I don’t think I would really classify it as a depression…even though it feels that way sometimes.
It’s more like a severe case of homesickness, I guess. Moving from the hustle and rush of a big city like Chicago to the savagely slower paced, spaced out, areas of a small town in a mostly rural community, miles and miles away from the kind of daily excitement that I’m used to…it’s just a harsh blow to the system, you know? When the most intriguing part of your home town is finding out which of your friends or classmates might be hanging out in the local Walmart parking lot…life just…seems like such a failure to me. There’s nothing wrong with it, and maybe they’re used to living like this…but I’m not. I craved the noise of buses and trains and taxis…airplanes flying overhead all day long. Parties and weekly festivals, and tourists, and skyscrapers, and live concerts in the park! Poetry cafes and open markets and Cubs games and arcades and outdoor carnivals and just…constant stimulation from a city full of energy and never-ending entertainment. But now…?
Well, let’s just say that living here is…’different’.
Life doesn’t feel like life anymore. But my dad is in the military, so moving around is a part of being in a military family. I miss home…but I don’t have enough of an argument to say that where I’m living now is so awful that I can’t bear it any longer. Other than…it’s not ‘home’. So I keep my mouth shut and just do whatever I can to deal with it. I hide my sadness by staying in my room most of the day, and I know that my mom can see it in my eyes when she looks at me. My dad feels guilty about it too, but he shouldn’t. It’s not his fault. It’s not my mom’s fault either. I think we just take turns feeling like shit sometimes, and trying to reassure one another that we’ll be just fine in the long run. That’s kind of what we do to keep some sort of stability in our lives at this point.
Imagine how disruptive things would get if I told my parents that I was gay.
Yeah…this is totally not the time to reveal that particular secret to them. Our lives are turbulent and weird enough without THAT being added to an already disabling cocktail of madness. It just makes for a difficult conversation, you know? Even if it’s the truth.
I know that I’m only fifteen years old…but I’m far from being confused about this. Girls, as beautiful as they are…simply don’t do it for me. I like boys. I don’t know why, I just….I do. Everything about boys drives me into a leg humping dog frenzy. And not just in a sexual way. Just a smile, a joke, a glance at their legs, their fingers being threaded through their soft hair as they bashfully giggle over something that I said…their bare feet…their flat chests and slender hips…I just fall all to pieces when I think about them. Dream about them. My heart gets warped to the point where I can’t even imagine being with anyone else. Ever.
And this is where Salvador comes into play…
Salvador…’Salvie’ for short…lives a few houses down from me on my block. And he’s the one reason that moving away from the city of downtown Chicago has been even remotely bearable for me. His family is, like…the ideal family. The postcard symbol of parents who worked to get the green grass in the front yard and the white picket fence to surround it. Salvie even has a growing puppy named ‘Beasty’ to play with, and a big fish tank in the living room full of angel fish. I originally started going over there to play all of the video games that I can’t afford, hehehe, but he doesn’t mind. He likes having the company. Sometimes he comes to my house for dinner, and sometimes I go to his. Plus we have our weekly movie nights, where we watch the worst movies that we can find, and laugh our asses off while making fun of them the whole way through. I mean…have you seen ‘Samurai Cop’??? Hahaha! What the hell, man?
But…it wasn’t long before my feelings began to get in the way.
Salvie was unnaturally beautiful. And it’s not like I didn’t notice that in the beginning. I knew he was cute. But it was just a matter of giggling a few times and remembering his sweet face so I could jack off over thoughts of him and me being naked together later. No big deal. I do it all the time. See a cute boy in the mall? Jack off material. Cute boy on TV? Jack off material. Cute boy on the cover of a magazine? Jack off material.
I jack off a lot, if you can’t tell. So having boys to fantasize about constantly is a must. And I need to refresh my collection of imaginary boyfriends quite frequently. Just to keep things interesting.
