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Middle Saluda River 01 by Jim Dollar Photography

Middle Saluda River 01 by Jim Dollar Photography

The names in this story have been changed, to protect the innocence or guilt of the parties involved – that, in itself , a matter of  perspective!

The breeze blows through the windows of the gold Chevy Nova and across my bare arms, cooling them down from the heat of the sunlight.  Outside, it is quite chilly, contrasting the late spring day that the calendar touts.  Smells of damp, awakened earth float in to blend with that of the interior of the car’s leather as towering trees surround me on the hilly road that is winding through government forest lands.  Lobo is on the radio, our having inserted his cassette tape, its sound coming through cheap speakers giving a muted, sensuality to the words crawling forth, “Me and you and a dog named Boo, traveling and living on the land….”

My best friend is at the wheel, her dark, straight hair whipping about in the wind.  Every now and then, I look over at her and with white, even teeth, she flashes me a smile that’s echoed in her dark-chocolate eyes.  Her boyfriend sits between us, long, lanky legs sticking up and presenting blue-jeaned, jutting knees.  He plays with tendrils of her hair, comments on her driving, teasing her and then laughing, the sound resonating from his chest like the light, but deep babbling of a slow, pure brook.

This weekend, I’m free!  Free from the drudgery of  my “normal” life.  I’m with two of the only people in whose company I’m allowed unsupervised.  The two people on earth with whom I feel the most FREE!  Probably, with whom I feel the most loved.  My mother and father have been very guarded regarding allowing me to spend time away from the family.  Hers also being a bit protective, my best friend and I have had to spend a long time building up our relationship and the trust between our mutual families.

The car’s strong motor suddenly sends a vibration along the chassis, up through the metal springs of the long, bench, front seat, and through my buttocks with a delicious rumble as my friend stomps the gas and banks the car hard against a right curve.  Her boyfriend comes tumbling my way, putting his arms out and around me to brace himself against the door to keep from squishing me flat.  Amidst the laughter and flailing limbs, I look over and complain, chiding my friend for “Trying to kill us!” but I know that she’s playing, and it’s quite obvious that she has complete control of the powerful car.  I can feel the soft blue eyes of her boyfriend looking down at me with affection.  As he shuffles over, reclaiming his spot between us, he keeps his arm around me, pulling me up close, tight against him.  Looking past him, my friend and I lock eyes.  There is this loving, playful challenge at life flowing between us.

Thinking back over our long friendship, I am unsure of what bound us together, how I found myself here with her; how we’d found each other amongst all of the other people in the world.  She says that she felt sorry for me because I was so helpless and unable to defend myself against the constant harangue of bullies that tormented me at school.  She says that she got tired of having people pick on me.  I must defer to her memory regarding this, because I have none of my own when it comes to our early time together.

Lib looked much older than her fifteen years.  In fifth grade, she’d reached her full height of six feet and developed full breasts.  I secretly believed that she was six feet, one inch, but that she fudged on the one because her sweetheart was only six feet tall and she hadn’t wanted to be taller than he was.

At school, everyone called her “Lynn” – but I didn’t.  After the first couple of years of friendship, she’d confided, “My middle name is Elizabeth and my family calls me ‘Lib’.  I want you to call me ‘Lib’.”  At first, the name felt like the taste of a foreign food upon my tongue, and it took me weeks of feeling strange about it before I could marry in my head the visual image of my “Lynn” with this person “Lib”.  Eventually, my brain made the transition, and even a reversal.  It became as if she’d always been “Lib”, and hearing others refer to her as “Lynn” brought about this feeling that they were referring to a stranger; that they didn’t know this person that I was privy to.  Realistically speaking, I don’t think they did.

Lib’s family was one that existed way below the line of poverty, as did my own, so that was something that we had in common.  She stuck out because of her height and seeming maturity.  I stuck out because of the weird religion that my mother practiced.  Even though we were both shy, both smart, both outcasts, and both poor, when measuring amenity for amenity, her family existed below my own when it came to levels of household comfort.

