But dilemmas occur before they even hit the road. Jason, who had come out to his coach and more last semester, since due to the popularity of his status, he had become at this point, sort of a mini-celebrity. He had been asked to speak at a high school for LGBT kids in LA. So confliction of what to do . . . take this amazing opportunity and speak or take a long-awaited camping trip?
What was there to decide? Jason could cash in the tickets and since Nelson had saved up his money, all they would need it for was for food since they would camp out. So, turn this California opportunity into the road trip they were meant to have. After working at a chicken shack, Kyle wouldn't stop thinking about Nelson's offer over-and-over to join them. Initially after work, he agreed to go on this opportunistic trip he couldn't pass up on.
Jason love how his mom and little sister had taken to Kyle. He felt like the luckiest boy on Earth - just surrounded by love. After Jason told Kyle of the whole planned road trip, Jason loved it! When Jason called the school to exchange the ticket for cash to drive, and since his mom was afraid for him to fly, they understood and sent a check. After Nelson braced himself to tell his mom about the planned trip, She Freaked! But, she decided to let him go since he told her of Kyle going and all of the pre-planning.
As they all 3 sat and planned this trip, all 3 of them wanted to go to separate places along the way and planned ahead before leaving. Only concern is: Jason/Nelson don't irritate each other too much which started giving Jason second thoughts all around. Nelson went to get the car checked prior to the trip and the much needed repairs cost him half of his savings for the trip. He wanted to be a big boy, leave his job for a trip, spend what he's made - now he had to wear the pants. Since Nelson had still been w/ Jeremy and he had H.I.V. and Nelson was negative, after wonderingly thinking, could Nelson/Jeremy actually make this relationship work?
The next morning Mrs. Glassman confided to an wake Kyle while her sleeping son was still in state the truth of why she let Nelson go. Unattained by the alarm clock, Nelson overslept and rushed to get ready and moving. Before they left, Kyle promised Mrs. Glassman he'd watch over her son. When they left to go get Jason, before they all left, Mrs. Carrillo hugged her son and Kyle good-bye. It was then for the first time that happened, making Kyle feel more a part of Jason's life. And now, using Nelson's car, they're off on the road and before even leaving town irritation starts.
When they approached the exit for Tech, the school that retracted the scholarship from Jason, he sat and wondered what if? After they reached the campgrounds, Jason was going to shower and used Nelson's phone. When he got to the shower, Nelson retrieved his phone after sneaking a peek at Jason. Feeling like a dumb-ass for checking out his best friend's boyfriend.
Nelson later retrieved a bottle of rum he'd brought and after 2 drinks, vocally spilled what was too much. Kyle worried that because Jason had 2 drinks of rum, he worried it was the beginning of Jason turning into an alcoholic like his dad. In the morning, Kyle poured out and tossed Nelson's rum. When Nelson found out, it PISSED him off. When they drove past the basketball court, leaving the grounds, Jason invited Nelson, in rear-view, to a game before leaving. Nelson protested! But he had a right to hate the game. In school, he was reminded of being last and taunted through the game - which left him w/ a hatred for the game. A couple of hours later, Nelson couldn't find his cellphone. So, he thinks he left it at the campsite. After an hours drive back and no phone, he initially found it in the pocket of his jacket. That evening they were to reach some sort of mountain place Nelson insisted on staying.
After Nelson's phone fiasco, they needed to stop for gas - which they DESPERATELY needed. When the gas OFFICIALLY ran out, a pickup truck was right behind them . When the guys pulled out of their truck, what they thought was to be a confrontation, was that they offered direction to the sanctuary they were to initially stop for the night. After the introductions, 2 of the members of this sanctuary Horn-Boy and Lady Bugger led the way. When they got there, Nelson and Jason grew into it. It was more of an outdoor meeting/ camp trip for this group (LGBT's). As the campfire progressed, a joint went circling. Nelson inhaled and Kyle protested. After they got up in the morning, Jason had to force Nelson awake. While pissy, he started to fold up camp and say good-bye to leave. When Nelson was loading the car, Horn-Boy stopped by to give Nelson a private good-bye. He truly enjoyed the sanctuary. After they arrived in Nashville, Nelson wanted to see the Grand Ole Opry. Nelson & Kyle went to see the HISTORICAL monument as Jason went to find a basketball hoop to keep up his game.
