Picture 11 - Rose

A suicide journey ends in failure

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Several people have asked recently how I arrived in San Diego after being born and raised in Texas. It’s not a pleasant story but it does have a happy ending, and since I’ve published it before at other blogging sites, no reason why I should not share with my readership here at WordPress.

Enter

The Time Tunnel

On April 15, 1993, I was standing in line at the bank to transfer money from savings to checking so I could write the IRS a big check, probably more than Mitt Romney has ever paid [that’s an editorial comment for the political season].

Great Nation of TexasThe line was long, and I stood there thinking about the world that might exist outside the borders of the “Great Nation of Texas.”

Later that day, I disappeared. I had packed the 1989 Mustang GT with 100 CDs — Beatles, Who, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Doobie Brothers, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and other groups that I could sing to while rolling on down the highway — and told only one person what I was doing.

Midlife crisis had arrived….

Actually, I had come to the conclusion that I didn’t want to live in this world anymore. I was going to drive north to Canada and end it all; too patriotic to do it in the United States. Let Canada deal with a dead body.

I also took $8,000 in cash with me. I didn’t want to use credit cards because I didn’t want to be tracked, like they do on TV.

When I got to Fargo, North Dakota, I still had $7,800 left. Wow! Maybe I should do a little touring and use up all that cash before offing myself….

I took Interstates 94 and 90 west to Seattle. Still had $7,400 left. Off to Vancouver, thinking that I would spend everything in Canada and then….

Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, CanadaAs I was sitting in Vancouver’s Stanley Park that first morning watching the early morning joggers, one of the male joggers sat down by me and actually asked me how I was doing. I decided to answer honestly. He was shocked. A few minutes later, his jogging buddy caught up with him and sat down too.

The two of them were not only jogging together, but they were a gay couple who lived in San Diego, were originally from Houston, and were vacationing in Vancouver to celebrate their fifth anniversary together. They convinced me to hang out with them for three or four days in Vancouver and explore the gay culture there. After four days, they had convinced me that I could live as an openly gay man in virtually any big city on the West Coast. Off I went….

I got back to Seattle and it was raining. I don’t like the rain. If it’s going to rain where I live, let it rain while I’m asleep or on vacation elsewhere. Remember that I grew up in Texas with daily afternoon thunderstorms and fall hurricanes. I left for Portland….

The three-hour drive from Seattle to Portland was done in the rain, and it continued raining in Portland. Not for me….

Texas A&M UniversityNext big city: Sacramento. Just a smaller version of Houston. Not appealing, especially since 30 miles west was the University of California Davis. UC Davis is the Aggies. My alma mater, Texas A&M University (where yesterday’s shooting was and from which Texas Gov. Rick Perry also graduated), is also the Aggies. There was just too much similarity between the Sacramento-Davis and the Houston-College Station areas for me. It was exactly what I was trying to escape. Travel on….

I spent a couple of days in the San Francisco Bay Area and simply did not like it. Everything was a little too weird for a conservative Republican Texan.

My next stop was in Bakersfield, mainly to see an old friend from Texas A&M. He told me what to expect so I was sure I wouldn’t be staying, and I didn’t.

I had relatives in Los Angeles, and I had been there a couple of times. It was a possibility. I hit Interstate 5 intent on spending a couple of days in Los Angeles. I drove, and drove, and drove. When I finally decided to pull over to see exactly where I was, turns out I was in Oceanside, way past Los Angeles. I figured that was L.A.’s way of saying that it didn’t want me.

Last stop: San Diego. If I couldn’t find a life in San Diego, I’d simply go across the border to Tijuana and let the Mexican authorities deal with a dead body.

Blacks Beach in San Diego, CaliforniaEleven months earlier I had visited San Diego on my way to visit a friend/former employee/ former roommate who was graduating from the Army’s Defense Language Institute in Monterey. I remember thinking then, as I was standing at Torrey Pines Glider Port looking at Blacks Beach 300 feet below, that I would eventually retire to San Diego. Back in the present, I thought it was a real possibility to create a life in San Diego.

The first place I went was to the San Diego’s Center for Social Services. It was actually San Diego’s Lesbian & Gay Men’s Community Center, but Lesbian and Gay were socially stigmatic labels back then [and in some areas of the country, still are]. I started my coming out process at the “Coming Out Support Group” at the Center. I retired for 11 months while working on getting comfortable with myself, with who I am as a person.

