Will parked in the lot at the Campus Ministry Center building across the street from Lewis & Clark College, headed up the front steps and unlocked the door. He turned the hall light on as he stepped inside, noting the quiet of the empty building, the absence of Mona’s presence at her desk in the reception area, even catching a glance of the orange Selectric typewriter she used.
It was the weekend after Labor Day, and classes would begin on Monday, meaning Mona would be back at work with her cheery demeanor filling the reception area. However, it was Saturday and Pastor Dave had given him the key to the Center so he could meet with Ron.
He turned a light on in the lounge and went into the kitchen to brew some coffee. He could hear the water running through the coffee maker and was pulling down some mugs, when he heard the front door open and called out, “Ron, I’m in the kitchen.” He heard Ron walk through the reception area and was already smiling as Ron’s face came through the doorway. He stepped over to him, their eyes connected with each other, and pulled him into an embrace that was warm and tight. “So good to see you, Ron. You look great.”
Ron’s arms went around Will’s torso and hugged him back. He found his face in the notch between Will’s neck and shoulder, and kissed his neck. Will returned the kiss on Ron’s cheek, and hugged him close again. He said softly, “I know things changed for us over the summer, but I still missed you and will always love you.”
“Me too, man, me too.” They stood in silence for some time, as if they were catching up for the time apart over the summer with an exchange love and energy.
Finally, Will said, “I made a pot of coffee. Can you smell it?”
“Yeah, it smells good. Fresh and aromatic.” He slowly disentangled himself from Will’s embrace and asked if there was any milk or cream. “You know that I now have a whole set of sinful habits because of you, like drinking coffee and wine and being gay.”
Will laughed out loud. “Right, like I’m to blame for your good tastes! Meaning the good tastes you never were able to develop as a Mormon raised in Utah! Check the fridge. David’s been half time over the summer, so the Center has been in use and I bet there is some.”
Ron opened the refrigerator door, reached in and turned back with a smile. “Yep, half and half. Even better.”
They prepared their coffee as each preferred it and trooped into the lounge. As they sat, Will said, “Thanks for meeting with me. It means a lot.”
Ron looked back at him, his eyes warm. “Hey, thanks for the invite to the barbecue, and it’s really thoughtful of you to call and want to talk first. Pretty cool, David gave you the key to the Center.”
“We’re all one big happy family, right?”
Ron was quiet, and Will could see a fleeting expression of what could have been guilt pass across his face.
“Ron.” He waited till Ron looked up at him.
“No guilt. No bad karma stuff, Okay? We agreed at the beginning of the summer. We knew things could change, and they have, but that’s progress. We’ve got to agree we’re not doing guilt or bad vibes. Agreed?”
Ron was slow responding, and Will could see some type of assessment going on in his eyes. He sipped his coffee waiting, and finally Ron said, “You’re right, and once again you’re ahead of me on this. I know how guilt was the core problem Kevin had and what it put you through last year, and I promised myself I’d never let you feel that. But I guess I haven’t cleared all the old religious stuff out of my closet, so I’m sorry. Guilt’s a big part of my religious baggage too, but trust me, it has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with me. Can you do that?”
“For you, of course. I got through Kevin’s suicide because David and Jackson made it happen. But I got through the rest of the year mainly because of two things. First, because I was living with them. But beyond that, I mainly got through the rest of the year because of you. We liked each other and you didn’t write me off as damaged goods. You may think that’s a totally crazy thing for me to believe, but it’s true. I was a mess when I started coming to PDA here at the Center, but it wasn’t a hang up for you. You liked what you saw, and you accepted me at face value. I’ll owe you forever for that.”
Will had gotten a little emotional as he spoke, and his eyes had reddened. “I made a promise too,” he said to Ron with a tight smile, “I promised myself I wouldn’t cry today, and just about crashed on that one.”
Ron responded with an understanding smile and was quiet. Will smiled back, sipped his coffee, and then said, “So tell me about your new boyfriend. I mean, tell me more than you told me over the phone during summer.”
Ron’s smile broadened, and his eyes sparkled, but he was still hesitant.
Will waited, knowing Ron well enough to give him space. “Well, like I told you, Peter is from San Francisco and he’s the director of a couple of plays in this year’s Shakespearean Festival. He’s older, about the same age as David. He’s been in theatre since college and is really good at what he does. He’s thoughtful and caring and not just looking for someone to shack up with each summer in Ashland.”
Will just grinned at him. “Cool. You met a good gay guy and it’s gotten serious. Tell me more about him.”
“He was one of the staff I interviewed with in the spring for the intern position, and he was the one who invited me to stay over that Friday night for the staff party.” He was smiling, a little embarrassed. “It’s not like it sounds, like he’d targeted me or anything. He was being genuinely nice. He liked my work and thought there would be a good fit and wanted to make sure I got as complete an experience of the festival staff as I could while I was there.”
