I have been giving a lot of thought to endings lately.
I believe I have been giving a lot of thought to endings lately because for me, a lot of things have been ending lately.
Relationships done. School finished. My lease ended. “Lesbians in My Soup” ending…
So much around here has been going, going, gone.
Then this morning, which was Sunday morning, I was out on Montrose Boulevard, dumpster diving like I do every Sunday morning. I had just come up for air with a box fan in my left hand and a brown corduroy Stafford suit jacket in my right. I admit that I was really pleased with myself because, I mean, who wouldn’t be? A brown corduroy Stafford suit jacket goes with almost anything and it can be casual or formal.
And that was when I saw it. Across the street.
I saw that old office building at 3400 Montrose.
It was going, going, gone. How had I missed it before?
Not to go all sentimental and metaphorical on you, but 3400 Montrose looked like my life has felt lately. I sort of am 3400 Montrose, you know?
You don’t know?
Well, let me tell you about it…
* * * * *
When I was twelve, my parents died. Both of them died, just a few months apart. I was less than pleased with the proffered stand-ins and I decided to take my chances on my own.
I stayed in cars, in alleyways, in upscale downtown condos with owners that showed up so rarely that they might as well have been my condos.
I lived like this for years.
One night, some fellow street urchins and I were in the parking garage for 3400 Montrose. It was late, and we were urchining, getting stoned and skateboarding, and then getting more stoned and trying to skate some more.
We did this all the time in those days. Typically, the evening would end when everyone either passed out or else got injured or both, and we’d all wind up sleeping right there in the parking lot in a big dog pile.
Now, 3400 Montrose was a bit of a cultural landmark, a stoned-faced, Fifties-era high-rise that housed most of the LGBT and AIDS organizations in town as well as a rooftop jazz club. There was also an African art studio on the first floor that looked cool as hell but never seemed to have a single customer.
The owner of 3400 was an absentee landlord, a cheapskate, and a crook, so in lieu of a guard or security cameras or, I don’t know, operational locks, he had Tommy. Tommy was this middle-aged drunk living rent-free in the building while he waited for his stomach cancer to kill him. Tommy made sure that nothing ever went down at 3400 that might result in the cops showing up.
But we were there, the urchins and me, and we were stoned and we were skating, and well, I guess Tommy was in a bad mood or maybe his stomach cancer was worse than normal that night.
Tommy started yelling at us. He said we had to leave, and he looked as though he meant it.
Everybody left but me.
And if this Sunday morning was the end of something – and it was the end of something – then that night way back when was the beginning of it.
You see, I have been giving a little thought to beginnings lately.
I will be back soon to tell you the rest of the story… [To be continued!]