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Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Journey Begins

Growing Up in Texas

As a way of introduction, I was born and raised in Texas. I was the youngest of seven kids, raised in a very traditional, very religious household. All my brothers and sisters were older than me, so from a pretty young age it was just me and my parents around the house.

I'm not sure they ever quite knew what to make of me. I loved school and spent most of my time reading and watching movies and television. English and Spanish were my favorite classes in school, followed closely by history. I always imagined life in other places and other times, and dreamed of seeing those places - those things - that made up the world that I had read about and seen on the screen.

I imagined someday moving to New York because, of course, New York was the epitome of all sophistication...the place where all the smart, talented people were from or ended up.

The Glow of Burnt Orange


Like many who fit the description above in my world, I ended up in Austin - which really barely counts as Texas - at The University of Texas at Austin. It was amazing! I met new people, I encountered new and different things. I ate my first bagel!

Oh yeah, and I went to school.

But I was still in Texas.

After getting a degree in journalism, I got certified to teach and decided I'd inspire the next great American writer. I ended up teaching grammar to junior high students. I'm sure neither they nor I were inspired during this period.

Moving Time!

After a couple of years, I knew it was time for a change. But when  it came time to leave Texas, I loaded up everything that would fit in my car and headed west, not east. I was not really sure where I was headed, but I was sure I'd know it when I got there.

I ended up in Tucson. It was a beautiful city in the Arizona desert, somewhat similar to Austin. I didn't have a job, or a place to live. I didn't know anybody in town. But I knew this was the place to be. So I found a cheap motel, called my parents back in Texas and told them I now lived in Tucson, AZ.

A summer of frantic job hunting for a teaching job resulted in a literally last-minute offer from a very small, private Catholic high school high in the Catalina Foothills, known then as Suffolk Hills High School. Summer was drawing to a close, and while the pay and benefits - even for teachers - was not the greatest, it was a job.

My years in Tucson were a wonderful time. The nuns who ran the school - the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - were absolutely fantastic to work for. They, of course, immediately started "taking care" of me. While my own mother was a thousand miles away worrying over me, I had a whole school full of nuns, plus some other lay teachers from the school, who were the greatest co-workers/extended family I could hope for. They, along with some wonderful friends, made my time in Tucson wonderful.

"My kids" were, of course, all perfect! (At least in hindsight!) Through the marvel of technology, I hear from some of them now and then and it still always amazes me how grown up they are.

Hello World, It's Me...

I met some wonderful people in Tucson, and had a wonderful life. But most importantly, I had the opportunity to reconcile a very important secret that I'd known all my life but had never had the courage to say to anyone, not even myself. I was able to admit to myself that I am gay. All my life growing up I had been told that was wrong. I guess I just needed a little space to figure out that there was anything wrong with me, after all.

And eventually, and miraculously, I met my partner David. It wasn't too long after we met that he was transferred to Columbus, OH and asked me to come along. Hmmmm.... Sunny, beautiful Tucson with it's awesome mountains, amazing dessert, ancient historic sites, or Columbus, a place I knew nothing about. At least it was moving east?

I told the nuns I would finish the semester in December, then I'd be heading out. They, and the kids, were awesome. There was a surprise "Goodbye" rally complete with my favorite Garth Brooks song. (That song still gets to me.)

That was more than 20 years ago, and David and I have been together ever since. We had the greatest dog in the world, Boo Radley, an amazing 80 pound cinnamon-colored chow that we lost to cancer. We now have a 15 pound cockapoo/mutt from the local shelter who definitely has it made in the shade.

So, that's my life in a nutshell. During this adventure, I've had the amazing good fortune to see some of the places that I dreamed of so many years ago back in Texas, and much, much more! We have become die-hard NHL fans and have followed our beloved Blue Jackets on some awesome adventures. We've watched street performers in Tokyo and ridden horses on the beach in Australia. We've experienced Halloween in the expat area of Hong Kong and New Year's Eve in NYC. And Columbus is still home.

I hope you enjoy the photos I've taken along the way, and will enjoy the ones yet to come...