My hair always goes limp in the heat. My hair sticks to my forehead and the sweat makes my roots curly. I was trying to fix this as I walked through the blisteringly hot streets of Bushwick. There was a mixture of smells in the air, an overpowering and lingering smell of garbage and a cacophony of coffee and hot meats scenting the environment. I was heading to meet a guy who I knew from Instagram, I had no expectations, I just knew I was lonely as hell and needed some company. I came to New York for escape. I had one of those terrible break ups in which you lose a part of your identity and you need to try and search for it again. I wanted to disappear from England, and the next best option seemed to be New York. I’m one of those attention seeking, exhibitionists online. The kinda guy you hate. It’s become a big part of my life and it’s given me the opportunity to escape as and when I want to. I don’t know anyone in New York, but I figure everyone is a stranger until they’re a friend. I certainly wasn’t looking for love. Some days I still cry thinking about my recent relationship, so I definitely am not in the right place for a companion. The funny thing is, when you’re in the most vulnerable of places, it’s at that point you need a companion the most. We’re told by society that love is something you should have as a bonus, something only rich people deserve. If you’ve got your career sorted, then sure, you can get married, but if you’re unemployed and aimless, then forget about it. I have no agenda when I meet people I know from online. I was always the kinda kid that was looking for love. I lust in the strangest of places. My life is driven by love and lust. I see the art in every conversation. The flaws and the strengths. The chemical connection compared to the mental one. I often believe that every relationship is connected on a chemical level, then you have to work out the mental bullshit after, that’s the test. If you can make it through the gruelling mental connection after the chemical one connects and you lose the excitement of the initial reaction, then you’ll make it. I often think of it as a cup of tea. When you pour the milk into the black tea, the milk folds and unfolds in the most beautiful fashion. This signifies the beginning of a relationship, the beautiful & natural chemical reaction. Two bodies mixing for the first time. Then the two liquids form and you’re left with a singular colour. You’re on the same page, so you add some sugar into the journey and life stirs things up a bit. Then we’re left with the taste. Sometimes it’s too sweet, too bitter or too dull, but sometimes it’s just right. A good relationship is like a good cup of tea, warm, heartfelt and cosy, but the true formula is somewhat unknown. The only thing about being in New York, is the lack of tea. I sometimes think New Yorkers need a good cup of tea. They need a little northern lady to bring them in, sit them down and offer them a brew, maybe they’d chill out a bit. One thing they do have in New York that brings me joy, is doughnuts. Sometimes a doughnut can be just as fulfilling as a cup of tea. I prefer the simple, glazed variety myself. In typical American fashion they do go a little overboard, adding jams, nuts and creams into and onto almost every kind of doughnut, but still, I can’t complain. That’s where I was off to, to meet my Instagram friend. I knew he was in town so I figured I’d like to hang with someone, rather than just myself for another day. I walked into the doughnut shop and was a little overwhelmed. The racks and racks of doughnuts, the smell of the sweet dough, the coffee, the hipsters walking from one side to the other to sit with other hipsters with open MacBooks, probably writing a thesis on the gentrification of Brooklyn. Then I clocked my Instagram ‘date’. I wouldn’t call it a date. We had had some flirty back and forth action on Instagram and Facebook, but nothing to suggest this was a date. It was simply a meeting of two worldly boys. I say boys, I am 27 and he’s about 30. I think I’ll always call myself a boy though. The millennial, Peter Pan syndrome is definitely alive and well in me. I noticed his eyes, they beamed through the cafÃ© and hit me in the back of the head. It was almost like when a kid shines a laser in your eyes at a party, that stumble backwards and cover the eyes motion. Obviously I didn’t stumble backwards, because that would’ve been weird, but inside my head I did, a little. He was smiling. Beaming almost, to have seen me in person. It was one of those exotic moments in which you catch eyes with someone and it’s as if you just allowed them to read some of the files stored in the back of your mind. They look into your eyes, and you somewhat feel they’ve been allowed to go on your computer and look through your external hard drives. When you have that kind of connection, when someone can see into your soul from across the room, it’s way deeper than what we understand. I made my way over to his table and he got out of his chair and made his way to me. We met in the middle and he threw his arms around me. We had exactly the same body type. Slim, athletic and hairy. His grip was strong, and I reciprocated. It was as if we’d met before, like two old friends. I could smell him as his arm