Friday, July 9, 2010
Inevitably, when I'm lying on my bed musing, waiting for the spirit to move me, I think of Jay.
I met Jay in my father's living room around 1976.
He was friendly, blond, enthusiastic and helpful. I wouldn't call him handsome but he was pulled together and young, at the time.
The kind of guy who wore a pressed shirt with snug-fitting jeans and white tennis shoes.
He was to be my father's lifelong companion.
My father had had a series of rather sordid relationships prior to meeting Jay and he was ready for a life change.
But at the time I didn't realize who this Jay would turn out to be and what effect he would have on us all.
My father was living in Laguna Beach at the time and I had just returned from three years in Hawaii with my children in tow. We landed at my dad's. He put us up for awhile. He really couldn't say no, could he?
But we were soon on our own again in a shared apartment down the hill.
Soon thereafter my father sold his house and moved to Palm Springs, with Jay.
They built a house in Araby Cove and bought a roadside tavern in the mountains above Palm Desert.
Jay shifted gears for my dad. He gave him everything he had always wanted: a financially stable life, a chance to own a restaurant, his own built-from-the-ground-up house, three dogs, a respectable gay life.
Jay did not smoke nor did he drink. He wasn't given to erratic spending sprees. My father once commented, "He has more money than I do." And he was 25 years younger than my dad. This had the advantage of giving my dad a strong arm to help out.
He got my dad to start partaking more in the family occasions and outings (though it was some years before they would show up together at certain occasions).
They had their differences. Jay didn't like to hike like my dad did. Jay didn't like the beach like my dad did. Jay wasn't big on traveling either. Jay was not a reader. Though their house was quite grand, it wasn't set up for sprawling about with a newspaper. There were more perches than big comfy couches. Glass tables, brass candlesticks. But a good meld of Dad and Jay things.
Dad had the yard to plant with barrel cacti he would climb up the cliffs to pilfer. There were odd plants everywhere and of course eucalyptus trees Dad planted, "because they grow fast." Pepper trees and caster bean plants and little rocks walls and paths my dad would make.
Big, rangy dogs going in and out and lying in the street gathering complaints from the neighbors now and then for a big turd on their grass and or a snap at the ankle of a bike rider.
Then...eventually my dad faded out...and as he did...Jay changed. All his love and enthusiasm were for my dad, not for us.
And that is what I still have a very hard time accepting. I will never be invited into the house where I had many an adventure and many a Thanksgiving dinner. I can close my eyes and see every nook and cranny of that house still to this day. An odd house with a loft and a fabulous view and thermal blankets to cover the 17-foot windows because they were too cheap to have curtains made.
Being cheap was one thing they definitely had in common. They saw just about exactly the same way about money. And I know, from past experience, that that is HUGE.