Gorgeous Descent

Discerning Daddy

It is hard to describe the feeling of Magic. Like love, it feels like something concrete, something physical. It has the ability to ache and to create joy, to move along your body, ripping at your soul and nourishing you: Magic is akin to love, to desire: it is the stories we tell ourselves about our lives, about who we are and who we were, who we will be.

It is the creation of an existence, of a world, of a self, built from a darkness that is waiting to devour us.

Love, though, is the intricate and aching beauty buried deep inside everything we will ever lose.

A few years ago I met a boy named Joe. Joe was 25 years younger than me, 22 years old.

There is something I should tell you, something I can’t explain, but that feels somehow part of the fabric of magic and love, part of the fabric of the creation who of I am: ever since I was 18 I’ve been having the same dream. I have it every week. And every morning, I wake up from this dream with a sense of hope and love, and the pain of loss, of having lost something so beautiful and magnificent that for a few moments I lay in bed, stunned, not sure how I will make it through the day.

I always get up. I always make it through the day. But like some strange and golden treasure buried deep, I carry the longing for something that feels impossibly gone.

The dream goes like this:

I am riding a big wheel through a vast and endless field. The sky is dark, but a silver moon aflame in a burning white light hangs full and cold in the night sky. Ahead of me is a barn. Next to the barn is a lake surrounded by a forest of giant trees.

In the lake a giant mermaid jumps from the water and into the sky, hovering there before returning to the blackness of the water: her reflection etched into the moon, imprinted inside me.

I stop my big wheel next to the barn and I walk inside. There is a staircase.

This moment is always reflective, as if I can see into my own dream, into my self, into what is coming. I have a choice: to turn and walk away, or to continue up the stairs and to the beauty and pain that awaits me.

I never choose to walk away. But I always hold it for a moment, savoring the option, savoring the idea that if I did turn away I would never know him, never see him, never lose him.

At the top of the stairs is a large room. One of the walls is missing, looking out at the lake and the forest and the moon.

A boy, maybe 18 or 19, stands in the middle of the room. I can never remember exactly what he looks like, just that overwhelming feeling of love, of need, of longing: I just know he is the most beautiful human being I have ever seen in my life and that I love him with all that I am.

He has written the words, “He falls gently through the trees,” in black.

He turns to me. “I miss you so much,” he says, and it feels like the words are tearing into me, decimating and full of a searing heat. “I miss you so much and I love you.”

And he turns, every time, he always turns in the exact same way: he always turns away from me, and he walks to the missing wall, walking on air, into the night, above the lake, until he gets to the trees, where he hovers for a moment, before falling, before fading, before being gone.

I have no way of telling you what this dream means. The absoluteness of it. The totality. Just that in those few moments I am so in awe, so enthralled, so swallowed by life and love: that in those few moments I am given a glimpse of something ineffably full of wonder.

Joe worked as a barista at a coffee shop in Echo Park. But he was an artist. He didn’t want to be Banksy, he wanted to be Basquiat, he wanted to be Herring, he wanted to be something else: something new and old: something violent.

“I want to create that one thing that no one can turn away from, that one thing that will be so beautiful and so terrifying, so personal and intimate that you will never forget it.” He laughed. “There is no such thing, of course. The idea is the thing that is beautiful, once I make it it will be nothing. That’s the thing, right? You create the most beautiful piece of art in the world, pulled from some faraway place to show the world exactly who you are, and –”

“It never does.” I say.

“Yeah,” he said. His eyes were a golden haze, his hair dark and curly, his hands long, thin, nails perfectly cut to an almost painful precision, his body lean and tall: he was stunning.
“I’m always trying to find the words to say exactly what I mean,” I tell him. We are laying in my bed in the Silverlake Hills, LA burning bright outside my windows, he is sweating, his head on my chest, I can feel his heart beating against mine. “I am always trying to describe what it is I am feeling: who I am. I feel like all I’m ever doing is screaming: This is me! Me!”

“I want…” he hesitated, and then he laughed. He smelled of carnitas and weed and…himself. He smelled impossibly like Joe. “That’s it. I want. End of sentence.”

We kissed and he fucked me, him inside me, connected to him as he held me down and fucked himself deeper into me, grounding me. He always had this amazing way of grounding me.

I love that feeling of being pinned under someone, their weight heavy on my back, their cock deep inside me, the feeling, even if it’s just for a second: of being more than who I am: more than who we are.

