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"Walking With Giants"
I couldn't stand next to Lori for more than ten seconds for the rest of the day without her getting all misty eyed and laying her head on my shoulder. I mean, really? You'd think SHE was going out with Jesse tonight. Which...you know...lucky for her, she isn't. Because I'd club her over the head and feed her to the crocs at the zoo if I thought she was messing around with my new....
Oh wow...I almost said. Or...you know...thought it, anyway.
I think I was really stunned by the whole idea. Jesse Kyler...was my boyfriend. Like, my actual boyfriend. I couldn't get my head wrapped around that idea at all. I thought about him on YouTube, and his giggles, and his smiles, and his little blond hair flips, and his nervous habit of tearing up napkins to keep his hands busy...and it was all just a little too much for my uninitiated mind to grasp. Even my most involuntary hormones were jarred into a state of total confusion. That idea that someone so amazing that he even exceeded the best dreams that my mind could create while I was sleeping...the idea...that he would want me too...? It just didn't feel like this was happening. I felt like I was the only one awake in the Matrix, and everybody else had it all wrong.
Still, I kept my courage. I did. Or...not courage really. I think I was more afraid of not going than going. If that makes any sense. I won't let you down, Jesse. Not this time. You have my solemn promise.
As Lori and Michelle walked me out to their car in the parking lot, she kept nudging me in the side, trying to get me to smile. I asked her why, and she said, "Because! You're supposed to be happy! You're meeting up with the boy of your dreams tonight! He LIKES you! You've got a look on your face like you're being led to the gas chamber or something. Lighten up, will you?"
"I am. I swear. I'm...I'm 'lightened', or whatever."
"So what's with the face on your...face, then?" She smiled.
And I told her, "Have you ever been in a position where...everything is just too good to be true? Like...like you're walking down the street and you find a one hundred dollar bill on the ground? Or...or like you write your name on some goofy raffle ticket and end up winning a brand new car? And it's...it's a happy moment, but you're terrified because it feels like your karma has just been totally thrown out of balance and you just KNOW something bad is going to happen to even things out again. And I don't know what that one thing is, so I guess I'm a little bit on edge. That's all. I'm trying not to be. I want to just...'go with it', you know? But I can't. Sometimes I feel like it's just too much for my heart to handle all at once."
We got to the car, and I climbed into the backseat, but Lori was quick to turn around and say, "Tristan...I know that this might feel really new and strange to you right now, and I get that. But when you look into your heart...and you're REALLY honest with yourself...what do you see? What do you see when you look at Jesse?"
I don't know why I felt sad at that moment, but I did. Or...maybe it wasn't sad. Maybe it was the opposite. The beginnings of tears made it really hard to distinguish one feeling from the other. "I don't know, Lori. I mean...I'm trying to understand why he likes me so much."
"It's because he sees your heart, Tristan. Just like I do. And he's interested in what lies beyond it. Loving somebody is easy. Sharing a love with someone who feels exactly the same way about you? That's a miracle. And it doesn't come around often. So grab it, Tristan. Grab it and hold on to it with everything you've got. And the next time Jesse looks you in the eyes and tells you he loves you...let it fill you up. Let your heart BURST from the strain of it if necessary! Hehehe! He's a special catch, dude. You're not liable to find one like him ever again, so be smart about this and give it your best shot."
I tried to collect myself, and I nodded. But I told her, "You know, I'm still holding you to that 'crying on your shoulder' deal if this thing doesn't work out for the best."
"I will keep a fresh towel and snot rags on the ready, just in case. But I don't think you'll need them. It sounds to me like Jesse can't live without you for more than a day or two."
"Heh...I don't think I can live without him either..."
"SEE?" She said. "Shared love! Not like you and that 'dumpster blowjob' asshole, Jason Fixx. Isn't this sooooo much better?" It made me smile to hear it. And she was right. It did feel better. To be able to think about Jesse and know for certain that he was out there thinking about me too...to have him talk about me to thousands of people in his YouTube videos...to just have him call to let me know that he missed me...it was a joy that I had never known before. Something that I never would have thought I had earned. Or deserved. It was heartbreaking to think that I carried this doubt in my head, despite all of Jesse's efforts to not only say, but demonstrate, how much he cared for me. Maybe it's time I met him half way. Maybe it's time I wore my heart on my sleeve to. For his sake, you know?
