So close but yet so far

I spent this weekend in my happy place-Yankee Stadium. Two days of beautiful weather, incredibly overpriced beer and baseball were good for my soul, but when I was coming back home I also came back into reality. I posted the following in my personal blog and am posting it here to raise awareness … and because it still makes me sad.

So I’m on the AirTrain, the monorail that travels between the NJ Transit stop at Newark Airport and the actual airport. I’m standing up trying to prop my laptop-heavy backpack in a way that will ease the weight on my shoulders. Across from me two young Asian men are standing close together, murmuring to each other, one’s hand wrapped gently around the other’s wrist. I see their eyes darting from side to side, looking at everyone since the car’s pretty full. When the monorail reaches the first stop, the murmuring becomes a little more intense, the grip on the wrist a little stronger. “They’re parting,” I think, unable to stop watching them. When the automated announcement comes on that the monorail is approaching the second stop, both of them tear up but still their eyes dart around. With the exception of myself and another everyone on the car is male. They assess the situation as the monorail slows down, and the grief in their eyes brings a lump to my throat. The monorail stops at the second station. They look at each other, squeeze each other’s wrists hard, then one leaves the train as the other watches with anguished eyes. As the train begins to leave the station the one on the outside tries to keep pace. The one remaining inside lifts his hand, tears glittering in his eyes. He turns away, dashing a hand across his face. His phone beeps a few seconds later and he turns away to murmur into it, still wiping his face. At the third station everyone else leaves except for me and him. He is still murmuring into the phone but he turns to me, tears on his face, wiping them away almost angrily with the heel of his hand.

“Will he be back soon?” I can’t help asking.

He clearly says “I love you” into the phone, then clicks off. “I live in Rochester,” he says. “He’s in Sacramento, we met at school, we go to NYU, we were freshmen.”

“Summers go by quick,” I say.

“I want this one to. His family owns a restaurant, they don’t know about us, he helps out …” He sobs once. “I hate that we could be open at school but now we have to hide, this sucks.”

I reach out and take his hand, hold it tightly. He holds mine just as tightly, sobs again, then gets hold of himself. It turns out we’re flying on the same airline, just to different places, and we talk in the security line, in the waiting area. Mostly he talks. His name is James, his lover is Tyler. They’re both 19, both realizing they were gay in high school but never acting on it until they met each other. Tyler is pre-med, James is studying journalism. James came out to his parents after dating Tyler for a couple of months; surprisingly his dad is the one that’s okay with it while his mom is freaking out. Tyler is first generation Vietnamese-American, his parents proud to send him to such a prestigious school and happily planning on him marrying a distant cousin once he gets his MD. James cries again because he thinks that Tyler will marry that cousin rather than freak his parents out with the news that he’s gay. I don’t say anything because I don’t know what to say. My flight is called, and on impulse I give James a hug and a kiss on the head. “I would have hidden you guys so you could have kissed goodbye,” I say.

James kind of smiles. “Ty said something like that because you were smiling at us. Thank you.”

My God, people, at least let them kiss goodbye when they won’t see each other for three months. It’s not fucking catching.