was around my shoulder. My heart beat faster for a second as I smelled him. It was sweet and musky, but manly. A smell you get from spending a day in the sun, or going for a jog and not showering after. It wasn’t an offensive smell, but one of pure sex. He took a step back and held the back of my head. “It’s so lovely to finally meet you” he said, staring straight into my soul. I stumbled on my words back to him, “you too, it’s been so long, we’ve been talking online, I mean…” He was confident, and engaged, and I was floundering and nervous. I sat down with him at his table, and he started talking, maybe he was nervous too as he was talking a lot and it was all fairly nonsensical. “Do you want a doughnut?” I asked. He suggested that we shared one, so I went to the counter ordered two doughnuts and a knife. I didn’t realise that the doughnut shop we were in was vegan, which bemused me when after ordering a coffee the barista asked if I wanted soy or almond milk, to which I stood there blankly staring at her wondering if I’d accidentally asked her for something odd. It’s funny, if I was in London I would’ve said neither, but when you’re in a different country you automatically feel more dumb and bewildered. We split our doughnuts and chatted for a bit, talked about life on and off Instagram. I’d managed to gather that he was a bit of a Chatty Cathy when he was nervous, but I was ok with that. All the while we were talking I was checking out his being. I’m sure everyone does this when they’re into someone. I was looking at the locks of chest hair that were poking out of this vest, his cute blue hair that was sneaking out of this baseball cap and most importantly his eyes. He had the most beautiful eyes. Pools of light brown that had so many stories, but most importantly I could see love. I could see a warm soul. He suggested we went for a walk, he had to visit the Apple Store to get an adapter for his laptop. He was in town visiting from LA. It was a weird meeting, two souls, one from London, one from LA, meeting in New York. It was the future thanks to the Internet. I didn’t have any plans anyway, so I figured I’d go with him. I was definitely feeling something, so I wanted to follow through on that a bit. We left the doughnut shop and walked to the subway. Every time there was a moment of silence or a dip in conversation, we would catch eyes and smile. He made me nervous. So I would say “you make me nervous.” He would giggle and say back to me “I make you nervous?” I agreed, just nodding and smiling. We were like two giggling school girls. Walking by his side I realised how similar we were. We were the same height, and exactly the same build. Well, I was a little skinnier. He had a beautiful complexion. This golden skin gifted to him by California, a clear face, almost glowing. He talked about how important his Instagram was to him, his goals and achievements. How much he still wanted out of life, and how little he cared what people thought of him. I found him inspiring, but also I saw myself in him. We were very similar in life as we were in looks. I didn’t take my Instagram profile as seriously as him, maybe I should. I see having a big online presence as Monopoly money. Having loads of followers is great for the ego, but doesn’t do much for the bank account. He was very serious about his online following though. It was a typical conversation between an American and a Brit. The Brit taking all in life with a pinch of salt, and the American taking everything with a side of fries, coated in salt and sugar. However, I couldn’t help but think I could learn something from this person. What was the point in me coming to America if I wasn’t going to learn something from Americans? We were like the town and country mouse. We were both from big cities, but I figured I automatically got country mouse status being from England. We hopped on the subway and went to Chelsea. He had his computer sorted and then he suggested I walked with him a few blocks to where he was staying. He was talking about how he saw something in me, in my online presence. He mentioned how I looked like an energy, ready to offer the world something exciting, but the door was still locked and somebody needed to unlock it. I felt the same, and it wasn’t the first time someone had said this to me. I don’t know where my energy is placed, and sometimes there is art in that, but he was right. How long can I flit around for? Do I want to be the guy who is 37 and at a party, and when someone says to me what do you do, I reply, ‘a bit of everything’. We’re in a weird place right now, in which you can have a career from being famous, for nothing. Whether it be from a reality show, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. It would be vacuous of me, and a dishonour to say this is what I wanted from life, but I do like the personal freedom that the Internet allows for one to express oneself without economic drive. I’ve had many doors shut in my face, in an industry which thrives on beauty, height and physique. My Instagram is my own release. I can express myself on there, via my writing, music, or just myself as a human and sexual being. It’s honest and pure. There are no advertisements, I’m not being paid to post things. What I do is just me, and nothing