He would kiss the back of my neck, his arms wrapping around me, his body shuddering, and whisper, “Baby, I’m going to cum. Fuck, baby, I’m going to cum!”

I would catch Joe looking at me, his eyes open as we kissed, or the few times we went to the gym together, or as I was standing: lost in my own world, I would turn and see him and he would smile: everything I’ve ever wanted was in that smile.

A few weeks before Jon died he came into my room. I was trying to write. He lay in my bed. We weren’t boyfriends anymore. So much of our lives had been destroyed by heroin and meth: the ravages of addiction. I lay down next to him, and I wrapped my arms around him.

“Baby,” he said.

I almost said to him, I’m not your baby anymore. Not because it was true. But because I was mad at him. Jon had been in a heroin relapse for months by then, he had stolen from me, lied to me, and I was angry.

But on that day, that one day, I didn’t push him away.

“Baby, did you know I love you?”

When Jon’s mother told me they had found his body, in the back of his car in a parking lot in Montebello, that Jon was dead: that Jon was now forever gone: I thought my whole world would fall apart. I thought the pain of that moment would be too hard to ever stand up from, to ever return from: I believed that my whole life would be forever defined by the incredible aching pain of that one second.

“Baby, did you know I love you?”

I don’t remember what I said to him. I’m not even sure I said anything. I think I just held him, wishing I could keep him safe, keep us safe: wishing I could protect him from what would eventually come.

The next time he came into my room and lay down in my bed I was mad at him. I told him to leave. I told him I didn’t want him in my room anymore. He looked at me. If I could erase that look, those words, from my life I would: if I could change the very moment I forgot who he was, who we were, I would.

“I understand,” he said, and he walked out.

What was I doing in that moment? What was so important? I was probably on Facebook, or watching Netflix: lost inside the insidious banalities of life.
I don’t have an ending for this. I don’t have some beautiful way to wrap it all up in hope and how amazing life is. I don’t know any of the answers.
I do know Jon loved me. And that I continue to love him. That I will love him forever. And I don’t know where Joe went, but I like to think he is working on that impossible painting: that forever beauty, even if it means he will fail. It would be an honorable failure.

Sometimes I think all we can do is fail in the most human and beautiful way possible. It is the tapestry of our failures that will elevate us: Magicians conjuring the impossible.

You can find my novel, Accidental Warlocks, at Amazon.com. I’d love if you checked it out. And thanks for being here. My witness.

Strange Beasts: A Novel in Pieces. Part One.

Discerning Daddy, Strange Beasts

Caleb closes his eyes….he is falling deeper into the darkness, wrapped in it… 

            …I smell you…he thinks…and I taste you…I hear your voice when I speak…I wake in the middle of the night to you kissing me only you aren’t there.  Not anymore. And you will never be here again…

Caleb agreed to meet the man at his shop in Friedrichshain to suck his dick.  The plan, as laid out to him on Grindr, went like this,

“Meet at my shop on Wülisch Strasse and Gabriel Max Strasse.  If there are customers you will have to wait a minute. Then you will follow me to the storage room to swallow my load and then leave.”

It was a simple and elegant plan, erasing anything about Caleb beyond the status of cock sucker.  This was the attraction for Caleb.  The wiping away of who he who was, of his past, of his future, grounding him in the present moment where the only thing he was was the receptacle for this stranger’s pleasure.

He has always found a beauty in sucking a stranger’s dick…in being fucked and used.  A meaning to life that wasn’t always available under other circumstances.  He is aware of how this sounds, which is why he would never speak it out loud, never tell his friends, never admit that some days the only way he can breathe, the only way he can survive, is to be fucked into oblivion.

You can get lost out there if you aren’t careful, Michael had said to him. They were sitting on the edge of a canal in Amsterdam.  It was late at night.  A chilly Autumn rain falling.  They were drinking Vodka, drunk and stupid and happy.  The world is full of empty spaces…I have spent years lost, wandering through life with no idea of who I was, no idea of what anything meant.

“And now?”Caleb asked him.  “What about now?”

“Now it is like drowning in light, drowning in love. Drowning in you.”

Michael had killed himself exactly seven months ago.  To the day.  If ODing on heroin and fentanyl counted as killing oneself.

They had been living in London at the time, two expats from LA on a grand adventure together.

