You know, it wasn't until I looked back at this time in some detail, that I came face to face with the loss. Ohh, Will! What we could have been together, if only I had known -- we had known -- how rare what we had with one another was to become, as our lives went along. Oh, how I loved you. Oh, how we struggled. To be together. To grow, separately. To be independent, amidst our mutual dependency. Dear God, why could you not have granted me this small bit of wisdom at the time...
The Fall played out, with the usual mixture of good and bad. School was good. I was taking Calc and Physics and Organic, and they all interested me. All the acid last year, and over the summer, had left me with a certain fear that I was not entirely intact, as far as short term memory was concerned. So I performed remarkable feats of memorization. They got me straight A's.
It wasn't going to be until the next semester that I would develop an inkling. I remember coming out of an Organic exam and running into the usual gaggle of students -- the top 6 or 7 -- debriefing about the questions.
"Oh, Man!" this one kid groaned, "Do you have any idea what number 14 was?" He looked zitty and anxious. There was a chorus of concurring, mystified mumbles.
"That was a variant on the Cope Elimination," I replied, "run in the alkaline regime." There was a chorus of groans.
"How about 6?"
"The proton attacks the enol form of the ketone and the... "
Still, I was unsure of myself. When I finished studying the theory, I always memorized the reactions and then memorized the Prof's ruminations and anecdotes, just in case. Later, I only got worse about this. "Enol retentive."
Why the overkill? Well it had to do with a number of things. I'll warn you now: it had to do with some core stuff that eats at the heart of every man whose sexuality isn't of the Ozzie and Harriet variety.
First, there was Will. So sleek. So polished.
It is a funny thing, self. Your self has these huge, gaping holes in it. And you seem to spend about 90% of your time slapping patches on the holes. Checking frantically to make sure there isn't a gap in the apparent seamlessness of your ego-surface. I remember listening to the adults tell stories:
"We were on convoy duty to North Africa... "
"This one time, we got caught stealing hubcaps... " It didn't much matter what the story was. It was the delivery. It was the stories' role in producing the illusion of a seamlessly complete persona. The adults: so seamless and solid. "Real" people.
Any teenager knows he isn't solid. That's why it is so much more relaxing to hang with other kids. They don't look at you funny, when you have one of those gaps. Sitting there, mouth hanging open, soft. Looking nowhere. Being nothing, no one in particular, there, for a moment.
Of course, I had been a weird little boy. I hated those blank moments. I would go over to other kids' homes, with my folks, on a Saturday morning. The other kids would be flaked out in front of the TV -- some people had them, by then -- in their soft flannel jammies, with a bottle. World out of focus, mouth soft and shapeless. I would be filled with consternation. At two and a half, three. I would try to make conversation a time or two, and then go off to hang with the grownups.
So I wasn't an enthusiastic aficionado of hanging out in the gaps, much. I never let my mouth hang. Ever. Bugged me. And so, maybe I was more acutely aware of the gaps -- and of the solidity that set the adults apart from the kids -- than was really even good for me.
But every teen strives to achieve that certain something -- like getting
your boat up, planing, on the hull -- that the adults have.
The trouble with growing up is that, by the time you get good at faking it, chances are you bought into the deception. Kinda like "straight" guys bury their forbidden erotic thoughts...
Well, I had two things going on. First was all the acid, which really points up the gaps, big time. I mean, you can even see the holes between those pieces of the visual screen which are actual eye-perceptions. Holes where the brain has added "fill" to smooth out the picture. You can't actually see and process everything. Your eye flits to a few dozen targets, and a very talented little kid with a crayon fills in the gaps, convincingly. Usually, if you begin to notice, by then your eye has flitted to the target and filled in the fake scenery with a fresh live picture. But acid fucks up that cover-up game and you see the gaps. And you wonder: did I break me, with this stuff? Naah! You just saw through the fill-in game.
The second was... Will.
Will was plenty bright and perceptive enough to see through the ruse of persona-solidity. Maybe he wasn't comfortable with himself, either, but he knew that we were all engaged in this deep-down fundamental deception. It's funny how we could both know this -- even talk about it, some, be a bit cynical about it -- and yet feel acute discomfort at our lack of seamlessness.
Well, anyway, I didn't have real insight into this. All I knew is I had gaps, and there was Will. So self-contained, so mostly-un-gappy. So surrounded by his cool things, to remind him of who he was. His icons of self. Boy, was I fooled, on some fundamental emotional level.
Also, he was so fucking gorgeous: that maybe he could have sat there, catatonic, and I wouldn't have perceived it as a gap. After all, the TV station -- WILL -- was airing this beautiful picture that beguiled and inflamed me, uninterrupted. What gap?