is more authentic than that. However, the people in society who choose to not take up these opportunities, and choose to live a more honest life, are a lot more judgemental of people who do. I get aggressive words sent to me online by people who are angry that I perceive myself as a model, they don’t deem me attractive enough to think of myself as such. Why can’t I be a model? If thousands of people want to see my pictures on Instagram, why shouldn’t I? If I can use my body as a portal to open up people’s eyes to see the beauty in real people, people who aren’t paid for their beauty, but just want to celebrate their natural state, then of course I will. Beauty can be seen in the ugliest of places. I see beauty behind the hatred of someone’s words. Jealousy has a negative connotation, but everyone feels it. What you mustn’t do is lower yourself to that emotion. Don’t act upon it. You can be mindful of it, and know that everyone feels it, but don’t lower yourself to it. Jealously and fear can be great tools to make oneself a higher achiever. Which is why our society is based on fear. Fear of failing, fear of disease, fear of hurt, loss, love and crime. So when we see other people rising above that fear, showing their bodies, singing, creating art, we feel jealous. How can they overcome their fear but I cannot? Well you can, just divert the jealousy into a place of practicalness, create something. I get way more negative feedback online than someone who is beautiful does, and it’s because I’ve overcome the fear of caring what society thinks of me. I don’t think I’m ugly, but I’m not a model, I just know I’m a sexual being with a stimulated brain that sees the art in life maybe more than the usual person. No one should be a slave to any one thing, person, emotion or state. Life is way too short to spend time thinking about what other people are doing or achieving, and I’m guilty of wasting my time on this to, but as long as we are mindful of the things we are feeling, then we are safe. Often when I meet people they have this overwhelming desire to mother me. I have a vulnerable aspect to my personality. I’ve had a lot of personal disappointment, and with that comes melancholy. I would definitely describe myself as melancholic, and I always have been. I swapped schools four times, and was usually the last kid in the playground holding onto their mother’s leg. Whenever I left friends behind I would cry for weeks. I would sit in my room and just sob. I don’t necessarily enjoy sadness, but I definitely revel in it. Sometimes I see the most beauty in life when I’m sad. Being sad is way more real than being indifferent. The emotion that can burn in ones soul when grieving is so poignant and powerful. It can shatter your entire body until you are a shaking, inconsolable mess. We forget about the physical effect that sadness has on us. Being unhappy is way more physically demanding than being happy. I dated someone who is bipolar for a long time and it was particularly difficult. 80% of the time I was inflicted by his sadness, 15% extreme happiness, the sort of happiness that can only be compared to a kid in Disneyland, and then 5% of indifference. The time I hated the most was indifference, it was the bleakest. It was the absence of emotion. I often go through times of indifference, in fact I feel like I’ve spent the past few years in a state of indifference. It’s the scariest time. It’s a time in which you feel nothing. You could walk into the road, be hit by a car and think ‘meh’. The reason I came to New York was to feel something again. To escape the feeling of indifference. When I arrived in New York it didn’t disappear, it only made me feel it more. I was questioning how I could be in the middle of Times Square and feel nothing. Every person I’d meet made me feel more alone. The only thing that can make you feel more lonely than being alone, is spending time with someone you have no connection with. Well, that was a palpable feeling until this day. We walked up 9th Ave until we turned off to find his apartment. Well, it wasn’t his apartment, as he was crashing with someone, just like I was. It was weird that neither of us had a permanent base in the city. It almost felt like we were two runaways. I liked it. We went up the stoop and into his friends apartment, it was small but cute, and no one was home. I sat on the couch and took my shoes off. My feet were killing me from walking so much in the city. He sat down next to me and asked if I smoked weed. I do and I don’t. I have periods where I smoke more than others, but I’m a little nervy in the drugs area. I always think I’ll be in the 1% that’ll die from taking one drag of the wrong stuff. Anyway, he decided to light up next to me, so I no doubt got a little high from passive smoking. He was beautiful, and the more time I spent with him the more I noticed his beauty. When he was high he only got more giggly and warm. His eyes were transfixed into mine, and he made himself more comfortable on the couch. There was a serious sexual & chemical tension between us. I was shy and nervous, I could tell I liked him and I didn’t want to kiss him because of that. When you kiss someone, the tension breaks, and the brewing of the tea begins. I wasn’t ready. The connection felt