(Translated by AL)

After ten wonderful years with my partner, he died of a heart-attack and left me on my own at the age of 36. My partner was big-hearted, but even a heart as big as his couldn't withstand loving as fully as he loved.

Life was cruel, and didn't let up even for a moment, so I somehow had to find the strength to get me through the days otherwise I'd really have lost it. One day I realised I'd have to start eating again, as I'd lost 12 kilos in less than a month. Another time I tried not to cry any more in front of my mother, so she'd think I was getting over it. In these ways I sought to bring some stability back into my life, and I got stronger each day, although I was totally unprepared for the things I was facing.

I didn't imagine I would find another partner some day, but then I hadn't dismissed the idea either. To our shame, and as is well known, it's not uncommon for gay people to meet through casual sex, and only occasionally do you get to know the person. How would I take this first step? I was afraid that the memory of my partner would hold me back. It would be a mistake to compare others to him. Would I dare get back into the dating game? And if I did, would I run off screaming when I got into his bed?

When my partner died many people called me and I got back in touch with one particular old friend. After a few months we were going out for dinner or a drink. I told him my fears, simply to let off steam and have myself understood. I wasn't sure if I was wrong and I needed another opinion and some support. That night he let me rattle on, and I ended up feeling very happy and relaxed. I talked and talked, and he listened and held his tongue.

Late in the night I took him home. We said goodbye with our customary kiss on the lips-brief, dry and furtive-and he got out of the car and said to me through the open window,

 - Do you want to stay and sleep? Just to sleep?

I was so pleased. I hadn't expected his offer at all. I didn't know what to do, but one thought quickly made up my mind. And that was that I should take that first step slowly, outwardly calm and, above all, with someone who would understand why if I lost my nerve and ran out.

A minute passed in silence (though it seemed like eternity) before I said:

 - Wait a moment while I park the car.

We had a drink in his house. We had rum, because the adolescent nervousness of my first experiences had returned quite unexpectedly, and accompanied by the same excitement.

After a long while, one of us dared to speak.

 - It's very late. Shall we go to sleep?, he asked.

He undressed completely. I asked him for some briefs and put them on. We spent the night in each other's arms, our legs entwined. Sometimes I held him from behind, and sometimes he held me. Sometimes he would rest his head on my side, but more often it was the other way round.

 - Are you asleep?

 - No, but my arm is.

And we changed positions. I warmed his cold feet with the heat from mine and he kissed my ear. We caressed a lot but not our penises, although I knew how hard his was and soon mine was too.

I don't think either of us slept more than a couple of hours altogether. With my fears subsiding, I happily spent the night remembering my partner with kindness and tenderness, and at the same time I was able to see that this new friendship was another thing, quite different and not mixed up with the other as I'd feared it might be.

My friend got up first. When he returned the house was filled with the aroma of freshly-made coffee. He looked at my briefs and frowned.

I saw that they were wet-well, absolutely soaked to tell the truth. Good God! I must have come without realising it. And then I felt the most marvellous thing, a sense of embarrassment that I could have done such a thing. That wasn't the reaction of someone in his middle age, it was the shame of a blushing neo-adolescent, pure, clean, and innocent. I never thought that at the age of 36 I would have felt such a thing again. He said:

 - Christ! I can see YOU'RE certainly full of life!

 - Thanks," I stammered. He smiled at my reply and went out of the room. I'll never forget his words: "Christ! I can see YOU'RE certainly full of life!

That night gave me so much confidence in myself. Now I knew how I would respond to other partners. The stability and security it provided bolstered my whole personality. I felt strong. The whole of that morning I drifted around as if in a cloud, just as I had my first first time.

We still see each other, several months on, but infrequently so as not to overdo it. I know I'm not yet ready or settled enough to have another partner just now, but even so we share each other's company, asking "Do you want to stay to 'sleep-just-to-sleep'?"

Except that a few times we don't just sleep. But I don't mind that either.


Write to: Angel 



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