Will started laughing.
“What’s so funny?”
“Good fit. Were you a good fit?”
It dawned on Ron and he momentarily blushed, and then couldn’t stop the grin.
Will was still laughing, and said, “Chill, man. Jackson told me the same kind of thing happened when he and David took the 2002 out for a test drive. David was going on and on about the handling, how tight it was, and the more he talked about it the funnier it got till Jackson was laughing his ass off, and David wasn’t getting it, and Jackson finally had to ask him if the car was a tight as he was?”
Ron was following the explanation, and burst out laughing, almost spilling his coffee. When he’d recovered his control he said, “Too funny. Yeah, it was kind of like that, but it didn’t start that way. I told you it was over a month after I started working at the festival that we communicated any more than talking about set design and the effects he wanted to achieve and stuff like that. I’d gone out with a few other guys, like I told you, and on one of those dates Peter and a couple of other directors were in the same bar and he saw me with another intern. A while later we talked about it, and I could see he was interested, and by then I was interested too.”
Will wiggled his eyebrows.
“He’s a good guy. And he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s fun to be around, but at work, I mean at the festival, he’s all business, really focused. But with that, he’s had a lot of experience both during college at USC in performing arts, and then working in big festivals and productions, so I learned a ton. I mean he was open and sharing and wanted to help me. That was really cool.”
“Sounds great, kind of like Jackson and I had with our music teacher our senior year. She became a friend, and helped us a lot, like we had a local rock band, and she’d come to my house where we practiced and coach us.”
“Yeah, didn’t I ever tell you about Susan? She was our choir teacher, who was also the choir director in church, and there she was in our garage, coaching Jackson and me on how to really sing some rock songs. And she encouraged and helped me with my arranging. Without her help I doubt I’d have finished the songs I arranged that year. So, I understand what you’re saying. It’s pretty great when you like the person who’s helping, especially if they’re a friend or even a lover.”
“Yeah, but it took a while to become lovers. After our time together I don’t want you thinking I was down in Ashland fucking anyone with a cock. I mean I was open and looking and curious and stuff, but I’d already learned a lot about a healthy relationship being with you, and around David and Jackson. Remember when they loaned me The Joy of Gay Sex, and that section in the book about how important first experiences are?”
Will nodded, and found himself smiling as he remembered the book and how helpful it had been for him too.
“I’ll always remember our time together, because you weren’t just my first, but you were so open and kind and careful. You may think you were an emotional mess after Kevin, but I was a timid basket case, not just the starting to come out of the closet stuff, but so sheltered and hung up. I mean if I hadn’t taken a stand with my parents and said I was going to college out of state, then got accepted here, then met you, god only knows what or where I’d be. As in still trapped, and still totally in the closet and all hung up.”
Ron paused and their eyes met, and a warm smile passed between them.
“But back to Peter. We connected, like you have to, and I think he was surprised that I was more mature than he expected. I mean just finishing freshman year, but a year in the groups here at the Center, becoming friends with David and Jackson, our relationship, add it all up and I was a different person when school was over. We both were.”
Will nodded his head, and smiled knowingly.
Ron looked out the window with a kind of dreamy expression on his face, the kind that mixes admiration with love. “He’s sweet and he’s bright. He’s mature and he’s fun-loving. His father’s a university professor, and his mother is a musician in the symphony, so he grew up surrounded by art and education. I met them last month when they came to the festival. He has a Masters in theatre arts, so he’s pretty serious on the career side, but while he comes off as kind of formal and distant, it’s really just a style from the way he grew up. Because we’re both in theatre, he’s my mentor in some ways too. He’s got a devious and dry sense of humor, is a lot of fun to be around, and an extension of the serious part is that he’s committed. Committed to his work and his family, and his boyfriend.”
“You mean his new boyfriend, as in you.”
Ron looked back at Will, just a touch embarrassed, but smiling softly. “Yeah, I do. I’m still getting used to it. I really love the guy, and I’m still trying to figure out why he loves me.”
“Because you’re you, Ron. There’s a lot to love.”
Ron blushed, and his smile widened into a grin.
“So, you know because we’re going over to the house in a while, I’ve told David and Jackson some of what you’ve told me about getting together with him, and they’re happy for you.”
Ron smiled, and an expression almost like relief swept over his face. “I’m glad. I didn’t just worry about you, I worried about them too, cause we were all good friends.”
“Well, I guess we all worried about each other. They were worried about both of us at the beginning of the summer. You know, like if we knew what we were doing and if everything was Okay. Stuff like that?”
“It’s nice to know people care about you. About us, I mean.”
“Yeah, it is, and they do. I didn’t tell them everything, but I did tell them during school that we were dating and not madly in love and not committed long term.”