But Salvie sort of wrecked the curve for me by being…you know…cool. He was supposed to just be eye candy. I didn’t expect him to be so lovely as an actual person on top of it. I don’t know, maybe I’m biased…but sometimes, the cutest boys I’ve ever known in school have turned out to be so…’disappointing’. You know what I mean? You think they’re going to be these really awesome, charismatic, romantic, people…because they’re so easy on the eyes. But you try to mingle with them a bit, and they just get a casual rating of ‘meh’ at best. And that kind of takes away from the skin deep beauty that you once fell in love with so easily. But not Salvie. He was so charming, and funny, and an all around good guy. He’s a year younger than I am, but he had a crazy growth spurt over the last six months or so, and we see each other eye to eye now. He’s probably going to end up being taller than me at some point. Those long, smooth, legs of his are so hot. I found myself being attracted to him on a deeper level that I couldn’t quite fight off. A level that I had no previous experience with. It was sort of messing with my head.
Salvie’s skin was the color of bright gold. Like…literal gold. With dark brown eyes and black hair that he always had fixed to perfection whenever I laid eyes on him. With kissable lips, and kissable cheeks…omigod his whole face was just so exotic to me! Sexy and cute and only got more beautiful the longer you stared at it. He made it so hard to focus sometimes. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez, always made the most awesome dinners whenever I came over. Everything from scratch. If they bought something from the grocery store that was already made, it was usually because they couldn’t get the ingredients needed to make it themselves. And whenever I sat down at the table to eat dinner with them, Salvie and I would often tease each other by kicking one another under the table. Hehehe, he’d always get me while I was chewing so I couldn’t yelp out loud. Bastard! Hahaha!
“You boys stop that!” His mom would grin, but we never did. I had to get my revenge eventually. And the game would continue for as long as it needed to for us to both feel justified in giving one another such grief.
Sighhhh…he was so beautiful, you know? His lips would make me salivate over the idea of being able to kiss him someday. Full and lush and tempting to the eye. And when Salvie smiled…it was like the whole world had opened up to reveal a glowing treasure to all of mankind. It seriously took my breath away, each and every time. And there were times when…well…it seemed like he knew what I was thinking about him. Feeling about him. I can’t put my finger on it, but there were moments when our eyes would connect, and we’d just…share this moment of clarity. Maybe it only lasted a few seconds at a time, but it was there. I could feel it in my heart. He could feel it in his. And it was only a few nervous giggles and a few awkward evasion tactics that kept us from acknowledging it for what it really was.
Funny how that works sometimes.
I can’t say that I’ve ever really been in love before…but if this isn’t it…it’s as close to undeniable love for another boy that I’ve ever experienced up to this point. And it keeps putting pressure on me to explore this feeling to it’s fullest. Even if it terrified me, down to the bone, to get rejected and outed for being a creep.
It’s hard to get around that. It’s an obstacle that I have no previous experience with.
It was the weekend of the 4th of July when the Alvarez family invited my family over to barbecue and watch the neighborhood fireworks with them. I wasn’t really a fireworks kind of guy, but if Salvie was going to be there with his velvety soft golden skin and his seductively charming smile…I’d be there in a heartbeat. No questions asked. Every moment that I spent in his presence was like living in a fully lucid wet dream. So I was definitely down for a good time with my biggest crush, and my parents liked being close to their neighbors, so they agreed to bring some sodas over and a homemade dip, as well as some chips and hot salsa. Should make for a good time.
“Josh! S’up, man?” Salvie said, coming out to give me a hug. Mmmmm, he smells so good. And his hugs are legendary. Salvie always holds you close and squeezes tight. His body is so soft…but firm at the same time. He’s a bit wiry, his spongy abs pressed up against me, his arms wrapped around my body in the most intimate way possible. You can tell that he takes his hugs seriously. No fake or obligatory embraces here. When Salvie hugs you…he means it. You just feel the love, through and through.
“Hey, Salvie! We brought some dip.” I said.
“Really? That one that your mom makes with the guacamole and the melted cheese?” He asked, those bright brown eyes opening wide. “Score! Thanks, man!” He turned his head to call out to his father over by the barbecue grill. “Hey, Dad! Josh’s mom brought some of her primo dip!”
“Whaaaat?!?! Let me get the first shot at it!” His dad said, turning over a few burgers and putting the lid back on the grill before wiping his hands off on his apron and coming over for a taste.
