The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the tag “Out of Body Experiences”

The Eagle Has Landed!!!

 

Yippeeeee!!  The book is live on Amazon!!!  (click link to purchase)

I was hoping to keep the price down but It’s nearly 400 pages so printing is expensive. Sorry!!! Nevertheless,  I’m quite pleased with the way it came out.  What I particular love about the book format is that you can randomly open to any story, and depending on your mood and where you are in your life at that moment,  you may find different meaning in it each time.

Positive feed back on Amazon would be MOST appreciated!!!  (hint, hint!)

It would thrill me no end if small groups of people got together regularly (like a book club) to discuss some of the stories as jumping off points to their own deeper understanding of themselves and of life.  I’d love it if teachers assigned the book to students, then asked the students to write their own life story in a similar format. Therapy patients could benefit from a similar exercise.  I invite actors to use the stories as monologues and writers to use them as jumping off points for books, plays, or movies.  Truly, I hope this book finds some life outside the blog. I’d be most appreciative for any help you might offer in spreading the word/work.

Thank you ALL for your loyal support and feedback.  Gail, you see I took your advice re the cover. And Lino,  I took your advice about arranging the stories in a way so that each one informs on the one before and after it, (unlike the blog, where they are published as they come to me.) Both excellent suggestions!

Much love,

Adrienne

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Haters Gonna Hate

Originally posted March 13, 2015

acid

Nak

My last living thought was of revenge. Not for one who had killed me, for I died of natural causes. Rather, I died of the slow poisonous desire for vengeance which had coursed through my veins for decades. This was my own doing. I could have let it go. I should have let it go. But instead I let it eat me up inside like acid.

He stole my life. His fame and success should have been mine. That is what I believed. He stole my ideas; he stole my relationships; he stole my chance at happiness. He alone derailed my life’s plan and I could not, would not, let it go.

He knew I hated him, but he paid me no mind. To him, I was a pathetic nobody. At worst, I was annoying, like a housefly, incapable of inflicting any real damage. He could have destroyed me as easily as a human hand can squash a bug, but he did not waste his effort. This, too, fueled my anger, for he did not even consider me a worthy opponent.

I wasted my entire life on hate. The taste of bile tainted every possibility of joy. And whose fault was that? Still, I refused to release it, even though all the damage was to me.

I know now I traveled the path I was destined to travel. If he had not taken from me what I believed to be mine,  I would have lost it another way. It was not meant for me to be a success this time.  This life was meant to teach me to conquer resentment and anger. It was for me to learn to be happy with what I had. It was meant for me to learn to move beyond disappointment and push through to joy. But I could not.

And so, I must do it again.

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  Think of others who might enjoy it too,  and help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 

Yoo-Hoo! Lou! ‘Zat you?

 

Update to my readers:

I’ve finally finished editing the book. Woo-hoo! Above is my first concept for a cover.  I rather like the vintage book look, to convey a little mystery but perhaps this isn’t the way to go.  Anyone have any other suggestions?  Ideas? Comments?  What about the description line, “Wisdom from the Other Side”?  Too hokey? Too woo? Maybe just “Stories from the Other Side”?   Input much appreciated!

The next steps are mostly about design (size, shape, font, etc.)  I’m hoping to have this ready for purchase by my birthday in June, my gift to me.

As for my astral experimentations,  I think I’m finally getting somewhere. Maybe literally. While I still don’t feel as if I’m leaving my body and walking around outside of it , there are some new developments.  First, when I go into my meditative state, I’m feeling a sensation that I would describe as a  slight shift of my energy which sort of “flickers” away from me and then snaps back. It’s like one of those lenticular “winky” pictures that you’d get in a box of Cracker Jack. Or that slight difference in perspective when you put your glasses on, then take them off, then put them on, then take them off.  I guess you could call it a vibration in that it’s cyclical energy, but it’s not the tingly feeling along my nerves which I’ve experienced before. It’s less a physical sensation than a perceptive one.

Also, the vivid hypnogogic images are coming almost as soon as I close my eyes, and they keep coming fast as long they remain closed. The other night, I was finding it difficult to fall asleep because they were so intense and frequent. As always, they are not particular interesting by themselves. For example, the other Saturday evening after yoga, during my shavasana, I saw clearly a stand of high and bushy grasses with white feathery tops in a narrow patch along the side of a road. They were being sprayed,  possibly with water so it would the area would not be dry and flammable, or maybe with insecticide or herbicide.  I could not see who or what was doing the spraying.  If I were going to imagine something,  it sure wouldn’t have been that.  Yet it was as if I were standing right there, looking at it.

