Dateline: Fort Stockton, Texas-
It’s 90 some degrees at night, the winds are blowing the tumbleweeds across the Texas plains and I am in the middle of nowhere but 650 miles in the drivers seat today was more than enough so I was not going to go any further in search of civilization.
Today was one of those days that reminds you just how big the west really is. 200 miles through eastern Arizona, 200 miles through New Mexico and 250 into Texas with another 700 or so to go. I doubt I will get out of the state tomorrow, even with driving all day. Not a lot of different scenery. The route went over the high desert of Arizona and New Mexico, and then down into the Rio Grande Valley at El Paso, following the river for some time before curving up through the West Texas hills and then hitting the plains that seem to be little besides dry cattle ranches.
Fort Stockton is a wide spot in the road with motels and fast food franchises. It has a Hampton Inn so free wi-fi, free breakfast and more Hilton points towards a free vacation.
There was nothing about today that really brought up any particular memory or story so I’m picking one at random. It’s one that all couples get asked. How did you meet?
Tommy and I met in the fall of 2002 (October 27th to be precise. I know because I went back to a calendar and figured it out later so we could have an anniversary. Weddings were an impossible dream at that point.) I was living in the old house. The one with all the stairs. Steve had picked it out when we moved to Birmingham in 1998 as it reminded him of the houses in Laurel Canyon and the Hollywood Hills where he had been to some amazing parties in the 1960s and 70s. In hindsight, it was a rotten choice. Taking care of him with pulmonary disease in a vertical house was quite the challenge. I had spent most of the latter half of 2001 and 2002 working, travelling, and starting to dip my toes into the gay dating pool of Birmingham at the age of 40. It wasn’t pretty.
Tommy lived about three blocks away. We had never met each other. (Actually, he had probably waited on me and Steve at the Eastwood Olive Garden but I have no recollection of this). He was in a relationship that had failed but had not yet been able to put together the resources to move out of the house. It was not a comfortable time for him.
In the week between October 27th and November 3rd, we all of a sudden put together in three different situations. He was working as the chief nursing officer for Birmingham Health Care at the time and was interested in a grant to combine Head Start with Adult Day Care and someone had given him my name and number as being the local expert on such things. He was good friends with several people at the UU church and had visited intermittently so he popped up at Sunday service. And, he was my coffee date after we had met and flirted on line. By the end of the week, we looked at each other and more or less thought ‘The Universe is trying to tell us something’ and went on a second date. And a third… It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was a potential keeper.