Alas, I’m Back, part 2

I have thus far not said where I was visiting, where I was scouting to live. Then I thought…why not? Granted, I don’t say where I live now other than Southern California and what’s nearby, so I shall do that here (and just about anyone can figure out the actual city). I went to the state of Oregon, a beautiful state all by itself, to a large, progressive, gorgeous city. And I can’t wait to go back. Today I will (verbosely) go over the social aspects of my recent trip.

Social:

On Saturday I went out and went online. First, maybe because I was fresh meat in the city, I don’t know, but when I went online I was…popular. I ended up meeting someone, a really great guy. He’s smart and cute and sweet and in all ways totally adorable and has a ridiculously sexy sideways smile that should probably be regulated. Somehow, he must have enjoyed my company, too, because we ended up spending a great deal of time together. He showed me parts of the city that I would never have seen otherwise. Sure, I missed the big touristy stuff, but I saw a lot of the city I would otherwise have missed.

Another thing he did shocked me and left the indelible impression on me that I was, in fact, in a different place. The day we met we hung out and talked and for hours. Then we were hungry, so walked to get sushi. We agreed to part ways after because we both had something to do…and he kissed me. On the street. In front of everyone. Just little pecks, but they were full of attraction…hell, maybe even romance. And he kissed me not just once, but twice, three times, FOUR, even. We weren’t slobs all over each other, drooling into the other’s mouth, and being obnoxious. They were sweet little kisses and long hugs that happen when two people who like each other are saying goodbye.

Being from California himself but living in that lovely city for more than 10 years, I think he was a little amused at my reaction. Those who think that all of California is liberal and free like L.A. and San Francisco are sorely mistaken. I live maybe 40 minutes from L.A. and this area is strikingly conservative. This whole COUNTY is. If the same thing had happened where I live, there’s a very good chance that we would have been the recipients of several insults, possibly some hurled objects (in the rougher places), and at least looks and mutterings of disdain and disgust.

In this magical city (which wasn’t the land of Oz masquerading as a US city. I checked), people who passed us either didn’t look twice or smiled at us. Later the next day while on a walk I saw an interracial lesbian couple holding hands pass me, and this athletic, beautiful older woman (who could have been a vivacious neighbor on The Golden Girls) looked their way and grinned like she was seeing old friends. Like she was proud of them. Like she was proud of her city. The fact that they were interracial was no issue. The fact that they were lesbians wasn’t a big deal either. That they were holding hands on a bridge, taking a romantic walk in the afternoon was just as sweet and unremarkable as the dozens of straight couples doing the same thing. Ditto later when me and my new, uh, friend met up and he kissed me on another bridge. Or when we were in the park, shoes off, with our feet in a man-made waterfall and he scooted right next to me and put his arm around me and held me like that for a while. Mothers with kids didn’t bat an eye. The adolescents said nothing. The trio of teenage boys looked and looked away. Their faces didn’t change, they didn’t laugh, they didn’t whisper to each other. I talked to people and did research and there is a “gay part” of the city which is only a few tiny blocks long, but on the whole, the entire large city is this way. It’s just people.

If anyone is bored enough to follow me on Twitter (@darrenendymion), you know that I went to a bar and saw some unwelcome nudity to which nobody reacted. They didn’t even grimace when he plopped his nekkid ass down on one of the leather-upholstered stools scattered about the bar. They didn’t look twice. He was just there. I told this story along with a story of me getting hit on by a guy in public and some of the other stuff I saw and the only response I got was, “Welcome to our city.” Indeed.

And the people were nice. Like, they talked to each other on the streets (except when I had headphones in). They say hi and chat and they didn’t know each other before. They smile at each other for no other reason than that they are human beings.

People in the office I work in will pass each other and say nothing. In fact, they will walk past each other staring straight forward as though they have tunnel vision, as though nobody was there, but if they see a friend or acquaintance, the tunnel vision is abruptly absent. It’s willful ignoring. It happens all over the place here, not just at my work. Like they think a simple smile is an invitation to sexual relations. Some will look, ignore the smile, and move on. Sometimes a part of me wants to say something hateful and insulting (as it’s usually women who do this). I want to say, “You might want to simmer down that ego. I’m gay and you’re a 5 at best. I was just going to smile and acknowledge that you are another human being.” Maybe I need to be a woman for a day and get ogled. I’ve been told that people don’t know I’m gay, so maybe these people are afraid to see something licentious in me. Maybe these women have tried to be nice in the past and paid for it in lewd conduct and unwanted advances. But they do it to other women, too. Guys do it too, so they aren’t exempt in any way. In any case, is the solution really to ignore the humanity and kindness of people around you? Are they all just shy? Complete assholes? Are these people so caught up in themselves and their own issues or destinations that they can’t look out and around them?

Whatever the case, this city had some of that, sure. But all of the people I talked to were nice and friendly and open. I didn’t get one cranky person I talked to — from random passersby to the hotel people to the two guys landscaping and cleaning the various shrubbery around businesses to the server at Denny’s during peak crazy time.

Very few people were too busy being assholes to offer a simple smile as they passed each other, most likely to never see each other again. A small kindness, a recognition of someone else’s humanity, a smile. It costs nothing and it can mean so much.

And that’s it for tonight (Jesus, isn’t it enough?!). On Monday I will finish this vacation and travel entry with the impact it has left on me and what my plans are for the future. I just need to come down off my Vacation High to be able to tell you. Until then!

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~ by Darren Endymion on April 21, 2016.

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