“And I made sure they understood that the foundation was friendship, that we weren’t just filling a need for each other, that it was really special. I think I said something like we were lovers bound by friendship, and that it was really special while we were together.”
“It sure was. Aren’t you glad we were able to be so open and honest and talk about it all? I mean being transparent and having no hidden agendas and stuff. I thought a lot about that over the summer, as Peter and I got closer. After being raised in Utah with the conservative family I’ve got where so much stuff is off limits. I mean, if I hadn’t been in PDA and the discussion group where I didn’t just get in touch with my sexual identity, but learned how to talk about it, our relationship wouldn’t have been so good”
“Me too. I feel the same way. Do we get to meet Peter some time? It’s gotta be tough with him living in San Francisco.”
“Yeah, it will be. We tried to make light of it, you know, like it’ll test our commitment and stuff. And, it will, him living in San Fran and me being in Portland. We’ll only get to see each other during school breaks. I’m trying to get him to come visit some time, to see the campus and meet you guys, but he’s got a busy schedule and friends and family, so we’ll see what happens.”
Will smiled at him understandingly, “You guys sound like you’re being sensible.”
“I hope. I’ve got to finish school, and he understands that. And it will be a test too. My parents would flip out if I tried to change colleges. They don’t even know I’m gay yet, so moving to be with my boyfriend is a non-starter. I meant what I said about the relationship we had, because it was so low pressure and so easy. I mean we were both in school together, so we saw each other a lot, we spent time together. Then, David and Jackson made it so easy and comfortable to be together here at the Center and at their house. Well, you’re house. You’ve still living with them, right?”
A knowing smile formed on Will’s face. “Yeah, I still am, and they’re so great about it, I mean it’s not just total acceptance and stuff like that. You’ve heard them talk about building a family of friends who love and totally accept each other. It’s that too. I mean I almost have a second father in JC, Jackson’s Dad. I can’t tell you what it means to be…well, I don’t have to tell you, you were around the house lots of times last year, spent weekends there, you know what I’m talking about.”
“I do. It’s my model. It’s what I hope can happen with Peter and me. We’ll see.”
“It’ll happen for you, Ron, because of who you are, the kind of person you are. You deserve it. It’ll happen.”
Ron’s eyes turned happy and he smiled back. Then he said, “Okay, now tell me how it happened with you and Sam. I never felt like you were holding back, I know you guys got together late in the summer and we were only talking by phone, but I want the whole story.”
“It wasn’t just late in the summer, it was like just last weekend.”
“What? I don’t get it.”
“Well, I mean it all came together the last few weeks and Labor Day weekend. It’d been going on over the summer. You know Jackson and I were taking Sam to PT and shopping and stuff because we had cars and she lived in the dorm. And then when she was fully recovered from the accident it continued, and all of us did stuff together until school ended. Then with all you guys gone for the summer, we started hiking together with David and Jackson. Or, we’d all go for a bike ride. So, during the summer we got together every Sunday and did one or the other. I was doing summer school to get back on track after dropping out of University of Oregon in the Fall, and she was working full time, and I was working at the auto part store on Saturday, and David was half-time here and taking courses at Portland State and Jackson was working full time downtown. By Sunday we all needed some exercise and some good R&R out in nature.”
“That’s cool. It was kind of like that for me in Ashland. I mean we had performance every weekend, and even though I was doing set design, on production nights we were all working backstage. But we had Monday and Tuesday off and a bunch of us interns would go for a hike in the Siuslaw National Forest, sometimes drive to Gold Beach, stuff like that. Then later in the summer I started playing tennis with Peter.”
“You know what I mean then. It all started with Sam being part of our group, and she was working through her own shit. You remember she shared a bunch of it with us at PDA?”
“I’ll never forget how she asked that question about what do you do when you’ve found your other half and then they’re torn away from you. That was heavy.”
“It was, and she never really got along with her parents. They didn’t want an athlete, they wanted a kind of Barbie doll daughter, so they never accepted who she was. And then she realizes she’s bi and has a girlfriend on the ski team and when her parents find out they flip, and the girlfriend’s parents ship her back east to finish school. All that was a ton of shit. Anyway, we were all spending time together during the summer, and she got more open about herself. Then she got me into rock climbing, and we started climbing together, and she’s good and taught me a lot, and we spent more and more time together and just got closer and closer. And along the way Jackson did one of his things.”
“What do you mean ‘his things?”
“Well, she hadn’t sorted her own shit out. I mean self-image stuff, and she’s a real stoic kind of person, you know, like ‘I don’t need any help,’ that kind of thing. It wasn’t working and at one point she wanted Jackson to do something. I don’t remember what it was. Oh, it was him trying rock climbing. And he said he would if she’d meet with David That’s what I mean about one of Jackson’s things. He’s got a sense about people needing help and how to help, and he’s really good at setting up a solution. Look what he did with me. I told you about the Moody Blues music therapy.”
