The fellows return to Camp Falls where they met and fell in love.
It felt odd packing our Boy Scout equipment for the Order of the Arrow Conclave at Camp Falls. Had it only been almost four months prior that we had met at camp? It felt like another lifetime. It was the first weekend in November and the weather was still tolerable enough in the southside of Virginia to sleep outside. In fact, the Indian Summer was continuing and it promised to be a beautiful couple of days by the lake.
We didn’t have much to pack.When we left my parent’s home that eventful night, Matan had grabbed my Order of the Arrow ceremonials and nothing else.I had contacted Lester and he promised to bring a uniform I could wear.He also had an extra pup tent that he was packing for us to use.Matan and I would share a sleeping bag.We would be eating in the dining hall so our cooking kit was not needed.I decided not to bother my mother about getting my Scout stuff together because that would possibly spur anger from my father. He made it clear that everything I owned had been purchased with his money and was therefore his.My father was wrong but it wasn’t worth fighting that battle.
When the invitation came for Mason about the weekend, I realized that I had not notified the Boy Scout office of my change in address.In fact, I hadn’t thought of the Boy Scouts since we left camp in August.I called the scout office to let them know that Matan and I would be attendance.They told me that the letter they had mailed to me had been returned.I gave the secretary my new address.
We went to Williamsburg early on Friday morning and planned to leave campus by noon.Our home was on the way to camp so we would pick up our belongings then.Black had everything in the garage.
“Yonatan, I would feel more comfortable if I was going with you.”
“Go spend the weekend with Tim.We will be fine.Give me Tim’s number in case we need to call you.”
“Mr. Cohen has told me that he expects me to be there.Are you overriding his directive?”
“Yes.I don’t want to put you in the middle of a fight with Cohen but you deserve a weekend away from us.Trust me, you wouldn’t fit in.We need to settle some things at camp and may actually return early.”
Black gave me a quizzical look.He didn’t like what I had said.
“The Chief Rabbi told us that we have to decide who we are and want to be.I can’t be three people anymore.This weekend will be part of that.”
“I don’t like this. I really think I should be there.”
“Not going to happen, Black.We will get there late this afternoon and will spend the time as two Boy Scouts doing the nasty with each other in our pup tent.We may recreate our first night together.”I had a sexy grin on my face.
Matan slapped my ass and told me to get in the Jeep. I started to get behind the wheel.
“Nope, you’re in the passenger seat, Yonatan.”
Matan had gotten his learner’s permit.He was learning how to drive a standard transmission vehicle.
Black grinned and told me that he was glad it was me and not him teaching Matan how to drive.I said I was thankful for the roll bar which drew a chuckle from Black and a grimace from Matan.We had put the top on the Jeep and we settled in, buckled our seat belts and Matan took off down the street.Like most things in his life, he had read and memorized the instruction book and could recite page, paragraph and sentence.As ever, his trouble was coordination; he was learning how to coordinate the use of the clutch, gas pedal, and gear shift without stripping the gears.Thank God the Jeep had a good transmission as he challenged it until we were on the highway.
I put my hand on his thigh as he drove on the by-pass around Suffolk and Franklin.When we approached the road to my parent’s house, we each held our breath.We looked south at the farm but couldn’t see anything.We both exhaled and then laughed.As we approached Emporia, I reminded him about the police and their scrupulous radar surveillance to catch every speeder.Matan kept it on the speed limit; not one mile below or above.He was very meticulous.
The gravel road leading to camp brought back the memories of arriving at Camp Falls the first time.I had helped the other staff create this camp from the wilderness.We had a lot to be proud of.Matan pulled into the parking lot just as Lester was getting out of his car.There were lots of hugs and Lester actually kissed us both on our lips.He had never done that before.We unpacked the Jeep and his car.We had picked out the staff camping area to sleep for the weekend.Lester and I set up the tents and he gave me a uniform to wear.
Mr. Fish greeted us as we went in to dinner.He was his usual jovial self but there was a bit of melancholia that still emanated from him.He was working hard to keep everything light and fun.The summer cooks came in to prepare meals for us and we sat down to a delicious roast beef dinner.The yeast rolls were so good I snagged a couple to eat later.
Matan immediately greeted the boys who were inducted during his weeks of camp.They claimed him for their table.They were like puppy dogs around him.They loved the attention he gave them.He smiled at me and I told him to go for it.I sat with Lester.
