June 21, 2017

A reason, a season, a lifetime, and the gift economy

Reason, Season, Lifetime. Anonymous

I met a man recently. No, not like that. Well, actually a little like that. Exactly like that. And this beautiful poem that first moved me years ago came to mind. Actually, it’s been on my mind for a while now. 
It’s coming up on single digits. The days till its been one year since Rupert died. He was both a reason and a season in my life. I think the two are similar, most are both and some are just one. He taught me so much about love and self worth. He raised the bar. And then instead of the future we were planning together, he died. 

The man I met earlier this week was a reason. We spent 15 hours together. We peeled back a few layers. There’s so many more that never will be. There’s no season for us, just the reason. 

He was stunning. Tall, lanky, strong face, charming smile, and twinkly dark grey-green eyes. A great conversationalist and a great listener. With a French accent and name to boot. 

I was the first person he’s ever met who’s been to Burning Man, which seems amazing for a world traveler from Montreal. But there it is. And he wanted to learn from me. I became his link to this thing, this event he’d heard of that he doesn’t know how to get to. “Just buy a ticket and get on a plane,” I told him. He replied with a big, sexy grin and repeated my words. 

I told him how I found Burning Man. “My undergrad is in photography, and I was a color darkroom printer.” 

“Useful job now,” he teased. 

“Ha! Yes, true. It was October 1994, and I was in San Francisco at a color darkroom rental facility. I’d moved from New York City nine months earlier.”

“That’s enough time for gestation,” he pointed out. I thought that was an interesting perspective and told him so. 

“A woman also using the darkrooms printed a picture of a man covered in mud on a giant desert. I introduced myself and said I would like her to take me to the next one. She laughed and the following August, 1995, she took me to my first Burning Man. I turned 25 at the event, and stayed an extra four days to help clean up because I couldn’t leave. I was home.”

I explained how hard it was to find your camp before there were roads, with 2,499 other people camped together and burning a beautiful wooden man at the end of the week. I described Pepe’s linghams and operas, and laughed while I described the embarrassing way I learned the meaning of the word lingham. We watched a video of the Temple of Wholyness burn over cocktails, and I described the somber quiet of that burn as compared to the frenzy of Burn Night. 

He listened to all if it, absorbing it, asking a question here and there. It was when I started talking about the gift economy that he stopped me. He had never heard of the concept and needed it explained. He needed examples. He really wanted to understand this aspect of the event. Of all the aspects of Burning Man that I described, it blew me away that what he latched on to was the gift economy. Later, because I wanted to gift him and because it felt like a great way to demonstrate he gift economy, I gifted him a key fob made by my dear friend Beveler. 


This man passing through town, dropping in to my life for a moment, gave me the opportunity to give a tremendous gift. I was able to teach someone who travels the world about the gift economy. In all his worldly travels, this was his first experience with it. Before this, he knew how to barter and buy. I am so grateful for the experience. I am so grateful that I was shown what a unique city I live in for a short time each year, but that I’ve been able to carry the economy of Black Rock City with me every day since I turned 25. 

Later that day, I saw my friend John Halcyon in a video he had made about the gift economy, and how important it is to avoid paying for labor at Burning Man. If you have to pay for it, scale it back, he said. An important message for all of us to remember. Because as I was shown earlier this week, the gift economy is a treasure worth fighting for. 

I love watching life for its lessons. It’s a hard place to live, this human existence in  21st century America. If you watch for it, though, the magic is there. The connections, the lessons, the synchronicity, the gifts. 

Who in your life is a reason, a season, or a lifetime?

April 17, 2017

A friend asked me to read this with her. Wow can we talk about mixed emotions here? I’m excited to grow and learn and gain wisdom from this highly recommended book, and yet the reason I’m single is because of a motorcycle accident. I know how to love deeply beyond “the Games of Seduction.” I had it and he died. 

I believe someday it will all make sense somehow. 

April 7, 2017

Previously, I’ve been devastated because he’s gone. Tonight, I’m devastated because I’m moving on.

It was supposed to be this faery book romance. Instead, I’m moving on. 

Rupert and Absinthia took us both by surprise. We were friend zoned when we were teenagers because I was dating one of his housemates. Flash forward 20 some odd years and a drunken hook up after the Dead reunion tour – our first Show together since ’89. We fell in love. And then he died. 

