• Mathura Hawley


Updated: Aug 2, 2021

I tell him I am 55, and he says “Fuck, yeah,” which I take to mean either it turns him on, or he’s impressed I made it so far."

It has been a dark week of hard lessons revisited, of pain and PTSD tears. Then my dryer caught fire and filled my already bruised home with heavy smoke and debris. My job, the catalyst that brought me to Portland, is over. There is talk of a virus from China but that is the least of my worries. This morning, I tried something new and forgave myself for the previous week’s derailment, instead laughing at how cute the firemen were that showed up to carry out the dead dryer. I silently remember all that I have gone through that got me here and allow myself to move forward and let go. I get up from the wad of blankets on the living room sofa that has doubled as my sweaty bed for a week, take a shower and shave, put on jeans and a T-shirt that give me a semblance of sexy, cover it all in a leather jacket, and get into my Jeep. As I take the entrance for 5North toward Portland, I think: “It’s ok to live,” and push the accelerator. I pull up to Crush and go in, saying hello to the bartender and scooting onto my perch at the table. When my drink is ready, I stand up and walk to the bar as a young guy in a dark, long-sleeved sweater and dark jeans breezes by me. He moves like a figure skater as he glides by each table, and I stare at him as he crosses to the other side in one long take, never breaking his dance. I watch the way he moves, gracefully to one table then the other, leaning forward then almost bouncing back. I stand frozen in the middle of the floor and say “Holy shit,” to no one. These are the thoughts that go through my mind: “Oh my god, he’s beautiful;” “Who would I have to be for someone that alive and sexy to want to be with me;” “Who the fuck do I think I am to believe I would have a chance when he works at a gay bar?” We cross again and he smiles hello and it is a big smile and feels genuine and kind. I keep losing my breath a little and acting much more shy than I usually am. He disappears and re-emerges with a beet salad, but instead of serving it, he sits down at the bench near me and begins to eat it himself. My heart races. I not-so-subtilely move and sit two chairs closer to him. He eats and looks everywhere but at me. Our eyes finally lock and he smiles. We make beet salad small talk. He talks fast and with a happy urgency. I ask him how old he is and he says “21” and I put my head in my hands and moan. I tell him I am 55, and he says “Fuck, yeah,” which I take to mean either it turns him on, or he’s impressed I made it so far. He asks me questions about myself and he is curious about everything, where I am from, early gay life, and who I am. I ask him who he is. We have that moment you know only later, that feeling that this is not just another empty hello. When you can only feel your heart race and with no explanation of why or what is to come. When you know this person will be someone to you in the something you will have. You are not allowed to know just yet. That this will be the first man you will trust with your healing heart in so many years. That you will laugh and cry and tell him you love him a hundred times a week. That you will go to bed each night with your best friend and wake up each morning with your partner. That the world will close down and lock the two of you together in the most wonderful, sexy, loving dream you would never have dared to hope for.

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