Realizing one of the sections of this blog people look at the most are the photos from days gone by, this past weekend I set about looking to update the “Those Were the Days…” images. (It’s not such a task; given all of our moving this past year our photos are stored, semi organized and reasonably close at hand.) Anyway, I go and open a box and there, on the top, is a picture of my dear friend Elsie and I at Disneyland in the early 90s. As a point of reference, that would have made me in my later 20s? Not much older than Arielle is now.
Now, while I could sit and start on about our obvious youth or make comments about how we look to be a couple (we got a lot of that back then), my attention is more focused on our (matching) sweatshirts. These particular sweatshirts were incentives for having been involved with an AIDS Dance-a-thon in LA. To earn them, Elsie and I danced (along with Madonna that particular year) for “x” amount of time at the Sports Arena. In return – as if to prove we were incapable of dancing much – Our friends and families paid us money. (well, minus my family, who were stuck in AIDS/HIV fear at the time). These funds were then donated to an AIDS organization. It really was rather like going to a dance club. A dance club that helped people. It was fun and we had a great time dancing and smoking between songs. (Hey! it was the 9os!!)
This experience wasn’t a lark for us: we had both been working diligently with the Orange County AIDS Service Foundation delivering food to people who were home bound. At this time, AIDS and HIV had a grasp – a death grip actually – over our communities. Elsie and I were committed to doing our part. It was, as they say, just what we did in those days.
Back to the present day: right behind this particular image was a photo taken at my wedding in 1987. There, right next to me and my friend Scott sits Stephen.
Stephen. Stephen who passed away in 2010. Stephen who was serio-converting while Elsie and I were dancing our asses off. Stephen who provided the motivation for me to ride a bike 545 miles. Stephen, whom I miss to this very day.
So, while (as they also say) “A picture is worth a thousand words”, *this* photo is worth a thousand memories.
I take that back; it’s worth a million.
True fact: I have a rather vapid nostalgia streak running through me. Anyone who knows me will nod and agree. It’s part of my genetic makeup. I have a deeply innate respect for the history of people and places. Perhaps that is one of the reasons behind my emotional disconnect with California, which seems to have little regard for either. Who knows.
In any case, this respect for the history of things is a tad bit disharmonious with my disdain for clutter. I like things that mean things, yet don’t like having these things laying around. See how that works? Suffice it to say, I have lived with quite a bit of my history stored away. Until now. The recent acquisition of a wonderful drafting desk left me with a good space to fill up with some of these items of meaning.
Allow me to share them with you….
(A)A collection of prayer beads on such from family and friends. (A current revision of this.)
(B) A miniature hope chest that once belonged to Hal’s mother.
(C) A “Travel Box” containing items and memories from Hal’s and my trip to New York in 2003. It was a game changing visit for us (to say the least!)
To one side of the desk sits a stack of books which is crowned with a set of hand blown Yin/Yang hearts given to us by our friend Elsie at the beginning of our relationship. Having witnessed other relationships of mine that were less than stellar, she saw the peace Hal brought to my chaos.
Directly across said table sits a new addition: a glass box containing Hal’s fathers pocket watches. What makes this truly special is the tags attached to each reviewing the life of the watch!
Now, in the event of an emergency (knock wood!), all of these items get left behind in favor of one item: the portrait of Hal and I. Well known for his reclusiveness, this is one of very few images of Hal and I together. (That and, really, when there are only two of you, who takes the photo?) So while beads and watches can be bought and repaired, getting Hal in front of a camera might very will be a once in a life time happening.