A Short Story by LittleBuddhaTW
Special thanks to
Kitty (PiscesRising) for editing!
This is a story involving teenage gay
males and may include sexually explicit content, adult language, and/or
violence. If this kind of material is offensive to you, you are under
the age of 18, or is illegal in the area where you live, do not read
"If you seek it, you
cannot find it."
-- Zen Proverb
The snow was falling lightly against
the windshield of my mom's Toyota Land Cruiser as we made our way
Adirondacks on a crisp, cold Sunday morning in late December. My
parents were totally into New Age and alternative
lifestyles, and for the past several years during Christmas vacation,
unlike most kids who spent their time unwrapping presents, singing
Christmas carols, and sipping on hot chocolate, I was on my way to a
seven day sesshin, or Zen
Buddhist meditation retreat, at a secluded monastery in upstate New
I wasn't complaining or anything. In fact, I liked being different, and
spending seven days meditating, chanting Buddhist scriptures, and
living an extremely Spartan lifestyle was actually a good way to relax
and center myself, after spending the past several months living in the
harsh, hypocritical, and superficial world of high school. Like my
parents, I was pretty jaded when it came to the "system." I didn't
understand all of the other kids my age who just seemed to act like
robots, all dressing the same and acting the same, and who would all
spending four or more years in college, after which they'd get married,
children, work a nine-to-five desk job, then retire and just wait to
die. That's not the kind of life I wanted. I wanted something more
meaningful. Perhaps that's part of what attracted me to studying Zen.
Another thing that attracted me to Buddhism, I had to admit, was its
relatively tolerant view of homosexuality.
Yeah, that's right -- I was one of those horrible gays that the
ignorant rednecks and fundamentalist Christians were always blaming for
all of the ills of society. I really didn't get that, since I didn't
think I ever did anything bad. I didn't bring guns to school, didn't do
drugs, didn't go around participating in wild sex orgies, or passing
judgment on other people (usually). I just lived my own life, followed
path, and let everyone else follow whatever course in life they chose.
I certainly wasn't a saint, though -- or should I say a Buddha? I could
admit that I was a little pretentious and self-righteous. And I was
plagued by the same angst, desires, and raging
hormones of all teenage boys, and I didn't try to delude myself into
thinking that I
was above that because of my devotion to my practice. Although, I
must admit, sometimes it did make me feel guilty. I thought that I
should be free of those kinds
of desires. Sexual desires, that is. I was perfectly okay with the gay
part of it. At any rate, it's not like I
fretted over it incessantly, but it was always there, lurking in the
back of my mind. I suppose I was afraid that giving into my desires
would just interfere with my spiritual journey.
I'd never had a boyfriend before. I don't think it was because I was
that bad-looking. In fact, quite a few people had complimented me on
"cute" I was. I thought I was pretty average, though. I was about 5'9",
a lean but toned build, dark brown hair that I usually wore in a crew
(although not too short -- I
wasn't ready to become a monk yet!), and deep brown eyes. I'd even met
quite a few gay guys at my high school's GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance). I
wasn't exactly "out," except to my parents (who were, as expected,
totally cool about it), although I wouldn't deny it if asked. It's just
that since I didn't really have any close friends, there was no one
to ask me.
The problem was that I didn't seem to be able to relate to any of the
gay guys I knew.
they were all arrogant and superficial, and they thought I was aloof
and pretentious. I didn't fit into their world, but I was content
enough with my goals in life that it didn't really bother me that much,
although sometimes I certainly wished I had someone who I could share
my life with, who could understand me and appreciate me for who I was.
Anyway, my parents first introduced me to meditation when I was about
years old, and I took to it with gusto. When I was in middle school, I
started reading books about Zen Buddhism, and continued practicing on
my own. I also attended numerous meditation retreats during those
which usually lasted from three to seven days.
So, at age 15 (I would be 16 in a few more weeks -- yay me!), I'd been practicing Zen
for about eight years. This particular annual winter retreat I had
attended four times already, so I was quite familiar with the strict
daily regimen. The only thing I didn't like about it was that I was
usually one of the youngest attendees, as most of them were adults.
As the car pulled onto the dirt road that led to the monastery, I saw
the familiar buildings in the distance. The entire complex consisted of
of one-story wooden buildings, all constructed in the traditional
architectural style. There were several buildings that served as
dormitories for those who attended the meditation retreats, as well as
for the several full-time monks who lived at the monastery and were
responsible for its upkeep. There was also a dining hall and the main
monastery building, which housed the large meditation room, a small
library, and the master's room where the roshi (teacher) held dokusan, which were one-on-one
meetings for individual instruction.
During the spring and summer, the sprawling Japanese-style gardens were
beautiful, but in the dead of winter, as it was now, everything
appeared stark and desolate. The only signs of life were the wisps
of smoke curling up from the small chimney in the dining hall and the
glimpse of a monk walking between the buildings. The snow-covered
property was scattered with pine trees, their strong scent filling
the air; and the mountains that surrounded
the retreat, cutting it off from the madness of
the outside world, made for a truly majestic and breath-taking
Even without the flowers that would blossom in the gardens come
springtime, this was a place that exuded peacefulness and tranquility.
As we pulled up in front of the main monastery building, I said
goodbye to my mother, gathered my bags, and made my way into the main
building to sign in. The monastery itself was very plain. Its
varnished wooden floors were kept spotlessly clean, and it
was mostly empty of furnishings or decoration, except for the
small shrine at the far end of the
room, which contained a statue of the Buddha, some candles, flowers,
and incense. The scent of sandalwood was thick in the air.
The rest of
room was filled with meditation cushions arranged along the walls,
where we would be spending most of our time, practicing sitting
meditation. There was also a podium in front of the shrine where the roshi would deliver his morning
and evening sermons. One wall was decorated with the ten famous
"Ox Herding" paintings, which represented the ten stages one must go
through from being completely ignorant to becoming completely
enlightened -- namely, becoming a Buddha.
Many people mistake Buddhism as a religion, like Christianity or
but in reality, it is
merely a philosophy, a vehicle for ending one's suffering and helping
others to do the same. By training the mind and eventually attaining satori, or enlightenment, one can
insight into their true nature and the nature of the universe.
Traditional Buddhism frowns upon
worshipping the Buddha as a god. In fact, he is just a
revered teacher, one who found a way to end suffering and attain
Nirvana, the state in which the consciousness no longer continues
to be reborn over and over.
I wasn't sure if I believed in that whole rebirth thing, but even the
Buddha said that whether or not you believed in that was not important.
Besides freeing you from endless rebirths, enlightenment brings
true happiness (not like the "ordinary unhappiness" that most people
settle for day to day), complete inner peace and tranquility,
limitless compassion, and an end to suffering. Who wouldn't want those
things? A life without suffering is ... well, Nirvana.
