Last weekend it was Gay Pride in Long Beach, California. Normally we don't go. We go every year to Los Angeles (okay, West Hollywood) and that is our once a year surrounded by G-A-Y event of the year.
Let me correct that. Every day of my life is G-A-Y. Me and my husband walking our matching Dalmatian dogs out of our manicured front yard past the Volvo convertible and Range Rover strikes me as super G-A-Y. And we try to go to Southern Decadence in New Orleans (rebuilding the city one money throwing gay at a time) in September. But a Gay Pride festival is one of those places that you find yourself mingling nearly exclusively G-A-Y.
And don't forget a little back story that we used to be "professional homosexuals" back when we had our gay & lesbian greeting card, stationary, book and calendar publishing company. We rarely went out to anything gay that wasn't work related. The world got a little small.
We were supposed to be out of town last weekend but at the last minute our plans changed. Jeniffer Hudson was performing at the Long Beach Gay Pride festival and I thought it would be fun to go. I've gone to Long Beach Pride twice before and found it fun, casual, less attitude that LA and it is always remarkable how different people look once you leave West Hollywood.
So we went. We didn't need to go early, sunset over the water is pretty. We left home at 3:30. Arrived in Long Beach at about 4:10.
I drove to Long Beach. After the first 5 minutes of trying to find parking, Lyle took over driving. If you've ever seen me frustrated at not being able to find parking, you know this was the smartest move. We were finally parked about 4:30... and only about 10 blocks away... ten blocks that had "lot full" signs on every parking lot... BAD OMEN.
After getting a coffee at Borders, we walked towards the festival. The line was two blocks long to get in. Suddenly it lurched forward, Hooray! Turns out it only moved because they decided to close that entrance and send the entire line on a forced march across a park and parking lot (loads of parking now, still "lot full" sign out front) to the next entrance.
When we reached that entrance, I could see they weren't letting anyone in there either. THIS SUCKED. WE headed to the last entrance further down the beach. This one was open!
We got in line and began our wait about 20 people from the front.
A voice from behind us boomed out, "As I live and breathe, if it isn't Jim & Lyle!" Actually the voice used our full first and last names which is odd, as you are never called out by your first and last name in public. If my middle name had been there, I'd have been worried that my parents had found out I was the one who broke the light switch in the garage.
Lyle is not the type to acknowledge people in public, so I turned around to see who knew us.
There was a bearded cowboy smiling at me.
Absolutely no recognition. Cowboy smiled at me as my mind began to scan all files in my brain marked "beard" and/or "cowboy". I don't know anyone with a beard. I don't know any cowboys. Next it scanned files marked "California" and tried to place things like voice or eyes, since clearly cowboy and/or beard weren't working.
Mental circle of possible locations to scout people expanded to North America (voice was definitely not from other continent).
OH MY GOD. It clicked. I gave cowboy/beard a hug and we began to talk. I glanced over at Lyle who was still giving me the "WTF?" look.
So I stopped talking to cowboy/beard and turned to look directly at Lyle, "I'm sorry, I have to do this. I have to look right at your face to see what you look like when I say this. Lyle, you remember Dele Lowrie?"
Lyle's face went blank, a little white, and then he smiled, "Oh my god, how are you?"
So let's back up, Dele was my first boyfriend way back in the early 1800's, you know before the Civil War. Since Lyle and I have been together for over 17 years, he's heard all the stories and met Dele a number of times.
The last time we saw Dele was in 2001. We were in Vancouver BC, and he was in Twassen about 20 minutes South of Vancouver. I am not in charge of telling Dele's story. I feel okay saying that he had gone through some stuff and was at a facility that removed him from his situation to get clean. Basically, re-hab.
After that, we lost touch and my friend Rachel got a postcard a year or so later with a San Diego postmark that said he was happy, things were good, but no contact info. I told Rachel he must want to disappear and when he wanted to be found he would be found.
Over the years, his name comes up in our group of friends and people wonder if he was dead. I always say, "if he was dead, I would know." Yeah, I'm tuned into some people on that level. I can't track him around the globe, but I know when things go super bad. Some of you out there have experienced that phone call from me when I know I'm supposed to call you. I don't always listen to that little voice inside, but if it shouts loud enough I call you.
Anyway, he is not dead. He told me the re-hab in Twassen didn't stick and he had to go through some more bad stuff before he went in again and that time it stuck. Clean and sober for 6 years. That made me very happy for him.
We chatted some more, and then he went off to meet his friends and we went off to wander through the garbage filled festival (people, it's called a trash can, you put trash in it. No not trashy friends, actual litter).
The rest of the festival was kind of a blur for me. Pondering running into someone I hadn't seen in over 6 years and finding out he lives in Long Beach and is in fact alive. I've connected him with a couple other friends and we shall see where this leads.
Oh, and though I think the beard is permanent, I believe the cowboy part only goes as far as nightclubs and festivals. I don't think he owns a real horse.
We didn't stay for Jenifer Hudson. The evening wore on and it wore on us. I decided if I wanted to really see her I could go buy a ticket and not deal with all that crowd. We were home by 10:00!
Oh, and Dele said I was easy to recognize as I hadn't changed one bit. Which drew my mind to a post from another blog I like (you're boring me) and wondered, do I look that good now, or did I look that bad then?