Even though he felt pestered and babysat, Nelson had to know that Jason & Kyle were only looking out for his best interest. After the game was over on-court, Nelson & Kyle returned from the Opry and as they headed towards the car, they seen the car had been spray painted w/ a gay slur. Jason thought it was the rainbow flag on the bumper. Between Jason and Horn-Boy, Nelson wondered if he would ever find love? The next day, Nelson wanted to see the National Civil Rights Museum. Jason paid for everyone to get in, a little scarce at first, but Kyle & Nelson loved it! After they left, got back on the road & went to eat, Kyle realized he left his wallet feeling re-assured w/ the credit cards his dad had given him for emergencies.
When they stopped for gas, they pulled into a station and the female attendant asked for a ride - Kyle agreed. After looking at her in the rear-view, Jason wondered about her? She revealed her story and that she was TG (Transgendered). She had the look and sound that reminded Nelson of Britney Spears. After suggesting to enter a contest for a Britney look-alike, BJ gave Nelson a FULL makeover to make him look like Britney. Their destination was the Rendezvous Bar - Nelson's FIRST gay club ever. After the contest, which even though Nelson felt like a star, it was BJ who won - and got the attention she deserved.
Even though it was late, Jason sought the idea for "action" but after 3 nights lying beside Kyle in unrequited anguish, they went for it. The next morning after breakfast, the boys bid good-bye and left. BJ was their friend and that's all that mattered. After what they just went through the other night before at the bar, it gave Kyle a rush to let everyone know that Jason was his. The next day, the boys went to examine the city. As they headed down the street, they ran into 3 different teenage girls; Keesha, Evie and Leah. One was straight and the other two were a couple. They went to a nightclub called Score. After Jason stepped out for a minute, he found Leah pressing against his boyfriend. Nelson also found himself a guy, Arturo, and wanted to bring him back to their location. Just then, Kyle glanced back at the dance floor and was surprisingly agape to what he seen. Jason kissing. . . Leah?
A little talking but going to dance and for the second time on the dance floor, Leah kissed him again. Only an instant before Jason pulled away. At the edge of the dance floor, Jason spotted Nelson and Kyle staring. Kyle's face filtered w/ pain. With one really wrong answer reply and a hurt Kyle, he stormed out of the club. When they returned to the campsite, Kyle's tone left no doubt he had been crying. He was so hurt he packed up and slept in the car. (What can you say? He was hurt!)
Later that night, Nelson tried to re-assure Kyle that of Jason's history and his being closeted a long time before showing up at the youth meeting. (Nelson tried to do something nice by explaining to Kyle to look at it in Jason's shoes). For awhile Kyle thought over-and-over of Jason, yeah he was hurt, but more of "What if . . . he?" Already a tense atmosphere, Jason had to stop for a bathroom. So they did and went ahead and stopped to eat. They stopped at the Halfway Cafe. Jason scanned the restaurant and spotted 2 men they seen earlier on the road w/ a rainbow sticker on their car. After they introduced themselves and seen they were a couple, Todd & Miguel. As they sat together and spoke, Todd & Miguel had been together for 20 years. That day was their anniversary. They talked and chatted, then Todd & Miguel volunteered and paid the bill. (That was nice!) After they got back in the car, Jason apologized for what happened the other night. Kyle said it was over trust. After he strayed and kissed someone else, could he HONESTLY TRUST Jason?
