Cars.

Many of my early memories involve cars. I can easily remember sitting in the front seat of a mid 1960s Chevy Caprice with my maternal grandparents. The ignition key was directly in front of me and I remember reaching for the ring of keys. Grandpa City gave me a ring of keys to play with as he sat in the driver’s seat, “are you gonna drive with me?” I can still hear his voice as plain as day. Grandma City sat to my right and off we went. I want to say the car was a dark blue.

I remember walking in the driveway of my paternal grandparents towards my father’s VW Beetle, which was parked along the barn (which was actually called ‘the hen house’). Everyone was happy that I was walking. It wasn’t long after that the Beetle was gone and he had a green muscle car sitting in the same spot. I remember Mom not being happy about the new car. “We should have talked about it first.”  A non-auto related memory from around the same era was when our mobile home was moved from a trailer park in town to the lot next to my grandparents’ farm. Grandma Country and I looked out the bedroom window at the lot where the mobile home would be parked. Shortly afterward Dad started building an addition onto the mobile home to add a bedroom, half a laundry room (dryer only), and a living room. I’m a little hazy on this but I think it was right before my sister was born. 

Earl and I constantly go on road trips. It is a very relaxing and grounding activity for me and I’m sure that’s because of the memories I have surrounding cars. As we drive along, chatting,  I’m always reminded of the excitement and awe I felt on our first family road trip in 1976, when we took Grandma City’s oldest sister, my great-Aunt Ruby, back to Blackstone, Virginia after the annual family reunion. We took the 14 hour trek from the shores of Lake Ontario to Blackstone in my grandparent’s 1973 Buick Electra 225. It was a boat of a car and my sister, Aunt Ruby and I were easily able to sit in the back seat together. Aunt Ruby nodded off. I looked out the window in all directions. I remember spotting an exit sign for “P.A. 106” and I was confused as to why Pennsylvania was abbreviated that way. (Many years later I discovered it used to be “U.S. 106” and they changed out the letters but left the periods in place when the route designation was changed). I remember being excited about passing through Maryland on Interstate 81 in less than 10 minutes. We ate at a truck-stop diner just inside Virginia before finishing out trek to Blackstone. Aunt Ruby and Uncle Archie lived on a big farm in the woods with no electricity, aside from some car batteries wired together. She cooked on a wood-fired stove. There was a cuckoo clock in every room. They were very friendly. We ate a late supper after the farm chores were done for the day. Aunt Ruby talked to her vegetables on the stove as they cooked. “C’mon little peas. Let’s get cooking.”

When we pass cars on our road trips and I see children in the back seat watching a monitor or playing a game, or I see parents in the front seat intent on their phones, oblivious to the world whizzing by, I can’t help but wonder if they’re being robbed of future memories. I have watched the world around me for nearly half a century. I have no intention of stopping.

I will keeping adding to the memory bank and smiling as I watch the world around me.

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PDA.

Jamie and Chris hold hands in public like it’s nobody’s business. If you think about it, it really is nobody’s business. I admire them both for being so open about their relationship.

I’ve never been a public displays of affection kind of guy. This is because I’m an old gay and I’ve always been terrified that the people with pitchforks and torches would descend from the heavens and throw stones at us like that poor woman in the lottery, simply because my husband and I stole a whimsical glance that made us seem, well, gay. I know this is my own problem and that I am riddled with some sort of internal homophobia and quite frankly, I know it’s a big fault of mine, it’s a big hang up of mine and I’m desperately trying to get past it. There’s a lot of things I’m working on getting beyond, like eating scrambled eggs, but the open displays of affection is a biggie for me.

Tonight we attended a wedding reception populated with a lot of military folks. The son of one of my best friends married his bride. The son is in the Air Force, comes from an Air Force family and subsequently there were a lot of military uniforms with people wearing them and folks that looked obviously retired military. The ceremony was beautiful. The reception was lovely and when the DJ called for all the married couples to get on the floor I froze, I hesitated and I withdrew until several people convinced me to slow dance with my husband amongst all this brass.

