Yesterday I was clicking around my usual websites, the Daily Beast, The Onion, and The Huffington Post, in a failed effort to find something comical and witty to write about. After all, this is the Lounge, and it’s my duty to keep things funny, right? Somehow, I ended up at the New York Times site and a name caught my eye; it was unusual and I knew there was no more than a handful of people in the United States with that last name. I clicked on it, and the headline popped up:
Homeless Man Dies, but He’s Far From Alone
Underneath was this photo:
I immediately recognized that person as Steve, the first real boyfriend I ever had.
I went on to read the article, trying to comprehend how he ended up homeless and dead in a park in San Francisco. I mean, does that really happen to people? Even though more than 30 years had elapsed, I still could not process the photo and the information I was reading.
I remember meeting him during one of my summer jobs at the Giant Computer Corporation, I was 18 or 19 and he was 25. He was a third shift employee and somehow we crossed paths at a morning staff meeting, and later that week I bumped into him at the local watering hole. I was smitten by his blue eyes and funny sense of humor; he used to sit in the meetings with sunglasses on and close his eyes while the boring boss droned on. I guess I always loved people that bucked authority.
Soon we began a summer of dating; I remember riding in a speed boat across a lake on a summer’s day, and climbing into his white pick up truck, complete with his behemoth St. Bernard dog in the back. I remember drive-in movies, 4th of July fireworks, laughing at the local pub. I remember his mullet, his sterling silver shell bracelets, and the puka shell necklaces. I remember my sister going “really, he wears clogs?”
I can still see the cork wall he constructed in his apartment, with an array of poems and drawings, and I swear he said he could astral project himself. He was quirky, interesting, and a dreamer. And let’s face it, I was a new college student, he was in the workforce, and there were other people…. so we parted company on a crappy note. Of course, we both still worked at the Giant Computer Company and he finally stopped me one day in the hall, and said he was sorry and he would like to be friends. So 34 years ago we parted ways with a smile, and I hadn’t really thought about him since then.
I’m so sad he ended up this way, but comforted a neighborhood cared enough to send him off with a memorial and remembrance:
Next time I look up in the sky or stare across a stretch of ocean, I’ll say a prayer, remember him, and be eternally grateful for the life I live.