Caleb pulled up google maps on his phone.  He knew the general idea of where the man’s shop was, but he wasn’t good at remembering the names of streets.  He had been living in Berlin for 2 weeks.  If living is hiding…Michael’s voice sings in his head…If living is hiding than I am most certainly living my best life!  They had both laughed at that, standing on a beach in Portugal, watching a group of teenage boys surf against blue skies and golden sun.

“Outrageous!” Caleb had screamed.  “You are fucking outrageous!”  They were high on hash and tobacco and Michael leaned over and licked Caleb’s forehead, tasting salty sweat, and kissed it back to Caleb.

“I love you,” Michael said and Caleb went quiet, watching for a moment as one of the surfers seemed rise breathlessly into the air, hovering on invisible wings, only to crash back down under the relentless pounding of the waves, soaring back to land, laughing…ecstatic…

“It’s like a demon,” Michael said, talking about heroin.  “It’s like a demon takes over and I am no longer me.  I’m this other thing.  Possessed.

Caleb has a fear of possession.  Of demons. He has a fear of losing control.

“Say you love me,” Michael said.  “Say the words.”

Sunlight blinding him, he caught hold of Michael, caught sight of him and he said, “I loved you the moment I thought of you.”

September in Berlin was sumptuous, tempestuous, it was dark and moody and warm and sunny, lonely and hopeful: you could feel the world ending in September, the darkness that was coming.

Caleb had moved here for the darkness.  Like a blanket.  A way of forgetting.  Not Michael…I will never forget you…a way of forgetting everything that wasn’t Michael.

Caleb didn’t know how to talk about Michael.  About Michael dying.  He didn’t know what people wanted him to say.  Or maybe he did.  They just didn’t want to hear the truth: that the pain doesn’t go away.  It sits there…the loss…the sense of being empty in the core of who he was…the place where Michael had lived…gone.

Strangers never asked him if he was okay.  They never brought Michael up because they didn’t know there was a Michael. Strangers never said, “I’m so sorry. How has it been…without…how has it been since…Michael?”

He wanted to scream, to hit them, to tell them there was never a moment that was without Michael.  That maybe Michael existed more now that he was dead than he ever could have alive.

Some things you only truly understand in their absence…

Caleb still sung songs for Michael.  He still danced for Michael.  He still told Michael long stories as he fell asleep.

“I love you baby,” he would whisper, waking up.  “I miss you so much today, baby head.”

Michael would understand this walking through Friedrichshain toward a stranger’s store where he would suck dick in a storage room…to feel alive…Michael…to remember what it means…Michael never made him feel wrong.  No matter what he did, no matter what happened, Caleb could tell Michael.

“Filthy monsters,” Michael would say.  “We are such dirty, filthy monsters.”

Caleb pauses outside the store.  It is a small exotic plant shop, filled with beautiful works of art, incense and a soft, atmospheric ballad playing over hidden speakers…sad…the song is sad…and yet there is an undercurrent of piano hidden beneath aurally vacant electronic sounds…like looking into the blackness of the night sky before seeing the splendor of the moon…all that beautiful light hidden in the deep…

And Caleb steps inside.  The man behind the counter looks like his pictures on Grindr.  Fit, bearded, darkly handsome: an Italian from Rome now living in Berlin.  Maybe a little older than Caleb had thought…closer to 36 than 30, but still sexy.  Still dick sucking worthy.

The man nods and Caleb follows him to the back of the store.  There is a tiled fountain, the sound of water running over stone and a buddha spray painted dark purple and blue and a shining gold…

Berlin is not what he thought it would be.  It is more.  More beautiful and more ugly, wilder than he had imagined, and yet there are pockets of quiet, of tree lined streets, where children played, mothers’ spoke in Arabic, men laughed, tattooed hipsters sitting on benches drinking beer.

It is a City of dark purple buddhas shimmering gold.

The storage room was filled with empty pots and dying plants, painted statues and neon-light structures that flickered off and on, as if sending messages from some far-off land…brief signs of brightly lit colors telling us that it was all ok. Everything would eventually be ok.

The man put his hands on Caleb’s shoulders, pushing him to the ground.

Caleb thought about saying, I came here because Michael died and I miss him.

Don’t say that!  Michael’s laughing voice in his head.  Nothing kills a dude’s boner like a dead boyfriend.

