That Fall passed in a happy haze. For all the ambivalence we may have harbored, I had never been so secure and fulfilled.
There is something so delicious in the dichotomy: the spare tightness of a boy. His body, his actions, his emotions so uncluttered. The spare, clean line of a day spent pushing ourselves. Skiing, climbing -- whatever. Hard body, decisive action demanded and delivered. The spare, clean line of the high country. Hard, sharp, almost inorganic.
Something moving across the snow fields: the miraculous beauty of a boy, cheeks flushed with exertion, eyes bright. A wondrous creation. The voluptuousness of his sexuality. The huge, tender frankness of his penis, mute delightful evidence of what he feels. Its softness, portal to his softest feelings. Portal to a boy's soul. The delight of that dichotomy: spare, sleek, controlled, hard; hard, voluptuous, tender, wanton, abandoned, grateful, soft. So simple yet so mysteriously delightful. Mysterious: I spent every possible moment striving to unravel that mystery. The mystery of Will. And when we were apart? Even then, he was such a comfort.
Truth be told, we were not precisely on the same wavelength. He seemed to need to be re-seduced. Somehow, it was okay for him, as long as his need overshadowed the invidious judgment of the censor. On the other hand, my middle name should have been "Sure!" They haven't invented the headache, yet, that would purge that word from my vocabulary.
So there were times when I was ready for "some sex," as a context for "some tenderness," as a connecting, as a celebration of how much I cherished him. It was not so much a physical need. Not a raging, demanding, censor-overriding need. And some of those times, I guess his censor was too busy. Busy like the wild hogs that used to rip up the lawn, shredding the sod. Glaring with their malignant piggy eyes as they did untold damage, in search of a few grubs. And those nights I would cry, desolate. Not bitter, just lonely and in pain and in need. In need of the comforting touch a scant few inches and a million miles away. Not exactly a physical thing, but a bone deep need.
I'm sure I was un-cool -- puppy like -- in my effusive love for Will. Gladly did I lay down my pride, before the majesty of this love. Gone, dignity, gone any sense of reserve, any pretense of self-sufficiency: Will might be self-contained, but certainly not me. I was helpless to even pretend. But after the games had been played, after his cock was in my mouth, then I had it on the best of authority, from an unimpeachable source: he wanted this. From his deepest place, he wanted this. Wanted what my body brought him, what my lips spoke to his soul. Wanted the abandon of accepting, enjoying the finger that found its way into him, opening him, taking the last of his reserved places.
We had both embraced mountaineering with... not no much with avidity as with an abiding love. We had both bought those foot-high down sleeping bags and various other gear. As snow blanketed the high country, we got the yearning and realized that my little orange tent was just not suitable. An old lady named Alice had started an expedition gear company in her living room. It had just grown into a storefront, in those days, on its way to become The North Face. Alice had passed away, but her superb designs and quality lived on. We went tent shopping. I selected an expedition tent. The salesman tried to hand me one off the shelf, but I wanted the floor display. Unavailable. I had to force him to let me set my (off-the-shelf) tent up, at closing time. He ran on about their quality control and their liberal return policy. I told him I needed to use it, and wasn't going to buy it, unless I'd seen it set up. That decision saved our lives. The tent was perfect in all respects, save one. Once it was complete, the seamstress had sewn the ceiling to the floor in a giant "X." Nothing bigger than a Chihuahua would have fit in there. It was probably her letter of resignation or something.
The next morning we left for Rocky Mountain National Park, and hiked in from Bear Lake. The snow was maybe 10 inches deep at the trailhead. We were headed for a high secluded tarn called "Glass Lake," perched in an easterly facing cirque beneath the Continental Divide. As the snow deepened, we were forced to abandon the trail -- it had become invisible, anyway -- and resort to making compass shots at various peaks to navigate cross-country. As we climbed higher, we encountered places where the snow had become too deep to walk in. You don't want to do a lot of walking in snow up to your crotch. Since your balls are designed to shed heat, a wet crotch, like a hatless head, is an invitation to hypothermia. Having no skis, we had to probe beneath the snow for downed trees, and walk on those, over the deep parts. I don't think I appreciated Will's grace, at that moment. Instead, I was just surviving and monitoring his route finding and his personal safety. But he was all grace and agility, as he took his turns in the lead. Taking us, at times, fifteen or twenty feet off the ground -- but only a few feet off the snow. It was actually amazing how easy it was to stay on those logs. Probably 'cause we couldn't see how far off the ground we really were.
