Monday, December 14, 2009


I got this idea from the wonderful Lou, at The Quiet Life, to go back over this first decade of the 21st century. Lou has already tackled the question from those of you who say the first decade ends at the end of 2010, so don't give me the business.

Let's go:

2000: I was single, living in California, where I had always lived--except for that first six months when I lived in Biloxi, Mississippi, land of my birth. There was a mild flirtation with a co-worker, who many people suspected was gay, although he and I became great friends and, well, he isn't. But in April I was online, in an AOL chatroom, when i began talking with a man from Miami. And before you could say Portia Di Rossi DeGeneres, I had visited Miami, he had come to California, and I moved to Miami. By the end of the year i was on the right coast.

2001: I was working on South Beach, a place I never thought I'd visit, much less get to know intimately. There was the inauguration of a president who stole the election, and the people of Flori-duh got most of the blame; as well as some guy named Chad, though i couldn't quite figure how hanging him affected the election. Having voted absentee before leaving California, I could hold my head high in Miami, though that election would begin eight years of lies and deception in our White House, and war with no end in sight still. But, hey, I was in love and t5he proud step-father to seven cats--Squeaky, Spunky, Voncie, Thomas, Scruffy, Lady and Sweety--and a poodle--Dengoso--and was wearing shorts and sandals year-round. So, there was an upside. Until the ninth month when the world turned dark.

2002: I think it was a quiet year. A somber year. A year when I reflected on my own mortality a lot. But it was a contented year, I assume, because I don't harbor any resentment toward Aught-Two. I remember trips to California and New York......Key West. The lone sad note was that our cat Squeaky's cancer returned and this time it didn't go away. She did.

2003: War. Lies. Mission Accomplished. Lies., WMD. Lies. The face of the US became the face of aggression around the world. I learned more and more about Carlos and fell more and more in love. I had never doubted my decision to fly away from California, but every day was a reassurance that it was the right choice. I met fascinating new people, learned more and more Spanish words from reading billboards while driving to work. It's all bueno.

2004: This was a year of trips out west to my parents new house in Oregon, and trips up north to Asheville and then on to New York, and then trips down to the Keys. Spunky, our bitch of a cat, who loved to bite and shower and eat strawberries, died that year. Thomas was killed by a neighbor's dog, and Voncie got cancer. Suddenly we were down to three cats.

2005: Katrina took the roof off our house and blew the fence away while the "president" flew over Louisiana and kept on going. Hurricane Wilma came soon after that and I was feeling antsy to get out of Hurricane Land. Carlos and I began to talk seriously about moving from Florida and started checking our options. We found Tuxedo, and rescued him. We lost Dengoso and found Ozzo.

2006: The year started off on a sour note. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and anyone who has gone through it knows the survival rate is quite small. Still, we hoped. Carlos and I went out to see her as she started her first round of chemo. My old boy Scruffy had a stroke and he left us, but then we found MaxGoldberg. And, of course, there wasn't a single hurricane that year, but there was a job offer for Carlos. In South Carolina of all places. It wasn't exactly what we were looking for, but we took the leap, and loaded up the pets and the stuff and moved to Smallville. Culture. Shock. From Latino Hotness and South Beach Decadence to South Carolina Baptists and actual seasons. And a crazy cat named Tallulah Belle.

2007: The year began badly. My mother died almost a year to the day of her cancer diagnosis. It was a sad sad time, but also one of great calm as I was home with my mom and my family when she passed, quietly, in her own home. There were tears and goodbyes, but there was also peace. Not long after she passed, I was taken to a house in Smallville to see if we wanted to buy it, and there, in the empty kitchen, I could picture my mother at a table, drinking her morning coffee and watching our yard. We bought that house; it's always felt like home. The year ended on a sour note when Carlos lost his job. But after some reflection and long conversations, we both realized he'd never been happy at that job, so, there was a silver lining.

2008: One of our oldest cats, Lady, passed away peacefully at the age if eighteen. Carlos found a new job working with the homeless community and people with HIV--something I had never thought he would do, though he loves it and he's quite good at it. We met the "other" gay couple in our neighborhood and through them several other gay couples in Smallville. Hard to believe but there is an actual gay community in this tiny Bible-Belt-Red-State. Our last original cat Sweety. followed in Lady's footsteps, and died from old age as well. It was quiet in Smallville for a few days. But by the end of the year, we had a new president, one full of hope, and I began blogging....what was I thinking?

2009: As a gay man I've witnessed the ups and downs of our struggle, and I've been angry at times--the loss of marriage equality in Maine--and overjoyed at others--the election of Annise Parker in Houston. Life is good in Smallville; there is happiness and peace and contentment; there is love. My Dad has come through the dark days following my mother's death, and my family is happy and healthy.

All in all, an average decade. Change. love. Life. Loss. Growth. And above all Laughter. There are things I would change if I could, and things I wouldn't, but each movement has brought me here, so, well, it couldn't be all bad.


Paul Benjamin said...

Wow, thanks for sharing this. You have been through a lot this decade, and I hope there have been just as many good moments as the number of tough times you had to go through.

I love your ending: "each movement has brought me here, so it couldnt be all bad."

Joy said...

I enjoyed reading this and plan to do it myself on my blog. It's interesting when you condense it like this and notice what you found important and what you left out. Hard to believe how much really happened and how it changed your life. I wish I knew what Carlos looks like. I'm visual and like seeing what people look like, where they live, and the surrounding area. I have my own mental picture of him which is probably wrong. I wish I had one of you besides that one of you lying next to a cat. It's helps though, so thanks! :-)

Great post!

Lou said...

That was great Bob. Don't know about you but I found it almost cathartic - the truth is in condensing things I think.

Wonder Man said...

This was a great reflection. I think we all should do this

Kyle said...

Bob, yet another great personal piece. The cycle of life as told by one gay man. Your stories and reflections honor our community Bob. Thank you so much for sharing these moments with us.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

As a relatively new follower, I appreciate the history. So glad you ended up in Smallville :o)

raulito said...

I enjoyed it very much...I have done the same thing...only it spans a period of fifty, yes I said 50 years...I am trying to expose it all in my blog...piecemeal, and in different stories.
love your blog

Mark in DE said...

What a great decade recap! For a hot minute I toyed with doing this on my blog, but I'm afraid I would agonize over what to include and what not to. I really enjoy your blog Bob!