Journey to Love

Chapter Eleven

Traveling and Home Again

by Sequoyah

Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott




Before lunch, Auntie had me take her to a local electronics store where she purchased a GPS for the car. After lunch and my being quizzed about the upstairs, I programmed it to take me to the office of the Dean of Student Life at the university.


I was in his office at 2:00 for our meeting which went well. Since I would be essentially 'living at home', the requirements for resident freshman simply did not apply to me. I was classified as a day student and that was that. After that was settled, we chatted. He had known Auntie since he was a student himself and told me a few great stories about her.


Unfortunately, things did not go as well with Coach Anderson, the head aquatics coach, and Dr. Haynes, head of the athletic department. They were seemingly unbending in their demand that I live in the athletes' dorm and eat at the athletes' table. I was becoming very, very depressed as I had very little I could do in face of their demands and could not convince them that I simply could not afford college. I finally said, “Coach, Dr. Haynes, the only options I have are to borrow a lot of money or to wait until next year to start here. I’m not going to borrow money and end up with a huge college debt when I can afford a community college near home. Seems you can’t compromise on this, so I’ll enroll there this year and will be on track when I come back.”


Before either could answer, the phone rang. Dr. Haynes picked it up and after he identified himself, he just listened. After a while, he said, “Thank you,” and hung up the phone. He then dialed a number and spoke into the phone, “Mr. Gibson, Dr. Haynes. Could you come to my office?” He hung up the phone and asked, “Mr. Wilson, do you have your gear with you?”


“No, sir.”


There was a knock on the door and Mr. Haynes said, “Come in. Ah, good, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Wilson. Mr. Gibson is a senior and on the dive team. Gibson, take Mr. Wilson by to pick up a pair of Speedos and observe his diving. Anyone else around?”


“Smith is here.”


“Grab him and score Mr. Wilson's dives. You have him for forty-five minutes.” I wondered what was going on.


“Will do, Coach,” the diver said. When we left the office, he said, “Name's Brody,” extending his hand.


“Derek,” I responded. “Do you know what's going on here?”


“Haven't the foggiest.”


He then asked why I was here and I told him. “I wouldn't be too optimistic,” he said when I was finished. “Coach and Dr. Haynes are both pretty stubborn. Well, here we are. Roger,” he said, speaking to the young guy in the supply cage, “Derek needs a pair of Speedos.” He looked at me and said, “Know your size?” Small? Medium?


“Well, my waist calls for a small, but the rest of me needs a medium, otherwise, I'm not decent.”


He looked at me, his eyes dropping to my groin. “I understand,” he grinned. “A pair of medium Speedos,” he said.


When I had changed into the Speedos, he said, “Nice. Well, let's see you dive.”


When we got to the pool, there was another fellow there, too thin to be a swimmer, I thought. In fact, he looked as if he needed a new diet and fitness program. “Robert Smith, Derek Wilson. Robert is a nationally recognized dive judge. We are lucky to have him around. Well, Derek, show us your stuff.”


I hadn't expected to be diving and I'm not sure how well I was doing, but about half an hour after I started, Brody got my attention and called to tell me I needed to get dressed. I guess the ax was about to drop.


I hadn't noticed him before, but Coach Anderson had joined Brody and Robert and the three were comparing notes when I walked past, headed for the showers. When I had showered and dressed, Brody was waiting to take me back to the athletic department office. When I walked in, Dr. Haynes and Coach Anderson were waiting.


“Derek, I'll get right to the point. Coach Anderson says Roger and Brody confirmed what he had seen in Alexandria. Coach Anderson observed your last two dives today and all three think you are exactly what our dive team needs. The phone call was from the Alexander Personal Fitness Center staff, a conference call. Ms. Bianchi was on the women's dive team here so we know her well. Frankly, you and your friends have put us in a bit of a bind. To be completely honest, Mr. Hunsinger reminded us that your scholarship didn't cover room and board and our forcing you to sleep and eat here didn't seem quite kosher, especially when he pointed out you had been told the athletes' dorm was full. He, Mr. Malik and Ms. Bianchi all convinced us we didn't have to worry about your training, diet and so forth. The long and short of it is, we need you and you really don't need our dorm or dining hall. They also said you had no problem in being a part of a team and reminded us that the APFC team didn't live and eat together and it was obvious to anyone who sees it that it is a real team.”


