“ . . . Laying here
In each other’s arms
My soul is no longer transient
”. . . And everything just feels . . .
Feels so familiar
But it’s different now
“ . . . And this . . .
This has just become
To another one
Of life’s lessons. . . “
And then it hit me. I was dating an 18-year-old kid. He spent more time showing me to his friends than we spent alone. Since I had a car, I became the taxi, and I resented that a lot.
His friends were the kind of people I’d tried to distance myself from since I got on probation. Drug dealers, tweakers, E-tards and the randomly violent. And they all seemed so happy for us. That kid hadn’t had a boyfriend in four years.
To make a long story short, he was dateless at Gay Prom. I was surprised to see him there, since I didn’t know he was gay. I took him home that night. He was cute and I was curious, he was game. There’s nothing else to it.
The next day, we were in an unspoken relationship. Or, we were operating under the unspoken relationship that forms after a night. Something that I slapped myself for not cutting, right away. Then the friends. And the congratulations. Soon, the whole school knew, ‘cause he came out and dragged me with him. Well, announced “us”. I was close to an aneurysm. Motha-fucka gave me strep throat. So, I broke up with him. And since we weren’t in a relationship to begin with, as far as I was concerned, it wasn’t really a break up anyway.
Five days until the National Coalition of Alternative Schools Conference. Cole was busy stapling crepe to the walls. Robert was under him, folding flowers. Sam and Jerry were filling balloons. Amy was nowhere to be found, probably with Jason. But Austin was setting tables alongside Seonaid.
Cole took the time, first thing in the morning, to clean the picture and plaque for his grandfather. It practically glowed in the lights of the gymnasium. His throat was no longer sore. He didn’t even wait for it to heal before he told Robert the news. Robert took it well. Which was refreshing; because, god knows, Cole had seen too many bad break-ups in his life. Robert’s reaction made Cole wonder if the guy really was all that immature.
In four days, Thursday, the gourd dancers would arrive from Taos. And the Crying Drum from Eureka. There would be a dance in honor all of the people who were involved in the school, and a dance to bless the school itself. A tradition followed since the school opened in 60’s. All of them being mutts, Grandpa Curshe and Cole included, (they?) held inter-tribal affairs. And the 16 other native students would bring their friends and family along, too. So conferences at Renhelder Academy were part pow-wow and part gathering.
This was the first time that the conference had come back to Renhelder in four years, so we were extra careful to make the school look presentable. When I stepped into the hot Pennsylvanian sun, I noticed the first of five teepees was already standing. Onawa, Alex and Sean were helping Victor set them up. Onawa was standing on one side of the teepee, trying to guide the rope around a pole that was being set into position by Victor, while the other two boys were trying to keep the rest of the poles steady.
“How’s it going?” Cole called from a distance.
Victor looked away from his directing, “It’s going okay. We’re getting better after the first one. Do you know if NativeOut is coming this year?”
“Yeah, and so are the Two-Spirit Societies from Denver and Tulsa, and a new group out of San Francisco.” Cole hugged Onawa from behind.
Onawa giggled and pressed back into Cole. “Hey,” Onawa greeted him.
“Hey,” Cole gave Onawa a love bite. “You’re all sweaty.”
Onawa had taken off his shirt in the midst of setting up the first teepee, when the sun had reached its apex, and the ground had grown so hot. Helen had had to go to the store to get everyone a case of water bottles.
“I know,” Onawa turned to look at Cole; Cole gave Onawa a hand. “It’s hot.”
“Not it’s not,” Cole grinned, “Just you.”
“Cole, get the canvas and the ties.” Victor said.
They spent the next four hours in the sun, erecting the rest of the teepees, and then a sweat lodge. Afterwards, it was dark and the crew was hungry. Everyone from the gymnasium, the rooms above it, and the main building, had come out to watch the five of them work. Victor, Cole and Jerry took trips from the main building (which was really a house) to the teepees (which were big enough to an entire family inside of), bringing everyone food. Onawa and Alex had made the fire for the sweat lodge, directly in front of their semi-circle. Between spoonfuls of buffalo stew and bites of frybread they would get up and drop another rock into, or stir, the fire.
Cole and Onawa, and Sam and Jerry, had managed to get a teepee to themselves. All four together, but that didn’t stop them. Sam and Jerry were very reserved at first, quiet and just fondling each other. It was a white thing, Onawa and Cole decided. But when Onawa climbed on top of Cole, Sam and Jerry decided that, even though this wasn’t Rome, they could give in to whatfelt natural. Cole and Onawa taught the two some 49’er songs. Songs for snagging. Austin and Seonaid, in the teepee next to them, caught on and soon all three couples were singing and howling.
When they woke up, the breakfast bell was ringing and the rocks were hot enough to be placed in the sweat lodge. But that wouldn’t be held until it was cool enough to sit inside a steaming hot room without getting heat stroke.
Onawa was the kind of beautiful that intimidated me. He’d come from the Iroquois reservation two hours north. When I’d first laid eyes on him, they stung. Seriously. He was watching me, I knew. And when I looked at him, he was still watching. But it wasn’t that “come hither” look I was expecting. It was something else. And honestly, he wasn’t the type of boy I was looking to hook up with. I didn’t even know his name.
He appeared for the pre-conference festivities, staying with Alex’s family, who live about a half an hour away in the country. We spent the first two days, just watching each other. He was the kind of boy who looked like he was waiting for the first move. But I couldn’t. That was really frustrating because I usually make the first move. Somehow, with him, my confidence just left me.