The Buddha himself did not want to be
stressed that an individual's freedom from suffering is up to them
and only them. Also, teachers and scriptures are only tools that
help guide the student
path. But in the end, it is up to the individual to find their own
way. I really
liked this kind of self-sufficient philosophy. I didn't like deluding
myself into believing that some heavenly being was going to swoop down
"save" me. I had always been a bit of a loner, and I preferred walking
path alone, occasionally seeking advice from my teacher, but usually
learning through trial and error during hours of meditation practice.
As I walked up to the table to sign in, I noticed that one of my least
favorite people was there. I knew that I shouldn't be judgmental, but
in this case, I couldn't help it. Vic was one of the resident monks at
the monastery, in his late-twenties, originally from Canada, and he was
one of the most pretentious and phony people I'd
ever met. He was so transparent. I never understood why Roshi Matsuda,
kept him around. He
would always try to flirt with me, and when he thought I wasn't paying
attention, I often caught him leering at me. I did not like being perved on by creepy
old guys like him.
Once I finished signing in and getting my dorm assignment, I made my
way back outside into the frigid morning air to find my dorm.
there was no heating in any of the buildings, and even the shower room
in each dormitory had only cold water. Apparently, it was supposed to
keep our minds alert after many hours of seated meditation. I still
didn't like it, though. After all, I was a teenager, and enjoyed taking
long, hot showers, which also gave me time for one of my favorite
hobbies, jacking off.
The dorm rooms themselves reminded me that I would certainly be
roughing it for the next seven days. There was absolutely no furniture,
only two straw tatami mats that would serve as beds for me and my
no pillow, and only a light blanket. Fortunately, having participated
in this winter sesshin
several times before, I had come prepared with
several layers of clothes to wear underneath our required uniform,
which was basically a thin,
gray pajama-like outfit. I was wearing two pairs of warm
thermal long underwear and two pairs of wool socks, and I had gloves
and a wool cap to wear when I slept at night. That was probably the
most important lesson I learned during my first sesshin.
I had gotten there early, so my roommate hadn't arrived yet. I was
really hoping it wouldn't be like last year, when I got stuck with this
middle-aged ex-hippie who kept trying to get me to go smoke pot with
him out in the woods and discuss his latest trip to Neptune with his
pet dinosaur, "Felix of Garamuth" (which apparently
took place during a bad acid trip). Consuming alcohol or drugs was a
according to the five main Buddhist precepts. Since we had no formal
activities until the evening, when we would listen to our first
sermon from the roshi, and
then spend several hours in seated
meditation, I decided to relax on my mat for a while.
After about thirty minutes of much needed rest, I was feeling quite
relaxed, when the
creaky wooden door of my room opened, and I got my first look at my
roommate for the next week -- and I was stunned. He looked to be about
the same age as me, perhaps a little younger, and was one of the most
beautiful boys I had ever
seen. He was maybe an inch shorter than me, with a lean build, flawless
complexion, and medium-length blond hair with bangs that hung down over
eyes. As he casually brushed his bangs away from his face, I was
beautiful, deep blue eyes I'd ever seen.
"Ummm ... uhhh ... hi ... I think you're my roommate," he stuttered,
his voice containing a slight tinge of teenage rasp. Very sexy!
"Cool," I replied. "My name's Nicky."
"I'm Calvin," he said, refusing to meet my eyes and blushing severely.
He was obviously very shy.
With just those few words spoken between us, I was nearly
head-over-heels for this boy. But I had to try to control myself,
because firstly, being in a Buddhist monastery was hardly the place to
be having those kind of thoughts, and secondly, the odds that I would
meet a boy who was cute, interested in the same things as I was, and
all in one package,
were next to nil. Plus, even if my karma was that good, we'd only be
together for a week anyway. So I wasn't about to get my hopes up.
"So ... ummm ... they told me at the registration desk that you've been
to a few of these things. This is my first time, so I don't really know
what I'm supposed to be doing," he said, blushing again.
"No problem, dude. I've got you covered," I said, trying to sound cool,
but probably failing miserably.
"Thanks," he said, finally managing a small smile.
"So what're you doing here anyway?" I asked.
"My ... uhhh ... therapist thought it would be good for me," he said.
I wasn't about to ask him why he was seeing a therapist, or why said
therapist thought he should come to a Zen meditation retreat. I mean,
there were certainly much gentler forms of Buddhism. Zen was more like
basic training in the military. But I'd just
met the kid and those kinds of questions seemed a bit too personal for
the time being. Although, I admit that I was
definitely intrigued. I'd learned to read people pretty well over years
practicing, and I could see in his eyes that he had issues. It would be
kind of cool to be his mentor for the week, and learn a little more
We still had quite a while until the evening sermon, so I told him to
change into his uniform, and offered to give him a tour of the
monastery and teach him some of the basics. He didn't say anything,
just nodded in reply. As he started slowly stripping off his clothes, I
noticed how perfect he looked, especially the way his briefs hugged his
small hips, and his cute little bubble butt. I had to will myself to
keep my desire under control. I was supposed to be
learning how to control my desires, not bone up at the first piece of
eye candy I saw. As he unpacked his things, I noticed that he didn't
any long underwear or warmer clothes to wear underneath his
uniform. He was definitely going to freeze his cute little butt off
over the next week!
Over the next few hours, I led him on a walk around the grounds, showed
him where the showers and dining hall were, and then took him to the
main monastery. There I taught him how to properly make prostrations in
front of the Buddha, the rules of etiquette when meeting with the
roshi, and the basics of
meditation, such as the correct sitting positions
(either seiza, the
traditional Japanese kneeling position, or the cross-legged lotus
position), proper posture, counting your breaths to slow down the mind,
and some of the basic principles and aims of Zen. He listened intently
the entire time, which made me feel even better.
He seemed a little
overwhelmed by all of the information I was feeding him, but I assured
him that he could ask me questions anytime, except for during
meditation periods and meal time, when we had to remain totally silent.
I didn't think he'd have any problem with the silent part, because he'd
barely said anything since we started our little tour.
I also taught him to read romaji,
which is the romanized spelling of Japanese, which we needed to know
for reciting the scriptures. Although we had English translations, too,
we did all of our chanting in Japanese. He seemed to get that part down
without much trouble, though, and I even tried to impress him with my
poor pidgin Japanese skills. At least my Japanese was better than that
asswipe, Vic's, who should've spoken better Japanese since he was a
resident here full-time. His Japanese totally sucked, although he acted
like he was an expert. I hated when he acted all pompous and tried
speaking Japanese with me. It irked me when he called me
"Nicholas-san." I didn't let anyone
call me by my full name --
even the roshi called me
After our typical evening meal of steamed rice, pickled vegetables, and
green tea, we made our way to the main monastery for the first sermon
and meditation session of the seven-day retreat. This time, there were
about fifty people in attendance, including the four resident monks,
and Calvin and I were the only kids there. So naturally, we sat next
The formal session began with the ringing of a large
bell, as one of the monks led the entire group in the chanting of the
"Heart Sutra," one of the most important scriptures for Zen Buddhists.
