I’m From Glasgow, KY.

by j.r. mortimer

I’m staring into the laundry basket wishing there were more clothes to fold. You’re in the living room with your feet on the ottoman, watching a documentary. You don’t know about the plane ticket to Kentucky or that my friends are on stand-by to help me if I need it. You don’t know that when I’m done folding this laundry I’ll come in there to tell you we shouldn’t be together anymore.

I reach into the basket and the first is your pink-striped shirt you wore the day we were walking through Boston. You bought me flowers in Downtown Crossing—irises. It was spring then, and I held your hand in the streets even though you were afraid of people judging us. I carried those irises that day like I was a pageant queen, and this made you laugh, and I laughed with you because it felt right, with my hand in yours.

The second is the blue shirt I was wearing the night I told you I loved you. I’d never said that to anyone. We were standing on Richard’s balcony overlooking the Charles River, as the sun was setting behind the sailboats. Richard and Ricky were inside; we could hear them playing the piano and singing. Out of nowhere you got emotional. You looked at me with tears in your eyes, put your hand on my lower back and didn’t say anything. You tried but stumbled with your words. I looked at you and said it without thinking, those words I’d protected for so long. They came out quick but softly. I. Love. You. And you started crying because that was what you’d been trying to say.

The third is the pair of shorts you were wearing that summer in Provincetown on the Fourth of July. All our friends were gathered on the porch, staying out of the rain, but the view of the fireworks was no good. I grabbed your hand and we ran. We made it to the highest hill and took one look at the fireworks, and then you kissed me, and we didn’t stop until long after the crackling had ended.

The next is your underwear, your boyish boxers I tried three times to throw away. You’d rescue them when I wasn’t looking and I’d find them in the basket on another day, like today.

The next is the gray and white shirt I wore that day we laid in Central Park and did nothing.

The next is the pair of jeans you were wearing when you surprised me the day before Thanksgiving. I was in London studying abroad and wasn’t expecting to find you on my doorstep. You’d grown your facial hair out, and it turned me on more than you knew.

The next is the underwear you always liked taking off of me.

The next is the T-shirt I sometimes slept in while you were beside me. In the middle of the night I’d feel you put your hands around my waist and pull me to you. I’d tell you about it the next morning and you’d have no memory of it. I’d always act annoyed about being woken up, but deep down I liked the idea that even in your dreams you couldn’t keep your hands off me.

I look into the basket and all that’s left is a lone sock. I leave it there for a second and look at the stacks of our clothes. This is the last time they will be together like this.

I’m holding the sock, its mate nowhere to be found, when I move to the doorway and say to you, “Can we talk?”


  1. I just cried reading this.

    We’ve all felt that moment. And I just felt it all over again, the tightness in my throat.

    What great writing. Thank you for sharing.


  2. I work just down the hall, so I could tell you this in person, but comments are more fun. This story is so elegantly done. I love your writing.

  3. Your ability to transform such a sad, monumental conversation into something so brilliantly worded and structured is inspiring. Wow! Fucking heart-wrenching JR. Reading about your thought process is comforting because people never share their vulnerable sides. Thoroughly engaging Mr. Too gay though….only critique :) Anything you can do about that? Maybe make it about women or something…

  4. Joe: it’s a love story. between two men. It can’t be about a woman. It already happened.

  5. Great short story you covered a lot of ground with it straight to the point. With every single sock there is always a mate…… Your soul mate is out there you just have to let him come to you. Love is difficult and strange but when you find the one you will know it for sure!!!

  6. a friend there from the beginning aka brittany

    Hey JR, I suppose that’s what you’re called these days. I don’t think i’ll get use to it though. Your story was beautiful, like fog in mid twilight. I don’t know how else to express it. It’s a shame that the best writing comes from the most dire of circumstances.

  7. JR I’m speechless… wow! I read this a couple of days ago and its stuck with me every since. Thank you for sharing

  8. Beautiful and brilliant….just like the author. It is so poetic to take something as profound as love, and interweave it with the mundane task of folding clothes. This is just the beginning of what could be an exciting writing career. And the man of your dreams is certainly out there. Find yourself and he will find you.

  9. JR, you are an awesome writer… I am sitting here dying to read more… you have a real talent… I can’t wait to read more…

  10. Just lovely, JR.

  11. Loved it… thanks for sharing.. it’s a lean, mean, emotionally dense, touching story… congratulations, you’ve transformed a mundane household chore forever…
    folding shirts and matching socks will never be the same!

    Now can you change how i feel about cleaning the damn bathroom?

  12. wow .. thank you for sharing this.
    I’m getting teary eyed in class reading it.

