On The Outside

Chapter 21

Leaving Drew's house wasn't easy that day.

I mean, don't get me wrong...it's not as though I left unsatisfied. Nothing could be further from the truth. We had enough hot boy-sex that afternoon to lull my entire body into a state of total relaxation. You know how you feel when you sit in one of those inflatable inner tubes and just lazily float down a calm river on a hot Summer day? That's the only feeling that I have to compare this euphoric state of bliss to. Like...I just wanted reality itself to take the wheel for a while and carry me down stream until I reached the tranquil waters of a reservoir at the end. I didn't want to think or stress out about anything at all. Just wanted to 'drift'. Drew was the only person in existence that could create this feeling in me and have it work out so well. I found myself sitting on the bus ride home, staring blankly at an advertisement in Spanish for local college registration...my eyes glazed over, and my heart pumping out these feel good vibes in excess while I smiled goofily at nothing.

I know...I'm a basket case about my Drew. But I'm glad. There's something so liberating in knowing that there's someone out there that you'd be willing to fall all over yourself for, and not feel a moment's shame about it. It gives life an added layer of meaning, you know?

But, even in my supposedly 'enlightened' state of mind, I still felt the anchor of keeping our love a secret from the rest of the world weighing me down. Preventing this incredible feeling from being all that it could be. Ruining its potential and eating away at my joy from within. Why couldn't I let it go? Why not just come clean and say, "Hey! Mom? Dad? I'm SO in love with another boy right now!!!" and have that be ok? I feel the utter terror in doing such a thing, but I can't say that I fully understand why the fear is there at all. Every answer that I come up with seems like more of a lame excuse than a legitimate reason to keep my mouth shut. And that only causes more confusion. Because I want, so badly, to be happy...but there's this stupid 'obligation' to the comfort of the rest of the world, that I never agreed to and receive no benefit from, holding me back. Putting pressure on my brain. Dismissing the joy in my heart and replacing it with doubt and guilt. WHY??? Why is it there? And how do I get rid of it?

Is my social brainwashing powerful enough to destroy the greatest part of my life? As hard as I work to get rid of the stigma...an ugly piece of it always remains. Always.

I feel damaged for paying it any attention at all. It's an insult to everything we share as boyfriends. I'm so sorry, Drew. The second I figure out how to abandon this hesitant feeling altogether, I will. And then it'll just be me and you against the world. I promise. Just you wait and see!

By the time I had gotten home, Drew had already sent me a test to say, "Miss your face! Love you!" Hahaha, whatever that means.

With a giant grin, I texted, "Miss your face too, cutie pie! Love you back!" And I immediately felt a warm shower of happy sensations cascade down over my shoulders and drain down to my toes. I actually heard myself sigh out loud. There was something so crazy about all this. It just keeps getting better. Ugh...just IMAGINE what I might have missed out on if I never took a shot at being this deeply in love?

I spent most of my night in a daze. My brain gliding from one thought to another, not really focusing on anything of importance. Just mental 'noise', I guess. But my mom took notice of my mood once I started clearing the dirty dishes off of the dinner table that night. Was it my far away look? Or maybe my unusual silence? Whatever it was, she knew that I was heavily preoccupied with something and decided to ask me what was going on before I started cleaning up. "Ethan? Do you want to sit down?"

Normally, that would be an easy 'no'. I wasn't so keen on having a heart to heart with my mom these days. There's just this natural allergic reaction to asking your parents for help and comfort when you're a teenager. It lessens your credibility somehow. I'll never get myself a driver's license if I let her slip back into protective 'mommy' mode. But...tonight was different. There was a burning question on my mind, and I couldn't quite figure out what it was just yet. My long afternoon with Drew had sparked something within me, and I couldn't help but to poke and prod at the emotion a little bit, just to see what it would do. You know?

"Yeah." I said. "Maybe for a minute." I sat across the dinner table from her, and she gave me a warm smile.

"I can see your wheels spinning." She said. "What's got you all fired up tonight?"

I thought about the most careful way to explain what was going on with me. "I don't know. Just thinking, I guess. About...stuff."

"Stuff, huh?" She said. "There's nothing more perplexing than 'stuff'. Am I right?"

I smirked, but still felt a bit lost as to how to breach the subject at hand. A little uncomfortable, I shuffled my way over to the table and sat down on the opposite side. I guess she was waiting patiently for me to find the right words to start things off, but I didn't have any faith in finding them. "I just...I feel like I'm in between lives sometimes. If that makes any sense." I could tell from her furrowed brow that it didn't make much sense to her at all. So I tried again. "I feel like I'm stuck between who I was and who I want to be. There's, like...all these thoughts in my head, and I feel like I should step up and be bigger and better...I just don't know where that's going to lead me." I peeked up at her to see if my rambling made any more sense to her than it did to me. How do I approach this without telling her that I went from trying to get off to lesbian porn in order to fix this defect in me, to coming home after a full day's worth of penetrative sex with my loving boyfriend, in just a matter of a month or two?