“Coach Anderson is beating about the bush, Mr. Wilson. What he means to say is, you are free to live and eat where you damn well please so long as you watch your diet and maintain your training schedule. Agreed?” Dr. Haynes asked.




“Fine. We'll expect you here the fifteenth of August to begin training. What will you be doing this summer?”


“I'll be attending a two-week aquatics camp at AFPC and then I’ll be on the staff there for the middle-school swimming camp for two weeks. Other than that, my best friend and I are planning on doing some traveling and camping in New England for a couple of weeks. That about takes care of the summer.”


“Well, have a good one,” Dr. Haynes said and shook my hand. Coach Anderson shook my hand as he nodded in agreement.


“See you in August,” Dr. Haynes said and left.


Auntie was delighted with the news and said, “So I get to keep my IOUs from Old Commonwealth. Good. Always good to have.”


Tuesday when we finished breakfast, Auntie insisted we go downtown to shop. We went to a mall where she purchased a cell phone for me, then to a men's clothing store—where I was thunderstruck at the prices. “Auntie, there is no need to pay these prices,” I said.


“Derek, I haven't had a young man to dress in years. Don't try to deny an old lady her fun.” After she purchased real dress-up clothes for me—all very classic in design—she said, “Now let's get some school clothes. Only requirement is I don't see your ass crack or underwear and I get to choose the underwear,” she giggled.


After spending a bundle at three upscale clothing stores specializing in younger men, we went to another shop—small and very nice—and she purchased underwear. When she asked, I told her I wore and loved trunks* most of the time, otherwise briefs. “Since I spend a lot of time in Speedos, I can't tolerate boxers or boxer briefs.”


She bought dozen pairs of trunks in various colors and designs and a dozen of equally varied pouch briefs, then said, “OK, my choice,” giggled, and selected half a dozen very brief briefs, some see-thru. I drew the line at thongs. “Auntie, if you don't mind, I'd just as soon not have something in the crack of my ass!” She also purchased socks, Ts, wife beaters and muscle shirts. I'm sure she spent as much as two months of Mom's salary on just underwear! With all the purchases, the backseat of the car was full and the real dress-up wear would be shipped when it had been properly altered.


We had lunch and when we got back to the house, she insisted I get on the road. “You have at least a three-and-a-half to four-hour drive and I don't want you getting sleepy while driving.”


We said our goodbyes and I was on my way at 2:30.


When I got home, I could hardly wait to tell Brad and Sam about my trip. It was almost 6:30 when I arrived. After I had unloaded the car they still hadn’t arrived home and I was left on pins and needles worrying. When they walked in, Sam said, “So who's here in the red convertible?”


“Thank goodness you're here. I was worried about you,” I said as I hugged them. “The car? It's kinda mine. Now that you are here, come upstairs with me.”


On the way up, Brad said they were late because a kid had run past the receptionist at the Center and attacked another kid. “Took awhile to get that sorted out. They were fighting over a girl who walked out of the Center snuggled up against another guy. When will guys ever learn?”


When we got to my room, I showed them my wardrobe and they were as impressed as I was. “Damn, you let him out of your sight and his gay comes out and he returns a fashion plate,” Sam laughed. “I've heard of sugar daddies, but you have a sugar mama.”


We went back downstairs and while Sam started supper, Brad and I seated ourselves at the kitchen table so both could hear my report from Norfolk. Auntie had also bought me a very nice point-and-shoot camera and Brad put the memory card in the projector so I could show them the house, my rooms and all.


