Chapter 37
(c) 2006

While Brett was torn between choices, loyalties,  friendships and family, as well as his future, I was torn -- period.

Hiya, G,

Brett is giving Perth some serious thought. I thought about the bloke who offered Brett the job and maybe being like me, wanting to live with Brett so he can gawk at him, although, Brett would never allow that. I don't dare say something like that to Brett because he would freak. I'm not sure I can handle Brett leaving. Every day I fall into this hopeless pit where every thought of every minute of every day is filled with Brett. I get excited each time he phones, and the other day, when I didn't see him, I descended into a total fucking downer. This is a lot worse than it was when Rick was here because we were always together. And, although I fantasize about having some sort of physical activity with Brett, that's not important any more. Just being with him makes me happy--like the other day when we were just chatting about shit and laughing--that made my day.

I just had to write you about all that's happening, though, because this is one valley I'm not gonna handle.

G'day, Kyle.

You'll handle it. You'll handle it because you love your parents. You'll handle it because you love Graham. You'll handle it because you love Melanie. You'll handle it because I'll come over there and beat the crap out of you if you don't. You'll handle it because that's what Brett expects of you. Think about it, Kyle. Think about the difference you made to Brett since those early dark days. Think about the life you gave him. Yep. The life you gave him. No way would he be the bloke he is now if you hadn't clobbered him in the school quad two years ago. Be grateful. Be thankful for the opportunity to make a huge difference to a person's life (not to mention mine). And be thankful for the difference Brett made to your life. What you gave to each other is immeasurable, and will stay with each of you for the rest of your lives.

Be sad, but also grateful for the sadness. One day, you will realize that this sadness is, in fact, a very special gift. Remember when Rick removed his mask at your birthday party? That is the kind of joy no amount of money could ever buy. It's the kind of joy only a heart, once broken, could ever know.
Hey, Kyle, what happens when you get trashed by a wave? Lemme guess. You paddle out again to catch the next. Am I right?

Late last year you thanked me for my patience. You were hitting the books because your future was at stake. I took a back seat. The most important thing about my friendship with you is you. Your happiness and success is numero uno. Recently, you wrote to tell me you passed your final exams with flying colors. My patience was rewarded by your success.

You need to understand something, Kyle. In my 50+ years there's only been one Kyle. There will only ever be one Kyle. But that's not to say other people don't exist. They do. But right now, I know from whence the sun shines.

When you love somebody, truly love somebody, they come first. Consider this scenario. Brett rejects the job offer in Perth. He declines a rare opportunity in order to stay with you. Is that what you really want? Somewhere down the track, when you two have another argument (and you're forever arguing) do you want him to say, "Damn you, Kyle, I could be earning twice the money I earn now, with better prospects! But I turned it down. Why?"

One day, Kyle, you're gonna be a marine biologist. Why? Because it will buy you a big expensive house? Nope. You're going to be a marine biologist because you want to contribute something worthwhile to the oceans. You want to improve the lot of nature's marine creatures.

Believe me, I know how much Brett means to you. I know how much you love him. But if he were a bird would you put him in a cage? If he were a dolphin would you put him in a tank?

I also know these questions are not easy to answer. They're painful. You'd rather they didn't exist, and that life could be simple. Life will never be simple, Kyle. And there will always be difficult questions to answer. Many times during your life the question will be posed: "Do I face this problem or turn my back?"

To solve the Brett problem is pretty straight forward. Support whatever is best for him. If he decides to remain in Byron Bay, cool. He will have made that decision without pressure from you. If he decides to embrace Perth, he will have made that decision with your support, albeit support tinged with sadness. But, sadness is preferable to regret, and he will always love you for being a true friend.

The reason I'm not beating around the bush in this email is because the situation is like surfing. Make a wrong move and you're ass over tit. The waves dictate the terms, and waves are like life. Life often dictates the terms. To ride life's waves you gotta learn to stay on your pinkies.

Sometimes you go to the beach and the surf is crap. Other times it's rocking. What does that teach you about life?

I lived all but a few years of my life without a Kyle. I suspect there will be a time when my life is once again Kyle-less. I hope not, but I'm prepared. I have two choices: to be thankful for the experience or be pissed off at the loss. Which reaction do I choose? I'm no hero, mate. Bottom line is this: should Brett's happiness also be yours? That's a question we all need to ask about the people we love.

You've been around long enough, and had sufficient experience, to know that hills can't exist without valleys. Imagine if I'd been able to tell you three years ago, when your heart broke because of Rick's departure for Canada, that Graham, Melanie, Stuart and Brett were on the horizon. Back then, it was impossible for you to imagine anything or anyone filling the void Rick left behind. Go figure.

None of us has a crystal ball but we can have faith in ourselves. Some people call it hope, but I don't believe in hope per se. Some people spend a lifetime hoping to win the lottery. Yeah, right. If you want money, earn it. If you want friends, earn them. You've done both, and you will continue to do both. You will continue to be the kind of person who brings light into dark lives. Some of those lives will move on and take your gift with them. But there will always be a queue of lives waiting to also be touched by your magic.

