Clean Slate (Team Magazine)

My essay on intimacy, which was published in Team magazine, was uploaded on the site’s blog last August. I only found out about it recently. If you want to read my thoughts on what I’ve learned about intimacy as a single gay man who has chosen to be celibate, here’s the link:

Clean Slate (link / Team magazine)

Here’s an excerpt:

A razor can wound more than groom. He can cut through skin if he applies just more pressure than needed. This is an act of trust, most especially when he’s working on my neck.

If this isn’t a metaphor for what love is, I don’t want a thing to do with metaphors or with love. I don’t know this man and I’m not even attracted to him. But there I was, completely vulnerable and trusting as the stranger threatened my skin and simultaneously polished it up. After he was done, he put his hands on my face, checked his work, and applied the aftershave that would sting but also gave relief.


artwork by Dymo Dela Pena

I have never been able to write like this before. Not in my creative non-fiction. I don’t know how I was able to arrive at this level of clarity or flow in my writing but I’m quite proud of it.

I am very grateful to Paolo Lorenzana, Team’s editor, for cutting down the piece and trimming the fat. It was a much longer piece when I first submitted it. He then returned it and I made a few more adjustments.

I think it’s after I wrote this that I learned to really go deep when writing my essays. The work I’ve been putting together for The Thin Man has been marked and set aside for later review. I want it to be as tender and as honest as this one.

I think it was having written this and reading it again that I was able to write I Met a Stranger in Barrio Alto, which came out in the most recent issue of Team. That one I’m really proud of as well. It’s a definite improvement to my writing and I can trace it all back to this piece.

How apt that it should be called Clean Slate. It was meant to be a metaphor for intimacy but it also became a metaphor for my approach to writing as well.


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