Ron smiled at the memory and nodded. “You did, and that was a pretty amazing story. And he shared that Stills song with me one time about friends and lovers.”
“Any way, not to bore you with the gory details, but they met a couple of times and David helped her understand a lot of that stuff. And we kept doing things together and getting closer and closer, but we didn’t understand what was happening or how to handle it.”
“What does that mean? I don’t understand.”
“Well, we started out in PDA and then became friends, right? Then we became closer and closer friends but while we both said we were bi, the last person she’d been with was a girl, and the last person I’d been with was a guy—you. So, it wasn’t like we were denying something was happening, but more like we didn’t know how to process what was happening. Does that make sense?”
‘Yeah, I’d never thought about it, but I can see how it developed that way, and it makes sense. Go on.”
“Well, last month she said she wanted to take me to a new place to climb called Smith Rock. It’s on the other side of the Cascades, north of Bend, and we’d be camping. So, we had a great time hiking and climbing and all that. I mean a really great time. But at night it got strange. We were cooking and sitting around the campfire and then sleeping in a tent together, and like we didn’t know what to do, or couldn’t do what we wanted to do…even if we’d known what we wanted to do. It probably sounds pretty weird.”
“No, not really. The last person you’d been with was a guy, so the approach would be different, wouldn’t it? God, I don’t think I’d know what to do with a girl. When was the last time you dated a girl?”
“Almost two years ago.”
“See, you were way out of practice.” He was laughing lightly, trying to take the pressure off.
“I guess, but it was deeper than that. Anyhow, after we got back, and David asked how the trip went, we talked about it and I told him I’d gotten really confused about my feelings and what to do about them. Like the feelings were really strong and I wanted to hold her and hug her and let her know how much I cared for her but wasn’t able to.”
Ron’s eyebrows went up.
“So then, David had one of those pastoral counseling talks with us. You know how he is? You’ve been there too.”
“Yeah, he’s the best. He doesn’t tell you what’s wrong with you, just lets you put it out there, and then helps you realize what the problem is and what to do about it. It was after those talks with him, I felt free enough to ask you to go to the movies the first time.”
“You’ve got it. So, it really boiled down to just talking to each other and sharing how we felt about each other, instead of holding it in. Pretty basic, right? Then we started realizing that we didn’t just really like each other as friends, but we’d grown into loving each other. It finally clicked for both of us that we’d found our other half.”
“That’s pretty radical. I mean it’s fabulous, but a pretty radical change up, don’t you think?”
“Oh yeah, totally. That’s why it was so challenging.”
“And Sam was going through the same kind of stuff?”
“Yeah, more or less. I guess we both should have known what was going on or recognized it, but we didn’t. I guess we had blinders on. Like at one point she told me about this really bad time in high school when a bunch of her friends told her she didn’t look good in lingerie because of the shape of her body. I mean, bi or not, she’s a girl, and to be told you’ve got an ugly body would really hurt. And she was really emotional when she told me, and I told her that was all crap and that I thought she had a sexy body.”
“Yeah?” Ron’s eyebrows went up.
“Well, yeah. A lot of this is between us, Okay. I mean some of what we’re talking about I’ve never even told Jackson. He’s my best friend and knows a lot about me, and there’s very little I wouldn’t tell him, but some of this is private between me and Sam.”
“Then why are you telling me.”
“Because until Sam and I got together you weren’t just my friend, you were also my lover. And there were private things between us I didn’t tell Jackson. I want to make sure that even though we’re going in different directions on the lover part, that we remain friends. I mean close friends. After Jackson and David, you’re my closest friend in the world and I don’t want that to change. And I hope you don’t either.”
“I don’t. Thanks for reminding me, Will. You don’t know how much it means. It’s fair to say you’re my best friend, and I’ve never been closer to anyone. I want us to stay close too.”
“Cool. So, anyway, I told her she had a sexy body because she was so hurt by what her friends had been saying to her, and almost two years later she still hadn’t gotten past it. I know what I told her helped, but it never dawned on me to ask myself ‘why are you saying that and what does it mean for you to say that.’ That’s kind of clueless, don’t you think?”
“Well, maybe. I don’t know. We don’t all have to psychoanalyze everything we say.”
“That’s right, but the fact is that what I can see now is that we both thought of the other as bi, and that’s fine. But we had both just come off tragic same-sex relations, and it meant I wasn’t dealing with her like a girl. And, she doesn’t have a curvy girl’s body. She’s an athlete with a more solid, straight body. Know what I mean?”
Ron grinned at him. “Yeah, and she sure fills those 501 Levi’s, meaning boy’s jeans. I see what you’re getting at. Do you mean if she’d had a girl’s body you wouldn’t have been attracted to her?”
