Tuesday, August 21, 2012

EXCERPT: "Electronic Love, Australia"

This is one of the Cat/Gael stories from my antho Slight Details & Random Events(available via Dreamspinner HERE). These tales are loosely based on my own life. Here, Gael is studying abroad and converses via email with his boyfriend, Cat, who is still in the States.

Electronic Love, Australia
Eric Arvin

Hey Baby!
From our conversation on the phone after the flight I could tell you were still edgy about my being here. All I can say is that it’s only a year program. I’ll be back soon, and with a masters degree. (I think you’re just pissed that your degree is going to take twice as long. Just kidding.) Please don’t get all sentimental on me like you did when I left ever again. Evan helped me through the first hours of missing you... well, Evan and Starbucks. I’m glad she came with me to Australia. Oh, and about Evan, she thinks you hate her. What’s that about? Please write her and tell her it’s not true. Anyway, better go. Evan and I need to find a hostel while we search for apartments near campus. I’ll e-mail every day. There’s an internet café on every corner here. It’s amazing! You and I both know neither of us can afford phone calls right now. Like I said before I left, though, I promise to call once a week AT LEAST.
Love you and miss you!!

God I miss you! And it’s only been two days since I saw you at the airport! I’m a pussy.... Anyway, no, I won’t write Evan. The fact is I do hate her, the bitch! Just joking (or am I?). I’ll write her as soon as I’m done here. Classes are going okay where I’m at. Cold as fuck, though. I can’t believe it’s summer over there. So weird! I mean, they have Christmas on the beach. Sounds sweet.
I’m glad I got to spend this Christmas with you. Mom really liked you. Thanks again for finding that Willa Cather first edition. She loves it. Valentine’s Day was my favorite, though. You and me in my apartment on the sofa all night. I love that it snowed. GOD, I MISS YOU!
Well, babe, I gotta be getting to class. You’re a day ahead down there, right? So if I want to catch you on Friday night that means I need to call early Friday morning? You’re always ahead of me. Overachiever!
Love you Baby!!

Hiya Dollface!
Been here a week now. It’s so strange. This city is massive! Sydney feels larger than any place I’ve ever been and yet I know Rome has to be larger. Evan and I stick pretty close for fear of getting lost. As I told you in our lil’ weekly phone splurge, the hostel is nice. They say we can stay on as long as we need. Usually there’s like some time limit. A certain length of days and then you’re out, but this is apparently not a busy time for them. Summer is winding down now, after all. The hostel has an internet café located in it, so that makes things easier. Last night Evan and I went to the roof where they have set up a nice picnicking area. We got a couple alcoholic beverages (against the rules, by the way) and watched the planes landing and taking off from the nearby airport. It’s all very pretty, though a bit loud. Tomorrow we’re going to sign up for classes. ( I told you the hostel was right down the road from the University of Sydney, right? In fact our road leads right to the University park.) Afterwards, we’re going to check out some more apartments. I hate having to go through a realtor to find an apartment. I don’t trust them.
Oh! One more thing. I forgot to tell you about this flight attendant on the long flight over. He was checking me out. I mean, really checking me out. I was wearing that black sweater you got me for Christmas. Well, the guy looked more like a rugby player than a flight attendant. He was hot! Anyway, he kept chatting it up with me. He even brought Evan and I a couple of those gift thingy’s from first class. When we were about ready to land, all buckled up, he says to me “You’re very cute”! I didn’t know what to say! I retorted with a clumsy “Thanks.” I just thought I’d pass that on to you. It was amusing.
Who loves you, Baby!
Gael, that’s who!

Are you already forgetting about me?! Keep your pretty gay hands off those rugby-playing flight attendants! You have no idea how jealous I just got reading that. I’ll admit it. I got jealous. I’ve decided that I’m going to come visit you. I have gotta see this place for myself. Don’t know when. I haven’t fixed a date in my head, but it’ll be as soon as I possibly can. I’ll start saving now.
Things here are pretty much the same. It’s still very cold but the weather guy says everything is going to warm up next week. We might even hit a balmy 50 degrees. School is everything I thought it would be. Very, very dull. I’m beginning to think I went into the wrong area of study. Maybe I should just join the army, or (hee hee) the navy like my dad. Mom says ‘hi’. Oh, and do you remember Blake Parcel? Big guy, chubby, really nice but smelled like rotten tomatoes. Well, he sent me the strangest letter today. I’m not sure, but I think he’s telling me he’s gay. Did you ever get a vibe from him while he was my roomie in college? I bet he was trying to look at me naked! Dang homosexual!
Yours truly (who will be calling your ass this weekend to interrogate you on said flight attendant),

