Posted by: facetothewind | February 9, 2013

The Year of Reinvention

A few folks have asked me why I haven’t been blogging. Well, a picture says a thousand words:

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Not so pretty, huh? That’s me with a 101.5 fever. Yeah, I had the flu bundled with a bacterial lung infection. I was sick in bed for 12 days and am still recovering…3 weeks later. So that really got me down. I fell into a hole of depression around that. But before that I wasn’t feeling so great, either. 2013 is going to be a big year of reinvention. I’ve conceded that after 12 years of trying to make Tucson work, it just isn’t. I arrived here with a lot of enthusiasm to restart my life from the Bay Area. I bought, renovated and sold 2 houses and landed in my 3rd one where I am now. In that time, nearly every one of my friends has left Tucson and I can’t keep up with the attrition. A few friends have coupled up and dropped out, the economy is sagging and I’ve not been able to find steady work. So I’ve decided it’s time to leave Tucson in search of meaningful work and community.

It’s too bad, because I like Tucson. I like my house. But with no social or industrial momentum, I feel like there’s very little to keep me here other than sunshine and familiarity. After spending the holidays mostly alone I found myself at the shopping mall walking around just to see people and feel the buzz. And I enjoyed it! My life had reached a new low. Me walking gleefully around a shopping mall? This is when I knew it was time to go. Time to find a more meaningful life. Elsewhere.

This year’s journey is taking me to New Zealand for 3 months to visit Steve & Tom who swear I’m going to find work there and get residency. Then I’m going to return to Myanmar to see about a young man I met there last year.

Koko

His name is Koko. He works in a guesthouse where I stayed a year ago when I was visiting Bagan. We had a nice connection and he has stayed in touch with me every week since. He has been praying to the Buddha that I come to visit him, has declared me his boyfriend (though I’m not even sure he’s gay) and tells me he loves me and misses me. Not being the immediately trusting kind and recognizing the vast cultural interpretations of the word “love,” I take it with a grain of salt…but also with a grain of curiosity. I will visit him in August. He plans to meet me in Yangon and then we will go to the ocean from there for a little adventure together. He says I am his first love at 24 years old. I am not surprised about that b/c Burma is a very repressive country. But, oh the responsibility! He’s very, very sweet. We meet on Skype early in the morning my time because of the 13.5 hour time difference (yes that’s right) and he says, “Morning. I wish I could bring you your breakfast, my love,” and he giggles and says how nice it is to see my face. He tells me I’m not old.

If he weren’t from Burma I would think he has learned how to secure a meal ticket from an older Westerner, by flattery and declaring his love. That would be the case for certain in Thailand where they’ve learned how to work the tourists. But being that he’s Burmese and rides his bike 45 minutes to the hotel where he works for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week for $2/day, he may be securing his meal ticket but he’s anything but insincere. I remember talking about Koko to a gay German entrepreneur in Bagan. I asked him what he thought about gay Burmeses guys. “Oh all the boys here are tender,” he told me. It’s a concept I have a hard time understanding having been raised with Western identity politics. But I am now getting it. It’s somewhat inconsequential whether or not Koko is actually gay. He’s tender.

I met him in a moment of his own despair having been locked out of his dorm room b/c the hotel owner sold his room to a tourist. He was sitting in a chair in the computer room trying to sleep. I went in and offered him my Thermarest, a pillow and a blanket. He smiled and completely melted into my arms. We went onto the roof of the hotel and kissed in between the rows of laundry drying in the wind. He says it was his first kissing of anyone, ever. More happened, but I’ll save the details for the book!  🙂

Over the year since our meeting and passionate night on the roof, Koko has been sending me emails. Each time I ask him if he is gay. At first he would say to me, “I am not gay. I have girlfriend. I am man now.” But soon he dropped that story. Then he said, “I am not gay and I don’t want to be your boyfriend but I miss you and love you.” That has evolved into, “I have boyfriend now and his name is David. I miss you too much and love you.” I’ve just been watching his progress, gently offering him suggestions that he doesn’t have to admit he’s gay. But if he truly loves men, that it’s perfectly healthy and good. It’s what I can offer to him from afar. He makes me smile and whether we share the same meaning of the word love, his attention makes me feel loved and well, tender.

Anyway. More to come in August.

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Backing up a little bit and also looking to the future a bit, I visited my brother (that’s Sean above) and family in Ft. Myers, Florida, in December. It was a quick trip. Too quick. I realize that Fort Myers has actually hauled itself out of the garbage bin and turned itself into a great little town. Here’s Sean with his 2 boys sitting in downtown Ft. Myers…

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And that’s in December. Notice no one is even wearing a sweater. This winter in Tucson we experienced 15 degree weather for several days. For the amount of beastly summer we put up with in Tucson, you’d think we’d get a mild winter. And for someone who is carless, 15 degrees makes Tucson very undesirable. So after New Zealand, after Burma, I am planning to spend a couple months in Florida with Sean and the rest of the family, with the possibility of relocating there at least part of the year. I’ve come to realize that blood is indeed thicker than water and that I actually enjoy being an uncle teaching the boys how to cook and goofing off burying each other at the beach. My family represents ready-made community and now that the town has bootstrapped itself, I’m willing to give it a second chance.

And finally, one of the things I’ve had to swallow this winter was the bitter pill of Namoli Brennet. After throwing Namoli a fundraiser party, after hosting her at my house for a week, after 10 years of supporting her and her career, she took a big dump on me. She went a little crazy on me and trashed my entire life as she was leaving the house last time. I was astounded at her vicious selfishness, her egoism and her mental illness. Namoli has been a Tucson tradition for me, but her warped tirade, the winter’s bitter cold, the loss of all nearly all my community and I decided it was time to heed the signs and let this place go.

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Join me for this year of reinvention as a sad middle aged guys searches the globe for a more meaningful existence.

Mary Oliver gives the send off benediction with a poem…

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

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Responses

  1. Hey, David,
    Of all the news in this blog, the worst is that you’ve been ill and a bit depressed (and had your house trashed? really?) but the best by far from my perspective is that you’re thinking of coming to Florida! Yay!


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