Yes, someone can be that romantic. Crist Chrysler, a collegiate lacrosse player wrote one poem everyday for 420 days at stretch, when he and his boyfriend ended up at different colleges in neighbouring states. He never meant to share his writings with the world, but talked about his poetry project to Dr. Jason Paulien, his university teacher. Dr Paulien asked for his compositions and after reading them suggested it can be turned in a book. Titled Love 420: High on romance, the book is also available on Amazon.
“I was shocked to hear him suggest that I publish them,” he wrote on his website.
“It took much wrangling and persuasion to convince my student, Crist Chrysler–who confided in me that he had set out to write a love poem every single day for his long-distance boyfriend–to consider publishing the collection. Ultimately, he conceded that it could serve as a fascinating object of study, not just for the many issues of sexuality, sex, gender roles, and romance that are raised, but also for people to see the evolution of his writing over a year and a half of practice every day,” says Dr Paulien in the Foreword of the book.
Chrysler is not ‘out’ yet and he prefers to keep it this way. He chooses to share his relationships only selectively.
“I choose to share my relationship with many of my friends, but not with my entire lacrosse team and not with my parents, for many reasons beyond simply that I’m dating another male. For one, my boyfriend is a few years younger than I, even though we were at the same high school for two years. He also chooses to smoke marijuana, something I don’t do myself and something that many of my friends actually would not accept from my partner, and something my parents definitely would not accept,” writes Chrysler.
There is another reason why Chrysler wants to remain anonymous. “I hope not to come off defensive, but I simply wish to explain some of what you might read if you continue on in this book. These have not been edited and are explicit, another reason for desired anonymity. I hope you will take this for what it is: a private gesture for a lover from someone deeply in love.”
Chrysler is also hoping to break the popular notion that traditional romance is not possible between gay partners.
“I read an article online written by a college student who had decided he didn’t like being gay because he didn’t think traditional romance and fidelity were possible in the gay world. This bothered me a lot, because I know they are possible: I’m living them. I want to show people like him that there is hope for romance and true love for gay men.”
In an exclusive chat with Indian Express Online, Chris Chrysler talks about his relationship, poetry and more.
Were you always comfortable with your sexual orientation?
I was not comfortable with my sexual orientation at all for my whole life until I was 19, even though my parents always made it clear they were accepting of all people. When I was a kid, my dad used to say “someday, when you have a girlfriend…or a boyfriend or whatever you have,…” But somehow I still came to hate that part of me and tried to convert myself. It wasn’t until I got into a relationship that I embraced who I am. I still don’t share that with everyone, but I am completely comfortable with it myself.
Tell us more about your relationship. What is it that makes your partner different from others?
We have always had this incredible sense of romance. In many ways, we are formal with each other and are careful with what we share. We present ourselves well to each other. We take the time and care to prepare for our visits and make them nice. We still go on dates every time we see each other: I take him out to dinner and a movie or dinner and a concert. We love to watch horror movies and drink hot beverages. We’ve always acted as if we’ll be together forever but we don’t talk about it so that it’s not a burden on the relationship. We just live it.
Apart from poetry, what are the other small things that you do to make each other feel special?
We plan our visits, write each other notes, send each other letters, like I said above: go on dates, present ourselves well. We talk every day but we don’t monitor each other: we text sweet nothings but don’t always ask “what are you doing?” “who are you with?” etc. etc. We reserve texting for sweet talk only and catch up on daily vicissitudes over the phone. I tend to pile on the compliments for him, but it’s just understood he doesn’t do that back. It’s part of our dynamic. I dote on him and he lets me. He doesn’t have to dote on me, but he makes up for it in many other ways. When we Snap each other, we always send flattering pictures, not goofy unflattering ones: it’s different from most people our age, but it shows that we care about presenting ourselves well to each other. Some people might call that “artificial,” but I call it romance.
Do you think written word is losing its charm in relationships today? How important is the role of poem in a romance.
I think people waste their words and pile on a lot that doesn’t have to be said. You don’t have to leave the bathroom door open, literally or metaphorically. Being open and honest does not mean sharing non-sexual bodily functions and presenting yourselves in a vulgar light. Some doors can stay closed. It’s polite; it’s respectful; it’s romantic. Words are very important, but they don’t have to be poems. That’s just my way.
How easy or tough was to write a poem everyday for 420 days?
I wrote a poem every single day that we didn’t see each other for over a year and a half; that turned out to be 420 poems by the time I was convinced to publish them. The days that we did see each other were living poetry. It actually wasn’t tough at all. It was a labour of love, a joy to do every time. I missed one day, the 406th day. I was pretty devastated. You can see the poem I wrote when I realized I’d missed a day. My boyfriend was really kind. He didn’t say anything about it. When I brought it up, he said it’s not about the streak: it’s about the sentiment, and he told me even if it were about the streak, he was sure I’d already long since set the all time record, so I had nothing to be upset about. I wrote two the next day and then just kept on.
What do you plan to write next? Would you like to turn a full time author?
I will continue writing love poems as I have been, and will also work on short stories and a novel. I am not ready to share details yet though. I also have another project I hope to release soon that’s a little different.
Would you like to give a message to our readers on World Poetry Day (March 21)?
I don’t think I was very good at writing poetry when I started, but I think I’m somewhat better now after doing it so much. So, like anything, if you want to get good at something, practice it and love every minute of it. That goes for a relationship too. Take care with it, commit to it, tend to it every single day. Decide that you’re not making a sacrifice for it, you’re making a choice to love doing it.
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