I open my eyes.
I’m in bed, in a beautiful loft. The sun is shining on my face.
This place doesn’t look familiar—and not in the usual morning after way. Plus my clothing is in this loft. The furniture and art are tasteful, which clearly means I picked it out. Duh. This place looks like somewhere I would live.
My phone rings.
“Hey, I’m downstairs,” a male voice says.
“Where”? I say.
“At the bar?” he says and hangs up.
I throw on some clothing, run out the door, find the stairs. A nice-looking guy is peering into the window of the space next door, which I’m clearly supposed to let him into.
We walk into a beautiful space. Clearly I decorated this place, too. The man drops off the wine order and leaves. Got it. Wine bar. Makes sense.
I run a bar? I walk back outside. I go back up the stairs. A text buzzes my phone. CUTECONSTRUCT says, “Are you around later? Think I can stop by after work.”
I open my eyes. I’m in bed. I’m awake. I look out of the window at a beautiful day. It was a dream, but it’s also my real life. I’m a Black man in Missouri.
I grew up in the Midwest, and struggled for a long time about where I fit in.I went to a wonderful university in the Midwest. And I went to a lovely grad school in the south. And yet, I always felt there was something I was missing out on.
My decision to move to NYC was an easy one. After two years in Alabama, I wasn’t sure what year it was. A lot of my friends lived in New York and I had already secured a job. Once I got there, an apartment via Craigslist in Williamsburg with a handsome South African was almost too easy to find. Even crazier, after being in the closet my entire life and coming out the minute I landed at JFK, I immediately secured a boyfriend. He was handsome. Smart. Successful. And, of course, he lived in Los Angeles.
Believe it or not, we kept up a relationship on and off for six years.
When I was offered a promotion in L.A., I thought, “Clearly everything is going so well that I should move!”
My boyfriend and I immediately broke up. Even before I got to L.A.! I wouldn’t even let him pick me up from the airport. I vomited on my first day on the job because I was terrified of the city, the building, the people.
I was also taking the bus everywhere because I was convinced that as a New Yorker, I did not need a car. In Los Angeles.
After a year, I had a car. I had friends. But it wasn’t the same. I hated my job. I was very used to having a boyfriend, and now I didn’t, so every close male friend I made and every potential romantic interest I met ended up auditioning to fill the void that he had left. I was miserable. And I didn’t even know it.
Something had to change. But what? And how? Just as I was beginning to feel truly rooted in my downward trajectory, I got a call from my dad with a potential offer that made no sense at all to me. There was a building in Missouri. Would I like to check it out as a potential wine bar?
So here I am in the Midwest. Again. Sometimes the flow of life has other plans. But after two stints in the cities gay men are trained from birth to consider the goals, this time, I’m not missing out on what’s actually here.
Hold on to your barolos, Missouri—there’s a Black man in town.