Great news darling!
Sorry I haven’t written for a couple of days, but we found an apartment! Actually, we found lots of them but this is the only one the realtor will let us have, and we still had to haggle over the rent. AAARGH! Anyway, it’s a two bedroom second floor apartment in a really nice area. It has a balcony, crown molding, and a security buzzer-upper thing, like on Seinfeld. (Unfortunately, it also comes with what seems to be a very large family of cockroaches. We’re told, though, that Sydney has a cockroach infestation problem. It would be the same anywhere. Yuck.) We are actually located in a suburb of Sydney called Coogee. It was once a resort community. We can see the beach from our balcony. It’s a good spot to sit and check out the surfer boys and sun-tanned studs. There is plenty of eye candy here (though none compare to you, darling :). There’s a nice little café by the beach that Evan thinks should become our morning tradition, and a fitness center right outside our door. It’s all kind of perfect, actually. I can’t wait for you to see it all!
Classes are going okay. It’s so much easier than I thought it would be. I guess going to school at Verona really paid off. How are things going with your classes? Has it gotten a little more interesting? Spring’s just around the corner (for you anyway), just keep that in mind.
We finally got a small cd player so I was able to listen to the CD you made me. I love it!
I miss you! I miss that purty mouth o’ yours. And I miss that ass. I jack off to it every night (wink).
Lata figure-skata!

Sooo happy to hear you like the CD. But then, why wouldn’t you? I have great taste. “Pancho and Lefty” was my favorite song on the CD. Gotta love Townes van Zandt! (Your gal Emmylou does a great cover of that tune, by the way.)
I’m so jealous that you are out on that beach all the time. When I come for a visit I think I’ll be spending most of my time on the sand... well, there and the bedroom (wink wink). But please, I don’t want to hear anymore about the surfers! Enjoy them in silence. As for my own ass which you alluded to, I’m keeping it fit for you. I joined a baseball team. It’s an amateur league here in the city. Nothing big, but it’ll keep me in shape.
Grad school is fucking dull. I hate it! Nothing new to report other than the fact that it’s becoming a little harder. My grades are slipping of late. I’m just not interested in anything they are teaching me. I’m thinking of taking some time off after this term.
Blake and I have been spending some time together. He’s really nervous about the whole gay thing. He’s even more closeted to his friends and family than me. He does look better, though. He doesn’t smell anymore either. He makes me a bit nervous sometimes. I think he might be flirting with me. I don’t know how to let him down easy. I’ve told him about you and me, but he doesn’t seem to care. Don’t worry, though, I’ll keep him at arm’s length..
And get this: Mom is trying to set me up with some girl in her church. The pastor’s daughter!
Anyhoo, gotta git. Talk soon, baby. Love you!
The C-man

Okay. I don’t really know how to ask you this, but my mom is really pressuring me to date the pastor’s daughter. I think she’s getting suspicious. She’s always asking me why I don’t have a girlfriend. What do you say to me fake dating her? Not for real. Just like a show for my mom. Just for a bit.

I get that you’re upset. I tried to call back after you called me but I know you’re pissed off and probably chose not to answer. I’ll try again tonight. We can talk this out. It’s just that Mom is asking all these questions. You had every right, though, to call and scream at me. I’ll talk to you soon, I hope.

Baby! Please answer the phone! Or at least e-mail me again!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That phone call meant a lot. Finally speaking to me again, huh? It was so great hearing your voice. I realize that breaking that news to you through e-mail was probably not the best way to go. No matter now. I’m going to tell Emily that I’m gay. I did tell you that was the pastor’s daughter’s name, right? Emily. I’m doing this for you, but I have to get Mom off my back somehow. Any suggestions?

