As I laid my head down on my pillow, reeling from the roller coaster of emotions I slid through over the course of the last few hours, something occurred to me. As humans, we are always trying to keep order of the chaos of our lives. To the point where we have roles and expectations for the people we choose to keep around us. When something is off, we identify it and try to cope with it, or fix it. When you really think about it, it’s fucked up. I mean seriously, I have enough trouble trying to control my own life, yet I try to control how someone else acts, to best satisfy the role that “I” need them to fulfill.
So I can feel comfortable and happy. Not me. Never again. From this point on, I’m only gonna worry about me. Live and let live….yeah, we’ll see how that goes hehe.
It seems to be in the wee hours that I get philosophical. Maybe it’s to do with running out of other things to think about. Adam had interrupted my sleep, but now my head was awake and I couldn’t make myself get tired. Mark was stirring, as if he was in a dark place in his head, lost in some kind of nightmare. So I reached to him, drew him in my arms, and he seemed to calm down a bit. I felt very fortunate to be sleeping next to him like this. We had a rough stretch but came through the other side closer than ever. Maybe I had made a subconscious choice to change the role he played in my life and quit trying to make him be somebody he was not. Maybe it was that acceptance that helped bring us closer together. You never can know for sure what someone else is thinking, but he seemed to reach a point of acceptance of who I am too. Maybe it’s part of growing up. Accepting the differences in one another. Cherishing those differences even. I think the entire world needs a lesson in acceptance and tolerance. I imagine we would have great potential if people would open their eyes and their hearts.
Mark went into another cycle of shifting and rotating, until his body found comfort with using me as a full length pillow. It was exactly what I needed too. The closeness and warmth brought with it a return to sleep.
Morning came too soon, as usual, but Mark and I both woke with a shared spike of energy and anticipation. We had a matinee grudge match with the hated Bears of White Bear Lake. Our biggest rival. These games always are a little more intense. A little bit cheaper and dirtier, and generally crazy. Full penalty boxes and angry parents, screaming obscenities at the refs, the players, and each other. It’s hard not to get up for a game against the Bears.
We showered and ate and patiently waited for Mark’s mom to say it was time to load up and drive into enemy territory. Adam and his buddy came down and everything seemed back to normal there. Last night really did happen and there didn’t seem to be any backlash. Shortly after breakfast, Adam’s friend had to leave. I asked Adam, “are you coming to our game?”
“Shit yeah. I’m not gonna miss a White Bear game. You guys have to slaughter them punks.”
“Yeah. We’ll try.”
“I want to see them go out in stretchers.”
Adam took his familiar place up close to me on the couch, while we digested our toast and cereal. I was glowing on the inside, and maybe the outside, too.
“Looks like you weirdos kissed and made up,” Mark observed.
“You could say that,” I responded, as Adam nudged me, worried I might say too much.
I was feeling a little cocky and maybe a little weird, so I called over to Mark “why don’t you come hug it out with us ya’ big dummy. You seem jealous or something.”
Without a single word, Mark dove on top of us and a full on battle began. It was all belly laughs and idle threats, like three puppies clawing their way through the litter to establish a pecking order. Somehow, the brothers ganged up on me and I was a goner. Until Mark’s mom bailed me out, admonishing us for messing up her nice pillows. She also announced it was time to load up for the game.
The game went off as predicted, offering excitement and energy for the fans. We took a big lead into the third and two of their players ended up getting ejected because of the severity of their cheap shots. I wouldn’t expect anything less from a kid from White Bear.
After the game we went to Jimmy John’s for celebratory sandwiches, and Mark’s mom said she needed to talk to us about something. I don’t know why, but I took it to mean trouble.
“Now boys. Hear me out before you go jumping down my throat. Landon, you know, from your team. Well, I was talking to his mother during the game and she told me about a bit of a problem she has. It seems she bought a set of tickets for Waterpark of America, but a family emergency has made it so she can’t go. So she offered them to me free of charge. They are all access passes with hotel accommodations. Worth a lot of money. Now I know you boys are getting up there in…”
“HELL YEAH,!” Screamed Adam. Interrupting him mom mid sentence. “I mean..umm…that could be cool, I guess…maybe.” He scanned back and forth between me and Mark, nervously looking for us to join in his obvious excitement of what he expected his mom to say next. It was like Mark and I had been in on the joke together, as we both sat there blank-faced, trying our hardest to look uninterested. I know inside, I was doing backflips at the prospect of taking my first trip to the behemoth water park.
