Postscript June 3rd, 2000
It took some doing. For the past few years I've been trying to pluck up the courage to talk to him. To John. It wasn't really difficult to get his phone number. Well I thought it wouldn't be. Part of it was my own nervousness. I last laid eyes on him in the summer of 1970.
The first thing I tried was a set of net searches.
Oh I found a load of people with the right surname. And I'd thought it was unusual. No-one with his initials. A load of genealogy sites, but nothing to go on.
I tried my old school. They had his old address, same for his brother, same for his father. And when I checked, double checked, there was no-one of that name living there. Well it was back in 1970 I lost track of him. Not really surprising.
Even so, the school listed him on their website as someone who they would like to get in touch. He didn't.
In September 1999 I made a breakthrough. I kept doing net searches, and finally something hit a target. The surname appeared in a list of staff of a research institute. And a different bell rang. I remembered that his father had something to do with that line of research. And the initials rang a bell. His Dad, you see, had the same first name. John.
That always made my life hell the few times I phoned him when I was a kid. I always asked to speak to John, and I always got the father on the phone. Anyway the connection was there.
I was always a coward. Well, about John I was. Always. I could have phoned. It was a staff telephone directory. I didn't dare. So I emailed the head of the department. A simple Email, asking of by chance he could ask the person in the directory if he was John's father, and if so, whether there was a possibility of being put in touch.
He emailed me back. He said he would pass the details on, and that the probable father had retired some years ago. The he emailed me again. He'd phoned the father. It was the right father. And John's father was going to phone John that evening to ask him to call me.
Just a lot. I was terrified.
But I was hoping against hope that he would call.
And he didn't.
So I half gave up.
Tried to close the box.
But I failed.
One extra clue. The father lived in the same area as he used to . So I used BT's online directory service. And found the father's number.
And still didn't dare call. I mean John hadn't phoned, had he? So he didn't want to. If he'd been given the message. If. So I didn't call. Because I also remembered his younger brother knew. Or I was certain he knew. So it stood to reason that the whole family knew. So I couldn't.
I just waited. I don't know what I was waiting for, nor hoping for. I knew he couldn't love me, and I wasn't leaving my family. But I was obsessed with him.
A month or so ago our school had a reunion. I sent a business card to the father, asking of John was going. No reply. No John at the reunion. So hope gone again.
Until two people started to help me. And I realised that all I needed was to know he was alive, well, and that I hadn't hurt him.
One friend was in a better position than the other to do me a favour. We kind of exchanged favours, for I am trying to help him to do something difficult, too. My friend phoned John's father. Spoke to his mother, and got his number.
That was last night.
Today, Saturday, June 3rd 2000, at approximately 10:30 am, BST, I dialled the number.
And let it ring until it was answered.
I wasn't scared. Well not very scared.
A girl's voice answered. When I asked for him, she called "Dad!"
And he came to the phone. And we talked, almost as though the time had not passed. For perhaps half an hour.
But a few things became clear to me. And it was good that they did.
John, the boy I adored, barely remembered me. I was not important to him. Not at all important. And it was wonderful to find that out. Because it meant two things. The first was that I had never had the slightest chance of his love, and the second was that he was not hurt, had not been stuck like me.
I think, hope, that at last I have this under control. It has no power over me any more.
I do love the boy, yes. With a passion undiminished. I still have the most awesome fantasies about him. But the man? I feel tender to the man, and know that I never need to tell him how much he meant to me.
John, my darling boy, it was a privilege to love you. I love you still. I am no longer in love with you. If I never meet you ever again, never speak to you ever again, I will always remember you with utmost pleasure, and with pride in your achievements. I am content to hear that you are happy. And I am no longer sad. I owe you a great deal that I can never tell you. I owe you my character, and my capacity to love. I owe you my understanding of all orientations. Loving you was, is, awesome. And you will never know it.
I was sent a poem written by W H Auden. It says it better than I can:
Oh the valley in the summer where I and my John
Beside the deep river would walk on and on
While the flowers at our feet and the birds up above
Argued so sweetly on reciprocal love
And I leaned on his shoulder; "Oh Johnny let's play";
But he frowned like thunder and he went away.
O that Friday near Christmas as I well recall
When we went to the Charity Matinée Ball.
