Today, Armando (37) and Scott (44) have an almost idyllic life together: beautiful home, good jobs, great friends, loving families on both sides. They share their good fortune with the less-lucky at every opportunity. They’re in love, and it shows. But things weren’t always this way. This is their story.
A River In Egypt and a Trip to Costco
Denial can do some funny things to your brain; such was the case with Armando in the summer of 2007. Though they had spent every weekend together for months, laughed together late into the night, and fell asleep in one another’s arms, Armando was sure, not that he wasn’t fond of Scott, but that a relationship wasn’t needed in his life. The fear of letting himself fall in love again seemed so much less impactful that the fear of losing Scott.
When he ended their relationship, he got the freedom he was after, but the true toll of what he had done took a while to set in. As his friends had put it often, Armando gave off the boyfriend vibe, so he made a note not to make the same mistake with his next “friend”.
Scott’s sudden absence didn’t go unnoticed. Armando’s sisters questioned him about what had happened when things seemed to be going so well, but Armando tersely avoided the subject. For him, it seemed like a good thing, and so, as the months carried on, he did his best to convince himself the level of connection the two shared wasn’t needed in his life.
In August, he phoned Scott to invite him to go on another trip to Mexico he was taking with a group of friends, which he flatly declined. It would take some time, but he hoped Scott would get over the breakup eventually, because, while definitively did not in any sense want a relationship, he was still hoping for a friendship.
The two didn’t see each other again until December of that year. When Fall came around, Armando’s classes started up again, things ramped up at the university where he worked, and the catechism classes he taught took more of his attention. Since he had graduated from high school, he spent his time working in the non-profits of Pilsen, doing his best to give back to his community, and he continued during this time. Eventually he also began seeing another man in a more casual fashion.
Scott and Armando still kept in touch periodically via email. As the anniversary of the day they met approached, Scott tossed the idea out that they should get together for dinner, but Armando had plans. Instead, Armando suggested Scott attend the Feast of Our Lady Guadeloupe Mass at his church a few days later. Scott agreed, but as a lot of family was there, they had little chance to talk. When Scott arrived, Armando’s mother commented, “Who’s that attractive man over there?”
Later that evening, he invited Scott over for a dinner party he was having with some friends the following week. On both occasions, the man Armando was seeing was suspiciously absent; so much so that, at the dinner party, Armando’s friends asked him in Spanish where his boyfriend was. Scott is fluent in Spanish, so when he overheard their questions, it was the final straw. He excused himself early that evening, and decided it was time to cut off contact with the man he had fallen in love with so easily. “I need to move on, just let me go,” he told Armando via email.
Their communication was sparse over the next few weeks. Scott began dating someone else, and started picking up the pieces of his life. But in late January of 2008, he received an unexpected blow. His doctors found tumors in his bladder that would require surgery. Their best guess was that the tumors were benign, but he was shaken, nonetheless.
Shortly after, he received an unexpected call from Armando with a rather elaborate story about a friend Scott had met during their months together really needing to take a trip to Costco. Scott had a Costco card, so Armando offered to drive the three of them, if Scott would be willing to go. Reluctantly he agreed, but when Armando arrived to pick him up, the friend was nowhere to be found. He was leery of the situation, naturally. “I was like, ‘What is this bullshit?’” says Scott, remembering the lack of guff he was willing to put up with at that point. But the two ended up spending the day together, effortlessly slipping back into the groove they had gotten started the previous year.