- This trip lasted for an entire, luxuriously spacious, perfect-weather week. Not a long weekend, a whole week!
- I spent the week in a rental house with other gay men. (All my previous vacations I’d spent either in mixed small groups or with one other gay person – or, at most, two others. There were 11 of us sharing the house we rented. Although I’ve travelled with seven other people before, the prospect of spending a week with 10 others – not to mention ten other gay men – was a new personal travel frontier.)
- I knew well only one of these ten men before rendezvousing with them at the beach house. (Spending an entire week with so many people I don’t know well is something that wouldn’t have appealed to me had not these guys been fellow attendees of the conferences sponsored by, or local potlucks that grew out of, the Gay Spirit Visions group I’ve been connected with for 25 years now.) All but one of the men in this group had rented a house together on St. George in previous years, and some of them have been going there together for over 10 years. I was one of only two newcomers, knew that before going,..but decided to go anyway!
- My invitation to join the group this year came to me only three days before the trip. (All my previous vacations I had planned far in advance. This one happened so suddenly because at the last minute someone originally planning to go couldn’t , and I had asked to be put on the group’s waiting list.)
- This particular beach, St. George’s Island, has long been one of my favorites. (My friends Royce and Martha have lived in a house there for 31 years, and my brother Michael’s and his wife’s wedding ceremony was on the island.)
- As I do whenever I go out of town, I took with me a half-dozen books to read…and never cracked the first one! For this introvert, spending an entire week socializing or relaxing with other people without any desire whatsoever to spend some of that time reading was unprecedented – and a testimony to the fact that I continued to enjoy the company of these guys and kept seeking ways to maximize my interactions with them.
- Most vacations I take are to urban places, with lots o’ sights I’m keen to visit and numerous transportation arrangements to make (and endure). This vacation was just one unending series of relaxing activities with my fellow house-renters, with only few trips (by me, anyway) to town, and, except for being treated to a very lengthy and delicious dinner in a fancy restaurant, those trips off the island were brief and purposeful – despite the fact that the town, Appalachicola, is full of interesting places to window-shop.
After a few attempts to put into words how magical this week was, I’ve given up trying. Instead, I’m posting a few photos of the cast of characters, each of them a sweetheart.
Hanging out for an entire week with these guys in a beautiful, relaxing, luxurious setting with no set agenda and no expectations other than that we team up to provide a meal for the group – which, incidentally, was another first for Calvin: helping Ralph cook for eleven people! – was an undiluted pleasure, full of pleasant surprises, completely crammed with laughter and an uninterrupted outpouring of generosity and good will.
For a week after returning to Atlanta, I was still floating along remembering with fondness and smiles vivid memories of the great time I had with these extraordinary guys. Two weeks later, the specific memories have melted into a generalized recollection of the “tub o’ love” that I experienced there.
I’m grateful to have gotten to know these wonderful men, and to have basked for an entire week in the delicious experience of just being myself and sharing some unprogrammed time with such kind, considerate, open-hearted, interesting, talented, thoughtful, witty, and fun-loving men. I am one lucky guy.