So I wonder,  are these some kind of “brain regurgitation” or is it distance viewing?  I have no idea.

Also,  the other evening, while in this state, I saw flashes of light with my eyes closed.  It wasn’t actual light (i.e. not lightning or a car outside) but rather a kind of explosion of light in my head.  Very intense. Very brief.

I am just reporting my experiences.  I am truly not sure if they are “woo” or if there is a physiological explanation.

If I am, indeed, distant viewing, I have no control over what I’m looking at so once again, as superpowers go, it’s a lame one.  (I seem to be the Queen of Lame Superpowers.)

But here’s a nifty little thing that happened on Mother’s Day:  somebody I follow on Twitter mentioned that he set his music system on random and asked for a message via music from his mother. The song that came on had specific meaning for him. I mentioned that I think Lou Reed spoke to me in the same way,  and i posted the link to the story.  The moment I posted it,  Lou’s New York Conversation immediately came on MY randomized music system!  “I am calling, yes I’m calling, just to speak to you…”  That’s twice.  I suppose it could be a coincidence but hey, maybe Lou IS trying to communicate with me, if only because I am open to listening.  Perhaps I should talk back?  (Now I have this image of Maureen Stapleton in the original movie version of  Bye-Bye Birdie trying to communicate with her dead husband, Lou, by shouting at the ceiling.  “Ya hear me, Lou?”)

I suppose it’s also possible that I’m losing my mind.  But given our current political situation,  it’s not so bad to let go of reality for a couple of hours now and then. It might, in fact, be the only thing that’s keeping me sane.

 

 

Love Me, Love Me Not

First published March 4, 2015

sad marble angel

Ag

I was a disaster at love. My relationships never lasted more than a few years. I fell in love with the notion of love and never saw my partners as they really were.  I was interested in others only as long as they allowed me to feel within a narrow spectrum of emotion; as long as they didn’t force me to consider my own responsibility too closely. When my feelings began to stray beyond those parameters,  I might become angry or demanding or hurt or fed up.

None of my behavior was consistent with truly loving someone. I was never willing to stick around to do the work.

I thought I was doing the work. I thought I was being the mature, sensible one. I believed that what I wanted was within reason, and within my right to ask.  I wanted them to behave in the way which I believed was the correct way to behave. I wanted them to reciprocate my feelings.  To feel as I did. Respond as I did. Desire as I did. Love as I did.

I had lofty concepts of love, which, to my great heartbreak, no one else seemed to share.

When they finally would not or could not live by my standards, they would either leave or gradually stop making any effort until I ceased asking; until I abandoned my feelings and went away. This process was not without drama, which was mainly my own doing. It was, ironically, the very drama they’d been trying to avoid. It was the behavior which always proved them right in the end.

I believed myself to be loving yet tragically unlovable when in fact, I was quite lovable but tragically unloving.

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  Think of others who might enjoy it too,  and help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

Down the Rabbit Hole

The other night, I was rereading Robert Monroe’s classic, Journeys Out of the Body which I’d first read in college, and have re-read several times over the years.  (The subject has been a fascination of mine since high school.)  In his book,  he mentions Sylvan Muldoon, author of The Astral Body,  written in 1929 and one of the first books written on this subject.

I’d never heard of Muldoon; at least I didn’t note his name on previous readings, probably because last time I read it was pre-internet; before we had access to all the information in the world in the palm of our hands.  Now, with a quick Google search  my every curiosity could be immediately satisfied. I looked for a copy of his book on Amazon.  Alas, it seems to be out of print and the few copies around were relatively expensive.  (Even beat up old paperbacks were twenty bucks.)

But in my search for a cheap copy of his guide,  I stumbled upon a treasure trove of books on this subject over at Archive.org — these are free e-books and/or pdfs of a wide variety of out of print or out of copyright publications.  (Just go to that website and type the subject into the search bar.)

Not only did I find Muldoon’s book (in a pdf format) but I found a whole slew of books on astral projection,  remote viewing,  lucid dreaming, and more (including the Robert Monroe books I was reading.)   I downloaded about fifteen of them.  It’s going to take me years to work through them!

I started with the Muldoon. Since it was written nearly 100 years ago, I was a bit concerned that the language would be stilted and it would be boring to read.   In fact, it reads as if it were written yesterday.  Little Sylvsn started having spontaneous OBEs* in childhood, but as an adult endeavored to find a way to induce them at will.  He was successful to the point where he became fairly well-known in his time as a teacher, lecturer, and author.  (I’m only one chapter in so I cannot offer up a review at this point.)