Lori ruffled my hair before I got out of the car, and I gave both of the girls in the front seat a hug around the neck. "Wish me luck..." I said.
"You won't need it." Lori smiled. "Besides, I swear, if you do anything to screw this up I'm gonna force you to go over to Scotty Lynch's house and fuck him silly! Because if you can't have the greatest love of all...a few hundred afternoon screws is the next best thing."
"GOD, you're gross!" I giggled. "Get outta here! Off my property. Both of you. Jesus..."
And then...they were gone. I'd be fooling myself if I thought that Lori wasn't going to call me again before this night was over. She'd be harassing me until dawn if I didn't give her the juicy gossip that she was looking for. But I didn't mind. Hell, what good would it be for me to have this amazing night with Jesse if I didn't have her to come home to and brag about it while she squealed with delight? It didn't do much to calm my nerves though. I was still quivering at the thought that I was losing myself in an emotion that I still wasn't quite sure I fully understood yet. I mean, sure, I was intrigued by it. But it wasn't like dipping your toe into a swimming pool to see if the water was cold. It was more like being on a well greased downslope...where you try to experiment slowly, and end up slipping and sliding and falling into it all at once without any control at all. It was frightening, to say the least. All I knew was...I couldn't just stand back and observe from a distance anymore. I wanted my dream boy. And he wanted me. And there was a meeting point between us that could make that happen...if only I made the effort...to meet him half way.
I actually found myself getting a bit bubbly and weird as the sun set and the time was getting closer to me seeing Jesse's smile again. I was surprised that I was able to sit at the dinner table tonight without my mom being subjected to a symphony of random giggles and nonsensical ramblings. I held it together, though. She didn't even ask me that many questions when I told her that I was going to run out to the mall tonight. Of course, I didn't specify which mall I was going to, so she probably didn't really let it register until it was too late. Good for me.
Although...the thought did cross my mind...
What do I tell her if Jesse and I really do become...you know...serious? There was a time when that question would have terrified me to the point of being flung to the floor in a fit of panicked convulsions. But now? I don't know. Now I think I kind of liked the idea. My mom had been hinting at being 'ok' with me being gay, and I've been fighting against it, for so long now that...I think it might be a relief to us both to just have Jesse come over and have me introduce him as the love of my life. I think she'd be even happier than if I were to bring home some girl from school. Hehehe! I don't know...maybe it'll be ok. I still feel weird about having my mom have mental access to my sex-life though. I know most folks can't understand what I mean...but think about this...
You're 'alive' right? You were created by a man and a woman at some point? Now...picture your mother and your father having sex. Go ahead, I'll wait. Picture the penetration and the kissing and sweating and the noises and the....UGH!!! That's what it feels like! I don't want my mom thinking about me and Jesse...um...you know.
Then again...now I'M thinking about me a Jesse doing it together...and it is HOT!
So, I got dressed up, fixed my hair, brushed my teeth....twice. Just in case. And I put on a little body spray to give me a bit of an added 'zing'. I made sure to hurry out the door before the sweet scent could really be detected by her Mom senses, and I rushed out to the bus stop. So far, so good, right? I'm doing it. I'm...I'm going to be ok.
Just as I was waiting for the bus, I got a text on my phone.
I sighed, and it said, "Just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you. Hope you're still coming out tonight." And he sent me a kiss too.
I felt my whole body tingling from head to toe, shaking with excitement to the point where I almost fell over from the swoon of it. I texted back, "Thinking about you too. And I'm on my way." Returning the kiss.
He sent back a smiley face, and said, "Can't WAIT!"
I didn't answer back, but only because the bus was coming and I wanted to make sure that the driver noticed me. I didn't want to wait for the next one. Every minute that I spent away from Jesse was one that I considered worthless on so many levels. I just wanted to get there. I just wanted to see my angel...and feel reconnected once again.
I can't believe that I'm really on my way...
