with bravado

one man's 27-year-old quest to live and share a worthy story

what we carry.


On the day after we started dating, I took my second boyfriend to downtown Indianapolis. We parked my car at the campus apartments close to the river, walking our way into the city and searching for our first adventure together. For dinner, we chose a pizza place –– not a breadsticks-on-wax-paper pizza place, but a dried-cherries-as-toppings pizza place –– and we faced each other. “So,” he said to me, “what should we talk about?”

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in context.

I don’t know what to write today. I’m tired of writing about you, working to find ways of reinventing your leaving into something beautiful, something learned. When I work to push my mind in a different direction, however, I still see you in the margins. ‘I’m living a good 2017,’ I start to write. My mind whispers, ‘See? Happiness exists outside of his arms.’

At some point, I know I’ll no longer be living in the context of you. I’ll stop organizing my story into two chapters: before and after you left. Joy, opportunity, and believing in myself won’t be such conscious decisions. I won’t wonder, then, how it can be so simple for you to live outside the context of me.

The context of me. Ultimately, this is the one promised constant in my life. No matter what happens, who shows up or leaves, who sees me or doesn’t. I will always live here, in this body with this heart, the depth of these feelings and complexity of this compassion. And perhaps this is the purpose of all these days on my own, to become acquainted with my lifelong company. To pull at threads, finding absolutes, unraveling the great riddle of myself.

Let’s start with the bad parts, the pieces of my being nobody applauds for. I tell too many stories, for one, and I have a tendency of repeating them. When I’m sharing them, I’m working to connect, but I’m also reliving. Immersing myself in the different chapters I’ve seen. Twenty-seven years of life haven’t given me a solid grip on time, so I’m always running late. I don’t put my things in the place they should go, and I don’t reorganize the mess until it bothers me. I’m not very good at conversations that stay above the emotional surface, which makes me a strange presence at the party. Sometimes I cry, so overwhelmed by how much I’m feeling, but I don’t really know how to let somebody take care of me. My attention span isn’t long, and I don’t always know how to make myself tune in, which can hurt the people I love. I’m stubborn, and I generally think the way I see things is right. I talk too much; I can’t always figure out how to let the silence breathe. I sort through my pain by myself, but then I need to share what I find, again and again, with the people around me. I’m not always at home in my body. I don’t separate my heart from matters, ever, and so I don’t know what it means not to take things personally. Sometimes I don’t know how to show up, so I freeze. I am pulled, always, between loving myself fully and wondering how I’ve ever been loved. I’m afraid I’m not the person people tell me I am.

But the bright side. If I’ve learned anything in the aftermath, it’s that I am capable of loving even when it’s difficult. I don’t know how to do harm without remorse. My strength comes from sitting with my pain, looking at the pieces of myself and figuring out how to fashion myself back together. I see people, beyond the versions of themselves they present to the world, and I feel compelled to inspire them to be more of themselves. I’m not afraid of myself, not really, the ugly and difficult parts, the parts that aren’t easy to love or appreciate. I think I remember them when I set out to love somebody else, when I discover the parts of them that aren’t easy to love, and I work to love them anyway. It is in my nature to search for the good, to look beyond the difficult, maybe because I’m so hopeful someone will do the same for me. I write with honesty and with courage, even if I tend to cycle through the same ideas. I forgive freely, and I work to understand, even if I don’t know how to put my walls back down around the ones who’ve hurt me. I’m not always brave, but I always want to be. I get up and run, despite not having the body of an athlete, despite the times that I fall. I show up, each day, and work to write a good story. I love people, no matter what context I’m in, and they know I love them.

And that’s the context I’m probably always going to live in. I’m not always sure that loving me and knowing me is easy or simple, but I’ve got to hope it’s worthwhile. The people around me, the ones who’ve stayed despite my scars, give me the courage to believe it.

So that’s what I’ll focus on writing today. Coffee in hand, headphones in. There are a thousand stories ahead, and –– at your choosing –– they won’t be in the context of you. But this chapter, maybe these next few, will have you in the margins. So I’ll welcome you, here, to the days before the letting go. I’ll hope you are warm and loved and figuring out how to thrive in the context of you.

Because I’m working to do just that.


a thought on our beauty.

Some mornings, I’ll stand
bare feet, hair in tangles

and I’ll survey myself
in the mirror
a twenty-something,
blue boxer briefs,
and, for a flash,
I’ll see it, the
kindness of my eyes
ridged jaw, broad shoulders,
legs carved by miles,
and I’ll believe in it,
my beauty.

How terrible the rarity
that we actually see


a love letter to single queer people.

I wanted to take a moment, on this evening, to pen a few words to those of us who’ve fought for the right to love and be loved, but also who find ourselves on our own. The following is a love letter to single queer people, written with sincerity and conviction:


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i tripped and i fell.

This afternoon, taking advantage of a perplexing 60-degree January day, I set out for a run. I tied my shoes carefully, stretched my limbs, readied my playlist, and took off.

My legs were grateful for the exercise, my lungs putting up no protest. My body fell into rhythm, and I allowed my mind to wander, my eyes to survey the day around me. Beer cans in the yards of college students, a dog lunging for me against the will of its leash. Will I be ready for the half-marathon in June? Am I ready for a week of RA interviews? Is there enough time today to have fun and get prepared for the work week?

As I approached Wheeling Avenue, I surveyed the typically busy street carefully for cars. Spotting an opportunity, I bounded forward. My left foot sank into a pothole, my ankle giving way before my brain had time to process. My hands caught me from the fall, palms against damp concrete. My phone clattered ahead of me, three times. Quickly, I stood and hustled to the sidewalk, where I sank to a sitting position and assessed my situation.


My palms were bruised but not bleeding. My ankle, sore for a moment, did not swell. I texted a few friends about my plight; they laughed and offered to rescue me. Tentatively, I stood, took a few steps. No, I told them, I think I can still run.

And, after a little walking, I did. I broke into a run and finished the five miles. Gratitude for warm weather and tenacious ankles.

If 2016 taught me anything, it’s how to believe in myself again after a fall. How to stand again, and to run.

I broke into a run. I fell. I got up. I ran.

Let this be the pattern of my life.

on the unfurling.

My friends, I’ve been writing poetry. As part of the 2017 agreement, I’ve been working to write more, and a friend has pushed me toward poetry. Everything that’s poured out so far has surrounded the idea of letting go. Of allowing my fingers to unfurl so I can move forward.

I used that word – unfurl – in some writing recently, and so I looked it up just to be sure I was utilizing it correctly. Here’s what Google had to say:

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 12.01.44 PM.png

Looking at that definition, my breath caught for a moment. ‘…especially in order to be open to the wind.’ A smile spread across my face, and I felt my fingertips spread. Openness to the wind is absolutely what I’m working toward. Unraveling the walls and trusting myself to try anew.

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2017: a few words.

January 1 may be my favorite day of each year. Call it an arbitrary time marker in a chaotic, unsympathetic universe if you will, but, to me, the day almost vibrates with an energy of opportunity. The world exhales, grants itself permission to begin again. Another journey around the sun.

I compare it, this thrill, to the feeling I get when I see a blank word document, and I’m unsure of what I’m going to write. Or, perhaps, the beginning of a new save file on a video game. How will I play through it this time? What might I discover anew? 2017. What will that mean to me when we’re ushering in 2018?


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