Cameron* was so perfect he could have fallen to earth from the heavens. He certainly picked me up at a rough time in my life.
On a night when I felt so depressed that I just wanted to stay curled on the couch wrapped in misery, I had to leave the house.
Two months earlier, I’d bought a ticket to see an international artist live in concert.
I’d been excited about this for so long, but now the time had come, I barely cared anymore.
Pulling on a fresh shirt, I took a train to the venue and stood in the crowd waiting for the show to start, wondering if I might feel anything at all. The all-too-familiar numbness had returned and apathy was beginning to strangle me slow as a boa constrictor.
When I turned around, a man my age was standing right behind me.
“We’re so close to the stage,” he smiled, introducing himself.
It was clear that Cameron was gay; I could see everything in the way he looked at me – the artist who was performing wasn’t exactly popular with straight men, either. But why would he talk to me?
I’ve always been told – either directly or through ice-cold glares – that I am an offense to other gay men. I’m too ugly, too awkward, too nerdy to be amongst them.
Yet Cameron’s words melted me and we spent the whole concert together, even taking photos as though we were friends who had known one another for years.
On the train back home, I learned how Cameron had moved here from overseas to follow his dreams of getting a job in his profession. We swapped numbers and met a few nights later.
What followed was a friendship so intimate and intense that I wondered how I’d ever survived all the lonely years before.
“You’re like my best friend,” he told me.
Together, we went to the theatre, to watch sunsets and binge on TV series. I baked cakes; he made dinners. We spent hours walking the streets at night talking and talking until it was ridiculously late and still we knew there was so much more to say.
It felt completely dream-like to have someone whom I could plan outings with, someone who would do what no one else had ever done before and take photos of us together.
Over time, though, I started to wonder about Cameron.
We were close, but there were boundaries: Saturdays were always off limits. He had gay friends and went to gay parties on those nights.
I started to dread that he might invite me, but that was never happened.
“I’m glad he didn’t,” I told a friend. “I’d scare all his friends away with my ugly face.”
My friend shook his head seriously. “No,” he insisted. “It’s nothing to do with you. Cameron just doesn’t want you to see him for who he really is.”
And after several months the depression which I thought had dissipated returned, spreading fast as a virus and I wasn’t feeling mentally well at all.
For the first time, I cancelled a meeting with Cameron, explaining I was sick – not a lie by any stretch.
When we met again, I revealed I’d been depressed and, while he was sympathetic, it wasn’t exactly the long catch-up I was used to.
Before leaving, he asked if I could check his back for pimples – he was off to meet a guy and didn’t want to disappoint.
Sometimes, you just know things are coming – or have come – to an end, and that’s what happened with me and Cameron.
I don’t want to paint myself as a victim: probably my company was tough at times and Cameron, who was never going to stay in this city forever, would have preferred to just enjoy the best of what it had to offer before he flew back home.
There were no more meetings after that.
The last time I saw Cameron, months later, was accidental: we both happened to be in the same café at the same time.
“I’m meeting someone who can help me with my career,” he gushed, before disappearing into the crowd.
We never saw one another again, though over the next few months I received a couple of ‘likes’ on my Instagram posts before he, like all those I’d known before, was gone, had left the country without telling me.
This almost-ghosting made me wonder: why is it so hard for us humans to be honest with one another?
Why couldn’t Cameron have told me that he didn’t want someone who came with so many issues, so much baggage?
And, for that matter, why didn’t I ask him what was so hard about me to handle?
It seems so easy for gay men to connect with one another on a sexual level, while anything beyond this is seen as peripheral or a footnote of little importance. Who needs friends when you can fuck instead?
I disagree with this thought.
Being friends with Cameron changed my life, at least for a while, and I wonder if I’ll get to experience that again. Possibly not.
Because I gave all of myself to someone whom I believed to be genuine, caring – the true values that a friend should embody.
But, in the end, I wasn’t even worth saying goodbye to.
*Name has been changed.