Of course Michael was right.  It almost made Caleb laugh.  He pictured Michael in whatever strange heaven might exist for people like them, looking down on this moment, and he knew how happy it would make Michael.  I love you best when you are being truly you…I love you most when you don’t deny who you are…

Caleb pushed the foreskin back, smelling the dick: sweaty, slightly musky, it made his heart beat a little quicker.  He licked the head, feeling it grow hard in his mouth, his hand cupping the balls and tickling them gently…he had learned to never pull or twist a guy’s balls unless they asked him to.  It was always better to go gentle at first.

The man exhaled, his hands on the back of Caleb’s head, guiding him.  Caleb ran his hands up the man’s calves…muscular and thick…over his ass, and along the small of his back, taking his cock all the way in, breathing around it, his tongue licking: focusing on providing as much pleasure as he could.  Focusing everything he was into this moment: grounded.

It didn’t take long for the man to cum, shooting into Caleb’s mouth: Caleb pulled back, letting some shoot into his beard, onto his shirt.  The man, looking down at Caleb, laughed.  It was friendly, nice: it made Caleb smile.

Caleb stood up.  The man moved in, and kissed him, licking at his beard, and then he hugged Caleb.  It was startling in its intimacy.  Caleb wanted to crawl into that hug, he wanted to disappear into those arms.

After a moment the man pulled back.

“I have to work.  I hear people –”

“Of course –”

“But you should come back.  If you want. I will be full again in an hour.  You can have as much as you want.”  He smiled.  It was handsome: bright, full of sunlight, and Caleb couldn’t help but think, based on that smile, that this was a lucky man.  “Or maybe we can meet.  If you –”

“Caleb.  That’s my name.  I’m Caleb.”

The man smiled, his eyes shining, “Mateo,” he ran his hand through black curly hair. Caleb noticed dark hairs on his knuckles, his forehead protruding slightly, lips red: decadent…that is how Michael would have described them.  Decadent red lips.  Pale white skin.

“I’m gonna go,” Caleb said, and for a moment they both laughed.  “But let’s do this again.  Soon.”

Outside, the sun shone faded through the clouds.  Yellow leaves swirled in the breeze.  He passed a line of people waiting to buy ice cream.

And I am still alive,he thinks.

He walks slowly home, through this City, and it begins to rain.

 

Please check out my novel, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.

           

Thank you to Marc Martin for an amazing Photo!

CANNIBALISM, GHOSTS AND JERKING OFF: AN INSPIRATIONAL, LIFE AFFIRMING STORY

Accidental Warlocks, Discerning Daddy

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!

Thoughts on Travel and Sex and Love Part Two

Discerning Daddy

In my early 20’s I was lost in a dark and violent heroin addiction. My life was narrow and small, without hope. I was lonely and sad, broke, the only relief was getting high. I remember snorting bags of China White in my Court Street Brooklyn apartment at night and then going for long walks through Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights ending up at the Promenade, the Manhattan Skyline like some far-off fairy tale land of kings and magicians, a land where anything could happen: a land of endless possibility.

I would stand there, high as fuck, and dream of the life I wanted: a life where I was a writer, where I wasn’t alone: I had friends and a boyfriend who loved me, family who could stand to be around me, a life where I didn’t steal and lie just to get by.

I could feel that fantasy life in me, burning through the darkness, trying to get my attention: like a coded message in the sky, or in the flamed lights of New York City, flickering in the neon, trying to remind me of who I really was.

During this time I read a book called Martin and John by Dale Peck. It’s a small book, a first-time novel by a gay writer my age who lived in New York City and in London. I remember sitting in café’s in the East Village reading that book and crying. Every word connected to me. In the acknowledgments he wrote a thank you to a café in London where he would sit and write.

I must have been 25 when I read that. I remember so clearly thinking, I want to be that guy. That writer sitting in a café in London. I want to sit in café’s all over the world writing.

I didn’t get sober until I was 42 years old.

It wasn’t till I was 49 years old, sitting at the Bach, a café on Hoxton Street in London where I would go to work on my book, that I realized: holy fuck! I got exactly what I wanted.

That’s the thing about life, I spent so much time running, so much time trying to hide from the pain and the fear, that I couldn’t see that life was pushing me in a direction, trying to send me down the path of who I really was. The only obstacle to that path was me.

This has been true for most of my life. The more I try to control and orchestrate, the more I try to force something, or to hide from pain, the more I allow fear to cloud my thoughts, the further I get from who I am supposed to be.

