John was a gracile creature, with a fair and open face. He grew up as the only boy in a house with no dad and 3 sisters. He was sort of a celebrity among a set of my college friends who were freshmen when I was a junior. He was a powerful, effortless, expert skier and had been teaching since he was in high school. I saw him do helicopter turns and make herringbone edge-cuts in ice an inch apart on 215 cm downhill-racing skis.
When he transferred into my university, he moved into an apartment with my friends & I finally got to meet the legend. Turns out he was a really, really NICE guy. Exquisitely graceful. Very gentle, with a sweet disposition and an odd, sort of untouched quality, emotionally. I really could not approach him sexually, but I wasn't hurting. I had a lover then -- another scientist -- a mountaineer like me and drop-dead handsome. I have pictures of him. On the glacier. Roped in. Ice axe and crampons. What a fox! I'll tell you about Will elsewhere.
Oddly, I guess John looked up to me. He was just such a nice person, such easy company. Everyone, without exception, liked John. Fun, apparently happy, never arguing, always going along with whatever everyone else wanted to do. That was his problem. He had grown up in a household of women and never had the chance to assert himself. Just became so nice to everyone. Got along with everyone.
I remember the first time he looked me up. Came over to my room. I was stuck in this rut of 18 hour study days. I was taking graduate quantum mechanics without ever having had linear algebra or differential equations. What a bitch! Eighteen hour days seven days a week, 'till you'd get Strep. Three days in bed, then the whole thing all over again. John came over. I had the whole room covered with canary-colored xerox paper with little tiny wave functions all over them. Dirac Brackets. Von Neumann notation. "Delta is the metric tensor that spans the space of the eigenvectors... "
Geez! Why did I do that to myself? Because it was so tantalizingly close! The Secret! What is it that makes "IS" happen? What is the light that shines behind the stained glass window that is the glory of all creation? Why does any of it exist? Why does the universe have a finite pixel size? So tantalizing... So many fucking piles of paper. So much coffee. John. So graceful. Beautiful and innocent. Untouched.
Close the door before the papers can blow. Saturday morning with the bright October sunlight shining in. Stuck at my desk. I was so flattered. He seemed almost honored that I stopped my work and just spent time with him. I would gladly have held his hand and run away. Washed dishes somewhere and just rolled in his arms all night. He couldn't have known that. He could scarcely have understood the depraved depths of my romantic soul. Couldn't possibly know what I felt. Or ...? There was no real reason for his visit. Just a visit.
I had already experienced that worshipful love that a gorgeous boy will bring forth in you, when you have lived your adolescence alone. I had fallen hard and completely. Breathed each breath for my lover. I was so privileged. My lovers were so lovely, so bright. Glissading down the spring snow, pretending to shoot each other with our ice axes, turning, turning. Skiing on the heels of our climbing boots, between the rocks. Ropes and packs. Dark glasses almost black to block the UV. So competent. So young and vital.
But John was special. There was an untouched, a virginal quality that he had. And of course I stopped. And of course I gave him every bit of my attention. I know my mind was keyed up by all the math, honed to a razor's edge. My gaze would have pierced him mercilessly, had I not been softened by his nearness. Made fuzzy. Those gentle, guileless grey eyes. A boy's eyes in the body of a budding young man. The tiny upward curve at the end of his nose. Perfect ears. Those beautiful eyelashes and the blush of his cheeks. John at 18. Like a cat.
Quantum was not answering all my questions. I had an opportunity to study with a Tulku, a high Incarnate Lama, his eleventh lifetime of continuity. The name means Phantom, as in playing piece. "Pleased to meet you. You are looking at my token body." Such a bright man. So intense. Fierce, like a wolf. Able to see through you absolutely. No secrets from one such as him. None. You just let them all go, and it was okay. There was no absolution. He didn't forgive you. He didn't particularly care. It was what you did with your universe. It was playing for keeps. Perhaps you could become free. Perhaps you would trap yourself in an unimaginable hell for a thousand eternities. Your call. Knock yourself out. Pay heed. Good luck!
He demonstrated magic in his everyday activities. He would extend his hand and a chorus of car horns would coincidentally sound, outside. For emphasis. Just at the right time. For just the right amount of time. Just the right chord. I wonder what those drivers thought was going on? Stuff like that happened around him, always.
In my freshman year, I had done 120 acid trips. Had to ease up a bit to keep the grades where they had to be. My major had to be all A's. Maybe I would have done 200, otherwise. I loved that stuff. We had major regional labs in town, and it was clean and it was very, very strong, indeed. We were doing hits that would have been called 4000 mikes on the street. Really about 1,250. A little over 4 times the dose where there is no qualitative difference in the trip with increased dose. That is considered to be 300 mikes -- 900 in street terms, for a 150 pound male. The street doses were always three times actual. It would obliterate your self, dissolve it between the dimensions, for about 6 hours. Then you would be 100% straight, 1000%, except for the colors. Everything was aflame, but you could do quantum at 6 hours. The visuals disappeared in 3 days.