Once I held Earl and danced with him, as the DJ weeded down the dancing crowd by the number of years of marriage, I was in heaven. The predictable fireworks flew around in my head and I fell in love with him all over again. It happens everyday and this time it happened in public.

No pitchforks. No torches. Not even a tiki lamp.

The world did not end. My eyes were opened and I felt like I stepped into a whole new existence.

Alley.

Across the alley from our patio is a beautiful roof top deck for a local mortgage firm. They have gathering from time to time. From what we’ve heard they’re client parties for new home owners that use their mortgage services. During the week folks from the building have lunch, play table tennis and lounge around a bit.

The space is quite impressive and a wonderful use of the building rooftop. We don’t mind having this activity directly across from our patio, though we do have to remember to wear clothes when we are walking around the condo so we don’t give an inadvertent peep show. We’re not ready to be arrested for naughty behavior at this time. Some people can be prudish about middle aged men walking naked around in front of 10 feet of glass.

We experienced our first Home Owners Association meeting this week. Everyone was friendly and welcomed us to the building. There are several new owners in the building and it was nice to meet them as well. Naturally everyone asked what unit we moved into; they were complimentary when they found out our location. “Oh that’s a nice one!” was a common theme. One woman asked if we liked living directly across the alley from the roof top garden (several units have the same view) and we both remarked that we loved it. It’s a beautiful space that is occasionally populated with beautiful people. Off in the distance we can see the Sears Tower and other buildings downtown.

Who can complain?

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Hope.

One of the things I found encouraging when we were talking about moving to Chicago was the obvious signs of tolerance, acceptance of all kinds of love, and the shunning of hate in any form. Before moving here I walked through several neighborhoods exploring the vibe of the area. Many of the churches, of many differing denominations, would feature messages such as the one shown in the photo I snapped last night. A good share of the signs would feature a gay pride flag. Rogers Park, Albany Park, Wrigleyville, North Center: I found these hopeful displays of acceptance in all of the areas that I explored.

Many homes and businesses within a one mile radius of our home have a gay pride flag displayed in their window. Many more have signs of “Hate Has No Home Here” and “All People Are Equal”.


These displayed have helped me find hope in these turbulent times in our society. When Trump was elected president I pretty much lost all hope in society. I am still quite worried about the future of these United States, because hate has been validated by the very hateful leader that was elected by a minority of our population. But as a few have been quick to remind me, sometimes it takes a giant swing of the pendulum to get it to swing back in the other direction. Having moved away from a very red part of a blue state and into a bluer area of the map has opened my eyes to a future that is once again attainable.

We just need to continue to stand up, speak out, and more importantly, have hope.

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Houston.

Earl and I vacationed in Houston, Texas in December 2012. We found it to be a nice city and we enjoyed our time there. Downtown activity tended to come to a screeching halt after the businesses closed for the day, which I found surprising for the 4th largest city in the nation. I was thinking that it would be busy 24/7 like many of the other cities that we had visited over the years, but Houston went along at its own pace. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve been watching Twitter to see what’s going on during their encounter with Hurricane Harvey but Twitter has been a little odd in that regard. There’s a mention of Houston and rescue efforts here and there but not as many mentions as I expected to see. I would think that there would be more mentions from our fellow citizens during what could probably be described as the storm of the century, if we weren’t in the beginnings of this particular century. I fear people are becoming desensitized to extreme weather events. I fear people are become desensitized to human beings being trapped in a catastrophic event. I partly blame the constant tide of violent movies, death laden video games, etc. for this sort of thinking. I also think people are just getting tired of bad news all the time. We’ve had a lot of it in 2017 and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

I know I’m tired of bad news.

Here’s some information from Time.com if you want to contribute to rescue and relief efforts in Houston.

Getting There. 


Earl and I are slowly making strides in getting the condo to really feel like home. Our new living room furniture is still a few weeks of but we are slowly adding other touches to add familiarity to our new home. 

Today I hung the first of my clocks in my collection. This clock hands in my office and will be showing the proper time when the new power supply arrives on Tuesday. 

Sitch. 



I’m drinking. Earl is guiding. I have no pepper spray. I haven’t been shot. I live in Chicago and I freaking love it. 

I’m drunk.