I’m glad to hear that Emily took so well to your coming out. I can’t believe, though, that she wasn’t attracted to you. Impossible! Yes, I suppose it would be okay for you to be her show-pony... or she yours. Whichever the occasion calls for. So I guess Rosa is pretty happy then, huh? Her son is “dating” the pastor’s daughter. How long are you going to keep the charade up?
Anyway, been hanging out with some guys from England. They’re all obscenely wealthy and bumming around Australia for a year. They’re a lot of fun. The two I’ve taken a liking to are Ewan and Liam. (How original, right?) All they do is go to the beach and then travel on the weekends. They stay in hostels, but I don’t understand why. They can afford much better accommodations. They play rugby near the beach a lot of the time. Evan and I will go down and watch. They asked if I wanted to play but there’s no freaking way! Those guys kill each other! American football is for out and out wimps now that I’ve seen this game.
Forgive my jealousy and childish behavior over Emily.
Love you!

Blake Parcel killed himself. Heard the news yesterday morning. That’s why I didn’t call. I went and visited with his parents after I heard. Some of the other brothers from the fraternity came to see them as well. I don’t really know how to feel. I knew him, but not extremely well. I lived with him, but we didn’t share too much. In the last couple of weeks we hung out and everything seemed great. He was even talking about putting his pic on one of those internet matchmaker sights. Everyone is puzzled as to why he did it, but I think I know. He was going to tell his family he was gay. Maybe they didn’t react the way he had dreamed they would. Baby, this scares me. What would happen if I told Mom? I’m going to call you tonight.

How was the funeral? Stupid question, I know. Are you feeling any less uneasy? I wish I could be there for you. I’ll call later.
Love you,

Thanks for the pix you attached to you last e-mail! Damn you look good. Down Under agrees with you. I’m in a better mood now. Blake’s death just put me in a deep funk. It’s been over a week now, though, and I think I’m getting back to normal. Went down to visit Verona, our alma mater, last weekend. Walked to he Point and sat and stared at the river. It did me good. The weather’s nicer now. Just sitting there I felt refreshed. You know that Joni Mitchell song where she sings “I wish I had a river that I could skate away on”? It kept running through my head.
Missing our jogs,

Have I got a story for you!
Evan and I went out partying with the Brits last night. Everyone got sloppy drunk and, after the Redcoats had stumbled off to their hostel, Evan and I too went to bed. Well, in the midst of my drunken slumber I am awakened by a figure in my doorway. (I always leave my bedroom door open.) I was terrified at first, but then realized the thin frame to be Evan. She was taking off her clothes! Not slowly either, but as if they were on fire. She then came over to my bed and mumbled something. I couldn’t understand a word. Aside from that her box was directly in front of my face! That’s right! Her naked-to-the-world VAGINA was staring right at me! It was terrifying... and completely shaven. I didn’t know where else to look. How do you avoid looking at something like that? So then she ran to the door of our apartment and tried to open it, all the while mumbling something that sounded like “I know we know, I know we know.” I watched as she ran to her room, then back to the aforementioned door. This back-and-forth went on for about 20 minutes. I was getting very concerned. When I tried to stop her and ask what was wrong she said (finally something coherent) “It’s in my blood.” What?! What kind of nutcase had I agreed to lease an apartment with? “It’s in my blood.” Was she on drugs? Sleep-walking? She finally succeeded in getting the apartment door open and going out naked into the hall. She was ready to climb down the stairs and go outside but I dragged her nude ass back up. Well, after about an hour she calmed down and laid on the couch. I stayed watch for a bit longer, just in case. I covered her up with blankets and went to sleep. The thing is, she doesn’t remember a thing about it. I’m freaked out. Do you think somebody might have slipped her something? Liam and Ewan were with her most of the night. Either of them maybe?
Anyways, how are you?

Hello Lover!
So Evan thinks her lunacy the other night was a combination of mixing her medication for depression and alcohol? Whatever. It’s still a little funny, though. Tell her to take it easy.
Emily and I are the perfect fake couple. Everyone is none the wiser. Emily’s dad, the pastor, is happy that his daughter is dating such an upstanding, moral boy. Emily needs me for show as much as I need her, it seems. She’s had a boyfriend for a while but has had to keep it secret because her father disapproves. I’m in a big, fat cliche but it’s working for me. Mom is ecstatic. She’s already making wedding plans! She’s come down with something. A cold or flu bug, but not even that can keep her from reveling in the fact that I’m dating the pastor’s daughter.
Emily’s show-pony,

It makes me a little sad to think that neither your mom nor mine would be as ecstatic about planning a wedding for the two of us. Everyone says they want happiness for their children, but it’s selfish really. How will marrying so-and-so make the family look, or will they have children for the relatives to spoil. I don’t like this Emily girl. Not one bit. It should me and you, not you and her. Why can’t people be happy for us?
Classes stink. One in particular, Ancient Roman History, is so full of pompous Eurotrash students that I feel nauseated stepping into the room every day.

