Journey to Love

Chapter Thirty-eight

Summer Plans

by Sequoyah

Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott




I picked up the phone and said, “Derek here.”


“Derek, Dr. Bailey. What are your plans for the summer?”


“Well, I planned to take a couple of courses both sessions. Since I’m doing a double major, I’ll be here forever if I don’t take advantage of the summer term.”


“Ever think about an independent study?”


“Dr. Bailey, I’m not sure I even know what that is.”


“An independent study is an on-your-own project under the supervision of an approved professional. I think I have something worth your while if you are interested. It would get you away from the campus and into new territory and give you some hands-on experience. I’m afraid a decision has to be made within a few days, so if you think you might be interested, give me a call and we’ll set up an appointment.”


“I’m at least interested enough to come in to talk. Let’s go ahead and set up an appointment.”


“I believe you finished your exams today, am I correct?”


“You are.”


“So I suppose you will be out celebrating tonight and hung over tomorrow,” he laughed.


“Actually, Wolf, my boyfriend and I were planning a quiet dinner and enjoying an evening free of school work.”


“You’re in a serious relationship?”


“Very serious. We live together.”


“If you’re willing to postpone your love-making until later, I am free tonight and we could talk after dinner. Check with your partner and give me a call if you two can come to dinner.”


Wolf and I saw no reason not to at least check out whatever Dr. Bailey had in mind, so I called him and accepted his invitation to dinner. I guess he knew students well and wanted to make sure we didn’t show up in holey jeans and ratty tees since he said, “Glad you can make it. Nothing formal, nice casual will do.”


We arrived at 6:30 and were met at the door by Dr. Bailey. “Dr. Bailey, my partner Wolf Lancaster. Wolf, Dr. Bailey, my biology mentor.”


“Nice to meet you, Wolf. You look... of course; you do the TV show. I have enjoyed it several times. Please come in.” When we entered the living room, Dr. Bailey said, “Derek, Wolf, this is my wife, Maria, and Dr. Joseph, a practicing physician. Maria, Dr. Joseph, this is Derek Wilson, the student we were discussing earlier, and his partner Wolf Lancaster, a campus personality.”


“Two handsome young men,” Dr. Joseph said. “I know it’s almost sacrilege and blasphemy on a college campus, but please drop the doctor and call me Kathryn,” Dr. Joseph grinned as she shook our hands. I noticed Dr. Bailey didn’t make a similar suggestion.


Dr. Bailey served drinks -- Wolf and I had a non-alcoholic daiquiri which was quite nice. As we chatted, Kathryn kept asking questions about each of us and, I think, carefully avoiding asking questions about us as a couple. “So you are a diver, Derek. Do you swim, Wolf?”


“Only for pleasure. In fact, given my druthers, I’d seldom get in a pool. I grew up on the coast and pools are not very pleasant to one who is used to salt water.”


She finally worked her way around to the ‘us’ questions. “So I take it you two didn’t meet at a pool.”


“Hardly,” Wolf said and told her how we met and how he came to be at OCU.


“So you are a radio and TV personality here on campus ?” Kathryn asked.


“He is, very much so,” Mrs. Bailey said. “I wouldn’t miss one of Wolf’s programs for the world. He is especially good at puncturing some of the academic hot air balloons around here and takes on the college-is-about-sports crowd frequently.”


The conversation continued in generalities through dinner and when coffee was served, Mrs. Bailey excused herself and Dr. Bailey led us into the study. “Derek, Dr. Levey and I have been searching for a program which will put you in touch with the medical world so you can make a sound decision about your future. We were thinking about something here in Norfolk or Newport News. A hospital or clinic situation seemed the best bet. Then Mrs. Bailey mentioned her college classmate, Dr. Joseph, was coming for a visit and that she might be able to help. So, Kathryn, the floor is yours.”


“Well, Derek, I’ll tell you right off there’ll not be a lot of water around since I live and work on the Navajo reservation. My mother was Navajo and my father Hopi, an unlikely marriage given the history of the two peoples. Anyway, shortly after they married, they moved away from the res. She lived most of her life in Las Vegas where my father worked in a casino. She never liked it and longed to get back to the desert. When my father died seven years ago, she went back. I had never spent any time on the reservation until she moved back. When I visited her, I got to know the people and loved them and the country.


“I had a thriving practice in Denver and was doing very well. My partner Patricia, a nurse practitioner, and I had not taken a vacation in five or six years, so I found a young doctor and a nurse practitioner to take over the practice for three months and we traveled in Asia. Somewhere on the trip, Patricia picked up a bug, still unidentified, which attacked her lungs. Within six months she was dead. I was devastated. The practice was doing very, very well, but after losing Patricia and not being able to share the success of it, I was getting little satisfaction from it.