“What’s going on Jimbo?You are very different than you were at camp this summer.”
“I don’t know where to start.My entire world has turned upside down and righted itself after everything was scrambled about.I wouldn’t believe it except that I have lived it.”
I then proceeded to give Lester an overview of what had happened to us in the past 120 days.His mouth kept falling open and I would laugh and push his chin up.His eyes never left mine.I realized midway through our meal that he was holding my hands.We both needed the connection.That connection made me think of Matan when he was talking with people.
When I finished, I gave a sigh and told him that all of those events led us to the decision that Matan and I had made.In the retelling, I realized that we had not had time to catch our breath since leaving camp.We had hurtled through life as break neck speed without time to process the velocity of our lives.
“Tell me what I can do to support you and Mason.”
“You will be a great social worker.You are just like you were at camp this summer. You helped rally support for us then.I can’t tell you how much that helped.We need for you to continue to be our friend.”
I told him of our decision and I saw tears in his eyes.He then said that he and his boyfriend, Dave, had a similar conversation without reaching a decision.
At that moment, Mr. Fish stood up and welcomed everyone to the Order of the Arrow Fall Conclave.He outlined the work we were to accomplish on Saturday with a bonfire and ceremony on Saturday night.We would work on Sunday morning and then depart after lunch.
“Now, does our Assistant Camp Director have anything to add?”
The man did that to me time and again.No notice given but an expectation that I could jump in.I did.
“Chea Sequah and I are happy to be here this weekend.Chea Sequah will lead the new inductees through some training tonight and then on Sunday morning.I hope everyone brought grubby work clothes for our tasks tomorrow.We will have all of the tools for you after breakfast in the morning.Remember, new inductees are to be paired with a mentor for the workday.Lester will have canoes ready for us to go to the island.It will be fun and hopefully the snakes have moved off the island for the winter.”Several people gasped.“Chea Sequah will help with any snakes that are rounded up.He will make sure they are brought back to the mainland.”I looked over and he was giving me ‘the look’.“One last thing, we have several brotherhood sashes to be awarded tomorrow night.Everyone should have brought their ceremonials for the evening.”I said it was good to see everyone again.I really meant it.
I walked back to the tent with Lester and left my flashlight for Matan to use.
“Lester, can I ask a favor? I no longer use the name Jimbo.Can you either call me Degataga or Yonatan?”
He stopped walking.
“I don’t understand.”
“It is complicated, but I have three names and that it too many.I am leaving Jimbo and his world behind.If you can’t do it that’s okay.”My voice was almost choking as I said that.It was the first time I had said that to anyone since returning from Paris.
“Which would you prefer I use?”
“Please use Degataga for the weekend but Yonatan after that.”
Lester hugged me and told me that he admired the path I had chosen to travel.
I said goodnight to Lester and crawled into my tent.I opened the sleeping bag and spread it on the ground so it would be extra insulation for us.Luckily, we had thrown some extra blankets in the Jeep because the temperature was dropping rapidly.It would feel good sleeping under the blankets.I undressed and climbed under the covers.Tears were leaking from my eyes as I thought about closure, killing off Jimbo and Degataga and only being Yonatan.I fell asleep and roused briefly when Matan crawled between the covers.He instinctively knew of my pain and cuddled me in his arms.He kissed my cheek and then told me he loved me.I slept in the safety of his arms.
The morning came too soon.After a hearty breakfast we took the canoes and paddled to the island.Trees were felled, the cabin was cleaned and bunkbeds were put together.A proper stone altar was built for bonfires.The canoes moved back and forth ferrying supplies.The island was cleared of underbrush.Luckily, there were no snakes to be transported.Mr. Fish had arranged for sandwiches to be brought to the island.There was a bottle of Italian dressing for Matan to create a salad.He remembered.
At the end of the day, we moved the canoes to the storage shed and cleaned the tools.We would use them the next day for some general cleaning in camp sites.Mr. Fish had a fire built under the hot water tank so we could take warm showers.Everyone was frisky and enjoyed making rat tails and snapping each other.The new inductees and their mentors had worked well together.They were bonding.In fact, I could tell that a couple pairs of guys were giving each other the eye and there might be some fellows sharing sleeping bags that night.That put a smile on my face.
