it's the end of the year and an obvious time for reflection and evaluation. But best and worst don't happen only in print. What about our bedrooms? Cultural year-end lists are entertaining, yet ultimately disposable. But a private sexperience review is enlightening. Not only will I recall whom I've come with during the year, but hopefully how far, too. Each encounter is a step in my evolution. And right now it's the challenges of love that I'm blissfully focused on.
Surprisingly, as I look back over the years, my romantic choices have been far more dangerous than my sexual ones. One close call in particular serves as a reminder.
December 31, 1995. A group of my friends decide to spend New Year's Eve at the nightclub El Convento Rico. Attired in (among other things) my lucky plaid underwear (an ancient Le Chateau purchase that's since been retired), I arrive at Rico with a couple of my closest gal pals.
As other friends join us, I hear that my friend's colleague, Anita, who worked for Doctors Without Borders in Amsterdam, is on her way with a visiting pal from Holland.
I'm not exactly the biggest fan of New Year's Eve. Paying an exorbitant amount of money to gain access to a place where the only perk is a complimentary glass of champagne at midnight seems like a wasteful way to conclude the year. But tonight I'm nevertheless having a good time.
And then Anita arrives with her friend Ram. I'm awestruck. A teacher from Utrecht, he's tall, blond, blue-eyed and deliciously attractive. He's also, thankfully, gay, and as I'm later to find out in the flooded men's washroom of an after-hours club, an incredible kisser.
Our attraction to one another is evident to all. But the inevitability of Ram's coming home with me in the morning pales in comparison to the emotional rush I'm getting just from being with him. This is the best New Year's I've ever experienced, and I'm deliriously happy with what my heart's telling me. It's clear I'm about to fall in love for the first time.
Alas, I'm soon to be courted by death for the first time as well.
Despite freezing temperatures, the first week of 1996 is filled with the kind of heat only blossoming, fiery love can provide. Ram and I spend all our free time getting to know one another better. He's only in town for another week, but we both feel that what's developing between us is too significant to categorize as a vacation fling. It frustrates me that I've been unable to find someone I can connect with as deeply as Ram closer to home, but I celebrate the fact that I've found someone like him at all.
On the evening of January 4, Ram arrives on my doorstep. I've booked the next day off work so we can spend his last Friday in Canada together. Our plans include a visit to the AGO, a romantic dinner, a performance of the Nutcracker Suite and a more private performance in my bedroom.
But I haven't been feeling well for almost a week. Ram's been suffering from sinusitis, and if his condition is contagious, chances are he's passed it on to me. Then again, maybe it's the flu. Why else would I have thrown up and fainted earlier in the day?
I'm convinced that whatever it is will soon pass. But as I open the door to greet Ram, the only thing that passes is me. Out.
I faint. Three times in five minutes. Despite Ram's insistence that I seek medical attention immediately, I beg off until next morning, convinced that all I need to bounce back to life is a good night's sleep. We retire to my bedroom, where I fall into a deep, yet feverish, slumber.
In the morning I'm awakened by a massive headache. Ram and my two housemates rush me by cab to (what was then) Doctors Hospital, where I'm quickly diagnosed with bacterial meningitis moments before slipping into unconsciousness.
I remain in the hospital for 10 days. Ram visits daily until his return to Utrecht. Afterwards, we enjoy a loving long-distance relationship until June. It ends, mysteriously, shortly after I join him in Holland for a month-long visit. I guess, despite our feelings for each other, an ocean was ultimately too big an obstacle to overcome.
That experience taught me something important about the value of life itself and how making the most of it is what really counts. And if that involves acting on things or people I'm interested in, then nothing but death should stop me.
Consequently, although with less dramatic results, most of my new years have been brought in with a sexual bang. Whether I'm picking up an attractive stranger at a party or going home with my boyfriend, having sex seems like the proper way to start the year.
This year, though, my bedroom review will mark a sexual first for me. Since coming out, I've never been with one person for an entire calendar year. Until now. It's something I never would have thought possible. But here I am, and loving it.
The best is yet to come.