I am now, at 50, in a process of learning to allow who I am to unfold. Sometimes I wonder, what if I had gotten sober younger, or if I had been more focused, or if I had always worn condoms when I fucked (would I still be HIV negative?), or if I’d never used heroin, or stolen all those cars and money from my dad, or lied to my friends, what if I had never been any of the things I spent most of my life being: would I be famous now? Would I be successful? Or would I still be wandering down the lost path? Maybe all those things are the things that have brought me closer to myself.

I spent a year travelling back and forth from LA to London visiting my boyfriend Noah. Every morning we would wake up and he would go to work, and I would walk across the street to the Bach, books and computer in my backpack, and I would order a flat white and sit there and write. I started a journal called “Thoughts on Travel and Love and Life” and I wrote in it every day.

During the afternoons I would walk over to the Glory, and down to the canal and make my way slowly to Broadway Market and London Fields. I would sit in that park and watch people, strangers, as they went about their lives. I created elaborate stories about who they were and the lives they were living.

I also spent a lot of time worrying. About money. About Noah, about sex and being in a long distance relationship, about work, about all the endless things our brains find to latch on to and obsess over.

But I didn’t let those worries stop me. I would just start walking again, exploring a new city and a new people. Finding book stores and cafes, wandering through parks and museums, stumbling upon London Bridge and Big Ben and that Ferris wheel that still seems like a mystery to me: what Is that fucking Ferris wheel all about?, never really knowing what anything was until, while telling Noah about what I had done that day, he would tell me what each and everything I saw was, giving me history and context to my day.

I am a clueless tourist. I just walk, letting it all be out of context. I probably should have bought a guide book, or at least asked Siri, but I wasn’t there to see the “sights” I was there to experience myself somewhere new, somewhere so far out of context that the only thing recognizable would be me.
That is what travel is all about for me. When everything recognizable falls away, and the only thing left is yourself. You can’t hide anymore. Some days the loneliness was unbearable, the fear so out of control I felt stunned by it, but other days there was hope and joy and love. And I just kept walking my way through all of it, coming out the other side: because there is always an other side to walk out of.

I’m still afraid a lot of the time. I don’t always know where the money will come from to keep traveling, my boyfriend, who now lives in Berlin, is still 6000 miles away. I wonder how we will make it work, I wonder if I will succeed or fail. I’m 50 now. It is easy to believe life is no longer beginning, instead it is ending. It would be easy to get lost in these thoughts, to turn from my path.

But then I remember that day, sitting at a café in the East Village, reading Martin and John. I remember how badly I wanted Dale Peck’s life, to be that writer in some café in London, or Paris, or Amsterdam, writing. I remember going into the bathroom and snorting a line of heroin. I remember the sadness, the since of hopelessness. I remember thinking that I would never escape.
But I did escape. And somewhere out there somebody is sitting alone, feeling like they will never be able to have the life they want: they feel trapped: hopeless.

I don’t give a fuck if this sounds corny, I don’t give a fuck if I’m the cheesiest guy in the whole world, I just want to say this: we are never trapped. We are never without hope.

I am 50 years old. I am 6.5 years sober from a brutal 23 year fight with drugs and alcohol. I am HIV Positive. I should not even be alive. And yet here I am. Living the exact life I wanted at 23.

Think about that. What kind of fucking miracle is that?

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Loss.

Discerning Daddy

Recently, a Facebook friend of mine told me that she missed my Facebook stories.  I told her that I would write something just for her.  That was a few days ago.  But I have felt empty lately, at a loss for words, at a loss for meaning.  Not sure what I should be saying anymore.  Not sure what is important.

And I know that is intrinsically linked to the loss of Jon.

There have been a few moments in my life that have truly changed me.  My mother getting diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, my getting sober, finding out I was HIV Positive, and now Jon’s death.  Each of these events have taken the course of my life, the direction I believed I was meant to be heading in, and radically shifted them, changed something essential that I believed about life.

Each of these events have left me feeling like I am fumbling in the dark, grasping at faith that my life will once again take on shape, will once again feel purposeful.

When I was a child my grandmother, Sadie, gave me an antique money bank.  It was a smiling clown with a red gloved hand.  You put your pennies into the red gloved hand and then pushed a lever and the hand would shove the pennies into the clown’s mouth.

For months I was terrified of this leering, hungry clown.

And then I began to talk to it.

I was a strange child.  I spent a lot of time alone.  I believed in ghosts.  I believed in demons and Magick.  Both my mother and my grandmother believed they were witches. They cast stones and read tarot and threw spells and set intention and explained our lives in deep tapestries of myth and reincarnation.