The deep, monotone chanting of the group, combined with the sonorous
chiming of the bell and rhythmic beating of a drum, was a deeply
spiritual experience in and of itself. Even though the words were
spoken in Japanese, the overall
effect was both calming and inspiring, sending me into an almost
Calvin and I were both seated in the cross-legged lotus position, which
was much less painful. Trying to kneel for
hours on end was not a pleasant experience. Even sitting in the lotus
posture for an extended period of time would make your legs ache
terribly. After we finished our chanting and went through the
traditional rituals and ceremonies of the sesshin, including several
prostrations toward the Buddha shrine, Roshi Matsuda came to the
podium where he welcomed us in his heavily
accented English. He proceeded to give a basic sermon on the most
important precepts of Buddhist philosophy -- namely, the truths of
suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the
Noble Eightfold Path, the way in which we could extract ourselves from
suffering and the endless cycle of rebirths.
"Whether or not you believe in literal reincarnation is unimportant,"
he stated emphatically. "If we look at our own lives, we are
experiencing little deaths and rebirths every day, from moment to
moment. Just as you can never step into the same stream twice, as the
water is constantly flowing and changing, so too are you never the same
individual from moment to moment. Therefore, there is no discernable,
unchanging 'Self.' There is no 'I' or 'me.' There is only emptiness. What Buddhists refer to as
'emptiness' is not 'nothing-ness.' Its meaning cannot be explained
through mere words. So it is through meditation, wrestling with your
own mind, your deepest, darkest fears and insecurities about life and
death, that you will come to learn of this 'emptiness' intuitively, and
not through rational thought."
His words had always had a profound effect on me, and this time was no
different, even if I sometimes wasn't exactly sure what he was talking
The roshi was in his late
seventies but didn't appear much
older than his mid-fifties. He was short, with a bald head, a quick
wit, and a magical sparkle in his eyes that could make you
relax completely with just one glance. Just being in his presence was
an awe-inspiring experience, although he was also one of the most
humble people I had ever met. He was harsh as a teacher, but at the
same time, he was infinitely compassionate. I saw his
strictness as simply another form of compassion, because I knew that he
drove us hard because he wanted to help us escape the "ordinary
unhappiness" of our mundane lives and find something even greater -- true happiness. Even after years of
practice, however, that was not something I was sure that I was capable
Roshi Matsuda came from an old
Japanese aristocratic heritage, his family being of the samurai class
in old Japan. Of course, as anyone who saw the movie The Last Samurai would know, the
samurai class was abolished after the Meiji Restoration at the end of
the 19th century, but many of their traditions continued to be handed
down within the families. So besides being a Zen priest, Roshi Matsuda
was also a master of
iaijutsu (the art of drawing
the sword -- yes, there was an entire
martial art devoted just to the proper technique of drawing a sword!),
archery, calligraphy, poetry, and the tea ceremony. The various arts
that he had mastered reflected the kind of balance he had achieved in
his own life, between the physical and the spiritual.
In his sermon that first night, he also stressed the importance of satori
(awakening), and how we could not waste any time in realizing our true
nature, that we were all inherently Buddhas, just waiting to wake up
from our ignorance. He emphasized that satori was
the be all and end all of Buddhism, and if that's not what we were
pushing ourselves for, then we were wasting our time. He
was of the school of thought that enlightenment was sudden, rather than
gradual, and he would push each of us hard to have a satori experience during these
seven days. That was easier said than done, though, and in my nearly
ten years of practicing, I had yet to experience it. The roshi then instructed us that our
meditation session this evening would be spent focusing on counting our
breaths, concentrating on each inhalation and exhalation.
After giving us our instructions, the roshi
retired to his quarters, leaving one of the senior Japanese monks in
charge of monitoring our progress. Usually, when he noticed that our
posture was incorrect, we were starting to fall asleep, or we weren't
focusing properly, we would receive a sharp whack from the kyosaku, a bamboo stick. It was
painful, but meant both to correct our mistakes and shock the mind
into awakening. Fortunately, on that first evening, he gently corrected
our posture and individually gave us some simple instructions and
advice. I felt kind of bad knowing that it wouldn't be so easy over the
next week, and hoped that poor Calvin wouldn't end up on the receiving
end of a beating with the dreaded stick.
I would have to remind myself to explain that to him.
The session that evening only lasted for two hours, as it was
considered to be just a warm-up for things to come. My legs hadn't
started to ache yet, but I could tell that Calvin was having a little
trouble walking, as he obviously wasn't used to sitting in that
position for so long without moving. We finished up with about fifteen
minutes of walking meditation to get our circulation moving again and
were then sent off to shower and go to bed, as we were expected to be
up at five-thirty the following morning. After receiving our
we made our obeisances to the Buddha, and made our way out of the main
I was actually thankful for the freezing cold water of the showers that
evening, which helped to keep my erection under control, which was
difficult since I had to stand right next to a naked Calvin. He was
even more beautiful naked than I could have imagined. His pale
white butt was perfectly shaped, pert and rounded, and his
average-sized cock hung limply between his legs. I also noticed that he
was uncut, which was something new for me. I made sure to memorize
every inch of his beautiful body in my mind, as I was sure it would be
the center of many jack-off fantasies once I was back home. Here at the
monastery, however, I would have to abstain from that, unfortunately.
After lying in bed, or rather on our hard tatami mats, for only ten
minutes, I was not surprised to hear Calvin's teeth chattering loudly.
As expected, it was freezing cold, and he had obviously not come
prepared for that. I figured that I should invite him to come share my
mat and blanket with me, not out of any perverse desire to sleep with
him (although I admit that the thought had crossed my mind), but with
teeth chattering all night, I wouldn't be able to get to sleep, and we
had an early day tomorrow. Plus I was cold, too, and the body heat
definitely keep us warm.
"Calvin, get your little butt over here," I whispered.
"Why?" he asked, sounding slightly stand-offish.
"Dude, you're obviously freezing your balls off over there, and your
chattering teeth are gonna keep me awake all night," I replied.
"I'm fine," he insisted.
"Well, I'm not," I retorted. "So get over it, and get your butt over
here. Remember, I'm the one who's supposed to be looking out for you."
He sighed deeply. "Fine."
He crawled over to my mat, and I held up the blanket so he could crawl
in beside me. I also pulled off one of my two pairs of wool socks to
give him, and I could tell that he was grateful. As soon as we
were settled down, I spooned up behind him and wrapped my arms tightly
around him. At first, his whole body tensed up, and I thought that he
was going to have a conniption fit, but eventually I felt him let out a
deep breath and relax. This was actually the first time I'd ever held
another boy, and it felt amazing. Even though he was probably
straight (all the cute ones were!), I could still enjoy the wonderful
feelings of holding him in
Just as I was about to fall asleep, I felt his body trembling ever so
slightly, and heard a soft whimpering sound. Although I would feel
guilty about it later, my first thought was one of annoyance, thinking
that this was probably his first time away from home, he missed his
mommy, and he was causing me to lose some precious sleep.