“Derek, I can't think of anyone more deserving. I'm glad you have a job, and taking care of Auntie is a job even if she is pretty independent, but you are a responsible young man, so it's a win-win situation,” Sam said.


We had another big aquatics meet in mid-May and, again, Jeremy and I did very well. The trophy cabinet at the Center was no longer empty. Two weeks later, we graduated. I was second in my class. Sam and Brad were a bit upset because the school awarded honor points, but did not count them for class standing. The person first in my class had not taken a single honors or AP class and I had taken one or the other for everything where it was a possibility. It didn't matter to me. I had my scholarships and was better prepared for the next step in my life and that was what was important, but it did matter to Mom and my dads who were very proud of me and wanted everyone to know it.


James Monroe's semester ended the week before graduation and DeAngelo was back home. He was full-time at the Center, a personal trainer intern for the summer. He had taken courses aimed at becoming a physical therapist and personal trainer and needed practical experience. The Center had grown to the point where they needed another trainer and Brad was delighted to have him working under his supervision.


Jeremy and I had spent hours planning a camping trip through New England for the first two weeks after school was out. When we thought we had planned well and we sat down with his dad and mine to present it, all three took one look and started laughing wildly. When Jeremy’s dad finally got control, he said, “I thought this was to be a two week trip, not two months. You would have to be moving 24/7 to get little more than half of this done in two weeks. What were you going to see? Were you planning on stopping and seeing anything or just driving? You have fourteen days. You're going to be sleeping at least seven hours a day or you are going to enter a danger zone driving.


“Let's break down your time and you can recalculate your route based on that,” Sam said. “Fourteen days times twenty-four hours means you have three hundred thirty-six hours. Seven hours sleep a day and, since you are camping and preparing at least two of your meals, you'll spend say five hours a day setting up camp and preparing meals. So you have a hundred sixty-eight hours sleeping, setting up camp and eating which leaves you one hundred sixty-eight hours for driving and seeing things. Split that as you will, but I'd suggest a third driving and two thirds looking. After all, looking is why you travel, right? You can drive four or five hours a day and have seven or eight to look, rest, whatever. How does that sound?”


Jeremy and I were both laughing because we had figured on driving eight hours a day. “We'll lick our calf over,” I said.


“Lick our calf over?” Jeremy looked at me as if I had lost my mind.


“Yeah, you know, when a calf is born, its mother licks it to clean it up. If she doesn't do a good job, she has to lick it over.”


“Oh, I guess I get it.” Damn! The boy was living on a farm now, but you'd never know it.


“You know, Jeremy, we were talking about how pretty New England was when we started planning this trip. It's barely spring there and I know we were thinking about fall. It's still cold there.”


We both got a good laugh about poor thinking, and Jeremy asked why we didn't head south instead. “We were thinking about mountains when we live in a valley. How about the seashore?”


“Smart boy,” I said and we started planning again. We finally ended up with both, seashore and mountains.


We'd spend our first two nights with Auntie. I wanted to show Jeremy around and visit with Auntie.


Auntie put us in the guest room saying the upstairs still was not habitable and suggested we not even bother going up. She suggested that in a way which seemed to be more command than suggestion, so we didn’t.


While Jeremy was finishing his shower the morning we were leaving, Auntie asked if Jeremy was my boyfriend. When I told her he wasn't, she said, “Pity.”


“Auntie, you don't know how much I wish he was, but Jeremy is so straight he makes an arrow look like a corkscrew. I really love the guy and he knows it and we both know it will not be returned. We are just very, very good friends.”


We spent the next seven days camping down the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina, finally ending up in Savannah, Georgia. The nature of the coast and availability of camp sites meant we never drove more than three or four hours. We spent a day in Charleston on our way to Savannah and we spent a day there also.