I compared myself and came up sooo short. As I loved him, so did I cherish and respect him. Want him. Want to be good enough for him. Live up to his standards. Make him as proud to have me by his side as I was, to be seen with him.
No, of course I didn't make public displays. This one time, I think I did stand too close, and he turned and pushed me back, with some expression of astonishment, amusement and disdain. Really intended for public consumption.
I was more startled at the rebuke, than hurt by any sense of rejection. I knew I had been careless. The rebuke just fit into the general landscape. The landscape of being what I knew I was but didn't dare put a name to. When that's what you are, you start to expect a little pain, don't you.
So, mostly, I guess we were cool, in public, but I was so proud of him. So straight and so fine. So darkly handsome. Proud to have him. And I longed to evoke the same joy, the same pride, in him.
Well, that and the acid... I fought those gaps with everything I had, striving to fill in all the little tiny holes in my memory -- becoming correspondingly more aware of them -- and hosed the area down with feats of memorization. I think everybody but me saw me as a very solid student.
The other thing... It is so very disappointing that any of us has to deal with this. I mean, at some point, you become aware of who you find yourself looking at. Who you long to be with. What you fantasize about them, about the two of you together. You touch happiness, occasionally. Like a bee to the nectar, you are drawn to what does it for you. Buzzing in the flower for a moment. Clinging, come to think of it, to the jutting male element of the blossom. While the bee collects the nectar, he doesn't censor himself. No second thoughts.
Leaving, to return to the hive, to dance the obligatory social dance... only then does awareness return, self censorship. The bee transforms into something bizarre and composite. Core Self knows what he needs, what he must have, to be complete. Social Self sits in judgment, withholding permission to be this thing. To have these things. Denies Core Self some sort of basic permission...
Will laughed, one day in bed: "It's like you don't have any second thoughts about this at all. It's like you are happy with this and you don't even question it." I forget what, exactly, I said. I think I just shrugged and looked him in the face, open, and smiled at his beauty, at the tenderness I felt for him. At the rightness of this. Second thoughts seemed so very, very tiny and distant.
Somehow I knew that I mustn't begin to doubt. That Mickey must not look down, lest he fall. That I must not look over my shoulder, lest I become a pillar of salt. Well, here in Sodom, facing the opposite direction, maybe I would have become a pillar of Matzo or something.
At the time, I thought we were battling Will's lack of self acceptance. Maybe we were. But mine resided deep within my secret heart. Deep within me, I never granted myself the license, the permission to be me. Almost. But this isn't horseshoes, is it? It's the long haul, the big time. All of this is on the record. Even the tiny, tiny background thoughts. They all count. They shape us. Shape our bodies and our lives and our luck. And we ignore them at our peril.
But I had Will. And this was the finest thing. As Autumn ran her course, as the wind came like a locomotive and the Aspen changed, as the first snows fell, I rolled in my lover's arms and shed more than an occasional tear of love and gratitude for what I had been given. For what I had. For who I had. Ohh, Mickey, don't look down. Never look back. This is paradise.
Young guys don't really get into kissing all that much, despite the fond pretenses we make in fiction. At some point, we do try it. At some point we connect with it, become aroused, inflamed, almost indignant at the consuming eroticism of a great kiss. After that -- only after -- do we understand all that trading spit stuff. But before that, it's pretty much a guaranteed way to spook the other boy.
It was perhaps a night in November. We had gone down and bought me some ski gear. I was still a rank beginner. Coming back, it was getting dark quite early. We got into the apartment and found ourselves wanting each other. The length and frustration of the day, distilled down to a craving for the piquancy of contact.
Will had on some navy Levi's corduroys. Me in jeans. And somehow I touched him, signaling my need. And he signaled his acceptance, and I came to him, lying on him, on the couch. And the contact was so sweet, so right. His body and his warmth, there. His size and solidity and grace. Male. Young. Mine. The warmth. His smell. The softly yielding fullness of our bulging young manhood, as we pressed together. The brilliant, sharp, exquisite twinges, as we pressed. A little moan, and we kissed. Will a little hesitant. The taste of each other. Strongly sweet. Clean. Completing the sexual circuit. Something new for me. We explored: the texture of the other's tongue, the clash of teeth, the sweetness, the surging desire.
We were interrupted by something. When I tried to pick up where we had left off, Will was making fun of the Rolling Stones' tongue-and-lips icon. He just wasn't comfortable with the idea of kissing and moaning, and it never really became the part of our lives that I would have had it become.
We retired to the bed. The same one where had first connected, and enjoyed a hard, satisfying suck and a harder cum, and the electric release, and the glow, and we got dressed and worked on my skis.