Monday, April 23, 2007

Stereotyped


I don't quite get it all. I mean, what it takes to be a gay man and everything. There are so many supposed stereotypes that I guess I'm supposed to fill that I just don't even know where to begin! I feel like a newly baptized member who just got called into the Relief Society presidency.

According to some of the recent comments amongst friends, family, and coworkers, apparently I am supposed to be more ummm... feminine? Is that the right word? Maybe just more gay or something. But I guess that makes me come back to the question, what does it mean to be gay?

I suppose I should explain some of the stupid conversations I have sat through that have spurred this angst.

First of all, I will confess. I am a salesman. It is my profession that gets me through school, pays my bills, and binds me to the world of working. Not only am I a successful salesman, but I do door-to-door sales. Yes, two years ago I found a good summer sales company to work for and it has really been good. For those readers in Provo, Rexburg, or any of you who have had experience with a summer sales recruiter or employee, you know a little of what I am talking about here. Since we are talking about stereotypes today, why stop with stereotyping fags? Typically these boys of summer are super confident. Generally half of them are pretty good looking with beautiful wives or girlfriends. They drive Hummers. They come from successful families with wealthy fathers. Republican. They love to make jokes about anything sexual. They're good at making and spending money. Oh, and they can be total ass holes sometimes. Thats their stereotype. How did I get mixed up with a bunch of guys that typically don't match my supposed gay stereotype?

The truth is, I am somewhat of a shape-shifter. I am far far from being a conformist, but I've learned how to make really good friends out of people who are pretty different than I am. From the emo punks to the jocks to the computer geeks. I have a wide variety of friends. I really refined that skill while serving my mission.

One of my coworkers (who just so happens to be my younger brother) told a somewhat amusing story of a guy to whom he had sold our product. This man, though not obvious in his mannerism, revealed his sexual orientation to my brother by his inappropriate flirtations and eventual proposal of a date. My brother, who is married, told this to the whole office during our morning meeting. I can understand how being straight and hit on by a gay man could be disturbing, disgusting and even humorous to him or a lot of the other guys. It was the jokes that ensued after that I found revealing. They joked about the man for a while -which was fine to laugh at the situation and all, but I realized that everyone just viewed him as some sort of pervert -a confused, misdirected man that only wants raw man-sex. Maybe he was, but the point of it all is that by extension through their jokes, commentary, and one-uppers they stereotyped all gay men as such. I realized that as much as I would like to be transparent and am confident enough to deal with people knowing (I think), to do so would be throwing myself to the wolves. Would my coworkers be afraid of me? What about those that have children? Would they view me as a child molester, a sex-crazed pervert, or someone with a disease that could spread to their children? I'm not any of those things.

Something Samantha Stevens said to me was that when you tell someone that you are a homosexual, you need to allow them the time to react. In the middle of the sales season with all the work, focus, inertia, and stress perhaps to throw this out on the table would be too much for me and even the closest of friends out here. The only one who knows is my brother. Even his wife doesn't know.

On Sunday, my boss and his wife, my brother and his wife, and I went to the beach for the afternoon. My boss's wife works in the mall in a trendy retail clothing store. Somehow in our conversation on the way back one of her gay coworkers came up in the conversation. She commented on how she hated having to work with all those gay men... then a comment about gay men working in clothing retail at the mall...

The one person whom I expected would stick up for me as a homosexual, my brother, really let me down. My brother in a disgusted tone said, "If I ever owned a clothing retail store I wouldn't hire gays to work there." My boss said, "But that's illegal. They have discrimination laws against that sort of thing. They'll take you to court."
"How would they know that it was because they are gay I didn't hire them? They couldn't prove anything."

I wanted to say, "Oh don't worry, Brother, I'd testify against you." But I didn't.

He went on to talk about feminine gay guys and their mannerisms and how much it bothered him. He spoke as if the obviously gay guys were lesser people because they were more effeminate in their persona. Basically he said it's okay to be gay as long as you don't act gay. I wont relate the whole conversation, but it really made me mad.

