Sunday, February 03, 2008

The ballad of Huggy-Bear and Pookie-Bear

Sitting on the floor and talking till dawn
Candles and confidences
Trading old beliefs and humming old songs
And lowering old defenses...

Private little jokes and silly pet names
Lavender soap and lotions
All of the cliches and all of the games
And all of the strange emotions
Singing a love song...

("Love Song," from the musical Pippin)

Chris, The Man From Missouri, has wormed his way deep into my heart - and, it seems, I have done the same to him. I am his "Huggy Bear," and he is my "Pookie Bear" (a play from the musical Rent, if you've seen it). What a rollercoaster this last month has been...a good one, to be sure, but a rollercoaster nonetheless. But history has been rich and thick as extra-creamy Cool Whip for both of us, so, to recap...

Chris had his house for sale for 7 months. In the middle of our third cross-country visit (I spent a week in Missouri the first week of December), his house sold. Closing was on December 28th; and he was ready for an end to Greyhound bus rides to spend time together. So I worked on finding him an apartment he could rent with no immediate job; he worked on getting through all the house-closing hoops.

The adventure to get him here was a journey of inches and miles - him trying to nail down every little detail on the sale of his house in Springfield, MO, and I, trying to juggle year-end closing, finances and family challenges to get down there, and help him drive his belongings back here.

I left December 27th for Chicago, and then from Chicago to St. Louis and Springfield. After all kinds of obstacles all month, Chris' actual closing went without a hitch. But at the end of the day Friday, with the truck packed and ready to go, both of us were exhausted. We elected to crash in a Motel 6 overnight Friday night, and headed out for Toledo on December 29th, and landed here on the 30th. He couldn't move in until January 2, but he had everything so organized it took next to nothing to get everything moved in.

His apartment is in Whitehouse, a little rural community on the southwest outskirts of Toledo - not quite 10 minutes lazy drive from our condo. It's small, but his stuff fits in there fine, and the washer/dryer area has become his "garage," where his bike and tools fit in just fine. So it's workable.

So Chris moved in to his apartment on Weds., January 2nd. On Thursday the 3rd, we left for Washington DC for the national conference of the Gay Christian Network (GCN).

I actually posted about that over here on the Ragamuffin site, just because it was such an incredibly freeing and empowering weekend as a un-ordained minister and former worship leader, to be able to participate in Christian worship with the man I love. It was a freeing experience beyond any that I can describe to you. So many of the beautiful songs and hymns that I hadn't sung since being a worship leader at Faith Lutheran in Prairie Village - gads, nearly 7 years ago. I was such a wreck - just awash in tears of joy at every worship experience while we were there.

Chris went out interviewing the day after we got back from the conference - his 4th day in Ohio. He had a job offer the very next day, as front-desk-clerk/manager trainee at the new Holiday Inn Holidome/waterpark in Toledo. The drive isn't so bad, and the location is new enough that we both think he'll be able to grow into management there. Of course, there are all of the "we don't have a policy for that" challenges with go along with any startup business, and dealing with the general public in Toledo is not such a fun thing (especially when it comes to the water-park, whose clientele certainly can be demanding and bring an air of entitlement, so he's not without his own challenges.

In the meantime, work for me has heated up (as usual), and between Chris' schedule (which gyrates pretty wildly between 7 AM - 3 PM and 3-11 PM) and all my usual busyness, it's pretty much been grab-some-dinner-and-crash, maybe including a movie (if it's not too late). We do what we can...

I'd forgotten what an old romantic I can be (and how much I valued that), to be honest. I've also found that waiting for the right person was worth it, and then some. Because sex wasn't the first thing we were looking for, we managed to find an incredible wealth of common experience between the two of us. He is fascinated with my recovery experience - I'm amazed by his passion for remote-control aircraft flying.

He's always wanted to learn to cook; I am a "let's go play in the kitchen" kind of guy. So I'm also re-discovering cooking, because Chris is definitely kitchen-impaired, but is eager to learn. Some of my old pots, pans and utensils have come out of storage, and we are having fun cooking, when we get the chance. He's more physically fit than I; we are working toward improving that for me. It's a blessing in both directions.

