Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Montréal, Québec, Canada 12.12.94: Winter Rooftops, Claustrophobic Apartments

In Montréal, watching steam (or is it smoke?) waft lazily out of chimneys in Snowdon on a rather cold (-20◦) morning. We’re in the 20th-story apartment of G. and S. Baum.

This is a difficult trip. In fact, I feel close to tears as I write, for no specific reason that I can identify. First, there’s the fact that things haven’t been good between Steve and me for weeks now, since Chicago and AAR.

There, Steve became distant, an old disappearing act. When this happens, it happens: no amount of anguished remonstration of fury can call him back. He recedes the more one rages. The receding confirms his cold power over me.

It’s not as if this distance marks every aspect of his relationship to me. That’s what’s maddening about it: it’s an inner inaccessibility that can go hand-in-hand with outer physical attentiveness.

I’m convinced, after enduring this vanishing-act business for years, that he doesn’t understand it, either—at least its roots. In the case of Chicago, I think one of its triggers was job interviews. They elicit all the old anxieties about how to identify ourselves in the workplace, and all Steve’s old strategies of blame, inherited from his father: if you weren’t attached to me (incubus to host), how I’d soar. What prancing white stallions would bear me on my mission.

Then, curiously (or not so curiously), when we went to the gay men’s seminar dinner at Chicago, Steve was wired. There was an element of forced gaiety about his behavior the whole evening.

So, long story short, we’ve spent the intervening weeks arguing fiercely, as we hadn’t done in some time now. In the Baltimore airport on the way to Montréal, got so bad I just walked away. He’s just not here, and when I try to share, he fidgets with a suitcase lock or blows his nose. Always.

Needless to say, then, being in G.’s and S.’s four-room apartment is painful in the extreme. The freak on exhibit. This is Steve’s country and not mine. This is where he betrayed me with R. and W. This is where he throve, to the extent that he tailored himself to straight male expectations, and I

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