too good and so I wanted to hold on to the feeling. I could feel that we were just seconds away from that first kiss moment, and the doorbell went. His friend had just got back. I was relieved, not because I didn’t want to kiss him, I just didn’t want to just yet. His friend came in and we chilled together as a three for a bit. They were going to a fashion week event, they wanted me to come so they got me on the guest-list to go in with them. I was a little hesitant, as going out with them meant I was blowing my friend off who I’d sort of arranged plans with. It was now evening time, and I hadn’t really planned on staying out this long. I blew my friend off. That’s what we all do when we’re into a boy right? It’s the oddest thing. I could meet a boy a like, and then the only think about that one boy for days after. I could be with my best friend and be thinking in the back of my mind, ‘I would literally throw you under a bus right now for the chance to be sitting opposite him instead’. It’s sick huh? Maybe I’m the only one who thinks like that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not. It’s like chemically your body is only letting you connect mentally with that one person, so when your friend is with you talking about their favourite restaurant or some drivel, all you want to do is gun them down mid speech. Maybe a little extreme but you know what I mean. We went to this fashion party, and he was there to work, he was photographing and his friend was gonna keep me company while he walked around. His friend and I grabbed some free champagne and stood around pretending we knew at least one thing about the event, I didn’t even know the name of the designer, and by the looks of half the people in the room, they didn’t either. Fashion week is a circus. The people who have to be there for work, find it sluggish and boring, and the people who are there for leisure, which is probably 70% of people, are dressed to impress and looking for a purpose. Very odd. I could see him walking around the room, photographing the models and attendees. He was being pulled around by people trying to get a snap. Occasionally he would glance up, look through the crowd, and I would catch his eye. I’d take a sip of my champagne and smile. I’d look down, then look back up and see him still smiling at me. For that split moment it was as if the room stopped, everyone and anyone in there didn’t matter. It was a slow motion moment between his soul and mine. Stopping in transit to reconnect from a distance. His eyes would catch mine, and a bit of him would pour into me. Enveloping my senses and stirring my desires. He walked across the room and suggested we go soon. He slid his hand around my waist, the same way as ivy clings around a building. I felt like he owned me for a moment, like I was his. His property, not in a negative sense, but in a way in which I felt like I belonged. He liked running his fingers through my hair. Every time he would glide his hand towards my forehead, and his fingertips flew through my hair, my knees buckled slightly underneath me. It was a sensory overload, and he knew it. Every time he was near me I could smell his pheromones. His slightly unwashed and musky, sexual aura. His breath smelled kissable, and his beard was full. We left the party and headed downstairs to hail a cab outside. The three of us squeezed in the back and I was sat inbetween him and his friend. He put his arm over my head and around behind me, and I slid my hand down onto his knee. It felt natural and normal. It felt right. When his friend was talking, I’d turn my head to him, and we’d both smile. There was an unspoken love that was glimmering in his eyes. Obviously it wasn’t true love, life isn’t a Disney film, but there was a certain amount of love there. He loved what he saw and what he knew so far, and it wasn’t unrequited. We’d stare deeply in each other’s eyes, and would do so until one of us broke a smile, then the other would smile and usually turn their head away. The coy and bashful flirting of humans. We got out of the taxi and headed back into this friends house. His friend was tired so we decided to head out and leave him be. We walked out of the apartment and he said we should sit for a little on the stoop. It was very American pop culture. My love interest and I, sitting on a stoop at midnight in the Manhattan west village. For some reason I felt scared. From nowhere this overwhelming feeling of sadness and fear crept over me. I stared up to the fire escapes and the black NY sky and I said “I feel nervous, you make me nervous.” He asked me why, but I said I didn’t know. I lied. For so long I’d felt nothing. I’d felt nothing because I’d been so broken down, and I’d taught myself to feel nothing. If you feel nothing, then you’re not emotionally open enough to be hurt again. It’s a protection. The less you have to lose the freer you are. Living with sadness is a lot easier, and more tangible, than living with the fear of losing your happiness. Single people can be much happier than people in a relationship. Often when I’m in a relationship I live in fear that they’re going to leave me, cheat on me or let me down in some way. When I’m single, I feel indifference and life is more exciting in a way, and when I’m single but