We decided we could do a long haul and headed for the mountains after we left Savannah. Again, we took a day sightseeing in Asheville, North Carolina and then got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed northeast. Night thirteen of our fourteen night trip we spent in Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina. We called our dads and got permission to stay on the road one more day so we could divide the rest of the trip, arriving back at Grace House two weeks and a day from the time we left.


Back at Grace House, I unloaded my things and left them in the foyer and went back outside to say goodbye to Jeremy. It really was goodbye until Christmas as he was leaving on an early morning flight out of the local airport, headed for West Point. He was to report in before 0600 the following day, so he needed to get there the evening before. “Knowing my luck, there'll be a canceled flight or delay and I'll be late, so I'm leaving in the morning.” After we had my stuff unloaded and he was ready to go, he embraced me and said, “Love you, Brother.”


“Love you too, Brother,” and he was gone.


Before we’d left on our trip, several people had warned that such a trip would be wearing on the nerves and that it would at least strain our friendship. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We had spent two weeks sharing not only food, a Jeep and a tent, but also our hopes, our dreams, our worries and our fears.


About mid-way, there was a full moon which was so bright, we decided we'd go for a walk on the beach since we had had a long drive that day and were worn out. As we walked, for the first time since I had told Jeremy I was gay, we talked about that. “You know,” I said, “when you told me you were straight and could never love me the way I loved you, I knew it was true. I also knew that there was nothing I could do to turn you gay any more than you could turn me straight. I knew that and my rational mind accepted it, but human beings are not just rational. While my rational mind accepted reality, my emotional and sexual mind did not. I realize that, finally, my emotional side is beginning to accept that we have a damn valuable friendship and that is enough. Now if I could just get my sexual mind to stop lusting for your hot body!” We laughed, but when we got back to the tent and lay down, I realized that, yes, I would always love Jeremy, but it no longer commanded all my thoughts and dreams.


I had a day to get back in the groove before I started swimming camp. Jeremy and I hadn't been good at all about diet and exercise, but with the exception of a very few days, we had run and/or swum. Nonetheless, I needed to get back in training. With aquatics camp started, I needn't have worried about not getting back in training. It was that or die!


I did as much coaching at aquatics camp as I did being coached and I soon discovered that the best way to learn was to teach. Not only had I learned a lot about swimming and diving during the two weeks, but I had my first real experience with someone trying to seduce me—well, I didn't resist too much at first.


Jacob Crawley was a rising senior from Woodbridge. He was a typical jock type—handsome, well-built, arrogant, conceited, demanding: as I said, a typical jock. While he flirted with the girls, he definitely spent a lot of time checking out the guys. In the pool, locker room and showers, he played a lot of grab ass and copped a feel any chance he got. One afternoon Mr. Malik had really been on his case for not paying attention or following instructions. He was swimming like a beginner, not a swim team member. When the last group was sent to the showers before returning to the dorms—the Center rented dorm space at Mary Baldwin College to house campers—Mr. Malik called him and said, “Jacob, you can just stay in the pool. Derek, would you coach Jacob as he swims twenty laps, laps that meet your approval,  of butterfly, breast stroke, freestyle and backstroke. Goof off, Jacob, as you have been doing all afternoon, and you'll be here until midnight.” Jacob started to arguing until Mr. Malik said, “It's that or Woodbridge here you come. People paid good money for aquatics camp and they will get their money's worth and if that means you head to Woodbridge, you'll head to Woodbridge.”


Jacob started swimming and when he returned to the starting point, I simply said, “Jacob, not acceptable. You know how to swim better than that and you’d better do it. Mr. Malik always, always, means business.” After that, Jacob straightened out and even graciously accepted my coaching.