“Mom got very ill because there was not a doctor close by and I went down to visit and take care of her until she recovered. As soon as word got around that I was a doctor, I had patients. After I had been there a few weeks, I found I was happier than I had been since Patricia died. I decided I’d sell the practice in Denver and move to the reservation and work. Little did I know the red tape that would involve. I finally cut through it and renovated a house and built a clinic on a plot my mom had inherited.


“A few months after the clinic was opened, I was swamped and saw no relief in sight until a young man brought in a teen with a badly infected foot. He had done a great job of caring for the kid when he found him and when I asked, he said he had been an army medic and the army paid for his training as a PA, a physician’s assistant. I offered him a job on the spot and he accepted.


“He had toyed with the idea of going back to medical school, but when he was honest with himself, he knew he could do just about as much with the training he already had as he’d be able to do after he became an MD. Given the time it would take, he has decided we could manage the clinic with one MD and one PA.


“All of that is to let you know the background of what I’m offering. Dr. Bailey vouches for you as a learner and person and that’s good enough for me. I’m inviting you to spend the summer working at the clinic. The pay is pretty pitiful, there’s no water for swimming and the hours are likely to be long and tiring. I can guarantee you will see more and do more in the weeks you’ll be with me than you would in a hospital here in a year. A lot of it will be hands-on. Training will mostly be on the job, but by the end of the summer you should have a damn good idea of whether or not medicine is for you. I don’t want to rush you and I know you and Wolf will have to do a lot of talking, but I really need to know by the time I leave next Thursday, a week from today.


“Wow!” was all I could say. “What about Wolf? He’s kinda important to me and has to figure into any decision I make.”


“Honestly? Unless he’s interested in medicine to some degree, he would probably be bored to death. He’d see little of you and there is very little to do for someone who doesn’t know the country. He might get an internship with a TV or radio station in Flagstaff, but that’s over two hours away. The long and the short of it is, realistically you would be separated for the summer. Definitely something to think about.”


“If you’re interested, Dr. Joseph has photos of the area and the clinic,” Dr. Bailey said.


“Of course we’re interested,” I said.


We spent the next hour looking at photos on Dr. Bailey’s large screen TV in the study and discussing what we were seeing. I have to be honest, I was intrigued and excited.


We finally said goodnight and Wolf and I went home. We were both silent the entire trip. When we got home, Wolf said, “Lover, I think we need to talk.” He went to the fridge and brought back a couple of beers. “I think the opportunity offered you tonight is a dream, but the idea of being separated for twelve weeks certainly does not appeal.”


“It certainly does not, but I agree the idea of really being involved in medicine for a summer certainly is like a dream. Anyway, it’s likely to be a moot question as I’ll be here with Auntie. That’s my first obligation. If I’m free, you could get an internship in Flagstaff, we could see each other every couple of weeks or so. We haven’t talked about your plans. Have you applied for internships?”


“The department had me send out some audition tapes, but, of course, one wasn’t sent to Flagstaff. I’ll see about that tomorrow. I suppose anywhere I get an internship will have clinics and hospitals so you might be able to work in one even if you don’t have an internship.”


“Wolf, that makes it sound as though I have to wait until you get an internship and then try to find something.” To be honest, I thought Wolf was being more than a little selfish.


“Derek, let’s face it. Any worthwhile internship I get will be in a larger city where there will be ample opportunities for you to do something in medicine. There aren’t as many opportunities for me. Well, maybe in some tiny TV station or radio station, but that’s not going to advance my career. To pass up a good internship would be too large a sacrifice.”


“Would being separated for twelve weeks or so be too big a sacrifice?”


“It would since we don’t have to make it. You know you could find something anywhere I end up.” That pretty much concluded the discussion and I went to bed depressed wishing we had a kitchen table because so far as I was concerned, nothing had been resolved.


Friday morning Wolf got a call from his mom. His dad was doing ok, but she wanted him home for a family conference. He asked me to go, but I begged off. I was still upset over our discussion the night before and more than a little depressed at not even being allowed the possibility of going to Kathryn’s clinic.


Wolf left after his 11:00 class and I went home and had lunch with Auntie. I needed to talk with her about the summer since I was obligated to be there for her and no other arrangements had been made. I also wanted to talk with her about the situation with Wolf.


As soon as we sat down to lunch, Auntie asked my plans for the summer. I told her they were up in the air. “Well, you don’t have to worry about me. I have very few friends left -- at my age you don’t -- but one who lives in the mountains of New Mexico has invited me to come for the summer. She thinks the air will do me good and I’m going. I’ll be gone all summer, so you are free.”


I then told her about the clinic in Arizona and what it offered and she asked why I hadn’t signed on before I left Dr. Bailey’s. I tried to put as good a face on it as possible, saying I’d been sure I would be in Norfolk for the summer. “But you didn’t even discuss the possibility with me. Seems it would have been the first thing out of your mouth when you came down.” She saw through my fog. I told her it would involve being separated from Wolf for twelve weeks and she just looked me in the eye and asked, “So?”


