one of my binding rules has always been: don't have sex with friends.
now, i've become friends with people i've slept with and there have been people i've slept with multiple times that acted friendly (straight people call this friends with benefits, we gays called it for what it was...fuck buddies), but even they started out as perfect strangers. but there are a few who have been both and even fewer who should have been. that's why kevin's death has rattled me so.
at first he was just a backwaiter at a restaurant i worked at. we had similar ideas about being queer in the early nineties and when we discovered that we both resided in the Lower Garden District (which Esquire magazine had chosen as the hippest neighborhood in America that very summer), he invited me to stop over at his house to get high after work.
on our way inside we stopped by the chain link fence surrounding the old house he lived in, and he picked up, what appeared to be to my eye, some trash off of the ground. It wasn't. It was paper. Paper he had made by collecting shredded bits of notes and writings and soaking them in water, then pressing them into planks with herbs and things. It was art to write on.
up till that moment, paper had just been something churned by invisible hands in some far away factory. i think i fell in love with him that day, the golden light of a new orleans summer afternoon dancing through his tussled hair.
later, in new york we spent all day together taking nude photos in central park, being chased by cops and acting like good old fashioned queer hooligans. there's a picture of the five of us, (kevin, me, adrian, keith and brian) sitting on the mushroom at the alice in wonderland statue. there are only two of us left from that picture. and the photo itself lies at the bottom of lake ponchatrain after my house was deluged by hurricane katrina.
one time, while showing a friend that picture, i referred to them as my contemporaries. she asked why i would use that word to describe them.
"because in that moment, those were people who absolutely believed the same things that i did."
it's a rare thing to find.
it was facebook, of course, which reconnected us all these years later. it was a 'oh goodie! it's robert!' that greeted me. through the short year he shared poems and comments. there was a queer-zine that i self published in the early nineties that he still had a copy of (he wrote a guest editorial called kevin's crotch, my article had a condom glued to the page), which he took a pic of and posted. he called me a wicked, and mean writer. but i could never touch him for his use of words and generating images. he told me to write, to fill in the pages with my thoughts and ideas. i wish i had some of his hand made paper to write on now.
for my birthday, there was an admission. a sort of regret that we had never slept together in our youth. but that would have broken my rule about friends.
last night i sat in my bed and read the past year of postings and reviewed all of the photos he had taken. the footsteps he took towards the end of his life. our memories are like crumbs left in a forest for friends to find their way. they don't lead you home, they don't take you to a destination. but if you follow them, you'll go anywhere.
i breathe for him today.