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Subject: Takeoffs and Landings: Jared and Matt’s Story Chapter 8 Jared At around 10:00 AM on April 21, 1999, my phone rang and it was from a number I didn’t recognize. My heart picked up speed as I answered, hoping this was what I thought it was. A man’s voice said “Hello, may I please speak to Jared Ryan?” “Speaking,” I said, my voice cracking slightly. “Hi Jared, this is Larry Parsons with Northwest Airlines in-flight recruiting. I’m calling to let you know that we’ve decided to offer you a spot in our June 1 training class.” I sighed both with relief and excitement. “Yes! Thank you so much!” I managed. “We think you’re exactly what we’re looking for and we think you’re going to go places here at Northwest. You’ll be flying the DC-9 and we’re looking forward to your arrival in Minneapolis.” “Thank you,” was all I could manage. When I hung up the phone I had to call Matt. “Hel-” was all I let him say before I launched into my message. “Matt I got the job! Northwest just called! My training class starts June 1! Everything’s going to be all right!” “Ummm,” he managed before he sighed. “Oh I’m so glad. I’m so happy for you Jared! I’m happy for both of us.” Later that night we celebrated by going out to dinner. The celebration was short-lived though because we still had yet to iron out the details of our move and naturally that’s what we ended up talking about. But just for that fleeting moment nothing else mattered. “Ahhhhh I’m so relieved,” I said as we clinked our wine glasses together. “I’m not as excited as I should be yet but it’s got a bit to sink in.” “So do we have anything actually planned yet,” Matt asked me sipping his glass of Riesling. “I’m pretty sure I have a few things in mind but starting tomorrow I have to make some phone calls,” I replied just before our waiter arrived with our food. “Here’s the pot roast,” he said setting down my plate, “and here’s the grilled chicken alfredo,” he said setting down Matt’s. “You guys enjoy.” “So have you talked to your parents yet,” Matt inquired. “Yeah I told them when we first decided that we were moving back. I haven’t told them any other details because I didn’t have any other details to give them,” I explained honestly. “I don’t mean to make this a bigger deal than it is but I’m kind of worried that we’re getting so close to the day we have to move and not having anything planned yet,” he confided. “No you’re right. This coming week is going to be my time to get all of that taken care of and we’ll make the decisions together,” I responded trying to sound comforting. The decisions mostly turned out to be no-brainers. I landed us a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment at a complex about five minutes from my parents’ house. It was only about 800 square feet but it was the most we could get for the price we could afford to pay. On Sunday, May 9, 1999 our parents and my siblings came with us to Miller Auditorium for commencement. It was another one of those events that served as a safe positive moment in the midst of a whirlwind of uncertainty. We sat through the sappy speeches and watched hundreds of other people get their diplomas before I was even in line to get mine. Matt walked before I did because of our last names, and obviously when your last name is Ryan you’re going to be among the last. Eventually I made it to the stage and it was time. I proudly strode across the stage shaking hands with all the faculty and posing for a picture with my diploma cover. After the ceremony we all met up in the lobby and posed for pictures. We spent the night relaxing, eating takeout, and laughing together at my parents’ hotel room. Earlier we had said goodbye to Matt’s parents because they were flying back to Delaware the next morning. “I’m so happy for you guys,” Brady said to me. “It takes a lot of maturity to take this step.” I felt a sense of peace about it being my last night in Kalamazoo, the city I’d called home for almost two years. It’s a progressive, hip, and even gay-friendly city. I knew I was going to miss it because it’s definitely a lot more liberal than my hometown. Let’s just say I didn’t know of a lot of gay people in southern Illinois. The next day we loaded the contents of our house into a U-Haul and hit the road for the six and a half hour drive back to Belleville. It was around dinner time when we arrived at Brandon Park Apartments. The units were villas, where you had neighbors on both sides but everything was one-story. The house was basically divided into thirds, with a kitchen and living room in the middle with a bedroom and bathroom on either side. Once my parents left and we were finally alone it wasn’t long before the inevitable happened. I fell into Matt’s arms and we kissed passionately and shed our clothes on the way to our bedroom. “Fuck me,” I instructed. I got on my back and put my feet in the air, just how he likes me. “I think we’re out of condoms,” he said looking around the floor near our bed. “We don’t need any,” I replied. He stopped and looked at me trying to gauge whether or not I was serious. I put my legs down and sat up indian style. “Matt you’re my husband. I trust you. You trust me. There is no one else on earth I’d rather be with than you.” “That’s a valid point,” he said nodding. “Look me in the eye. Can you say the same?” He looked at me almost