Another great find was Astral Projection Secrets Revealed (2012) by Dr. Jill Ammon-Wexler,  which is set up as a step-by-step how-to book.  It’s easy reading,  so I quickly skimmed the first several chapters of that, as well.   Many of the induction methods she mentions are familiar to me,  but there were some I’ve yet to try.

She also mentions salvia divinorum,  a plant that grows around Oaxaca, Mexico which supposedly induces powerful OBEs.  Naturally,  I went searching after that, as well.  There was a lot of useful information on Erowid.org.  One can grow it oneself from cuttings or seeds, and it’s legal.  However before I’d even consider growing or buying some and smoking a bowlful,  I’d have to research it quite a bit more.

Dr. Wexler notes that there are different types of OBEs including lucid dreaming and distant viewing.  I always imagined a controlled OBE would feel like stepping out of my body and traveling around at will but I suppose it’s possible I am having other kinds of OBEs.   She writes that one of the indicators is the sensation that you are able to see clearly even though the eyes are closed.  This is a very common sensation for me but is it really some kind of OBE? Or just a vivid visual recollection of my own bedroom?  (I assume the latter.)

I wrote a few weeks ago about the sensation of seeing things in my mind’s eye which seemed like snapshots or gifs of people and places I didn’t know, usually doing mundane things.  But even if this is, indeed, distant viewing,  it’s completely uncontrolled.  I’m just watching the hypnagogic images as they flash across my mental screen. I cannot interact with them and they are too short to be interesting.

I long for the ability to leave my body and fly about the world at will. Is that asking so much???

Despite my long-time interest in this subject, I’ve been using the same (unsuccessful) methods for years. It’s time to delve into some new authors and new methods.  There is so much to learn on the subject, and at this point, I only have my toes in the water. So my journey continues.

If any of you readers are interested in attempting astral projection, yourself,  but don’t know a lot on the subject,  I’d recommend starting with Dr. Wexler’s book which, in addition to being well-laid out and easy to follow,  is free!

Please do let me know if any of you read these books,  try any of the methods,  and/or achieve success.

–aeg

 

The Subtle Bouquet of My Pain

First published Feb 5, 2015
Wine_Flood-es

Phi

I had so many opportunities to understand. I turned my back on almost every one of them, avoiding unpleasant emotions as much as possible. Of course, I did learn a few things along the way but these were mostly passive lessons. I didn’t throw myself into life, savoring every emotion, turning the flavors over on my tongue until I could discern the subtle nuance in the bouquet, the way an oenophile considers a complex wine. I did not understand the difference among love and lust and obligation and affection and self-serving need. I never picked up on the connection between insecurity and anger. I didn’t recognize the link attaching my deepest fears to my most self-destructive behaviors.

Instead, I festered and stewed; ate myself up with anger and resentment. I blamed everyone else for my misery. I never looked to the source of the problem which of course, in one’s own life, is always oneself.

It is only through the closest and most brutally honest examination of our emotions that we find our own truth, and the peace that comes with it.

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

Ipoism, Part 2

Originally posted February 2, 2015
scribe
 (Continued from previous post. Still taking dictation from Ipo!)

The only truth that matters is the one found within.

A good guru teaches how to dig a thousand layers beneath the ego to find it.

First, you must calm your mind. It matters not whether you recite the rosary, practice transcendental meditation or yoga, or whirl like a Dervish.

Each philosophy, each movement, each religion prescribes its own method of ascent. Many insist their path is the only way.   This is not true.   Dogma is political. It is a way to control. Ritual for its own sake is not the path to spirituality. Ritual is only effective if it quiets the mind and turns thought both within and without.

Choose whatever works best for you. But choose! You must choose! If one method does not work, try another. And another. And another. Do not be lazy about this. It is essential to your spiritual growth.   Without this, nothing else can be learned. So this is the first thing to learn.

The only prayer you need is “Why?”   Then quiet your mind and listen for the answer.

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! Feel free to post/ask/suggest/comment.
-Adrienne

 

The Sliver of Light

originally published January 26, 2016

rocks piled

Ca

When I was about 45 years old, I gave up sex. Eventually, I went into religious seclusion so I might focus my full attention upon my studies and meditations of the wonders of the universe. I cut my ties to the secular world because none of it interested me.