When the bus dropped me off at the main entrance to the mall, I was overjoyed to see Jesse sitting on a bench out front, waiting for me to arrive. Omigod, he was wearing this sprint green, button down, shirt that just...it made his sexy blond hair glow with even more of a graceful brilliance than it ever had before. And this was under the fluorescent lighting of the mall entrance. It wasn't even natural sunlight, this time. It looked like he was writing in a tiny little pocket notebook at the time, but as soon as the bus puled up, his eyes eagerly searched all of the windows to see if he could find me. And once he did, he sprung up from the bench and was antsy for me to get off so I could come and give him a hug.
I don't know what came over me. I'm usually pretty safe when it comes to displays of affection with other boys in public where people can actually see us. I guess that I was so used to boys not wanting to be labeled a 'fag' by the others at the school, that I've learned to keep my distance to a certain extent. But tonight? Jesse opened his arms wide, and I embraced him as though we were both coming home from war. His body heat mingled with mine, his soft hug holding me firm as some of his silky blond hair brushed up against my cheek. The thrill of it was enough to sweep me into a full blown state of Nirvana as his arms constricted around my middle and pressed our chests together. All this madness...and this was just from the first hug.
"Here, let me look at you." Jesse said, leaning back for a second. His eyes met mine and he just...stared at me with a grin. Then he hugged me again, "Omigod, you're beautiful. Hehehe!" I didn't know what to do or what to say, but before I could even think straight, Jesse let me go again and took out his camera phone. "Take a selfie with me. Come on." He pressed his cheek up against mine, and held the camera up high to get us both in the shot. A single click, and the two of us were immortalized forever. It wasn't a dream. It was all happening for real. And now we had proof. "I'm gonna take SO many pictures of you tonight, hehehe! Just tell me if I'm freaking you out, ok?"
Love. In love. It was all I could feel. Not just some random chemical reaction or acceleration of heartbeat. Not just a boner and a collection of dirty thoughts. Actual love. The kind of affection that would set Jesse and I against a pack of rabid wolves and cause me to throw myself in the middle of them while screaming, "SAVE YOURSELF!!!" Ok, well, maybe that's a little bit extreme. But then again, is it?
No matter what I did, Jesse only loved me more. How crazy is that? No matter how scared or how awkward or how utterly silly I am, I could never do enough wrong to get him to bail on me. He just...thought it was adorable. It should be a comfort that most people would kill for, but I remained uneasy about it. I've never known what it was like to be...'perfection' in somebody else's eyes. It's kind of cool.
Jesse held my hand and opened the door for me as we entered the mall, and I just tried to keep my knees strong enough to hold me up. I was feeling a happiness that made me woozy in the brain, but Jesse was entertaining enough to hold my concentration regardless. I still can't believe I'm actually here right now.
I'm sure that we could have actually gone into some of the actual stores in the mall at some point, but we didn't seem to find a need to further distract ourselves with anything other than our own giggles and conversation. Lucky for us, it was a big place...because we were basically just walking around in circles the whole time. Felt like a good time to me. Hehehe!
There was a moment when two girls about our age, maybe a year older, saw us walking and actually stopped dead in their tracks. I heard one of them gasp, and the other one got a real 'deer in headlights' look on her face, as they frantically patted and tapped one another to point Jesse out. I wasn't exactly sure what was happening at the moment, but I heard them giggle nervously, and the first girl said, "Can I ask you something? Omigod, are you 'Jesse-101' from YouTube?"
"Hehehe, yeah..." He replied.
"Oh wow! I knew it! Omigod, I like your videos!" They gushed and they panted and the squealed...and I just sort of stepped back and let him have his fangirl moment. "Can you sign something for us? Can we take a picture???" Not that the other girl wasn't already filming the whole interaction with her phone anyway. "Ahhh...this is so COOL! You're so cute, I mean that. Don't be shy? Omigod, look at him, he's so shy!"
I have been a fan of Jesse from the very first time I ever saw him. But...I never really thought about the fact that his appeal must reach so much further than my current infatuation. I mean...pretty much anybody in this area....or the state...or the country...maybe even the WORLD...can click on one of his videos and drool over him the same way that I do. He's an actual celebrity to them. I watched him sign his name for them and take photos with them while they trembled with excitement and admiration. Just because he talked to them. I knew he was a celebrity to me, but....wow...he's a celebrity to everybody. Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing? Because...I kind of feel weird about having to share him with other people.
"Thank you sooooo much, Jesse! You're even cuter in person!" The girl said. "Where's Artie? Omigod, is Artie with you?"