After hearing Todd & Miguel's story, it made Jason feel ALOT more hopeful about his relationship w/ Kyle. After the boys stopped for the night at the nearest campground, setting up they noticed a small boy in the shadows. Just saying hello this little 7-yr-old boy, w/ a raggedy T-shirt and curly blonde hair, was being picked on by his dad. Nelson couldn't help but feel compassion for this kid as they left, due to his own experiences w/ his dad. In the early morning, after hearing this boy's dad rant, Nelson went to do a face mask and seen this kid, Esau and they spoke to each other.Curiously Esau allowed Nelson to put the exfoliant on his face. They hung out a bit before Esau started to take a liking to Nelson. He seen him as someone he could look up too! Esau peered up and his eyes filled w/ trust & hope. As he cleaned him up, Nelson gave Esau encouraging words. Just then Esau's dad burst through the bathroom. After he shouted at Nelson, Nelson ran after the dad. He shoved Esau back into their families tent before shouting a gay slur to Nelson in front of a sobbing Esau. Walking back, Nelson felt pride that someone, even if he was a stranger stuck for him. When they left, Nelson shouted Esau a message that he took to heart.In defiance, Esau waved back. After Nelson wondered off for about an hour, he noticed he hadn't had a cigarette and decided to quit.
After stopping for gas, there was a buff guy wearing a cowboy hat and a younger man in a wife-beater, jeans & boots in a truck. Kyle spotted a very unwelcoming sticker on their truck. After they asked what the flag sticker meant, Nelson replied w/ profanity what it meant, which made Kyle a nervous wreck, because it lead to a car chase. Already really nervous due to Nelson not helping any and where this confrontation was heading, Kyle reminded Nelson of what happened to Matthew Shepard. The car slammed into a beer can into the boys' windshield which made a small crack even bigger. With Nelson driving, another beer can - came a bigger crack. As Nelson tried to speed up faster, the guys in the truck gained up on them. As the boys turned a sharp turn, the truck that was following them slammed through a median barricade, leaving Kyle EXTREMELY upset/nervous. He cried himself to sleep quietly. The literally survived gay bashers.
After it was all over, Jason worried by how Kyle re-acted to this chase. It reminded him of his dad's drunken rages. After they had stopped to an ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT restaurant, Nelson & Jason dug right it while Kyle barely touched ANYTHING due to still being shaken up from the car chase. Nelson stuffed plate-after-plate. Kyle stated that's what Nelson did when he's upset. He also said Nelson had been bulimic in the past.
As they drove, Nelson started to sweat-then-shiver.He was burning up. As they reached the nearest hospital, Nelson was nauseous and going in-and-out. He had to be helped carried inside. Nelson tried to walk himself, but sank like a rock. Jason caught him just in time. When they got inside, Nelson tried to close his eyes, after Jason checked him in, but noises around him INTENSIFIED! He could barely sign consent forms Kyle had given him to sign. A dull ache started in his head. Kyle handed Nelson a metal bedpan. After Jason propped him up, he hurried Nelson past towards the bathroom. Just as they entered, Nelson started vomiting. As he did this, Jason had to help him from hitting anything. Nelson tried to stand alone, but hit the cold tile floor. He started to cry. But his throat felt scratchy, his jaw hurt & his body felt like jelly. His eyes were stinging and his nose on the inside would more. After the doctor questioned and examined him, Nelson did have food poisoning. After he was released hours later, they crashed into the campsite and Nelson went into the deepest sleep.
After this experience and all they had gone through and all that Nelson was there for, how could Kyle ever make it w/o Nelson after he left for college? This whole trip confused Kyle. Every day Jason seen sides of Kyle he never realized were there. (Side note - Were they there and Kyle didn't want to see them?) After he had a nightmare that scared the hell out of Kyle, he ran to look for him, but found him just outside the tent and fell on him. After they both squeezed into the ten, Kyle and Jason felt the trip wasn't going as planned, it confused Kyle that Jason could be so loving towards him and do a 180 and be so aggressive w/ someone else.
Jason felt like even though of what he's been through and at times hating himself, how could Kyle be w/ him? What does he expect? Every time Kyle did or said something sweet, inside Jason thought "Why?" "Who told you to say that?" "That's what you think . . ." As they had a serious discussion about their relationship status, breaking up and where this relationship was heading. They just had to take it one day at a time.
