Journey to Love
Edited by Cole, Peter and Scott
Jayden and I slept when we were sleepy, ate when we were hungry, swam when the mood struck and made love. It wasn't all about sex, not at all, but the sex was wonderful. We kept finding new ways to give the man we loved pleasure in addition to the tried and true ones.
In the midst of our enjoyment of each other, and the cabin and river, we gradually began to realize summer was over and we would be back to college soon. We talked about what the coming semester would bring and about plans for the next year. After our summers, we both would need to take a look at the classes we signed up for during spring pre-registration and see if changes needed to be made. We argued a bit about whether or not I would rejoin the dive team. Jayden thought I should, I wasn't so sure. Jayden had to declare a major and I had to reaffirm my decision to do a double major in biology and chemistry instead of being pre-med. And we discussed the house.
We agreed it was crazy to live upstairs when the kitchen was downstairs and talked about what we would have to do to renovate it to suit our wants and needs. After talking for about an hour, Jayden said, “Shit, Dumbass, what we have said is we'd like the upstairs downstairs. Renovating the downstairs last fall cost a lot of money and to change it will cost a lot. We'd need to remodel the upstairs as well. And, to tell the truth, we both know it would not be the same, plus, we are a lot easier to move than our apartment.”
I grinned and said, “You're right and we both know we're happy with our present arrangement, so the only question is, do we keep the guest rooms as guest rooms or do an arrangement like Levi's?”
“We'll talk about that later. Right now it's time I made love to you,” and he did. Sated once again, we lay side-by-side, exchanging an occasional kiss.
An hour later, Jayden said, “Enough of this, it's time for a swim!” ran to the end of the deck and jumped in.
I woke up in the wee hours Wednesday and saw Jayden lying beside me, bathed in the moonlight. My heart was so full of love for the man it was near bursting. I leaned on an elbow, drinking in the beauty of my Navajo. I was ready to lean over and kiss him when he opened his eyes and smiled. I returned it, looking into the eyes of the one who held the meaning of my life. We kissed softly, wrapped our arms about each other and drifted back into dreamless sleep.
At lunch, Jayden looked at me and asked, out of the blue “Derek, will you marry me?”
“You need to ask?”
“Yes, because I want to hear your answer.”
“Of course I will marry you, my Beautiful Navajo.”
“I know it will not be legally recognized, but my medicine man will perform our Navajo wedding. I don't care whether it's official or not, to my eyes we will be married.”
“Jayden, in my eyes, nothing will make us more married than we are. You are my husband but, when we can, we will have a Navajo wedding. I was thinking earlier this was our honeymoon.”
Later, after we had been in the river, we lay on a lounge, Jayden resting his head on my chest. He raised his head and asked, “Derek, do we need to rush home?”
“Not really. We have a week after we get back before we start fall semester. I guess I thought we'd want to get back as quickly as possible.”
“How about we extend the honeymoon?” He gave me a smile that melted my heart.
“What did you have in mind?”
“The fellow who flew me to Phoenix asked me if I had ever seen Biltmore House in North Carolina and kept talking about it. He also talked about All Souls Cathedral and how they welcomed gays. They are in Asheville.”
“Then let's go home by Asheville.” We were back to dialup at the river, but that was adequate to find a nice bed and breakfast which was gay friendly and I made reservations for two nights. The trip to Asheville would take about five hours, so we'd arrive mid-afternoon if we started early enough, time to at least see All Souls.
Thursday we were having dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Durden. Mid-afternoon, Jayden asked, “Derek, what's the dress code for this evening?”
“Damn, I forgot to ask. I'll bet it's suit and tie.”
“In that case, I'm SOL as I don't have a suit or tie here. Why don't you give him a call?”
I called Dr. Durden and asked him about dress for the evening and he said “Shorts and sport shirts. We'll be eating by the pool. And bring your Speedos.”
I knew where Dr. Durden lived, but had never been to his home. I did know it had been designed by a nationally known architect at Georgia Tech. Very modern, it caused quite a stir in Macon when it was built. There was no question as to which it was on a quiet street of expensive houses on large lots.
Dr. Durden met us at the door and said, “Welcome! Do come in. We are out back.” He led us through the house to a large, shaded patio which adjoined a real swimming pool with a five-meter diving platform. Seated around a table were a woman Dr. Durden's age and a young man and woman. “Derek, my wife, Dr. Elaine Kimberly, my daughter Elizabeth and my son Charles. Family, this is Derek Wilson, of whom you have heard me speak often and his ...” Dr. Durden came to an abrupt stop.