But then I remembered that a big part of this whole Buddhist thing was
to learn compassion.
"Calvin, what's wrong?" I whispered into his ear.
"I can't do this," he whimpered.
"What can't you do?" I asked, honestly confused. "The retreat is hard
work, but I'm sure you can do it, and you'll feel a lot better at the
end. It's really worth it."
"It's not that," he sighed. "I came here hoping that I could train my
mind to not have these thoughts, these feelings."
"What kind of thoughts and feelings?" I asked, trying to sound as
gentle and comforting as possible.
"The way you're holding me ... I like
it ... it makes me ... uhhh ... excited ... but you're a boy!" he admitted, sounding totally
"So what? I like it too," I said, gently pulling him closer.
"You mean ... like ... uhhh ... you're ... you know ... gay?" he asked. He
made it sound as if it was some kind of crime or something. Sheesh!
"Well, duh!" I quipped. "I'm as gay as a three dollar bill."
"Never mind," I sighed.
"But I can't be gay!" he practically moaned. "I just want to be normal."
By this point, he sounded like he was on the verge of tears. It was
time for some quick and decisive action.
"You're wrong," I stated with conviction. "It's just like how the roshi said that enlightenment and
perfection, what he calls our 'Buddha-nature,' is our original nature.
Being gay is the same thing. It's our original nature. It's who we are
and we just have to accept that and embrace it. Just like right now.
Does this feel wrong, lying here together like this?"
"No, it feels incredible," he admitted.
"Then how could it be wrong?" I pressed him. "It feels absolutely
normal and natural to me."
"Maybe you're right," he said softly.
"I know I'm right," I said, giving his nipple a gentle twist, and
him to giggle.
The next day, we settled into what
would become our normal routine for the week. We awoke right before
sunrise, then all congregated in the dining hall for a breakfast of
rice gruel and tea. At six-thirty a.m., we took our places on our
meditation mats in the main monastery for chanting, a short sermon from
the roshi (the morning
sermons were usually on Buddhist doctrine or a specific point in one of
the scriptures, known as teisho,
while the evening sermons focused on broader topics such as
compassion, the nature of the mind, or suffering), and finally, four
hours of sitting meditation. During periods of meditation, individual
students would be called in for dokusan,
one-on-one meetings with the roshi
to receive personal instruction.
My meeting with the roshi
that first morning was very brief. He told me
that I would continue counting my breaths during meditation, and that I
would also be assigned a koan,
which was basically a kind of Zen
riddle. Koans had no rational
answer. Their purpose was to force the mind to break free from
conditioned thinking, taking away the crutch of our intellect and
knowledge, so we would have to rely only on our intuition to guide us.
The roshi once compared koan training to taking a blind
man's walking stick away, spinning him around, pushing him to the
ground, and then forcing him to find his way on his own. The process of
trying to solve a koan was
supposed to create such a frustrating inner struggle, often leading to
a maddening despair as the mind did battle with itself, that it would
often lead one to sudden insight. That morning I was told to meditate
the question "What was your face before your parents were born?" With a
quick ring of his bell, I was dismissed to ponder this problem. At the
time, I just didn't realize how much anguish this question would end up
causing me over the next few days.
We broke for lunch at noon, which again consisted simply of steamed
rice, pickled vegetables, and green tea. During the retreat, the
afternoons were spent
either doing work around the monastery, such as shoveling snow,
cleaning, or other upkeep around the grounds, or taking advantage of
where we were
encouraged to meditate on our own, walk around the grounds of
the monastery in quiet reflection, or practice other skills such as
martial arts, calligraphy, or writing poetry.
That afternoon, I chose to walk
around the grounds with Calvin, discussing all kinds of topics, from
our personal lives and school, our likes and dislikes, to things the roshi had mentioned and our
experiences so far during meditation. I found out that he was a bit of
a loner like me, and we shared very similar views on most things.
But we were still both just teenagers and liked to do the normal things
that teenagers do. We both liked to play tennis, go swimming, read
science-fiction and fantasy novels, as well as camping and fishing.
I really enjoyed spending that time alone with Calvin, learning about
him as a person rather than just a cute face (and butt). The more we
more I came to really like
him, as in more than just 'friends.'
Unfortunately, just because he was gay, too, didn't mean that he would
like me in that way, and I
didn't have the balls to bring up that topic. I figured I would just
have to settle for being friends with him. Plus, we would only be here
for a week anyway. That was hardly enough time to build a relationship
That evening began with another meal of steamed rice, pickled
vegetables, and tea, followed by chanting, another sermon, and several
more hours of sitting meditation in the main monastery. Our evenings
ended at nine-thirty, and we were encouraged to get to sleep early,
although if we felt particularly driven, we were permitted to stay up
all night if we wanted to. Needless to say, I didn't want to. I was
dead tired, and from the look on Calvin's face when he hobbled into the
room after sitting in the same position for hours on end,
he was beat, too, although he admitted that part of him liked the
We didn't say a word to each other as we showered and got
ready for bed, but he crawled right under my blanket with me, just like
night before, without any prompting, and cuddled up close. We were both
so tired from
our first day that we immediately fell asleep.
The next two days passed much the same as the first day, as we were
kept to a fairly strict regimen. Calvin and I continued taking walks
together around the beautiful grounds of the monastery during the
afternoon, and even went on a hike in the woods. As we talked, he
became more and more animated. It was a pleasant change from the shy,
quiet boy who I met on the first day. Interestingly enough, though, the
topic of being gay rarely came up, and we just enjoyed each other's
company as "normal boys." However, each night we still slept curled up
together on my tatami mat, though nothing happened beyond
cuddling. Even if he had the desire to do
so, we were both so tired, it
probably wouldn't have happened anyway.
Since Calvin was still very much a beginner when it came to meditation,
he hadn't been assigned any special training other than counting his
breaths, while I continued to wrestle with the koan that the roshi had given me. It became
increasingly frustrating, and the seemingly unanswerable question kept
floating around my mind, night and day. I had come up with several
possible answers, but each time I told the roshi during dokusan, he quickly
told me I was wrong and to go continue meditating. I had to admit, I
was getting a little miffed at the situation, because the question just
didn't make any sense. How could I have a face even before my parents
were born? That was just ridiculous.
Calvin was no help either, and I think he was glad that he didn't have
a similar problem to deal with. But I couldn't give up, or else I would
not only disappoint the roshi,
but more importantly, I would disappoint myself. Despite the headaches
it was giving me, each time I sat down to meditate, eat, shower, sleep,
or even take a dump, I was determined to figure out the answer to that
fucking riddle, even if it killed me!