Our parents had become quick friends once Salvie and I started hanging out together so much, so everybody was always treated like family whenever we came around. “Do you wanna check out our stash?” Salvie asked.
“Stash? Stash of what?”
“Fireworks, baby! Come on! You’ve gotta see this shit!”
Salvie’s mom was quick to say, “Language!”
“Sorry, Mom!” He said, but gave me a wink and a wicked grin regardless. “Come on. We’ve got them in the back of my father’s truck. Let’s go.”
“Ok!” I giggled, and hurried behind him to see what kind of firepower he was working with.
When we got to the truck, I was shocked by the amount of stuff he had to set off here in this residential area. Wow! Much more than I ever would have expected. “You see? Have you ever seen a spread like this before?” He asked.
“No way!” I said. “But, then again…fireworks are illegal in Chicago, so…”
“Illegal? Are you serious?”
“Yeah.” I told him. “I mean…they have fireworks all the time in the city, but it’s not a thing for your average citizen to just go out and buy on their own.”
“All the time? What, you mean, like…fireworks? How do you have fireworks all the time? Hehehe!” Salvie asked.
“We just do. Once the Summer hits, Navy Pier has fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday night for months. It’s kinda cool, actually.” I said, and then giggled as I saw the look on Salvie’s face. “Hahaha, what???”
“How can you guys possibly have fireworks twice a week for an entire Summer? That’s just crazy!”
“Yeah, well…Chicago is crazy sometimes. It’s one of the things I miss most about it.” I said.
Salvie smiled and said, “We might not be able to give you the kind of bi-weekly explosions that the big city can for a whole season…but I’m willing to bet that we can thrill you just the same. You’ll see.”
“I’m game.” I grinned. “Thrill me.”
Our eye contact connected for an extended moment. You SEE??? It’s that look! That look right there! It’s like…like…there’s this very thin veil of normalcy that’s keeping us from moving in and kissing each other like crazy. We just need to figure out who’s going to be the first one to do it. It’s scary…because there were more than a few times when I thought it was going to be me. I feel myself approaching a moment of truth, and his delicate lips seem to be drawing me in with ore power than I can resist these days.
We had some fun that evening, waiting for it to get dark enough to appreciate the exquisite art of setting off fireworks in your own neighborhood. An art that I never really knew existed until Salvie and his parents exposed us to it. He actually took me by the hand and led me out to the front lawn, carrying bags full of fireworks, with a few empty glass bottles and instant coffee cans full of sand to launch our mini rockets with. He really was pretty to look at, you know? Especially at a distance from the dim light of his front porch, where his graceful profile was presented to me, soft and smooth…it was like every shadow on his cute face was falling into all the right places. There was just this…regal vibe about him. Like he was a true prince. And what it even more alluring was the fact that he seemed to be absolutely clueless to it all.
I try not to stare at him the way I do…but he certainly doesn’t make it easy.
“Now…since this is your first neighborhood fireworks show, you’re going to have to learn the strategy of putting on a good show.” Salvie said.
“There’s a strategy? Hehehe, I thought the strategy was to light the fuse and run away before you get your hand blown off!”
He playfully rolled his eyes. “Blasphemy.” He grinned. “There’s more to it than that, Josh. It’s all about timing. And tools. And style.”
“Really now? How’s that?” I asked.
Getting anxious already as we put our fireworks down on the front lawn, Salvie said, “Well, like…you know your neighbors spend time and effort and money into having the best Halloween decorations on the entire block? Or…how they go all out with the Christmas trimmings?”
