About seven years ago, in 2010, after completing Celebrating the Body Erotic (CBE) a couple of years prior, I said “yes” to Gabriel Clark, who was the registrar for the Body Electric School. I said “yes” to Gabriel that I would, indeed, attend Dear Love of Comrades at Wildwood that summer.
I remember distinctly when I received his phone call because I was back home in El Paso. At that time, the world seemed so different to me. I was struggling with not feeling comfortable about my attraction to men. I felt I was fat and ugly. My relationships were absent or on rocky grounds. I was numbing myself with the typical – alcohol, sex, food, and empty “connections.” I was living as a cog, working at a job I didn’t care about, and just trying to “make it through.” I was most likely depressed, suffering from anxiety, and “almost dead inside.” Even financially, I didn’t believe I could swing it.
It was most definitely not a time for me to “run away” to some week in California, I told myself.
But Gabriel convinced me otherwise.
Now, even though I had attended the CBE, I was still a prude when it came to nudity. So, when we reached the top of the mountain at Wildwood and the shyest one of our bunch literally leaped out of his clothes and jumped right into the pool of naked men…well, I was shocked. What had I gotten myself into? What was this going to be like? Had I lost my mind?
Accompanied by several other men from Texas, and 39 other men from around the world, I spent the next seven days working through myself and learning about heart-centered community. It’s where I started to play again. It’s where I started to accept pleasure.
It’s where I started to allow myself to trust.
It’s where I started to uncover my wounds. It’s where I began to peek into my joys. It’s where I was introduced to my own gifts of being able to look at where I had been, where I was, and where I could be.
It was magical. At the end of the seven days, I cried all the way back to San Francisco, snuggled in a jeep between my new brothers, heart open, spirit full. The next morning, before our flight back home, I was dancing like a fool in the hotel lobby listening to one of my favorite Luis Miguel ballads (“Inolvidable,” which means “Unforgettable”), and not caring WHAT the world thought of me.
I had started the journey to fall in love with me.
The gifts from Dear Love, for me, were abundant and sustaining. So many of the men I met at the mountaintop that week I am connected to in some way. Brothers. Playmates. Lovers. Sacred Intimates. Friends.
I’ve traveled the country many times, and find home with them.
They are welcome in my spaces as well. They offer a shoulder for me to cry on, a hand to hold when I am walking into unknown experiences, an abundance of laughter that leaves me short of breath, and pleasure and comfort in times of need. Some are still with us, others have journeyed on. But all, I carry in my heart.
From that week on, I’ve never again felt completely alone. I’ve had some rough times since then, but when I start to feel down, the memories of Dear Love, the resulting relationships, and the lessons I learned help me to get back up on my feet again.
So I thank you, dear Gabriel, for the gifts you put in my hands even though I resisted taking them (smile). And I thank all of you who were on that mountain with me that summer in 2010 – I think about you often, and my heart skips a beat when I actually get to connect with you again.
And if you HAVEN’T yet attended Dear Love, then I heartily suggest that you make space for it this summer. As much as your mind may give you reasons “now is not the time,” please follow your heart. Every moment is the right moment, and “not nows” easily turn into “nevers.” Opportunities can be lost forever.
I made it “up the mountain,” and it changed my life forever. Please join us.
Ready to experience this workshop? The New Body Electric School will offer “Dear love of Comrades” next in August of 2019 at Easton Mountain in upstate New York. Scholarships are available for those in need. Registrants much have completed “Celebrating the Body Erotic for Men” or “Tantra 1 for Men.” For more information and to register, click on the button below.
This article was originally published in March 2000.
Photo courtesy Rex Harley.