I soon learned that to live inside Lib’s house was like living inside an adventure!  The name of the particular adventure was survival – but it wasn’t fought with some desperate sense of why-me-ness.  Her parents may have been poor – but they were also happy – and proud.  In spite of a disabling back condition, her father worked odd jobs and refused to take charity for himself or his family.  He considered any government help, charity.  While I ate at school using the free lunch program, Lib’s father would have none of that.  Each day, he reached into his pocket and carefully doled out money to her, a quarter at a time, so that she could pay for her lunch at school.  Full price.  It was the first time that I’d encountered such behavior, where a family refused help.  Her family’s way wasn’t better or worse than my family’s way.  It was just different.

Lib went without the comforts that most of us take for granted.  The house in which she lived was a bit of a family legend.  It sat a little askew, flanked by trees atop a hill that was a main artery off a very long, gravely, red-dirt road.  Her father had built it with his own hands, for himself and his new bride, Lib’s mother, when they had both been young.  Finding themselves in need of a home, the couple had been given a bit of land by parents.  Lib’s dad scraped and scrounged and worked until he built out of the dirt hill, a little home for them.  In the daytime, he worked for another man procuring a wage.  At night he drove home and started in on the second phase of his working day.  When the sun went behind the hills, he pointed his Chevrolet Bel Air at their emerging structure, using the headlights so that he could continue his work long into the night.  When he’d exhausted either himself or his materials, he would join his sleeping young wife inside the long, roomy seats of the automobile.  Sunrise woke them, and the process began anew.

The home was long since completed and well aged by the time I got to visit. There was still no paint on the roughly hewn boards that made up the outside walls.  No fancy décor or landscaping.  That’s not to say that there weren’t flowers or shrubs, because these grew everywhere, in abundance!  There was just no thought out or planned beauty.  No, the beauty of Lib’s home, and the people inside of it, was the beauty that comes from rustic nature, that arises when pure love is allowed to grow and roam freely.

Lib’s home had hot running water – but it was limited to the kitchen.  In that kitchen, there weren’t any cabinets to speak of .  There was one antique cupboard, and most of the dishes were stored in the drain that was also used for, well, draining.  The family had a refrigerator – but it wasn’t technically in the kitchen.  The fridge was outside, butted up against the house to the right of the door that connected all with the outside world.

There was no bathroom in the house.  There was an outhouse for daytime use, and at night, there was a chamber pot under Lib’s bed.  She once confided to me, “I always make sure that I take that thing out and empty it before Ray gets here.  I wouldn’t want him to see me carrying it.”

The bed itself was a marvelous thing, piled high with handmade quilts and soft blankets!  All of the beds in the house seemed to be piled high with quilts and surrounded by crude racks holding all manner of things, including clothing.  All throughout the house, things were stored where they were used.  Closet building had been a luxury when Lib’s father had been constructing, and as a result, there were no storage areas to speak of inside the house.

There were two double beds in the bedroom where Lib and I slept, and we had to snake through the bedroom of her parents.  There was no hallway of any sort, and no other way to get there.  One bed in Lib’s room was occupied by her younger sister.  The other was reserved for Lib – and for me to join her when I would come to stay overnight.

When my mother had finally agreed to let me stay an entire weekend, that’s when I learned the secret rites of how bathing was achieved in a house without a room officially designated for  it.  On Sunday morning, Lib announced that it was time for a bath.  Her boyfriend, Ray, was coming over to pick us up in the afternoon and take us out.  Entering the little ramshackle kitchen she retrieved a big metal bowl from atop the tall cupboard.  Approaching the large, old ceramic covered, cast-iron sink, she placed the basin inside it, turning on the hot water spigot and the cold water spigot.  Though these were two separate spigots, the pipes holding them were pulled next to each other and wound all about with wire to hold them in place.  This made the stream of water a mixture of hot and cold when running both sides…even though the stream was, admittedly, more cold and more hot on either side.  This adjustment had been Lib’s idea.  I thought it ingenious!

