They continued past, one on either side of me, but didn’t look over, like I wasn’t even there. I continued on, deeper and deeper, slipping into the green-hued shadows. I cleared more branches from my face, and snapped twigs beneath my heels. I came across another man standing in the middle of the trail, cupping his testicles. There was a primal hunger on his face. This animal was seemingly unaware of who he was, or why he was there, like an embodiment of thirst. His body was glistening with sweat and dirt as though he hadn’t moved for days. He stared at me with a strange look in his eyes, that restless, complacent look that I knew all too well.
I’m sure I looked quite similar when I had showed up at DH’s house the week prior. I was feeling lost, grasping at straws and disappointed with absolutely everything. He knew exactly how to deal with me when I was like that. As we had some drinks, he talked me through each one of my problems. I’d been quite rude to him over the phone earlier that day, but he just made light of my staccato mood and called me crazy once or twice. Otherwise, he treated me very kindly.
After a few glasses of wine, I was telling him that I needed a break from Toronto just for a bit. It seemed like the only solution to me. “There’s nothing keeping me here,” I explained. He didn’t say anything at first. “I just want to travel a bit. See if they’ll give me a leave of absence at work.”
“Will you sublet your place then?”
“Yes, I hope so.” He was silent some more. It drove me crazy. “Are you upset at me? I need you to be okay with it.”
“I’m happy for you,” he had finally said. “You will go find yourself then come back. You know I did the same thing when I was younger, right?”
I always joked that DH was my “daddy,” but in many ways, he was. It had nothing to do with his age. He had cruised the parks and found himself out of every maze. He fell in love, got married, then divorced, but still figured out exactly who he was. He only depended on himself and was content with his newfound solitude — I admired him for it, because as much as I accepted that I was a loner, I still got lonely. He was my reference for how to navigate, and thrive, through life. These days, he’s one of the only people that I can relate to, which he doesn’t always understand. Or perhaps it just makes him uncomfortable. Still, he’s there when I need him.
I never did find what I was looking for at Hanlan’s. There were more naked men lurking around the trail, but none were really my type. And I didn’t see any sex whatsoever. Perhaps things got busy later in the evening or during the week when there were less people around. Guess it didn’t matter though, that was only the beginning of this journey. There’s still a long way to go.