Pablo Michael’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Sorting Through My Voyages
Sorting through my photographs captured from my college days, I am distraught by my lonely life. I lay flat on my back, staring at one picture taken when my partner at that time, Efrem, and I had a rendezvous with Jarrod and Sam, two male lovers who were friends of my partner, introduced through their professions. Jarrod and Sam lived on their small yacht docked in Morro Bay. We had driven down the coast to stay on their boat on a hot weekend in early May. As a college student, I was naïve to sailing on the ocean, but my partner accepted a weekend of sailing on the Pacific Ocean. I should have known I would be overwhelmed with their lifestyle, living on a boat, romantically spending their lives sailing, fishing and making love above the sometimes treacherous waters. They related stories when the ocean’s turbulence became so rough their vessel barely remained afloat.
When we arrived on Friday morning, Morro Bay shimmered like sheen of mirrored glass, brown Pelicans flying horizontally above. After I was introduced and our luggage stored below, we set sail over the calm, blue ocean. Jarrod and Sam, already wearing swim trunks, advised Efrem and me to go below to change into our swimsuits so we could enjoy the sun as we sailed north to the pier at Hearst Castle, where we would have lunch.
When we departed Morro Bay, Jarrod and Sam hoisted all the sails for the light breeze. I was amazed how fast the boat sailed over the low ebb of waves. But when we passed Port San Luis, the wind picked up speed. Two sails were lowered leaving one to speed the way to our destination. I was standing on the deck a short distance from the mast when a strong gale hit the lone sail and tipped the boat into a spin. I fell flat on my ass, cushioned only by my brief, nylon bikini Speedo. I looked up at the other guys when a wave surged over, washing Efrem next to me, both of us clutching the mast with all our strength. Jarrod steered the rudder while Sam attempted to control the steering wheel. With my back pinned to the deck, I felt the surge of a rogue wave and its accompanying ocean spray sweep over me. Jarrod, Sam, and Efrem laughed at my debacle because my Speedo clung to my ankles. The force of the wave swashing the deck had also lowered Jarrod’s and Sam’s baggy trunks past their thighs, revealing their masculine manhood. Efren’s swimsuit remained intact.
That photograph brought back pleasant memories, even though I was aware Efrem was studying their gay relationship as well as me, but I was more interested in the adventure of this weekend away from the urban metropolis where I resided, than worrying about his perceptions.
That night, our sleeping quarters were too close but for me to listen and envy the sounds outside our room when I went through the motions of sex with Efrem when he pounced on me. I heard the love machine across the galley where Jarrod and Sam were fucking just like us. I craved the romantic feast sizzling between Jarrod and Sam when I heard their moans and sighs. Hungering for them, I decided at that moment to leave Efrem behind to assimilate the statistics for his psychological research of gay men. I wanted no part of his study but only the romantic life Jarrod and Sam led.
Staring at the picture again, I realized this yacht ventured for different destinations that weekend while we explored the Pacific Coastline near Morro Bay. Jarrod and Sam sailed on a voyage of love bound by their carefree existence on the ocean. Efrem traveled through people to propel his psychological career. And I embarked on journeys in search of romantic adventures with other men.
I set the photograph down while thumbing through various pictures from the same era. Memories of past lovers drifted by, some pleasant to remember, others painful. I picked up another photograph of a landscape scene, I kept to remind me of a fantasy retreat, where I had hoped to live in my later years. When I decided to construct my life at a young age of eighteen, I created a place in my dreams, similar to this scene. Staring intently and scrutinizing the landscape, I barely visualize a cabin, where I planned to write stories from my life’s experiences. The mirage causes me to ask questions about the path of life I chose to walk with the various partners I loved. I see the rustic cabin where I would sit, writing about love. The setting doesn’t seem as appealing as when I was young. My soul is tarnished by disconnected communication of too many beautiful men who had passed, having shallow dreams. I didn’t want to venture into this solitude. What had I accomplished; who had I loved; and who had tried to love me? Understanding I never found this retreat during the many years of my voyages, I set the photograph down with the rest. Efrem probably wrote my epitaph. It’s best to leave this final image for my final resting place while I still have time to live like Jarrod and Sam.
I close the album of photographs from my past, yearning to know more about the love shared between Jarrod and Sam. I listened to voices beckoning me. “Kiss me once, I might kiss you back. Kiss me twice; that might be a start. Kiss me thrice, who knows what the outcome will be. You were not a subject to be studied but only a man seeking a rendezvous with love and adventure like you did with us when we sailed on the yacht. Thrill seeker- yes. Voyeur yes, until you can find a better man to love.”
I decide to live another day. What dream should I pursue tonight? My photo album had the answer, even in my senior years. Love is available, if I look.
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Pablo Michaels writes LGBT fiction and has published with Naughty Nights Press, http://naughtynightspress.blogspot.com You can follow him at @bell2mike