Dinner was baked chicken, rice and string beans.The cooks had baked some more yeast rolls.I loved those things.It was dark by the time we had finished eating.I reminded everyone to be at the amphitheater and that mentors and mentees were to come together.Most of the leaders from the central office had arrived for dinner and the ceremony.
Lester, Matan and I walked together back to our tents.It wasn’t possible to dress in a pup tents so we all stood outside dressing.Lester commented on how much Chea Sequah had grown since the summer.Chea Sequah blushed and said it was incredible and terrifying as it was happening.He told Lester that he was hurting all over but didn’t understand what was happening.Then he realized that none of his clothes fit.Lester told him that he was now a beautiful man and how lucky I was to be with him.Chea Sequah kissed me and said we were both lucky to have found each other.
Using a flash light we painted each other’s faces. I decided not to overdo the paint because we wouldn’t get a chance for another shower after the ceremony.We three stood together and Lester said he was waiting for instructions from Degataga.He looked at me as he said my name.I smiled and positioned him in front of us.
“We give you a name tonight.You are to be known as Shiloh.Your name means brother and you will always be a brother to Chea Sequah and me.”There was a shared hug.
Shiloh then led us from the campsite to the arena.We were the last to enter.I stood in front of the bonfire with Chea Sequah and Shiloh on either side.Shiloh called forward all of the new inductees and their mentors.Shiloh then said that all new inductees had passed their night of instruction and their day of being observed as a member of the tribe.It was odd because Chea Sequah was a new inductee yet he was providing leadership in the chapter already.He stood with his cohort and I stood behind him.I reached down and squeezed his hands.He leaned back until we were touching.
Next, we called down the members who were to receive their brotherhood sashes.Mr. Fish and the head of our chapter came down to remove the sashes these scouts were wearing and to replace them with the brotherhood sashes.
It was a meaningful ceremony for all present.Shiloh led the closing sentences and we headed back to the dining hall for refreshments. Chea Sequah and I stayed a few minutes and then went back to our tent.Standing in front of the tent we undressed each other and then crawled in and closed the flaps.We carefully packed our ceremonials.I could smell the same unguent that Mason had used that first night we were together.I was magically taken back to that night.We quietly made intense love.Sometime during the night, we finally fell asleep after whispering our love for each other.
At dawn, Matan woke me and we walked down to the waterfront.He had brought soap and towels.The water was cold as we waded in up to our waists.We washed each other and kissed.With a shivering voice I spoke.
“Matan Abraham Jenner-Ward, I love you and I will be with you for the rest of my life.”
He seemed startled that I was using our compound last name.He then smiled and nodded his head.
“Yonatan Rachamim Jenner-Ward, I love you and I will be with you for the rest of my life.”
It was one more symbol of our being together.We had come full circle because it was in this water that we had declared our commitment to each other some four months prior.Our names had changed but who we were to each other had only grown stronger.I took him as we stood in the lake.His arched back was against my torso and our pelvises made waves as we moved back and forth.When we completed, we sank down in the water and looked at each other before kissing.Matan finally broke the kiss and told me that he was fucking freezing.We both started laughing.
Standing on the shore watching us were two deer.I would swear they were the same ones that watched over us during the summer.We were in awe as they stood at water’s edge and then turned to look up the gravel road toward the campsites.We walked toward the shore and they didn’t move.We grabbed our clothes without speaking.I looked at them and thanked them for protecting us.As we walked back to the campsite they walked into the woods.
When we got back to the campsite Matan woke Lester for breakfast.
He looked at us and said, “Something has changed again.Are the two of you ever going to be stable and boring?”
Matan laughed and said that was asking for the impossible.
Stacks of pancakes awaited us in the dining hall.We dug in and ate like we were famished.
The new inductees had a morning class with Matan and the rest of us worked in different campsites.We put our tools away, pleased with the work we had accomplished over the weekend.As we were cleaning up before lunch I told Mr. Fish that I needed to meet with him.He suggested we go to his office.I followed him in and closed the door.
I proceeded to talk.He interrupted.
“NO, that is not possible.NO.I refuse for you to do that.”
“It is set.Matan and I are taking a leave from Scouting.He doesn’t have a local troop where he is safe.We are both in college and our lives are full to overflowing.I no longer have contact with my parents and Matan’s are in Europe.We will be in Paris and Brussels next summer.Our lives need to settle.I am not saying never again but I am not automatically saying yes to anything.”
