Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saga of Seattle

It Waits For No One—Even on Vacation

The third day of the trip was to be the first of several visits to Seattle proper—Johnno had plan two sets of lunch plans in the city and I was excited. I had been dying for some time alone with the boy and showing me his city seemed the perfect way to spend the day. His mother brought us down to the ferry—we were going cross Puget Sound to the city—and soon we were off and running.

Now I have been on plenty of ferries (Shut your mouth) but there was something really beautiful about going across the waters. Maybe it was seeing all the trees along the shore or the mountains off in the distance but the day was clear and so pretty. And it was surreal to see the Space Needle off in the distance. It felt like I was finally really in Washington.

After a half hour, we made our way off the boat and over to Pike’s Place for our first lunch. As we wandered around the various shops, restaurants and bakeries, I was a bit bummed to find out they no longer toss fish due to PETA but also realized that flying fish would probably freak me out. We eventually stumbled across the 1st Starbucks, where I had to have a coffee, but it wasn’t all that. But it is cool to have that charge on my bank statement.

Then it was time for lunch one. This lunch was to be with Johnno’s old co-workers from Washington Mutual so I expected to basically just sit back and watch more than anything. It was a weird lunch, mostly because it was a group of people who didn’t share much more than an office space, and didn’t seem to hang out much outside of the job. But Johnno got to catch up about all his old co-workers and where they ended up after Washington Mutual collapsed which was kind of funny. They were all nice and I had a good, if small, meal in a new place. This even though I was shaking at points because I was so cold.

After some polite conversation Johnno and I headed out into the city. We wondered through the nooks and crannies of the city in search of a Trader Joe’s. We were off to find some almond flour for dinner the next day which allowed Johnno to show off some sights. I was able to see there city’s amazing library, the building looks like it was built upside down, and one of Johnno’s old office buildings; though the city has it’s own flavor it has enough hills to challenge San Francisco and was glad when we got to flat land.

The Trader Joe’s was up past Capitol Hill, Seattle’s answer to Boys town, and Johnno was able to point out all the various bars, stores and places he lived as we made our way through the town. It is weird, I have never lived in a Boys town type environment and forget that Johnno’s life pre Los Angeles was a lot like ‘Queer As Folk’ with him living along the big gay drag of Seattle. He showed me where his old apartment building used to be, the clubs that he had told me he missed and even the drag nightclub he used to work at.

Eventually we found the Trader Joe’s and were making out way towards our next lunch restaurant when his phone rang. It was his mother, calling to let Johnno know that his grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and was in early kidney failure. I was at a loss as how to be helpful while Johnno and his mom debated what to do next. His father doesn’t have a cell phone so everything was on hold until he could be reached and both of us worried that we would have to cancel our lunch plans with his friends Brad and Erik.

This wouldn’t be a big deal—there was a chance that his grandfather could die soon—except for the simple fact that Brad had to be as equally important. The story of Brad was simple—Johnno’s friend has a brain tumor and at best has about 14 months to live. This was probably the last chance that Johnno would get to see his friend and it was important for that reason. And as we made our way to the lunch, all I could think was “Really God? You have to stack up all the deaths and gloom two days before Christmas?” And I felt useless and actually disappeared to vent on voicemail to both Edie and Kirby—because it felt bad to vent to Johnno.

Eventually Brad and Erik joined us at the restaurant and we had our second lunch on pins and needles. I felt the need to hang back and put social Rory in a corner—if only because this meal was about making time between Johnno and Brad and not about some boyfriend that Brad would probably only meet once. But we had a great time talking about the things Erik and Brad had been doing, looking at pictures of his brain surgery and listening to Brad’s plans for the future.

And for someone who is facing death, Brad was cheerful though he can barely read and has problems holding conversation. We talked about cruises and their mutual friends, joked about the holidays, and had pleasant conversation. It was a bit difficult at points, not because of Brad, but because we were still waiting to find out what would happen with Johnno’s grandfather. I was worried for myself because if Johnno was going to try and say good bye then I would have to go with him and his father since the hospital was on the other side of Seattle. It just felt like I would be in the way and while it was selfish, I knew I didn’t want to do that. I just didn’t want to be a problem to handle while they dealt with that.

Eventually Johnno’s mother called as we wrapped up lunch and we realized that we would need Erik and Brad to give us a ride back to the ferry to make it in time to do anything. This led to me and Brad riding together in the back of the car so Johnno could give directions. We had a nice conversation about various things he had been doing and I was stuck sad by just how sweet and funny Brad was. I can’t imagine what his life must feel like and I felt bad for his poor boyfriend Erik as well. Brad was Erik’s first boyfriend and he had come out of the closet to be with him—just so tragic.

We finally said good bye out side the ferry and Johnno and I had to run to make the boat back across the Sound. During this time, it came out that Johnno’s father had decided that Johnno did not need to go and see his grandfather so there was no rush to get back to town. I was struck by how weird this was—just because it had been such a goal of the time up in Seattle. I asked if Siobhan was going and found out that Johnno’s grandparents had costly cut off Johnno’s sister due to her getting married so young and that she was not part of any plan to visit with grandfather. It was the first time I realized how odd the family dynamic really was.

With no plan to visit his grandfather, Johnno and I could be clear to head off to his friend’s party that night. His friend Kate has an annual Christmas party with her family and this was to be the last year so Johnno was eager to go. I was excited to meet Kate finally and it helped that it was more time with his friends than his family. It would be less stressful.

In the car ride back to Siobhan’s, I drifted off in the backseat as Johnno and his mother talked out the grandfather situation and how the grandparents decided that it should only be their sons up at the hospital. I tried to fake sleep as Johnno’s mom talked about how she was used to being ignored by the family and even joked to me about how their family was crazy. I faked a snore in response that statement.

No way was I taking the bait.

After we arrived at Siobhan’s, the family talked about the situation while I went to take a nap. I was tired and drained from everything that had happened so far but was grateful when Johnno finally joined me in bed. It felt like no time before we had to jump up out of bed and get prepped for Kate’s party. I was unsure what to wear or what would happen since everyone seemed so relaxed in Seattle but figured I would just go all LA and let it happen.

Johnno borrowed Siobhan’s car and we headed off to the party. On the way there, Johnno pointed out where he had his first job, the neighborhood that he and Kate had grown up in and told me little bits of story about the family. I needed a smoke and a break before heading into the house—I was starting to get overwhelmed at what promised to be a large party.

Entering the house I realized that Kate’s party was exactly like Robin and Ali’s Christmas party—except I knew no one besides Johnno. I can barely handle the large groups of friends I know so this promised to be difficult in the beginning but once we nailed down drinks and food I started to get fine. Johnno had told me that his friends were mostly band geeks and kind of nerdy which turned out to be true—one was a biochemist, one was a former umpire, another was a teacher—they were all interesting. But what crackled me up most was as the party started to wind down, they put on the film ‘White Christmas’ in close captioning so they could sin along. It was surreal.

But it was a nice ending to the party—drinks and music, new friends and being shown off by the boyfriend. So we made our way home, tired but cuddly, and I got another tour of his neighborhood which included the high school. The only bummer?

I couldn’t convince him to make out in the parking lot.

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