I had spent half my life chasing money, career advancement, possessions, — empty goals, all of them. When I finally came to that understanding, I could no longer bear to live in that world.

It didn’t happen all at once. It began with a seed but the subject so fascinated me, it became an obsession.

It started with a drug that opened my mind just enough to let a sliver of light in. The first time there was no great epiphany. It was only different enough for me to say, “What was that!?” I’d seen only a glimpse but I knew I wanted to go back there.   So, I did it again. This time I looked for the opening, and when I found it, I moved into it. People call this a hallucination but many so-called hallucinations are more real and more true than what humans call reality.

I did it again and again. I couldn’t get enough of that place. The more I went there, the less I cared about chasing the middle class dream.   My family and my friends lamented.   They felt I was throwing my life away. They begged me to get help for my problem.

The problem was that I didn’t see it as a problem. I saw my family and friends as the ones with the problem. They chose to remain enslaved to the pursuit of meaninglessness.

Of course, as I started to care less about the shackles of modern civilization, the more strange I seemed to most everyone else. They saw me as kind of feeble-minded, my once-intelligent mind now addled by drugs.

There were names for people like me and they were all dismissive and condescending. Society as a whole needs to ostracize people like me, the way I was. If they didn’t, and others joined the search for Truth over Power, the situation could become dangerous.   If people are not kept in lock step with The Human Plan, the entire structure of power falls apart.   Humankind could not function if everyone had their heads in the clouds like me.   Who would run the factories? Who would wage the wars? Who would supply the food for all to eat? Who would produce the goods for all to wear?   Who would build the places for all to live? Who would create the scaffolding upon which the human ego hangs?

The human species advanced because of cooperation among people; the division of tasks.   When one person alone must hunt or gather all his own food, build his own shelter, gather his own fuel, haul his own water, make all his own tools — such a man has no time for philosophy.   But when humans live together in a group, each is able to specialize in their own particular task. The more they do it, the better they get at it, and thus, technology is born.   This co-dependent situation is to the benefit of everyone.

Modern society is built on this same structure, writ large, with each person far removed from most everything he or she eats or drinks or acquires.

So, if everybody followed my way, society would crumble, and humans would go back to having to do everything themselves, either way, leaving no time for philosophy.

But what would society be without a soul? Without a hand on the rudder to keep the human race from being set adrift?

Even primitive man understood this, and designated one person in each group, to remain in touch with the Spiritual.   By so channeling, this person maintained the group’s balance between the quotidian and the heavenly.

This basic dynamic carried forward from small primitive groups to large cities teeming with millions. There are those who have the gift, the purity, and the charisma to remind humankind of its spiritual destiny.

But I was not one of them.   I did not have the ability to make others understand what I saw or how I was feeling.   If I told them what I knew, they would have thought me a lunatic and locked me away.   Instead, I went away from them.

I retreated to a place where I could exist with the minimal. The less I possessed, the less I needed to worry about holding on to it.   Without that concern, I no longer had to work long hours, putting my mind to things that ultimately made no difference.

Work is work, regardless of whether one is digging ditches or communing with the universe.   All work is noble, as long as it gratifies the soul.   Find meaning in your work, and it will show you the path.

My path led me to this new kind of work even though, to those I left behind, it did not appear to be work at all.   I depended on the kindness, generosity and favors of others —   friends and strangers alike.

I earned no money but even still, I had to do physical toil. No good comes from idleness, either.

And that’s where I spent the rest of my days, leading a simple life so I might spend more time in contemplation.

Those from my past believed I was turning my back on life. They pitied me. I, in turn, pitied them. So much wasted time and energy on empty things. The answers were beyond myself and I wanted to spend my life looking,  even if I never found them.

——————

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey! 
-Adrienne

 

 

Fly Me to the Moon

 

 

As promised,  an update on my attempt to hurl my psyche into the ether:

I’ve been reading quite a lot on the subject of Out of Body Experiences (OOBEs), but I’ve come to realize that what I need more than books is time to practice so I can figure out my own mechanism for separation.

Here’s where I’m at,  if anyone wants to play along:  First, I am still experimenting with binaural beats, such as THIS ONE   I’ve also used some verbal meditations I’ve discovered on line, but generally I find them more distracting than helpful.  (FYI, I am a trained hypnotist although I don’t have a practice, and rarely use it on others).  I am quite adept at going into a deep trance on my own.  The key in this case,  I think, is to develop my own set of suggestions and techniques.. (Some teachers suggest  reaching up with an astral hand, or attempting to roll the astral body out of bed,  or pulling the astral form up a rope ladder.  I’ve tried them all, alas, to no avail.)