I quit trying to avoid the issue and told Auntie the problem. She, as usual, went straight to the heart of the matter. “Derek, I know you love the guy. You have spent little time apart since the day you met. I think a time out would do you both good. Having said that, Wolf is being a selfish brat and you know it.” I didn’t admit it to Auntie, but I did know it. “Derek, you need to talk to your daddies. Call Louis and ask him and Caroline to spend the weekend in your place and go home.”


I did as Auntie asked and Louis was delighted to have the apartment for the weekend. I packed quickly and was on the road by three, arriving as Sam was pouring wine. After hugs, Brad poured me a glass of wine, raised his glass and said, “Here’s to surprise visits by our youngest child. Welcome home, beloved child.”


We settled down with our wine and I said, “Dads, I need to talk.”


“Something that needs to wait until after dinner?” Brad asked.


One unspoken rule was unpleasant topics waited until after the meal so as not to spoil it. Of course the anxiety usually did anyway, at least for the person needing to talk. “I’m not sure. It’s about Wolf and my relationship. I think it’s under a strain right now and maybe he doesn’t know it.”


“Baby Boy” -- Sam had started calling me Baby Boy at times as a joke and it had stuck. No-one else would have been allowed to call me boy -- ”dinner can be placed on hold with no damage to it. Let’s talk,” Sam said as he refilled our glasses.


I told them about meeting Dr. Bailey and what taking her up on her offer would entail and how Wolf seemed to think I should bypass that and do catch-as-catch-can for the summer near where he can get an internship.


“Ok, let’s agree, Wolf is being a selfish brat, but that’s not the whole problem,” Brad said. “A part of it is the feeling you can’t be separated for twelve weeks. I know you have heard Sam and I have never been separated, but maybe you didn’t hear the rest, we have never spent a night apart except for work and education. We have spent a lot of time separated. At times it has been very hard...” Sam and I both giggled. “Well, it was.” Brad actually blushed. “But at other times, we needed to be separated to have time to be a person without the other.”


Sam said, “Derek, you and Wolf have been together constantly since the day you met. Regardless of what else happens, I think a summer apart would be wise. You may find that you really do want to be together the rest of your lives, but you might find that you are together because you fell for each other and have never looked closely at your relationship.


“Putting all that aside, Derek, I know something about isolated areas and poor and/or unavailable medical care. Dr. Joseph is right. You spend twelve weeks with her and you’ll come back knowing what medicine is about. No doubt you will be alone with someone dying, you’ll birth babies, you’ll see a child who appeared hopeless running and playing. You’ll not be on the sidelines, but on the field and maybe the only player.”


“Then I should go regardless of what Wolf says or does? I don’t know that I can do that.”


“Surely he will understand when you talk about it again,” Sam said. “Think about it this weekend. You still have a few days before you have to make a decision.”


I was surprised when I went to bed and fell asleep almost at once. During the night I dreamed about working in the clinic. I birthed a baby whose mother had been in labor too long and would have lost the baby and probably her life as well if I hadn’t been there for her. I talked to a teenager about AIDS, helped an old fellow through the DTs. It was as though I was watching a movie of myself and I was happy, very, very happy. I even thought about Wolf in the dream and hoped he was as happy as I was, but other than that, I couldn’t get a feel for our relationship.


The next morning, I went to see Mom. She looked great and was doing very well. She had completed another series of contracts for the Adult Degree Program at Martha Baldwin and was well on her way to her degree. We talked about school and how much she was enjoying it. Several times in the conversation she mentioned a fellow named Tim and I finally asked, “Mom, are you getting it on with Tim?”


Mom blushed and said, “Well, I’m not sure what ‘getting it on means,’ but we are dating.”


“Good for you. DeAngelo know this? Has he met Tim? What does he think of him?”


“Actually, your brother introduced us. Tim is in the ADP as well and works at Monroe. DeAngelo heard him talking about the program and told him his mom was in it and invited us to dinner. He likes Tim a lot, as do Sam and Brad.”


“Couldn’t ask for better references.”


“So where’s Wolf? Why isn’t he here?”


“He went home for some kind of family conference and I decided to come home for the weekend.”


“Derek Wilson, you have never been able to pull the wool over my eyes. There’s more going on than just a weekend trip home.” There was no getting around it, so I told Mom what was going on with me.


She listened to the whole story without interrupting, and then thought about it before she spoke, then said, “Derek, I allowed your father to bend my life to his. He made the decisions and I followed. You see where I ended up. Once he could no longer dictate my life, see what has happened? Sure, a couple has to make compromises and sacrifices, but the couple does, not one does and the other doesn’t. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you, you have a decision to make about what kind of partnership you and Wolf will have. That, son, is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.”


I was being torn by the decision I had to make or at least thought I had to make. How was I to know that was far from the case?



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