I am sitting on a Norwegian Dreamliner plane, flying from LA to Berlin, to spend the next 16 days, with my boyfriend, Noah. I was watching movies. I will confess: I actually cried watching Geo-Storm. Don’t judge me. I’m in an emo-feeling kinda feeling lucky mood.
When I was in third grade my teacher, Mrs. Darlene Sacco, gave me a tape recorder. Because I told stories. That was her very kind way of saying I made up elaborate lies.
In second grade I told my whole class, teachers, and school guidance counselor ,that my parents had died in a fire and I was left alone to care of my 6 brothers and sisters. I think I was 8 when I told this story. At the time I only had one brother. My parents were, and still are, alive.
Instead of just calling my parents the school sent child services.
It was an embarrassing moment, but I remember my mother, almost proud, saying, “Well, lying is bad, but boy, you must have lied good. You’re a real story teller.”
My father said, “If you’re going to be a liar you might as well write them down and get paid for them.”
But it wasn’t until Mrs. Sacco gave me that tape recorder that I actually felt like a real writer. I would walk around school, or during lunch, with that tape recorder, recording all my ideas and thoughts and then I would write them down.
My favorite stories involved turning my mom and her two best friends, Sue and Vi, into Charlie’s Angels. They solved all kinds of mysteries. Mostly about witches and vampires, and mafia-zombies. In some of them my mother was a hybrid of a much cooler Samantha from Bewtiched and Farah Fawcett (It wasn’t till I got older that I really learned to appreciate Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.
I basically dropped out of school in sixth grade. I just stopped going. I would just walk out and go home and sit in my room and write long and fantastic stories. I wasn’t really a happy kid. And I was a pretty miserable teenager. Life never seemed big enough to me. The world was devoid of color. But writing, stories, those worlds in my head, felt endless and beautiful, full of hope and meaning.
I come from a long line of story tellers (liars?). I once listened to my mother tell my grandmother, her mother, Sadie, about how at the local grocery store they were decapitating customers and selling their body parts to witches. It was a strange and frightening story, told late at night, at the Heart of LaGrange Hotel, which Sadie owned. The three of us had been doing the Quija Board most of the night, and my mother and Sadie had been arguing about witches. And evil. And the meaning of good.
I was ten, I think. It was hot out. All the windows were open. A breeze blew the humid night air, full and sweet, around the room.
My mother insisted that the local grocery store was selling headless bodies to witches.
“Well, Beverly,” Sadie began, her voice thick like honey, her eyes furious, her hands wrapped tight around her Jim Beam on the rocks. “What the hell are they doing with the heads?”
“Eating them,” my mother said. “They are eating the goddamned heads.”
And she stormed out, leaving me with my drunk and furious grandmother.
I remember Sadie looking at me, and then she began to laugh. She laughed long and hard.
“God, your mother is the best story teller I’ve ever known. Eating the goddamned heads. Well, shit, what else would they be doing with them?”
Sadie used to tell my brother, Damon and I, that my uncle Bruce was a shape shifter, and she belonged to a coven, and that my mother slept with demons and leprechauns. She told me how late at night, as a young woman, my mother would stand outside, alone in the moonlight, conjuring spells and demons and sending them to do her bidding.
I come from a long line of story tellers.
Though, to be honest, a part of me still believes Bruce is a shape shifter, and Sadie was a witch, and my mother, I’m absolutely certain she has consorted with a few demons, and probably some angels too. She’s that kind of woman. Full of southern charm.
For most of my adult life I have been a drug addict. Heroin was my drug of choice. When I was high on heroin the world felt suddenly beautiful, the kind of world my little boy self would have loved to live in. Full of magic and wonder. Full of a quiet, beautiful, loneliness.
Seven years ago, at 43 years old, I found myself broke, jobless and homeless, I did the only thing left to do: I got sober.
I bought a bike and road it all over Los Angeles. I used to go on long rides late at night from Silverlake, through Hollywood, all the way to the beach. I would stand at the water and scream at whatever gods were out there in all that darkness. I was full of fury and fear. I was lost.
And then I began to tell stories again. I started on Facebook. I would tell stories of my mother and of Sadie, of boys I had loved.
And people actually read them. They messaged me, thanking me for being so honest (which is a strange thing for a man like me to hear, someone who rarely knows when he is being honest and when he is lying).
When Vice agreed to publish a story about my three-way relationship with my husband Alex, and our boyfriend Jon, I couldn’t believe it. Why would anyone care about what I had to say?
All I was doing was just telling my experience. I was trying to make meaning out of my life. I was trying to find the beauty and the magic I had always felt lacking.
