February 3, 2014

The Scarf.

This is something I wrote almost a year ago. I’d forgotten about it, and reading it took me back to that time. It feels like a lifetime ago! It also reminded me of how something that seems like an inconvenience can turn into one of those wonderful, perfect moments that you always look back on fondly.

A few weeks ago, I'd taken two weeks off because I'd hit burnout from my job. I decided that since I was already working in Boston, I'd pop across the harbour to Provincetown, MA for my time off. I love Provincetown because it's a beautiful fishing village right on the northernmost tip of Cape Cod, and it also has a large population of GLBT folks. As a gay couple, you can walk around holding hands and nobody bats an eye. It's really freeing to be able to engage in the simple act of holding your partner's hand without worrying about getting dirty looks or worrying about getting attacked.

My boyfriend flew down to join me, and we spent a relaxing week in Provincetown, finished off with a couple of days in Boston. In Boston, we stayed in a gorgeous Victorian house owned by this bookish professor type - Tom was his name. Walking into his house, well, it was like a Victorian salon! Ornate hardwood floors, beautiful solid wood Victorian furniture (including a fainting couch), and stunning chandeliers. I could easily have pictured people getting together, smoking, drinking, and talking about a variety of topics ranging from pop culture to politics to philosophy. Or, a room full of underground intellectual rebels smoking cigars and plotting to overthrow the establishment. You get the idea. Such a cool house!

We left Boston, went back to Toronto, and it was in the second week of my vacation that my boyfriend and I decided to end our relationship because of some fundamental incompatibilities. It was a mutual decision, and I felt real closure, so it was ultimately a good thing.

About a week later, I got a message from Tom and he said I had left my scarf at his house. I was annoyed at my oversight, and this was tinged with sadness. Getting an e-mail from Tom reminded me of my ex and my breakup, which, while ultimately for the best, was really fresh on my mind.


Since I was flying in and out of Boston every week for work, I asked Tom if I could just come by his place some evening to pick up the scarf. He said that yes, this would be fine.

I was staying in a cabin in Sudbury, MA and so I drove to Boston. My GOD what an amazing drive. Spring had really sprung! I opened the windows of my rental car and enjoyed feeling the warm sunshine and breeze on my face. People were out on their bikes, walking, talking, eating, living - such a vibrant change from just two weeks ago when there was still snow on the ground!

I arrived at Tom's house, he greeted me, handed me my scarf, and then invited me in for a drink. I was startled - after all, I didn't really know Tom at all - I had merely been a paying guest in his house for one night! Lately, though, I've been trying to say "yes" to whatever the Universe sends me... So I said, "Sure!" I ducked out to my rental car to put the scarf away, and then followed Tom back into his house.

We sat down at his long wooden dining table, and he brought out a nice bottle of red wine and poured us a couple of glasses. Alcohol, as it does, loosens the spirit (maybe that's why they call them "spirits"?) and before long, we were having a conversation that made me feel like we were old friends! Turns out Tom is a writer for a local community newspaper. He brought out his ancient Apple Powerbook laptop to share some of his writings... When he saw the shocked expression on my face upon seeing his old laptop, he said, "I always like to use whatever I have until it can't be used anymore," to which I said, "Cheers to that!"

Drink.

He shared some of his work, and we shared some good laughs. Turns out, Tom is a dyed-in-the-wool liberal hippie born to the most Texan of Texas parents. Sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree! I laughed and shared my love of the American South, and then Tom suddenly changed. He turned on his Texas Southern accent, and I didn't know how to react, except…

Drink.

His Southern accent was DEAD-ON and such a contrast from the professorial hippie person I'd just been interacting with. I swear he was going to pull out a gun any second. And my LORD, if there's one thing that can be said about the American South, they have really colourful expressions, which Tom happily schooled me in. Two favourites:
"It was so drahh (dry) thayut them two trees were faghtin' over a day-um dawg!"
"Bless his heart, he's so uptaght, that he could crush a walnut with his asshole!"

I love the "Bless his/her heart" expression - it's such a classy way of delivering an insult. I need to incorporate into my vernacular.

I'd finished my glass of red, but when I looked at it, it had somehow been refilled as if by magic. I made a mental note to stop drinking from the glass so freely, as doing so would likely result in it getting refilled again - and I had to drive back to Sudbury and work in the morning! It sure was a testament to the fact that even decades of hard Massachusetts winters can't beat the Southern Hospitality out of a Southerner.

He told me about his crass uncle who got busted for making moonshine, his friend Johnny who got kicked out of the Navy for being gay, and a beautiful girl he once loved who drove a Mustang.

I shared pictures of my Mustang, and then we looked at pictures of classic cars together. He played folksy singer-songwriter music for me on his gigantic vintage stereo. And the conversation flowed like the wine until my glass was empty for the last time.

Tom had to get back to work, and I had to get back on the road... But before I left, Tom invited me to a concert on his front porch that he and his musician friends host every year in May. There'd be good music, and his "momma's cajun gumbo". I made a note in my calendar and I sure as hell plan on being there! I got the sense that such an invite wasn't extended to just anyone, and so I felt honoured.

I stepped out on the street, "Boston Street," incidentally, and paused. The street was lined with budding plants and trees whose limbs sagged under the weight of magnolia blossoms, all immersed in the warm spring air.

I got back into my rental car, looked in the back seat, saw my scarf, and smiled with gratitude.