“I take it you boys aren’t interested then? Like your little brother? I just thought maybe it’d be nice for you guys to do something different. Well, I’ll call her and tell her to find someone else.”
Mark waited for her to dig her phone out of her purse, until he yelled “STOP! Of course we want to go! That place is epic. I’ve always wanted to go there. So…we’re going. Right Daniel?”
“Umm…yeah sure. I’d go. Sounds like fun.”
“And of course you’d get to invite a friend too, Adam. It’s a suite, so it’s like two rooms. I’ll have one room with my Bo, and you boys would have your own room. Who would you like to bring honey? You’d need to call them pretty soon.”
“Ahh…I invite Daniel.”
“But he’s already going dear. Don’t you want to invite someone else?”
“Nope. Just Daniel.”
“Ok then. Why don’t we get home and pack up. Oh Daniel. Do we need to go by your place so you can get some things?”
“Nah. I got stuff he can wear,” Mark offered. So we went back to their house and got ourselves ready. A quick call home and we were back in the car, heading for Bloomington.
Mark’s description was pretty accurate. The place was epic. A huge twisted mass of tubes jutting out from all angles in different bright colors. Filled with the sounds of surging water and happy screams and laughter. It was summer 365 days a year in this humid, indoor jungle. We impatiently rode the elevator up to our room to get changed into our trunks and head back to the waterpark madness.
The room was amazing too. A pair of queen sized beds, adorned with a mountain of pillows. A full size couch. Mini fridge and a flat screen tv. Our own bathroom and a door to shut us off from the main suite. It was probably the nicest hotel room I’d ever stayed in. Mark and Adam were both completely naked, rifling through their bags, before I had even taken the room in. The next thing I knew, a pair of red swim trunks slapped across my face.
“Come on twinkle toes. Let’s get going.”
I glanced over just as the last of Mark’s nakedness disappeared behind his black shorts. Adam was standing ready as well in his yellow trunks. I shyly turned away and took off my jeans and boxers.
“Would you look at that sweet ass,” Mark joked.
“Mmm…mmm. Sweet as candy,” Adam responded.
I felt my cheeks blush from their ribbing. Both sets. Is it possible for your butt cheeks to blush? I’m pretty sure mine did. I drew up the drawstring and noticed these shorts were too big for me. “Umm…Mark? These shorts are too loose on me.”
“Yeah, I know. They’re too big for me too. That’s why I gave them to you.”
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep them up.”
“Ahh…you’ll be fine.”
“Yeah right. Half my ass is hanging out.”
“Yup. Looks good,” Adam added. Not wanting to be left out of the fun.
“Just tie em’ up a lot. You’ll be good. Anyway, your dick should hold the front up.”
They both got a good laugh out of Mark’s last comment. Not wanting to be a downer, I said “whatevs. Guess I’ll just show all these strangers my ass all night.”
“Don’t worry about it. Everybody will love it.”
We went down to the maze of slides and spent the next three hours having a blast. It was like being seven again. Running, sliding, splashing, shouting. I had minimal problems with the oversized trunks. I did tie them up over and over, but it seemed to work pretty good. When we got tired and hungry, we went back to the room and laid on the beds watching tv and eating room service pizza. After our stomachs settled, we went back for another round of water sports.
Usually I hate swimming. Chlorine has never been to kind to me. My eyes swell up and itch for days, and my nose plugs up for a week. This was different for some reason. Maybe it was the fact that you’re only in the water for short spells, but I wasn’t getting my usual reaction. We stayed in the waterpark until curfew, when they made us leave and only the drunk adults could use the slides. Something about that combination seems like a bad idea, but they can do what they want.
When we got back to the room the place was all ours. We took turns showering and when no one was looking, I slipped out and went to the snack shop I saw in the hotel lobby. I picked up some treats and brought them back to the room. We piled on one of the beds and ordered a pay-per-view. It was getting late and we were tired, waterlogged boys, so the two brothers dropped off fairly quickly. Being the one who’s always the last one awake, I stayed on and finished the movie. About the time I was going to knock off, Mark’s mom came back. From what I could tell, they had a good time. Constant giggling and slurred talking told me so.