“My husband, Jayden Fulton,” I finished for him.
“Dad, you have a problem with Derek being gay? Having a husband?” Charles asked.
“Of course not, Chuck. I just realized I'd be outing him and we had never talked about that though I'll admit, Derek, you calling him your husband caught me off guard as I never heard you refer to him as such.”
“No problem, Dr. Durden. I guess I assumed your family knew I was gay.”
“And the husband bit caught me off guard as well,” Jayden laughed. “He has never done that before, but we talked about getting married recently. Derek says he already thinks of us as married. I want a Navajo wedding which we will have when we can. Nice to meet you all. Change of subject, but that is a great pool. Family of swimmers?”
“We all swim,” Elizabeth said, “and call me Beth. Chuck and I swim on teams. Understand you swim on one too, Derek.”
“Dive.” Soon we were all engaged in a lively discussion of swimming and Chuck, Beth and I were in Speedos, diving. They were very good and I was rusty, but after the second dive, Jayden looked at me and grinned when I pulled up to the side of the pool and he said, “I win. You'll be back on the dive team.” I knew he was correct.
After we had finished showing off, we showered, dressed and were seated at the table when Jayden asked, “Dr. Kimberly, do you practice with Dr. Durden?”
“Hardly,” she laughed. “I am a PhD and teach literature at the University. And, please, call me Elaine. I hardly expect to be called doctor in my own home and everyone calls my husband Durden. People who have known him for years would have a struggle recalling his Christian name.”
We were served a delicious dinner accompanied by fine wines as Durden was somewhat an expert. Jayden asked for half glasses and explained that he just didn't handle alcohol well. “I am positive there is a difference between the way we Indians handle alcohol and the way you do, but I do know I do not handle it as well as Derek.”
That provoked a lively discussion of alcohol and alcohol laws which led to a discussion of pot which led to ... an extremely enjoyable evening which finally ended shortly before midnight.
Friday morning—late—we made love, swam, showered and had breakfast. After breakfast, I said, “Babe, I guess we need to check and make sure the piggy is still wiggly.” We drove to the grocery and purchased food for Friday night. The Macon three or four would be bringing the beer. Back at the cabin, we started preparing the food. I made potato salad again, while Jayden made burger patties. I doctored pork and beans out of a can with sweet peppers, onion, celery and some Tabasco and Worcestershire. While I made a green salad, Jayden sliced tomatoes and sweet onions, then the two of us got the corn ready for the pot. By the time we had finished, it was 3:00, time for the Macon crew to arrive.
Chance started blowing his horn a quarter of a mile before they reached the cabin. When he skidded to a stop, four naked men piled out of the car, raced through the house and jumped into the river. There were in for a bit of a surprise since the water level was very low, much lower than it had been anytime they had been at the cabin. What was usually a three-foot drop was close to six and there was not that much water to break their fall, so their landing was pretty rough. Fortunately, no-one was hurt, but four shaken and chagrined young men climbed the ladder back to the deck.
After a good laugh, we all sat around drinking beer and snacking until we heard the faint sound of a warning horn in the distance. “Ok, guys, we'll have water shortly. That was the warning signal that water was about to start being released.” The river didn't gradually rise; instead a wave passed by the cabin followed by several others until the water was only two feet from the deck and the Macon four were ready to leap in. “I would strongly advise against that,” I said, “unless you want your body to be found washed up on the bank miles from here. You'll never be able to stand in the water until it starts dropping. Right now the current matches that of a mill race.”
Almost an hour later when we checked, the river was ideal for swimming and we all jumped in and had a great time. Alfred took a break from swimming to start the charcoal and when we all climbed out at 6:00, it was perfect and he started the hamburgers. Minutes later we were all eating as if we had been on a week's fast.
The four didn't spend the night at the river as they would be leaving Saturday for a week at home before starting their last quarter in Macon. After six weeks in Macon, they would begin their internships across rural Georgia. Chance and Gregory would be going to Cuthbert and Leary respectively and asked me a thousand questions. They were very excited about that as they would be only forty-five minutes apart and had found a farmhouse for rent almost exactly halfway between.
