Time was growing short. Mr. S’s options for staying in Lurkistan were diminishing. He would either have to secure sponsorship by that point, or he would have to leave.
Mr. S and Ms. R were in contact during this time. Once they invited me and another of their friends to attend a marriage counselling session. That did not go well. Mr. S threatened to leave and I accused him of using Ms. R solely for his immigration status. (In fairness, the other reason I remember this event is because Ms. R introduced me to the therapist as one of the people most invested in their marriage. I am not sure that was a compliment, but it felt like a compliment at the time.)
Mr. S started researching places to live. Going back to NYC was a possibility, but it was not a good one. NYC was expensive, he had no money, and he had burned out many of his supports. On the other hand, most of his remaining social connections were there.
After a few weeks Mr. S decided that if he had to leave he would settle down in Cleveburgh. Why Cleveburgh? He listed a bunch of reasons, which uncharacteristically he wrote down. He admired the transit system and the bicycle paths. He cited access to health care resources, and the local Catholic Worker movement. He wrote about libraries and proximity to water (which is one thing he missed a lot from New York). But his primary hope remained for Lurkistani citizenship.
What was my role in all of this? Would I continue supporting Mr. S financially? If so I would have to get a job. My ties to Lurkville were weakening; I had completed my schooling and my volunteering was falling apart, so maybe it was time for a change. I started looking around for a full-time job either in Lurkistan or in the United States. My plan was to get RJ’s favourite visa (an H1B permit), find a job, and possibly move Mr. S with me so I could be his emotional support. Once Mr. S decided that Cleveburgh was his preferred option I started looking for positions there.
I continued to delude myself that my motives were altruistic, and that even though I was planning to rent a place for Mr. S and I to live, somehow I would respect Mr. S’s sexuality and leave him well enough alone. Why was I so obsessed with being his support? Who did I think I was fooling?
It got so bad that I thought maybe I had found my purpose in this life. Why was I such damaged goods? Why was I attracted to men, and furthermore why was I not attracted to the kinds of men all the other gays liked? The boyish smooth models prominently featured in gay newspapers did nothing for me. Why did I fall for older, overweight straight-acting men with lots of body hair? Maybe that was for a reason. Maybe my role was to care for this man, and to support him financially and emotionally. Being agnostic bordering on atheist, I was not willing to give credit to God or even the universe for setting up these circumstances. But if this was my role then at least I would not have to face the utter purposelessness of living, so I clung to this explanation. What a maroon. In my defence I had been reading A Prayer for Owen Meany, but that was hardly an excuse.
I may have been fooling myself but I wasn’t fooling anybody else. At long last Mr. S finally confronted me directly. He asked whether I had sexual feelings for him, and I admitted I did. He said that he did not reciprocate these feelings, and recommend that I go see his therapist, because his therapist was gay too. He said that Ms. R had told him that I probably had feelings for him, and then I realized that Ms. R had probably known for years. She was very astute about these things. Yet she trusted me in Mr. S’s presence even when they were married.
Then Ms. R reached a decision. She and Mr. S and I met to decide whether to move forward with the paperwork or not. She said she was not willing to sponsor Mr. S. The marriage was over. Sponsorship would have meant being financially responsible for Mr. S for several years, and she could not handle that stress. I held her hand briefly and thanked her, and told her that I did not bear any ill will.
I was shocked and numb on the way out of that meeting. Mr. S invited me to his place. He said we could share a bed. It would be nothing sexual, of course. The offer made me shocked and a little angry. Was Mr. S now trying to manipulate me the way he had tried to manipulate Ms. R? I refused his offer.
I doubled down on trying to find work. I got to a second phone interview with a company in Ohio, before I leaked too much information about my mental health and was rejected for the position. I did not get as far as a first phone interview anywhere else. My hopes for getting a job near Mr. S, renting a second apartment and supporting him there were dashed.
I briefly considered marrying Mr. S and sponsoring him myself. Lurkistan had legalized gay marriage, so maybe I could use this marriage token to get Mr. S his citizenship. Once again, who was I trying to fool? Fortunately I let the idea go quickly.
Mr. S made plans to leave for Cleveburgh. I do not remember his exact plans. I suspect he intended to stay with the Catholic Worker people before finding a place of his own. In some ways he was worse off than he would have been moving back to New York. He would not qualify for social assistance. I decided that I would continue to offer him financial support to the extent I was able.
A few days before he left Mr. S and I were saying our goodbyes. I told him I would miss him. I hugged him and lay my head against his chest. He gave me some story about how this was okay because men need to be touched. I did not care. I let my head rest against his chest, and I listened to his heartbeat.
And that was that. Mr. S got an apartment, which I helper pay for. As usual I was controlling and abusive, getting angry when Mr. S used the money I gave him on cigarettes or his car. Probably he was getting some financial support from a rich uncle as well. After several months he qualified for disability supports, so he no longer needed my money. He has been on disability ever since.
Ms. R moved on as well. As her marriage was breaking up she started corresponding with another fellow in a nearby city. She eventually moved in with him. Once I saw her as I was preparing to board a train. She got off the train I was planning to board. Her new fellow was there as well. She looked happier, and I was happy for her.
Left to my own devices I crashed. The trigger was a terrible job interview. I fell into a cycle of sleeping, reading books from the library, and then sleeping again. When I couldn’t sleep I would hit myself on the head with an iron saucepan, which would usually be enough for me for me to curl up and fall back into unconsciousness. So everything worked out in the end.