I don’t know what’s going on with TJ. He’s been living with us for months now. I thought things would be really wonderful, but it hasn’t turned out that way. He seems to pull away from me more and more each day. It seems the closer I try to get to him, the further we grow apart.
It started after he got his emancipation several months ago. The court made him get a job, so he’s been working after school and on weekends at a video store. We hardly see each other. He comes in from work late at night and crashes. He’s having a hard time keeping his grades up at school. He misses a couple days each week because he says he’s too tired to stay awake in class. He has asked many times, “What’s the point in going?”
My dad has tried to talk to him, but they always end up arguing. Once I heard my father call him son, and TJ responded by saying that he wasn’t his son. My father stormed out of the room, went to his bedroom and slammed the door shut. Minutes later, I heard the front door slam. TJ never came home that night.
Christmas was tense around the house. I had been looking forward to spending a lot of time with TJ; however, he worked at the video store through most of it. I had made some money raking leaves and shoveling what little snow we’d had. I spent most of it on gifts for TJ.
He didn’t have a coat, so I went to the mall and bought him a really nice parka with goose down lining. It cost close to $150. I didn’t have much money left over for presents for my parents.
On Christmas morning, he didn’t even come downstairs until after noon. He crept in late the night before, around three in the morning. When I proudly gave him the gift, he said it was nice and laid it aside. When he left for work that night, he didn’t even put it on. He’s only worn it a couple of times since.
What hurt me most was the gift he gave me- a video from the store where he worked. To make it even worse, it was a movie I already had. TJ knew that. We’d watched it together before when he had come over to my house when we first started dating. I went to bed that night and cried myself to sleep. TJ didn’t even come home.
I hate to say it, but I think I’m losing him. I am really trying hard to hold on, but I can feel him slipping away further every day. He disappears several days at a time, and when he comes home he reeks of marijuana and alcohol. We argue all the time. I tried to make love to him last night, but he moved away and told me he was tired.
“What’s the matter, Baby?” I pleaded with him. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
“Would you mind your own business!” he shouted back. “I’m old enough to take care of myself.”
“It’s not about taking care of yourself,” I responded desperately. “It’s about love. I want to share everything with you. Even your problems.”
He sat up and opened his hands to me. “You want my problems? Okay. Here take them,” he spat out angrily. “I don’t have a home anymore. My mother hates me. My brother’s in jail because he beat me up. I’m failing every class in school. I may even drop out. I work all the time, and I make very little money. I don’t get enough sleep, so I’m tired all the time. I live with people who want to know every move I make. All you ever want from me is sex. There. Is that enough for you?”
“TJ, please. Don’t do this,” I begged as I reached for him. “I love you.” He pulled away.
“Do you really?” He replied as he climbed out of bed. “Is it love or lust, Randy?”
He walked over to my closet and pulled out a blanket. He left the room and headed downstairs. I checked on him fifteen minutes later, and he was asleep on the sofa in the den. I stood at the door and stared at his sleeping figure. I was losing TJ and didn’t know what to do.
I went back to bed and slept very little. I was depressed. TJ is my life. I’ve loved him since the first morning in school when he stared at me with those twinkling blue eyes. However, they don’t twinkle now. His face doesn’t light up when he sees me. I don’t think he loves me anymore.
What do you do when you love someone so much that your heart hurts? I mean it literally aches. How can you make that person love you back as much I you love them. It used to be there, but it’s faded away. I’m going crazy thinking what I did wrong. If I knew, then maybe I could make things better. But I honestly don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. I think TJ just woke up one morning and he wasn’t in love with me anymore.
I’ve been pulling back lately. Maybe I pushed too hard. Maybe I demanded too much. Maybe I loved him too strongly. Maybe he didn’t have as much love to give me as I wanted.
One of my teachers has a poster on the wall that says, ‘If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was.’ I guess I am taking this approach with TJ. If he truly loves me, then he’ll come back. However, the waiting is killing me. I’m never sure one day to the next if there really will be a tomorrow for us.
“You don’t look well,” Dean remarked as we were eating lunch in the cafeteria. It was early April and we had just returned from Spring break.
“Yeah, whatever.” I put my head down on the table. Dean reached over and began rubbing my back.
“Want me to fuck him up for you?” He joked, but I knew he was probably thinking about it. He had watched our relationship deteriorating for the past month. Everyone did. At first we had been inseparable, now we were never together.
“No, I don’t want you to fuck him up,” I mumbled. “I just want him back.”
“Did he come home last night?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
“No,” I replied sadly. “He hasn’t been home in two days. He probably won’t be in school today, either.”
“Look!” Dean exclaimed. I lifted my head and looked in the direction he was pointing. TJ was walking through the door with Carter. They were laughing about something. They both looked dirty. TJ had on the same clothes he’d been wearing when he left the house two days earlier. I should know- they were mine.