And then I decided to take those stories and turn them into a book, Accidental Warlocks. It took me almost two years to write that book. For much of that time I was broke. I was going to AA meetings. And I was riding my bike.
When Lethe Press said they wanted to publish my book I started to scream with excitement. I couldn’t believe it. Someone else was going to publish my fucking book!
I went into the bedroom, where Jon (I’m not going to go into the whole story of Jon and Alex and I…you can find tons of stories about my poly-triad marriage all over my blog or just follow the link) was, sleeping (Alex was away working on a TV show at the time). I was sobbing. He woke up, and I think at first he was scared,
“What’s wrong, baby?” he asked me.
“They are going to publish my book,” I said, and he was out of bed, wrapping his arms around me, holding me.
Jon died before Accidental Warlocks was published. He read every chapter I wrote, every word. I made him sit up for hours as I talked to him about ideas I had, making him tell me what he thought about what I had written that day.
There were nights when I woke him up at three in the morning to make him listen to pages. He never complained. He never told me no. He just said, “Baby, I love it. It’s so beautiful. I know it’s going be amazing.”
Here’s the thing: all I ever wanted was to be a writer. Nothing else in the whole world. I honestly believe there is nothing else I’m any good at. It was either be a writer or fail.
And I haven’t gotten rich. And I’m scared all the time. And sometimes I’m stunned by the fact that Jon died never seeing this book come to life. And maybe there is a part of me that doesn’t really believe that. I come from witches and shape shifters, my mother has fucked demons and angels into doing her bidding: I have a long history of talking to the spirits. So, I know, Jon is with me all the time. Just out of sight, helping me, laughing with me and loving me and so fucking excited by this amazing and beautiful life I get to live.
I am on a plane from LA to Berlin. To see Noah, my gorgeous German boyfriend. I will sit in cafes in Kreuzberg and write. I will go for walks along the canal and through the City. I will tell Jon stories, sometimes forgetting not to talk out loud because people start to look at me funny: the crazy guy talking to his dead boyfriend.
What’s the point of all this? Simple: I am a liar. I am a drug addict. I am an HIV Positive queer man in his 50’s. My best friend and lover died 8 months ago: but he loved me. He believed in me. And he taught me I can be and do anything I want, and you know what? He is right.
And for those of you who are wondering what happened to Alex and I: while we are no longer “husbands”, Alex is my brother. My best friend. If being in a poly triad taught me anything: it’s the value of holding on to the people you love. No matter what. Even when the nature of that love changes.
Jon once told me that the three of us were destined to be together. That we had been traveling through multiple lives together. That we were old souls on a long journey together.
And I think I now know what he means. I think I believe him.
There are a lot of people I think I have been journeying through time with. After losing Jon this idea appeared before me as the only thing that really made any sense about life.
Life has been this strange and violently beautiful experience. More beautiful than anything my little-boy -elf or my high-as-fuck-on-dope-self could have believed.
I know this is a rambling piece, tying together lots of pieces that maybe don’t always add up, but there is a point here, something I want to say:
When you are feeling scared, or when you feel lost, or that maybe you chose the wrong path and you don’t know how to find your way back, remember: it’s ok. If I can do this you can do anything the fuck you want. I swear to God. If there is one thing I know it’s that.
It might not be easy. And life will still be life, there’s no changing that. And people we love will die, and we will get older, but, and I wish I could scream this as loud as possible all over the fucking world: it’s better to fail at something you loved than succeed at something you hated. Those are words my mother told me, and they changed my life.
Cus look at me: I’m on this fucking plane. Writing this blog. And some of you will read it and it will mean something to you. Some of you might even think: Fuck, if he did it I can.
And it’s true. I swear to god. I am screaming it so loud right now.
This is my cheesy, inspirational post. Because I’m feeling fucking mind blowingly lucky.
I would love it if you went to Amazon and bought my book. Because, yes, I want to get paid (getting paid is an admirable thing, I’m trying to remind myself that every time I pitch this book out into the void), but I also really want to hear what you think.
Because I don’t get to wake Jon up late at night anymore. So, it’s you guys I turn to now.
And while I didn’t talk about sex, just know, after this Ima go to the bathroom and jerk off. I’ll probably do it twice. Cus I’m on a fucking plane to Berlin!!!!!
Hey, Noah, I hope you’re ready for me! Ima be rubbing my stink all over you! Noah really is the fucking sexiest, cutest, sweetest guy in the world. I’m really sorry I’m so stinky! But I think he might kinda like it!