Those of you who know me well are aware of my love for the British music group the Pet Shop Boys. But do you know where that love came from? Or, to be more specific, how I was first introduced to them? It was all down to my friend, Jeff. He was the first gay man I met after officially 'coming out' of the closet, and I cherish the time spent with him to this day.
Last night, I dreamt of Jeff. It wasn't a particularly long or detailed dream. It was more of a re-enactment. We were seated on the couch of his dimly-lit apartment. It was nighttime. Jeff was playing some of his favorite CDs, introducing me to a new set of artists and music that I was enjoying immensely. Except that was how it had occurred in real life -- a wondrous introduction. In the dream, I was already familiar with the music he was sharing. In the dream, I was making requests of him to play. And that was it, really. That was the sum total of the dream.
It's not very likely that Jeff was aware of the impact his musical tastes had on me. But I was impressionable then. Just 18-years-old, having only been 'out' for a year, and six months away from my first gay bar, the only gay man I'd known beforehand was close to my mom's age, and was in fact a friend of my mother's. Jeff was someone I'd met on my own, and seven years my senior. He called me "Matty." He liked to play his favorite music for my willing pair of ears. Urban Cookie Collective, Cocteau Twins, Pet Shop Boys, the list went on. Of those, I most liked the Pet Shop Boys, and began to explore their discography. It's a gift from Jeff I'll never stop being grateful for.
Jeff is dead. He passed away a couple of years ago. I heard it was a heart attack, but don't know that for sure. We'd been out of touch for years. Like many forms of relationships, ours was mutually beneficial for a period of time, and then ended. No drama, no backstory. It just petered-out. Some relationships last a long time, others do not. I don't regret not having spoken with Jeff for over a decade, instead I embrace the memories I have of him, the things he taught me as a young, gay man and, most of all, I am thankful that our paths crossed at all.
It was nice to see him again last night, if only in a dream.