My mom seemed to be trying to treat this just as delicately as I was, but she clearly needed some more information. "Well, I guess that you're at an age when your identity is still trying to find its own stride, and that can be a little confusing. But you'll figure it out, little by little, when the time is right."

"That's just it..." I told her. "I feel like the time is now. I kinda want to figure out who or what I'm supposed to be. I think it's starting to bug me." I paused for a moment, more tongue tied than ever, and then I started to get up from the table. "I'm sorry. This is weird. Forget I said anything..."

"No, no, honey. It's ok. Sit. I'm listening." She insisted. "Ethan, I realize that you're growing up and that sometimes there's this mad dash to race to the end and have everything all figured out...but life just doesn't work that way. You can't 'chase down' who you are. You just have to blossom in your own way, and at your own pace. There's no hurry. Trust me, your father and I are still trying to figure stuff out, and we've had a heck of a lot more practice than you have." She reached for my hand, and said, "Something tells me that if you follow your heart, and enjoy the experience, you'll turn out just fine."

"I hope so." I replied softly. "The last thing I'd ever want to be is...'disappointing', you know?" Thinking back to Drew, I began to realize that it was being less than amazing in his eyes that was bothering me most. I never wanted to mean so much to another person before. It just compelled me to be the best that I can be. At all times. He deserves nothing less.

My mom leaned back in her chair with a smirk, and she said, "Do you remember when we used to take you to Little League practice on Saturday mornings?"

That was random. I groaned, "Oh God, please don't remind me..."

She chuckled, "We'd drop you off right in front of the Rec center, and you'd wave goodbye as you ran to the field with this great big smile on your cute little face. And we'd come back later to pick you up and you would tell us that you were having SO much fun!"


"You said that you were the very best player on the whole team, and that you had made so many new friends, and the coach wanted you to be the 'team leader'. You remember that?"

With a roll of my eyes, I said, "Ok, so...I might have embellished a little bit."

"You embellished a lot." She said. "Then, of course, came time for us to go see you play. You tried to stop us from coming, but you couldn't do anything to keep us away."

My mother snickered to herself, and even though I turned bright red, I couldn't help but to giggle myself. Thinking back to that day, I remember how utterly AWFUL I was at playing baseball! I couldn't bat, or run, or catch, or throw...I was miserable. NO friends! Not on that field. And my coach would always start popping antacids whenever he had to call on me to do much of anything. Talk about being caught red handed in a lie. "Hehehe, yeah. I remember. I guess I wasn't exactly the best player on the team, was I?"

She said, "I didn't come to watch the best player on the team play. I came to watch my son play. Good or bad, win or lose. I wanted to see the real Ethan in action, and I did. Mission accomplished. No disappointment required."

Shrugging off the compliment, I said, "Come on, Mom...that had to be a MAJOR embarrassment for you and Dad that day. I wanted to hide my face from the whole world that day."

"I know you did. And do you remember what happened after the game?"

Thinking back, I grinned and said, "You took me out for pizza and milkshakes, and then we came home and watched that goofy killer robot movie on the Sunday matinee channel. Heh..."

"That's right." She said. "So what changed?"

"Nothing, really. That channel always had some goofy flick playing on Sundays." I said, and saw her nodding. "Plus...other stuff."

"No matter what, faults and flaws and mistakes aside...don't ever feel like you have to lie about who you are. Don't ever worry about being a disappointment to anybody. I would much rather have you be happy, being true to yourself...then making yourself miserable lying to someone else. Love who you are, without exception, and other people will have no choice but to do the same."

Despite the sentiment striking a chord with me, I looked down at the table cloth and asked, "What if who I am isn't exactly...welcome?"

"What if my morning commute to work is slower because of a storm? What am I going to do? Deny that it's raining?" She grinned. "Truth is truth. They'll just have to deal with it, won't they?"

"If you say so..." I mumbled.

"I do say so. Look..." I could hear her chair scoot closer to the table as she now took both of her hands to hold mine. "...Ethan, if you're feeling stuck between lives right now, it might be because you're losing sight of who you think you are, and trading it in for what you think you want. Those don't have to be two different decisions, babe. Who you are should determine what you want, not be a distraction from it. Nothing gets easier just because you avoid the pressure of truth. Don't ever lie about who you are, ok?"


"No buts." She said. "When you do that, you learn to love the lie more than you love yourself. And you're better than that. You hear me?"

"Ok..." I said, hoping to find an escape from the conversation as a whole. Not that it was bad, it was just getting a bit...emotional for me, and I wasn't sure how I was going to handle things if they got any deeper.

"You take all the time you need to figure out who you want to be, hon. And when you find your spot, you stand proud and protect it with everything you got. Good or bad. Win or lose."