From the floor underneath the sink, Lib produced shampoo, and stuck her head underneath the flowing water, dipping it into the filling bowl until her hair was saturated.  She turned off the water and applied liberal soap from the shampoo bottle.  “Here, help me!” she begged/ordered.  I dug my fingers in gladly, playing in the soap, massaging her scalp.  Lifting her head out of the water, she stood up and began to make silly shapes in her hair with the suds, making silly faces to match.  This got the both of us laughing so loudly that her mother and her sister had to come in to see what the ruckus was all about.  The laughter in that house was infectious, as always, and I even heard her father’s deep and reverberating chuckle emerging from his customary chair in the living room.

Once Lib had finished playing, and had rinsed her tresses, it was my turn.  I soon discovered that Lib’s skill at keeping her head from being either burned or frozen as she’d passed underneath the running water was one hard learned.  For me, it was far easier to stick my long brown locks into the basin and swish back and forth.  Where as Lib had been breaking her back to bend over the sink, my five foot, four inch frame left me on my tiptoes.  Applying shampoo, Lib also helped with my hair, and the combined feeling of the warm water, the hot breeze creeping in the backdoor and up my exposed neck, and her nimble fingers manipulating my sensitive head, well, it was almost too much!  Chill bumps of pleasure crept down my spine and across my arms.  Lib saw them and began to tease me, asking if I’d gotten cold on such a hot day?  Her questioning forced an embarrassed squeal of protest from me.  I insisted that I was in no way cold, and took over the sudsing of my own hair.  Lifting my head out of the sink, I copied her earlier shenanigans with the mounds of soap, and everyone laughed at me with the same enthusiasm as they had for Lib – but my heart wasn’t in it.  I just felt it necessary to perform for them, partially to distract myself from the pleasure that I’d been experiencing from having the attention of Lib’s hand upon my scalp.  I didn’t feel that getting pleasure from the touch of another human being was okay.  I felt terribly found-out and guilty about it.

Once my hair was pronounced by Lib to be thoroughly rinsed, she emptied the metal bowl and caught fresh, warm water for us.  We then made our way to the bedroom, towels around dripping hair.  On the way, she stopped at one of the many stacks of things beside her parents bed, picking up two more neatly folded towels, and from a corresponding stack, a couple of wash cloths.  She handed a set to me and I noticed how, like the towel I’d been given for my hair, all of the laundry here seemed very stiff and flat.  These weren’t at all fluffy like the towels that I was used to from my home.

Inside the bedroom, Lib let down the curtain to the doorway, affording us the only privacy available, and then opened one of the drawers of the dresser, the lone piece of furniture in the room, other than the beds.  She dug around, searching, then proudly lifted out this little cardboard box.  She smiled as she showed the treasure to me, putting it beside our bowl of water.  Opening up the lid of the box, she revealed that inside, there was a bottle of perfume, a women’s razor, nail clippers and files, and a pink box bearing the label “Caress”.

“Ray bought this,” she said.  “He likes the way the soap smells.  He wants me to have nice things.  I keep this hidden because he gets it just for me.  You can use it, of course!”  She opened the end of the box of soap and dumped the partially used bar into her hand, all smooth and pink-flowery-smelling.

Lib initiated things, liberating her hair and tossing the towel to the bed behind her, pulling her shirt over head, and then, reaching behind her back and unhooking her bra.  I was grateful, because I was very shy and not used to nudity.  It wasn’t allowed in my own home.  I hadn’t been sure how to begin bathing in a room with another person present.  I began undressing too, and soon enough, we were down to our underpants.  Lib had stopped removing clothing at that point and I followed suit, leaving my panties on.  My heart was beating quickly and I know that my face was red because I wasn’t used to having so much of myself exposed, especially my breasts, or seeing the breasts of another person.  Not a female person, anyway!  Boys were always going without their shirts in the South, but we girls were not afforded that same freedom.  Lib’s breasts were very pert, shaped kind of conically; like a real life example of the pointy bras of the sixties.  Her pink nipples stood erect within large pink areola.  Her skin was very white.  She was lily white all over, quite Anglo-Saxon looking in spite of the very straight black hair and the black slightly-slanted-eyes that her Cherokee Indian heritage expressed in her.