Cheer up darlin’. Things will get better. You only spend a few hours a day with your classmates then you get to spend the rest of the day with people you actually like, right? And about the wedding thing, it’s a ridiculous tradition. Weddings always lead to divorce and anger. Ask my mom about that.
My classes are almost ended for the year. I’m still debating on returning next term. We’ll see.
I’m definitely coming to visit next month. I put the plane ticket on the old credit card. I’m so excited to see you again! I’m gonna call tonight.

Hey baby.
I’ve been feeling very ill the last few days. I don’t really know what’s wrong. I don’t have a fever but I have the symptoms of the flu. A few of them anyway. It started after I hit my head the other night. Evan and I had the Redcoats over and Ewan, drunk off his skinny little ass, jumped on me. I lost my balance and my head hit the corner of the wall. There was a bit of blood but everyone assured me it wasn’t serious enough for a doctor or stitches. I guess I should have gone anyway. I have gauze wrapped around my head. I’m sure it’ll start a trend.
After it happened, as I sat there cradling the back of my head, Evan and Liam were making out right in front of me. I was a little pissed off! A little concern might have been nice. I actually thought at the time it was a bit more serious than their drunken minds could fathom. I still do. I might go see a doctor.
I’m through with drinking, Baby. Done.
Is Rosa feeling any better?

Sorry for the frantic phone call. Didn’t mean to wake you, but you had me scared. Are you feeling any better? I can’t believe you didn’t go to the doctor right away! I know I reamed you out about this on the phone, but it was a really stupid thing not to do. Oh, and is it okay for me to hate Evan again?
About the drinking prohibition: I agree. I think it’s a good time to stop. Maybe we’ve been drinking too much as it is. Actually, there’s no ‘maybe’ about it. I’m gonna stop right along with you. Moral support.
In other news, I fake broke up with my fake girlfriend Emily. Mom is devastated but she’ll get over it. I’m tired of having to act all lovey-dopey around people. Emily told her dad about her real boyfriend. That’s what broke up our faux relationship. She got angry with her father and just blurted out that she was cheating on me with another guy. I’d say ‘bless her heart’ if I were religious. She took the fall. She’s the bad guy. All I get is sympathy. She doesn’t really give a shit, though. Her and her man are moving in with each other downtown, and they’re happy. Of course, I have to act upset for a while, but at least it’s over now. I can move on to other girls, you know?
Well, take care. Call me tonight. I want to know how you are doing.

God, I feel awful. I thought I’d feel better by now. In fact, I feel worse. I’m sick to my stomach. I can’t keep any food down. I think that’s due in large part to this acute dizziness, vertigo, whatever it is. I lay down and the room just spins. Sometimes it feels as if my eyes aren’t catching up with my head when I turn. Also, I have this loss of strength. My grip and strength in my wrist seem to be lessening. I’m a sight to see, Boyfriend. I hate going out of the apartment because I just get so disoriented. Like I’m lost in the world, like I’m on the wrong planet. Everything has a dream-like quality. It’s a nightmare! On the bus ride home from campus today I lost my balance and fell over on some chick. The driver took off before I could find a seat. She gave me the dirtiest look. I’m not myself anymore. I am completely changed.
Mom wants me to return home immediately. I know she’s worried sick. I want to see if I can fix this and stay here, though. I really like it here. I have an appointment with a doctor at the Prince of Wales Hospital.
Thanks for the daily calls. They keep me looking forward to things. Mom too. She calls every day as well.
Love, and talk soon.