With a bashful smile, I peeked up at her watery eyes and said, "No disappointments required?"

"No disappointments required." She answered, and rubbed the top of my head to mess up my hair a little. "Go. I'll take care of the dishes tonight. Take some time to think about 'stuff'."

"It's ok, Mom. I can wash everything up. It's no biggie."

"Go. I'm giving you an official pardon this evening. Go before I change my mind. Don't get used to it though." She got up and walked over to the sink, but before I left the kitchen, I walked over and hugged my mom from behind and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

"Love you, Mom. Thanks for the help."

Geez, what's she getting all emotional about? It was just a kiss on the cheek. God, knows what would happen if I took her out to dinner or something. Parents are weird.

With a sniffle, she said, "Well, sometimes we moms know a lot more than you think we do."

She didn't go into any further detail about that last statement, a collection of words that would have TERRIFIED me a few weeks ago. So I asked, "What is that supposed to mean?"

She gave me a kiss and said, "It means that your father and I love you very much. That's what it means. And it's our job to be here when you need us. No matter what. Ok?"


I guess that will have to be an annoying splinter in my mind until she either gets the courage to explain herself, or I get the courage to ask her to explain herself. I don't know...one of us is going to have to make the first move in that direction, and I don't know if I'm ready to do that just yet.

Ugh! Does she know about me? I really hope she doesn't. Oh God, that would be SO humiliating! Me trying to hide my secret from her, and she's laughing behind my back the entire time because I suck at playing hide and seek with my sexuality. I'd much rather tell her some day and have it be a total surprise, you know? Otherwise...I'm gonna feel like such a lame bastard. Maybe she can 'pretend' not to know or something? I mean, that would be cool, right?

Whatever. When I went to my room, I laid back on my bed and just...contemplated life for a while. Lost in a world of 'what if' while contemplating the fully realized idea of being with the one person that I truly felt would be worthy of my unrestricted affections. I don't know...I'm starting to think that being head over heels in love with Drew might just be...OK! You know?

Is that weird? Hehehe, I don't know, but...I think I'm too infatuated to really tell the difference between 'risk' and 'danger' at this point. If it's risk, then Drew is totally worth it. Without question.

But...if it's danger? If I'm exposing myself to something that's ultimately going to disrupt and possibly destroy my life as I know it...I might want to wait and think things through for a little bit longer. Or at least come up with a better strategy than 'let my sloppy, unpredictable, emotions yank me into a world of trouble that I can't ever find my way out of once I'm in the thick of it.'

My mom doesn't know I'm gay, does she? My dad? Oh God, not my dad! For some odd reason, I'd rather my mom know about me than my dad. I don't know why, but I feel like that would be infinitely more embarrassing! Because...I don't know. He's a guy. And I'm a guy. We're supposed to have this...'bond', you know? Something that mom's aren't supposed to understand. How humiliating would it be if I shattered that bond by not being manly enough for my dad and I to...exist on the same 'side'. If that makes sense.

I guess tonight's talk could be seen as a bittersweet moment of connection. Not so great, but not so bad either.

I wish I didn't have to sit here and struggle with these thoughts all the time. I wish I could have just been born liking girls, so I could follow the boring, textbook, map towards being a happy and well-adjusted young man like the rest of my friends. Jermaine, Billy, and Joey, never had to worry about this stuff. Not that they were 'worry free' once puberty hit...but I'm willing to bet that their evolution is anywhere NEAR as torturous and confusing as mine is now.

I can't say that I was expecting this puberty and first love thing to be easy, because I didn't. I just...I wish I was on a level playing field as everybody else. I wish I had a fair shot, you know? Instead of being unfairly plagued with worry and rejection and the overwhelming threat of rejection and heartbreak. I just want to be normal. Like everybody else.

Without this intense pressure to be accepted, without the bullying and the whispers and the gossip...I'd like to think that Drew and I would not only be happy together, but we'd end up being the standard for what a happy couple looks like in the eyes of our peers. Like...'WOW! We could have a happy life too, if only we could be more like Drew and Ethan!'

Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part. Who knows?

But SOMEDAY...there are going to be two boys who fall in love with one another, and that love is going to be more than enough to warrant applause and good wishes from everyone around them. Without question. Without shame. With no 'disappointment' required.

It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow...it might not even be during my lifetime...

But ONE day...this kind of joy will be valued just as much as it deserves to be valued. The same way that love of all sorts is valued around the world. And I hope that more boys find out what it's like to kiss a boy like Drew on the lips and shiver from the ultimate thrill that it brings them.

Yeah...I think I'm getting a better idea of what I want out of life and who I want to be. It wasn't what I was expecting, but...that only makes it all the more exciting, doesn't it? Hehehe!

I think I'm ready. I really do.

Let's see where things go from here...