By Thursday, I was in a foul mood. My inability to crack that riddle
had finally come to a boiling point, and I wasn't sure if I could go on
anymore. For me, coming to a sesshin
was a chance to re-balance
myself and find a little peace and tranquility. It was my escape from
the inane and hypocritical world I lived in. However, I'd never felt
unbalanced and than I had the past couple of days. Not even Calvin's
sweet smile in the morning could break me out of my bad mood, and when
I got smacked with the bamboo stick that morning during meditation
practice by Keiichiro-san, the Japanese monk, I nearly grabbed that
damn stick out of his hand and beat him like a red-headed step-child
(except that his hair was black). I was pissed!
I'd practiced hard for eight friggin' years, spending at least thirty
nearly every day practicing, reading every book on Zen I could get my
hands on, and attending almost every retreat I could go to. I had felt
peaceful, content, and very confident in my progress. And now, I felt
like the past eight years had been one big fucking waste of time! As I
sat there stewing, I swore to myself that this was the last sesshin that I would ever come to,
even if Calvin would be coming back. I'd rather maintain some degree of
sanity than have to torture myself like this. Being around Calvin, who
I was falling hopelessly for, made things even more stressful.
What was I doing wrong?
I tried expressing my frustration and despair to the roshi during dokusan that morning, but he just
brushed me off, telling me that he didn't have time to listen to my
complaining. He was supposed to be my teacher, and he wasn't doing a
damn thing to help me! Part of me contemplated going into the small
martial arts dojo, grabbing one of the small tanto blades, and committing ritual
suicide. They always said in the samurai movies that that was an
honorable way to die.
Right after lunch, things got even worse. Apparently, my cranky mood
had gotten to Calvin, so after we ate, instead of waiting for me
to go take our usual afternoon walk, he walked out of the dining hall
with none other than Vic! I almost lost it right there. The boy I was
smitten with was walking off with my archnemesis, the person who at
that moment I hated more than anything in the world. The smug look Vic
had on his face right then, and the thought that the boy I wanted
could end up in his clutches, making out with him somewhere, made me
want to chase after him with a katana
(samurai sword) and chop his arrogant, self-righteous, perverted little
But I was a wuss. So instead of becoming "Super Samurai Warrior Nicky,"
I just left the dining room by myself and wandered around alone,
cursing everything I could think of. I had loved Zen so much, and now I
hated it. Not just hated it, but I wanted to pour kerosene all over the
monastery, light that bitch on fire, watch it burn to the ground, and
then run down the road naked, screaming like a lunatic.
Yes, I was
that messed up. And even in my state of near insanity, that fucking
riddle was still swimming around in my head. I couldn't get away from
it! It was like a bad case of herpes -- not that I really knew anything
about herpes, except that it was bad, but it seemed like a good analogy
at the time.
After wandering around aimlessly for about a half hour, I found myself
in front of the dormitory furthest from the rest of the buildings. As I
started turning to go back, deciding I could use a nap, I heard the
sound of crying coming from behind the building. At first, I figured I
would just ignore it and head back. I was hardly in the mood to be
comforting someone if they were upset. I was already in a bad enough
mood as it was. But after years of believing that compassion was our
greatest gift, and being a little curious, I walked around to the back
the dormitory to take a peek.
And there I saw Calvin ... and Vic.
My worst nightmare was coming true.
Why was this happening to me?!
But then I noticed that Vic was grasping Calvin by the hair, violently
forcing him to his
knees, and with his other hand, was trying to take off his own pants,
Calvin was bawling his eyes out and pleading for Vic to let him go.
That sonofabitch was going to make my
Calvin suck his dick!
I stood there in stunned silence. Neither of them had seen me yet. I
had never seen such a look of total fear and helplessness before as I
did in Calvin's eyes at that moment. I wanted to rush right over there
and beat the living crap out of Vic to save Calvin. This was my chance
to be a hero, to really help someone, and maybe redeem myself in
Calvin's eyes after being such an ass that morning.
But I couldn't move. I couldn't think straight. I was frozen to that
spot, and could do nothing but watch in horror at what Vic was about to
do to Calvin.
I tried to scream for help, but found that no sound would come out of
my mouth. I'd never been so afraid in my life.
What was your face before your
parents were born?
Dammit! This was no time for that damn riddle to keep popping into my
head! Calvin needed me and I couldn't do anything!
Before I even realized what was happening, I saw a figure appear out of
nowhere like some kind of phantom, and I instantly recognized it as
Roshi Matsuda. In one swift movement, accompanied by an ear-piercing
shout, he descended upon Vic with the grace and stealth of a cat
pouncing on its prey, simultaneously unsheathing his katana and making a powerful,
arching strike toward Vic's neck, the blade stopping mere millimeters
from hitting its target.
I'd never seen anyone move so quickly, let
alone a seventy year old man! And the way he moved ... it could only be
described as art in motion, the perfect coordination of mind and body.
The roshi truly was samurai.
As soon as Vic realized that the katana
blade was poised to lop off his head, and saw the cold, emotionless
stare of the roshi, he
immediately let go of Calvin, letting him drop to the ground, while a
visible wet spot quickly emerged at the front of his partially undone
pants. The scumbag had pissed himself!
"You, go now!" Roshi Matsuda said to Vic in a commanding tone, and Vic
immediately took off running, stumbling several times as he made his
way to the dirt road that led away from the monastery.
The roshi then looked over at
me. I hadn't realized that anyone had noticed I was standing there,
still in shock and completely overwhelmed at what had just transpired.
"Nicky-san, you take Calvin-san and get him cleaned up," he said in a
calm voice, his eyes once again sparkling with that familiar look of
"Hai, roshi. Mondai ga arimasen,"
I replied in Japanese, trying my best to maintain my composure.
Not a word was said between us as I
took Calvin back to the dorm, got him a new uniform to put on, and
settled him down onto his tatami mat to rest. I didn't know what to say
to him. I was ashamed at myself for doing nothing back there to save
him. If it hadn't been for Roshi Matsuda's perfect timing, I couldn't
even begin to imagine what might have happened. If I felt ashamed,
couldn't begin to wonder what Calvin must have been thinking or
feeling. He probably hated me for abandoning him. I also wondered why
the roshi had let Vic go
instead of calling the police or something. But I also knew that Roshi
Matsuda had his reasons, and I had learned many times over to trust his
There were still a couple of hours until the evening sermon and
meditation session, but I didn't feel comfortable sitting there with
Calvin. So I decided that I would go to the main monastery and
meditate, hopeful that the Buddha would be able to guide me. I couldn't
just walk out on Calvin, but I didn't know what I should say to him
either. Rather than trying to come up with words that would probably
just fall flat, I gently brushed the hair away from his face and placed
a soft kiss on his forehead. I couldn't read the look he gave me, but
it wasn't one of anger or betrayal, and that at least gave me a faint
glimmer of hope.
As I walked into the main monastery, it was dark, except for the
flickering candlelight coming from the Buddhist shrine, and the scent
incense was heavy in the air. I was relieved to find that no one else
was there yet. I picked up one of the meditation mats from the side of
the room and walked up to the shrine, placing the mat down in front of
it. I knelt down in the traditional seiza
position and made three bows to the image of the Buddha. I then
positioned my hands in front of my navel, mimicking the position of the
Buddha, and closed my eyes, taking several deep breaths before
beginning my meditation. I didn't know what I was searching for, nor
what kind of answer I could expect, if any.