Will paused, then said, “I’m not sure, but I might have been less attracted to her initially. I don’t know if that makes sense. Or maybe it’s better to say it the other way, that because of the body she’s got, I was attracted to her in ways I didn’t even know about.”
Will got quiet, and Ron was watching him. Ron’s expression was open and his attitude friendly and inquiring. “Can I ask you something really personal?”
Will looked up at him, and without hesitation said, “Ron, you can ask me pretty much anything.”
“Okay, no offense, right? Did you tell her you thought she had a sexy body and you were attracted to it because it’s a body more like a guy than a girl?”
Will paused, then said, “No offense taken, and the answer is no and yes. No, I didn’t tell her that because she’s still pretty damn sensitive about it. I told her she had a sexy body and left it at that. When I ask myself, like you asked me, then that’s the Yes part, meaning I finally figured that out myself. There’s a lot more to it than her body type, you know that. But I guess that subconsciously, that’s where it started. Does that sound weird?”
“You know, some people might think so, but I don’t. First, because I know you, and Sam’s a really good friend too, and I hear you saying you weren’t actually going after her, it just happened. Second, because you're both bi, that neutralizes a lot of the shit people think about what being attracted to a person should be like. But third, and again, no offense, but now I’ll tell you something just between us. It makes me feel better that after me you went for Sam and that I know her so well because she was part of the program.”
“I don’t get it.”
“We knew things could change for us this summer and they did. Truthfully, I was hurting that after me you’d found your other half with a girl, even if it was Sam. You know, like I wasn’t a masculine enough, or not a good enough lover for you, or something like that.”
“You don’t ever have to worry about that stuff. You may not be a macho body builder type, but you were man enough for me, and you were a great lover. You were caring and sensuous, and strong and assertive when you wanted to be.”
Ron’s face was showing emotion, and his eyes lit up, and finally he said, “Thanks, man.”
“I don’t want you to ever think, not even for a minute, that I’m with Sam because you weren’t good enough. Okay?”
“Yeah, I hear you. And I should tell you right now too, that I’m not with an older guy because you were too much like a kid or not mature enough, or anything like that. I think we both just had something happen to us about finding our other half, that changed it from talking theory to experiencing reality.”
“That’s a good way to put it.
They fell silent, looking at each other, taking measure of each other’s strengths and attributes. They found themselves smiling at each other, as only people who know each other quite well can do, an expression that conveys volumes of meaning and emotion in those simple facial expressions.
“Anyway,” Will finally said, “like I was telling you, it all only really came together between us over the last month, and last weekend for Labor Day, remember I told you we were going to be out of town, up in Washington?”
Ron nodded his head.
“Well, the ‘we’ wasn’t just David and Jackson and me, because JC organized this excursion on Willapa Bay, but he included me, and then David asked about Sam because we all did something every Sunday. See where this is going?”
“Well, maybe, but it’s still not in focus. Go on.”
“It was this place on the bay where JC had rented two cabins, and JC and his Dad drove down from Seattle, and all four of us drove up from here, and each cabin had two beds and a bathroom.”
Will paused for effect. Ron’s eyebrows went up. “Ahh, I see the problem.”
“Yeah, David and Jackson were in one cabin and JC and his Dad in the other. But we had our camping gear in the car, so we pitched a tent between the cabins, and that’s where Sam and I slept.”
“Well, that’s the rest of the story.”
“Oh, come on, don’t leave me hanging now.”
“I won’t keep you hanging. I’m just kidding. If I can’t tell you, who can I tell.”
“I’m pleased that you trust me with that level of confidence.”
“Only you, bro, only you.” Will paused again, and Ron was watching with anticipation on his face.
“So, there’s two parts to the story. The sex part and the funny part. What do you want to hear first?”
“Oh, the sex part, don’t you think? I’m assuming the funny part will be over the top with the crowd you were part of.”
“Okay, so we’ve sorted our problems out and we’re sharing our feelings with each other and we’ve both decided we’ve found our other half. And then we’re sleeping together in this tent, and the sea breeze is blowing in from Willapa Bay, and we had a great dinner with a few glasses of wine, and, you know, we’re in love and we’ve told each other.”
“Yeah, go on.”
“Well, Ron, I’ll tell you a lot, but not every detail. That’s fair, right?”
Ron paused for effect, then raised his eyebrows as if to question the validity of Will’s comment, and then said, “Yeah, that’s fair. Details aren’t necessary. But I want the story.”
“Alright then! So, the story is that Sam and I had sex for the first time right there, in that tent, between those cabins, next to Willapa Bay. That’s all.”
“What’a ya mean, ‘That’s all?” That can’t be all.”
Will was now grinning mischievously and said softly, “You know how sex works between a male and a female, right? Like the way you were conceived?”
Ron sputtered, “Yeah, but that’s not the point. You were telling me the story.”
