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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Swingin' cats...

My room was perfectly seedy.

Lumpy, stained mattress and scarred night table. The bathroom was down the hall. My window opened onto a brick wall. My duffel bag sat propped in the corner. I had a small desk tilted unevenly against the wall and a hard backed chair.

There was no art on the walls. Domestic bliss.

I paid by the week and knew I would go stark raving batshit if I tried to sleep before I was exhausted, so I walked. Found an espresso joint on the corner with outside tables. Old Italian men sat smoking black, ropey cigars, and gazed into their cups.

Picked up a map at the front desk and unfolded it against the chilly night wind. I found China town, Fisherman's Wharf and Knob Hill.

I found it interesting that Knob Hill was no where near the gay epi-center of town, the Castro. Seemed only natural to me...(did I have to mention that? If you know me at all, you know the answer to that.) I also found it disconcerting that it was July and I was freezing my ass off. But that's the City in the summer, who knew?

And that's another thing. I had heard about the City being a Gay haven but thought it was probably just a neighborhood and I could avoid it if I felt it necessary. I soon found that being a straight male in his twenties put me in a minority and that the Gay part of town was, well, the entire town, with valiant pockets of ethnic heterosexuality here and there and possibly, three straight white guys out in the Avenues, and me.
Being a want-to-be writer put me into a majority, so I figured it balanced.

I learned you couldn't swing a cat in this town without hitting an artist, writer, actress or homosexual. Now I've never been one to condone striking homosexuals with swung cats, but if that was your idea of a good time, then this was the town for you.

The mid-eighties were a vibrant time for San Francisco. Headline politics; murder, scandal, Hunter Thompson writing for the Chronicle (giving Herb Caen fits) -The O'Farrell theater, all of this pre-big earthquake time.
AIDS was making itself known but was no where near the epidemic proportion it would later become, turning the City into one big funeral pyre.

So I walked. I found City Lights bookstore-the mecca for beat generation writers. I walked the same streets as Richard Brautigan and Dashiel Hammett. Earl Thompson had died a few years before across the Bridge in Sausalito, at the unexpected age of 47. (I carried his novels with me for years, and still own a copy of "The Devil to Pay.")

I settled in as best I could, figuring I would only be at the Hotel for a couple of days, then 'she' would beckon me with open arms, and we could play house across the bay. So in the meantime I met my fellow residents. Two actresses, (one, the hairiest little Armenian girl I had ever seen,) another writer, two academics, and a handful of old Jews.
"The whitefish is looking particularly good today...did I tell you, I knew Sophie Tucker...give me back my T.V. guide you gentile bastid!"

The two days passed that we had agreed on, or I had, and I took a cable car across town, and hiked it to The Golden Gate Bridge, standing and peering at the Pacific, in swirling Fog, the ghosts of Alcatraz at my back.

I waited for her to come strolling out of the mists, taking me in her arms and making me complete.

I waited until I was too cold and wet to wait anymore. I slowly walked away.

She was right. I was an idiot.

My new disclaimer...yeah I know.

Okay, the old disclaimer was tired. The ideas were outdated and keeping me stuck in a place I don't want to be now for something more refreshing.

I have recently changed my views regarding women. Seems I had some issues with the fairer sex due to past pain and self- centered fear. (Yes...duh applies.)

I'm done with that.

Being in recovery has helped me change my entire life, perceptions and attitudes. I cannot change my history but I can change my today and my future.

I recently realized that the women I know in recovery are some of the strongest, bravest, most gentle and kind teachers I have ever had. You exemplify integrity and spiritual growth, and I hope you know who you are.

Some may know of my past marital and relationship history and been a participant in them as well. It's past and that's where it the past.

I own my part in those failures but claim no more responsibility in any misery you may be experiencing. I am sorry, but it's time to get off the cross. We need the wood.

Thank you all...