Posted by: facetothewind | February 28, 2012

Sometimes it lasts in love…

But sometimes it hurts AND lasts instead. Yeah, so I’ve been listening to Adele’s huge hit and the lyrics spoke to me in my jetlagged and shell-shocked post-Burmese days.

So here’s a face you’ve not seen on my blog in a while…

It’s a face I’ve not seen in person in well over a year. Yes, indeed. It’s Sebastian. You know, Sebby! Welcome back to the blog, Sebby. I’m sure his parents are horrified to find that the American who corrupted their Christian son is still in his life. Well, love trumps religion in my book. He’s back but things are a little different now. Whereas once I was sure that Sebastian and I would spend the rest of our lives together, now we’re more like special friends who have a lot of history and love for each other and yet we’re aware that 21 years of age difference and unfavorable geography draw a line between us that we sometimes cross anyway.

Sebastian and I made the trip to Burma together. In the back of my mind the whole time I was planning this trip was the worry about engineering another heartbreak for myself and that at the end of that month would come another painful dance into darkness. How I rationalized the trip was this: when Sebby left my life in October, 2010, I went through all the classic stages of grief that someone goes through when they lose a loved one to death. A year after his departure I found myself grieved-out, exhausted and wrung out by my own melancholy. And so I rationalized the visit now that I was “over” him I was free to re-acquaint. And I thought to myself, “If I had the chance to see someone who had died—even if it was only for a month, wouldn’t I do it and face the pain of separation at the end of the visit?” Of course I would. Wouldn’t you want to see your most beloved departed at any cost? Of course you would.  And thus I clicked the button and purchased my flight on Korean Airlines bound for Bangkok where we would rendezvous for a trip behind the iron curtain of Myanmar.

Here I am waiting in Bangkok for Sebby to arrive…

Right. And so, Gilmore, how is it now? Were you just being naive and reckless after all? No. Not with Sebastian. The reckless romanticism I experienced on this trip stems from my hope of seeing the “old Asia” in Burma. Hah! Not so. More about that later. But the answer is that sure I felt the sting of his departure. It stung like a mother. The trip together was wonderful, easy, loving and yet healthier and more realistic a year after his big departure from my life. The expectations of a life together are gone. The caring and tenderness for each other remained. That was clear the minute he arrived in Bangkok. We folded right back into the sweetness and laughter that we once shared with each other.

It was an extraordinary time, catching up on our year’s absence, seeing where we’d grown and what was immutably “us.” My goal was to get Sebastian as many hugs as possible in a month before he returns to the touchless life he has in China. And so the month was wonderfully free of melancholy, drama or romantic pain. But the last couple of days we spent in Bangkok were typical before we say goodbye with little mini-dramas and spontaneous tearful outbursts aided by the separation anxiety. Then we did the traditional saying goodbye in high in places which this time almost seemed like we were going through the motions of a ritual we used to do. Drunk on margaritas (and grilled crocodile) we climbed to the 6th floor roof of the apartment in Bangkok to say goodbye and thank each other for the trip.

Our last hours together we wandered the steamy street markets indulging ourselves with cold tangerine juices and pineapple ice shakes. At 4 that afternoon I walked him to the subway to help him with his luggage. I stood on one side of the turn style, he on the other. I lost my composure waving goodbye to him descending into the subway bowels on the escalator knowing that would be the last I see of him for a very long time. I felt completely lost in the hours afterward. Inconsolable, I sat alone at a restaurant we had eaten in many times. I tried to make conversation with the beautiful lady boy server to no avail with the language barrier between us. I lingered a bit at John’s house in the dark and then I hailed a taxi for my journey to the airport and my flight home. The whole 29 hour trip back to the US I surprised myself by feeling something new and remarkable with regard to Sebastian: not heartbroken.

So how did I manage to do that? The answer: I had grieved myself out in the year we we apart. In that time I broke down my “together fantasy,” smashed it to pieces and then went on with my life alone. It felt like I was suffocating a baby to do it. But it finally stopped breathing and what was left was as golden as the endless temple stupas we toured in Burma. God, did it feel good not to be devastated for more than a few hours. That my heart could finally heal left me gloriously hopeful for my own life. Who knows how life runs its mysterious courses but I suspect that Sebastian and I will always hold a special place in each others hearts. But not an exclusive place.

You see, I had someone special waiting for me to return from Asia…

Hi John.

I’m back.



  1. David, this is the best blog entry ever! I just wrote a long, gushing comment that got lost, but I want you to know that I read it RAPTLY, wanting to send it to Nic. I was so happy for you, I adore the extraordinary image of Sebby, and I was so surprised by the last image and line. Wow. Keep ’em coming. Keep reminding me to keep my heart open.
    P.S I love that song. too.

  2. David, Thank you for sharing this personal experience. I felt I was physically on this trip with you sans illness and my heart on an amazing journey. You have a top shelf talent for telling a ilfe story. In the end your eyes wiser and that heart muscle stronger than ever. Bravo !!

    So delighted you are my cousin, hugs and kisses, Dale

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