No, I myself don't find effeminate mannerisms attractive, but I can tolerate them. There are a lot of things I don't find attractive. I don't find obesity attractive, but I can still be friends with, love, and support an obese person. There are somethings that people cannot help. Maybe that's not a good example, but I think you get my point. Being effeminate isn't bad, just different.

I actually know a number of intolerant gay guys too. They act as if being effeminate were a bad thing... I mean, it's not my style, but they judge others. Aren't we free to pursue that which tickles our fancy within the bounds of moral law? Sure, when you see a flaming fabulous gay man you can't help but laugh sometimes, but to degrade someone else for any reason only serves to degrade yourself.

I know sometimes in the church, (especially in Elder's Quorum) there is a tendency to see who can be more conservative as if conservativeness could be equated with righteousness, but my brother isn't the type of guy to talk fluff to impress others. He is a thinker and doesn't say things that he doesn't mean. Thats why it hurt so much to hear him say what he did. I'm really close to my brother. I still have yet to talk to him about how angry he made me for saying everything he did.

I don't know... I guess I wish people could love people for who they are, not just for being Mormon, talented, good looking, or anything else.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Me, Myself, and Repairative Therapy

Disclaimer: Now I know this post could easily stir up some lively controversy. This is not my intent. I am merely writing this to share more of me, where I have been, and what my experience with Reparative Therapy has been. I also recognize readily that this could easily be a display of my own ignorance and so I am also completely open to comments that disagree or share a differing point of view. But please, we are all trying to figure this out and we are all at different places with different histories, paradigms, personalities, and consequently different opinions. So please discussion and even friendly debate are welcome, but hostilities are not. Thanks, I love you all! :-)

When I first hit adolescence at age 12, I like most of us, began to notice that my attraction was to guys. I, also like many of you, was the most upright, faithful, sweet, obedient, righteous kid ever. I began keeping a dedicated journal in the 4th grade because that's what Mormons do. In the 5th grade I began to read my scriptures daily and in the 6th grade I was the first person in my whole family (extended and immediate) to ever read the Book of Mormon from beginning to end. I fulfilled callings in my quorums through adolescence and was active in my dysfunctional scout troop. I worked hard through high school and involved myself in everything. Choir, YMCA Mock Trial, student government, international club, German club, community service club, I was senior class VP, an active member of the State Association of Student Councils, and so much more. I really was a star student. But I was so insecure. A lot of it had to do with my big dirty secret.

I had attended a small private school through junior high. My 8th grade class had 6 students. When my parents couldn't afford to push me on into a private academy I went to the local public high school where I knew no one except my older sister. It was big, overwhelming, and I was socially intimidated. My parents became concerned with my struggles. I would come home and cry because of how alone I was and when I got picked on I always took it to heart. Children can be so cruel. A few months into my freshman year my parents approached me and asked if I would like to see a counselor. I eventually consented. Counseling was okay, but I wouldn't open up to the counselor... I wouldn't open up to anyone. I had read what the church had to say about homosexuality in The Miracle of Forgiveness. I had practically memorized that section. I was ashamed of me, I hated me. I wondered if I had made myself gay by masturbating and if I did, I knew I could never forgive myself for doing it. In fact, my seminary teacher had given a very inappropriate lesson on masturbation and homosexuality and how they were linked.

At 14 or 15 I went into see my bishop. He was a kind old man, a grandfatherly type. He was fairly uneducated having only completed the 3rd grade, but he was no stranger to life experience and loved everyone unconditionally. I went in and after a little bit of uncomfortable small talk I said, "Bishop, have you ever felt like you were cursed?" I couldn't look him in the eye and I broke down crying, sobbing with my head buried in my hands. My bishop didn't know what to do so he just sat there and waited for me to regain my composure. "Why do you think you have been cursed?"
"Bishop, I think I am..." I could hardly get the words out of my mouth. "...I think I'm gay." I had such a hard time saying that word. Just saying it made me sick to my stomach.
I don't remember what kind of kind counsel he offered me after that, but there was little that he could offer me. I firmly believed that God would provide an answer for me and that someday I would be married, live a normal life, and that someday these unwanted feelings would be gone.