Eventually, it became clear that Glass Lake was far too ambitious a destination. Unattainable, at least for today. I think we had made all of 1.4 miles progress, of the 3.8 miles total distance. And we were fully 2,500 feet too low. As twilight approached, we decided that it was time to set up the tent. With snow that deep, there really is not an issue of finding a flat place. The issue is finding something to stake the floor out to, at the corners.
As we unfurled the new tent, the evening's downslope drainage of cold air began. The temperature plunged rapidly. By the time we could find and drag logs to the site, tie the floor out and set up the tent, the temperature was well below zero, with the gentlest downhill breeze of massively cold air, draining down out of the cirques and valleys, off the glaciers and snowfields, down across our campsite. Our feet went numb. Our clothing, imperceptibly moist from the exertions of the day, chilled and hardened.
Seventeen pegs: that's what it took to set up that tent. We almost gave our toes for the cause. Had we gotten there with the defective tent... The snow was too fluffy to dig a cave. Maybe we would have thought of something: the will was strong in us, to live. We plunged into the tent, yanking those boots off, along with our pants. Hurriedly putting on the sleeping bags, like giant socks, we got on our Ensolite pads, to get off the cold tent floor. We fixed Chicken a la King with sherry. Fancy? Naah: Swanson's freeze-dried fare from the supermarket. Cheaper and better than the backpacking stuff, just then coming onto the market.
By the time the noodles were ready, I was suddenly almost too sleepy to eat. Will had had to finish cooking, and was looking at me, a little concerned. Somehow, that was okay with me: I was strongly comforted to be mothered, just a little, by Will. I fell asleep, and as night fell, I began to melt down into the snow. By morning, I found myself in an ice crater, like a bathtub. I was almost two feet below Will. I had apparently run a fever, during the night, and radiated enough heat to create the crater, pulling much of the tent in after me. Will had seen to it that our boots were in plastic and inside the sleeping bags, that the water was kept from freezing, that the gear was stowed.
I woke, amazed to be in a crater. I thought it had been a dream. Will was teetering right on the brink when he woke. He, too had thought it a dream. If he had fallen in, does that mean that we would still be together?
That morning, we packed up, found a high spot, took a few compass shots, and headed for a known major trail near timberline, climbing hard. Amidst the dwarf spruce, the snow could not keep its purchase when the winds came, and we were able to make it back to the car in a few hours. Seventeen pegs: man! Food for thought.
Will took me up day skiing a few times. It was an early winter and the snow was good. We were at Vail on opening day -- Thanksgiving -- and had a great time. Somehow, eating that skimpy turkey dinner at the Deli, there at the main crossroads, was almost like "Our First Christmas." I'm not sure what it was, just a warmth and a comfort, together. Happy. Love. Not an acute, lossy, frightened kind of thing, a hum. A completeness. Comfort, just being there with him. Talking about nothing much. Just a sweet hum.
We both did Christmas at home, returning for a couple of days' skiing. Classes started: Organic, Physics, Labs for both. Calc. We both took a Sociology class from some hippie guy. We walked in to the first day of Organic lab, and a list of names was read. Twelve names, Will's and mine among them.
"Oh, Christ," I thought. Will looked pessimistic: obviously some bullshit with our glassware breakage fees, or something. We were losing bench time, C'mon! We were all shepherded into a separate lab. A Professor and a grad student were there.
"You have been selected as outstanding students. You have been given your own laboratory, your own schedule of experiments and your own budget. Ron will be your lab supervisor." We were shown around our new digs: all ground glass equipment, a hydrogenation setup, heating mantles, a refrigerator, various analytical amenities. The lab was to be open for us all day, every day. Little did we know that we would practically end up living there.
"You are going to learn to grow beautiful crystals," Ron told us. "Nice white, fluffy ones."