Alfred and Stephen, who announced they were a couple, were not as lucky. Alfred would be in Clinch County, much of which was part of the Okefenokee Swamp. Stephen would be in Colquitt, three hours away. “I guess the next few months will be a test of our relationship,” Stephen said. Later, when Stephen and Gregory went to play in the river again, Alfred confessed he was head over heels in love with Stephen. “I have never come close to feeling about another man the way I feel about Stephen. Because of his experience, it has been difficult for him to accept that. I think the fact that we will be separated and I will still be there, loving him, may be a blessing in disguise but, damn, that doesn't mean I look forward to it!” After hugs and promises to keep in touch, the four left at 8:00.
Next morning after we had breakfast we took Dr. Durden at his word and only did minimal cleaning, took a final look around to make sure we weren't leaving anything, packed the car and hit the road at 9:00. We stopped in Athens for early lunch and reached Asheville at 3:00, checked in, took a shower—it seemed that ‘gay friendly' included a shower large enough for two—made love, took a quick shower, dressed and headed for All Souls which was only a few blocks away. We were walking up the front walk when I realized we were holding hands. A week at the river where we didn't have to watch displays of affection had made us careless. When I started to release Jayden's hand, he held my hand tighter. When we reached the front, a petite lady was taking down the sign saying the church was open and a docent was on duty. “We're too late,” Jayden said.
“You wanted to see the church?” the lady asked.
“We did, but I guess we can come back.”
“Or you could have an after 4:00 tour,” she laughed. “We have a special for young men who come up the front walk holding hands.” She put the sign away and said, “I'm Martha. Where are you from?”
“We are students at Old Commonwealth in Norfolk. We're on our way home after spending the summer away,” I said. “I'm Derek Wilson from Stanton, Virginia.”
“And I'm Jayden Fulton, I guess from the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.”
“You guess?” Martha smiled. “You got the story, I have the time.”
“You show us All Souls and we'll take you to dinner and Jayden can tell you his story,” I said.
“Well, it so happens, I'm alone and would love to have dinner with two handsome men.”
I am sure the regular tour of All Souls did not last as long as ours because it was almost 6:00 when we finished. I had noticed a nice hotel in the middle of Biltmore Village and asked about its restaurant. Martha said it was usually excellent and I called and was able to get reservations for three at 6:00. It was less than a block away, but I had noticed Martha, who looked to be her late forties or early fifties, used a cane, so we drove.
Dinner was delightful! The Red Stag was not very full, which surprised me, and no-one seemed anxious to have us leave so we spent an hour and a half talking. We learned Martha had relapsing recurring MS and was recovering from an episode. She learned both our histories. She also told us part of the history of All Souls not included on the tour, namely the fight to make gays welcome. At one time it reached the point where one member threatened the life of the Dean and armed plain clothes police attended every service. The man was finally excommunicated and placed under a restraining order. Now gay couples who were members of the parish and those who had the same counseling as straight couples could have their union blessed. “Nothing legal about it, of course,” Martha said, “but I think the legal things are the state's business and the church shouldn't be involved anyway.”
When we left, we thanked her profusely and she thanked us as well.
Sunday morning we were awake at 7:00 and made love. Jayden was in a playful mood which always delighted me. It was 8:30 before we showered, dressed and went down for the late breakfast at 9:00. Jim and George, the hosts, had been together for over forty years. They were originally from the Midwest, retired to Florida and found too much heat was as bad as too much cold and became what was known in Asheville as half-backs, people who retired from the north to Florida and then came 'half-back'. We had a leisurely breakfast with them—the other guests had wanted an early start and ate early breakfast at 7:30.
Jayden and I had talked about going to All Souls and when we mentioned it, Jim said, “I'd be delighted to have you come with me to the 11:15 service. George sings in the choir, so I sit alone. By the way, I think you'll be surprised at the music,” and we were.
After church, Jim invited us to join the All Souls Gay and Lesbian Group for their monthly lunch which we did. There were about a dozen people around the table; most were older couples who had been together for a number of years. We were treated as guests of honor and had a great time with them. At lunch, much of the talk centered around us and the fact that we were kinda on our honeymoon. Someone suggested we take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Fancy Gap and spend the night in a bed and breakfast there. Before we knew it, we had reservations there and for the night before in Boone, about half-way to Fancy Gap.
After lunch, we went to Biltmore House for a tour. Ours began at 2:00 and the official part lasted almost two hours. Fascinating, but our docent at All Souls was far superior to the one at Biltmore House.
Monday it took us eight hours to make the four-hour drive to Boone on the Parkway. We stopped at overlooks, went to see Linville Falls and explored along the way. Both Jayden and I took tons of photos. After a quick shower, we had a good meal at a restaurant recommended by our hosts at the B & B, we came back and cuddled and made gentle love before sleeping soundly in the mountain air.
