The Soundtrack of My Life – 43- Traveller/When I’m With You

Today is my husband’s birthday. As one does with a anniversary of life you tend to reflect back on everything. It’s almost like climbing yet another peak and looking back to see where you’ve come from. For me, I’m more excited that I get to spend one more with him.

For the occasion I have added songs by Chris Stapleton. He’s been Charlie’s favorite singer/songwriters the last few years. For Christmas last year (or maybe for his birthday) I bought him tickets to see him in Denver, Colorado. The idea was to turn the whole thing into a fun road trip that would ultimately end with the concert. That, however, was ruined by my mother losing her ability to swallow and Chris Stapleton getting Covid prior to the show date. The journey ended up being a bust even though it was fun until it wasn’t.

My plan for this holiday I intend on buying him tickets, again, to see Chris Stapleton, but the bitch of the situation is all the ADA seats are sold out. Really? There are THAT MANY handicap people in the world? Odd… I don’t see very many people in wheelchairs. (That is an ignorant statement, by the way.) Stranger enough is that they all decided to convene at this one concert in Arizona. Sorry, I’m turning this into a rant and I don’t mean it to. The way people abuse the ADA options is mindbogglingly infuriating.

I chose Chris for the above reason (obvs) but also because these songs always make me think of my husband. At one time, before we knew his ALS diagnosis, we would frequent a bar downtown. I would inevitably commandeer the jukebox, playing all the mellow shit I wanted. I am not one to wait, and I will pay top dollar not to listen to some dumb song someone think “slaps” and kill my vibe. Every time I would play “Tennessee Whiskey” first and then, a couple others for variety, “Traveller.” When it would come on the speakers, my husband would gasp and look at me.

“Did you put this on?” he would ask.

“Of course, Punkin.”

The song below… I included it because it was one he “dedicated” to me. It makes me cry every time I listen to it. I would have put it at the top but, it hits entirely too hard. It’s also extremely depressing. Birthdays are meant to be fun! However, I would be remiss to not take this opportunity to share that one with you as well. The sentiment behind it is beautiful.

I really hate that I don’t remember the first time we got to celebrate his birthday together. I’m sure I did something shmaltzy as a gift and then ended up having sex, because aren’t I really the gift? I know I didn’t take him out to eat because I was a jobless, high school senior at the time.

I have tried every year since to make my gift better than the one before. Primarily because he always does so much for mine. However, I’m running out of options at this point. Next year I’m going to have to find a cure for ALS.

What makes everything even more difficult is my husband’s distaste for his own birthday. I think it stems from the stress he felt for his mother, doing it for him, alone, in his youth. It goes the same for Christmas. This time of year is always so stressful for him. He’s not one to celebrate. It wasn’t until he owned his own construction company and was doing well, financially, that he got into the Christmas spirit.

I had wanted to do another big birthday event like we had last year, but he wasn’t up for it. As he progresses he has found that people tend to spend more time talking and paying attention to him. He doesn’t like it. He’s never liked it. But with the fact that his speech has gotten to a point where people have a hard time understanding him it makes it even worse.

Tonight will be a small affair. Just dinner from one of his favorite places with our little polycule and his family.

I just wish I could think of something better than cookies and candies for his gift…

The Soundtrack of My Life – 38 – Best Song Ever!

My birthday was over a week ago, and even though nothing over the top occurred I still could not be bothered to write my post. Which is utterly stupid because I am falling way behind. At this point I need to write 10 to catch up and, ultimately, meet my goal. Can the bitch do it?

For my birthday I wanted to choose a song that didn’t particularly resonate with any memories, but instead was one that more or less represented me. But what is that track? I jokingly said (to myself) “Flag Pole Sitta” but… That is a song that represents two Joshes ago. Then I thought, maybe I’ll just choose a solid favorite, since it is my birthday, and then share some memorable birthdays throughout my life. But that wouldn’t have been very good. They lacked any real substance and would have just been snapshots. The real story is what had I felt in those moments? What was I thinking? For some I could recall but others, they were just mental images.

Instead I chose just one song that reminded me of my most memorable birthday. One that could not and will NEVER be topped. It’s impossible. Don’t even try.

I’m going to be honest, my birthdays are kind of shit. The problem is I build up these astronomical expectations for it to be something fantastic and ultimately it never happens. I blame Hollywood. I am near the point that I would rather it not even be celebrated at all, just to protect myself and (really) those around me. Every effort made in it is beautiful. And I am grateful, but I’m so fucked in the head that I think it should be something else and… I’m just an asshole. There is no other way to say it.

The one birthday that shall and will never be topped was in 2013.

After having been together for 10 years my husband finally agreed to follow through with our engagement and get married. I think he was hesitant because, while our life was good, we had been through rough waters many, many times before. Which one of these rapids, on the river of our relationship, was going to be so rough that it tosses one of us out of the boat?

