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August 7, 1998
a year ago

Enjoying Summer

I heard John riding his bike at 6:30 a.m. and promptly fell back asleep in my warm bed. Then I had this thought about sneaking into Mark's bed and snuggling him while he slept. I fought with the thought, terrified that he'd not want me there, and that I shouldn't assume that and that it would be nice to just be able to hold him and stuff, and well, admittedly, I enjoy, a lot, really, literally, just sleeping with someone that I love and trust. It's something that I do rarely, and with John's blessing when I do. The rare bit has been, in part, folks that don't seem to get that sleeping really means sleeping. That's not for John's sake, but for my own.

So there's this huge debate going on in my head and I finally get tired of it, and realize that the only way I'm going to get an answer is to go down and ask. So I go down, sneak open the door, and Mark's completely and soundly asleep. No way to ask him without waking him up and... well... I sneak back upstairs and go back to sleep pretty easily now that the question is, in one way or another, settled. That was kinda funny how easy it was to sleep after that, and I just slept another two or three hours.

Then I woke up and did my knee exercises for the first time in nearly a week. With all the work that was going on, I have been getting home so exhausted and hungry that all I could think of was food and then sleep. My body reminded me that it's been way too long and that I really should be doing this more often. Really, really, really should be...

Wandered down later and sat on the floor and talked through the day's possible activities with him after I heard him up a bit. Fezzik came and lay down next to me, so I petted him a lot. And as we're talking through possible errands I might run and where we'll go to get Fezzik to the Park and when we'll watch some Buffy and what we'll do for lunch and when and all that, I'm gradually building courage.

He's entirely passive, entirely reasonable, and totally undemanding in his usual way. Drove me nuts for a while, as I have to admit that I couldn't stand always being the instigator of things after a while. I'm used to John who does most of the starting up, and I'm used to being an introvert who doesn't initialize much. I do start some things. Thing is that with Mark, I kept feeling like I had to start everything, which built huge reserves of resentment.

But, sometimes, for a change of pace, it's good to have to get the courage to start something and not have someone preempt me.

So I told him that I was scared to touch him, that I didn't think he would want that from me, that, from his reactions, I couldn't tell if he wanted my touch at all, so I asked him if it would be okay.

He answered that it would, and then half laughingly added a reference to our past that had me off the floor and hugging him, back no longer to a wall.

It felt a little bit like a dam breaking. Some odd feeling of laughter in the core of my heart. I dunno. It was just nice to be close again, to trust again, and to just laugh and not worry about getting sexually pushed or anything. Just to touch and hug close.

He's gained a lot of weight since I last saw him. The funny thing was that it didn't seem to matter a damn. It was him. Flynn's always noted that I'm much better about not letting physical appearances and actualities get in the way if I really love the soul in the fleshy envelope. I've always kinda felt that physical touches are simply a way at getting at the person inside. That to touch them is the real goal, and well, the touch might have to go through meat, but that's the side issue.

Breakfast included using the biscuits from the Black Diamond bakery which were just starting to fuzz a bit. We cut the fuzzy bits off, which were fairly tiny and then putting canadian bacon, eggs and cheese on 'em.

We then took Fezzik to Marymoore park, to the off-leash dog area. It was such a beautiful day, but the area had some sections closed off because they needed work. And since it was a weekday, there weren't many people or animals there. But we found a few and Fezzik raced about happily with the small pack that was there, running and swimming and playing and bouncing and all that.

For the past several weeks I've been wearing a black Xilinx baseball cap, mostly to keep my hair from flying everywhere as we drive around in the topless Stoat. The weather has been so amazingly clear for so long we've just been using the Stoat as our regular vehicle. The blackness of the cap doesn't show the blue from my hair, so it's good that way, too. Mark was about as white as paper, and since he'd already been burnt from a hike the previous weekend, I lent him the cap for the time in the open in the park, so his head wouldn't burn. He had shaved his head a week or two ago and he was just getting fuzzy, like napped velvet, smooth one way, bristly the other. I had fun rubbing his head for good luck while I was coding yesterday.

