Dear ________,

Well, I will refrain from the usual sorry-it’s-been-so-long-since-I’ve-written line since you hear it from me all the time and by now it has earned an “automatic” status whenever you hear from me. As is my belated birthday greetings.

Your life seems so unreal to me, so very different than mine. Sailing around the world; isn’t that a fantasy? Who actually does that? Well, you. I love hearing about your adventures way over there. I’m so happy for you guys, living the way you want to live. I could learn a few lessons from that. Then again, mom taught me a lot about that, too. But I feel my exploits are so much tamer. I hope you are writing about your adventures; I mean more than the letters and e-mails home. Which, in their own right, are beautiful and hilarious. I can always immediately tell if Andrew is the one writing: terse, misspelled words. Your last one made me laugh out loud:

“Sept. 12 – Formentera, Balearic Islands, Spain

So here we’ve come to where the rich people are. We are anchored off a private island – Esplamadora – that is just barely connected to the larger Formentera (though this the smallest of the Balearics) by a spit of land and some rocks. Here there are not just other sailboats (like us, some bigger, some smaller, but like us) but yachts; up ahead there is one the size of a hotel with $150,000 Italian wooden boats as their dinghies and a helicopter on deck. Next to us is one with a small “toy” submarine. Everyone, all the women anyway, is skinny of course and topless or often completely naked as this is an island with a reputation for nudity, and while nothing seems particularly odd about the naked people on the beach (A. and I did it ourselves after the mud baths but more on that in a minute). We can’t help to gawk and giggle when a naked person goes by in a dinghy, or on a windsurfer, or is setting anchor, or god forbid, asks us something. Just try giving directions to some German with his wiener schnitzel flopping about in the breeze, oh I completely lack that kind of maturity.”

So, let’s see. By now you’ve probably heard that the Republicans have officially taken over the country and slightly less than half the country’s population has slipped into a state of heavy denial just to keep living. Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash and Minnesota elected Norm Coleman instead of Walter Mondale. I thought for sure the liberals would turn out in droves due to the special circumstances but apparently the Democrats made Wellstone’s memorial service into a huge Demo political rally which backfired enormously, drawing enraged Republicans to the voting booths instead. Wellstone was certainly one of the best we had, although I still hadn’t entirely forgiven him for upholding the “Defense of Marriage” act or whatever it was called; you know, the one that said marriage should only happen between a man and a woman. But his death just saddened me, and in the wake of that, these elections. San Francisco continues to vote way left on everything, which amuses the rest of the country. They like to make fun of us. At least there’s one city where I feel I have a little bit of political power. We also lost the World Series to the Angels and then the official U.S. Olympic City choice to New York. So it’s a little subdued around here.

Also the economy continues to suck big-time. A couple of weeks ago they laid off my boss here. I can’t remember if I told you about her or not, but she reminded me of you so much. Recently I was at her house for dinner and there was a picture on her fridge of her as a young girl, with her dog, that looked just like you at the age of eleven or so. It was uncanny. We worked really well together and it was a big sad shock to see her go. She was the best boss I’ve ever had. I’m sure one of the reasons I liked her so much was because she was a lot like you; very smart, funny, tough, generous. She might start her own business, and she keeps saying I’d be the first person she’d hire. She said I could essentially write my own job description. Heh. I told her that as long as I have to work a job that supports the writing, I’d rather work for her. So we’ll see.

How was Ibiza? Did you get your groove on? I have a CD of a DJ, Pete Tong, who spun (spinned?) there a couple of years ago. Apparently it is quite the clubland. I can’t quite picture you and Andrew “doing” Ibiza, but let me know if I’m wrong. I just picture you guys nursing one expensive drink on the sidelines, watching the silly glamorous people do the things they do.

No, I haven’t read Anna Karenina. But I’ll take a look at it on your advice. I did just finish “The Corrections” which I loved. So brutal and so well-written. Now I am reading “Mrs. Dalloway” which I’m finding takes some patience as she flits from one person’s consciousness to another, even if the characters are just passing each other on the street. I don’t know; is that Modernism at work? I really should have taken more lit classes in college.

I’m taking a (don’t laugh) memoir writing class through UC-Berkeley extension. I know, I know; I’m too young to write a memoir, but since I’ve been keeping the weblog everything I write has been non-fiction. Anyway, the class has been more helpful than I would have thought. Most of it is the obvious stuff that we know but forget; the show-don’t-tell stuff, etc. But it’s helpful to be reminded, and to get an outsider’s perspective on my work. After that six-year “block” it’s taken a lot of practice to get the muscles moving again.