What I took home was an intense awareness of the unseen world of energy that surrounds our bodies. That interpenetrates our selves. The complex... ecosystem... of communication channels, masses, energies, flows. And, yes, entities. The stuff that acupuncture deals with. The medium on which is writ the blueprint of our physical world. A miraculous world for which the western cultures had no vocabulary. I used to wield the forces and energies of that world, tap into the communication channels, as I made love to Will. Guess you could say it was intense, in a sort of cosmic way. A lot of it took place on some plane not of the flesh. But it was sexual, certainly. And I did so love his body, like a colt. But that was Will.
Well, quantum proved to me, unambiguously, that this universe is founded on magic. It just didn't explain why I could hand you a ball of energy and cure your cold. Why I could reach out from my belly and silence a Doberman. For those questions, the answers lay... somewhere else. I am still finding them.
John came to my room. Quantum be damned. Why do I want to hot-wire reality anyway? So I can roll in arms such as those. So my heart can be loosed from these Earthly concerns, my emotions from this loneliness and my mind can soar between the worlds. Come to me! Set me free, beautiful John...
Time passed, I graduated at Christmas, and since there were zero jobs in my field, I taught hang gliding for a while. Turns out John flew, too. Taught, too. Later, I worked designing and building them. John taught flying for a while more, then moved up into the mountains to teach at a resort for the ski season. I flew in some competitions and got some dead-serious air in the Tetons and Hawaii. Leaping exultantly into the sky to cavort among the eagles. For real. Really focuses the attention! Almost as good as love. Almost. The exultant joy of flight like ashes in your mouth, without a boy to hold.
He seemed to look up to me, and he began to move like me. My body is totally different from his. Heavily muscled from birth, compact. Big chest. Deep voice. Plenty of meat. If I fell asleep on my back, my arms would float in the air, from the muscles. So this tall, svelte, slinky ski god copying me was not only bizarre, the caricature was unmistakable. He even got my Tai Chi training in there, somehow. Arrgh! I felt like I was watching Frankenstein. Had to reassure his friends and mine that I had not seduced John. I had to come out to one friend, in order to tell him that I had not done a Rasputin trip on John, so that he could reassure the others. Apparently I had become the missing dad. How embarrassing! How flattering.
The hang glider company failed, through mis-management. I finished up my pilot's license with my last few dollars. I stopped on my way back from the check ride and fetched John. My first passenger. We flew to the nearest large city and celebrated with friends. I was flat broke. A week later, I siphoned some poor bastard's gas tank and moved to the mountains to ski-bum.
I have one leg that was never perfectly set, so the foot turns out a few degrees. Not enough to be noticeable, but enough that I have to carve both skis at all times. There's no unweighted ski that just follows along, sliding. Two edges active all the time. That means that I will never be an instructor, have that magazine-perfect form. But I got a job with the ski resort, had my season pass to one of the world's great resorts and I used to love to splash and cavort, tumbling through the glades and moguls on the nice, steep stuff. What a blast! Sun and snow and lots of altitude. And the dorm full of rosy-cheeked lads. All out of reach.
John came up for a week. He was finishing his degree and had Christmas break. We were crashing on somebody's floor. In the total darkness of the night, I crawled over and kissed him. He responded! My hand wandered down, diving into his briefs, feeling his cool, dry balls. His cock was soft, but he offered no resistance, continuing to kiss me, wonderfully. This was just exactly where I had wanted to be, all this time. It was like heaven, for a few brief moments. I let out a tiny moan, very moved by the kiss.
John began to giggle, then laugh, & pushed me away.
"I was only trying to make you feel good," I said, desolated, bereft.
"Go to sleep," he replied, fed up.
The next day saw three feet of champagne powder. John was out of sorts. Fell and broke a pole. Kept the top foot in his hand all day. He'd pretend to plant it, to keep the rhythm. But he seemed depressed all day. Silently, we carved our figure eights through the virgin powder, John in the lead. That rhythm: splash, soar, splash, soar, splash, soar. Down to the trees, down into the valley, down to the lift. Riding silently together, back up to the roof of the world.
Another month, and I had broken the edge out of my left ski. The only pair I could borrow had bindings so loose that they would release when you turned to look down hill. Only because of my peculiar technique could I ski them at all. But I would find myself, at times, soaring above the moguls with no skis. Novel vantage point. For point zero eight seconds! Sack of potatoes, smashing through the moguls, collecting snow.