blankly and blinked. “Is that even erdemli escort a question? Of course! I love you so fucking much,” he said as he got on his knees to embrace me. He looked me straight in my eyes and leaned in for a kiss. He lubed me up and then slathered his own dick with the lube. After he wiped his hands on his hips he positioned himself for entry. I wrapped my legs around him and he started thrusting. He started out fast, hitting my prostate like a machine gun. My mind was being blown with every passing second. It was amazing. He stopped for a second to catch his breath and we kissed passionately in the interim. He started ramming me again and every thrust just sent waves of pleasure throughout my midsection. “Uh, oh,” he let out as he pounded away at me. Finally he groaned and reared back, pulled out, and jerked himselff off onto my chest. We both moaned as we caught our breath and then started laughing. “First fuck in the new house was a success,” he said with that damn mischevious smile. I sat up and motioned for him to sit down, which he did. I looked into his eyes and smiled. “Fellow Illinoisan,” I said and we both shared a hearty laugh. Just like when we were at the end of our time in school our sex life became our escape from the realities we were facing. I was going off to training, which would be 8 weeks long. I wouldn’t be able to make it home during that time either, meaning Matt would be completely left to his own devices. Over the next few days I just noticed him getting more and more quiet. After that he just got sadder and sadder. My training date was approaching and I realized I needed to do something now before I left. Later that night I seized the perfect moment, when he flopped onto the couch right after he’d changed into his pajamas after he took a shower. I’m a very plan-oriented person but things like this are hard to make a plan of attack for. I sat down next to him on the couch and tried to appear as non-threatening as I possibly could. “Matt I’ve felt like something’s off that you’re not talking about. You’ve been getting sadder and sadder and I’m kind of worried about you.” Matt looked at me and I felt the heat of those brown eyes focused squarely on me. I felt a little bit of fear as I had no idea what was about to come out of his mouth next. “I’m depressed.” he spat out. He leaned forward and held his hands between his knees. “Depressed about what?” I asked genuinely not knowing what his answer would be. “We just moved somewhere where I don’t know anybody or have any friends, I haven’t been able to find a job, and now you’re going to be gone all the time,” he answered in a child-like, quiet tone of voice, like he wasn’t sure how I was going to take what he was saying. “That’s normal,” I said in my customer service voice. There were a lot of possibilities flying through my head about what could be wrong and I was almost relieved to hear him say that because that was about the least bad thing I was thinking that it could be. “Matt this is a stressful time for both of us. This is so new and it’s okay for it to feel new.” That’s when the tears started welling in his eyes. “I’ve never felt this shitty for this long,” he replied. I wrapped my arms around him and brought him close. “You let it all out, let it all out,” I whispered as he cried. He put his arms around me and he just sobbed. I’d only seen him like this once before, when his grandma died. I brought him in as close as I could. “You let it out, let it all out. You can’t hold things like this in or else it only gets worse. Okay?” I said soothingly as he calmed down. “I’m sorry I got like this,” he said feeling embarassed that he had been crying. “Don’t be. Stuff like that is really easy to fall into. And if you don’t deal with it, it only gets worse and worse until you do. Don’t ever feel like you have to hide that stuff from me. Talk to me about it, I’m your partner, remember?” and that got a small laugh from him. “I kind of regret moving here,” he said looking me square in the eye again and I could see the fear in those brown eyes this time. “I understand why. It’s a new place, the only people you know here are family you’re new with and haven’t known very long. Everything you’re feeling is normal.” “Yeah?” he replied. “Yeah! I know for a fact that I would have felt the exact same way when I first moved to Michigan if I hadn’t met you that night. You gave me that stability I needed to get through these last couple years. Those feelings are okay and completely valid,” I said I said honestly. He looked up at me with an innocent look in his eyes, like he’d never had these kinds of feelings validated before. “And you know we don’t have to live here forever. Once I hit one year my hourly goes up to $61 an hour. Even if you don’t have a steady job yet by then, we can move anywhere we want to. I’d been waiting to broach that subject until we were fully settled but oh well. We can do anything we want to. There may be some bullshit along the way but we can do it.” He kept his gaze down and let out a sigh that sounded relieved but I wasn’t sure. “I’m also not looking forward to you being gone all the time. I knew this was something that was coming obviously but we were inseparable in college and now I’m not going to see you for two whole months. and tarsus escort you’re going to be gone all the time after that.” “It’s the new normal. Do you think I want