I remember imagining all the fury and dark anger I had as a child and putting it into the clown’s red gloved hand, watching as he opened his mouth wide to devour it.  He became a place to store all my deepest fears, all my dark and angry thoughts.

As I grew older I found other ways to combat my demons. Heroin became a way for me to quiet the world, a way to take all the chaos and pain and turn into something soft and beautiful.

And for years that worked.  Until it didn’t.

Heroin became that devouring clown, monstrous and hungry: no longer just eating the darkness, but eating all of me.

I thought nothing would ever hurt me again the way I ached walking away from dope.  To this day I can feel that warm blanket wash over me, that safety, that absolution: I can taste the drip in the back of my throat, the urge to walk, slowly, throughout the City, that endless sense of possibility that would never really be realized because there was no reason: there was nothing else I needed in that fairy tale opioid landscape.

But eventually that safe and perfect beauty died, and turned into something monstrous and destructive.

I ended up homeless, I lost my car, my relationship to my family and friends became strained and full of hurt and betrayal. I was lost, fumbling in the dark.

And somewhere inside all that darkness light appeared.  It wasn’t immediate.  It took time and there was pain.  I remember lying in my room, alone, crying, the ache inside felt like it would rip me in pieces.

But it didn’t.  And the person who emerged was stronger, clearer, the shapes around me more defined than ever before.  And from those strange and new shapes I built a life that was my own.  Separate from my family’s money, separate from my past, from all the darkness and hurt, I built a life of hope.

My mother has lived with Stage IV cancer for 8 years. I have been sober for almost 7.  I have been HIV Positive for four.

I believed that finally I understood life, I understood hope and love and what it meant to be alive.

And then Jon died.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my room reading. Something in the way the light moved, something in the way the air seemed suddenly denser, full of something other, and then I smelled him.  I could feel him right there, his breath, those blue eyes, and you will call me crazy and you will never know what I am talking about until you have felt it too: but he was there with me, his lips up against mine, his hands briefly connecting to mine.

It could have been seconds or it could have been hours. It was endless.

And then it was over and I could breathe in a way I had never been able to breathe before.

And I am left with this sense that I do not know anything about life.  Once again I am changed.

The ache of Jon feels too large to comprehend, too vast to make sense out of, so I don’t try anymore.  I just let It be.  And I when I come upon it I sit there, as still as I can, my body shaking with the pain of missing him, until it is gone, and I remember that moment when out of thin air Jon came to me and kissed me.  To let me know that he was still there.  That he would always be there.

I have learned so much about love.  Through my relationship to Jon and Alex, and to my relationship now with the man I call Noah.

Someone recently asked me if I thought it was “healthy” that Alex and I continued to live together.  He insinuated that maybe I shouldn’t share with Noah my feelings about Jon, that maybe I needed to leave the past behind me.

But that is bullshit.  Alex and Jon are my family.  My love for them will never not be one of the most important things in my life.  Just because the direction of that love has changed does not mean the intensity of it has.

And my love for Noah encompasses all the love I have ever felt before him, it emerges from that love, it is because of that love.

The one thing I am sure of, the one thing I know for certain, is that love is at the core of all this.  All of life.  It is the only thing that matters.

I can be petty and sanctimonious, I can gossip and lie, I can be jealous and spiteful and unkind.  I am human.

But then I think of Jon, who died alone in his car in a parking lot in Montebello.  And how loved he was.  Whether in those final moments he knew it or not.  And while maybe in those final moments that love couldn’t save him, I think it has the opportunity to save those of us he left behind.

Jon loved me so much.  And I loved him.  And that love is something that will live forever.  It will change us.  And I think of Alex and I think of Noah.  And I think of all the men I have ever loved and I try to hold on to that.

Who we are and what we do matters.  Maybe everything we do matters.  I don’t know.  But in that darkness there is a new shape forming: something hopeful: something full of integrity and kindness.  And I want to hold on to that.

So for now I have no idea what words to say, no stories that make sense to me: I am still searching for meaning, for understanding, but I can see it, shimmering out there in the distance: the vastness and the potential, and when I lose sight of it I can close my eyes and remember that kiss with Jon, or the first time Alex and I went to dinner, all those endless walks we took, or Noah, and the quiet moments in bed just holding each other, or the long drives across America, listening to music and exploring the world together, in the way we have all come together in this life to take care of each other.

In all the love.