According to the theory,  astral projection is about changing the energy vibration of the consciousness. (Heavy,  man…I know!)    To that end, I have visualized being filled with and/or surrounded by white light.  I have felt the full body vibrations,  intense heat from head to toe,  and a strange  sense of sexual arousal (even though my body was sleep paralyzed) — all of which are said to be precursors of liftoff.  But as of yet,  I have not been able to separate while conscious.

One of the keys is remaining awake even though the body is in sleep paralysis.  This has been a challenge for me, probably because I always make these attempts when I  get into bed at night and usually end up falling asleep.  (This is why most teachers recommend attempting OOBEs after about four hours of sleep, and somewhere other than one’s own bed.)  That said,  after such deep trances, I have had quite a few extremely vivid and interesting dreams which I was able to recall in fine detail, even days later. Nevertheless, these were obviously dreams (vs. OOBEs)  because they had a surreal and/or psychological quality to them.

If you read the initial posts of this blog, you know that I’ve had a few astral dreams in which it felt as if my consciousness had left my body and traveled to another location.  These dreams had no psychological or emotional aspects attached to them.  I simply felt as if I were flying over a different place on the planet, able to see around me with great clarity, but without much  control (perhaps because I didn’t realize at the time I could will myself to have any.)    In one such instance,  I actually had proof that I’d traveled to such a place because I was able to ask questions and get answers, which were later proven to be true.  In another instance,  I saw a beautiful mountain lake so vividly, I remembered it for years, and many decades later found myself in that place (in Tibet.)    These experiences have demonstrated to me that it is possible.  The challenge is to do it on demand.  I believe that if I can accomplish this once, I will be able to do it again and again, at will.  I believe it’s about finding the method that works for me.

Meanwhile, I have asked a friend in Italy to place a piece of paper with a single random word on his nightstand so that if I can manage to travel astrally, I can go to his room and read the note, thus providing evidence of my trip.  (LA, is the note still there? 🙂 )

 

–aeg

 

 

 

 

 

Friendly Fire

First published January 8, 2014

cowboy2

Pon

From the earliest time I can recall, I hated my father.  He was a mean drunk who sometimes got physically abusive.  I remember him hitting my mother once or twice when I was very young,  but soon my older brother put himself between the two of them and voluntarily took the brunt of the blows upon himself.   I watched that sick theater from the sidelines, rarely finding myself in the middle of it, but hating him all the same.

When I was in my mid-teens, I quit school and started working as a ranch hand on local farms. Whenever possible, I’d sleep in the bunk house to avoid going home.

There were all sorts of men in there, mostly itinerant, rootless farmhands. Some were good men – kind, generous, funny; some were as miserable and ornery as my father. Many were from far away; some from other countries. It was the kind of life which made having a stable romantic relationship or family life impractical, unsustainable. And so, a subculture of homosexuality arose. These men were “homosexuals of convenience” not because of any innate proclivity. They wanted sexual satisfaction, and other men happened to be most proximate. Man-on-man sexual trysts were not discussed openly, but they were alluded to; joked about, judged as nonchalantly as masturbation.   This might have been what they did but it wasn’t who they were, or how they defined themselves.

For a young man my age, with few heterosexual outlets, this kind of easy sexual satisfaction had its appeal.  I felt no shame about it. I had no reason so. Within the limited micro-culture in which I existed, it was perfectly acceptable behavior.

Normalcy is always relative. What feels normal to us is simply what is familiar.  Whether one grows up in a family of straight-laced missionaries or a tribe of flesh-eating zombies,  with little outside reference, this is going to seem perfectly normal.  And so,  touching men and having them touch me felt completely natural.

My brother remained at home,  standing guard over my mother.  By the time he was 22, however, he’d had enough.   He joined the army. It was a time of relative national peace and it provided an easy and expedient remedy for his unhappy and stifling situation. Before he left, he sat me down and told me that I would now have to sleep at home every night and take over the responsibility for my mother’s protection.

I did this with mixed feelings.  Certainly, I wanted my mother protected from my father’s drunken furies. Since she refused to leave him,  the duty fell to me.  By then,  I was big and strong; my physical presence was enough of a deterrent.   He knew he raised his hand to me at his own peril.  I wasn’t worried that I’d ever have to fight him.  I just didn’t want to live under the same roof as him; didn’t want to breath the same air;  didn’t want to be subject to his angry tirades or sullen moods.