And then -- bad boys! -- we took off the entire second week of classes to ski at Steamboat. Will's sister was living there, now. In the late 60's, Crested Butte was the place to live, for a few of the Marrakech crowd. Then Steamboat. A conglomerate called LTV had bought up a bunch of ranch land, paying the ranchers generously in stock. Stock which crashed, leaving them destitute. There was a community of brilliant, witty, sophisticated freaks who inhabited the place.
We got there late. It had snowed a foot that day. The next morning, we picked up our tickets and had an excellent day of skiing. I didn't see that much of Will, as he was a far more advanced skier than I was. He was up in the aspen trees, glade skiing with the local freaks.
There were a bunch of them, hanging out together smoking a J, as I rode the lift up. The slope was so steep, they had their ski tails stuck in the snow. One guy looked over his shoulder at the back of his knees, as I passed overhead and said to the group, "It's not steep unless you can look back like this and see the lodge between your feet."
Later the same day, I saw the same guy. He was dressed in an ear band and a black ski hat that looked like some sort of winter yarmulke. Had on these patched black wool knickers and a hand loomed tunic and vest. And a prayer shawl. He was the poor Jewish shepherd boy on skis. A fist of wind came up and belted us brutally, stopping the lift, and he looked up -- had his Jewish shepherd shtick on real good -- looked up and cried, "I believe, already!" Leaped off the cornice and he was gone in a flash of shawl and ski tails. Headed for the lodge, between his feet.
That evening, we had quite a few beers and retired to Will's sister's house. She had a boyfriend, or as we said back then, an "Old Man," who was a really nice guy, but 'way larger than life. He was to play an unfortunate role in our future, through no fault of his own. This guy was about 6'6" and looked every bit the Viking: hair, beard, huge hands -- the whole nine yards. Kansas farm boy. Had run away from the farm at 16, hitched to California, and gotten a ride with Yvon Chouinard, falling in with the early big wall climbers in Yosemite and doing some extraordinary things. Climbed the first two pitches of Cathedral Rock un-roped in sneakers to catch up to them and beg them to teach him to climb. Obviously, he already knew. First thing they did was tie a rope to this crazy kid, lest he splatter.
He grew up, got Really Big, met Will's sister and did the North Africa thing. Spain, Senegal. Back to Crested Butte and now Steamboat. Intimidatingly masculine. Huge, red, raucous and funny. Unfortunately perceptive: I don't know if I could have stood to be judged by him. He was too much of a man, somehow. Massive. His contempt would have meant something.
Will and I crashed in the attic. Separate beds. Discretion, and all that. In the morning, I crawled over and laid next to Will. Hangover: I felt like crap. Will was warm and firm and smelled good. I drowsed a bit, comforted. His ass was bare and cute and I nestled against it, hard. He acted annoyed -- mostly paranoid, I think. I told him that I had heard them leaving for breakfast.
He laid there. Started breathing harder. He turned over: in the process he flogged me with his jutting boner. My heart leapt: beat me with it, some more! Lust flared. We were quickly in a deep, passionate 69. The sunlight was shining in the front window of the living room below. Reflecting up, into the framed opening of the incomplete loft, where we had slept. Up between Will's long, coltish legs. Illuminating his beautiful, plump, generous balls. Even his crotch was cute. Every hair on this boy's body was matched by an exact duplicate on the opposite side. Perfect symmetry, perfect distribution, no extra. Like a gorgeous wild animal. Those big nuts in that plump, firm bag. Drawn up in joy. The little dimple that formed in it, when I forced his cock down, away from his belly to engulf it. So hard. So big. His warm, mild smell and taste, as I reveled in his joy. Before my own overtook me, raising me and slamming me down. Making me come so hard, so hard, hard, hard, hard. My cock in his mouth, in his hands. Will's good hands.
Whew! Gasping for breath, I finished him off, relishing his hugeness, the spectacular enthusiasm of his first wild shot, slamming into my mouth. Cherishing his pleasure and release. Deeply thrilled with him.
Quickly, we showered and prepared for the day. Another foot of snow overnight. Drop acid: hangover instantly gone. Tickets. Onto the Gondola. Out, tripping, into the glorious champagne powder. Down, romping, splashing, open, joyous, loved, fulfilled. Wild and rosy-cheeked. Wonderful, bright, flashing creatures at their prime.
A week of that. A foot of snow every day for six days. And then back to school.