Within a few months of talking to my bishop I told my counselor as well that I thought I was gay. My counselor in an overly casual manner said, "Oh that? It's no big deal. Have you ever acted out on your same-sex attraction?" Same-sex attraction was a phrase that I had not heard of before. But it became the word that I used instead of gay and the diagnoses of the disease I was fighting. "No, never." I said. "Good then, it will make it easier to change you since you aren't addicted to sex with men."

"This sort of thing happens all the time." My counselor said casually, "Completely curable. We can do a number of things in here and I'll give you a variety of assignments and we'll solve this one for you." He sent me home with a number of books to read. All of them were about homosexuality and repairative therapy. I buried them between my mattresses and only pulled them out to read when I was sure everyone in the house had gone to bed. I didn't want my parents to walk in and catch me reading and then know that I was *gulp* same-sex attracted.

I asked my counselor what the best and worse case scenario would be for me in therapy. "Worst case scenario: You stop coming into therapy and neglect the assignments I give you. If you decide to remain worthy, you'll go on your mission and come back and find a wife, but at some point in time you will devastate your wife with the news that you are same-sex attracted. If you act on these feelings you could not only do serious damage to your marriage, but you could end up in an a sexual addiction. The world of homosexuality is very promiscuous. And well, best case scenario, you and I work on a number of things, you go on your mission, and when you get back and find a wife, come and see me and I'll give you guys some fun bedroom activities to do. Your attraction for men will be very minimal as you practice these activities and since it is sex, it will be fun."

Now that I look back at everything, I see that I could have quite possibly had the worse reparative therapist ever. He was such an ass. He would fall asleep sometimes while I was talking. I was too young and insecure to know what to do though.

As I went to counseling off and on over the next few years I found certain aspects of it helpful but some parts of it were worthless and made me feel bad. One assignment specifically called "smell aversion" was the most repulsive and insulting of all the assignments. I went home and started on my assignment as directed. I gathered a variety of perishable foods including raw meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and anything else I could think of. I put it all in the blender along with a couple of bones until it was an even fleshy pink shake. I poured it into one of my mom's small jam jars and tightly sealed it with the lid. I then put it out in the furthest corner of the yard to bake in the sun. I left it there for a week visiting it daily to let the gas build up escape. I then went upstairs to my room and wrote a vignette, a short erotic story about whatever fantasy I could imagine. Two weeks later I was in my therapist's office with both my jar of wonders and my fantasy on paper. My counselor instructed me to read my story to myself and put myself there in the fantasy and then at the moment I felt any kind of stirring arousal I was to open my jar and breathe the deepest breath of foul smell I could through my nose. I nearly vomited. He had me repeat this 3 times. I was also then told to do this on my own at home every day both morning and night. I was faithful. Every morning and night prayer was also the time that I would put myself through my routine of smell aversion. I would pray that it would work.

After three months of this torture my erotic story had lost it's zeal for certain, but I still felt just as aroused by the thought of men as I ever did. My counselor suggested that I get some feces and add it to my jar. It was more than I could handle. I was also instructed to get a consecrated oil vial and put some of this mixture in it and keep it with me on my key chain. Whenever I had an erotic thought I was to sniff it up. I did this for a long time but eventually I stopped.

I graduated from high school and began preparing for my mission. My counselor wrote a letter to the stake president indicating that I was worthy and completely prepared to serve a mission. In the end my mission offered me more help and growth than anything I could ever think of. It was truly the best two years for me at the time. It helped me grow as a person and develop my own personality and character. It was my salvation.