I’ve been keeping the weblog for almost a year now, and it’s been such a strange, wonderful experience. I’ve met a lot of people through it, many who keep their own weblogs. I get email from readers in Norway and Australia, but most of my correspondence is with other Americans. Some of them are just plain amazing people; smart, funny, weird, etc. Their creativity pushes me to write better. I have at least one crush. I’ve met some locals too, and a couple from other cities. None of that I anticipated when I started the weblog. I don’t know what I anticipated. I didn’t know I’d have as many readers as I do, or that I’d hear from them so often. It’s wonderful but I do have to constantly remind myself that it’s my site, my writing, and to not let other’s expectations tell me what or how to write. It’s good practice. But the strangeness comes out of the candor I express there; I mean most of my close “real life” friends don’t read it, and yet it’s there that I think I am the most vulnerable. Which leads me to my next story:

Last month, about three weeks before I was to come out to visit him, my Dad had a dream about my mom. He dreamed they were going through papers together. The next morning, he doesn’t know why, he did an Internet search on her name. And guess what he found.

Yep. There it was; eleven months of my innermost thoughts, of my joys and tragedies, of my limited sexual escapades, of my rampant mental illnesses. He read every single word. Including the parts where I mention having HIV, something he didn’t know. Also where I talk about my long-standing resentment towards him, and about the “incident” of inappropriate behavior that I alluded to. So I come to work that morning and there’s an e-mail from him waiting for me, and like a rock my stomach fell. He was, in his own words, “devastated”. Wanted to know when I was going to tell him all that stuff. Wanted to know how I could put it out on the Internet. How to explain to him that it’s easier than telling someone face-to-face? Easier to imagine an anonymous reader than someone I know. Thus began an awkward series of e-mails between us. Talking about stuff we hadn’t discussed in 22 years. For the first time in my life I told him what I remembered, and what effect it had on me. In helped doing it through e-mail, I must admit. I could put on a more confident front and ask, after some hedging on his part, for the total truth. And eventually I got it. None of it felt very good at the time; it was like turning over a rock and seeing all the bugs scurry for cover. But it got us talking. And I still went out to DC (when the snipers were running around) and we had some good talks while I was there. He said he wouldn’t read the weblog anymore, that he went from knowing too little about me to knowing way too much. Imagine.

So I blame my mom. He dreamed about her and then found my site. And we ended up talking about stuff I had begun to think would never see the light of day again. So I picture her up there, orchestrating reconciliation. I guess she thought it was time he and I finally talked. I refer to it as my personal episode of “Bitch-Slapped by an Angel”.

I celebrated two years of sobriety last month. And that’s been another incredible journey. Too much to really go into here. By far the most harrowing thing that has happened to me lately is that two men within a week of my anniversary asked me to be their sponsor. So now I have two guys, both older than me, one with 60 days and the other with 90 days of sobriety, calling me everyday to talk about how to stay sober. Ha. I keep thinking they are going to FIND ME OUT.

I bought a Subaru Forester and think of our moms a lot whenever I drive it. I love it, and Louie loves it as we get to go to the beach more often and also because we don’t have to walk through 16th and Mission where all the homeless people walk and smell funny and make him very nervous. He’s so sensitive. I love it because I can get around more, I can buy more than one or two bags of groceries at a time, I can drive a car full of friends to concerts or dinner. Yes, I am contributing to global warming. But George W. Bush apparently has a plan to help with that: we discourage automakers from making cars that use alternative fuel sources and we drill in the Alaskan wilderness. Oh, and we bomb Iraq. Or something like that. I look forward to this new era.

I’m not dating anyone yet. It’s harder to meet men than I thought it would be, since I don’t go out much anymore. Not that bars are the place to meet men. I swear, I will not become another person whining about how hard it is to find a good man. Even if I have to repeat affirmations every morning in the mirror.

My health is great, my blood counts are great, no need to worry.

So I’m serious about visiting you, but I don’t know how to plan or even where to meet you since your schedule changes. I’d love it if you could give me a couple of options, because I don’t want to let the opportunity to see you and Andrew and whatever country you happened to be anchored near at the time pass me by. I hope you have a great visit with your Mom.

I love you guys.
xo,
Michael

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