Paul was always unhappy, I think. He was working as a computer operator at our place when we met, I think at somebody's party. He was tall, kind of hippie-oid, and a good talker, very fluent in French, and a wonderfully competent, avid downhill skier. Things got going simply enough. He lived near the office and we would often go to his place for lunch. I was increasingly unhappy at home anyway, so it made some sense to be casting my nets for possible alternatives.
Paul wasn't the one, and if I'd had an ounce of sense I would have realized that right away. But I didn't have that much sense, for it was far from my own most lucid period. We had a fair number of terrific fights (not the physical kind), and things never seemed to work out for us on the sexual plane. I was very taken with him, I think because he was needy emotionally. The tendency to be co-dependent has often clouded my affairs.
He seemed to be one of those people who was always in acute emotional pain. At some point after we broke up he caught wind of Victor Janov's primal therapy and eventually got into a therapy group that used this technique. He moved back to his parents' place in Milwaukee and got sicker and sicker. We would see each other on his infrequent trips to Madison, but he made less and less sense. Though I have no competent basis for such a remark, I think the primal therapy increased his suffering rather than reducing it. In any case, it was to get much worse.
In the end he moved to San Francisco, lived quite some time with a boyfriend who apparently met Paul's need to experience physical pain (he was decidedly masochistic), but in due course his friend died from HIV-related illness. Paul, who had by this time also been sick, began to despair, and in May of 1988 took his life. I found out about this quite by accident. I was in San Francisco for a convention and picked up a copy of the Bay Area Reporter, a local gay paper. Opening it, there was Paul's picture and a death notice. It was not an easy weekend, because just the day before I'd learned of the death in New York of another great friend.
But in happier times, Paul had got me onto the ski slopes, which quickly became one of my favorite things to do. It also led to my first trip to Europe. Paul and I joined the campus organized-fun group to take advantage of a very inexpensive packaged ski tour to Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc in southeastern France. The weather was bad in southern France, so we left the tour a couple days early and took the night train to Paris. Things didn't go well for us there, though, because we just fought most of the time -- I really don't remember what about. I guess it was constantly uphill, but I certainly did love him and have always felt regret that there was nothing I could have done to help him to a happier life.