to be apart from you either? This is how it’s going to be for a bit. But we’re going to get through it and we’re both going to adapt. But outside work we’re going to have a lot of fun. Why don’t you pick a place and we’ll go there once I have the vacation time.” “I think that’s a great idea,” he said with a big smile and I was relieved to see that. I thought that that had resolved the worst of our issues but a couple weeks later that was proven to be wrong. It was a Friday night about a week before I was leaving for training. I had gone over to Brady’s loft in downtown St. Louis and hung out with him and Sam for the evening and we had a few beers. It was about 1 am when I left to head home. Matt hadn’t been feeling well for a few days but nothing would prepare me for what awaited me when I got home. I saw that the lights were still on and I got scared. I opened the front door and stepped into the living room and found him sitting at the kitchen table doubled over, his hands on his knees. “Matt!” I yelled running across the room to him. “I…can’t…breathe,” he said requiring a breath for each word. “Jesus fucking Christ Matt what’s wrong?” I asked as the gravity of the situation set in. I could hear squeaks and loud wheezes coming from his lungs with each breath. “Take as deep a breath as you can,” I instructed. He did and he could only draw in for about a second. “Oh my god, I’m calling 911,” I said as I reached for the cordless phone on the kitchen counter. On the outside I tried to appear calm as Matt looked at me blankly. He didn’t know what was wrong with him either. “This is how I have to be to breathe,” he said putting his hands back on his knees and leaning forward. “You stay just like that then,” I said as the dispatcher finally answered. “911 what is the location of your emergency?” “16 Brandon Drive apartment F7 in Belleville, Brandon Park Apartments,” I replied. “Do you need police, fire, or ambulance?” the woman responded. “My partner is having trouble breathing, I need an ambulance,” I replied. “Okay stay on the phone with me until they get there. Help him to a position where he can breathe easiest, okay?” she instructed. “Is he still conscious?” “Yes,” I replied. “Okay stay on the phone and if he loses consciousness let me know and I’ll give you further instructions. Just stay calm okay?” “I know to stay calm, I’m a pilot,” I said trying to find some form of humor to help cope with the seriousness of the situation and the dispatcher laughed. Finally the paramedics arrived about 10 minutes later and before long they had the gurney in my living room. They first assessed his condition and then coordinated how they were going to take him. “Okay Matt I’m going to pick you up to put you on the stretcher, okay?” said a big burly firefighter. “I’m going to put one arm under your knees and my other arm across your back and I’m going to lift you straight up, turn you around, and put you down, okay?” Matt nodded his head and his facial expression didn’t change as the firefighter transferred him over. He was pale as a ghost and I watched as they pulled up his shirt to apply the heart monitor pads. Once that was done they placed an oxygen line around his ears and into his nostrils. “Can I go with him?” I asked holding back tears. “No you’ll have to drive yourself,” the ambulance driver said. “Do you know the way to Memorial Hospital?” “I grew up in this town I know how to get there I just don’t want to be apart from him right now,” I explained with tears welling in my eyes. “I’m sorry sir but for his safety and yours you can’t ride in the ambulance. Is he your family?” “He’s my partner,” I explained in a painfully annoyed tone. “He’s the person I love.” “I understand,” he replied in a caring tone. “We’re going to take good care of him, I promise.” I got in my car and made the ten-minute drive that felt like ten hours. I sped the whole way there. When I arrived I parked my car and sprinted inside the building as fast as I possibly could. Matt sat slumped over in a wheelchair in the waiting room while they prepared a treatment room for him in the ER. “Can you turn my oxygen up,” he asked the nurse before she walked away. After about 20 minutes they moved him to a bed. As the hours wore on they had to keep turning his oxygen up higher and higher as the doctors worked to figure out what was wrong with him. They took him away for x-rays and with every development I was getting more and more scared. Finally at around 5 in the morning the attending doctor came back and announced his findings. He was a skinny guy “Your chest x-ray shows pneumonia. It’s a good thing you came in when you did becuase if you hadn’t you would have died. We need to get you to a room upstairs so we can get you on high-flow oxygen.” “Please tell me he’s going to be okay,” I said trying to comprehend how bad his answer could be. I sat next to his bed holding his hand. “His condition is very serious right now and we are going to put him in intensive care. But after a few days of antibiotics and steroids he’ll be good as new.” “Can I stay with him?” I asked. “Unfortunately not. He’s still contageous akdeniz escort for the moment and he’s going to be in the ICU for a few days. But you can definitely come back during visiting hours,” the doctor explained. I doubled over and cried into my hands. Matt tried to console me by putting his hand on the back