"What A Long Strange Trip It Has Been"
Me and Art
"What A Long Strange Trip It Has Been"
Me and Art
That is a line from my only real family The Grateful Dead. And that is what my life has been so far.
I was born in the back of a VW mini bus on July the 24th of 1978. My mom was a single parent after her first husband (and my baby bothers father) Winsor beat her up one too many times. The name and where a bout’s of my father have just come about.
From there we moved in with friends all over the country from Brownsville TX to Panama City, Fl. My grandparents had a house in Dayton, OH. My mom never told them we were on the road so we never went near Ohio.
When I turned 10 years old my mom met a man that worked on an oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico. His name was Tom. He was originally from MA so he did not have an accent but he did have the "southern alcoholic phenomenon" -Will get into that theory later.
And he also turned my mom on to smoking crack lots of it). So I think you know where that story goes - MOM chases next hit and kids get shit on!!
Well that is exactly what happened we went on the road with the Dead. I saw 198 shows. But more then that I saw life. I saw people that warmed my senses. I met this man named Bill. He lived in a van and was happy as a pig in crap. He was my first positive gay role model.
I met Sharon, a barmaid that adopted and raised 10 children. Some of them came with her on the road.
I met June, a middle aged flower child that could just look at you and make u smile and feel warm inside.
I traveled from one end of the country to the other. In a 2 month period I saw the Golden Gate, the red woods, Lake Michigan, the Colorado river and the Statue of Liberty. I love those people they where my family.
During this time we lived in a VW mini bus it was copper in color. And mom could be found most of the time in the back of the van nodding out. Or if we where in a parking lot on the day of the show she would be selling T-shirts, beads, eggs=(bundles of weed), or whatever she had just made.
Somewhere in the desert in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico of all places the VW broke down. We always drove in a caravan of VW's and other vans. But the VW's blew a rod. I was scared I mean that was our home we were leaving. But there was something that June said "Sweetie if your heart still ticks and your mind still thinks you can make it though anything!" and it stuck. So we took all our stuff out put it in someone else's van and drove on to San Fran. When we got there we bought a crappy ass Chevy 50 van. It was a gas guzzler and was a bunch bigger.
We stayed on the tour till the Rainbow Camp in northern Florida (a place the rainbow tour goes when the band has a mini vacation around the holidays or when they are out of the country).
I miss that family those guys and girls, mothers and father, they are my family. Whenever I needed anything I just asked and they gave without asking or with out fussing.
I have thought in my life since then what if we were all like that what if u need a tire for your car. But u didn't have the money but you knew how to cook. So you'd go to the mechanic and say "Hey man I'll cook you a weeks worth of food if u get me a new tire" he said "groovy".
Well anyway we went to live with my grandparents who are not what any one would call role models. My grandfather is a pushy, abusive CEO of his own company that he stole from his best friend. My grandmother an alcoholic, passive who never stands up for anything or for anyone.
Well my mom had breast cancer and she had to be more cool about her crack problem at the same time. So she became a total bitch. They asked us to leave. She called Tom he said he was now living in the Providence Rhode Island area.
We arrived on a Tuesday. I remember it well I saw him again and I knew it was a bad idea from the get go. And I told her so. She was married to him 6 months later.
At around the same time I became friendly with a kid by the name of Travis. He liked Guns and Roses and so did I. He and I where at the mall, chilling, and I wanted a smoke but he only had one so we went out the side door.
There was this absolutely gorgeous guy out there. He had a cigarette in his hand (I think that is hot when a man smokes). I asked him for a smoke. He looked up at me and said with incredible blue eyes "sure". Like that time when June said what she said I was melted. As we Talked I learned his name was Jeffery. He was 19 years old. He was gay and he lived alone. We talked for hours. Smoked plenty of cigarettes and by the time he dropped me off at my house near 10 PM I knew I was in love.
It was like right out the movie. My stomach ached and my brain spun, my legs shook as he reached over and kissed me for the first time on that night.