  13. That was exquisite.

  14. I was reading Towleroad.com and saw this website and thought I’d have a look. I’m older now and live in Hollywood, CA. I grew up in the 60’s and had a terrible childhood and worse time
    coming out. My parents didn’t really know what to do so they held close to their religion and tried to ‘fix’ me through the Catholic Church. That’s why I came to California. My life here has been adventurous, fulfilling and happy. I have a wonderful partner and wouldn’t live anywhere else, but I’m conscious of the pain many young people go through. I wish you well and can tell you that you’re very brave.
    I’m from Lexington, Kentucky

  15. omg, this is the most heart-warming thing I have ever read in my life!

  16. Wow. This is written very well and unfortunately reminds me of the impending task that I have yet to do.

  17. Sometimes what we think of as the end, isn’t.

  18. this is such a beautiful story- I’ve got goosebumps today, and the last time I read it. really, I don’t think I’ll ever forget it!

  19. JR,
    Nicely done. Very moving. I am still wiping my eyes.Thank you for sharing your story. We are so proud of you and your success as a Point Scholar!
    Carl (& Bruce)
    Point Foundation

  20. Seems like Ken thinks you should go out west.

  21. Beautifully written J.R., I’m enviously of your literary talent!

  22. Jray's Teriann

    I love you! And it just might be that i am your missing sock only in a non matching sock kind of way. YOu know together we can still keep feet warm and make them look good, people just can’t stick us together and put us in a drawer. lol.. This really is wonderful Jray, I love the way you have taken something so simple and made it into something so meaningful. But then again you always do. I miss you and will be waiting to see you, always.

  23. Heartbreakingly beautiful <3

  24. This was the first time in a while I was moved by words and the first time in a while I wish I wasn’t single anymore. THANKS FOR YOUR GIFT!

  25. wow. beautiful. i think i’ll do some laundry

  26. J.R.

    you have a true talent. I would have of course voted for your story no matter what to support you, but I do believe that yours was the best!

    keep up the good work, and write more!

  27. J.R.–it appears you have won the competition here for Reader Favorite. Congratulations! It is a really nice piece.

  28. I’m in the process of separating from the man of my dreams. The good memories always outweigh the bad, at least with me. Letting go sucks, even when it’s for the best. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Wow, here I sit in the midts of indecision..and I read this. My feelings exactly. Flash backs. Am I making the right decision? We have drifted apart, funny we were from Boston as well and we hadfriends in Back Bay named Brian and Ricky.
    When will I tell him or will I tell him at all.
    Very brilliant capturea all the unsaid emotions.

  30. Beautifully written…. but why are we breaking up? Bored? Getting too attatched? Afraid of falling deeper into it? Just got the itch to ove on? Relationships have to be reworked and constantly worked at whether gay or str8 in order to keep them growing into deeper and more meaningful times. If we break it off every time we THINK we might want someone else…or something else…. we won’t ever achieve that sense of sccomplishment of truly sharing our life.

    Just a reader who’s still looking for that soulmate…

  31. Vivid and heartbreaking. Good job.

  32. Wow….that moved me. I know the feeling, though it’s been along time since I’ve been there.

    Keep up the good writing…and your hopes.

  33. Holy; Wow. I’ve always wanted to be a write; and you would be one of the people that make me want that. This is absolutely amazing. Kudos (:

  34. Wow. Here I am, sitting on another continent reading this in a language that is not mine… we hopeless romantics are the same everywhere. :)

    Profoundly beautiful and profoundly sad.

  35. heart-wrenching yet very real…eloquently written and so so touching!
    i love it and can totally relate to this scene.

  36. That’s a great story but it’s so sad. Is it a true story?

    BTW … this story caught my eye, because I’m from Kentucky too :-)

  37. To the writer-just remember there a new season coming your way nothing last forever. Whether your Straight or gay——-God never promise we would not have trials and we would not suffer. I will say to writer God Loves you so much he gave his Son for you and all who just believe in him we have life eternity–John 3:16——Romans 10:9-10.

    I’m not here to judge you but my thought are God has a Plan for your future JeriMaih 29-10-11-
    I hope this you will find comfort how you feel——Take care God Is Love-

  38. My parents are both originally from Glasgow, Kentucky. My father joined the Army and after 21 years of service, retired in a little town here in Texas. My folks are in their 80’s now. I left that little town at 18 and never looked back until I had to a few years ago due to their health issues. I left because there were no opportunities in the town, the homophobia of my father, and the extreme homophobia of the military mentality at the time and the redneck homophobia. I, like you came back “home” after telling my partner that I had to leave because my family needed me. She despised me after that…hasn’t talked to me since then. I was in culture shock when I came back. The town had developed into a metro area of over 150,000 people, not as much homophobia as there was back in the day, but the gay community here is very quiet due to the military mentality that still exists here. Thank you for sharing your story.

  39. How sad, but this is what life is, sometimes.

    I am going in the bedroom and kissing and loving my partner. I love him so much and I am going to appreciate him more today because of your story.

    Thank you,


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