To say that coming back from my mission was difficult would be a gross understatement. I felt very torn inside and as if I had lost my purpose and meaning in life. I began seeing the same counselor I had seen before and I decided that I needed to tell my parents. I set up a session and invited my parents to come. I sat there in front of them and struggled to say it. I was slow, terrified, and lost my train of thought so much that I must have looked and sounded crazed. So traumatic was the experience of telling my parents that I can literally cannot remember what was said or the events surrounding the remainder of the day. I stared at the floor and mumbled and eventually somehow, the words came out, "I suffer from a disease called same-sex attraction." Later my mom asked me if it was me or the therapist that had used the word "disease" to describe my homosexuality. If I remember, it was me who used it, but the therapist used the word cure. Cures are for diseases. What was I supposed to think?

I actively participated in Evergreen for a year. It was really helpful and I was able to see a lot of guys who were in all sorts of different phases in their progression and it opened up my ignorant eyes. It was a good place for me at the time and I will forever be grateful for my time with Evergreen.

I moved on to school at BYU-Idaho. I made it very clear to my parents that they were not to talk to me about my SSA and that it was a closed subject. My parents respected my wishes and we basically never opened dialogue about it again until this last Thanksgiving, over three and a half years later. While at BYU-Idaho I sought out the counseling center to further my progress towards a cure. While there I visited with a couple different counselors. Neither of them were proclaimed experts in repairative therapy but as I understood, repairative therapy is not simply conditioning me out of liking dudes by smelling rotten food and poop. Repairative therapy is about fixing the damage and deficit caused by strained parental relationships and social struggles. This can be complicated by abuse and other problems such as clinical depression. Essentially, SSA is merely a symptom caused by a much deeper rooted problem. If you can fix the deeper problems, and pay little heed to the SSA itself, eventually it fades away or atleast becomes something manageable and little more than a nusance.

In many ways I fit the cliche of a candidate for such therapy. My father was passive and distant and was unable to nurture his children. My mother wore the pants in the family and struggled with perfectionism. I realized that these basic missing needs in my life could be worked through by any good counselor. I worked on my self esteem, my relationships with my parents, friendships, God... it was some of the best counseling work I ever accomplished. I grew to love myself, I made peace with my parents, peace with God... For the first time, I was truly living my life and I was happy in so many ways that I had never felt before. I had never felt happy like that. How strange to spend so much of your life unhappy with who you are.

So I repaired and worked through the struggles and pain and sorrow. My relationship with my parents couldn't be better. I couldn't imagine a more trusting, loving relationship with my parents than the one I have now. It's wonderful. I see how all of the repairative therapy I have gone through and all of the work in the target areas surrounding my homosexuality has been of tremendous value and worth in the end. It really helped me learn, grow, to let go, and develop as a person. And I really like who I am. I like me. I've made peace with so many of the sorrowful things in my life. I feel like I can deal with nearly any challenge that comes my way -that nothing can disrupt my progression as a person. It is liberating.

So what's missing? I am still just as attracted to men as I ever was. Repairative therapy has turned me from being a neurotic, self abusing, sad, homosexual into a happy, optimistic, well rounded homosexual. I feel like I can make good choices for me now. Repairative therapy did more for me than I thought it ever could. But it didn't necessarily do what it was supposed to and I have no regrets about that.

I spoke with my mother about my experiences with therapy. We discussed the age old Nature vs. Nurture battle. And really, in the end, I don't care which it was that made me this way, though the school of reparitive therapy thought says that it is primarily caused by environment and complicated by nature. My mom, said, "After you told me that it was because of the environment (etc.) that caused this. For two years I stewed and stewed about how essentially we made you struggle with this. When you were 5 we knew you were different. In those short 5 years did we really cause this to happen? How could we have messed you up so badly in those fist few short years?"

Well, I don't feel messed up now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

To Love a Woman

So it's becoming less and less of a secret. I can't bear to live a double life or rather to feel like I have this looming secret that cannot ever be resolved. Coming out to members of the same party is not such a big deal for me, but when I venture out to connect with the straight world on this particular topic I always get pretty nervous. I know that eventually I will have to completely overcome this fear because how else will true tolerance and understanding ever be achieved if I cannot bridge the gap?