“You have to tell the others.You cannot just leave today and nobody know what happened to you.At lunch, you will make this announcement.”
We left the office and I went to the campsite to pack our gear for the ride home.Matan and Lester had everything packed and in our vehicles.I realized I was wearing Lester’s scout uniform.
“Keep it and I will come get it.That will be the motivation I need to visit.”
Platters of fried chicken were passed along with vegetables and home-made apple pie.Everyone was enjoying the feast and talking about what a great weekend it had been.Mr. Fish sat without eating or saying a word.After everyone had finished and taken their plates to the scullery, Mr. Fish stood, glared at me and said I had something to say.I gulped.Matan grabbed my hand and nodded his head.I stood so that I could see everyone.
“You are the best guys in the world.It has been a pleasure to be with you during summer camp and this weekend.You have honored me with my designation as a Vigil Member of the Order.”My voice started cracking.“I have an important announcement to make however.”My throat closed and I couldn’t talk so Matan stood.“What Degataga wants to say is that he and I are taking some time off from scouting.We are both enrolled at William and Mary and the school work is overwhelming.”
People were looking at us trying to understand why Matan was speaking.
“You should know that Degataga, who you know as Jimbo, and I know as Yonatan is my partner.Some significant things have happened to us since we saw you last.All good things.In addition, some really significant things are probably going to be happening in the future.This does not leave us the time to do scout work, college and have a home life.”
People sat still.They didn’t know how to react.
“So, thank you for your support.We do have one request of each of you.We are having a commitment ceremony in December and we would like for each of you to be there.We are doing it between semesters while we have time.It will be in Williamsburg.I will be sending invitations but please know that you are invited.”
There was stunned silence.
Lester jumped up and said, “Three cheers for Degataga and Chea Sequah.Hip-hip-hooray.”Everyone jumped up and started cheering us.
Mr. Fish said that he wanted us to make one last walk through the campsites to make sure that nothing was left behind.Everyone headed out and I saw him talking with Lester.Lester grinned and nodded his head.
Matan and I had volunteered to scan the waterfront area.That was the furthest away and gave us a chance to talk without others overhearing.We walked down the gravel road and Matan mentioned how he had walked that road barefoot as a new inductee.We talked and laughed about his first day at the waterfront.He said that three incredible things happened that week of camp.First, he was inducted into the Order of the Arrow.Second, he was named Scout of the Week.Third, he met the man of his dreams.We wrapped ourselves together and kissed.
We held hands as we headed back to the office to report that everything was okay and then we would leave Camp Falls for probably the last time.We got to the Dining Hall and saw two lines of scouts from there to the parking lot.Lester said, “Scouts salute.”All hands went to foreheads as the scouts looked straight ahead.Then we heard a snapping of fingers and the fellows were whistling the Colonel Bogey March.Matan and I walked between them until we got to the end.We turned and saluted them in turn.There were tears in my eyes that a part of my life was finished.They then pig piled us and wished us well.There were many slaps on the back, lots of affirmations, and tears shed by us all.Then much laughter.Everyone was saying they would see us in December but wondered about the Bachelor’s party.Who was going to be the Bride and who was going to be the Groom?Matan quickly told them it was going to be a Bachelor’s party for the two grooms.
We got in the Jeep and Matan pulled out of the parking lot leading a caravan of cars.He was perfect with his driving skills.What a send-off we had.We turned east onto Route 58 and headed to Suffolk.When we drove past the road to my parent’s home, I called out “Good-bye Jimbo.”Two names and personalities were gone and now I was just Yonatan.It felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders.I gave a huge sigh; Matan looked over at me and said, “I love you Yonatan.I loved Jimbo and Degataga also but now they are gone.It is just Yonatan and Matan moving forward.”
We were halfway between Emporia and Suffolk when Matan asked me how much money I had with me.
“Ummm, I am totally broke.Why?”
“Well, I don’t think we have enough gas to get home and I don’t have any cash either.”
We both burst into laughter.We were k-zillionaires yet we were completely broke.
At Herbert’s “suggestion” I had put us on an allowance each week.We sat down and figured out what we needed and had the bank transfer that amount to our account each week.Most weeks we were fine but at times like this we were in a pickle.The credit card was kept in the dresser drawer so I didn’t use it on ‘frivolous’ things.I chuckled thinking that gas for the Jeep was not frivolous.