"Awww, no. He's home tonight."
"No Artie? Well...give him a big kiss for me. He's so adorable. You're BOTH adorable! You're the perfect couple!"
"Hehehe, we're not a couple..." Jesse grinned, but they were too busy hugging him goodbye to pay much attention.
It was then that I noticed the other girl giving me a bit of a strange look. Not really...a mean look or anything. But she definitely looked me up and down as if to say, 'Who the heck is this kid?' She looked at me, then at Jesses, and then her eyes darted back and forth between us a few times. I don't know what it was that made me so uncomfortable all of a sudden, but I could feel it in my bones. Especially when her smile faded a little bit.
Gee, sorry. Was I intruding on your boy fantasy, lady? Get away from me!
"I'm gonna cherish this forever, Jesse, omigod, thank you..." The girls began to back up and Jesse was polite enough to smile and wave them off. "I subscribed to your channel! And your Twitter! And your...everything! K?"
"Thank you!" Jesse giggled, and we were finally at peace again. The strange thing is, Jesse must have been really used to the attention by now, because he didn't seem affected by it at all. No ego, no embarrassment, no clumsy attempts to get things back to normal. He just smiled at me and we started walking again, with him picking up the conversation right where he left off. I mean...somebody just asked for his autograph. Does he not know how big that is? The idea that just writing your name on something, an act that you've been practicing since you were practically a toddler...could somehow become a treasured object to somebody else...someone who doesn't even KNOW you...that's like some kind of crazy teen boy sorcery! I can barely get my high school teachers to recognize my face when I come to class, and Jesse can just randomly go out to the mall an hour before it closes and get noticed without doing anything other than...just being there. How awesome is that?
Did it bug me? A little bit. But I don't know why. I tried to figure it out, but...it didn't make any sense to me. I got him already. He was clearly interested in me and I knew that I should just relax and enjoy the good fortune. Maybe it was jealousy? Possibly? I don't know. Everything this boy does confuses me. Hehehe! Still, I enjoy it.
We did walk around a bit more, with Jesse's fame status still buzzing lightly in the back of my mind. And he kept taking occasional pictures of me whenever he thought I had a particularly cute look on my face. Which...was every five minutes. He took some pictures of me by the fountain in the center of the mall too. He's going to end up with a three hour long screensaver if he keeps taking pics of me at this rate. The funny thing was, as we got onto one of the escalators and he was standing behind me, riding up to the second floor...I heard another 'click' behind me.
I turned my head, and Jesse suddenly put his hand behind his back. With a smirk, I asked, "What was that?"
"What was what?"
"That 'click'. What was it?"
"Dude, I have NO idea what you're talking about right now." Jesse said, but couldn't help but to snicker quietly to himself.
"Did you just take a picture of my butt?" I asked.
"NO! What? That's crazy, hehehe!"
"You did, didn't you?"
"Huh? Nah. I wouldn't...um...hey, let's get iced coffee and stuff."
"Don't change the subject! Hehehe!"
Jesse was grinning, but he was like, "I didn't. I swear."
"Then let me see your phone?"
"I'm not giving you my phone, get out of here." He said, but I reached for it anyway. He was quick to pull it back. Then he quickly said, "Hehehe, oh, look at that. The battery's dead. Stupid phone. Dang."
I squinted my eyes with a smile, but we were coming to the top of the escalator so I guess he got the deflection that he needed. Is my butt really that cute? I was supposed to check in the mirror, wasn't I? Later. I'll remember next time.
We did go back to the same place where we had our first date, and ordered the exact same thing. I think we even sat at the same table, which kind of became our special little spot, you know? The guy at the register told us that they'd be closing in about 30 minutes, but since they have to make the pastries and all fresh every morning, he let us buy everything at half price. He even gave us a few doughnuts for free, just so he didn't have to throw them away. Jesse and I hit the motherload tonight. We should do this more often.
"Ooh, before I forget..." Jesse said, reaching into his pocket and unfolding a square of drawing paper. "Hehehe, Artie drew this for you. He told me to give it to you, or else..."