I have a dear friend, whom I have known for just over two and a half years. She is a star through and through. She comes from Europe and I will call her E. She is a BYU-I student, return missionary and is no stranger to hardship. Being alone in the states has been difficult for her on so many levels and I was able to be a friend for her in a place where she has felt so very alone. She is one of those people that you have a soul connection with. If I wasn't gay, I might marry her. [Am I allowed to say that?] There have been a few women that I have known that fit into this soul-friend category. But I could never bring myself to move it from soul-friend to soul-mate. Anyway, all of that is for some future post and for now suffice it to say that E has been one of the dearest friends ever.

After moving away to Provo I to a certain degree lessened communication with her. This was not unique to her though, as I began to deal with one of the most intense struggles of my life I retreated from my social life to discover answers on my own. Of course E became concerned and she could sense that there was a big something that I was withholding from her. Again she was not unique in all of this. She came home with me at Thanksgiving and during her visit she could sense something was deeply bothering me but also knew that there was nothing she could do.

E came and visited me during General Conference weekend. I decided it was time to tell her. Without more prelude and fanfare I'll just say that she took it harder than my parents, my brother or anyone else I've told. She was shocked and had NO clue that this was even coming. I guess I'm not that obvious. I've not tried to hide it from her. I just never directly told her. She cried and cried and sat in denial for an uncomfortably long time. She just looked at me through her green teary eyes and sobbed, I can't believe this! Oh no, no no... I just can't believe this... I don't want this for you! No!
I didn't know what to say. She was devastated and I couldn't help but feel that I had caused her to hurt so much. Throughout the course of the weekend this was obviously a looming topic in our conversations and it was not a pleasant time. She isn't shunning me, but she doesn't want this for me and it is tearing her apart.


On that Sunday she confessed to me through deep sobbs something remarkable. She said:

Caspian, last October when I knew you were going through a difficult time I always made sure to pray for you the same as I pray for everyone else, my family, friends... I just made sure to include you. While I was praying one night though, I had an amazing experience. I saw you for who you are. God moved the mortal veil and showed me your heart, who you are and all of your gifts, potential, capabilities, and who you are destined to be. I cannot even tell you how intimately God showed your spirit to me. But I saw you for you, and I have never ever loved a person as much as I love you because I know you better than you know I know you. I don't want to ever loose you and I don't want this for you. I cannot see that you will never be able to be what God wants for you to be if you act on this. It seems so wrong to me.


Then she began to cry again. I don't know what to say to her. But I feel that she truly knows my soul and loves me unconditionally. I fear that she will allow this to unintentionally stand between us though.

I received an email from her last week that was even more revealing.

Dear Caspian-

I need to share something with you that I did not have the courage to do it when I was there. Maybe you know it and it's not a surprise but it's hard for me to say it. First of all I'm so grateful that your came into my life because you have blessed my life with so much love. Because of who you are without even knowing how, I fell in love with you. I don't know when it happened and how, but it did. Since I said that prayer [last fall] everything changed. I think the Lord gave me that feeling to see more clearly how special you are. I don't know what to say and how to say it. I feel lost but I thought that you have the right to know it. This is what I was trying to say Saturday night when I was talking to you, but I had no words. I'm just speechless. I feel like I'm going through hell right now, but as you said I'll be fine.
I love you more than anything else and if anyone will ever have the desire to marry me he needs to know me the way you do and he needs to love me the way you do. There has never been a guy in my life that has seen me for what I am and has loved and done for more than you have done. You have become my measure for many things in life. You have opened my eyes concerning many issues and you have helped me to see the world from another perspective. My love for you is so deep and I don't want to loose you for any reason in the world. It's not based on the love of a girl for a guy but on divine love. When I was going home I was thinking about us and I don't know how to explain it, but I believe we were meant to be in each other's life. I don't know for what reason but sometime it seems as if I know you for a long long time. Maybe we were friends in premortal life.

