Time Bombs & Land Mines

There’s been a giant pile of tech stuff in the back room of my house. Like, for a while now. There just hasn’t been any place to put anything.

So Stork suggested that we each go through all the crap—some of it from our Pittsburgh days! In case anyone’s counting, that’s about ten years for him, and about (gulp) seventeen years for me.

Yeah, it’s time to clean things out. My younger brother and my mom will be doing cartwheels—they’re near-psychotically obsessed with throwing things out (I dunno, you tell me!). Turns out that I only got most of the way through things. There’s still a small box to go through and also a head count of devices around the house that I have to match power cords to.

Now, it wasn’t only tech stuff in these boxes like I thought. In a hurried move of much stuff in order to accommodate Sam’s stuff, things got…stuck.

So going through things presented some surprises. Some good, some bad, some baffling.

First the bad, because I want to dispense with that right away. There was a lot of Sam’s stuff in there, pictures and what-not. And given that a misunderstanding between Sam and me exposed some stuff that I didn’t want to see, and that a “friend” counted on being secret. Never count on secrecy to hide a thing, because that’s tantamount to betrayal no matter how you slice it. The few things I saw in that box were nothing major, except to locate me in better times, times before the world went pear-shaped. Step gingerly in a mine field, kids.

The baffling next, because positivity is the most important thing in my life right now. Positivity tends to diminish internal unawareness because it produces the kind of elixir that has kept me on the sunny side of the street throughout the last three and a half years of horrific circumstances. No mean feat, but I’ve been largely successful. I found in a box under some consumer electronics (two VCRs, an upscaling DVD player and an old-school Class A amplifier) many articles of clothing I’d forgotten I even had, including a black 100% wool sweater that I bought at Kirkwood many years ago for a staggering amount of money. Four or five of the same would total a month’s rent. Zoinks.

Now the good. I didn’t expect to find anything Allen-related, but not only were there pictures of Yog, but a few strange personal affects as well: several pairs of glasses (both sunglasses and eye glasses), glasses with impossibly huge lenses. As was the thing back then (late 80s, early 90s) in West Texas. I also found a couple of watches that we’d bought in 1994. Well, he bought them, but he didn’t wear two at a time, so I often “borrowed” the one he wasn’t wearing. They’re only Timex watches, but he did have awfully good taste. One is dark red—almost purple— with gold Arabic numerals. The other has a squared-off face in black, with silver numbering. Also Arabic numerals because I have a thing-thing about clocks with Roman numerals. Is there an official phobia for that? Well, there should be. In particular clock makers can’t seem to decide on whether a four should be rendered in the standard IV or the apparently-more-pleasing IIII. I don’t care because I hate those clocks.

I also found his CA driver license. It had to be gotten late 1994, because he was already looking gaunt and his physical attributes were listed as Height: 6’3, Weight: 165. His weight had dropped to 143 at one point, but he’d gained some ground against that after the TPN bags every night.

Immediately I inhabited the back-then. Things that he’d said that surprised me, amazed me, made me laugh, made me cry, things he said that assured me how much he loved being with me. Back in a more genteel time when swift and completely inappropriate objectification wasn’t the norm. When he said things like that there was always an element of hilarious irony, for neither of us let too much of the “culture” in between us. There was too much “us” for that stuff to contravene.

I also found a tennis shoe. Yes, just one. The left one. Size 10 1/2 so I knew it wasn’t mine. Orange, with brown trim. Stylish back then even though I always thought they were hideous. Back in style now. And still hideous.

I threw it away, trying to remain the thrower-outer I’ve never been able to sustain. But I did snap a photo of it on my iPhone. Then I looked at the iPhone and began to think of all the things he’s missed that he’d find wondrous.

He’s also have missed how gray I’ve turned—especially in these same terrible last three years. I glanced again at his driver license and realized that the poor man never had a chance to become gray.

Have you ever had to shave another man’s face? Near the end I had to help him into the platform tub here, and shave his face while he sat in the warm water. Like I said in my last post, intimacy came to us in many forms:

I didn’t need sex. I needed intimacy, always intimacy. And thanks (thanks?) to Allen and I having found other ways of being intimate after sex was no longer part of the equation, I had no need for sex with others. I just didn’t want it. The after-times are incredibly lonely, the part that’s beyond the ejaculation is what remains, and that’s all about what was missing.

After all this, somehow I miraculously found the spine to continue with the purge of no-longer-needed tech stuff. That is, until I discovered a PhotoCD (remember those?) of the memorial “party” that my good friend Bruce Mayfield (with whom Allen had worked) organized. I told him “no sadness”. He didn’t ask, but I told him that I needed a break from sorrow and “would that be alright?”. I think he started to cry a little. Of course it was alright.

It was at Tuba Garden here in San Francisco, in Presidio Heights, and it was a lovely, lovely place. An old Victorian with a small house in the back of the yard was gutted and opened to house more diners, so that seating flowed through the house, across the beautifully landscaped back yard (that day in the bright sunshine) and up the stairs into the two rooms.

Allen’s boss, the owner of the graphics/print company had offered to pay for everyone. “Everyone” included close, close friends who knew Allen better than anyone else here besides me. Judy was one of them, “Babycakes” I’ve always called her. It was a bit of playful irony. Judy was the one that, a day and a half before Allen died said goodbye to him for the last time—he was already non-responsive. I was standing at the back door saying goodbye to them when she turned around, walked over to Allen there on the bed. She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of Jeff.” Had I not been all cried out at that moment, the Anhydrous Stoic, I would have completely broken down. I’m also pretty sure she’s the last non-blood-related person to have vocalized that I’d be protected/taken care of. Fancy that.

Anyway, in addition to those friends, Allen’s two nurses were there, all of his former co-workers, his former boss and his wife, folks from Compuserve who’d known Allen as long as I had came up from Santa Barbara and from Santa Cruz, other friends from San Francisco and a few others. There were probably twenty of us.

It’s a wonder I got anything done at all. But I did, and Stork will be here in moments so that we can cart the stuff down to the South Bay.

Today the sun is shining. And I’m very glad of it.