John got a close buzz cut just a few days ago, so I was rubbing his head, too, now and then. It was kinda keen.

Eventually it was down to one really active girl dog and Fezzik and she was a little intimidated by him. But then she started to run around and then bounce off him from the side. Full body slams, and her owner was a little worried about it, and called her off after Fezzik turned to meet her by rearing up and wrestling with her. That's when I laughed and got Fezzik and said that it would probably be okay, but he'd be sore the next day as he's ten. She was completely flabbergasted by that, as she knew that most Newfies die around eight or so, and that she thought he was about three or four, at most.

It was kinda funny to see how surprised she was.

Anyway... it was such a lovely day for Fezzik to be running about wet. So he did. We put him outside, in the run, while we curled up together on the couch to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer from Episode one on. That was very keen and fun to share with him, as the episodes make so much more sense when seen in continuity rather than at random.

We both were hungry by then, so we went to the nearby Taco Time, as Markleford hadn't experienced that, yet, so he got to. Veggie burrito with the novel bean sprouts were his along with a crisp beef burrito. Yeah. The Northwest interpretation of Mexican food. I had fun with a beef taco and a crisp bean burrito, what I usually get. We shared a pop.

When we got back to the house I called the Washington State ferry system for ferry times from Seattle to Bremerton after the first two episodes, and then called John.

Only programmers may understand this, but after spending a week furiously coding to a design that I'd made up in my head, it was almost... frightening... to find out that after John added the linkages, the entire class structure and system worked pretty much as expected. That was scary. It was also very cool.

We then talked through meeting up with John, getting to the right ferry in time and dinner ideas and thoughts. Most of which boiled down to figuring it out when we got there and saw how much time there was. With the forty minutes or so before we had to leave for John's, Mark and I rediscovered intimacy at the touch level. That was unexpected, to realize that even without the need on either side, that effect was so sweet. Sometimes what I need the most has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with light, gentle, graceful, and near dancing touch at multiple levels, physical and emotional. And it was almost most startling after all the time when we weren't touching.

Don't know quite how to clarify that, other than by delving a bit into the past, because years ago, when we were together, there was nearly no time when he and I were in the same physical vicinity that we weren't touching, one way or another. After he lessened his dependence on me it wasn't all returned. It was one of my problems in that he didn't need to touch me nearly as much as I wanted to touch him. After he had worked through his dependence on me, the level that he'd needed at the early stages was too much for him, and I couldn't recalibrate. I felt betrayed, in some ways, by the change in expectation and desire. And, on my side, it was a very cool and self-discovering thing that this time around, there was none of that desperation on *either* part. It was all the much more better for that.

Half forgot about the time, so when we looked up we were a bit late to reach John by 6 p.m., so I called him and we took off to get him and his mountain bike and got to the office around 6:15, to find him finishing off the last bits of a build. Yay! Okay, fifteen minutes late may not be late in some books, but it is in mine.

We loaded up the mountain bike on the roof rack of the Stoat and drove into Seattle with the bike on top. It was funny at what points we had to be careful because of the bike's height on top of the car. But we made it, found out that the local place for good cheesesteaks that Tom had pointed out to me and which John had also found, earlier, was closed that late in the evening. We have to go there for lunch or not at all, it seems.

It was very cool to sit in the Stoat and lean against John and enjoy the drive and realize that there wasn't an ounce of anxiety in me this day for the fact that Mark simply sat and watched the world go by.

We made it in plenty of time for the ferry, and stopped by an old-fashioned sports store in downtown Seattle to see if they'd have the Converse Hightops John had been thinking of for me. Sadly, they were closed. We made it to the ferry terminal in plenty of time for the ferry, so much time, in fact, that we bought drinks at the Starbuck's there before moving to the Paid lounge and watching the activity on the waterfront.