Regardless of his fears, he agreed.

As a safety net to make sure he never forgot our anniversary, we decided to get married 3 days before my birthday.

This also happened in the same year that he had surprised me in March with my birthday present: a trip to London. Now our trip turned into a double-whammy. Birthday and honeymoon in one fell swoop.

It should be noted that I am an absolute anglophile. I love anything British, except the tories and the monarchy. Everything else is gold to me and has been since I was a kid. London has been the one place I have wanted to visit since I realized travel across oceans was possible.

The morning of our wedding at the LA courthouse there was an active shooter at LAX. Our hotel room was a suite just a block from the airport and we watched in real time as the cops went down the road, shutting everything down.

“Oh my god,” I said, “I hope this doesn’t delay our flight!”

The two of us got dressed up and headed to the courthouse. We were married and then back to the hotel, where we passively aggressively argued with each other about whether to wait at the hotel or walk to our terminal.

“The app doesn’t show that it has been cancelled,” I said, “And our gate is literally, right there.”

“Fine, fine, we’ll walk.”

We joined the stream of travelers heading, on foot, to the airport.

As it turned out, this was the right choice because we boarded our flight, on time, and made it to London.

I could not sleep on this 11 hour flight. I was wide awake. I was too excited to do it, even with a full Ambien.

We landed in the late afternoon, took the tube to our hotel next to the Gloucester Station and then tried our hardest not to go to sleep. My father-in-law had suggested this routine because it makes adjusting to the time change a little easier. And as the man had done MANY an international flight we took his advice. However, after not sleeping on the plane and the fact that it was dark by 5… Neither of us made it. We barely stayed awake at the restaurant we went to for dinner.

“Let’s just go to bed,” Charlie said.

This turned out to be one of the best decisions we made. Because we went to bed to early we both woke up at 5 a.m. As we were totally energized and didn’t want to waste our first real day in the room, we got dressed and decided to walk down Kensington Street.

In those silly questions people sometimes get asked, “What is the most memorable moment in your life,” this would be my answer.

In this enormous city, we were the only people on the road. It was absolutely silent and this fact astounded me. Granted, as I later learned, this is the more affluent part of London, which is why I was probably “taken” by it. We walked all the way from our hotel to Kensington Palace. The park was absolutely gorgeous in the sunrise light. The orange leaves seemed to catch fire in the suns rays.

It’s such a simple moment but for me it was… everything.

On my actual birthday we went to the “Experience Harry Potter” at Leavesden studios. We rode a double decker bus from the station to the lot. This was back when I was, also, a Potterphile. Y’know, before she doubled down on her transphobia. While I do still enjoy the products I have already paid for, I will not be doing so going forward. That’s the most political answer I can give. Those who have decided to trash their purchased items seems nonsensical. She already got that money. But to each their own.

Regardless, it was quite the treat. My husband wasn’t as happy with the experience. He had read so many reviews beforehand that he ruined it for himself.

We went back to our room afterwards and took a nap.

For the following week we had no solid plans. It was whatever we felt like doing in the moment. And seeing as how we had purchased the London Pass for our trip, they gave us a big book of things to do. And every day we were there we did something new. Even if we had allocated an entire month we wouldn’t have tapped the surface of the shit to do in the city.

For it being London it didn’t rain very much. It was certainly cloudy often, which is my favorite kind of weather.

Near the end of or trip, we were running out of things to do so, being the rock hound I am, we took a trip to a Chalk mine. It was billed as this spooky ghostly kind of tour but as it turned out the terror in the trip was the elbaorate maze of tunnels and the five foot tour guide with his coke bottle glasses.

“We’re being led by Mr. Magoo,” my husband said.

“We’re going to die down here.” I whispered back.

We went on this tour with one other couple, which is true to form. Most of the tours my husband and I have ever done it usually is just us. One time on the Queen Mary the tour guide acted as though we were part of a large group the entire time. “Does he see more people here than just us?” I had whispered to Charlie.

In the chalk mine we learned that the only historical significance was that it was a hideaway for families escaping the blitz during WWII. Otherwise all of the creepy tales were mostly fabricated, much to the disappointment of the other couple. They had watched a ghost program the other night and wanted to see it for themselves.

There was one moment where this small man abandoned us around the bend, extinguished his kerosene lantern, and then banged a loud metal drum. He walked back up to us, in pitch black, talking and all I could think about at the time was the hobbit. “Riddles in the dark.”

The reason I chose the song above is because it was playing everywhere we went. That is no exaggeration. At the time I was not really a fan of this song, so it stuck-the-fuck-out. By the end of the trip, I thought it’d be easier to join them and I fell in love with it. Now whenever I hear it that entire trip comes flooding back to me.

I’m 30, ladies and gentlemen!

Molly Shannon’s character embodies precisely how I feel. However Sally O’malley was proud of being half a century I am a little distraught about being one third of that time. In the beginning I didn’t know where this fear came from, but the more I thought about it that the reality came to light. 