Unfortunately, I received no answer, just that stupid riddle bouncing
around in my already frazzled mind.
By the time I heard the dinner bell ring about an hour later, I hadn't
any kind of answer to my frustration or confusion. When I got to the
dining hall, I noticed that Calvin
wasn't there, and my worry immediately returned. Should I go see him?
Would he want to see me? How could I possibly comfort him? In the end,
my stomach won out, and I stayed for our usual fare of rice and
When I arrived back at the main monastery for the evening's sermon and
meditation practice, I was relieved to see that Calvin had showed up,
although his face was deathly pale, his eyes were watery, and he was
trembling slightly. I thought I should say something to him, or at
least give him some sign that I cared, but the bell rang to announce
the beginning of the session before I had the chance. As usual, the
chanting and the roshi's
sermon on the need for what he called more "secular spirituality" in
today's society helped me to relax somewhat, but I still couldn't help
worrying about Calvin, as well as my own mental state over the past few
days. The sublime peace that I'd always felt when I was here certainly
wasn't there anymore, and I was considering giving up the whole Zen
Buddhist thing altogether.
As we all settled in to begin our marathon meditation session, the roshi immediately called Calvin in
for dokusan. That wasn't
particularly strange, except that the roshi
usually held dokusan during
sessions. The expression on Calvin's face as he made his way to where
the roshi was waiting for him
looked like someone walking to his own execution.
I was so worried about Calvin while he was in there that I couldn't
focus, earning me several whacks with the bamboo stick. I didn't care,
though. Part of me felt like I deserved the beating, not because I
wasn't focusing, but because I had let Calvin down.
After about thirty minutes, Calvin walked out of the roshi's room, and his entire
demeanor had changed. The color had returned to his face, the life
coming back into his eyes, and he walked with much more confidence. I
should have trusted that Roshi Matsuda would know how to help him. But
still felt like I should have been the one to help him. He had trusted
me, and I let him down. At least he seemed better now, and I could try
and get through the next couple hours of meditation, I thought.
As soon as I started, though, temporarily relieved of the burden of
Calvin's suffering, my own inner conflict came
flooding back, tormenting me, frustrating me, driving me yet again to
the edge of total despair. So much had happened during the past week. I
had thought that I was on the right path. I thought I was making
I thought I was close to having some sort of great insight, and now I
felt like I had been heading in the wrong direction the whole time. The
roshi had once told me that
feeling as though you had fallen off your path was actually still part
of the path. I really hated it when he spoke in riddles.
And then there it was again.
What was your face before your
parents were born?
What in the hell did that mean anyway?! Why did the roshi give me an unsolvable puzzle
to torture me with? How was this supposed to help me?
I felt myself starting to crack apart. I wasn't even sixteen years old
yet, and I felt like I was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown,
all because of a stupid riddle and a boy I had just met. I couldn't do
this. I couldn't focus.
Before I realized it, the bell rang, announcing the end of the
evening's session. I was dreading having to be alone with Calvin in our
room, afraid that I would be forced to talk with him, terrified of what
he would say to me, what he would think of me. Would he be able to tell
that I was totally breaking down? Would he think I'm a nutcase? Would
he blame me for what happened? What if he wanted to sleep next to me
again? Could I handle that? I wanted to hold him, kiss him, love him
... but I couldn't. I was too afraid.
As soon as I finished taking my icy cold shower, I got dressed and
crawled under my blanket, curling up into a little ball, and hoping
that Calvin wouldn't push me. I wanted him to sleep on his own mat. His
being close to me would just torture me even more. Unfortunately, I
felt the blanket lift up slightly as he crawled in next to me. Usually,
it was me who wrapped my arms around him, but this time, it was Calvin
who held on to me. He didn't say a word, just gently stroked my hands
with his fingers, then exploring the soft skin on my neck, and my face,
everywhere that wasn't bundled up with clothes.
His touch was both comforting and terrifying at the same time. I wanted
to melt in to him, let myself go, give myself to him. But I was too
confused, too unsure of
myself now. I wanted to pull away from him, but I didn't, although I
didn't return his embrace either. I just fell into a fitful and
sleep, with images of Vic, Calvin, Roshi Matsuda, and the Buddha
dancing around in my head.
Friday was just more of the same. I barely spoke two words to Calvin
the entire day, and I noticed the look of confusion and hurt on his
face. But how could I take away his confusion if I couldn't get rid of
my own? One thing the Buddha had said, though, was very true.
Everything is impermanent. Nothing lasts forever. The retreat would be
ending soon, and I didn't have the energy anymore to invest in Calvin.
He would be gone from my life soon, and I would probably never see him
We were back to taking our walk together in the afternoon. We'd gotten
along so well the first few days of the retreat and were becoming close
friends. Now it seemed as though we were drifting apart. Perhaps it was
better that way. It would dull the pain of having to be separated.
"Nicky, are you mad at me?" Calvin asked, suddenly breaking me away
from my own depressive thoughts.
"Ummm ... no, Calvin ... I was just thinking," I replied.
"What were you thinking about?"
He met my gaze, and neither of us looked away.
"School and stuff," I lied.
Calvin wouldn't understand the demons doing battle in my mind at that
moment. There was no point in dragging him down further with my own
problems and self-doubt. He'd been through enough already.
"I thought we were friends," he said quietly. "You were so different
when we first got here, and now you're like totally bummed out. I don't
"It's nothing, really," I said, trying to reassure him. Unfortunately,
I couldn't even reassure myself.
He just sighed and continued walking. Part of me really wanted to tell
him everything that was going on in my mind. The roshi wouldn't listen, and I'm sure
Calvin would. He was just that kind of guy. But if I didn't understand
myself, how could I make him understand? It just wasn't worth it.
That night when we went to bed, if things weren't difficult enough
already, they were just about to get more confusing. Of course, I
didn't have the heart to send Calvin away when he came to crawl under
my blanket with me, so I resigned myself to allowing this one small
pleasure, holding Calvin while we slept. Wrapping my arms around his
slight frame, feeling his warmth, and hearing the gentle sound of his
were probably the only things that allowed me to maintain any semblance
After I held him for several minutes, spooned up behind him, Calvin
suddenly turned around and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me even
closer. We were now lying face to face on our sides, our noses only
centimeters apart. I could smell the peppermint scent from his
toothpaste, felt his warm breath on my face. From the pale moonlight
streaming in through the window, I could see his eyes fixed on mine. I
wanted to just close my eyes and pretend I was asleep. His expression
was too disconcerting. It was like he could see right through me, right
into my soul. And I didn't want him to see too much. I didn't want him
to have to share my pain. I didn't want to hurt him.