The pay was so bad that new skis were not gonna happen. I moved into a cabin in the mountains and fasted through February. Bad move. Couldn't stay warm. Back down to town and prepared to sell my car for some cash. I crashed with John and we never discussed the ball-fondling and that kiss. Nice kiss, John. Returned. Why?
With the cash from the car, I took a year off. Worked as a cowboy. The real thing. Roundups and branding. Smelling like sheep every time I showered, until my hair grew enough that all that summer's hair had been cut away. I continued to practice Tibetan Buddhism. Live half in the magic realm. No acid now.
Went to Oahu. Surfed. Flew. Met my distant family. Continued my spirit quest. Came back blonde. John was in his senior year, now. Living in the town where I did.
He had another friend who also rock climbed and between us, we taught John the basics. John's raw athletic talent took him onward from there. I never saw John lead anything over 5.7, but he led 5.6 matter of factly -- about the same as me. I took him up the hardest stuff I could lead. Somehow, with him there, I had the courage to reach up over the overhang, let the feet go, and commit myself. Swinging out. Up and over. Out on the wall. River a thousand feet below. Wind in my hair. The smell of the rock and the rope. Freedom and strength. A rarefied plane. Only a few of us ever went there. Ever will go there.
One time, John took a long leader fall. I had him, of course, but the rope came up over my harness and shorts & got to my skin and I had a burn around my waist through to the dermis. Guess if I'd been a tree, I would have died. He wasn't hurt. But there is a certain bond, there, of holding each other's lives in your hands.
Moonlight. The glacier 1400 feet below. John had scrambled up the hideous, overhanging, maximum 5.8 to the summit, the light failing. Shitty protection. Fear so intense he was climbing with the dry heaves. I was left on the face as night fell. Moonlight on the glacier. The ice a river of silver light, so very far below. A terrible beauty to the solitude. Wind in my hair. A quarter mile of air beneath my feet. I tore my gear apart to make little prussik knots and inched my way up the rope to the summit. As I gained my feet, they were both sitting on a microwave-sized rock. I was tied to it. The only anchor available. They'd decided not to scare me by telling me.
I guess it was a lot of this sort of thing. Fellowship. Contact. Sitting, tied in, belaying him, as John led off the next pitch in his white cotton gym shorts. Always the same ones, with the little blue stripe up the side. John must be 6, maybe 6 one. Long and fragile, slightly angular. Brown boyish hair, which he sometimes wore long. Always, he parted it on the right and tossed his head to get it off his face. And, he would trade leads with me. As he moved out and around me, the gear rack clanking on his shoulder, he would brush against me, arousing me, and then lead off, his soft nuts pressing out his briefs as he paused, swan-like on the rock, to place protection. Loved the way they moved. He moved. His nuts and I, we knew. We had an understanding. We should have been together, always. But they never told him how they felt. He was busy leading the next pitch.
Over the course of a few years, we did some very cool stuff together, spectacular climbs. Pinnacles, then the free descent, spinning en rappel, thirty stories above the forest, the plains stretched out before us, toy-like, for a hundred miles. Always, I admired his body, loved his company. Came to love him. Always, I was afraid to confess that love.
How, you ask, could I face all that physical danger and yet be afraid to ask for his heart? Because I had judged myself in my deepest place. I was broken goods. My love was not righteous. How could I inflict myself upon this lovely creature?
We still spent a lot of time together. No sex, but a lot of his beauty. His lovely disposition. A tender, straight guy. But I had kissed him. And he had kissed me back. His tongue had been in my mouth, and his dick in my hand. And I loved him.
We went up, one spring night, into the mountains, and hiked by the moonlight. Out onto a point. Sat on the rocks. And I experienced a brief moment of egolessness. Abstraction from this place, somehow. And then back to wanting him. And I just had to tell him that I loved him. I told myself that I would tell him when we reached the trail's end. At the overlook. It was decided.
We were 50 feet away. My fear rose. Twenty feet, and the wind rose, fifteen and it howled, ten and it screamed and bellowed, drowning out all sound. At the overlook. The wind so strong, we leaned into it, leaned over the edge, speechless. The trees, doubling over. Retreating, the wind died. Barely restive. A mere breeze.
Summoning my courage, I led him back. Twenty feet and the wind rose, fifteen and it began to howl. Ten and it was a raging beast, bellowing its fury, drowning my voice. The violence was nightmarish. Do you scream "I love you," to your climbing buddy, above the demon gale? Five and it forced us back. Retreating, the wind died. Completely.
One more try: the wind slashing at us. Beginning to pick up and throw rocks. The trees like souls in torment. The Wind forcing us back. Driving us away. Driving ME away. The message was for me. A personal message. To be ignored at my mortal peril.
Proof that what I held in my heart was not to be spoken.