-E

I haven't responded to her email and I really ought to. I've talked to her on the phone a few times since then, but there is all this uncomfortable space that wasn't there before. We've not talked about the important stuff either. I feel terrible about it and I wish that, for her anyway, I wasn't gay. E is a remarkable woman and I love her as much as I can, but I cannot bring myself to love her romantically. They say love know no bounds, but I don't know that I completely agree. I love her as the dearest friend in the world, but I could never love her as a boyfriend or a husband. Knowing that makes being gay painful.

In truth there have been 4 women, beautiful both inside and out, that I have loved deeply. I would likely have married all four of them at one time or another were it not for the fact that I am gay. I just cannot move it that one step further. I tried... but it was dishonest, uncomfortable, and always felt deeply wrong.

In contrast to the etymology of the word, being gay can be quite sad sometimes.

Monday, April 09, 2007

My Tender, Broken Heart

As I reflect over the last month or so and all of the interesting turns and learning experiences I have had, I am able to look at things a little more objectively. At the time that I first began blogging last fall I really had somewhat of a fatalistic outlook on my love life. I believed that I would never find someone and that I would never be able to have a healthy, true love relationship with anyone even if I did find someone -regardless of gender. I was surprisingly okay with that idea too. I had made peace with it. Then out of nowhere I was robbed of my preconceived misconceptions. I had my heart stolen. Yes, maybe I gave it, maybe I was robbed. In the end, the details are insignificant I suppose. Regardless though, part of my heart was taken, and I don't know that I can get it back.

I wonder so
metimes if that is the curse of the gay man. Perhaps to always be searching for a place to land your ship but there is nothing but emptiness in the endless universe. Then in a moment you think you've found something beautiful but it is hurtling so fast through the etheric plane and leaving a ribbon of burning gasses, destruction, and debris behind it that all you see in the end was something that looked beautiful, but was impossible to capture. And you sit there looking out of the window of your heart and realize that you are again all alone. I suppose that question is something for a different post.

What I am saying is t
hat I gave a piece of my heart, and not to be (forgive the racial slur) an Indian-giver, but I want that piece of my heart back. I want to be able to let go completely and never worry about it again. I'm not a basket case. I can let go. I am not up at night worrying or upset or even angry, but I wish that the small ping of heartache that occasionally hits would fade away. I'm over him. And I also know he will probably read this and I don't want him to have the satisfaction of knowing that he has left a beautiful, tender wound that will always be remarkable in my heart. Perhaps that is too much to ask for.

I learned something in the process of having a piece of my heart
stolen. I learned that there is a very human place in my heart that has the ability and desire to love. And maybe it wasn't that I was robbed, but rather that I bought something and forever gave a piece of my heart in exchange for the education. I guess there are no refunds without a receipt. I now know that I can love someone, that I can indeed love. Knowing that perhaps makes moving on worthwhile. I guess in the end, all lessons -the most important ones anyway, leave deep and beautiful wounds on our most tender places.

I won't go back to my former way of thinking and I suppose I wouldn't go back to him even if he would take me. Though I fear there is always a deep temptation to massage that little tender place and be swept away with wild abandon. I've learned my lessons and I am ready to move on to the next lesson of life. I am thoroughly an optimist and I believe that the future holds nothing but good fortune. With the new tools of character and understanding I am better equipped to become the man that God is shaping me into.