after a break up, I feel deep sadness, but sadness is less troubling than fear or panic. Many more people live in a state of fear or panic when they have something to lose e.g relationship, money, job etc than those who don’t. I sat on that stoop and I held back the tears. This year had really knocked me down and sitting there at that moment felt like a happy moment that I didn’t deserve, and one I know I would lose. “This is such a beautiful moment but it can only end in sadness,” I said. He seemed confused. We both lived so far away from each other, and even if this was a fleeting moment, and not the start of a great romance, we would eventually have to say goodbye and take separate paths. People often say to me, ‘just take it easy’, they tell me to enjoy the moment and not get so serious. This is an impossible notion for me. I do everything or nothing. If my heart tells me to give something my all, I will. No holds barred.
“This moment is pure beauty. It’s something out of a book or a movie. Two people from opposite sides of the earth, sat together on a stoop in New York City, having a moment. It’s not too hot, or too cold. Both sober and living in the seconds that tick by. Consciously watching every moment go past in slow motion. I would never have predicted in my deep sadness two months ago that I could’ve had this moment here today. It’s the wrong place, wrong person, wrong time, but right moment. A happy moment that is so fleeting, that you know it will pass you by. I feel like a boy handed a balloon in a hurricane. Is this my test? Do I struggle to hold onto the balloon, or do I see the beauty in watching it slip from my fingers and fly away in the storm. I’m sitting here feeling happy, but when I feel happy, I feel sad. I want to learn the happy story of two ships passing in the night, and not the tragedy…” He stopped me with his lips. My eyes closed and his beard touched mine. His lips rested upon mine and I felt his hand on my cheek. A tear released inside my eye and fell on the inside of my cheek where no one could see. I had been officially broken or awakened, and I couldn’t see which yet. His kiss hurt my soul, but cleansed it at the same time. “I think you’re beautiful. Come on, let’s go for a walk,” he grabbed my hand and lead me off the stoop. We started walking toward the river, and we held hands. I was nervous but it felt right. We reached a highway, and he just started running. “Come on!” He shouted. “We can’t run across here!” I said. I was super scared. “You want a real New York experience, well here it is! Run!” He proclaimed. I ran after him, I wanted to be braver. That’s what I’d come to New York to achieve. He looked at me in my eyes as we stood in the middle of the highway, cars speeding past behind and in front of us. I turned around and closed my eyes. This was so real. It was so authentic, yet so movie like. I didn’t believe that these things happened to real people. There was a gap in the traffic so we made a run for it. We ran across the highway and climbed up the grass side, on the way to the Hudson. We climbed over the ledge and I could see New Jersey glistening on the river in front of us. There was no one around and I ran toward the railings to lean over the river. I looked back and he was walking towards me, smiling. “I can’t believe this is happening, it feels like a dream,” I said. “The town mouse and the country mouse running wild in a foreign city, finding familiarity in an unfamiliar place.” There was a giant sculpture of a bottle which he ran over to and climbed on top of. It looked quite high so it made me nervous, but I went over to him anyway. I put one foot up and he reached his hands over to help me. He yanked me up onto the nozzle of the giant bottle, and we both straddled it facing each other. He leant in to me and the brush like texture of his moustache tickled my lips. I held my hands on either side of his face and I pulled him in toward me. We were kissing and smiling. It was romantic and adorable. Every time we would pull away from each other my brain would question everything that was happening. Asking me if this was real, and if I deserved it. I couldn’t be in a new relationship right now. I’d come to NYC to learn more about myself, not meet another boy. I’m addicted to loving people. Sometimes life isn’t about fighting for success, but if success comes to you because of your talents then great. If it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve love. Love is the greatest unexplainable art form in the world. Something that is just a feeling, an unexplained chemical reaction, triggered by smells, thoughts, tastes, visions and feelings. The feeling of being with just one person, while they touch you, look you in the eyes and admire you for the person you are inside the shell the world sees, is worth a million. I let him in that night, it wasn’t intentional, it just happened. It was an unexplained moment. Certain people take a room in the hotel of your heart, and then they reside there until you die. I believe we have a lot of rooms, and no matter how much pain we feel, or how much we grieve, they always keep a place there. I felt like he took a room that night. Two people in New York, no room, but the room in my heart. I stared into his eyes and I could