Then I noticed a few stray tears trickling down his face. I hated to
see him suffering, and even more, I hated the thought that I was the
cause of that suffering. Not breaking our gaze, I lifted my thumb up to
his face to gently wipe away his tears, then let my thumb gently trace
down his soft cheek ever so slowly. As we continued staring intently
into each other's eyes, I could feel my heartbeat quickening. In that
moment, the only thought in my mind was of this amazingly beautiful and
sensitive boy just inches away from me.
My thumb then continued its journey down his face, eventually tracing
tenderly across his soft, red lips, stopping there momentarily, wanting
so much to just lean in those last couple of inches and place my mouth
against his. At that moment, I could see in his eyes that he wanted the
same thing. But I couldn't do it.
Eventually sleep overtook us, but for me it was yet another restless
night. The only thing that kept me from falling into the fathomless
black hole that was my own mind were Calvin's arms wrapped tightly
around me. If I hadn't been such an idiot, maybe I could have taken
that tender gesture, and his almost pleading look earlier, for what it
really was. But I couldn't ... or
wouldn't ... let myself accept that. I was too stubborn.
As I walked into the main monastery
for the morning meditation session
on Saturday, the last full day of the retreat, Roshi Matsuda stopped me
in the doorway.
"Let fall body and mind, Nicky-san," he said in a gentle voice.
I just gave him a puzzled expression, then walked over to take my place
on my meditation mat. I couldn't take any more riddles.
After I had sat down, I carefully crossed my legs, placed my hands in
front of my navel, lacing my fingers together with my thumbs lightly
touching in the traditional Buddhist mudra,
or hand gesture, the same as seen in all images of the Buddha. I
brought my focus to my posture, checking that my back was straight, my
shoulders pulled back, and my chin slightly tucked in. As I slowly
closed my eyes, I took several deep breaths, following them with my
awareness from the
point of inhalation, traveling down into my lungs, my chest expanding
as they filled with air, and then slowly exhaling. After repeating this
process several times, I began to relax and my mind began to quiet down.
My thoughts immediately went back to what the roshi had said as I walked into the
zendo, the meditation hall.
Let fall body and mind ... let fall
body and mind ... let fall body and mind ...
The words went through my mind over and over. I just let them come, not
trying to analyze their meaning, attempting to maintain the state of
quiet I had found. I continued following the path of my breathing,
paying close attention to each sensation in my body, from the slight
aching in my legs, the sensation of my thumbs touching lightly
together, to a mild itch on my left knee. The roshi's words kept echoing in my
mind, but I didn't try to push them out, nor did I let myself focus on
Let fall body and mind ... let fall
body and mind ... let fall body and mind ...
I gradually became aware of the dim sound of chanting, deep and
resonating, yet I knew it wasn't coming from anyone else in the room.
It was in my own mind.
No suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path, no self, no form, no ego, no Buddha, no
truth, no Nicky ...
As the words played through my mind, I felt a warm sensation begin to
slowly seep out from somewhere deep inside of me, near my navel, and
course its way throughout my body, filling me up. I had never felt so
serene before, so relaxed, so peaceful.
Suddenly, I was no longer sitting in the zendo on my meditation mat, but was
outside, sitting on top of a great mountain at night. In one instant, I
felt like I had been struck through by a surge of lightning, and the
heavens and skies opened up, then earth itself crumbled and
disappeared as if shattered by a massive earthquake, the tremors of
which I felt, coursing through every pore in my body, with incredible
energy surging through my body like tidal waves.
When these sensations finally began to fade away, I was left sitting
there with only one feeling ... delight. Pure delight.
"Nicky-san!" I heard Roshi Matsuda saying urgently, returning me to the
dim light of the zendo,
as the thick scent of sandalwood once
again invaded my nostrils.
"Nicky-san!" he said again, more emphatically. "Come with me, now!"
I stood up, still feeling euphoric, not really sure of what was
happening, and dumbly followed the roshi
into his chambers. Without thinking, I kneeled before him and made
three prostrations, then waited patiently for him to speak, not at all
unnerved by the odd way he was staring at me. I was more concerned with
sharing my delight and euphoria with him, wanting nothing more than for
him to feel what I was feeling ... whatever it was.
"Nicky-san, if you saw the Buddha on the road, what would you do?" he
"Kill him!" I answered immediately and resolutely.
"Why?" he questioned me, a challenging look in his eyes.
"Because if I can see the Buddha in front of me, that means that he is
separate from me. But that is a delusion. I am him, and he is me. So I
must kill the delusion," I replied without hesitation.
The roshi smiled warmly at
me. "Congratulations, Nicky-san. You have
had your first taste of enlightenment."
I was surprised and excited by his words, but at the same time, part of
me already knew.
"Now go outside and look around for a few moments, perceive things
through your new eyes. Then come back and continue to sit. Try to
deepen your experience ever further," he ordered me. "Maybe someday you
can even become a Buddha!"
I bowed to him again, then made my way out of his chambers and
immediately walked outside. All around me, I saw the familiar sights of
the snow-covered fields, the pine trees, and the mountains. It was the
same scenery I had seen every day since I had been there, but at the
same time, it was all different. Everything seemed to have a strange,
ethereal glow. Everything seemed so much more ... alive. And I felt so
much more alive. It was as if I was suddenly connected to everything
After returning to my mat and beginning to meditate again, I wasn't
able to get back to that place on the mountain, but I still felt ...
different. I wanted to keep sitting, even after the bell announcing
lunchtime rang, but I eventually forced myself to get up and go eat
something. After lunch, Calvin and I took a walk around the monastery
grounds again, and he asked me what happened earlier in the meditation
hall. I just told him I "woke up." My experience was too difficult to
really put into words, so I wasn't about to try.
That evening, shortly after our final meditation session of the retreat
began, Roshi Matsuda called both Calvin and me into his quarters, which
was very unusual, since dokusan
was almost always one-on-one, unless there was a need for a translator.
We both kneeled down and bowed toward the roshi, and waited patiently for him
to begin speaking. I was certainly curious about what he had to say.
"It is clear that your karma has brought you two together," he began.
"Of course, it is no coincidence that you both came to this sesshin, and your relationship has
progressed. There are no coincidences in life. We just fail to see how
everything around us, everything that happens to us, is all connected."
"What do you mean our 'relationship'?" Calvin asked nervously.
The roshi chuckled. "That is
something that you two may need to discuss in private. There's nothing
wrong at all about your having feelings toward each other that go
beyond being friends."
Calvin blushed a deep shade of crimson.
I knew what the roshi meant,
even though nothing had happened between us that wouldn't ordinarily
happen between two close friends ... although I may have wanted it to,
and was now pretty sure that Calvin did as well. I could see it in his
eyes the night before. But there was a question that had been bothering
me about my feelings toward Calvin, and it had nothing to do with
the fact that they were gay feelings.
I would probably feel the same if we were talking about a guy and a
"But roshi," I asked. "Aren't
we supposed to suppress our desires if we want to achieve
The roshi looked thoughtful
for a moment before answering.