COME HOME!!! You sounded terrible on the phone. I know you love it there but you have got to think of your health. You can come back and get well, then go to school somewhere here in the States. The fact that your leg seems weaker and your ankle keeps giving out worries me. You would feel better back here in the States with people you knew. Those few you’ve met in Oz can’t be of very much comfort. They don’t know you like we do. Evan will just have to find another roommate. Vomiting every morning is no way to start your day. Besides I need you here to help me fend off my mother. She wants to set me up with another girl.
Please come home. I’m supposed to come down in a couple of weeks, but I might see if I can get on an earlier flight to drag your ass back!
Love you and want you home!

I had a CT scan today. I hate those things. I remember my Dad having to deal with them when he got sick. They’re so loud and uncomfortable. I have another appointment with the doctor to discuss them. Dr. Phelps is his name. Nice enough, I guess. He smiles a lot. It makes it seem things might not be that bad. I know that’s not the case, though. I’m still as ill as ever. Vomitous and gross. I haven’t been able to workout and it’s showing. I sleep a lot and try to keep from falling. I’m missing all my classes. I haven’t the strength to travel to class. It takes 45 minutes from Coogee to the university. I don’t really care about my studies anymore. My profs are e-mailing me their worries. I’m missing too much, they say.
Evan isn’t really that helpful. She’s pulled away. I don’t think she deals well with illness. She had a brother who died while she was in high school. He had some disease and lingered for a few years in a coma before he passed away. I don’t really try to ask too much of her. I know how uncomfortable it makes her.
Anyway, I’ll call and let you know about the results from the scan. Talk soon. Keep writing me. It’s the thing I look forward to most every day.

Don’t you worry about me not writing. I’ll write five times a day if it’ll cheer you up. Evan needs to grow up! I know for certain I hate her now. I’ll be coming to see you in a couple of weeks. Have you given any more thought to returning home? I think it would be for the best.
As for my educational adventures, I too am missing classes. My reasons aren’t as acceptable as yours. Simply put, laziness and boredom are keeping me away from my seat in the lecture halls. Also, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything. You and your dilemma are always on my mind.
I’ll write you later today and I’ll call. How’s that? Something to look forward to, huh?
Keep well and keep your spirits up,

You get your ass back to class! No excuses for you! I’m kidding, of course. I understand disinterest. From our phone conversation it sounds like you are probably just unsure of direction. Maybe a year or so out of the halls of academia would be just the thing for you. I’m off to see the doctor about scan results. I’m a little scared.

Cavernous hemangiomas. I looked it up on the internet. There’s some sites you might want to look into. I’ll e-mail the addresses to you later. Just because your father died from it that doesn’t mean anything, does it? It’s not always fatal like that, right? God, I wish I knew something to say. I’m so frightened for you. How did your mom react? I couldn’t do anything today. I just sat around my apartment and tried to figure this hemangioma thing out.
I quit school. I can’t do it anymore. I got a job as a manager at a GAP. I start this weekend. What are your plans now? I know the doctor said this would work itself out in time, but do you still plan to stay in Australia? I should have asked that on the phone. Write me back ASAP.

Can you get a refund on your ticket? I’m coming home after all. I’ve already booked a flight. I’ll call you tonight with the details. Mom was so relieved when I told her. She’s even flying out to meet me in L.A. Then we’ll fly back home from there. Evan is helping me pack. She’s started looking for a new roommate. I hate to leave but I know it’s the best thing to do. This morning, before anyone was stirring on the beach, I went and sat on the sand. I enjoy just watching the water lap at the shore. I put some of the sand in a little bottle. One of those tiny ones that hold samples of liquor. I’m taking it home with me. I’ll stick it up my ass if I have to. Part of Coogee Beach is coming back to America with me. I’m not going to the beach again before I leave. That was it. Well, I’m tired and I can only type one-handed now (I have no strength or flexibility in my right hand), so I’ll say goodbye.
Later baby.

I’m so happy you are returning! I know you’re feeling like shit right now, but things will get better. It’s the way life is, right? One day it’s smooth water and the next you’ve hit the rapids. I’ll take care of you. I’ll drive down every day to see you. My mom’s sick again too so maybe the two of you can get together and bitch and moan. (Kidding.)
Your mom called me like you asked her to. I’m meeting up with her in Verona and we’ll fly out meet you in L.A. Everything’s gonna be okay, Baby. Nothing lasts forever. Good things will always trump the difficulties.
Can’t wait to see you!
I love you so much!

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