stunning.

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And then he goes on to lament about how much drama others bring into his life, and also how he detests drama. His hatred of drama is a repeated theme during our time together; I, too, am not one that wants to deal with frivolous crap, either. So I’m glad we’re both on the same page here!

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His Oscar-caliber performance then delves into his upbringing, which then explains a lot to me. For one, his mom disowned him at 17 because of his “lifestyle” – being gay is what I interpret that to mean. He was forced to fend for himself on the streets, and fight off many a dirty old man trying to take advantage of him. But in the middle of his speech he becomes emotional… and I’m shocked at what he tells me next. This is the biggest reason why he’s scared of cheating, he doesn’t want to end up like his dad.

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His dad was a chronic cheater and died of AIDS in front of him, he watched as they removed life support; he was only 12 years old. His mom was also infected with HIV as a result, but is healthy and alive on meds. She went on to remarry a man from Africa, but he also cheated on her.  And she raised his daughter born out of wedlock, and came to treat her far better than her own son.

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I can’t find words at this point. But I can see how cheating, dishonesty, lying, infidelity, these have all become wounds he carries around today. And I just hold him until he’s able to smile again. Afterwards, he informs me how he’ll never cheat on a guy, and he will never settle for another cheater, either. He is adamant that he deserves true love, the full attention of one man, and is confident that he’s going to find it. And I have to agree with that, I think he deserves it, and I I think I do, too. I think we’ve both met our matches, And red (or pink) flag or not, the Moscato is suddenly kicking in, and I find us clicking more than I’d anticipated…

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I have finally met my other half, my “soul mate” as he coins us shortly after meeting. The next morning as I’m leaving, he grabs my arm and says he might be falling in love with me… already?!?!? Woah. I don’t know how to respond; I smile and say ‘thank you’, and then “I’d love… to see you soon.”  The rest is history, before I know it we’re inseparable.

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My phone is exploding with texts and pics at all hours; he calls me whenever I am free just to say how much he loves me. And I’m falling in love with him, and I’ll admit I love his attention and kindness. He goes on to call me knuckles, and I nickname him peanut. Within a few weeks it’s like we’re a married couple, he has everything I need and want in a partner. But what seals the deal is that monologue about monogamy, cheating, and HIV. Because I’ve dedicated my career to battling this disease that’s now an epidemic in DC, and many seem so indifferent towards it. That’s one major reason I’ve been fearful of getting out there and meeting other guys, I’m scared. But I’m not scared with him, although I make him get tested with me 3 times during our first 6 months together, but that’s not so much fear as it is being responsible about our health.

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He has the same ideals that I do, and wants to remain healthy, faithful, and happy… just the two of us together, forever. It sounds like a dream come true.   

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Only dreams can also be nightmares…

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Looking back, he never bothered to show me or mention that twisted ankle, either. Come to think of it, I never saw him limp or walk in pain. I was so distracted by my feelings to even remember it. Because I’d finally found my “soul mate,” my mirror image…

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…or so I was led to believe… 

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Remember what they say about smoke and mirrors…

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Mirrors can play tricks on the eyes and the mind. Mirrors can lie, they can distort, they can hide…

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…the truth, the lies, and all that is hidden deep inside.

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You and the narcissist have become one; he mirrors you so that you believe he’s your soulmate.”

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