A week later he invited me to a party he was having at his new place. He asked if I would like to come I said
When I got to his party there was a different mood to it very somber and very accepting at the same time. Turned out that a friend of the group had fallen ill with pneumonia from advanced complications from HIV. Being only 12 at the time not knowing a whole lot about HIV. I said o well he will make it out of it and without hesitation Jeff sat me down and explained u don't make it back from pneumonia u die from this kind.
That is the kind spirit that Jeff. He did not want to berate anyone or make a fool of anyone. All 10 of us drove up to Boston to see his friend in the hospital. But it was to late his friend had already lost consciousness for the last time. And at 11:43 he passed away. How was I to know this was just the beginning of the losses.
We went back to Jeff's house, all of us, and we did something that even now seems very appropriate. We partied are asses off and we danced till sun up. The way to relive the impossible odds is to never let them get you down.
When every one headed home me and Jeff sat on his balcony and had tequila as the sun rised. We made sweet passionate love all day that Sunday. And all day Monday too. When I went back to school on Tuesday. All I got from Travis was a smile and a nod.
Let me tell u what Jeff looked like. He was as I said 19 yet never looked that young. He had very red Irish hair all over his body. He always had a very red full beard about an inch long. The hair on his head was a little darker. It was always over the shoulder flowing down his back. Tied back because it was very coarse, thick and full. He stood 5'8", he was 125 to 130. He wore bell bottoms (before they were cool to wear again) and his shift was always a solid color usually Izod or Bumm sweat shirt. His strut, as I called it was very up right, very proud. Not stuck up just very proud to be seen with me, to be loved by me. He never spoke very loud but no one spoke when he did and they took notice. At the time he was going to the gym on a regular basis and never looked muscular just toned as he would say "just toned not chiseled".
Looking into his eyes a sea of blue very sharp always looking out for others. The one time I saw complete worry in his eyes is the day after I was shot in the arm. I will get into that story later. His presence was felt his heart was not worn on his sleeve but on his mind.
He would often look in to the sky on a dark night and say and u think this is the end this is just the beginning of our lives. I have never stopped searching for what he meant by that. Yet as tears well up in my eyes as I write this I know what he meant by it.
Over the next the next 2 years Jeff taught me many things about life, about love. Hell he even taught me how to kiss hehe.
On September 7th 1993 during a routine blood check he came up positive for HIV. 2 weeks later we went to get my results I was negative. We began accumulating money and began setting up for the inevitable loss of income and the long hospital stays. He went on the killer cocktail as I call it. There where no remissions in 1994 just slowing of the disease. Gone where the days when he did not have diarrhea or a rash or something worse like convulsions or wetting the bed at night. Never within this time did I complain. Why? Because it was like that first weekend we spent together. The way to relive the impossible odds is to never let them get you down.
During the summer of 1994 he stopped taking the killer cocktail. We went on a trip to Maine. We sold a piece of property I owned, I took a summer job. We lived our lives in the moment, in the here and now. He was very happy. So therefore I was happy.
In December he began to get lesions on his face. We went back to the doctor and he said his viral loads were over 15,000 or to those of u who don't know that means that u are full blown AIDS. The doctor said that he should take this and that so at first Jeff did. But the antibiotics gave him stiff joints. So after the lesions went away he stopped taking the antibiotics. In January he had trouble breathing so we went to the hospital they said he was having congestive heart failure probably from the killer cocktail the year early.
At this point money was getting tight Jeff had not worked for a few months since the lesions started. We were down to our last 10 grand. So we decided to sell off the insurance policy that we had set up in September 1993.
Giving us enough to get a nurse 24 hours and the oxygen tanks that he needed for his breathing. Jeff never cried. He simply wanted to give me all he could and felt as though selling the insurance policy left me with nothing after he passed. So some time in early 1995 with out my knowledge he put 20 thousand dollars in a very diversified stock fund.
That was Jeff never wearing his heart on his sleeve but on his mind. He began sleeping on the adjustable bed we had put in the living room. I always slept next to him. On the night of the 14th of June 1995 he was having trouble breathing and he had a heart arrhythmia so said the nurse. I looked in to his eyes and saw peace and he looked back at me and said I love you and I told him "I love you to Jeff".