I giggled nervously, and that made her begin giggling as well.  We were always transferring to one another like that.  Knowing that Ray was on his way, I knew that we had to actually bathe, so I was grateful when she, again, began by dipping her cloth into the warm water.  We swirled the soap around inside our washcloths,  creating a terrific smelling, soppy, soapy mess that we spread all over our glowing, youthful bodies, glancing up at each other, continuing the giggling all the while.  Once we’d soaped and rinsed all of our exposed bodies, Lib hitched her thumb under her underwear, pulling them off in one swift swoop, and washing those delicate parts of herself.  I stopped giggling and tried not to look as I copied her actions.  She had a much fuller growth of hair than did I, its making a perfect furry triangle, and her firm, round buttocks bore this one, dark mole, like a beauty mark, high above one cheek.  Thoroughly embarrassed and afraid that my own body was ugly and immature compared to hers, I washed as quickly as possible without trying to give away the fact that I was doing it quickly.

Soon enough, to my relief, we were both clean, fresh smelling, and dressed in new underclothing.  Before she put on her usual blue-jeans, Lib took out the razor, applied another coating of soap to her legs, and ran the razor in tracks up the long, lean lines of her legs, rinsing the detritus away in the water of our basin with a shaking motion.  I watched her in stark fascination!  I’d never before seen a woman shaving her legs because our religion forbade it.  I loved the sound of the razor, the soft sounds of the sloshing water, the look of her long leg stretched out, made even whiter by the soap, even the look of concentration on her face.

Once Lib was satisfied that her shaving was complete, she stood in front of me, prancing around a bit in her underwear, reveling in the feeling of having her body newly clean and fresh!  She chose a pair of jeans from a pile to the right of the dresser.  “I hate how my jeans feel when I first wear them!” she exclaimed, struggling her long legs into the fabric.  “They always feel better after I’ve worn them for a day or two.  I alternate my jeans,” she offered in explanation.  “I never wear the same pair two days in a row because I don’t want people at school to notice that I only have three pairs.  My mother only washes ever Tuesday and it’s such hard work for her!  My sister and my brother’s wife all bring their laundry and they help her.  She’s got one of those old-fashioned roller washers.  Have you ever seen one?  Does your grandmother have one, maybe?”  I shook my head negatively.  “Oh!  Well, that has to be pulled out in the yard, and then they have to fill it up full of water for the wash, and again for the rinse.  Then everything has to be rolled through the rollers and someone has to stand there and feed it by hand.  It’s a lot of work and you have to be careful and pay attention.  I got my finger caught in the rollers once and it hurts like the dickens!”

That day when I’d had my first ever bath with Lib had been a day much like today.  Ray had come slowly rolling into the yard not even an hour after we were ready, off to swoop us up on some adventure or another.  As the time for his arrival had approached, I’d felt Lib’s excitement building, and her excitement had become my own.  Their relationship was fairly new, and I was meeting him for the first time.  The picture that Ray had painted upon his arrival had not been disappointing, as he’d climbed out from behind the wheel of his clean and shiny gold Chevy Nova.  He was older than us by a few years, sporting a nice tan and a tight T-shirt across an athletic frame.  His legs were long with a slight bow in the middle.  Sun glasses adorned his face, wavy, dirty blond locks catching the sunlight that filtered through the trees.  Whipping his sunglasses off, he’d appraised us as we’d approached his car, flitting glances across our faces, our outfits, our hair.  “So,” he’d smiled with his voice along with his mouth, those sparkling baby-blues taking in the purses on our arms and the cooler that we had in tow, “you girls ready?”

Indeed; had I been?  Was I?  That scene in the front yard of Lib’s parents’ house had happened years earlier.  Throughout all of my ensuing adventures with Lib and Ray, I’ve never been as close to him as I now find myself.  Making no effort to hide from his girlfriend the fact that his arm is around me, he casually throws the other one about her.  I can feel the muscles of his arm tense as he squeezes the both of us.  He lets out his characteristic sound that means that he is happy, and that all is right with his world.  “UUUMMMMM, UUUUmmmm, uuummmm!”  It is the sound that one might expect to hear after having someone bite into a really amazing apple pie.