Finally I put myself back in the work force as a temp working Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. I needed the long weekends to play at the beaches. My first temp job was with a guy creating a company and needing help with all the paper work that is involved in doing that. Unfortunately, he had a mouth on him that would have put my granddad to shame (see I wanted to follow you but, uh, no). I only worked there one day.

My next job was with a telecommunications company building out cell sites to make our cell phones work, first in San Diego, then in Detroit, beginning in April 1994. While I was in Detroit, the company paid me a $1,500 monthly living allowance, an extremely nice salary, car rental, and a trip home to San Diego each month. On my first trip home in May, I met Jim. We’ve been together ever since, and here I am today.

Picture 11 - Rose

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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97 thoughts on “A suicide journey ends in failure

  1. quirkybooks

    What a wonderful ending. I am happy you didn’t do the dreadful deed. You have as much right to be here as anyone else. Be who you were born to be, that is what I say. (I am glad you are doing just that.)

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  2. Dorothy

    Very happy to read that things ended the way they did. I believe we meet everyone in life for a reason, how wonderful for you to meet Jim and the men in Stanley Park. San Diego is a better place now!

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  3. letizia

    Russel, I am so touched by your story, how a few words from strangers can make a world of difference, and by your own courage through your dark times which have lead you to happiness 🙂

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  4. patinaandcompany

    Wow, you made me teary (honestly, it’s never that hard to do, but still). I could be wrong, but I felt there was a part of you far in the back of your mind that wasn’t committed to the suicide mission and KNEW you would find your place in the world. Texas is pretty cool to look at/visit but I think some of the references in your story . . . well, maybe not for everyone!

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  5. Melanie B.

    Wow – amazing story. So glad it has a happy ending! Also, I liked your editorial comment for the political season – lol.

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  6. victoriaaphotography

    I am a great believer in that ‘when you time on this earth is up, it is up’.

    I also think travel & adventure is a great healer. It opens you up to posssibilities.

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  7. babso2you

    I love you Russel! Hugs my friend! I think that this is an amazing story, and I am glad that you are here for me to tell you that! And, I am glad that we met through this wonder of the internet and the wonder of blogging! You are an inspiration! Always remember that!

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  8. stuffitellmysister

    thanks so much for sharing your this true life experience. I wondered the same thing….did you keep in touch with the joggers…..sometimes folks are just put into our lives as stepping stones (or bridges) to the next journey. Glad they were there for you…and you are here for us ♥

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  9. rommel

    Always love to read your life stories. I did get intrigued on how you go from one place to another. Now, we know. I have contemplated before but it’s probably the same as most people. Just thinking and not a single step on executing it. Er? What happened to the couple that encouraged you to move on? Well, “we” are glad to have you Russel Ray. You have always attended my inquiries, had tour guided me In SD and you are one of my closest WP buddies. I’m fortunate to have met you personally.

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  10. bigsmileu1

    It seems that you were merely searching for a way to kill your old life, and maybe allow the real you to blossom. I am glad you found your way. Blessings to you and Jim. 🙂

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  11. valeriedavies

    Great story, which I presume ends with and they lived happily ever after!
    Thanks for coming back to my site , I gather I was ready for inspection – Sir!
    My army background sometimes gets the better of me!
    Look forward to your next visit

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  12. Mr Bunny Chow

    that’s a lovely story yet one that’s all too familiar, why these prejudices exist in a modern word I’ll never understand. People should be allowed to be who they want to be without judgement.

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  13. TBM

    What a wonderful story and I’m so glad you shared. So many people can find inspiration from this tale. Thank goodness you opened up your heart, first to the joggers and then to Jim. Life, isn’t always easy, but it is beautiful.

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  14. brittskrabanek

    Awesome, story. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time with a sappy look glued to my face.

    Have we had the Cali/Texas talk yet? I can’t remember. Anywho, I grew up in L.A. then lived in Dallas for 7 years…now I’m in Milwaukee, which I love to pieces. Milwaukee reminds me a lot of So. Cal surprisingly. Dallas reminded me nothing of it.

    I’m so glad you found happiness there! I’m going to visit some good friends in San Diego next month and I am stoked. Haven’t been to Cali in 7 years! I miss it dearly.

