[ Previously on... The German Backpacker Stays in My Home for a Week | ❶ ]
Our honesty with each other that night in the car, gave rise to a very enjoyable dinner. For the remaining part of the week, things were back to normal. But there were also days in his stay when I could feel that we weren't exactly each other's favourite person. The occasional tension, frustration and exhaustive energy that happens when you put two strangers under one roof for too long. But we survived.
On the second last night, T and I were in one of those moods again so I excused myself and left him to drink some wine alone on the garden terrace. After a late night shower, I went downstairs to check on him. While drying my hair off with a towel, T suddenly looked at me with vulnerable alcohol intoxicated eyes and asked: "Are you in love with me?"
Whoa. I did not see that question coming. And the alcohol certainly gave him the balls to confront me with what was on his head.
"What do you mean T?"
"Are you in love with me?"
Me: [caught-off-guard silence]
"Why do you ask that?"
"I feel that you have done too much for me during the past week and have over-attended to me the entire time. I know it's standard hospitality and being a good host, but I also know that nobody does something like that for somebody else unless they are truly in love with them in some way. And maybe you do love me more than I like you as a friend.
I mean I appreciate you letting me stay here and driving me around, but I feel like you are always there waiting for me and attending to me when I have actually done nothing for you. I worry if you might be doing those things because you are afraid of losing me? Or that I will go away?"
"T, first of all, I did all those things because that's who I am. I am a good host. I believe very much in giving, and in being good to people so that it comes back to me. Maybe I might not get it back from you necessarily, but I will get it in another form, another person and in another time. That is the universal law of which I was raised and I would like to believe it.
And T, I know."
"You know what?"
"Everything! Everything you've just mentioned. I've known for a while and I've been feeling it strongly from you. But were you afraid to tell me this because you're worried I'm one of those guys who might go crazy on you if you didn't return my feelings?
T, I like you. A lot. And I know I haven't exactly been acting like a grown man since we met, but I am not in love with you. Infatuated maybe, but certainly not in love because I am realistic enough to know that you and I are deciphering life in different places at the moment.
Within the next year, you will move on to the next country, meet more guys and carry on with your travels. Where else I will still be the same twenty-something year old who needs to sort out his career and himself.
So I am actually aware of what's going on. I've known for quite some time. It's just that I wasn't willing to give it all up without even trying to the very last week."
"Okay. So I'm glad I told you the truth. It's good that you're realistic and that you understand. M, you are a sincere guy. You deserve somebody who will love you.
I am an asshole and I am not a good guy. I'm telling you."
As he took another sip of his wine with mist in his eyes, his last sentence hit me hard. For deep down, my instincts have always warned me again and again about my denial to the truth of his own admission. As Maya Angelou once said: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time".
That night, I went to bed feeling a little tired and despondent. I thought about him and his issues with how he seems to be handling my warmth and approach to human emotions. Did he had trouble 'receiving' unconditional generosity and goodwill due to unresolved feelings of unworthiness? Was it T himself or the German mindset in him that I had difficulty understanding?
I spoke to my mother about what was happening and she gave me some advice that went something like how nurturing relationships are never purely one-sided and in my case, it really was me giving T my all, my love and my energy because I do harbour expectations that cannot be met by the other person.
The next day, things were still a little awkward between us despite me maintaining the very same hospitable façade to prove that I was truly being an empathetic host, as opposed to being in love. He went away to the city to run some errands while I stayed at home to look for work. But as the evening came around, so did the both of us.
That night, he and I walked the dog for about two hours and talked about a lot more things in which we previously never had the comfort level to discuss. We opened up about our past, our characters and also deeper subjects in which were previously emotionally inaccessible by neither of us.
After having clarified how we both really felt, he seems to have increased his trust in me as a genuinely sincere person and opened up more about some of the problems he was going through. I listened with sympathy sans judgement and felt all of a sudden that him and I might actually have the potential to becoming sincere gay friends.
One of the most memorable topics I remember from our conversation was the concept of "living" and "preparing to live". It was the answer he gave when I asked him if it hurts, knowing that he is blowing off all his savings on this backpacking trip.
Finally a couple of days ago, we said goodbye and I dropped him off at the bus station for his solo trip to the islands, the countryside and the town where we met. He's going to be in the country for a while and I have a feeling we'll be keeping in touch.