Will still had the grin on his face, and it widened, and finally he said, “You’re right, but can I just say there was lots of foreplay, and we satisfied each other? I say it that way, because there’s more to come in the funny part of the story.”
“Okay, go on.”
“Well, you know Jackson. He’s smart and caring but also kind of a know it all. His motivation is pure, like are all his friends Okay? Can he help? What can he do? All of that. But sometimes he doesn’t know when to stop. Like where the boundaries are.”
“I’ve seen that part of Jackson.”
“So, you’re with me. Anyway, the next morning when we woke up, I told Sam that when we got to JC’s cabin, they’d have coffee ready, and then JC and his Dad would cook breakfast, but I warned her to be ready because Jackson’s interrogation would begin.”
“Oh yeah. All positively motivated, you know, like, did you sleep well, is everything alright? But what he’s really after is did you two successfully and satisfactorily fuck?”
“Ron, don’t you remember the give and take the first few weekends you slept over with me at the house? It was all friendly, but it was the same kind of thing. The point is that sometimes he’s so into what he thinks he’s doing that he loses sight of the boundaries. That’s all.”
“Got it. So, what happened?”
“Oh, he started the interrogation right away, about the sexy ocean air and stuff.”
“Well, I’d prepped Sam, so she was ready and there was some real give and take, and finally when she’d made it very publicly apparent just what info he was after, she did a ‘we’ll tell you if you tell us’ thing. She called his bluff, and then Jackson caved, and basically said he and David had made wild and passionate love, and Sam let him know that we ‘got it on.’ With no other details.”
“Good for her.”
“Yeah, she stood her ground and established herself in the family. But it wasn’t over. When we got back to the cabin that evening after dinner, Jackson apologized for being too pushy.”
Ron made an interesting face, then said, “That’s commendable, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, he’d thought about it a lot and figured out it wasn’t any of his business and apologized. And, he was sincere, but it wasn’t over.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, Sam’s no fool, and she gave him ‘a Jackson,’ and it was classic.”
“Meaning she gave him a dose of his own medicine. After she’d accepted his apology and pretty much made sure everyone understood that he’d been nosing into private affairs that weren’t his to know about, she let him know that while we’d gotten it on, meaning she let everyone know we’d had sex but with no details, she went on to tell everyone that I was now her boyfriend. I mean we’re all sitting around on a cabin porch and she tells everyone. Then she told Jackson that we were a lot quieter having sex than he and David were!”
Ron’s face went blank, then his eyebrows rose, then he started laughing out loud. “Are you shitting me? You mean she really nailed him like that? In front of his Dad and his grandfather?”
“Yeah, it was classic. And the best part? David was laughing quietly, but JC and his Dad were laughing so hard I thought they were going to lose it completely.”
“Classic! Totally classic. I can see Jackson has met his match in Sam.”
“It’s so great, Ron. I mean, you know I love the guy to death. He saved me. Twice, he saved me, and once was literally pulling me back from the edge. I’d give him my right hand if he needed it, but he’s still Jackson, and this was such a perfect Jackson gets his comeuppance kind of situation. It was amazing.”
They grew quiet. Will looked away, recalling the images on the edge of Willapa Bay, while Ron tried to conjure up what the situation would have looked like.
Finally, Will looked at Ron, a smile still on his face. Ron was pensive, and softly said, “Can I ask?”
“I told you that you can ask almost anything.”
“How was the sex?”
“I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account, and anyway, you know how human anatomy works. I’ll just say it was different, but it was great. You know, different equipment and stuff.”
“Was it great because you were with your other half?”
“That’s all I want to know. You know I think I’ve found that with Peter, and if you have with Sam, then that’s all I need to know, and I’m over the moon happy for you.”
Will smiled at Ron, his eyes bright and happy. “Thanks, man. You don’t know how meaningful it is to hear you say that.”
“I’m convinced, and I’m happy for you. We both went into this summer with our eyes open, so that’s enough.”
“We did, because we were close enough to be able to be honest and talk about it all with each other.”
“Can I ask you something else really personal?”
“Go for it.”
“Why do you think it’ll last? What do you and Sam have in common besides going to college?”
Will grinned. “Well, we’re both bi, and that’s a good start. I’ve thought about that a lot because we’ve both sorted out our sexual identities, and you know how much David talks about that, how important being grounded in your identity is. We’ve got shared interest like hiking and bicycling and rock climbing and kayaking. We’ve also got shared values. On top of that, we both want to teach. I want to teach music, and my model is Robert Atkins. She wants to teach girl’s physical ed, to make sure girls don’t feel like limp second class athletes. So, there’s a lot in common, don’t you think?”
Ron though for a minute, and then said, “Probably more than most couples.”
“And, Ron, this is just between us, Okay. I don’t care how much Jackson tries to weasel an answer, it’s none of his business.”
Ron’s eyes lit up conspiratorially, “You can trust me.”