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  15. Chancy and Mumsy

    Nice to learn more about you Russell. Thanks for sharing your story. I have been out of pocket for awhile and still busy but hope to get back to blogging soon. Thanks for visiting Chancy’s blog. I closed my picture blog here on WP. Hope you are having a wonderful week.

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  16. Halim

    I’m so happy that jogging couple stopped to chat with you and helped to change your mind, and that you are here. And I love your writing and your blog. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

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  17. Lisa at fLVE

    Great story Russel. Glad to have you around. Also, I laugh at the part where you said SF Bay Area was too weird for you. Did you know that Lafayette and Walnut Creek is actually fairly conservative by Bay Area standards. Glad you didn’t stay in Berkeley or else… Anyway, I am glad you ran into those joggers in Stanley Park. Beautiful park too. Been there… Hugs

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      When I worked in Lafayette in 1994-95, many of the people I consulted for lived in Danville. Talk about conservative. Seems that along the East Bay, it gets more conservative the farther south you go from Berkeley.

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  18. eof737

    What a life journey. I am glad you stayed alive…TY for sharing this so honestly. I pray it touches the lives of others who might be at such a crossroads.

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  19. zolemia

    I am glad that the joggers stopped by. It is empowering to hear your story. Reminds us how such small gestures by one person can mean the world (life) to another. Thank you for stopping by my site, for now I had the pleasure of yours 🙂

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  20. aawwa

    What a great story – very moving! I have been to that dark place inside me so I understand a little bit. I am glad that you got through it and are able to be your authentic self 🙂

    thanks
    Lorraine

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  21. russtowne

    Thank you for sharing this story, Russel. I’m glad that kind jogger found you and talked you into sticking around until you found other reasons for wanting to do so. You are giving much to the world and have a lot more to offer. I’m glad that you have found happiness and a measure of inner peace.

    Russ

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  22. texasdruids

    Hi Ray, what a great story! thank you for sharing your life with us. My daughter has been to Sandiego several times and loves it, especially the climate.

    BTW, I love your cool kitty!

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  23. journeyintopoetry

    This is such a bittersweet story. So pleased you have found peace and contentment.

    Thank you for deciding to follow my blog! I see you are a photographer!! My poetry blog appeared through adversity and now an interest in photography is doing the same!! I was given a camera last Xmas and I have been practicing taking photos of close up flowers. I fancied wildlife but it won’t stand still long enough for my weak and wobbly fingers! (I have MS) I am looking into getting a bite switch. There is so much out there that can help these days!! (Although I did manage to capture s very willing and patient bee on a flower last week!!) I am still using auto focus but just getting used at the moment to actually trying to handle the camera itself. It is a struggle but I am doing ok.

    I have been where you were with the suicidal journey and as you can see I am still here though I did end up in hospital after an overdose. This was many years ago when I was struggling with alcoholism. Thank something I am still here 🙂

    Christine

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  24. butimbeautiful

    That IS a great story. I’m so glad you didn’t off yourself, and that you met Jim. Amazing that those guys sat down next to you in the park – you must have been giving off a certain sort of vibe.

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  25. writecrites

    I for one (of many) am extremely glad you found a home in San Diego and didn’t die in Canada or Mexico (or anywhere else). I’m sure Zoey is quite happy about it, too.

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  27. tosid01

    Forget the “like” Button I wished for a “LOVE” Button! I actually had tears in my eyes…Being Gay is NOT always easy, and why people would believe we “Choose” this is beyond me! I am so touched by your “Coming Out” I feel honored to have met you. Us “gays” need to stick together you know…I am so happy for you and your Husband? Did you marry him after all this time? I hope so! He should be honored as well to have you!

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      As soon as California instituted Domestic Partnerships, we got Domestic Partnered (July 31, 2004). Then, during the six months when marriage was legal, we got married (October 30, 2008). The California Supreme Court ruled in May 2009 that since we got married legally, our marriage would remain legal. We celebrate three dates each year: marriage, domestic partnership, and the day we met (May 26, 1994).

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  29. insearchofitall

    I just had to know so I stopped by here. I get it. Texas and most of the southern states was not the place for you to be. My sister came to Portland 35 years ago and feels safer here. It’s still hard sometime. We don’t mind the rain. But when you feel like ending it all, the rain can enhance that feeling. I have to watch how I handle the grey days. Those joggers were placed there just for you. You had lots more work to do, pictures to take and a Zoey to care for. Glad you took a really long trip to give those Angels a chance to “run” into you.:)

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