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27.guilt

It was five o’clock in the morning and I was still unable to sleep. I had an uncontrollable urge to call Glen, to have him reassure me that everything was really OK. My mind kept replaying the tape of the events of the evening before. I would analyze it, pulling out yet another detail to justify the guilt I had been taught so well throughout my lifetime. My new found vision was struggling to survive the onslaught of shame and humiliation I was required to feel as a real man. Just one word from Glen could end the whole nightmare. Each time I reached for the telephone my heart raced at the thought of rejection, or worse yet, accusation! The evening before had probably just been an accident of the perfect time and place. If I were to attempt to explain it I might become an accomplice to something shameful, instead of just another victim of circumstance. I finally decided to suffer in silence, awaiting sunrise for resolution.

It had begun so innocently when we decided to stop the car and walk to the clearing to see the stars. Last night was an exceptionally clear night. I took the blanket from the back seat of the car with no real intention other than to cushion the ground beneath us. At least I don’t remember any ulterior motive, but now I’m not sure of anything. Glen followed me carrying a paper bag with four cans of cold beer. As we sat on the blanket drinking beer I was aware of a different mood, something unusually serene with the two of us together. I felt extremely drunk after the second beer, so I fell back onto the blanket and pointed to a satellite crossing the moonless sky. Glen joined me and we both gasped as a shooting star seemed to fall into the forest on the horizon. There was something in those stress free moments which allowed me to touch a part of myself I was usually able to avoid, to keep under control. It was that part of myself that some might call my female side; that part of myself I so justifiably destroyed in order to retain my masculinity. I looked over at Glen thinking how lucky I was to have such a good friend for such a long time.

Suddenly I had lost myself in a place without any barriers. Life in that moment seemed as big with possibilities as the expansive heavens suspended above the two of us. Without even thinking I laid my head upon Glen’s stomach. I was surprised to feel his hand reach over my shoulder to pull me closer to him. It was as though we had both forgotten that we were not with our respective wives. We were in that place where life dictates action in a natural loving form without judgment. I found myself exploring my friend’s body with my right hand. In twenty years this was the first time I had touched more than his hand or his shoulder. Every place I touched was familiar though, as if I had done it nightly in some secret dream. As I felt the gentle rocking of Glen’s pelvis it seemed to call my hands to his thighs. Each time I wanted to reimpose my macho barriers Glen would give a subtle movement granting permission to continue to explore. We played for an eternity at the edge of fear of the total immersion into passion. A part of me remembered wanting this moment twenty years ago and every day since. This was the thought that allowed me to pass through the fear and take that moment we had both long denied. Glen responded matching my passion with even more passion. I wondered what had kept us from this experience so long. My question was answered at five a.m. as I lay awake still pondering the night before.

My stomach was tense from the repeated attacks of guilt and shame I had allowed to return in the four hours since coming to bed. Glen was no longer beside me to soothe my fears. Now my imagination was in control, reimposing all the years of fear and humiliation I had forgotten in those wonderful moments under the stars. I imagined Glen accusing me, although I could not imagine what he could accuse me of. Some moments created the fantasy of the police waiting to arrest us as our wives stood behind them with their lawyers. In a moment of grace I remembered the sacredness of the act as I allowed the tears to flow onto my pillow silently, not to awaken my wife. I might be tempted to tell her the truth if she were to ask me in such a moment of weakness. This would only add more burden to my overburdened conscience. I could see in this moment the incredible hypocrisy I called my life. I had really wanted to hold Glen the entire night and wake up beside him in the morning. This was much too far over the line though. There wasn’t enough beer or enough stars in the heavens to allow me to go to such an irrational extreme. I would be forced to admit that my life had been chosen for me by people I had not even known. My real life would be just a memory of an accidental moment in time, a great secret to guard for all eternity. It was a secret that had existed for an eternity already though. Now I had actually lived a few moments of the dream and it was much more difficult to hide or deny now.

At 11:00 a.m. I was awake, imagining my first conversation with Glen. I had decided it would be safer to wait for him to initiate the conversation. We met at the cafe as we always did on Saturday mornings. After a good hour of bullshit I decided to be the first to mention what had happened the night before. Glen gave me a stern look as he held my wrist in a tight grip. "Last night never happened, O.K?" he said in a voice I had never heard from him before. That was my last Saturday morning meeting with Glen. Now I only see him occasionally at gatherings of our mutual friends. We smile and share obligatory greetings as our friends wonder what horrible event has torn us apart.




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