“The sex is pretty great.”
Ron broke into a grin. “You don’t have to give me any details. I get it.”
“I know I don’t, but you told me you worried about not being a good enough lover when I told you I’d gotten together with a girl. So, I want you to know something. I don’t know how she’d take it if she ever heard me saying it, but I know I can tell you. And I want you to know, because it’s important for you to know. When I hold her in my arms, when we’re having sex, because of her body, it’s more like holding a guy than a girl.”
“Whoa! I didn’t expect that.”
“I don’t know what you expected, but I want you to know. You may end up thinking I’m a weirdo or something, but I think you deserve to know. There’s a large degree to which I wouldn’t have been ready for this relationship with Sam if I hadn’t been with you. I want you to understand that.”
Ron was quiet, and the expression on his face changed from surprise to understanding to compassion. “I told you earlier you’re my closest friend, and that’s true. I really think Peter’s my other half, but we’re growing into that relationship, and the sex is great too. He’s older and I’m still in college, but he’s mature and sensitive and compassionate. And, sexy! You and Sam grew into your relationship. But you need to know too, that I wouldn’t have been ready to be with Peter if I hadn’t been with you. You brought me out of my closetful of hang ups and made me feel healthy and good about myself.”
Will’s expression changed from concerned to happy. “I’m so glad to hear you say that.
“There’s a lot of things about last year, I mean our time together last year, that I’ll never forget. Like I said before, the way you accepted this hung up Mormon kid and how caring you were. And the thrill I felt the first time I heard the Glee Club sing one of your arrangements, and you sang the solo, and I got to say to myself, “that’s my boyfriend!” That was a thrill. And being able to have you as my regular date for two quarters, and be accepted so well at David and Jackson’s house.”
“Having a great boyfriend again was a thrill for me, after thinking it was all over. And everyone accepted not just us, but the two of us together. Remember when Prof. Higgins would include us in the invite to those parties after the choir or glee club performances?”
“For sure. Being invited to a faculty member’s home for a celebration with the guy you’re dating, with no judgment and no questions asked, was pretty over the top. It was an amazing year. The most memorable year of my life so far.”
“Yeah, it was on a whole lot of fronts. I was pulled back from the brink. I got my life back together. I got on track academically. I met you and had a great and healthy relationship. I don’t know what I did to deserve it.”
“Will, you were you. Like you told me a while ago, you’re a good guy. You deserve it.”
“Okay, if you insist! I guess the doctor has to take his own medicine, doesn’t he?”
“You know what the most memorable image was?” He snickered.
Will looked a little surprised and said, “What?”
“Well, there’s actually two parts. There’s the event and there’s the image”
“Now I’m really confused.”
“No need. It was the night we went to the house for the first time after a movie. You’d told me it was cool with David and Jackson, not just going to the house that night, but even staying over, and then they made it clear it was cool and I shouldn’t feel embarrassed at all. Remember that?”
“Yeah, I knew what they’d said, but I was a little nervous too. It was the first time I brought a boy over after the whole Kevin thing. But it was so cool that they were so open about it.”
“Yeah, and they made me feel so welcome, like settling down to watch Ray Charles sing on The Tonight Show, and offering us both a glass of wine, and then we all sat and talked afterwards, and it was so natural.”
He looked off in the distance through the front window, across the lawn and over east Portland to the Cascades where he could see Mount Hood sitting with its snowcapped shoulders. Eventually he looked back at Will. “And then they made it pretty clear it was cool for me to stay over and for us to sleep together. Even though Jackson was giving us grief about not being too noisy, but that was so cool too.”
“It’s an amazing place to live. They’re open and loving and caring all the time.”
“Anyway, back to what I was telling you about, the most memorable event and image. Remember, they’d gone to bed, and we locked the front door and turned out the lights and went down to your room very quietly. Then there was that moment where I kind of like froze and you had to make me know I was loved and there was no need to get uptight, and then you kissed me, and it was like 4th of July fireworks.”
“Yeah, I remember that. You got so hot, so fast, it was wild.”
“But that was absolutely the first time for anything serious for me. Inside I was in a panic about what to do. And then you took my shirt off. Like slowly unbuttoning each button one at a time, all the while you were kissing me and working me over with your tongue. And then the way you stroked my face and back after you tossed the shirt away, just making me feel wonderful and loved.”
Will was grinning at him, caught up in the memory too. “I seem to recall I wasn’t the only one feeling loved and wonderful. This guy I was kissing had two hands too, and they were doing quite the job on me.”
“We fed off each other, didn’t we? Anyway, the important part is that you knew it was my first time to have real sex of any kind, and you were so soft and loving, leading me along. I can still remember like it was yesterday when you undid the snap on my Levi’s and ran the zipper down, and pushed them down around my ankles, and part of my brain wanted to freeze, but the other half said, ‘Chill out, it’s Will. He’s your lover. It’ll be wonderful.’ So, I just went with it, and it was wonderful. You ran your hands up the backs of my legs and into my briefs, and stroked my butt and my legs, and after you pushed them down around my ankles, I was totally over the top.”