I started to get up, but Dean pulled me back down.
“Don’t Randy. You’ve got to get over him. You have to face the fact he doesn’t love you anymore.”
“I can’t do that.” I got up and ran out of the cafeteria. I knew I was going to break down, and I didn’t want the whole school to witness it. I ran outside and sat on the bleachers at the football stadium. Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold outside. I had on a sweater, but it wasn’t doing much good.
Suddenly, my coat landed in my lap. I looked up and Dean was standing in front of me. He watched sadly as I wiped the tears from my face.
“Dammit Randy! I’m going back in there and knock that fucker across the cafeteria. Then I’ll kick that scrawny stoner’s ass too.” His face was red with anger.
“No, Dean. Don’t. I’ll get over this. It’s just that it hurts so damn much.” He sat down and pulled me into his chest. I sobbed uncontrollably for several minutes. I felt a heavy weight on the other side of me. I didn’t even have to look up to know that Wilson had sat down. He began rubbing my back.
“You all right, Randy?” he asked with concern.
“No,” I simply replied. He continued rubbing my back.
“TJ’s a good guy. He’s just confused right now. So much happened too fast. He’s just lost his way. He’ll come back,” he said reassuringly.
“I’m not so sure about that, Wilson.” I continued crying into Dean’s chest. “I can’t take this anymore.”
“One thing you can’t do, Randy,” he continued. “Is give up on him. TJ has never had anyone who cared about him before. From what you said, he never knew his father. His own mother hated him and his brother treated him like shit. I think he just got overwhelmed by everything. He’ll figure it out soon. And when he does, you’ll be there with open arms.”
“You’re right about that.” I wiped the tears from my face. Wilson always knew just what to say. If he wasn’t planning to play professional football, he’d make a great counselor.
“Be careful,” he warned. “Just don’t love him too much. You’ll smother him and scare him away.”
“It’s too late,” I responded sorrowfully. “I think I’ve already done that.”
“He still loves you, Randy. When I was tutoring him, we couldn’t get anything done because he always wanted to talk about you.” He looked at me and smiled.
“Thanks, Wilson. I love you, you know that?” I returned the smile.
“Yeah. You’ve told me that hundreds of times. Just don’t ever ask me to marry you.” He started laughing.
“Oh, no!” I clutched at my chest. “I’ll have to return the ring.” Dean was laughing uncontrollably.
“Don’t do that,” Wilson pleaded. “Give it to me and I’ll give it to Trisha.” Dean and I looked at him in amazement.
“Really?” Dean asked excitedly.
“Maybe.” Wilson appeared to be blushing. It was hard to tell.
“Group Hug!” Dean shouted as he pulled me and Wilson in close. We stood at the football bleachers with our arms wrapped around each other. For the first time in weeks, I felt better. Maybe things would turn out all right for us.
* * * * * * * *
I knew it wouldn’t last. I’m not talking about Randy. He’s never given up on me. He still loves me; I don’t even question that. I’m talking about me.
All my life I’ve always blamed all my troubles on others- my mother, my father, my brother, my poverty, my environment. But I came to realize something about myself. One day everything I ever wanted was given to me. I found someone who loves me unconditionally. His parents love me and invited me into their beautiful home. I was free from the miserable conditions that I’d always known.
So what was wrong? I honestly don’t know. Maybe I just got scared. I was so used to taking care of myself that I didn’t know how to adjust to having others take care of me. Randy was always around. It was like I was being smothered. I love him, but he wants too much from me, and I don’t know how to give him what he needs. I gave him everything I could, but it seems he’s always craving more.
I just can’t love that much. I’ve never known love, so it’s just overwhelmed me. I tried to tell him to slow down, but it seems he takes it wrong and he feels he has to love me more. He tries too hard to prove he loves me, when I already know he does.
So what do I do? Do I enjoy the love he is giving me? No. I push him away. I feel rotten. I’m beginning to hate myself again because of what I’m doing to him. I can see the hurt in his eyes. I want to run into his arms and let him hold me once again, but something is pulling me away. Maybe I’m afraid. Maybe I’m not the kind of person who can love. Maybe the tragedies that I’ve lived through have made me unable to love. I don’t know.
The incident at school also made me think. People would always treat us just like Dennis had done. Randy was strong. He could deal with it, but I couldn’t. I’m not sure I can go through life being called a fag everyday. My own mother even hated me because I was gay. How would the rest of the world treat us?
How do I handle it? Like I always have. I drink. Thanks to Carter, he keeps me supplied with liquor and weed. I forgave him for what he did to me. I guess it was just a matter of paying the piper. I needed him.