The two boys had all but taken away the one bed with sprawled limbs and the hijacked pillows, so I decided to occupy the other bed. At least then I’d be able to stretch out and have a pillow of my own. I was happily surprised to wake up later with someone snuggled in tight behind me, with a comforting arm thrown over my chest. I didn’t want to disturb him by moving, but I was putting my money on it being Adam.
The next morning I confirmed it. Adam was the one who switched beds to sleep with me. In the unfairness of my life, I was the first one awake, after being the last one asleep. I just operate on less sleep than most people I guess. We were treated to a really nice breakfast buffet before heading back home. It was an awesome surprise weekend outing, but the drop off back home was a reminder that the next day started another week of school. Time to start the countdown to the next weekend.
The week flew by pretty fast as the days continued to get longer and warmer. We’d made plans for Mark to stay at my house on Friday. I was temped to try and get Adam over, but it never got past the idea stage. The idea never even left my head, for that matter.
We had a hockey practice Friday night and then Mark came home with me. We quickly retreated to my room and pretty much stayed in there for the rest of the night.
As the night started winding down and we both started to yawn a lot, Mark announced “I’m going to the bathroom to get ready for bed.”
In reverse to his house, he went first and I followed. I came back to find him under the covers with his hands behind his head. I crawled in bed and put out the light. We laid in silence for a while, as our eyes adjusted to absence of light. Little did I know that I was about to have one of the most important conversations I’d ever had with Mark.
“Can I ask you something?”
“It’s kind of a big deal so promise you’ll be honest.”
“What the? Dude…I don’t know.”
“Come on. It’s not that huge. Just promise, ok?”
“Uhh…ok. What is it?”
“Do you and Adam mess around?”
I was stunned. It was not what I was expecting Mark to ask me at all. I didn’t know how to answer him. I said I’d promise to be honest, but now I wasn’t so sure. He’d really put me in the corner.
“Well? I won’t be mad if you do. I’m just curious. Adam told me he has a special friend and I think it might be you. You guys are always touching and stuff, soooo…is it you?”
“Umm…damn dude. You really caught me off guard. Umm…we’ve…umm…messed around a few times, but nothing like hardcore or anything.”
“Aha! I knew it. I knew it was you. Haha.”
“I’m sorry Mark. It just…kind of happened. We don’t need to anymore.”
“Dude! Chill out. I don’t care. He was just bragging about it and I kind of figured it was you. He didn’t want to tell me who it was.”
“He called me a special friend?”
“Yeah. So last year when we were still living in California, he walked in on me and a friend when we were doing stuff and of course he asked me about it. I explained there are friends and special friends. You know, friends that are more than friends.”
“You had a special friend in California?”
“I never would have guessed that.”
“You are the most girl crazy guy I know.”
“Nah. Just horny. Like ridiculously horny all the time.”
“I know the feeling.”
“You and Adam don’t need to stop or anything. At least you’re getting some action.”
The conversation pretty much ended there. I was still in disbelief that he had figured me and Adam out, and was actually okay with it. I was also stunned that he had messed around with a boy, too.
Just when I didn’t think things could get more insane, Mark dropped this bomb. “I wonder if it’d be too weird if we became special friends?”
“You and me.”
I wanted to say something, but I was at a total loss for words. This can’t be real.
Mark filled the silence with, “I’ve thought about it for a while, but I didn’t know how you’d react, so I never asked, but now with you and Adam…I don’t know…maybe.”
Again, I was too afraid to respond. All I could do was lay there on my back with my heart trying to beat itself out of my chest and a giant lump in my throat. I was stunned paralyzed. The one thing I’ve been thinking about more than anything else for the last six months. Here he is asking me what I think about us getting together, and I clam up.
“G’nite,” Mark finally said, rolling onto his side, away from me.
It took me about five minutes to find my voice, but I finally did manage to squeak out, “ye…yeah… I…I’ve thought about that too.” My voice shaky and soft. It didn’t elicit a response from Mark. I don’t know if he was already asleep, or if I said it too quiet, or if he suddenly didn’t know what to say. I waited a few more minutes, not moving a muscle. All I could think was that I just lost my chance. He opened that door and now it was shut. He won’t bring it up again, and I was probably to chicken to ever approach the subject. I sadly laid there, comatose, until sleep finally took me.