Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sonriso, Part 4

A Flashback

Keep smiling - it makes people wonder what you've been up to.


I’d been anticipating this day for a week now. I was going to see an old friend in a very different context—so different it was weird to consider calling him by his first name. To me, Erik was always (and perhaps always will be) Elder Davis. We were missionaries together in Brazil. We were never paired up as missionary companions, but arriving at roughly the same time, we quickly developed a bond.

Elder Davis and me

My earliest memories of him come from my first missionary conference in which we gathered (as missionaries regularly do) for training sessions and a nice dinner. He welcomed me, provided some advice (having 3 more months of experience), and wasn’t afraid to talk about pre-missionary life back in the states. We later ended up living together as missionaries and developed an even closer relationship.

Our reunion revolved quite a bit around the gossip we shared and inside jokes we had. He would call me a communist (in part because of my political views and in part because of a communist musical I’d started writing with my friend Serenity in high school) and I would tease him about looking like a twelve year-old.

Not much had changed when he made that trip up to visit me and his brother. I was more liberal than ever (going so far as to attend a College Democrat meeting or two) and he could pass for fifteen now—maybe. The day was perfect. The closest you could get to a brilliant Brazilian day. As I approached him from across the quad, the intermittent cool from the bright green grass and the radiant heat from the chalky pavement brought me back—fleetingly—to the urban and rural tropics I’d known in Brazil. My past had met my present briefly in this one moment. Little did I know that a tiny piece of my future would enter into that moment as well.


“GMB! It’s been like six months and a continent!” he called to me from across a band of sunbathers.

“Davis! What have you been up to? Still getting asked out by girls in middle school?” I teased.

“Quit that. I’m just starting back up at the U again.”

“Aren’t you loving school?”

“Blah,” he responded complacently. “Sometimes I’d just like to go back to Brazil.”

“Are you kidding me? All you did was complain about the heat. It’s always something, isn’t it?”

“Hey,” he said in his most nasal voice. “Let me introduce you to my brother,” he said motioning towards the sunbathers. “Evan,” he called.

With that his brother got up to introduce himself.

Immediately, my eyes were drawn to the brightest smile I’d encountered in my life. “Nice to meet you. I’m GMB,” I said.

“I’m Evan,” he said, still smiling as he extended a hand and secured the sunglasses mounted in his short faux hawk with the other. Even then, in the days when I thought I was straight did I note that he was attractive. As my eyes drifted from his face downward, I noted the perfectly toned abs, the stylish board shorts, and that his perfectly-tanned complexion continued from his smile down to his toes.


“He’s gay,” Erik told me a few moments later (once we were alone). I hadn’t really known about his gay brother. I’m sure he mentioned him in passing not as his gay brother but simply as “Evan.” It kind of surprised me because I’d wondered about Erik’s sexuality, but left those questions in the air.

Apparently, it was a big issue for their family.

“My mom wasn’t too happy about the trip up here,” he explained. “She didn’t think it would be a good idea to stay the night at Evan’s since he lives with his boyfriend, Mark.” I didn’t pry into the situation, but it was in the back of my head.

I had met gay men before. There was Ianto and a couple of guys I taught on my mission, but somehow this seemed more immediate and close because a good friend’s perfect Mormon family was impacted. I found our political divergences particularly interesting at this point. I didn’t claim to understand the movement for GLBT rights or the people it represented, but the notion that love could be conditional based on something so personal didn’t really settle right.

As I showed Erik around campus—my office, my favorite spot in the library, the campus café—our conversation seemed to be halted by our differences and Evan’s homosexuality. We remained in the neutral territory of discussing school and reminiscing about the mission. Still, it was as happy a reunion as one could hope for or expect. Intrigued by this earliest glimpse into the true lives of gay Mormon boys, question came to mind that would not be answered for another two years when Evan and I met again.

End, Part 4


Anonymous said...

Vinny Chase!

I love that man.

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