I’m From Tucson, AZ.

by Sean Mackey

I’m From Tucson, AZ.

When I was 17 years old I fell in love at first sight. It’s a difficult sensation to explain, and you know when people hear you say it they think it’s just a case of lust, because how could you love someone you don’t know?

I had recently come out, and everything was very new and scary to me. My grandparents were taking me to the theatre that night. I remember it in such vivid detail. We went to the B & B Café in downtown Tucson and we were going to see a play called Nora, an adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. I still have the ticket stub. We ordered our food and sat down and that’s when I saw him. He was working at the café and I was instantly smitten. I didn’t have much confidence with guys back then; I certainly did not know how to flirt or “work it” – especially with my grandparents in tow! Somehow I mustered up enough courage to go and ask him for a spoon, but that was the extent of it.

And that’s how it started. What delineated this feeling from lust is that my thoughts and feelings immediately went to a much deeper place. I imagined walking down the street with him holding hands, traveling together, maybe moving to New York together – basically a whole lifetime. And of course as adults now we know better, right? We know now that thinking like that is “foolish,” “crazy,” “psycho”. But all through the play I could not stop thinking about him. I went back twice to “study” at the café. One time he was not there. The other time he was, but I could not bring myself to speak to him, nor did he speak to me. I tried to put it out of my mind.

Flash forward one year: I am in college. The University of Arizona is a very large school, but walking to class one day across the courtyard of a building I get a feeling and look up—the courtyard is surrounded by three levels of balconies that look over into it—and there he is three stories up staring down at me. Then I started running into him at the student union or just out on the mall. We never spoke. I started asking around about him, but with no real specificity: “Have you seen some guy who walks around school?” Very funny. But I think along with love at first sight there was also some fate involved. It turns out we had a mutual friend in common, which we did not know, and we had both asked the same friend about each other, this mystery guy.

My friend put the pieces together and I found myself with an invitation to his birthday party. I could not believe a year later I was going to meet him, be at his apartment, that he remembered me! And so I went. And the eerie thing is that everything I dreamed he would be, what he would be like, all the fantasies in my mind were all true. He was exactly as wonderful as I thought he would be. And he had a loft with stairs leading up to his room. We sat on the stairs talking for a long time and soon all the other guests had disappeared. He said he would really like to kiss me. Whoa, I thought, is this really happening?? And he kissed me on the stairs. Before that, my idea of kissing was to open my mouth and attack the other person. So he left me the legacy of teaching me how to kiss with more sensitivity and sensuality. I still think of him sometimes, all these years later, when I kiss someone and it’s warm and exploratory and amazing – he taught me that.

I suppose I will save the rest of the story for another day, but this is one of my fondest memories. That I could randomly see a boy across a small café, bump into him on a campus of 15K plus students (we had totally different majors), have the random friend connect us, and then actually get to meet him and discover that he wanted me back. It was very validating, because I thought I was a little crazy for having such intense feelings about a stranger. It’s never happened to me again, and I suppose that is part of growing up, being less open to that kind of irrational emotion, but I will treasure it always.

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