****
On a completely separate note, I just got word from the auto shop here in Laramie. My truck will not be ready until Wednesday afternoon now and I am beginning to wonder if I will ever get out of here.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Stranded in a Strange Land

Was leaving Utah a mistake? No, I don't think so. Perhaps it is just my excess of good and bad karma. I think this is the fourth time I have made this statement on my blog, but I'll say it again. I live twice the life of the average person. Things happen to me. Really they do. Everyday it's something new, sometimes big sometimes small. I don't post everything that happens, but literally something strange or ironic happens nearly everyday. A good example of this would be how the computer I am using at this internet cafe froze on me just as I was about to publish this post. It could have happened to anyone, but it happened to me. I don't victimize myself, because I am an optimist through and through and there is nothing that ever really gets me down for more than a moment. I do something ordinary and the extraordinary happens in the process. My experience with taking my computer to CompUSA would be another prime example.

So I left Thursday evening to head out on my long trek to the Atlantic coast. I drive an awesome 1983 Land Cruiser. It's been my dream machine for years now and I bought it last summer. It's easy enough to work on and it's in nearly mint condition. It's rugged, fun and I can run over shit with it. The only truly unfortunate thing about it is that it has never met a gas station it didn't like. It averages about 18 mpg -which isn't too bad considering the engine size and age of the vehicle. In any case, I constantly must fill it up while on this road trip. While on the desolate stretch of freeway between Evanston, WY and Laramie, WY I realized that refueling soon was gonna be imoprtant. I unwittingly followed the Gas Next Exit sign on the freeway to the service road to Elk Mountain, WY, population: 198. The town, or rather village, consisted of several little cabins that appeared to be of original 19th century construction and a few rusty trailers. There was no visible gas station. I turned around and headed back toward the freeway in search of fuel. The next gas service was another 18 miles east on the freeway. I again, extending my trust, followed yet another Gas Next Exit sign at Arlington, WY, population 14. It was indeed even more of a ghost town than Elk Mountain was and I saw no gas station (though I later learned that the gas station was really just a singular pump out front of an unlit ramshackle trading post that closes everyday at 5:00 pm). In a bit of a frustrated panic, I turned around on the road only to watch my battery light on my dash light up and and my engine make a soft clunk before coming to a soft sputtering end. I tried to start it back up but it lasted only a few seconds before dying again. This was not on account of running out of fuel, which would have turned out to have been a much easier problem to solve. It was 1:30 in the morning, pitch black and just over a mile from the freeway. With frustration I popped my hood and only to find that all three belts had come off of their pulleys including my alternator pulley which of course was why my battery light had lit up.

As early as Monday I had paid a friend to replace my power steering pump, only to find that the new pump I had installed came faulty (or so I had thought) and leaked terribly. I had a hunch that this new problem likely had something to do with my new POS power steering pump. With no cell phone signal and already being terribly exhausted from the long drive I decided to camp out for the night in my car. It took me some time to calm my troubled mind in order to sleep. All I could hear was, What are you going to do? What are you going to do? What are you going to do? over and over again in my head. Finally I screamed, I don't know what the hell I am gonna do! SO SHUT UP ALREADY! I gently coaxed myself to sleep curled up across the driver's seat, plastic center consul, emergency brake, and passenger seat. About an hour and a half later I woke up with a start to discover that my car was gently rolling down into a ditch. I had inadvertently knocked the car out of gear while sleeping and gravity took advantage of my error. I quickly hit the brakes and threw it into gear and prevented an even greater tragedy from happening. I was on a steep slope and crunched up against my door. There was no way I was gonna get any sleep after that.

Far away from anything familiar, shivering with cold, and feeling sorry for myself, I cried three tears, swallowed the growing lump in my throat, took a deep breath, grabbed my jacket and began to walk the mile back toward the highway in search of help through the thick, snowy fog. Half way there I found that I had one bar of roaming cell signal on my one bar of battery. I called my brother (who also was making the same journey, but was more than a day's drive behind me). It was a staticky miracle. He said I should call 911, so I did, which was also a staticky miracle. A very nice Argentinian state trooper named Regina Shulmeister was my savior. I sat in her warm Crown Victoria glad to not be alone. We waited for the tow truck and watched the fog rolling around the flashing lights from her police car and the wind ripping the snow flakes in furious circles. Apparently there are two thriving businesses in Arlington. The part-time gas pump/trading post and Ray's Towing.