Sometime through the night Jeff passed away he was still holding onto me when I woke up around 6 am on the 15 of June 1995.
It was a short service just as we planned. I called his mother to ask her to attend and her was response was "My son has been dead since the age of 15" that was the age he came out to his mom.
The classic story of them and us. Them being close minded bigots and us being open minded people for a freer society without prejudice of race, creed, color, religion, sex orientation, gender identity
After Jeff's passing my life was sort of thrown in neutral. I tried for a while to keep in touch with his friends. But it became to hard for me to see them I would Jeff more. I had long bouts of depression and no sex drive what so ever. I was a widow at 16 years old. On my 16th birthday (about a month and a half after his passing) I sat in my room and cried took some sleeping pills my mom had and went to sleep for about 2 days. (Luckily it did not kill me).
When I woke up I sat up in bed and there he was lying beside me. Jeff was sitting next to me look just as he did a few years before in a nice jean outfit. He spoke to me" I love you sky. I will visit from time to time." He touched my cheek just as he had a thousand times before. Swept the hair out of my eyes. (I had real long hair then). Got up from beside the bed waved only like he could and walked out the open door of my bed room. I ran out of the room after him. I was not scared but oddly very calm. Very at peace with the world at that moment.
After this I played our song on the stereo. Guns and roses sweet child o' mine. He was there, he is here now looking over my ever move saying "Hun your crazy” and laughing!!
I managed to graduate high school with mediocre grades and that is where I will pick up the story from.
while in my last semester of high school my mother who I was living with at the time said hey you are going to go live with your grandparents in OHIO after u graduate having no one to turn to and no where to go I was forced to go.
But Before this on June 6th of 1997 while on my way to a red sox game. And at that moment fait stepped in. I saw a man in his mid 20's wearing a pride necklace. I asked him where he got it and he replied that he got it at pride last year. And that there was a pride parade going on that day and it would be starting in a few minutes after the train was schedule arrival so with out thinking I skipped my day at the ball park to pride. There are so many things I can say about my first pride. I have never felt so welcome, so loved, so excepted, there where more then 300,000 people in the Boston commons that day. But we where chanting and feeling the electricity of one. I encourage any from the GLBTIQ community has not taking part in pride do it to experience this ever June as I have ever June scents and will for the rest of my life.
So I bought a pair of freedom rings my self. I wore them in my graduation ceremony. I wore them ever where. I had been proud to be gay and now I could show it. Sort of pride power I guess.
Well the day after graduation I moved to my grandparent’s house in Dayton, Ohio 875 miles from Providence, RI my home for the last 5 years before that.
Immediately after I got there I began having problems with my right wing Christian republican grand father. He told me I look stupid with my hair long and I was never going to get a job. My hair is an extension of my personality. It what my mood is at the time. Long hair is daring to be different and easy going and free flowing. I was not going to cut my hair for a job.
He then said "why do you have to tell people that u are gay, why do you have to flaunt it". My response was, is and always has been. Why to you have to flaunt your heterosexuality. Why do you make kisses noises to your wife why do you. Have to tell people that this is your wife why can't she just be your special friend as u refer to my partner, my boyfriend, and my lover this way.
Loosing on this front. He told me one morning that I was not to where my "queer rings" in his house or if I did he wanted me out by night fall. I sat and I thought of all the sacrifice of the queer generations that came before me. I thought a great deal about matt and what thoughts rings would mean to him. I decided that if u don't stand up for something u believe in then u stand for nothing at all. So I said "No this is me love me or hate me, but this is me" So He told me to get out. I left the house nothing but the clothes on my back and began to hitch hike back to Massachusetts/Rhode Island area. I got a few rides and was about 50 miles away when my grand mother found me at a truck stop and apologized, said she would buy me a train ticket back.
Well here is part 2 of this story of my life................