The huge U.S. battleships and a few other Navy vessels were docked by the waterfront for folks to look at, since Seafair was happening. Lots of stuff on the water, including hydro races and the Blue Angels flying overhead and stopping traffic and everything. Good reasons to avoid the City during the day on the weekend. For the moment, though, it was marvelous. John got kidded by the ticket lady, who said that his shirt, which was a Big Dogs Hawaiian shirt with lots of Big Dogs hidden in the greenery, just screamed tourist. He laughed and said he was born here, and she recoiled in mock horror at not being able to tell the natives from the tourists. That was funny.

We filed onto the ferry eventually and wandered about the top deck, feeling the wind, moving to the bow and watching a guy on a lower deck feeding seagulls with a bag of bread. He'd hold out pieces for them at arms length and they were long pieces so that the bird could grab it without taking his hand, and he did beautifully as did the seagulls. A friend of his was not nearly so skilled, pulling his hand away at the last moment a lot, and panicing when they got too close. So that he nearly tossed one bird into the ship. Poor bird. So it was likely a good thing that he just tossed the rest of his bread overboard. The first guy, though, kept feeding them even after the ship started out into the Sound. The wake in the air from the boat allowed the seagulls much better floating abilities, and they could just hang in the air boiling over the ship, controlling their flight with just small flips of their wings.

The sun was starting to slant down, so the light was golden and gorgeous, and it was so amazing to see this flock of seagulls just hanging in the wind, in near formation off the air currents of the ferry pushing its way forward.

The three of us then went down to the car deck, into the teeth of the wind, to listen to the rhythm of the engines against the water. But it was one of the newer ferries, so had much more insulation against the engine sounds than the old ones. That was kinda sad to find out. We walked all the way to the stern, my coin pant flapping like crazy as we walked down the corridor, and while it was louder back there, it was simple, straightforward engine sounds, not the complications added by the slap of the sea against hull. So we went back front, and as we hit deeper water, there was some of the same sound, but not all of it. Not the ticking of loose things, or the slap of water as loud as a drum slap, nor the variation on tone through water density changes.

It was there, though. Just more even, smoother, less variant.

Eventually, we had to stop at the other side, and as the cars had to unload, we had to get off the car deck to the upstairs areas. I picked a window to see the city of Seattle as it glowed in the setting sun and where we could see various bit of the bay around the ferry terminal on Bainbridge Island. It was dark out there, and getting darker, and while we sat, the sun probably set. After the ship started to move again, we moved to the bow and watched the moon rise, brilliant, silver, huge and bright over the shining City. Lights were coming on in the darkness, and for a while the sky was the color of my hair.

Mark was reading on of the local publications, looking at job stuff, at articles and stuff. John was outside in the air, leaning against the railing and happily pantomimed mooning me to get me to look at the moon. I needed both, in some ways. John's so good about getting me to explore external things, new places, new ways, finding new paths and new things to do. Mark's always been good at the internal things that he's had to fight himself. Helping me by asking me when I really do want to do something, if a boundary is worth pushing or not. Both are dear to me. John's learning to ask me, too. And there are likely external things I might explore with Mark, someday too.

But it was nice to see 'em both.

After we got back to the City, we went to The Spaghetti Factory and had spaghetti and salads and talk. It was casual, fun and cool. Mark and John sitting together on one side and me on the other. I got complimented on my hair by a waiter who thought, for a little while that it was just the light.

We rode back in the Stoat, under that silver moon. It was cold after it got dark, and the central seat doesn't have a back, so the wind cuts right through, so I was huddled between the two of 'em, arms under each of their arms to keep warm.

It was very nice to curl close to John's warmth after getting back home and into bed. Yum. We talked some, too, and I told him about my adventures of the day, and he hugged me close, glad that I was finally able to work through all the ghosts that had haunted me for so long.

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