with bravado

one man's 29-year-old quest to live and share a worthy story

sunday post: what i know about love.

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Three weddings, and they’ve all begun the same way: I meander into a coffee shop, order an iced coffee with soy, settle into a table next to a window. There I sit, pull my journal open to an empty page, uncap my pen. Inhale, exhale, my fingers tentative. What is it, the blank page whispers, you want to say to them about love?

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sunday post: hometowns.

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Brazil, Indiana. Situated along I-70 between Terre Haute and Indianapolis. Around 8,000 citizens, most of whom are pretty white and pretty straight. A robust marching band program at the high school, small town football Friday nights, parades through the city dotting the calendar year. Churches on hilltops with gravel driveways, cemeteries where teenagers drive and turn the headlights off in search of ‘ghost lights.’ A Walmart, not Super but sufficient, and a 24-hour truck stop restaurant just off the interstate. Tractors periodically parked in the high school parking lot, cars whizzing by fields of corn and soybeans en route home.

We weren’t raised to proclaim our hometown with pride. As teenagers, we spent most of our time rolling our eyes and charting escape routes. Some of us lifted into the wind, and others abandoned those plans and put down roots. The best of us know that none of us was wrong.

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sunday post: grief and growth.

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‘How are you?’ my friend asked me, cutting me off mid-sentence. Her eyes were open, unblinking, and fixed on mine. ‘Really,’ she said, ‘how are you?’

It was November of 2016, and she and I’d arrived to the restaurant maybe five minutes before. Amidst the bustle of a conference, we’d met in the hotel lobby, setting aside time and space to catch up with one another. When she arrived to the lobby, she found me sitting nearby on a couch, steeped in conversation with the man who’d handed back my heart, in pieces, a few months earlier. I wrapped up the conversation, hugged him goodbye, and walked with her to the restaurant in near-silence. Sitting across from me, in that moment, she wasn’t interested in hearing how ‘fine’ I was.

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sunday post: my friends.

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A funny thing happens when somebody asks me to talk about my friends: I start trying to capture them quickly, sketch an outline of who they are to me, find a quick anecdote, and soon I’m overflowing. A second story, stitched into my sternum with golden thread, rolls across the table. Before I know it, I’ve been talking for a few minutes, my eyes a little wet. ‘You must love your friends,’ says the person across from me, and I shrug and nod.

Yes. Yes, I do.

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sunday post: missing.

Sunday Post

what does it mean to ‘miss’ people?

The wheels of my plane touched down against Indianapolis pavement just after midnight on Friday morning. No matter how many times I fly, that moment of impact is jarring. The sudden reappearance of the ground, the plane gliding closer and closer to contact, wheels reuniting with earth, and then the roar of the wind overhead as the plane lurches to a halt. More often than not, I discover I’ve been holding my breath.

The airport was sleepy, operating at an eerie lull, and I arrived at baggage claim just in time to grab my luggage without a wait. Rolling it behind me, I stepped through automatic doors and out into an Indiana night. Familiarity fell over me the way a lover surprises you while you’re working, gentle kiss on the crown.

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book club: ‘the lost language of cranes’.

I brought my friend to Indy Reads Books with a mission of showing him a place he might fall in love with. Nestled at the end of Massachusetts Avenue, this particular bookstore feels a bit like a love letter to literature. Every shelf feels carefully tended, walls papered with the pages of books. For my friend and me, it was one of our last days together in Indiana. At least for this chapter.

‘You’ve got read this,’ he said with a smile, handing me a novel he’d pulled from a bin waiting to be dispersed. The Lost Language of Cranes, by David Leavitt. I read the summary –– a young man, Philip, decides it is time to come out to his parents, Owen and Rose. But Owen and Rose are faced with their own concerns, the changing real estate rules of New York City forcing them to consider buying out their long-dwelled apartment. And Owen, unbeknownst to his wife, continues to struggle with his own suppression of his desires to be with a man.

New York City. Family. Gay men navigating their truths. I smiled at my friend, rolling my eyes, and bought the novel. I decided, on that day, it would be the first novel I began and ended in New York City.

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book club: ‘history is all you left me’.

I pulled History is All You Left Me from the shelves of the Muncie Books-a-Million, drawn to read the back cover by my previous experience with author Adam Silvera. Committing himself to writing thoughtful queer stories for young adults, Silvera is not only willing to write about queerness honestly, but he also grapples with death, loss, grief –– topics we often imagine young adults would rather avoid considering.

History is told through the voice of Griffin, a young man living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and freshly navigating the unexpected death of his first boyfriend, Theo. Chapters alternate between his story following the loss of Theo and the story of how he and Theo fell in love ––  their ‘history,’ explored in the hopes of finding a means forward.

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