When I returned to my mother’s house she had her drug under control once again. That is not to say that she had not stopped using completely but using much less frequency.
I held half dozen jobs in like 2 months still trying to find my self again.
I also began a very tireless effort to reconstruct my relationship with my high school friend Pete that took some work and it was hard I mean after high school he felt I had walked out on him. But the end of October we where just like before tight as can be. I began to fall for him and I believe he began to fall for me also.
On December 21 of 1997 my life changed for ever (once again) me and Pete where dunk chilling in my room. While on the WebTV my brother want to call some girl on the phone. After about an hour I several times asked him to get off the phone please so that I could get back on the net.
The next thing I remember he came out of his room and in to my room with a knife and was leaning over me on the bed. The knife was no more then an inch from my neck. Was trying with ever thing I had to push him off of me. Trying to push the knife away from my throat.
While this was happing Pete leaped off the bed seeing that I was in danger grabbed a medal lunch box off the box shelf and waked my brother with it to get his attention. It had no effect. By this time I was screaming at Pete help me, help me please he is going to kill me please Pete. There was a
2x4 about 3 feet long sitting next to the door. I used to use it to hold the closet door open. He grabbed that and hit graham as hard as he could with it over his back the board busted in to like u would see in the movies. All graham did was get up and go after Pete. He punched Pete and then got on top of him.
So I did what an old queen used to say go for his honey sweetie.
I took the board now laying in 2 splintered pieces and I whacked him over the back of the head and then the neck and when he rolled over right in the nuts. Now realizing that unmistakable look in his eyes. I knew he was high on coke. He was not feeling the pain at all. I pulled Pete off the floor and pushed him out of the room. I screamed get out of the house go I am right behind you. He looked at me and said "I love you I will never let any one hurt you sky". I grabbed my coat and ran out of the house with graham screaming "u are a F*g."
Whole incident happened in the course of one min and a half
We ran to the store around the corner and called the police from there. We rode with the police back to the house. Where now graham was as sweet as can be. I told the officer what happened and they asked him if it had happened and he denied everything and to this very day he does.
He was on coke and out of his mind of course he does not remember it happening like that.
So they arrested graham and placed him in the back of the police car.
I then called my mother to tell her what had just happened. Her exact words to me were “Why did u call the cops, why did you have my baby arrested”. She then told me that she was coming home that instant.
When she arrived home. She told me to pack my shit and get the hell out. Peter’s father had already arrived at the house. She was screaming and crying that I had no right and I was over reacting and that did not happen.
At that point Pete’s dad looked at her and said “Are u calling my son a liar,”
To witch she replied “He has to have it wrong”
He looked over and with his hand said “bitch u are crazy u know that sky was complete right in fact he may have held back on how fucked up you are. And sky u are coming with us, NOW!!”
So I grabbed a few clothes. And left with Pete.
I stayed at Pete’s house till x-mass eve. At the time Pete’s house was only 5 blocks from my mother’s house.
The entire time I was talking online to this guy that seemed to be really cool his name was dean. I asked him what I should do he said well I got a few extra rooms. Chill out here till u get on your feet.
Ok side note this is where the true begin of my life is right here……..Ever part of whom I am and what I aspire to be begins at Dean A. Morse’s house in Norwich, CT.
This was the days before I looked a profile or even saw a picture. I just new his personality not much else.
He pulled up the day after x-mass 1997 in a very unassuming 1992 Honda Accord, He had a great smile and very much could put a room at easy. He was mid -40’s white balding and glasses, yellowed teeth.
He excepted me in to his home from the onset. He made me feel completely at home. With in a week he introduced me to all of his friends. He feel that the wait of the world was no longer on my shoulders alone. When I went to look for work after a few days he was like look what you have just been through in the last 5 years sit relax don’t worry about that shit.