When Nelson woke up after having/fixing dry mouth, they all stayed at Grand Canyon Village w/ Kyle prodding Nelson to stay hydrated & drink. Staying there and camping for the night. The next day began their final stretch to LA. The rest of the way looked the same as where they'd been before. Then they hit CA. and it amazed Nelson. Just like what you'd seen in the movies. They made to LA. After they got to the Harvey Hay School offices, Nelson spotted a boy w/ brilliant pink hair. As their eyes met - they smiled. Nelson felt a connection. His name was Manny. As they sat/spoke, Nelson couldn't help but him & Manny smiling at each other. Nelson's heart raced. After they settled to where they would stay, Manny helped to unload and carry their bags. Offering to go get ice, Nelson went so they could chat. Meanwhile Nelson felt unsure of why this kid would like him? Kyle and Jason each wanted a private moment w/ each other. So they wanted Nelson to go out w/ Manny. After they got back, Nelson figited w/ why Manny would like him? He was NERVOUS.At Kyle's suggestion, Nelson tried to ready & have a date w/ Manny. After the "official" dinner w/ the school board to prepare for the speech, Nelson went out. What started as irritation & nerves became a fight for Jason and Kyle over speech prep. Angry and tired, he fell asleep quickly and Jason, in his sleep, let Kyle lay w/ him.
It was shortly after Nelson came in giggling. After ordering breakfast the next morning, Nelson woke up for breakfast. They were all ready when Manny showed up at the door. As Nelson drove to the school, they seen the news camera there. What caught the news cameras were the protesters that showed up. Nelson didn't join in the auditorium until the 4TH speech. Just then Jason wanted to speak w/ Nelson in the hall. Jason wanted Nelson give the speech, since he felt like Nelson should've been invited to do it all along. He did the right thing and did NOT bail out on what Jason was invited to do. In the front row, Nelson, Manny & Kyle silently cheered him on. Jason was GRATEFUL for his friends to have been there. As he looked at the 3 other boys, he found what he wanted to say and the journey they've taken. The applause scared him, but his speech, as well as Jason, went GREAT! A mist through the crowds of kids who treated Jason like a rock star, Nelson slid through and silently in Jason's ear thanked in gratitude for making him him do this.
Following the speech, Nelson wondered nervously why this guy was liking him so much? Kyle told him to enjoy it because Nelson was GENUINELY a nice guy. After they car repaired, they found Kyle's wallet wedged between the seats. They drove to Manny's place, met his roommate and cleaned their laundry. Nelson liked his apartment. What started out as kissing became more. After the sex, they held each other. Both sharing the same expression. Manny & Nelson shared the same idea; Nelson stay longer. He would stay w/ Manny and his roommate, Ernesto. Manny & Nelson were ALOT like each other. After their talk, Nelson & Manny went back to making love. When it was over, putting things away, Nelson spotted a basketball while hearing what brought everything connect & come together from the start. When they got back to the hotel, they talked about Nelson's given offer. After they called Nelson's mom at 1 AM, he told her of his plans w/ Manny. What started out as an argument w/ Nelson & his mom came to an agreement to stay. He was excited. Just then to make this trip complete, Nelson wanted to learnt to shoot hoops.
At first, Nelson was a little scarce of the ball. But after less than an hour, Nelson scored the first basket of his life. But it was more than a game, it was a reconciliation between two unlikely best friends. At one in the morning, Nelson mastered his first lay-up. At 9 AM, Manny showed up w/ doughnuts at the door. Even in a sleepy daze, Nelson messed around jokingly w/ Manny over his staying in LA. When they got to the car, Nelson transferred his things right next to Manny's car. They prepared emotional good-byes. On a quiet trip back w/o Nelson, Kyle & Jason, four days later, found Nelson's face cream and remembered Esau. In honor of Nelson & Esau, they used it and danced like the Wacky Fairies. Splurging on their last night on the road on a motel, it was somber as Jason & Kyle both knew it would be the last time before as Jason left for Princeton in 3 days. On the forth day, they made it home. At the home-cooked dinner, the boys each retold of their journey. Every time Jason smiled at Kyle, he couldn't help but see a lifetime.
What can I say about this book, well . . .