I also feel sorry for Carter. He’s a great guy. No one has ever taken the time to know him. He’s very sensitive. I’ve never seen him cry, but it seems like he’s always crying on the inside. He just won’t let anyone see it. I know he loves me. I’ve heard him whisper it to me after he’s sucked me off when he thinks I’m asleep. I hate myself for not being the person he wants me to be. But as long as I love Randy, I can never allow myself to love anyone else.
Things are really out of control right now. I’m failing in school because of the job the court made me get as a requirement for my emancipation. It only pays minimum wage, and most of my money goes on alcohol and weed. I’m thinking of dropping out of school.
I’m also having a hard time living with the Lawrences. In addition to making Randy’s life miserable, his parents are beginning to regret inviting me into their home. I’ve heard them talking a few times when they didn’t think I was around. They think I’m a bad influence on Randy, and they are probably right. If I could afford it, I’d move out. Maybe that would help keep Randy and me together. We were doing much better when I lived with my mother.
Speaking of my mother, I ran into her on the street on my way to Carter’s one night. I tried to avoid her, but she saw me. She followed behind me calling me a fag. She kept asking if my boyfriend and his dad liked my ass. Stuff like that. It was embarrassing. People were looking out their windows to see what all the commotion was about.
Carter invited me to go over to Ricky’s again tonight. We spend a lot of time there. He lets us crash if it gets late, and we’re too high to walk home. I think he may be abusing Carter. Carter goes upstairs to his bedroom a lot when we’re there. He comes downstairs and his clothes are disheveled. His eyes are always glassy, like he’s on a different high than weed gives you.
He also gets really edgy, and he’s lost a lot of weight. I try to get him to eat, but he says he’ll just throw it up. I don’t think he’s feeling well. I’m really worried about him, but I’ve got my own problems. Right? Anyway, he wouldn’t listen to me if I did say something.
“You ready?” Carter was standing over me as I was lying on his bed. I was almost asleep. I would really rather get some rest than going over to Ricky’s and getting high. I was thinking about Randy and wondering what he was doing. I noticed him running from the cafeteria today. It looked like he was trying hard not to cry. I know it was about me. God, I hate myself.
“Why don’t we just stay here tonight?” I suggested. “You look like you could also use the rest.” He suddenly became very angry.
“I don’t want to stay here!” he started yelling. “I need to see Ricky. It’s really important.” He started pacing nervously around the room.
“You got any money on you?” he asked. “I’m a little short, and Ricky won’t sell me anything until I pay up.” I looked in my wallet and pulled out a $20 bill.
“That all you got? Damn, I need more than this.” He said staring at the bill.
“Yeah. I’m broke until I get paid next week,” I told him.
“Come on.” I followed him out of the room. He stopped in the kitchen for something to drink. When he noticed his mother’s purse sitting on the counter, he looked at the door and picked it up. He opened it and removed some bills from her wallet. He counted out about a hundred dollars.
“This will do,” He said, placing the wallet back into her purse.
“You can’t do that Carter,” I warned. “It ain’t right.”
“Shut the fuck up! What are you my keeper?” he said angrily. “Let’s go.”
I followed behind him on the way to Ricky’s. I thought about turning around and going back home. I mean, to Randy’s. The way I’ve been acting I don’t think I can call it home anymore. Besides, I’m hardly there.
Carter appeared really thin. He has always been small, but he’s lost even more weight. He looks like the clothes he has on are swallowing him up. He doesn’t even try to keep them pulled up. His pants are hanging almost to his knees. If he didn’t have on a large shirt, I’m sure he’d be mooning me.
When we got to Ricky’s, he disappeared immediately into bedroom. I went downstairs and talked to a couple of guys were who watching television. After spending so much time with them, I’d gotten to know them pretty well. Most were just spaced out stoners. A few went to our school, but I didn’t socialize with them outside of the basement. Three others were dropouts who hung around doing nothing all day.
They made money for the drugs they were buying off Ricky by stealing. Most of them already had a criminal record. They had been arrested for shoplifting, burglary and auto theft. To my knowledge they had never hurt anyone when they committed their crimes. They had tried to get me to go out with them a few times, but I had already learned my lesson. No way did I want to go back to jail.
Carter stumbled down the stairs about a half hour later. His shirt was open and his pants were unbuttoned, so I knew he’d probably just had sex with Ricky. His eyes were glassy, and he seemed to just stare through me when he entered. He sat quietly for about fifteen minutes before he decided to say anything.
“My life is so fucked up,” he muttered. I looked over at him. He had his head back and his eyes closed. “Why TJ?”
“Why what?” I asked. I had no idea what he was asking me.
“You had it all, man,” he replied. “You’re fucking it up. You’re sitting here with a piece of shit like me and you got a guy like Randy waiting at home for you. I‘d give my right nut to have someone love me the way he loves you.” He looked over at me, and for the first time I saw tears in his eyes.