While there I often talked on the phone to Pete and to others from RI but I just did not go back. Felling like that part of my life was over and I needed to move forward
I continued to chat on WebTV Through January and February. And on 18th of February I met Kevin We chatted for a few hours on line and with in that time I new that this was completely different feeling I was as if the more I talked to him the more I felt I had no doubt know him in a past life. There is I suppose no real way to convey that connection we had imminently. After chatting online we switched to the phone where we talked for another 2 hours. He lived on the other side of Connecticut, in the Danbury area. Even with the 2 hour drive he got his mom to agree to drive to Norwich that next day that next day.
He Arrived at 11:10 sharp………….
At the time he told me he was 18 years old, He was a “boarder” i.e. skateboarder look. Blonde hair blue eye’s 5’8 135. A complete knock out. He look exactly as he said he did.
His mom dropped him there that for the night and was going to pick him up the next day. We had such a connection. We sat in each others arms for hours. And made love that night. The next morning he asked me if I would go home with him to live and I immediately agreed. I told Dean hey man I am going to move in with him. And all dean said was “I thought so u seem so close it is freaky. “
So I packed some of my stuff in to his mom’s car and rode back to Danbury sitting on his lap. That was the most memorable ride of my life. And I been on a lot of road trips.
What went wrong there is still a mystery to me. We speak all time to this very day he is a close friend and his company Virtual Communications rents me the space for this website.
On May 11th of 1998 he came to me in the morning and said I was just not the one. It completely crushed me. Less then 2 months we were together but it is as if I can remember ever minute we spend together, ever meal we ate and ever place we went.
Well I then had to decide what to do. I decided not to tell Dean right away.
I moved almost right way back to providence just hanging out on the street and then on to Boston where I stayed with a really scary dude named Rick
After 2 weeks I called Dean just to tell him Me and Kevin had broke up and found my self on a train 2 hours after the conversation heading back to Norwich, with all me clothes.
With in a few minutes of be back at deans house we jumped in a rental car to go pick up a friend who had massive damage to his house do to a tornado. We then took a really great road trip to Florida. Having not been there for years I immediately fell in love with the palm trees and the warm air. And swore to my self I would return to live there.
The destruction that happens in a tornado is unbelievable words can not describe it at all.
He had nothing left at all but the clothes on his back.
We then returned to Norwich with him he stayed there with us for a few weeks till he could make arrangements to move to Michigan where he lives to this day.
But my world had changed I new I had to move to Florida. So I got a job this time. And saved every penny and while in a South Florida chat. I struck up a conversation with some one calling them selves Phish. Phish offered to put me in touch with a friend that had been looking for a roommate.
So on June 27th 1998 I moved to Florida for the first time. I moved in with a friend of phish's his name escapes me but he was like 25 yo beach bum, mad cool and low key, str8 and was engaged to marry.
I looked and looked for work to no a vale until some one at an interview for another job suggested burger king management training.
I was wearing out my welcome with phish's friend he was very lazy and he would leave the house for days and stay at his Girlfriend house then around september 1st, his landlord came in to the house (unannounced ......using his own key) and i was sleeping he started screaming and saying i had to leave ..... Phish's friend worked it out so that i could stay another 14 days but then had to leave. That is when i realized Burger king trainees maid shit for money.
Once again fait played a role in my life. with about 5 days left to move and no money or place to move too. I went to a party of a friend of a friend. His name was larry, He was a really awesome and different person, self employed and wealthy to boot. He was just getting divorced from his wife and coming out. he was mid 40's. plump and he was so persuasive. His place was a condo on the beach in a very nice naborhood he only wanted 350 a month so I figured what the hell lets go for it and i moved in With phish to the room he was renting to us.
The "parties" became legendary. the sex and food and boos flowed like water from the nile. the party led to many long nights at the clubs in near by ft. Lauderdale. and many many nights spent with out sleep going from bars to work. After say 3 months i got very sick and i was in bed As a result burking job fired me also phish and i split. I needed to move on or that life would have killed me. I defiantly had a great time while it lasted though.
I told every one i knew i needed to move and was looking to stay in the same area. Well instead of staying at the beach I was recommended to see robbie, He live in the city of west palm beach. I had sort of known him from a few of the parties not well though. Well on december 2, 1998. I loaded all my stuff in his car and moved to his place. It was a far cry from a condo on the beach. it was a 2 bedroom ranch on the wrong side of the tracks.