The floor was so smooth and the band was so loud
And Johnny so handsome I felt so proud;
"Squeeze me tighter, dear Johnny, let's dance till it's day";
But he frowned like thunder and he went away
Shall I ever forget at the Grand Opera
When music poured out of each wonderful star?
Diamonds and pearls they hung dazzling down
Over each silver or golden silk gown,
"Oh John I'm in heaven," I whispered to say;
But he frowned like thunder and he went away.
Oh but he was fair as a garden in flower,
As slender and tall as the great Eiffel Tower,
When the waltz throbbed out on the long promenade
Oh his eyes and his smile they went straight to my heart;
"Oh marry me, Johnny, I'll love and obey";
But he frowned like thunder and he went away
Oh last night I dreamed of you, Johnny, my lover,
You'd the sun on one arm and the moon on the other,
The sea it was blue and the grass it was green,
Every star rattled a round tambourine;
Ten thousand miles deep in a pit there I lay
But you frowned like thunder and you went away
Thursday March 29th 2001
As many of you will know, I have been trying to both locate and to meet a man, John. This is the man of 49 who is the boy I loved in 1965 when we were each 13 years old, and whom I have been obsessed with ever since. Those who look at that part of my website will know that I found him last June and spoke to him.
Some of you will know that I spoke to him again recently, and that he agreed to meet me. Put simply I phone him again at home and asked to meet. He said "Sure. Call me at the office and we'll set the date". And that is what I have been trying to do for the past 2 weeks.
Yesterday, Thursday 29 March 2001, he finally returned my phone call. Finally!
It wasn't a simple call. I was in the car on the mobile, and as soon as we started to speak the connection dropped. He never remade the connection to me in person, but I got a voicemail message.
The gist of the message was "Ten our of ten for persistence in trying to find me. I reckon you have got the message now that I don't want to meet. Nothing personal, I just don't want to meet anyone form my past."
The message was OK, but the tone of voice was weird. It got me thinking.
My first reaction was anger. Half at him for not wanting to see me, half at me for being so stupid as wanting to see him. But the anger was a five minute wonder. It has gone. Instead it has been replaced by the sure knowledge that he was a jerk. That he has always been a jerk. That I had fallen in love with a jerk. And that I was a jerk myself for allowing myself to put this boy on a pedestal.
Pretty? Maybe. Cute? Certainly. Handsome? Not so sure. But I am over him. After thirty five and a half years I am over him.
Last evening felt both tough, and good. I had a quantity of grief. I have some grieving to do.
I told my son all about it, and he was amazed. He has known I am gay for a year now. He didn't know the details. He was amazed. And hugged me a lot.
I was going to meet him with my wife's blessing. She was worried about how I took the rejection.
It is an AWESOME feeling. It is over. He is gone.
I am no longer obsessed.
Where I used to wake and call his name, now I am able to say "Jerk!". He is a jerk. Fancy saying one day that we would meet, and yes he wanted to, and then avoiding me. Why not be decisive when asked the first time. He was, with hindsight, always a jerk. Always like that.
My rose tinted glasses are off. The pedestal is demolished. The statue is shattered. The love, the obsession is gone. I am free!
It feels good-ish right now. Soon it will feel GOOD.
Tuesday 3rd April 2001
OK, I know it's naughty. But I sent him a fax. To his office. here it is:
The reason I hoped to meet you again was not to have a reunion, nor to relive old times. I am not one for reunions either, not after that appalling school. Like you, I chose to lose touch with everyone. It is instead that I have long felt I owed you an apology, to be delivered in person. That was the reason I wanted to meet you.
That need passed with your phone call.
I don't expect we will ever meet again, nor speak again. I will not write, nor call, nor fax.
It's a pity you felt unable to tell me sooner that you did not want to meet. It would have been easier than being called at work as you suggested.
I wish you and your family well. Health, happiness and prosperity.
OK, I admit it. I was in an evil frame of mind. Wicked evil, not nasty evil. That fax went to his office, on his public fax machine. he will not call, or, if he does I will not shiver at his voice any more. My heart will no longer pound. I am free of him. Free. At last I am free.
Update, 26 May 2001
I thought back to his voicemail message. The tone sucked. It was one that despised me. So, I decided. I put hand to keyboard and I wrote this letter. And I mailed it.