This is a continuation of Living in Santa Barbara.
Since I was young I have passed a fair amount of time looking out the window. As I practiced this art, I noticed a nice looking boy coming and going at a house across the street. One afternoon, as I was working on building a huge fish tank in the garage with Reggie, this boy came in with his older brother to see what we were doing. While Reggie was entertaining the elder, Sam, I invited the younger, Jesse, to admire my circular garden. Jesse was fourteen, part Navaho Indian, and I was sure hewas gay. I wanted to make a drawing of him and he was eager to comply, so we made a date for the next day. He was living with his father in Davis and left shortly after but Sam kept coming to the house. He wanted me to give him a tattoo and one day he brought me a crude tattoo machine that he had made. That was not to be denied. Since the machine worked with only one needle, every line had to be worked over several times and we passed long hours at it. When we had finished a butterfly on his hip he wanted a snake on the chest and then a rose on the shoulder. He was eager to be a model; we passed a lot of time together and I took many pictures that I developed in my darkroom.
But it was his brother that I was in love with.
Jesse came back at the end of the summer to stay with his grandmother in the house across the street. He always said that he had raised himself. His family did not really have time for him and he took his decisions independently and certainly knew what he wanted, so when we hooked up and he became my lover it was with his consent. The sex was not the most important part of our relationship, but for me it was the fulfillment of a dream I had had since I was a teenager and in love with my best friend.
We only had a few months together before our household broke up and I went back to Vajrapani Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I invited him to visit me there and all the good Buddhists seemed shaken by the thought that my fifteen years old boyfriend was coming. For me there was no confusion; I only worried if I would be pure enough and wise enough to never hurt him.
Next I visited him at his fathers place in Dixon near Sacramento and then we met again in Santa Barbara and at Vajrapani and between the visits we wrote each other. We always had a good time together, whether we were exploring in nature or being creative at home. I was often executing his commissions, making drawings for him or sewing clothes or taking photos and he also enjoyed drawing and showed aptitude for it.
Our relationship lasted till he was eighteen. He was becoming less interested in art and dreaming more the American dream of material wealth and I knew we had come to the end. He had decided to leave home and set out on his own and he asked me to take him to San Francisco and leave him on a street corner to try his luck. It was with a heavy heart that I complied with his wish.
He wrote and told me that a boy named Billy had picked him up immediately and that he was now living with him. I received a few more letters and then nothing for three years.
Then came a letter from the correctional facility in Vaccaville and our correspondence resumed. I told him that I was not in love with him any more but would always be his friend.
I will finish with some of the words he wrote in the last letter I received: “I really miss all the good times we had together & have them framed in a picture in my mind for life. You made me very happy in my childhood days. The gods must have done it. Because I was really lost and lonely and needed a good friend. You took me away from all that drama with my family. I hope I can still come and visit for a while, I would enjoy that very much.”
But he never came.