After like 3 days i Got my job back as a manger at burger king. the agreement robbie and i had made was he was going to give me a ride to and from work. It was 5 miles away.(there were no buses there and I did not have a car) After a week he failed to drive me 3 times in a week and i was again fired. So now i was stranded with a person i barely with no money. From time to time i would go places with robbie one night in particular i went to a party with him held a mutual friends house.
It was december 20, 1998, We arrived before dark to a remote trailer in the sand. we were welcome by our friend holding lots of liquor bottles and the party began. around 9:30 a moped pulled up to the door and there was a knock at the door. A very young looking guy with a cowboy hat and cowboy boots blonde hair and piercing blue eyes entered the room. My mouth went dry I stopped talking, I could not remember anything to say except a faint smile and "hi".
For a long time it seemed I staired at this man, Like i had always known him and i was trying to place him. Well what i did not realized in that altered state he was also staring back at me, (as the other people in the room later told me) we stared at each other for more then 10 minutes no one in the room spoke it was all just every one elsa watching us. And then i found an excuse to get up and he followed we kissed on the lips in the side yard. sparks flew and i felt butterflies. we talked for about for about 30 minutes then robbie suggested we all take the party to our house. Robbie was in sane with jealousness on the car ride back home. he went on and on about how we had gone to the party together and that i should not have been interested. i was very confused because i was not dating him I was having sex with him there is a big difference.
When we arrived back at our place. in front of every one mikey hugged me. At around midnight robbie and our friend went for a beer run to circle k leaving me and mikey alone with just another friend he immediately went to the bath room. as he walked by he winked. I figured we had 10 minutes tops. so we made the best of it :-)
At around 5 in the morning the party broke up all going home except mike who went str8 to work.
later that day he came back to see me. we talked for a few minutes outside then he left. I went back inside and confronted with robbie saying as long I was living mikey was no longer welcome and if he found i was talking to mikey he would through me out with all my stuff. faced with that I decided that i would not talk to him. The next day robbie decided that we were "going to get away for the holiday". We were going to go to his families house in Brooklyn, Ny 1,217 miles a 19 hour car ride. So i called kevin in ct that was not far from Brooklyn and asked him if he wanted to comeback to florida, knowing going to florida was a dream of his, he jumped at the chance right away.
The trip up was a disaster Robbie neglected to test the heat so when we got into north florida and it cold I was driving and hit the heater well it only blew cold. (ie heater core was clogged) for 900 miles we drove into snow storm with no heat. My feet went numb in south carolina, and made him drive the rest of the way. As punishment for not checking the heat
We arrived in Brooklyn at like 5 pm on x mass 29 hours!!!
we stayed FOR DINNER!! then we went to pick up kevin in ct. we were beat so we sleep at his house that night the next morning We found a mass of clogged leafs in the heater core.
The drive back was very umm different Robbie and kevin had sex in the back for hours and hours. i drove it as far as georgia then we pulled up to a gas station and robbie informed us he HAD NO MORE MONEY FOR GAS!!
So he did a gas and dash at mobile. While me and kevin were in the back seat out of plain site. Well at least we got back to West palm beach. The whole time i was on the trip i was planning nothing at all but then when i got back kevin crawled my bed with me and we went to sleep together then next day was 3 days to new years. he got on line and met some one. that night a guy came down from orlando to meet him and like that he was gone again, Robbie had a court date the next day. I called mikey and we began to plan my escape. on new years day At 1pm in the after noon i told robbie i was going to the store. I placed my jean jacked on ( I can still remember him questioning me why i was taking my jacket on an 80 degree day, thinking to my self shit he figured it out he is going to kill me. he then sort of brushed it off) i walked out, Leaving all my possessions behind including nearly 800 cd's i collected sense the age of 12 yo.
Waked to a pay phone and called mikey with the last quarter in my pocket with my heart raceing and my stomach in knots