I’d been living at home for a year or so, hating every minute, when we got the news. My brother had been killed in a training exercise. We didn’t get many details but it didn’t much matter. He was gone and never coming back.

My mother was inconsolable.   She blamed herself for not standing up to my father,  thus forcing my brother to take the only option he felt he had available to him.  She blamed herself for not having chosen a better father for her children.  She was consumed with grief and guilt and pain until it literally ate her up inside.  She died of cancer within the year.

I stuck around until after the funeral, but had little reason to remain anywhere near my home town. I drifted for a while,  working on ranches, here and there.  It was a comfortable way of life for me.  I was good at what I did and I enjoyed the work and the camaraderie.

Eventually, however, the smallness of my world became claustrophobic. The wide open spaces closed in. I became fascinated with the notion of getting lost in a crowd; of becoming anonymous in a human crush; of leaving my baggage behind and reinventing myself.

I took a bus to the big city, ready to start a new life.

I hadn’t considered that I had no idea how to survive in this alien environment, nor did I know anyone there who could teach me.   I was such an outsider, it was impossible for me to blend in, to vanish inconspicuously into a crowd. I didn’t understand the pace,  the lingo,  the urban mentality. I had a limited education and no practical business skills. I was a naïf in place that chewed up people like me and spit them out.

I had only one marketable skill: I knew how to give a man sexual pleasure.

Fortunately (so it seemed at the time), there were plenty of men who were willing to pay for this and I quickly I learned where to find them.  For many, an authentic cowboy held a certain appeal. My skill with a rope was in demand and offered an introduction to a more discriminating and higher- paying crowd.

I had arrived just in time for the heyday of gay nightlife. Discos and bathhouses were teeming with horny men.  There was a never-ending supply of drugs which kept us up all night or melted our muscles or enhanced our orgasms or cured the diseases we passed back and forth to each other.

I cultivated some wealthy men friends who were happy to pay for my skill set but I never deluded myself into thinking I was anything more than a toy to them.  They were educated and refined. They read books,  went to the theater,  discussed politics,  understood the nuances of business.  They felt comfortable in expensive restaurants and knew how to order fine wine. They knew where to shop and how to dress.  I did pick up some refinement from them but mostly, these things remained foreign to me.

I didn’t care. I was in it for the fun. For the freedom. For the money. I was grateful to be half a continent away from my father, and having a great time of it, too!

Although I traveled with that crowd, I never thought of myself as gay.  I didn’t love men.  I didn’t have any feelings for them.  I never looked at a man with sexual desire.  To me,  they were merely a means of making a living. If a woman wanted to have sex with me, I was OK with that too.   They would suffice if I were drunk or stoned enough,  but women never wanted to pay for sex (at least not the ones I met)  so ultimately, they were of no use to me. The few times I did sleep with a woman,  things always got complicated in ways I didn’t understand. They weren’t like men.  I could have sex with ten men in a night without knowing any of their names, never see any of them again, and none of them would care.  I preferred it that way.

I suppose eventually I would have found emptiness in this lifestyle too but before then, the sickness came.  At first,  it was mysterious, disturbing. But soon it became terrifying in the way it spread, in its quickness and mercilessness. Friends and acquaintances became ill and died. If I didn’t run into someone for a while, I always suspected the worst and was often right. There was a pall on the scene. The bathhouses were closed.  We were shunned.  People said horrible things about us and perhaps some of them were even a bit true.  For the older men, this was far worse than the early years when they had to live in secret.

And then it was my turn.  When the night sweats started, I knew what was coming.  I’d seen it all too often.

I had no one.  Those older rich men — the ones who were still healthy — wanted no part of someone like me.  I had never been their friend and now I was a pariah.  The sick ones, rich and poor, had their own problems.  I had nobody, no place to go, no money, no way to make a living.

And so,  because I didn’t want to die on the street,  I did the only thing I could.

I went home.

In the years since I’d left, my father had found God.  He’d stopped drinking and, to his credit,  had developed compassion.  He wanted to make amends, to pay penance for the deaths of my brother and mother.  He accepted responsibility for the broken mess my family had become.  He felt it was his duty to take care of me during my final months.

The irony wasn’t lost on me.  I’d come full circle.   In the end,  the most significant relationship I had, the only  person I’d ever shown any vulnerability to, was the one person I spent my whole life avoiding.  I couldn’t get far enough away from and yet, in the end, I traveled halfway across a continent to die in his arms.

 

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