I've found that over a certain age (and thankfully, we are both over it, though he's not far over it...) just the incredible intimacy of cuddling together is something that's very special, all by itself. We'd missed both missed that so badly, having both been affection-starved for quite a while - he in a not-so-healthy relationship that ended months before we met, I in self-imposed closeted celibacy. So the simple act of cuddling and watching movies has been a real treat for both of us - each time we get the chance to just snuggle-up on the sofa, it's still a new experience. That's something I just didn't expect to have such a powerful effect on me, to be sure!

I've started to read to him, as well. Between Favorite Stories from the National Storytelling Conference and Where is Heaven? Children's Thoughts on Death and Dying, we have had a lot to talk about - about life, love, humor, pain, death and dying. You know, small-letter topics...and we've had some great conversations about each of those topics, and a hundred more besides.

In short, this is the story of two people, who surely seem to be madly in love, as well as aware of how badly things could go wrong. We are eager yet cautious; while I surely spend a LOT of time with Chris (whenever I can), I am still getting to AA meetings, and he is going to his first meeting of the local remote-control aircraft flying club, the Toledo Flying Tigers, this Tuesday. He wants to get to an open AA meeting, when his work schedule allows, and I can't wait to go to the Electric Tournament of Champions (E-TOC), an annual indoor festival of RC-aircraft superstars that is held in Toledo the first week of April. And we have about 20 years of vacations planned together...

When we were watching some old movies in my stuff, I came across the musical Pippin. It's a "what's life all about" musical that has several of my long-time favorite songs in it, including the big "will my life having meaning" song, "Corner of the Sky." But I was caught by the message of one of the less-known songs, "No Time At All," and how appropriate it has become for my life. At the end of this, I have two YouTube links - one, a terrible amateur video that has a fairly decent audio-track of the song, and a shorter version done by none other than Irene Ryan, the original "Granny" from The Beverly Hillbillies.

I'd click on the first link, and then scroll through the words. Then I'd go to the end, and hear Granny's version of it. It really captures the spirit of the song better, even if it's not the complete song.

No Time At All - from the musical Pippin

When you are as old as I, my dear
And I hope that you never are
You will woefully wonder why, my dear
Through your cataracts and catarrh
You could squander away or sequester
A drop of a precious year
For when your best days are yester
The rest'er twice as dear....

What good is a field on a fine summer night
When you sit all alone with the weeds?
Or a succulent pear if with each juicy bite
You spit out your teeth with the seeds?
Before it's too late stop trying to wait
For fortune and fame you're secure of
For there's one thing to be sure of, mate:
There's nothing to be sure of!

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

I've never wondered if I was afraid
When there was a challenge to take
I never thought about how much I weighed
When there was still one piece of cake
Maybe it's meant the hours I've spent
Feeling broken and bent and unwell
But there's still no cure more heaven-sent
As the chance to raise some hell

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

Now when the drearies do attack
And a siege of "the sads" begins
I just throw these regal shoulders back
And lift these noble chins

Give me a man who is handsome and strong
Someone who's stalwart and steady
Give me a night that's romantic and long
And give me a month to get ready -

Now I could waylay some aging roue'
And persuade him to play in some cranny
But it's hard to believe I'm being led astray
By a man who calls me granny

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

Oh, it's time to start livin'
Time to take a little from this world we're given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all....

Sages tweet that age is sweet
Good deeds and good work earns you laurels
But what could make you feel more obsolete
Than being noted for your morals?

Here is a secret I never have told
Maybe you'll understand why
I believe if I refuse to grow old
I can stay young till I die
Now, I've known the fears of sixty-six years
I've had troubles and tears by the score
But the only thing I'd trade them for
Is sixty-seven more....

Oh, it's time to keep livin'
Time to keep takin' from this world we're given
You are my time, so I'll throw off my shawl
And watching your flings be flung all over
Makes me feel young all over
In just no time at all....

(the other version...)