“Okay, slow down to 45 mph which will burn less gas.I taught Matan about putting the vehicle in neutral as we approach red traffic lights to save gas. Matan liked to pretend he was in the Indy 500 most days. We were getting by on a wing and a prayer.
Our eagerness to get home and take a shower was moderated by the thought of having to walk home, get a gas can and then walk back.I was determined that Black and Green would not know of our situation.Matan steered the Jeep into the neighborhood just as the engine died.We were four blocks from home.We grinned and were thankful that we made it that far.We walked to the house and entered through the garage.Luckily, I had filled the gas can earlier in the week when I cut the grass.There was about a gallon and a half in the can.We walked back and I taught Matan how to start a vehicle when it was completely out of gas.It sputtered to life and we drove the rest of the way home.No one saw us.
We unpacked and showered.We were emotionally exhausted yet exhilarated that our lives were falling into a routine. We were seated at the breakfast room table when Black and Tim walked in.I thought it obvious what they had been doing. Tim was very solicitous of Black’s ‘broken arm’. A few minutes later, Ayal and Zeke drove up and walked in through the back door.It made me think of family.I grew up where guests used the front door and family used the back door.Green appeared from his magical place of being.Our family was together.
We all sat and they listened while we told of our weekend.I told them that Degataga, Chea Sequah, Mason and Jimbo were no more.I noticed that Green kept scratching his crotch while we talked.
“Do you have a problem, Green?”
“No.I am fine.”
“Why are you scratching your balls?At least you aren’t sniffing your fingers after you scratch them.”Everyone was laughing by now.
“Well, we haven’t had the first frost of the season and the redbugs were bad in the woods this weekend.”He looked at me and didn’t say anything else.I looked at Black who shrugged his shoulders.I shrugged my shoulders and smiled.
After everyone told Green of their favorite redbug treatment, Matan and I continued telling our weekend story.Matan then said we were now the Jenner-Ward family informally but Mr. Cohen was taking care of the legal change.They all nodded and Ayal grabbed Zeke’s hand. I had a feeling they would be next. The guys were all smiles when we told them that we would have a commitment ceremony at William and Mary over Christmas break.Gino had agreed to perform it.They started laughing when Zeke said he wanted to be the flower girl.Tim said he would be matron of honor since he was too old to be a bride’s maid. Even Green appreciated the camp humor and said he would be the ring bearer and would wear short-shorts and suspenders….and nothing else except work boots.
“And we have one more announcement to make.While we were in Paris, Herbert and Judy told us that they wanted grandchildren.Pronto.They arranged for us to donate sperm.Since we weren’t having much sex in their apartment, we had built up a lot of raw material, so to speak, when we went to the lab.We sat in the room together and it was very sexy.Better yet, it was raunchy.”Matan and I were laughing remembering that session.The guys were gawking at us because they didn’t know that had happened.We both had grins on our faces.“When we got home this afternoon there was a message waiting for us on the answering machine that a surrogate mother in Israel is with child.Our child.We don’t know when the baby will be born but it will probably be next summer.We are going to be parents.”
There was stunned silence and then we heard the pop from a bottle of champagne being opened.
This is the final chapter of the Jimbo story. Who knew that all of those adventures would come to a young couple who said yes to life? At Boy Scout Camp, no less. Matan made the grand gesture the night he was inducted into the Order of the Arrow.Yonatan was waiting for someone to open his heart to love.They remembered their Whitman: as a couple they have been invincible.
“The High and Mighty Days,” Book 2 of the Yonatan and Matan series, will debut on December 1 and will continue daily through January 6.Todd is a student and Erick is a faculty member at the College of William and Mary.They meet at a W&M LGBT Halloween dance when Matan pushes Todd into Erick’s arms.The story follows them as they celebrate their first Advent, Hanukkah, and Christmas together as an interfaith couple.There is a through narrative of these young men growing in their love as they reflect on the daily readings for the holiday seasons.Pate and Timmy from “The Boys of Summer” make an appearance and we are also introduced to Tayloe (Todd’s brother) and Eron (Erick’s twin brother).It will be posted online at Gayauthors and Nifty.
I am considering sending “The High and Mighty Days” out via email as a daily meditation during that period.If you are interested in receiving it that way, please let me know.