Ray’s smell is intoxicating.  I am getting drunk off of it, and my skin is becoming super-sensitive, sending little electric-shocks through me at every point where our bodies are making contact.  I don’t know what to do with my hands.  My left one decides that its place should be on his denim clad leg, and that’s where I leave it, in full view of Lib.  She doesn’t seem to be worried over it.  In fact, she continues her wild driving up the elevating road, the curves getting sharper and more numerous, her hitting the accelerator in them hard, tossing us all about amidst fits of laughter.  I squeeze his leg, hanging on to prevent my getting thrown back against the door.  I can feel the taunt muscles of his thigh flexing under my hand as he also struggles to keep his footing, and my place inside his arm, intact.  Through it all, Ray doesn’t let me go, and I feel this sense of safety and being cared for; something that I’ve never felt before from the touch of any man.

Reaching our destination, we scramble out of the car and toward the picnic tables, my body already missing his warmth, though it had only been present for a small while.  Rightfully, that might have been due to the fact that it is COLD in these mountains!  Ray had tried to tell us that it would be, but being young, being stubborn, and being women, we hadn’t listened!  I found myself longing for a sweater – or for Ray’s body draped back against me.  That wasn’t to be!  He and Lib are off on their own.

They are arguing a bit because he hadn’t wanted to come here.  It is cold and overcast and not at all fit for an outing.  I am jealous of their closeness, even though they are in a disagreement, and my aloneness feels more pronounced as I watch the two of them.  She is sitting on the top of one of the picnic tables, and he is holding her hands, standing partially wrapped inside her long blue-denim wearing legs.  She looks up at him with her large doe eyes, and he is staring back, so obviously smitten that it is a tangible thing that accompanies them everywhere.

In spite of my feeling of aloneness, I can’t help but be stricken by the wondrous beauty of the place where we have landed, and I find myself glad that Ray had been overruled in regards to our destination!  We were at a public park high up in the mountainous areas of government land.  The wood of the spattering of picnic tables is covered with green and yellow lichens, softening the look of even the man-made things here.  The ground is blanketed with new sprouts of grass with tiny wildflowers peeking out, all green and yellow and pink and dark purple.  There is the noise of a trickling stream, and as I make my way toward it, I find myself walking along a deep green carpet of fuzzy moss.

On my approach, I discover more of a bubbling brook than a stream, and there are moss covered stones in the bottom, surrounded by pebbles of tan and brown and black, peeking out from the clear waters.  Looking up along the bank, I spot these magnificent stands of tall, odd mushrooms!  Now these are surely enough to warrant interest!  Calling out to the other two, I invite them to come and share in my discovery.  Hand in hand, they approach, the attentions turned from their argument to the fascinating mushrooms, ensuing lots of guesses about what type they are, what they will probably do to people and animals who ingested them, and the like.

The rest of our time is spent exploring the little creek, and walking along fallen trees.  Sometimes, they bridge the water and add a thrill as we teeter along at the risk of falling in.  All is peaceful and right!  Except for this nagging little tinge of jealousy that I get when seeing my two companions kissing, holding hands and holding each other.  It isn’t really a feeling of being jealous of one or the other of them.  I am jealous of their situation, of the fact that they have someone to love while I walk along in the chilly mountain air alone and, well, cold!

As the sun begins to disappear behind the trees, we make our meandering way back to the car, none of us seeming to want a return to the real world.  On the way, Lib begs to be allowed to drive home, prancing around like a puppy in search of a treat, and without much resistance, Ray agrees.  As we all pile into the car in a repeat of our previous formation, Ray returns his arm around me.  There is no pretense of need.  It surprises me, and I can feel my heart speed up, and my body automatically becomes tense.  My reaction isn’t out of not liking this attention, but he’d almost seemed to be avoiding touching me as we all played about in the park, save one time when he’d offered his hand to help me across a difficult bit of the stream.  Perhaps it is the magic of the Nova!  Maybe it is the spell of the night.  It could be that he figures once allowed, forever allowed – by his girlfriend and by myself.  Whatever the reason, Ray plants himself between the two of us, arms outstretching along the seat-back, hugging us both to him.