Ray was a crusty old guy with a cigarette limply dangling from his lips. He wore a pair of stained brown jeans and a denim shirt that had been mis-buttoned so that one end of his collar stuck up into his chin. He had a ragged beard that lined his cheeks and chin and it was difficult to tell if it was intentional or just on account of many days of not shaving. Apparently he was born and raised there. His grandparents homesteaded the land over a century ago. He was very friendly though and I was glad that someone was there to help me.

Ray opened my hood to see if he could put my belts back on and send me on my way, but with his flashlight he was able to see what I had not. He reached down deep into my engine compartment and retrieved the pulley that had come off of my smog pump and derailed the other two belts. This was not looking good. He generously offered to tow me to Laramie in exchange for $286.00. After he got my truck hitched up we drove to the locked and closed trading post where he swiped my American Express and gave me a FREE cup of the worst coffee I have ever tasted. I'm not just saying that for dramatic flavor either. It was really disgusting. I think it was brewed from coffee grounds that were several days old. I took one sip and discretely poured the rest out onto the pavement.

I reached Laramie at 7:30. I was exhausted. Being too exhausted to really care about much else, I had grabbed my toothbrush and cell phone charger and went in search of a place to sleep. Paul, the mechanic at the auto shop where my truck had been towed, dropped me off at a cheap motel that he said was in a prime location being close to all of the best bars in Laramie. So after checking in I marched upstairs to my room promptly fell asleep on my $25.00 motel bed. When I woke up at noon I walked back to the auto shop to find out the bad news.

Apparently my friend who I had put my new power steering pump in had installed the pulley backwards and it caused a chain reaction of SNAFUs including smothering my smog pump with power steering fluid. The irony is that a new smog pump doesn't come with a pulley. If I want to buy a new smog pump with the pulley it will cost nearly $1000. As Paul, the mechanic, explains this to me I remember that Ray had rescued my pulley from precariously resting loosely in my engine compartment. "Oh no, I have the pulley inside my car on the floor." It ended up saving me around $800 in the end. If I had not been off the freeway looking for gasoline and turning around at that place, at that time, my smog pump pulley would have dropped somewhere off on the freeway or who knows where. That is good fortune. All in all I have no idea how much this will cost me, but I guess cost is irrelevant because I'm not planning on staying permanently in Laramie or anywhere near this depressing cold wasteland.

The ironic thing is that with all of the space between Provo and DC of all the places I could have broken down, Laramie Wyoming is where I am. This is the place where homosexual, Matthew Shepard, was brutally murdered in 1998. I remember when it happened. I was in high school at the time and even though I was deeply in denial of my homosexuality and believed that it was a huge moral crime, the story of Matthew Shepard haunted me. Public outcry was significant, and it pushed legislature forward. The most horrific thing however was how the evil Westboro Baptist Church proposed a disgusting monument in Casper, Wyoming, Matthew Shepard's home town in honor of the anniversary of his entering hell. I don't think they ever succeeded in erecting the monument, but I think they are still fighting to put it up. And to think, this is the place where it all started.

It's Saturday, April 7th. I left Provo April 5th and I likely won't get out of Laramie until late Tuesday the 10th and I probably won't get to the DC area until the 13th. Bad things happen, but so do good things. There really is nothing I can do about this unfortunate situation, so there is no sense in fretting about the hundreds and hundreds of dollars this is going to cost me, nor the excessive waste of time. So, I'll just sit in this little internet cafe, hit up the local restaurants, catch up on all the television I have missed over the last year, and avoid all the best bars Laramie has to offer.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Saying Goodbye


I know I've not posted in a couple weeks, but believe me there is a LOT that I wish I could say right now. I am moving away tonight to the east coast. It will be really good move I think... With the exception of the drive all by myself. Those of you in Utah that I know personally, I love you and will miss you dearly. For the rest of you... See you in cyberspace.