Meanwhile, you need to decide whether or not jealousy and possessiveness have any place in your own definition of love. Since I've known you, you've worked for everything you have. You've earned all you have--except me. You got me for nothing. Just joking. So don't lose the plot, mate. Keep working. Keep trying. Never give up no matter what happens. If you want the sun to rise, swim over to the horizon and drag the fucker up if you have to.

When Brett poked your chest with his finger and said, "I'll be right here", he promised you that he won't forget you no matter where he goes--just like E.T. But even E.T. had to go home. And where's home? Brett's home is in his dreams, the dreams he's had since he was a little boy without a dad. Brett is still searching for himself. You've helped him enormously in that search but it ain't over `til the fat lady sings.

Your friend and fan, G.

Brett's `little flat', itself a mini mansion, and part of a much larger grand house, knocked me for six when I first laid eyes on it. "You call this little? It's awesome!" The self-contained guest accommodation was now exclusively Brett's, whose boss explained that the main house was more than capable of accommodating any guests that might visit. The flat was his for as long as he wanted.

I watched him prepare chicken casserole. Like everything else he did, it was neat and perfect. "Feel like a beer?" he asked as he slid the dish into the oven.

While we reminisced and laughed about old times, he suddenly stood and invited me to skinny dip in the monster flood-lit pool. What the hell, we were alone. Sure enough, without a word spoken, wrestling was immediately on the agenda. So were boners but we didn't care. Then he managed to grab me from behind and wrap his strong arms around my upper body: "I don't know what you've done to me, Kyle, but I love you. I don't always show it but I do. You're not going to believe this but I am going to miss you. I'm going to miss this--being with you."

As we entered his eat-in kitchen, Brett insisted on dressing for dinner, albeit in shorts. "It's kinda ceremonial," he explained, "I'll lend you a pair of my boxers."

His thin cotton gym shorts were a little tight around the waist--his was 28 inches to my 30. "At least my dick can breathe," I joked.

The casserole was delicious as well as an ideal accompaniment to the conversation, which ranged from hiking tours and swim-team tours to girlfriends and mates.

"You and Rick were helluva close," Brett remarked, changing the topic slightly. "I got a question for you but you don't need to answer it, Kyle."

"Sounds ominous."

Brett's face blushed. "Did you and Rick ever go further than oral?"

"Not until he visited for my 18th birthday. Hey, chill," I said before he got the chance to freak, "I know I can share stuff with you now. Yes, Rick and I went the whole nine yards. But before your brain starts playing games, it was very special for both of us." A pause followed while Brett quietly considered my revelation. "Are you hassled by that?" I asked.

"It's weird but ... I'm not. And I think it has something to do with your relationship with Rick. I'm not gonna be your judge, Kyle. It's not the kind of thing I can even imagine properly. But, then, a lot about me has changed, including my whole attitude about the way you are." Brett paused to note my watery eyes. "You seem to be in deep thought, mate."

"I've been pretty good, don't you think? I mean about your leaving and all. Fact is, I dunno what I'm gonna do when you're gone. I guess time will take care of things like they did when Rick moved to Canada. But I'm really battling to handle people vacating my life. It's not just that I love you, Brett, it's that I'm in love with you. There's a huge difference." Surprisingly, I found my inability to control myself quite humorous, and fell about laughing. "I'm not handling this too well, hey, Brett?"

"You made me aware of how I must appear to other people. Are you sure you're not just in love with what you see? I don't want it to sound cheap or anything, I just want you to sort it out in your own head. I know that I love you very much, but there is a difference. If I were in love with you I'd be thinking about spending the rest of my life with you. You need to understand why that can't happen. At the same time, Kyle, I want you to know that you have this huge piece of my heart that no one can ever take away."

"I know I can't have you forever," I admitted sadly.

"I'm also pretty proud of you, mate. I appreciate how hard this is for you. It's difficult enough for me. I also know you've been working on your smiley face for my benefit. What I feel for you is very different from anything I felt for anyone else, ever."

With the meal finished, I helped Brett do the dishes and cleaning before we retired to the living room couch to enjoy a glass or two of wine and more conversation.

Brett said he didn't want our relationship to sound cheap. I don't either. So I won't detail all of what took place that night, except to say that Brett and I didn't go `the whole nine yards'. However, those yards we did travel were remarkably and truly special to both of us. Maybe my best mate wasn't in love with me, but it certainly felt like he was.

 Brett woke during the night in response to my finger tracing the outlines of his nose and face in bed. "Not sleeping?" he asked.

"No. I wanna remember everything about you."

"Cool." Then he returned to deep slumber.

He woke again in the morning to find himself tangled in a web of arms and legs, mine, of course. I was woken soon afterward by the sound of a splash outside. A minute later, I flew through the air and dove into the refreshing brisk coolness. "So you finally went to sleep," he laughed as I surfaced and shook the water from my face and hair.

"Yeah, I had my fun last night--touching you all over like a little Kyle about to get his hand smacked."

After showering, we made our way to the coffee shop for a quick breakfast. Ahead, for us both, was a busy day at our respective workplaces, and Brett's airport bus was due to leave at 7 that evening.