In contrast to the way in which we’d earlier arrived, the ride back down the mountain is slow and languid.  The heat in the car is going  full blast so that Lib can ride with her window down, though I’ve chosen to shut my own up tight.  We all breathe in the crisp, mountain air while our thawing toes take on the advancing warmth.  On the cusp of when day is giving over to night, a stillness falls across everything.  It is a feeling in perfect harmony with the sound of Lobo’s voice, creeping out in soft tones from the speakers behind us.  Ray joins in, his quiet voice laying it’s deep rasp against the falling night.  He finishes the song with a soft laugh, looking back and forth from Lib to me, and pulling us together in a huge hug, emitting his signature “UUUMMMMM, UUUUmmmm, uuummmm!” into the approaching darkness.

Lib fusses at him for interfering with her driving, but she does it gently and with none of her earlier anger.  Ray reduces his grip on her and she sits back some, away from him and more directly underneath the wheel.  His hand doesn’t leave my arm, and I feel that arm begin to tingle as he slides up and down my bare flesh, fingers tapping time to the music of a newly beginning song.

Not knowing what to do with my hands again, I return my left one to Ray’s leg, and apply gentle squeezes, in time to the music.  In the darkened interior of the car, I can feel, rather than see, him smile.  Turning my body in toward him, I lay my head down on his arm, resting and curling into him, placing my other hand on his stomach.  I can feel him adjust himself closer to Lib, stretching his arm back out around her.  His breathing changes, becoming deeper and faster, and I can feel it in the atmosphere, tell it by the rise and fall of his belly underneath my hand.  His touch on my arm becomes, somehow, different.  I feel a fire run through me, originating underneath his fingers and ending somewhere, deep in the pit of my belly.

So, here I sit:  Curled into my best friends fiancé, his arms around the both of us and her fully aware of this fact.  I am beyond confused, and the fire in my belly isn’t helping!  My nose is bare millimeters away from his neck, and that scent that had intoxicated me on the way up the mountain is even stronger with the heady sweetness of perspiration gathered on our trek.  I come to a decision that is of the type that I’m to find myself oft repeating in my life, and not always wisely.  Turning my body a few degrees and shifting myself forward, I lay my lips against the bare and vulnerable skin of his neck.

The moment my moist and slightly parted lips embrace him, I feel the sharp intake of his breath.  His body stiffens and turns.  His arm doesn’t leave my friend, but he somehow rolls himself deeper into me, pressing into my mouth, hard and welcoming.

I feel two thing simultaneously.  The first is guilt.  I’ve gotten the impression that Lib is okay with what had gone on with Ray where I was concerned throughout the first part of the day, but I don’t know how she will feel about my having kissed him.  Sure, it’s only his neck – but a kiss is a kiss and I am initiating this.  I am being a very bad girl – and an even worse friend.

Secondly, I feel ecstatic!  Electric shocks of  pleasure and desire are shooting all through my young body – and those shocks are about to be tested, all the more.

Once feeling his response, I don’t stop with the action of my lips upon Ray’s neck.  I work my way up slowly, bit by tantalizing bit, to the base of his ear, and take it within my lips.  He actually lets out a little moan, and I’m not sure how loud it is, but he is no longer satisfied with what I am doing, because he turns his face to mine.  He has a five o’clock shadow, and being blonde, his whiskers are soft, but they still graze the tender skin of my face as he presses into me, searching for my mouth with his own.

Our lips meet as if we are two people devouring each other – but quietly, stealthily with stilted movements on the down-low.  I don’t know what he is thinking.  I don’t know what Lib is thinking.  I have stopped thinking.

All through the ride home, Ray and I make out.  Sometimes, he turns his face to Lib, leaning away from me, I feel him pressing into her body, clinging to her, and I can hear the passion in their kisses – but he’s never long away before presenting his neck or his lips back to me.  While I’m dissolving into passion with him, I am distracted at times by hearing Lib’s voice singing along with Lobo, the incoming wind from the open window stealing away whole syllables.  I can feel her looking, glancing over at us.  I’m not sure how much she can see, or hear, in the dark.  I’m not sure how much I want her to see or hear.  I’m not sure what I am feeling.  Except desire.  I have become a pulsing, non-thinking ball of it.