see the lights reflecting off the Hudson. This was a true romance, like something from the movies, but it was happening to me. I felt like my battery had charged. I felt the colour yellow fill me up from my feet to my head. He jumped off the bottle, and held out his hands to help me down. We walked a little further south down the river and saw other couples on benches or leaning by the pier. I wondered what stages they were at. Our stage? The first stage. Maybe they were at the rekindling stage, trying to bring the romance back at the fear of losing each other. Maybe they were fighting and talking things out. Maybe it was an anniversary. Life is like a film, and everyone has their part to play. All these different storylines going on around us, but all we think about is our own plot line. I fear but cherish the emotions that life throws at me. When I felt the happiness I did by the Hudson that night, I equally felt dread. The dread of losing what I had experienced that night. You finally open your gates, you let in all the yellow colour and it’s so bright that you can’t see anything around you anymore. You can’t make correct decisions. You can’t act like the person you were before you opened the gates. You were changed. I don’t think we change by looping back to the person we were before, I believe we change into a new phase of the person we’re meant to be. I don’t see this as a spiritual way of thinking, I see this as reality. We experience things, we get hurt, we grieve and we move on, as a changed individual. We learn things, but we don’t learn from our mistakes. If we learned from our mistakes we would never love again. We have to be willing to make all those mistakes again to open ourselves to love again. Love isn’t like a skill, or a talent. It’s chemical. You don’t get better or worse at it. It just happens or it doesn’t. There is no wrong or right time. You just have to let it consume you, then when you are consumed, you find a way to control yourself within that consumption. Love can’t be dictated. You can’t say that you’re not ready for a relationship or a lover, because it will come regardless of your mood. You can meet someone in the most unusual of environments, catch eyes, and know that maybe this is your time. We strolled back through the west village. We walked past a Mini car retailer, there were London telephone booths in the window and union jacks. It made me feel at home, and calmer than I already did. This was the first time I’d been in NYC and felt calm. We held hands and walked. We kissed occasionally, and we arrived back to his. I didn’t want to stay, and I couldn’t anyway because it wasn’t his apartment. I wanted to charge my phone so I had enough battery to know how to get home. We creeped into his place and sat down on the sofa. I plugged my phone in and he turned around on the sofa and laid his head down on my lap. I stroked his hair and forehead and he started to fall asleep. When you go through a break up, you feel so hopeless, there’s never the hope that you’ll have a moment like this with someone in your future. He started to close his eyes and I closed mine. I moved my leg and my phone dropped off the table, it was loud and it startled us both. He sat up and next to me. We held each other, and were kissing. We were admiring each other for the first time, it was innocent and precious. We could hardly keep our hands off each other at this stage. The tension had reached such a level with which we lost control. He climbed on top of me and he kissed me passionately and intensely. My hands were around his waist and his on my face. We really started going at it, but I was hesitant as I didn’t want to go there with him at this stage. I knew that if we had sex, it really would be two ships passing in the night, and I wasn’t ready to accept that yet. I pushed myself away from him a bit, and said that I didn’t want us to go there. As disappointed as we both were, he agreed. If you give up the sex to soon, it ends the chase. You’ve locked the chemical connection in, but then it dies soon after because the initial solution wasn’t mixed with care. Sex with a stranger can happen anywhere, but to catch eyes with someone and your lungs forget how to breathe for a split second, that’s much rarer, and it should be handled with care. I reluctantly said I’d call a taxi, and so I did. We stood up, held each other and kissed goodnight. He let me out of the apartment and I left down the stoop and toward Broadway to catch my cab. I got in the taxi and the driver asked me what music I’d like, I said classical. I wanted it to be perfect. We drove through Manhattan, over the bridge and into Brookyln. The lights were passing me in slow motion, and I was trying to process what had happened in that day. I passed signs and suburbs and I felt happy. I felt content with the fear I felt in that happiness, and accepted that maybe that was just my brain and I needed to deal with it. I had actually come to New York City and found love. Maybe the love would last, maybe it wouldn’t, but what I did experience today was love. Short love or long love, no matter how small or insignificant it may have seemed in the grand scheme of my life, it’s something I will carry in my heart forever. It was easy, it was art, it was love.