Fate has a funny way of working out sometimes. Fernando’s trip had been planned for months, but something that happened a few weeks before he arrived in Vienna made the timing of his trip all the more perfect.
I have a friend here in Vienna with whom I had a conversation at the end of November about the possibility of us getting together. We subsequently had another conversation a week or so after in which many unfounded accusations were thrown my way. I knew that the accusations were off the mark, but there was that inevitable part of me that succumbed to a sliver of doubt. Of course my friends here gave me their honest opinions, but the only other person with whom I’d ever had a similar situation was Fernando—making him the ideal person with whom I could discuss the current situation.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Ferdi and I met because his then best friend was dating my then best friend back in my first year of university in 2000. At first we weren’t so close; but as time went on we got to know each other well. In fact, we even lived together at some point with a third guy. As both Ferdi and I started to pull away from the group of gay guys we were hanging with at the time, we continued to spend time together. And then I took off for Europe for a year-and-a-half.
While I was in Europe we kept in touch sporadically. But when it came time for me to move back to the States to finish uni he was one of the few people I actually cared to see again. I flew back and moved into my new flat in the afternoon and had planned for Fernando to come over that night to chill. But he had to work late; my jet lag got the better of me and I crashed hard before he got there. The next morning I found a note from Ferdi hanging outside my door apologizing for not being able to get there sooner.
That was at the beginning of July. The next two months we hung out a lot and our friendship developed even more. And then I realized that on my end there was something there that hadn’t been there before: the possibility of taking our friendship in a different direction.
As usual I didn’t run with that thought immediately; I first let it sit to see how it felt, to make sure it wasn’t just a passing fancy. I cared about this man immensely, and I wouldn’t risk what we had on a whim. After much reflection I finally decided I should make a move.
But I couldn’t just sit down and talk to him about it, the whole thing tied up my tongue and rendered me speechless. So I wrote a letter. First I typed it up to make sure it said exactly what I wanted it to say. Then I handwrote it, throwing away several sheets of paper along the way before I finally had a handwritten version I was happy with. Once I was satisfied with the letter, I put it in an envelope, which I then sealed with wax. I remember wishing I had a signet ring to press into the hot wax, but in the end I think I just pressed it with one of my cufflinks.
Ferdi and I had plans to go out that night, so I took the letter with me to his place for the pre-party session. Once we were ready to leave I feigned having to go to the restroom after we were ready to head out the door. I left the letter next to th mirror in the bathroom and then took off knowing that Ferdi would find it when he got home that night. After that we went out as planned and had a great time before both of us returned to our individual flats.
The next day I didn’t hear anything from Ferdi. The day after that we were supposed to hang out, so I called him at some point to test the waters—I was nervous as fuck. He told me he needed some time but that he would call me in a couple days. Which is exactly what he did, and he told me point blank that he wasn’t interested in a relationship.
Obviously that hurt, but I had been realistic enough when I wrote the letter to know that the answer I ultimately got was a possible outcome. We both still cared about each other and were both mature enough to accept the other’s feelings and perspective. After that our friendship not only endured; it truly blossomed.
I was in Austin for another year after the letter, during which time we became bros and connected in a way that I don’t think would have been possible had I never written the letter. It made me vulnerable, and it made Ferdi vulnerable, too. It resulted in both of us opening up to each other honestly, and that translated into a deeper understanding of who we were as people.
What’s interesting to me in hindsight is that one thing I wrote in the letter was that I felt we hadn’t reached the limits of our relationship and wanted to explore more of what our relationship could hold. And in the end that’s what happened. Perhaps not in the way I intended when I wrote the letter, but the thing is, that aspect couldn’t be a part of our relationship because we weren’t both interested in it. Instead, we explored the areas that suited us, and really did expand the depths of our relationship.
The qualities that moved me to pen that letter are qualities that he still possesses and that still form the basis of our relationship. But a sexual or romantic relationship with Ferdi just isn’t part of the equation anymore—in fact it was out of my system pretty quickly after we talked about the letter. And really, what had happened? I had been unsure of which path we should follow, and Ferdi pointed out that we were already on our own path. Rather than one or both of us freaking out because of the honesty that both of us showed, we maturely assessed where we were going and continued on our way. And that path rightly had nothing to do with sex or a romantic connection.
Now – as then – we can sleep in the same bed and occasionally cuddle without those occasions ever becoming more than two really close friends sharing a bed. We can bare our souls to the other without fear of judgment. We can give each other a look that says everything we need to say. We can simply be ourselves, secure in our knowledge that each of us respects and loves the other for who they are.
Since Ferdi was the one other person with whom I’d shared such an experience, he was really the only person who could confirm that this time – as with the time with him – I handled myself properly and honestly. I suppose not everyone can deal with a friend saying they would perhaps be interested in more, but I’m really glad Ferdi turned out to be mature enough to handle it. I wouldn’t change what he and I have for the world.