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.
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].
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….
As 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….
Next 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.
Eleven 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.
Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572
If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!