“I can still remember those briefs and what was inside.”
“Can you remember that you stroked my hips and down my legs and kissed my cock and then looked up at me and told me I was beautiful?”
Will smiled knowingly.
“You told me I was beautiful! No one ever told me anything like that before. And you kept rubbing my back and my butt and my thighs and made me feel so alive and so sexy, and then you looked at me and smiled. It was a smile that just melted all the hang ups away, and you were holding my cock and kissed it again. Do you remember?”
Will swallowed hard and nodded. “Ron, I remember, but I’m getting hard listening to you.”
“Sorry, but I want you to understand that I was this hung up and fucked up kid before I met you, and you helped me become me. You told me I was beautiful, and you made me feel like I’d never felt before. That’s important, Will. I want you to understand that.”
Will had been listening to Ron, the warm feeling in his chest matching the warm firmness in his pants.
“It was wonderful, Ron, but you make me sound like Casanova or something. I was pretty green too, you know.”
Ron reached out his hand and extended his fingers to Will. Will reached back and their fingertips connected with each other. Ron’s eyes lit up, and his smile widened, and Will found he was doing the same.
“I’m not telling you that you were the most experienced or the most competent lover in the world. I’m telling you that you were the best lover in the world for me. That’s different.”
“It is,” Will softly said back to him, as he slid his fingers down between Ron’s fingers and squeezed softly. “And you were the best lover for me then too. Friends and lovers. It was the best.”
Ron smiled appreciatively at that and continued. “Anyway, finally you had to say, ‘let’s get these pants off,’ and we did, and then we were stroking each other, and I’d never been so excited. I mean your hand on my cock, and you were kissing me and making me feel like the most important person ever. And then you took my cock in your mouth, and oh my god! I mean you’d felt me up before when we were making out, but it was nothing like that. And suddenly everything I’d dreamed about what sex with a boy could be like was happening to me, and it was all so positive and lovely I didn’t know what to do.”
“So, you did just what you were supposed to do. You came in my mouth! That was pretty great!”
“Does Sam have a clue you’re having this conversation with me?”
“No, and she doesn’t need to. This is you and me. You’re my friend and were my lover, and we’re having this conversation because we need to safeguard our friendship.”
“You’re right, and I apologize. I shouldn’t have said that. It implied you were somehow trying to hide something, and you’re the most honest person I know. Anyway, after I recovered, remember you crawled up on the bed and I tried to kiss and suck your cock too, and didn’t do a very good job.”
“Stop. It felt wonderful.”
“Okay, and then after we both came, we were resting in each other’s arms in, what’s it called?”
“Yeah, that’s where we were, holding each other in a cuddle. And I looked down at our softened cocks, and then down our legs and I realized we still had our socks on. As in, we’d had this sensuous kissing session, and then pulled off our pants and had this amazing climax, and we still had our socks on. Remember, I had those tan crew socks on, and you had those low bike socks on? It just seemed so strange that we were in such a hurry we forgot to get totally naked. So, besides the fact that your hand was the first one other than my own to get me off, and your lips were the first ones to touch my cock, and it was totally wonderful, I’ll always remember it not just for the feeling, but for that image of looking down our torsos, across our soft cocks and down our legs to our feet on the plaid sheets, with our socks on. Is that weird?”
“I don’t think it’s weird. I don’t remember the socks. But I do remember your beautiful cock and how blissed out you were. I’ll never forget that.”
Ron grinned at him. “I’ll never forget either. And, as long as we can still be friends, good friends, then fine by me. I don’t want any of this to come between you and Sam. I’m convinced what you’ve got is terrific, and I hope it’s the same for me and Peter.”
Will glanced at the clock on the wall and said, “We’ll always be good friends. And one of the main reasons why is that we can be this open and honest now as we were that first night. Now, we better head over to the house for the barbecue. David and Jackson, and Sam and everyone else for that matter, are really looking forward to seeing you again after a long summer.”
They stood up and took the coffee mugs back to the kitchen, rinsed them and left them on the drain rack. Will switched off the lights as they headed to the front door. Before he opened it, he felt Ron’s hand on his arm, and turned to look at him, face to face.
“Can I give you a last kiss? Not a goodbye kiss, but a kiss that kind of seals what we had and sets a new direction?”
Will looked back at him unflinchingly, and said softly, “You can, Ron, because it does set a new direction. To me the refrain from the Moody Blues song New Horizons kind of explains why.
But I'm never gonna lose your precious gift
It will always be that way
'cause I know I'm gonna find my own peace of mind
“And, you know what? Someday is today!”