The tall, handsome, funny man bid Tucson farewell today after a series of events that took him full circle to the wife he left four years ago. With his truck and U-haul trailer loaded with the vestiges of those years, he pulled out this morning, headed for California.
We had become friends, lovers, and confidantes. Our meeting was serendipity, as we both took part in political support of our Congressional district candidate. We had no choice but to go down the proverbial and infamous Rabbit Hole for a great adventure. While I confess to having fantasies of a different outcome, and feel very sad, I am so glad to have had the experience.
When I moved from east Tucson to the west side of town, and into new and unfamiliar territory I had some friends from the east side with whom I’d associated. I invited them to my house warming party, along with my new neighbors. In the couple of months that followed, however, they fell away, as if off a cliff, and I felt abandoned. When I needed help with transportation for medical treatment I found I could not rely on them, and instead turned to strangers.
My new compadre became my helper and my only friend. (And I became his.) He took me for outpatient surgery to have my gall bladder removed, and stayed with me those first days of recovery. He introduced me in a fun way to a more ethnic part of town – the local Mexican restaurants, the barrios, the culture of his upbringing. We saw each other almost daily, and for several months rode bicycles together. He introduced me to recumbent tricycles and the bike paths of the city.
As a veteran of the Viet Nam war he showed me the pain he still carried, and behaviors accompanying it that many others also exhibit. With family mental health issues in addition to his service-related disabilities, I saw just how fragile he was, some days just barely holding together, all the while trying to hide it, at least in public. But he let me see. He let me see his tears, his vulnerability.
When we met his situation was not pretty, and over the course of our adventure I’m glad to say it did improve to the level that he had his own place with his own things. He had come from worse. We cooked together, ate together, shopped the thrift stores together, made Christmas gifts of food and ‘stockings’ for his neighbor together. His generosity was magnanimous, although he could sometimes barely make ends meet for himself. We laughed together, sat in silence together, took rides into the country in silent appreciation, car-camped and enjoyed hot springs.
Through being with him I also learned a lot about myself. I learned about my boundaries, my willingness to serve without expectation of return. How open my heart is, and where I can deceive myself. He offered no profession of love or desire for romance, and he marginally confessed that he might not even be able to say what love is for him. I’ve learned about attachment and letting go and holding gently. He touched me deeply; he bandaged my loneliness and brought joy to my heart.
I wish him happiness, well-being, comfort and peace. Thank you my friend, and may the Moon and the Stars be with you.