• Mathura Hawley

elevator

Updated: Aug 2, 2021


On this night he takes my hand and pushes the elevator button. “Surprise for you,” he says, and pushes a floor and we make out all the way up and into the hallway. "

I have not been out for very long, and the woman I am married to is still living in our apartment but has been dating her first girlfriend without much conversation about it. We didn’t come out to each other with a handshake but rather slowly and separately, and it is painful to be the one left behind, at least at first. It is awkward and hurtful to watch her transfer her affection to another person, but freeing as it brought me out as well, and gave me the right to pursue my own sexuality. I would feel the thrill of seeing Jay, the doorman around the corner of our building with whom I have my first gay affair, and then come home to the leftover life that still lingers between us, and it has been lovely with family, holidays, a dog, and a cottage far north of the city. One hot summer night, I take my little handmade blue notebook, twine binding it loosely, and wander out into the evening. I go by Jay’s building, as when the lobby would clear of tenants we would go to the elevators and kiss. His kisses are deep and passionate, and of course he is risking his job, so it is intense. On this night he takes my hand and pushes the elevator button. “Surprise for you,” he says, and pushes a floor and we make out all the way up and into the hallway. He takes a key, opens a door, and we spill into an apartment and into the kitchen, where we pull off our clothes and have sex on the floor. It is intense and sweaty and feels dangerous, and we finish and run out to the elevator laughing. We kiss all the way back down to the lobby. “Goodnight,” he says when the doors open, and I walk out as if nothing has happened. I take a left and walk down to Carl Shurz park and along the river promenade. I feel so free, so excited, so alive, and so lonely. I have no idea that this will be how gay life feels, that it is different from my old life. I write a poem about it in my little blue book. Then, for the first time ever, I sleep all night on a park bench looking up at the stars above the city. I don’t want to go back inside. I don’t want to go home.


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