When he finished swimming laps, I knew he was nearly exhausted. “Good job, Jacob,” I said as I extended him a hand. Instead of using it to pull himself out of the pool, he pulled me in, wrapped his arms around me and kissed me. I'll admit, he was a good kisser and before I knew it, I was kissing him back. We both went from 'limp willie' to 'rod of steel' in about ten nanoseconds. We were still in the pool when Jacob untied my Speedos and started sliding it down my legs. I grabbed his hand and said, “Not here,” and pulled my Speedos up. We walked to the shower and Jacob again started stripping off my Speedos. After he pushed them down my legs, he leaned over and took my cock in his mouth. As he did, I suddenly realized we were not just two aquatics camp campers. He was, but I was in a different relationship with the Center and sure didn't need to be having sex with a camper. I reached down pulled Jacob to his feet and said, “Don't get me wrong, Jacob, I am a horny eighteen- year-old, but I'm sorry, I’m on the staff here and this has gone too far already.” He was pissed and didn't give up until he climbed in the car to head for Woodbridge a week and a half later.


By the end of the two weeks, Ms. Bianchi and Mr. Malik both said I was in top form.


Camp ended the last Friday in June. The Fourth of July was a week from the next day and we had the week off before the middle-school swim camp. The campers would be arriving Sunday after the Fourth and counselors would be coming in the Friday before. Brad planned a picnic for the counselors and camp staff as well as the regular staff of the Center at the pond on the Fourth.


There were a couple of huge old oaks less than a hundred yards from the edge of the pond and the food would be spread on two long tables under them. Surrounding the huge trees was a grove of smaller, but still large, oaks, forming a semi-circle around the pond. People would use them for shade. All were told to bring lawn chairs or blankets to spread under the trees. All in all, just over a hundred people were expected when children and significant others were added.


The Alexander Center Foundation was putting on the whole event. There was a lot to do to get ready for Saturday.  It began with the arrival of a large truck Friday morning containing all sorts of warning signs.  Two men came with the truck. When one of them came to the door, he asked for Mr. Hunsinger and I called for Brad. When he saw the truck, he told them, “Give me a minute to get the Jeep and then follow me.” He went to the garage and drove out the Jeep and headed toward the pond area. He had only been gone a few minutes when a pickup with a large cooler on the back pulling some kind of contraption came down the drive. When I answered the door, he said he was there to setup the barbeque and stoves to prepare the food. I was barely back in the house when the doorbell rang again and this time it was a man with an above-the-ground pool to set up for the smaller kids. I told him to follow the tracks in the pasture.


I cleaned my room, DeAngelo's and my bath, then went downstairs and cleaned the living area and the office. I had also put in a load of laundry before going outside. Sam had been called back to the therapy center earlier when one of the therapists didn't come in, so I locked the house, turned on the alarm and hopped in my car, headed for the pond.


Last fall Brad had the power company run an underground line from the road to the pond where it connected to underground wiring he had a Waynesville company install. There were now outlets all around the pond and in the grove. He had attractive street-type lights placed in the grove and on two sides of the pond.  He and Sam had debated putting some underwater lights in the pond and after they had argued  the pros and cons for a few days, Sam said, “Hell, Babe, let's do it.”


They started talking about a Fourth of July picnic in the spring and before we knew it, we were talking about port-a-potties, potable water and such. After discussing that for awhile, I asked if the Fourth of July picnic was a 'one-of.' “I hadn't thought about that,” Brad said. “I hope not.”


“Then why temporary and not very satisfactory toilets?” I asked.


“Sam, the baby boy is thinking. We'll go for a more permanent solution.” They had a well drilled and restrooms with flush toilets built. Water fountains and showers were also installed. They were turning the area surrounding the pond into a kind of mini-park and picnic area. While they were at it, they enlarged the pond. When I asked Sam if it meant no more skinny-dipping, he said, “Of course not! That is our place, not open to the public, opened occasionally to APFC employees and family and our friends.” I guess I was selfish, but I was glad that the pond was still for familyand invited guests, occasionally.