of my head and the doctor came over and hugged me. “I understand how you feel,” he said. “Is he…” he started to ask the question I already knew and I answered it before he finished. “We’re partners,” I explained king of annoyed. “I see how much he means to you,” he said. “We’re going to take good care of him and we’ll get him fixed up,” he finished while rubbing my shoulder consolingly. I went back out to my car and called my mom on my cell phone. I had to try really hard to keep the tears under control. “Hello? What’s wrong, it’s the middle of the night.” “Mom, it’s Matt. He’s in the hospital. He has pneumonia and I found him when I got home from Brady’s and they said that if I hadn’t called the paramedics when I did that he would have died and…” “Jared slow down,” she said. “Tell me that again.” “He has pneumonia and they’re putting him in intensive care. If I hadn’t gotten home and found him when I did they told me that he would have died. And I can’t stay here with him either they’re making me go home. I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot, Mom.” “But he’s going to be okay, right?” she asked. “They think so but they’re putting him in the ICU because of how low his oxygen rates are. Mom I don’t want to be alone right now,” I continued. I just couldn’t gather myself. “Okay, let me know when you get home and I’ll be right over, okay?” she replied sounding motherly. The housr was only four minutes away from our apartment. When I got home I collapsed onto the couch and called my mom. She was over shortly thereafter and she wrapped me up in a tight hug as moms do in tough situations. “I’m leaving for training in a week. I don’t want to be apart from him when he’s like this,” I said crying. “Jared there’s nothing you can do to help Matt right now so you need to take care of yourself. I want you to get some sleep because I know you’re tired and whenever you wake up then we’ll go over to the hospital and we’ll go visit him, okay?” I did as she said and walked back to our bedroom, stripped down to my underwear, and got into bed. I went to sleep and guess who I dreamed about. I awoke about six hours later, to the sound of “The Price Is Right” on the TV in the living room. When I emerged my mom was right there to hug me. “Oh Jared you were breaking my heart,” she said embracing me tightly. “You moaned his name so many times while you were asleep.” I dressed as quickly as I could and my mom drove us to the hospital. My mom tried to talk to me at first but she quickly realized that I was one-track minded. When we entered the lobby I felt impatient just in the time it took the desk clerk to look up which room Matthew Graves was located in. My mom even noticed me tapping my foot impatiently as the elevator took us up to his floor. When I walked in the door Matt looked better already. His color had improved and he had eaten about half of his lunch. “Matt,” I whispered coming in to hug him as best he could from his position in the bed. “Hi Jared,” he said with a smile before he coughed long and hard and the amount of crap in his lungs was just brutal to listen to. “It’s good to see you too, Sue.” “You should have seen him last night,” she said getting a little bit emotional. She then turned to me and said with a tear rolling down her cheek “Last night I was so proud of you Jared. I was so proud that you’re my son for how you took care of him and how dedicated you are.” She turned back towards Matt. “You are so lucky to have him,” she said ruffling my hair like moms do. We stayed until dinnertime before we went home. The next day we came back and spent some time with him again and he looked and sounded better with each passing day. Finally he was released from the hospital after six days and his mom flew in from Delaware to help him out. It was perfect because the day after he was released, I flew to Minneapolis for training. It was a long and hard eight weeks, studying aircraft schematics and systems and then procedures and maneuvers. Once ground school was done we did lessons in the simulator and after a couple weeks of that, we went to the airport and flew the actual DC-9. The aircraft was built from 1965-1982 so it didn’t have the high-tech cockpit that airliners have today. All the gauges were analog and the cockpit was smurf blue. The autopilot was very rudimentary and that’s what made it fun to fly. After it was all said and done I had to fly two flights with passengers and a line check airman, and once that was done I was officially a first officer for Northwest Airlines. We had a graduation ceremony where our wings were pinned onto our shirts and to my surprise there was Matt in the audience, beaming with pride. He hadn’t mentioned that he was going to be there but there he was. I later learned he’d called ahead to find out what day the ceremony was and bought himself a ticket up there to be there as a surprise. As soon as he walked up to me we embraced in a long, blissful, passionate kiss. *** Hey everyone, thanks so much for reading! Stay tuned for more and as always, please let me know what you think about this story. Drop me a line at hoo. Whether you like the story or don’t like it or just want to chat, I always write back. Let me know what you like or don’t like about it. And please donate to Nifty if you feel so inclined. Onto chapter 9!

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