The simple answer is I’m no longer a kid. I am an adult and getting older. There is no denying that fact. Scratch below the surface and there is the remnants of dreams long since gone. The hope that I would have accomplished so much more by the time I was this age. Yet that is very much not the case and instead my life is just beginning. I wasted the youth I had doing nothing productive. Fuck me. 

Then below that fossilized failure there is the granite of where now no one will want to fuck me. Yes I am married so that shouldn’t be a problem, but everyone wants to at least be wanted by someone else. She wants to feel attracted and desired. In the gay world once you’re thirty you may as well be dead. Just a quick look through a craigslist ad and you’ll see that top billing among “no chubs” and “no Fems” there is “only under 30.” What hurts the most is the poster is more than likely in their fucking forties so who are they to cast that stone? 

When I was in my younger years I never understood why people were so upset about turning 30. They were still the same in every way. The only change was that the number was different. That is very typically a “Josh” response. I have half empathy where I can sort of see the other side but not quite. It isn’t until I have experienced the same agony and pain do I know what it is like to be consumed. 

Now that it is just a fact that I am 30, I still feel the same. I’m still the same person with the same desires. There is no difference other than my response when asked my age. And no one will want to fuck me from a personal ad but I shouldn’t be there in the first place. Fuck them and their conceited posts. No one wants to fuck them either. That’s why they are so desperate their posting ads on Craigslist! They might as well be posting it in Parade magazine or on that one wall in every porn shop. 

As to not achieving my goals… After some reflection I realized that it is ultimately my own fault for where I am. There is only one captain on the SS DRAMA QUEEN and that is Josh. No one else calls the shots. Instead of feeling bad about it I will change it and put engines to full steam ahead. The only way to change tomorrow is by changing today. 

Finally, I am an adult. Yes. I am worthy of the title by age alone. But however old I am I still act like a kid. I had a Star Wars birthday cake for christs sake. (My mother in law knows me well.) I read comics, I play nerdy card games, I play D&D, and I WILL be one of those nerds that is dressed like a Jedi when Episode VII premieres in December. It’s all state of mind and if I let the fear and panic consume me those are just going to bring down the ship. 

Now is the time to get serious. My twenties were for fun, making new friends, and having unforgettable experiences that only a dumb twenty something would do. However fleeting life is (and it is fucking short) I still have enough time to become a journalist, a published novelist, an appraiser, and a father. It is all up to me. 

Cemetery Birthday Bash

This is the last birthday of my twenties. In just one more year and it’s all down hill. To get the ball rolling the common theme of this years trip to London has bee death and the after life. For instance I went on a ghost walking tour of London and that was exciting and today I went tromping through a grave yard in the pitch of night, but let me explain.

The man I claim for my want and desire to be a writer is C. S. Lewis. After I read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” in the third grade I’ve wanted to be an author. Since then I’ve read all of the Chronicles of Narnia and some of his religious studies but… Those are not my cup of tea considering I’m an atheist. (Haven’t always been.) Regardless of my dogmatic views I value the man more than anything. So for my birthday I wanted to take a day trip to Oxford. It’s where Lewis studied, taught, and lived. We went on a bus tour which was lovely up until it began to rain. To escape the wet weather I forced my husband into the shelter of Blackwells book shop where I bought a journal he swears will sit unused and two autobiographies I can’t get in the states. I had intended to buy another copy of “the lion…” But my husband asked “how many copies would that make?” “4.” Yes that’s excessive but it was purchased in Oxford! Whatever.

Finally I ate dinner at the pub he, Tolkien, and others of the Inklings met every Tuesday to discuss their literary works. And serendipitously it just so happens to be Tuesday. And to top it a off, the table I chose at random was 12, which holds no significant meaning to Lewis as it does to me. (It’s my lucky number.) After our meal I was ready to go. It was getting dark and my plan to visit his grave seemed like a pipe dream. So, I accepted the pub visit to be it, but my husband attempting to make my birthday special offered to walk to the cemetery where he had been buried. I warned him that it would be a long trip but he assured me that it’d be fine.

Before we had gotten even a quarter of the way there it was night, since it gets dark at 4:30 in the United Kingdom. Fun. And hoofing it at our quickest speed wasn’t cutting it so luckily we caught a cabby and he took us to the Holy Trinity churchyard. He dropped us off and backed out the long single lane drive.

Using the light of my phone we searched the cemetery reading every headstone. After going to every single market it wound up being the final one. Isn’t that typical? I said a few silent words thanking the man for giving me a dream and held back the tears. There’s nothing more than my husband loves than to see me cry. He’s a freak. (Says the guy who wanted to spend his birthday in a cemetery searching for the grave of a man he never met.)

At the end of it we are both exhausted, but it was fantastic and a trip I won’t soon forget.