When I reached the pond, I noticed the truck with the warnings was parked on the opposite side of the pond from the grove, three hundred yards or so beyond it. The two men who had been in it were taking some kind of racks from it and setting them in rows. I had no idea what was going on. The above ground pool was set up and being filled from the pond. Had it been filled from the well, it would still be cold tomorrow. The barbeque was being set up as was a large stove beside it. I walked over to Brad, who was standing under one of the huge oaks, watching everything. As I walked up to him, he put his arm around my shoulder and hugged me. Since I had been living with Sam and Brad, I had become a real hugger and sure enjoyed the fact that they were. “So what's going on, Dad? I mean barbeque and pool I understand, but what are those guys doing?” I pointed to the two men across the pond.


“They're working on a surprise.”


“Which is?”


He looked at me, laughed and said, “A surprise.” That was all I could get out of him.


As we stood watching all the activity, a van drove up and three older—elderlymen climbed out of the front. It was followed by an SUV and when it stopped, two more elderly men got out of the front and four guys piled out of the back. The guys were about my age. I gave them a once over—I mean, I like guys, right?—and decided they were all well built, a couple damn good looking and all, but definitely none were my type. Don't ask me why since I am not sure what my type is. One of the elderly men walked over to us, followed by one of the younger guys. The old fellow stuck out his hand and said, “Good to see you, Brad.”


“Good to see you, Mr. Moffitt. How's Mrs. Moffitt?” Brad responded as they shook hands.


“Fine, Fine. This is my grandson, Afton.” Maybe I had judged too quickly. Afton might have been my type after all.


“And this is my baby boy,” Brad laughed. “Derek.” I shook hands with the grandfather and his grandson. As the two were making the introduction, I remembered where I had seen Mr. Moffitt. He’d played in the string band which had played for the Halloween party. “I thought we'd get you set up on the other side of the pond,” Brad said.


Mr. Moffitt nodded and headed back to the van. When they reached the other side, the five elderly men took lawn chairs and headed for the grove where they unfolded the chairs and sat down. Two of them covered their faces with their hats and were soon dozing. Meanwhile, Brad said, “Derek, if you like, you might help get the stage set up.”


I went over and asked, “Need any help guys?”


“Always welcome help,” Afton said. “Guys, this is Derek. Derek Hunsinger?”


“No, another FFS, Derek Wilson.”


“Well, we're all FFC—First Families of Churchville: Chuck Connor, Don Camp and Jesse Camp,” he said and laughed. “They're all cousins in one way or another, to one degree or another. I'm the outsider. Looks like a real big party going to take place here.”


“Yeah, July Fourth picnic Saturday. You're invited along with girlfriends, boyfriends or just a regular unclassified friend.”


“Your boyfriend or girlfriend be here?”


“Out of boyfriends right now. Guess I’m kinda one of the hosts as Brad Hunsinger is one of my dads.”


“You have more than one?” Jess asked and laughed.


“Yeah, I have two. Brad and his husband Sam Houston.”


“See, Jess, I told you a man could marry,” Afton said.


“Cannot!” Jess said.


“Can too,” I said. “Not in Virginia—yetbut my dads were married in Massachusetts.”


Jess didn't want to drop it and when Brad came by, he said, “Mr. Hunsinger, Derek's been pulling our leg saying you were married to a man.”


“He's not pulling your leg. I am. Thought everybody in the Shenandoah Valley knew that. It was in the paper, but I guess you were too young to be interested in that.”


As Brad was speaking, Sam walked up and put his arm around Brad and with his other hand, turned his face to his and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “How's it going, Babe?” he asked.


“Fine, except this handsome young man doesn't think we're married.”


“Shame on you, handsome young man,” Sam laughed. “Drop by the house and I'll show you the paper if you like.” As I introduced the four to Sam, I wondered why they had been discussing gay marriage in the first place, but probably would never know. I suddenly got a bad feeling in the gut—I had outed myself. Why had I said I was out of boyfriends?



*Seems to some that  trunks as underwear means an undergarment from years past or swim trunks. They have been around a few years now and some of us former brief wearers are converts. They  are much shorter than boxer briefs, but do have legs. They fit close like briefs. Most of the underwear brands have several styles.



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