As I curl my fingers into the hair at the base of her fiancé’s neck, pulling him once again to my starving lips, it occurs to me that the adventuresome spirit that I feel in Lib extends far beyond that home of hers.  Perhaps the adventure isn’t about where Lib comes from.  Perhaps the adventure is Lib, herself.  And Ray.  And me.  And what the HELL am I doing?!

Whatever it is, whatever is to become of this, I am sure of one thing:   I feel ALIVE!  I feel wanted.  I feel loved.  I am desperately clinging to this rare moment of happiness – and I am sure that I am in for one FANTASTIC ride!

This post is dedicated to: Lib and Ray, who helped start me on the journey to being my true self.

Thanks always to Jim Dollar for his amazing photographs that he allows us to use in representation our journey! With Jim, there’s always art that speaks to my heart.


Posted in My Loves and Lovers.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

4 Responses

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  1. Mike Bernier says

    At first I thought this was two separate stories, but in fact it is three stories blended together into one. One story paints a portrait of Lib’s lifestyle, which to many is as backward and old-fashioned as the late 1800s; that story leads into a discussion of your relationship with Lib, and the trust you had with one another; and finally, the story that surrounds these two is that of your unexpected encounter with Ray. In all three, you do a masterful job of setting the scene and then filling it with images, emotions, and energy. Although they seem a little convoluted, when you take them as a whole they really do work together to create another piece of the long tapestry you have begun to weave with your earlier posts.

    I get the impression that this encounter was the first pleasurable one you had with a man, if it’s not the first encounter to begin with. The scene was certainly electric for the two of you, and it makes me wonder how Lib would have felt and reacted had she truly known then what you and Ray had been doing. Are you still friends with her today, and did she know about all this before you posted it here?

    So many questions! And many, many possible answers that I can see. As you go along talking about the past, maybe you can post some sort of “where are they now” type notes elsewhere so that we readers can understand where they fit (or don’t fit) into your life today?

    Great work!

  2. Deneen Ansley says

    Mike – I feel that one must know all of the stories with the nuances and origins in order to understand the emotions that are behind all of the events in this particular tale. This story also has many elements that explain a lot about my later choices and experiences in life. For example, in my much later adult life, when my label was “bisexual”, I was very comfortable when it came to the idea of dating couples. When I think about it, this may have also been the beginning of my understanding that there are times when people love more than one person, and though the feelings of love for one person may be stronger than the feelings of love for another person, loving a second person when you already love a first person doesn’t diminish the love for the first.

    I’m sot sure if this was my first pleasurable experience with a man because I never know when some other aspect of myself experienced something that I can’t access the memory of yet. I can say that Ray was the first man I remember who seemed to approach me with emotion and caring attached.

    Lib knew. Lib knows. We are still friends today, and always remained friends – though I’ve not seen or spoken with her for many years due to geographic and other difficulties! As far as how she reacted and how things played out in the rest of our story, well, I guess you’ll just have to keep reading, won’t you?

    Your suggestion is a great one! Perhaps a character index with updates would be a good idea!

  3. cScott says

    This is my favourite blog post of yours, so far.

    The descriptions are so vivid that I really found myself drawn into the narrative, and I especially liked the way you wove together the different elements of the story to show how they all contributed, in different ways, to your relationship with Lib.

  4. Deneen Ansley says

    Scott – I’m so glad that you liked it! It was difficult to write because it was so complex, and because I wasn’t fully recovered from my sickness, so I wasn’t sure how it came across. As I wrote this piece, I had more and more memories come flooding back and it feels as if I reclaimed a part of myself.

    Lib and Ray were wonderful gifts in my life because (as you well know) I was very isolated in terms of the outside world. Only in going back over events with them have I noticed how deeply influenced I was by them. I hope that I can tell the rest of “our” story together in a way that you enjoy just as much!

    Thanks for stopping by these pages of my life, and for sharing your opinion. It’s greatly valued.

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