Monday, October 6, 2008

Seeing Is Belying

Whenever I head out to the West Coast there are always too many people for me to see. I used to live there for 15 years and over time, I have accumulated a massive number of friends and family. Now gone almost a decade, the friends and family have only grown, making short visits back even more taxing. I want to see everyone and it is just physically impossible.

Some years ago, I sent an email to all of my friends with carved out time slots and asked them to pick a time that worked for them. This annoyed them to all end. I was just trying to be efficient but it struck them all as typical self-centered Derek behavior. The blow back was so intense that I hardly bother telling anyone I am coming to town anymore. If it is someone I really want to see, I make a big effort to make a connection happen. If not, and they run into me accidentally on a sidewalk in West Hollywood, oh well.

Aside from my family, there were only two old friends I really, really wanted to see. Ben Patrick, who I don't think I have seen in person since we were at the Gay Games together in Chicago in 2006 and David, who I have been trying to convince for months to get out of his townhouse and move to New York City. On the newer friend front, I did want to see Jason, as well as Jeremy and Ross. Jeremy and Ross both planned to be guests on the radio show when we did our live remote from the House of Blues during Gay Days, but work interfered and we pushed it off to Sunday.

As it happens, Jason and Jeremy ended up being sluggish homebodies and suddenly lacked the power to leave their couches and one assumes open bottles of wine. Ben Patrick was sick and wanted to meet up on Monday when he was feeling better but I was already back in New York by then. But Ross agreed to join me out for an early drink, so even though my batting average was terrible, I did make at least a couple of hits.

I dropped my tiny backpack off at David's picture-perfect townhouse. He marvelled at my ability to travel light and immediately suggested we backpack across Europe together. Maybe after my new hip. We walked down the hill to Eleven which used to be a Bell Telephone switching station and is now the kind of fancy gay bar with bottle service, velvet banquettes and the shelf life of fresh milk. It seemed to be packed entirely with men entering a fictional big arm contest, all of them knew David, whose own arms were definitely in contention.

Ross joined us midway through our first drink and I have to tell you: that boy is famous! He couldn't move through that bar without someone saying what a fan they were. Such an opportunity for him to be a whore and sleep his way through the steroidal mountains of the west side, but instead he was just polite and smiley and quickly moved on.

I noticed adult star Blake Riley dancing on one of the bars. As he scanned the bar with a come hither look designed to elicit tips, his demeanor changed suddenly to shy embarrassment when he realized he was coming on to me. I ran over and gave him a quick hug and carried on the kind of conversation one has when one runs into a friend who is dressed only in dollar stuffed briefs. Just like the stripper stereotype, he is working his way through school and I have to say I was genuinely impressed with his planned post-porn career path.

Even though later I saw Jerell from this current season of Project Runway quite literally twirling through Here Bar, the highlight sighting of the night was when I spotted Thomas Roberts across the bar at Eleven. I have had a major crush on him since his earliest days on CNN. I love his shy snaggletooth smile and gently hunky way. Now off TV, I was dying to have him back on the radio show, if not my lap, so I ran over to give him my card. He was quite drunk, celebrating his birthday, but he politely remembered our interview almost three years ago. He even held my hand while talking, which was the kind of personal touch that sent me over the edge, even as he used his other hand to point out his insanely hot boyfriend across the way in between tequila shots.

Later Ross headed back home and David and I went to dinner at my old haunt Tango Grill. The owner Gene was there and hardly recognized me with my short shorn hair and one assumes the intervening years. Darin and my old LA roommate Eric surprised us at dinner and then coaxed us to drive up the hill to their fabulous new penthouse high above Fountain. David and I zipped up in my rented convertible to check it out. The view was spectacular and the apartment massive, but it seemed as though they were living with an entire cast of reality show characters, as if the original Real World LA camera crew left in 1992 and the participants just stayed behind waiting to grow into the VH-1 generation. They both seemed really happy there and I hate to begrudge their decision, but it was a Penthouse of Horrors for me. The last place I want to be as I am dragged screaming into the ever-widening abyss of middle age is in a rented apartment with five roommates. That is the stuff of recent college grads and gold digging hussies in classic Hollywood gems like How To Marry A Millionaire.

All too soon, I was headed off to the airport in the pre-dawn hours to fly back to New York. I would love to convince David to abandon his rut and move to the glamour and excitement of Manhattan, but with winter around the corner and the economy in free fall, now hardly seems the time for a bold gesture. I know my suburban life works for me, but maybe it isn't right for him. Seeing Darin and Eric's place, I know they have moved in other directions. I suppose there is no right way to do anything. All you can do is your best. And choosing where to live and being able to see the people you want to see is always more about timing and luck than it is about desire. Maybe someday I will live in perpetual summer again, if the timing is right, but for now, it's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.

1 comment:

socajas said...

Okay, I deserve that. However, the rest is still unwritten. Stay tuned...