“The 4th of July is no different. It’s not just about the explosions. It’s about what kind of explosions. The sights. The sounds. And when you set them off.” Salvie put his arm around my shoulder to lead me closer to the street and show me some of the other houses around his neighborhood. I have to admit that it made me extremely nervous to have this much physical contact with him at that moment. He was soooo close, his body as warm and refreshing as the most comfortable of Summer days. We were almost cheek to cheek, some of his dark hair gently ‘licking’ the side of my face as we walked. The birth of a semi hard erection was inevitable…and that made walking so incredibly awkward. “Now…down the street to the left of us, we’ve got the Logan family. They usually put on a pretty decent show, but their timing can be off sometimes. More on that later, once everything gets started.” He said. “Further up the street in front of us is the Mackenzie family. They usually have their shit together, so they put on one of the best shows in the neighborhood. They’ll be our main competition this year. But I’m confident that we’ll take them down eventually. Hehehe!” Salvie has the cutest giggle that I’ve ever heard. You know that? There’s something so genuine about it. It’s so contagious that you can’t help to feel like every time you hear it is one of the best days of your life. Something you’ll remember when you’re old and gray. I still can’t believe he’s keeping his arm around me. It made my stomach flutter wildly to know that, at any moment, I could just turn my head and kiss him on the cheek without even thinking about it. Even if…I thought about it all the time. Heh…like, seriously…all the time. “Now, if you look to your right, we’ve got a Mormon family about six houses down. Those are the Taylor’s, and they’ve got, like, eight kids. Now, they usually put on a good fireworks display too, but the youngsters get anxious. So they usually end up blowing their wad pretty quickly. They start too soon and burn out too quickly. Still…they’re contenders in our neighborhood, so we make sure not to underestimate them.”
“Hehehe, you have really put a lot of thought and planning into this, haven’t you?” I said.
“Of course. Every year we all kinda take an opportunity to show off to one another.” He said, turning his head…arm over my shoulder…his tender lips just inches away from my own. As he looked into my eyes, his expression changed slightly. For a second, he looked almost as awkward as I was. “We…ummm…we think it brings the neighborhood together. Friendly competition and all that.” He was soooo close. I could do it. I know that my common sense was desperately holding on to the reign of this runaway horse…my emotions. But I could lean in and kiss him if I really wanted to. “Josh…?” He said, breathlessly…a quiver in his voice that I’ve heard before in one of our other shared moments like this one.
“…Yeah…?” I said.
He didn’t answer at first. We were both frozen. Too scared to continue. Too scared to stop. We’re feeling the same thing right now, aren’t we? I mean, I’d like to just write it off as wishful thinking…but it was more than that. I’ve been attracted to other cute boys before. None of them were ever as cute as Salvie, but…it’s not like I haven’t had my fair share of crushes since the fifth or sixth grade. I know what that feels like. I know what it’s like to fantasize about something you’ll never have, with someone you’ll never be with. But this was different. No random ‘crush’ could be this intense without the other person feeding it with some level of hope and possibility. The magnetic pull between us was just too strong. And after a short moment of silence…I could have sworn that Salvie’s face was inching its way closer to mine. Our noses were about to touch…and that’s when I saw the first bright flash of light fly up and burst in the night sky…illuminating his pretty face as his brown eyes stared deeply into my own.
“Hey! It looks like they’re getting started!” Mr. Alvarez grinned as he came around the side of the house, still holding the spatula that he was using to flip burgers on the barbecue grill. “You boys got everything ready?”
The moment was shattered, and Salvie blushed slightly as he giggled sweetly to himself and took his arm down from around my shoulders. God…I missed his touch already. My heart felt so incomplete without it.
“We were just getting ready to set up.” He said.
Mr. Alvarez asked, “Who started first? Was it the Taylor family? I’ll bet it was. We’ll let them burn up some of their stash before we get going. We’re going to be top notch this year. You just wait and see.” He smiled so wide, happy to engage in this neighborhood firework warfare…but when I turned back to look at Salvie, he almost looked relieved that he didn’t do something…irrational. And that was heartbreaking, because I wanted it. I wanted it more than anything. I just didn’t know how to tell him so.
“C’mon, dude. Let’s get our game together. It’s almost showtime.” He said.
“Ok. Just…show me what to do.”
“No prob. We’ve got this.” Salvie walked away from me to grab the fireworks and started laying them out on the lawn, but…as love stricken and invigorated as I felt, it was mixed with the bittersweet sensation of sadness over having lost another quiet moment between us. It just makes me wonder what could have happened if we hadn’t been interrupted. You know?
I’m starting to think that Salvie and I could have found a way to make a few fireworks of our own.