Nine months later, I find myself grieving again. It’s been building over the last week or two, I can see that. And here it is. Emo music, tequila, tears, and all. This wave is different though. I’m not devastated because he’s gone, I’m devastated because I’m moving on. I’m moving on and I’m starting to see that clearly. Knowing that makes me ache. Its breaking my heart. 

I’ve had three lovers since he died. Beautiful people, inside and out. They have been one right after the other, short term but, strangely, serial monogamy. Brief and intense. Just days between each. Sudden, intense connections with limited face to face interactions. Two long distance, the other a bridge between. The ends of each have lingered with tangled emotions, with one deliciously continuing on from afar. It’s like I’ve lived years in the last nine months. I feel myself moving on after Rupert, and it feels right and wrong and I don’t want to be but I am and I need to. I have to! It’s important. Rupert is dead. He crashed his motorcycle. He’s not coming back. It hurts to be getting over him. It hurts more then any things ever hurt in my life. And yet, I’m doing it. Three lovers. That counts as moving on. 

I would like to find a way to take something positive from this. I don’t want to be hardened and unable to allow myself to make a connection with another man. This lifetime is teaching me male loss. Why is there so much male loss in my life? I don’t know how much more I can handle before I rid myself of the lot of them. Men. Fucking assholes. Too bad I really, really love men. Tall little boys, taught to be serious and to win, with their easily awakened silly sides, unsure of women and themselves and arrogant and entitled all at once. Not to mention their smell…mmm. Sorry, where was I? Right. 

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced father  abandonment repeatedly, divorce (my choice so that seems really different), the deaths of Alexius Stephen Rupert. My two gay husbands and my lover. Partner. Boyfriend. Late boyfriend. Men I never wanted to say goodbye to. Is it a wonder why it’s so much easier to say I love you and feel love with my female friends? Do I hold men at a distance because of this? Have I? Am I now? Will I, in the future?
That’s not who I want to be, walking away from this tragedy. I am moving on. I can choose how I will be. 

I choose connection. I choose love. I’m not going to be rash, but I’m not going to hold back. I do it in an invisible way, the holding back. You can’t see it but you can feel it. I’ll be open, and I’ll listen so much better than I talk. 

That’s where my work begins. 

December 22, 2016

You will find that it is necessary to let things go: simply for the reason that they are heavy

Just a few more days left to this very hard year. The calendar year is meaningless until it allows a psychic break from a life phase. I’m ready to put this year behind me. 

It occurred to me earlier today that my grief has split in two. One part is grieving the loss of our relationship, and the other is the loss of my friend. The loss of my friend may never stop hurting. I know I continue to hurt for other friends I’ve lost. It doesn’t hurt all the time, but it remains with me always. 

I’m traveling to visit my long distance lover in Australia in just a few days. We met through Rupert’s brother just two months after his death. I’ve had guilt. I’ve kept going anyway. What’s helped the most has been talking about the grief with friends. I don’t do much without my committee these days, and I’m blessed to have a strong group of friends around me.  I’ve been advised to face the guilt head on and to give it a voice. Let it be heard, acknowledge it, thank it, and let it go. It left this week. The night before I left town, I texted a friend, “I have guilt.” “Don’t. You deserve some fun!! You’ve been through hell.” It was the right words at the right time. 

I’ve let the guilt go. 

I’ve spent the last few days at my parent’s vacation home. Rupert and I celebrated New Year’s Eve here one year ago. I haven’t been as triggered as I expected, and I have done some deep thinking and processing. I went through a divorce and, a few years later, I thought I’d found a wonderful relationship to last me through many years. It ended suddenly when he died a year and a week later. I’ve experienced the loss of a “forever” relationship before, more than once. I believe I’ve moved through so much of my grief that I can now differentiate between the end of our relationship and the death of my friend. I can handle the end of a relationship. I’ve done it before and I’ll likely do it again. 

I’ve let the relationship go. 

Now I just miss my friend. Just. HA! Like Bill and Alexius and Stephen and Paul, Rupert made a mark on me. He’ll be in my heart forever. It’s okay to move forward with him in my heart, knowing the relationship and the guilt are too heavy to carry; I’ve let them go.