When I started looking at the future a couple years ago, contemplating major changes was stupefying. One of the decisions I needed to make was about my home. I loved my patch of woods in the Ohio country with its 1860s log cabin. I had dreamed of retiring to just such a place some day, and when the opportunity came to own it while I was still relatively young (49ish), it seemed too good to be true. And it was the one place after years of looking at properties that Sheri wanted even more than I did. It was very rustic with its original stone cellar and rough hewn timbers, and it needed a lot of work. But part of my dream was to spend the rest of my life making it exactly the fairy-tale home I envisioned.
But after the trials of the ensuing 8 years, I no longer had the vitality to rebuild that cabin or sculpt those woods. On one hand, my best friend and lifemate was no longer present for the dream and it was easy to make the decision to sell it. But on the other, it was just such a perfect patch of paradise, and I had already put so much into it. I stalled for a year.
And then serendipity did as serendipity does. An inquiry from a former coworker led to a visit from one of his associates. Michael is a young man who looked at the place and saw it through my eyes. He fell in love with the location and his imagination ran wild with the aged cabin, and he began to regale me with what he would do with it. And his vision was uncannily similar to mine, detailing the changes I would have spent my years making if I could have.
It was infinitely easier to let it go to someone who was as smitten as I was, who would preserve its heritage and refine its presence. He will be an able successor to the green we found there. I’m looking forward to a new life for the place I called Sharalane Hollow.
And as my very wise huzzband said to me, “You can have a new dream.” And he was so right. But maybe in my case, I’m revisiting an old dream, because long before I ever found Sharalane Hollow, I had abandoned the dream to go west a lifetime before. And suddenly here I am, in the Mojave Desert and building l’Auberge West at Shangri-LeFey Studios with my perfect partner! Unpacking, creating a new world to live in, sponging up the artmosphere, taking method acting lessons with a pro! Can you believe it?
Don’t ever stop dreaming, my friends. One of my favorite quotes is from A Knight’s Tale: “A man can change his stars.” Believe it!
The move to California has been a whirlwind and surreal, while at the same time feeling all-consuming, so it seemed it would never actually happen. I sorted and packed and sorted and packed for so long I felt constrained to the penultimate level of hell. And here today, we are in our new home in California for 2 weeks. We spent the cross country trip in Olympia Blue, our minivan, wadded into 4 human-sized cavities among the softest and most precious of our belongings. Pete the Dog learned to wad himself into a dog-sized niche by the door, and traveled more congenially than the rest of us. We didn’t kill each other, and we’re here.
I loved the countryside in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Allegheny forests and Appalachian mountains where I could lose myself since I was a boy. It was country where I could recede into oblivion from the world and commune with my Great Artist.
So getting used to the stark beauty of the desert is an adjustment. It’s not a trial or challenge, it’s just different. But one of the characteristics of the desert I find so apt at this time in my life: it’s wide open. There is little about the landscape that presents a refuge or a hiding place. The greatest threat in the desert is being unprepared, dehydration. You have to take care of yourself if you are going to survive, and there isn’t much use in dragging along a lot of excess camouflage with which to disguise yourself. Make sure you’re sensibly covered and stay full of wet.
And it’s an attitude I assume as a model in my life. Openness, the awareness to just be. Like the cacti in all their infinite variety, beautiful but unrepentant about their natures. There’s treasure inside and beauty outside, and nothing obscured in florid abundance. Not a thing wrong with who I am, in the palm of the Maker’s hand, here I stand.
It’s been a year since my very best friend — and the light during most of my life — died. I still can’t quite wrap my head around that. I definitely can’t wrap my heart around that. Sheri Roberts Tennant was my counterpart in so many ways: we really got along like Will and Grace in most respects, down to being a nearly undefeatable team in board games because we knew and could read each other so well.
One of the most over-whelming aspects of losing Sheri for me was the practically crushing weight of being the sole witness of all the memories we lived together in the course of our 40 years. The secrets she confided, the things she believed, the dreams she dreamed, as well as each Read the rest of this entry
At the Gay Christian Network conference in Houston in 2016, the theme of most of the break out sessions that I attended was recovering from shame. Brené Brown’s name was big that year. She is an expert in studies on vulnerability and shame, and her statements were espoused by session leaders and struck deep chords in so many of the thousands of LGBTQ Christians who were present. Spending your life hiding who you are, believing you are a mistake and forsaken by God, being told endlessly that you are an abomination, a blight, the thing that makes Jesus puke, that the only way to live and be loved is by denying how you were made by that same God, being promised loving acceptance that will be snatched away and replaced by rejection and condemnation if what you strive so hard to bury ever sees the light of day, is a universal experience for those of us who were raised and lived in the evangelical Christian church.
It’s hell on earth. And long years of it teach you to never let your guard completely down, never be really vulnerable, never subject yourself to the possibility of losing everything. Bullying and abuse from other kids and adults is just the way it starts when we’re young. As we age, the church takes the childishness out of bullying and replaces the meanness with hatred disguised as loving concern. Read the rest of this entry
Las Vegas – and Nevada – is not at all what I expected.
I grew up in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, I’m an Appalachian boy. The Allegheny mountains with their lush summer forests and bubbling streams have always been the place where I felt the most peace, at home with God.
But for the last decade or so, the pain of the combination of my particular ailments has become increasingly severe in the winter months. I began to look south for a similar environment, deciduous rolling mountains in a warmer clime, preferably in an arts-based community. Tennessee, the Carolinas, even southern Virginia. Nothing seemed just right, and the high humidity in those areas is anathema to Khrysso.
And then last year a dear friend who had relocated to Las Vegas came home to visit, Read the rest of this entry