“So, are you going to talk to him?” Austin had appeared beside me. He was grinning like a maniac. Seonaid was beside him.
“In a bit,” I bit my bottom lip. ‘Maybe, why?”
“Dude, we’ve been watching you watch him watch you for the past hour now!” Seonaid added, “Yeah! What happened to Cole the Stud?”
“He’s a little preoccupied right now.” I said flatly, “Besides, how would you know?”
They both gave me that “duh!” look and I blushed and turned to look back at Onawa. He looked away just as quickly.
You know when I said, “Call me a slut, call me a heart breaker, but don’t call me a player”? Well, you probably should have called me that. Low self-esteem aside, I can’t deny it that I get hit on a lot when I walk into clubs or parties, dances, whatevers, gay and youth. And then, again, whatever’s gay. I know people are always watching me and checking me out. And I know I must be doing something right when I’ve scored the hottest guy in the room. But I don’t know what it is.
I don’t have a six-pack. I’m not all that good at dancing. In fact, I try to stay away from it unless it’s something choreographed or traditional. And I’m certainly not skinny. But I do have a devil-may-care attitude, a cock-can-walk strut and a smile I keep reserved for only the most desperate times. I know I’ve got a guy when I can look him in the eye and he totally loses it. And I mean loses it! He starts blushing and fidgets, looks around at other things. It’s predatory. And I get a kick out of being able to make ‘em sweat.
Most times, he’s gentle and feminine. He’s got a nice ass and a good bulge. He’s skinny, or toned. A dancer, cheerleader, swimmer or drag queen. Sometimes they’re savvy and know what I want, know which game I’m playing. Those are the most fun; they know exactly how to work it. There’s no guilt afterwards. The ones who don’t know are more fun to chase, but then the morning after is just a mess. I learned my lesson after Robert.
“Hey!” Jerry laughed and splashed water back at me.
Poochie was between us, panting in the hot sun, despite the soap and the cool water. Adam was coming back later this afternoon, so we wanted to make sure Poochie was presentable. Macy would be by in half an hour, she invited me to come along with her to pick Adam up but I couldn’t, there was a big dinner at school. Cole was the Master of Ceremonies and asked Jerry and I to perform.
“It’s just water!” I giggled.
Poochie jumped out of the pool and shook off violently; getting water and fur all over us. I repressed the urge to retch and Jerry came over to towel the dog off a bit.
“Are you excited about the performance tonight?” I asked him.
“Yeah,” Jerry grinned, “I hope we don’t mess up.”
“We won’t,” I said. We’d been rehearsing for the last two days.
Then Macy came. Poochie was happy to see her. And it seemed like she knew what was going down. Adam was coming back home. Macy and I sat down and talked for a while. Jerry was re-tuning his guitar in the studio.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come and meet him, Sam?” Her eyes were glowing with empathy. “I’m sure he’d really like it.”
But I declined again. To be honest, I was feeling a little guilty about not mailing him back or returning his calls. So, I was scared to see him. I really missed him. And I was trying not to, all along. But we couldn’t get back together. We just couldn’t. So I didn’t want to be there. I told her to tell him I would see him tomorrow. She didn’t ask again. She stood up, and walked to the door. Poochie raced out of the half opened door, stopped at the side of the car, and looked back at us.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Sam.” She told me.
“Hasta mañana,” I said.
The house was quiet when the door closed by itself and I walked away from it with a hollow pit in my stomach. I peeked in the studio, but Jerry was gone. I called his name, but there was no return. I checked my room, the bathrooms and the kitchen. Finally, I came outside. The pool was overturned and leant onto a tree. I was about to turn around and search the rest of the house, when a stream of water hit me square in the back.
“AIEEEEE!” Jerry screamed from behind. I turned around quick enough to see a water balloon fly at me.
I dodged the first balloon and dove towards him. I hit Jerry at the waist and we fell down. Jerry was rolling under me with laughter. But I wasn’t done. I picked up the hose that was lying behind him, still leaking water, and shoved it into the front of his shorts. He seized up from the sudden shock but recovered quickly and sent me tumbling across the lawn. I was almost to my feet when he landed on top of me. We wrestled around like that for a few minutes more.
When we rolled to a stop, we were both shirtless, and he was missing his shorts. Mine were pulled down just past my pubic bone. He was on top, grinning down at me. I got hard just looking at him. Got hard from the friction, and the feeling of his skin against mine. It happened sometimes, when we wrestled. He just got up and we laughed it off. I think he always knew I wanted him. But I tried to keep it from interfering with our friendship. But, this time . . . he was hard, too.
In the bedroom, I unwrapped him and we collapsed, sweaty and wet, into bed together. I don’t remember much of what went on, it was so intense, I couldn’t tell you who was in what. But it wasn’t about realizing a dream, more than it was about forgetting. Jerry was big, long and perfect. I don’t know if it was all the girls, or if he was just gifted, but he worked it just right. And when he let me turn him over, I was surprised at how easily I slipped in. More surprised when he turned lion underneath me. I forgot long enough to get off.
When it was over, Jerry told me how much he had wanted to do that. Ever since we were 14 and he walked in on me and Chris going at it. How he’d been watching me for so long. He was just afraid. For a lot of reasons, he just didn’t have the nerve; he didn’t want to lose our friendship, didn’t want it to change. But now it had.
I smiled and let him cuddle up behind me. But I was gone. There was guilt there. And grief. Relief. A part of me was waiting for Adam to come back. Another part was telling me to just go, run, and move on. They were fighting harder than ever right then.