After breakfast, Jayden called to confirm our reservations at a B & B in Fancy Gap and learned there had been a fire and our B & B couldn't accommodate us. Jayden checked Google and said, “Derek, if we forgo the parkway to Fancy Gap, we can be in Stanton mid-afternoon. What do you think?”
“Babe, I have been enjoying the scenery and being with you but, if you don't mind, I'd say let's head for Stanton.”
“Let's do it. Time with your family will more than make up for scenery which will be there anytime we want to have a look. We can either head south to Wilkesboro and then head back north or we can go north and pick up I-81 outside Bristol. You know how I hate interstate highways,” Jayden said and I agreed. Besides, the scenic route took less time!
We left the B & B before 9:00, stopped in Roanoke for lunch and pulled into Grace House drive at 3:30. My dads were, of course, at work as was Mom. She‘d been making excellent progress toward her degree and was now a teacher's assistant in the Stuarts Draft Elementary School kindergarten and loving it. Since I still had my house key, I let us in. We took our traveling bags up and enjoyed a long playtime and shower. Back downstairs, Jayden suggested we go to the Center, which we did.
Brad was busy finishing the last water aerobics class of the day, but we found Sergeant Major in the office. “Come in, come in,” he said, getting up from the desk and grabbing me in a bear hug. “Looking good, Derek. You too, Jayden,” he said, embracing my Navajo. “As a matter or fact, Jayden, you look wonderful and you both kinda have that glow,” he grinned.
“Guess it's the honeymoon glow,” I laughed. Jayden blushed.
“You get married?”
“Well, Jayden left Arizona a week early and came to Macon. I had finished my summer commitment, but had a week in a cabin on the river. Jayden proposed and I accepted. We discussed it and decided we were as married as anyone else, just without the paper. So, we decided our time on the river would be our honeymoon, then decided to extend it. We went to Asheville, took the Blue Ridge Parkway and when our B & B in Fancy Gap had a fire, we decided we'd come home.”
“'Honeymoon couple back home,' I can see the headline in the Stanton paper now!”
“Jeremy been home recently?”
“He have a good summer?”
“Excellent. He spent the summer as a wilderness camp counselor and loved it although he did seem to appreciate sleeping in a bed and having a hot shower more than usual. He was looking forward to some new semester party at your place!” Sergeant Major laughed. “Guess it can be a wedding announcement party as well since you’re on your honeymoon.”
“Son and son-in-law!” Brad shouted as he came in the office door. “What a great surprise! What's this about a honeymoon?” So we told him what we had told Sergeant Major. “Aquatics practice starting in a few minutes. Care to provide some inspiration and give a demonstration?”
“I'll try, but I am definitely rusty since I haven't had a chance to swim, much less dive this summer. I made my first dive since the end of the semester last week.”
We all went to the pool and, of course, had to talk with Ms. Bianchi and Mr. Malik, then I got into some Speedos. I talked to the team about the importance of eating right, practice and getting proper rest. From my personal experience, I told them the consequences of not paying attention to your body. Then, for the first time in months, I spent half an hour diving. The old thrill was there when I stood poised on the ten-meter platform. My dive wasn't perfect—far from it—but it wasn't terrible.
When the team started diving I stood with Ms. Bianchi. “Derek, to most of these kids, that last dive would be a goal they would aim for one day, but you have serious work ahead of you.”
“Yeah, I know. I actually was considering not returning to the team. Jayden was on my case about that, but after my first dive last week, I knew I'd be back and that I'd have to work my ass off.”
“Do be reasonable about it. We don't want a repeat of last year.”
“I think my husband will make sure that doesn't happen.”
“Yeah,” I replied and told her what we had decided.
“If you are serious, you need to do what Sam and Brad have done. Find a good, gay-friendly lawyer and have documents drawn up that give you as many of the rights Haresh and I have as possible. I don't foresee marriage between same-sex couples in Virginia for years and until a state's marriages are recognized by all states it's pretty much as it is now and, if I may add, it is sheer bullshit!”
As we were talking, I was observing the divers. The team was doing well at meets and there were two potential college team divers, a brother and sister. When the divers finished, the swimmers started. Again, the team was doing well, but to my eye there were none good enough to make a college team.
I showered and got dressed. When I walked out of the locker room, Jayden was waiting for me and told me Brad had left to pick up Sam and we should just go on to Grace House, which we did.
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