"Desire in itself is not bad. Only the result of that desire can be
called 'good' or 'bad.' For example, the desire for peace or the desire
to be happy. How can these things be bad?" he asked rhetorically.
Calvin and I both nodded.
"The Buddha preached about the 'middle way.' In life, in your
relationships, in everything you do, you need to find balance. Your
desire needs to have balance, too. You must control it, not let it
control you. If your desire creates love and compassion, then that is
good. If it creates greed, jealousy, or co-dependence, then that is not
good. So, you must constantly examine yourselves, your actions, and
your motives. Ask yourself if you are doing something that will lead to
a positive result or a negative one. If you can do this, then you will
have a healthy relationship, and the experience will help you to become
better people, more compassionate, more loving. You will then be better
able to fulfill your vow to help other beings break free from their
"Thank you, roshi," I said,
bowing to him.
"You're most welcome, Nicky-san," he said with a warm smile. "Now, why
don't I let you two leave a little early tonight so you can go and
have that talk, okay?"
We both nodded in agreement, bowed three times, and turned to leave.
After we got back to our dorm and took our showers, we crawled under
the blanket together on my tatami mat. As we had the night before, we
on our sides facing each other, our arms draped loosely over each
other. I don't think either of us knew what to say. I wanted to be with
Calvin so badly, but I didn't know how we could be, considering this
was our last night here together.
But at that moment there was something else on my mind entirely.
I placed my hand softly on his face, letting my thumb trace gently
around his cheekbone, trying to memorize each and every detail of his
face. A few days earlier, this might have been an awkward moment; now,
of us wanted to break our gaze into each other's eyes. There wasn't
much that our eyes weren't communicating right then, but there was
something I still had to say.
"Last night, I wanted to kiss you so bad," I whispered huskily.
Before I realized what was happening, he put his hand on the back of my
head, and pulled me in to him, placing his lips on mine. After a few
moments of hesitantly exploring each other's lips, as if by instinct,
our mouths parted and our tongues found each other. The feeling
couldn't be described as anything but electric. For my first time
kissing another boy, it couldn't have felt more intense ... more right.
But I had to feel more of him. I needed to
touch his skin. I had to remember every little detail, because who knew
when I would get another chance like this, where all my dreams were
So I tentatively began to lift up Calvin's clothes, waiting for any
sign of resistance or hesitation on his part. When I noticed none, I
allowed my hands to snake inside of his pajama top and touch the soft
skin of his tummy. As soon as my hand made contact, he shuddered a bit,
but then I realized that was just because my hands were so cold. As my
hands rubbed all around his smooth chest, back, and sides, even
slipping down underneath his pajama bottoms to cup his round butt, my
hands warmed up, and so did the intensity of Calvin's kisses and soft
It seemed like hours that our tongues probed each other's mouths, and I
don't think there was a single nook or cranny that I didn't come to
know intimately, nor an inch of his silky soft skin that I didn't touch
with my fingers. As our kissing grew even more passionate and urgent, I
had to pull back. I would have loved
nothing more than to go further with Calvin right then, but something
about having sex at a Buddhist monastery just didn't seem right. So sue
me for having a conscience!
"I wish this didn't have to end tonight," I sighed. "It doesn't seem
fair that we found each other this way, and now we'll both have to go
home separately tomorrow."
He looked puzzled. "Why does it have to end tonight?"
"Well, I doubt we live close enough to be able to do this very often,"
"Where do you live, Nicky?" he asked.
It wasn't until he asked me that question that I realized in over a
week of conversations, we'd never talked about where we lived. I just
figured it wasn't very likely that we would end up living close to each
other. Call me a pessimist ...
"Ummm ... Endicott ... New York," I replied.
Calvin started giggling hysterically. For a second, I thought I'd have
to cover his mouth to keep him from waking up everyone else who had
probably come back and gone to bed during the time we'd been
"What's so funny?" I asked, nonplussed.
"Dude," he managed to get out in between giggles. "I live in
Binghamton. We're practically neighbors!"
When he said that, I couldn't decide whether I should be surprised,
ecstatic, or beating myself over the head with a hammer for never
having even thought
of asking him where he lived. I put myself through torture for an
entire week, when one little question would have taken care of that.
The towns we lived in were right next to each other, and I'd be getting
my driver's license (and a brand new Toyota RAV4 mini-SUV -- my parents
had a thing about Toyotas) in another couple of weeks when I turned
sixteen. That meant that even though I wouldn't be able to see him
every day, we'd still be able to spend the weekends together, at least.
As all of these thoughts were going through my mind, and all of the
various emotions I was feeling were probably making themselves very
apparent on my face, I realized that I hadn't said anything to Calvin
"You are happy about that, aren't you, Nicky?" he asked somewhat
I just grabbed a hold of him and pulled him into me tightly, covering
his mouth with my lips again. I figured that would answer whatever
questions he may have had about how I felt.
"So do you think your parents would get suspicious about your spending
every weekend at my house?" I asked after we finally broke apart.
"Nah, they'll just be so happy that I'm finally being sociable," he
"Good, because my house is exactly where you're gonna be every weekend
until I decide otherwise," I said with a wry grin.
"Do you parents know about ... you know?" he asked, starting to sound a
little nervous again.
"Of course they do. They're ultra-liberal ex-hippies. Sometimes you'd
think they would have been disappointed if I was straight," I chuckled.
We ended up chatting for a while longer, talking about our home lives
(he didn't think it would be wise to come out to his parents for a
while), school, and various other things that we realized we hadn't
talked about before. Eventually, though, sleep overtook us, but not
fished some paper out of our bags to exchange phone numbers, e-mail
addresses, and AIM screen names. We never broached the subject of
whether or not we were "together," but let's just say that I had good
reason to be hopeful.
The next morning was a bit rushed as we got packed, said goodbye to the
roshi and others we had met
during the sesshin (sans Vic,
of course --
thank Buddha!). I didn't get the kind of "good-bye" I would have liked
with Calvin, as our mothers were both waiting for us as we came out of
our dorm, but we did manage to do all of the necessary introductions
and talk about how much fun we had and how we'd become friends, which
earned me a knowing look from my mother.
Calvin's mother was practically gushing about the change in Calvin's
personality, so I didn't think it would a problem to see him almost as
often as I'd like ... although if it were left up to me, I'd probably
want him to move in with me right away. But I'd certainly take what I
could get. After exchanging a couple shy grins, and Calvin promising to
call me that night, we got into our cars and headed back to
civilization, the sounds of the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" blaring
on the stereo in
"So I take it you had a good time," my mom said, glancing over at me as
I tried to hide the goofy grin plastered all over my face.
"You have no idea," I said.
My mom just smirked. "I think I do."
I may not have become a Buddha at that meditation retreat, but I
certainly did find Nirvana.
Copyright 2006. All
Rights Reserved. No parts of this story may be copied, reproduced, in
print or in any other format, without express written consent from the
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead
are purely coincidental.
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