By Matheus Eleuterio Miranda Dias
I. Winter Born
It was winter when we met.
My first winter in a long time — a real winter, a winter which you cannot help but take note of and dress accordingly to. Most winters I’ve experienced have been Brazilian, and Brazilian winters are at best non-committal.
On a December day, I dressed according to the cold and the occasion: him.
I found myself in a dimly lit room: the fluorescent light in the middle of the ceiling was turned off, the Christmas lights hanging around the room were turned on. On the wall I saw letters, photographs, postcards. On the ceiling I saw a sort of tapestry and a rainbow flag. On the bed, he sat beside me: tank-top, glasses, light complexion, and the bluest of eyes.
His back rested against the wall as we talked. I said something which I can’t remember and in a Freudian slip of sorts, he asked:
I smiled as I realized what had happened, and said:
I leaned in — one arm placed on his right side, another on his left side, both supporting my weight — and placed a soft kiss on his lips.
On them, I could almost taste the sweet fruit of what would become. And I wonder: if we could taste the unripe, would we dare take another bite? No matter what my tastebuds weathered in the road to ripeness, I always believed in the sweetness — I watched the bitten apple in my hand turn from green to scarlet-red.
The following days saw countless kisses, seeming much too few when I unwillingly flew to the harshness of a Brazilian summer. But the sun could never have burnt me more intensely than the passion that burned for him within me.
It was our first Valentine’s Day together, and I packed to spend the weekend with him and his family in Pennsylvania. It was cold, and when I asked if he had any snow boots there I could borrow — our feet are the same size — he said he did.
We made our way to Penn Station and as we watched the TVs that displayed destinations and track numbers, he told me that we weren’t going to Pennsylvania, but instead to Boston.
I’ve always wanted nothing more than to spend time with him away from all else, and the weekend was exactly that. What made every moment better was the realization he had planned for this to happen, and that perhaps he also wanted nothing more than to spend time with me away from all else.
I had no boots and he had brought no extras, so by the end of the day I could barely feel my toes. But our bathroom had a bathtub, and we filled it to its brim with hot water. He laid inside first, and I fit myself in between his spread legs, resting my head on his chest. I sang a line from my favorite Bossa Nova song:
“Ah, Dindi, like a river that can’t find the sea, that would be me without you, my Dindi.”
III. Midsummer Tears
He was upset, and had been drinking heavily. I struggled to keep him from falling over as we walked back to his apartment — luckily, the walk wasn’t long. He cried, fumbling around his words, and I did my best to try to understand.
I had him drink water before putting him into bed, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough.
“Do you think you’re going to throw up?” I asked.
I quickly made my way to the kitchen but found no plastic bags, and instead grabbed a thick paper bag, hoping it would be impermeable enough. I knelt down beside the bed and held the bag open as his body expelled little other than a clear liquid: a mixture of vodka and water. When he was done, he rolled his body over and fell into a deep sleep. I took the bag — which thankfully didn’t leak — to the trash chute.
As I walked, I couldn’t imagine seeing anyone other than him in that state, only to feel nothing but love. And I realized it could not have been truer.
Brick and mortar built walls upon walls between us, and though I could almost feel his beating heart, there was no warmth.
Walls upon walls served as protection from those who had hurt him in the past. He did not see I wanted to tear them down and build something to replace the prison he had built for himself.
But I was in no position to be an architect, and I took far too long to see this.
Our flame had lit up quickly. Yet just as quickly, we began to fade.
In an attempt to save us I unwittingly suffocated the flame, stepping closer and closer. But with no oxygen there is no flame, and my close breathing threatened to bring darkness.
So with shallow breath, I stepped away.
VI. Winter Reborn
I had much to do: the end of the semester brought papers that needed to be written.
My morning routine has always begun with a cup of coffee, and that Monday was no different. But the coffee I had most recently bought tasted too bitter, and I had gone to coffee shops for the past few days — even though the dollars in my bank account would soon reach the double digits.
The nearest Starbucks sat on Spring Street, only a few blocks away from my apartment. Though it was December the true cold had not yet come, and I wore what I had left out from the day before: dark green pants, black t-shirt, black shoes, dark brown overcoat, black fingerless gloves.
I walk in, I wait in line, I order, I wait some more, I grab my order. I turn around towards the exit and make note of the area to my right where several chairs are set up. And there he is, sitting on one of them.
He, who I thought was in another country, he who had only been an abstraction in my mind for the past months, he who from the moment I sat down made it clear to me that any and all others had been only lessons at the very best, he who barely spoke a single word before I knew I wanted to be his once more, he who I hoped would want to be mine once more.
On the Friday of that same week, precisely two years after I first kissed him in his dimly lit room, he kissed me under the dim lights of mine. Although I wanted him to sleep beside me, he left. It snowed that night, and in the morning I could see nothing more than blurs of white outside my window — Fall was long gone. I struggled to walk in the snow when I made my way to see him one last time before we spent a month apart.
It was winter when we met.