By Jeff Fuller
In the spring of 2005, I was a 30-year old attorney in my first year working with a law firm in Nashville. One week, I flew to Houston for a work trip. On one of my free evenings, I decided to venture out to the gay area of the city to have dinner and explore the bars. I ended up wandering into the Midtown Mining Company and then walked over to J.R.s. I remember seeing a handsome blond, suntanned guy in a blue dress shirt with sleeves rolled up, standing in a corner of the bar. I can’t remember if it was him or me who made the first move, but I think it was him.
We made initial small talk. I told him I was a lawyer. His name was Todd, an accountant, who grew up on a cattle ranch near a small town in Oklahoma, but he had moved to Houston a year or two prior. He went on about how much he loved Houston. I shared how I wanted to leave Nashville and live in a bigger, more cosmopolitan city. After a few more drinks, we decided to go home together.
I ended up spending the entire night at Todd’s apartment. The following morning, we continued conversing while he ironed his shirt and got ready for work. I could tell that we both felt like this was more than just a one-night thing. He dropped me off at my hotel on his way to work and we exchanged numbers. I flew back to Nashville, smiling, excited about the person I had just met.
In the following days, Todd and I exchanged text messages and telephone calls. Every morning, he would call me from his car on his way into work, complaining about the Houston traffic. I would often already in my office with my door shut while I talked with him. We made plans for me to fly back to Houston and for him to visit Nashville. On my trips out there, I remember him taking me to the Hill Country, to the monument of San Jacinto (because I am a history nerd), fantastic Tex-Mex restaurants and nightclubs like South Beach where we danced the night away. When he came to Nashville, I showed him the surrounding countryside. At karaoke nights, Todd’s singing skills impressed even a musically talented Nashville crowd. We went to the annual Steeplechase where I passed him off to my straight friends from work as an old friend from college. The weekends were fun-filled, but all too short.
Eventually, the excitement of the first few months together wore off. It was really hard being apart for such long periods of time. I started to realize that this was a minimalist version of the relationship I really wanted. Our weekends together were often event filled, without time to simply lounge at home together, to have those moments a couple that lives in the same city always has access to and perhaps takes for granted. However, I wasn’t going to move to Houston, and he wasn’t going to move to Nashville. Ultimately, we came to the decision to part ways.
Todd was actually the first long-term boyfriend that I ever had. While the long distance wasn’t ideal, it was the right mix of what I needed at the time. Not only was there infatuation and sex appeal, Todd was someone who really cared about me. For the first time in my life, I felt what it was to feel loved by another man, more than in a physical way. I think it deepened my sense of self-worth, even if the romance didn’t last forever.