I looked at the drawing, which was actually really good! It was a picture of me and Jesse kissing each other, and then Artie...dressed as a ninja...jumping out of the bushes and suspended in mid air with his katana sword raised to strike! Hahaha! I don't know if he was planning to kill me or Jesse or both of us, but I loved it. "Really? Can I keep this?"
"I think Artie would be pretty mad if you didn't." He said.
"Is he still mad?"
"Hehehe, maybe." Jesse said, and as his blush deepened, I saw him reach for a napkin to start tearing up. But I made sure to take it away from him right away. This is MY time, hehehe! No distractions.
Jesse and I didn't have a single moment of silence between us once we got going. He had these really amazing memories and stories about everything that he's ever done. The more I got to know about him, the more my infatuation grew to heights that made it difficult to teeter so close to the edge of falling. Everything about him fascinated me. Intrigued me. Created a sense of awe and wonder within me. And when my mind went blank from an overload of listening to his genius...I still had his angelic beauty to gaze at blankly while the rest of the world melted away from my focus. I really AM in love, aren't I? How the hell did that even happen?
I think I was telling Jesse something about a fun time that I had with Lori and Michelle last Summer when a couple of boys walked past the window of the coffee shop. I noticed one of them screeching to a halt, and coming back to do a double take. Then he smiled and waved at Jesse...and Jesse smiled and waved back. I think I actually heard the boy say, "Omigod, you guys! It's the guy from YouTube! Did you see him? Yeah! The 'Jesse-101' guy!"
Jesse looked back at me after they finished passing by, but I had stopped talking. Instead taking a healthy sip of my iced coffee.
Jesse said, "Aww, Tristan...go on. Seriously. I'm listening."
"It's ok. It's no big deal..."
"Yes, it is." He told me. "Sometimes...people recognize me and say hello. I don't want to be a jerk or anything, that's all. But I'm listening. Totally. Promise. So...you, Lori, Michelle...what happened?" Whoah...he really was listening. Why was he paying attention to me? Hehehe! That's just as crazy as him asking me to meet him here in the first place.
"...S'ok..." I shrugged.
Jesse's smile dulled some of its natural brilliance, and he asked me, "What is it? Whatever I did, I'm sorry..."
"NO! God, no...Jesse, you didn't do anything. Promise. It's just..."
I think I was still a bit too confused about my own feelings to really put it into words just yet. And after a long pause, Jesse asked, "It's just what? C'mon, Tristan, talk to me..."
I said, "Well...can I ask you something? And please don't think that I'm being weird about this, I just...the question is kinda nagging me, and it won't leave me alone."
He seemed a bit bewildered by what I said, but he said, "Ok. Sure. Whatever it is, just tell me."
With a deep breath, I asked him, "Why me?"
I think Jesse was waiting for me to say something more...um...complex. But after a brief silence, he asked, "That's it? I mean...well, I don't get it. What do you mean?"
"I mean...you're literally a celebrity, Jesse. People LOVE and ADORE you wherever you go. There is probably an army of internet fans out there that would gladly slit my throat just to get the chance to talk to you! Just to meet you and laugh with you and...sit in a mall and have some iced coffee and a few doughnuts with you. You could have picked any one of them to be the object of your affections. Why...I mean..." I needed another deep breath. "Why did you choose me? Me of all people?"
I wasn't sure if I sounded depressed or something, but after a moment, Jesse wrinkled his brow and just gave me a tilted grin. "Why not you?" He asked. "I like you, Tristan. You're worth choosing."
"Yup. That's it." His smile widened, and he told me, "The celebrity weirdness...I mean, that's all in the minds of other people. Trust me, I wish that I had the ego to get wrapped up in my own hype, but the truth is...I'm the same person afterYouTube that I was before YouTube. And if you think that makes me super special or something...well...lucky me, then. Hehehe!"
I was frozen. He really is the graceful beauty that I made him out to be. I had this absolutely impossible vision of a loving, caring, funny, intelligent, compassionate, boyfriend dreamed up in my head...and not only did Jesse match it, he surpassed it. Easily. And still had more surprises to come. I was done. He had no further tests that he had to pass. No other efforts needed to let me know that this was my one and only. Now, and hopefully forever. Jesse Kyler was the composite of everything that I have ever wanted in another boy. A mate. A partner. A companion. I had no further argument. I wanted him. I'm going to make this work. No matter what.
No matter what.