I’m From Boonville, MO.

by adam conway

We’d “met” via the “Honesty Box” application on Facebook; that probably should have been my first sign.

I was just barely out to myself and still very disoriented, but Honesty Box boy had pieced my sexuality together through some very creative and aggressive Facebook research. Well, stalking. Apparently, my favorite movies and the fact that I was a Virgo were enough to convince him of our compatibility. He executed his campaign of increasingly sincere, flattering, thoughtful (and occasionally pretentious) emails over the next few months, saying all of the things that melt a boy feeling fat, isolated, and maybe unlovable.

He convinced me to meet him on campus at his performance and after party. I was so nervous that I’d disappoint him in person that I may have gotten a little drunk. Regardless of my mental state, we did seem to hit it off, immediately comfortable around each other and quickly affectionate.

I met up with him a few days later at his place for a movie date, but as soon as the movie ended, I could see what was going to happen: my first time with a man. The poor guy had no way of knowing, and I had no way of telling him. I thought to myself, “This is just what men on dates do; I’ve got to go through with this.” I had foolishly framed it in my head as an act of fate, not an act of choice. With that mentality and no true preparation, the act, no matter how fun it was, muddled my emotions. He was way more aggressive than I’d expected, dirty words and animalistic grunts and a mouth so viciously familiar with my entire body that there were moments I literally thought he was going to eat me. I never realized that sex could be so much about bodies and so little about people. An hour later, when we were sweaty and messy and spent, I slid out of bed and into my jeans and shoes, grinning unconvincingly. “You can stay tonight,” he offered, but I couldn’t bring myself to be around him or the aftermath. I ran home at 4 in the morning, feeling drained all the next day, like something had been taken out of me and that I had to get it back.

That “relationship” only lasted 2-3 weeks. He’d call me up in the middle of the night to hang out once every few days, we’d watch a movie, and I would again throw myself into the (not anal) sex… no longer because I felt like I had to but because I felt like it would make the first time go away. My emotions were a wicked tempest those days- I’d find him annoying. I’d find him irresistible. I’d think, “This needs to end, now.” I’d think, “This could last forever.” But no matter how I felt, I called him, I messaged him, I needed that sincerity and thoughtfulness and affirmation he’d been sending me the past few months; I needed to not be the “fat” and “unlovable” kid. But when you need someone rather than want them, things never last. We got in an incredibly trivial but very public fight at a mutual friend’s birthday party, and he ended it, arguing that this was more than he could handle.

While in hindsight, I couldn’t agree more with his decision, at the time, it was crushing. Somehow a maybe 3-week relationship with a guy I didn’t even consistently like had left me completely devastated. The end of a dating spree where I felt so fragmented (like I was just a body or just a mind or just a zodiac sign) left me feeling like a pile of parts. And just like I ran into new sex to escape old sex, I thought I could run into new men to escape him. Thankfully, I met someone special before I could make any stupid and irreversible mistakes.

A few weeks after my dating fiasco, I went to a friend’s house for dinner and distraction. One of her friends showed up seemingly out of the blue in a John Deere T- Shirt, tight jeans, and a new haircut that I found quite dapper and that he felt made him look like a “militant mouse.” He was the antithesis of “Honesty Box” guy. Honesty Box was outgoing but had a tendency to be pretentious and a little self-centered; John Deere was quiet, caring, humble, and had a smile and eyes that wrapped you up like a blanket.

I’ll admit it; I wasn’t thinking clearly or fairly. I didn’t particularly care, at the time, how amazing John Deere was. I just wanted a new guy, one that would make me forget Honesty Box and make me feel special again. So, after 3 weeks of very forward flirting, he and I went on our first date, taking pictures at the local park and lying out under the stars. He was so sweet and unassuming, excited to talk about his family and his childhood, but eager to listen to all the silly thoughts I had that I never imagined anyone would care to hear. Something happened as I threw myself into him, as I submitted to each whim. Over time, I stopped running, and I started falling. John Deere did more than just erase the past and make me feel special. I didn’t care how he felt about me because I knew how I felt about him; I was in love.

We’ve been in a relationship for a year and a half now. He has met all of my family, met all of my friends, shared every holiday with me, knows everything about me, and loves me in spite of it.

And when we have sex, it is with ourselves and not our bodies.

So, maybe I wasn’t so wrong about my first time being an act of fate. Maybe life is supposed to break us so that we can find someone to heal with and grow strong in the broken places.

5 Comments:

  1. I’m a straight girl from Pennsylvania, and yet something almost exactly like this literally happened to me. This line especially rings true: “Somehow a maybe 3-week relationship with a guy I didn’t even consistently like had left me completely devastated.” Extend that by one week and I could have written that. The only difference is, I still haven’t met my John Deere. Le sigh. You’re super-lucky, but I don’t need to tell you that.

    Anyway, this is a really great story, and very well-written. My favorite parts were “eyes that wrapped you up like a blanket” and that last line: “Maybe life is supposed to break us so that we can find someone to heal with and grow strong in the broken places.” You’re very talented! I hope you keep writing.

  2. It’s refreshing to hear someone else who’s borne witness to the body/mind sex-diaspora. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who can’t seem to escape the shell of my body.

  3. “One of the cruelest ways to kill natural love is through the rejection that results from having built the love on natural desires.”

    This is a quote that, when it comes to relationships, I try to follow. This is not a judgement on you at all, since that’d be semi-hypocritical. Tons of people have/have had random hook-ups at some point in their lives, whatever hooking up for them entails. That doesn’t make it a bad thing, but, as you found out, it’s not enough upon which to found a relationship.

    However, it does become a struggle because in many beginning relationships, the physical aspect can be (or often is) a major part of the time spent together, and if the persons involved aren’t careful, it can start to take over. However, as you also found out, in a solid relationship those same activities can be used as expressions of emotion and affection.

    Very interesting story, with experiences that apply to many individuals. Keep up the writing, and thank you for sharing!

  4. I’d love to meet my very own John Deere. “Quiet, caring, humble, and had a smile and eyes that wrapped you up like a blanket” is just what I’m after.

  5. Adam,
    “Maybe life is supposed to break us”. Another way to look at this is that you weren’t broken, you learned what you didn’t want. A long time ago I read something to the effect that it’s not the experience, it’s the lesson to be learned. Sort of a “it’s the journey, not the destination” kind of thing. Each relationship can teach how you want to be treated and how you want to treat the other person – at least it can if one is paying attention. Unfortunately, lots of people simply repeat the same pattern. Obviously you were open to experiencing something different and that’s growth. Congratulations.

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