Good, Clean Fun
Bill left on Thursday for his job interview in Idaho. Friday I decided that, if Bill might end up 2000 miles away, then I better consider how to avoid becoming a recluse. I was crazy to get out of the house.
Barring any activity that is inherently better with another person, I quickly decided to go to a bar, where I could be attached (complete with ring) and look for nothing more than a drink and some good conversation. I abandoned all haute couture for the relaxed understatement of a fitted T-shirt and my favorite pair of jeans, though I couldn't resist the patent leather Kenneth Cole shoes.
I started at Jacob's in Northside even though I knew I had the best chance of running into an ex or a long lost acquaintance at The Dock. Once in the door, I perched myself at the bar and began swilling back free Diet Coke. I was reminded of my first trip to a gay bar, in good old New York. Being in a hot, dark, crowded bar full of shirtless muscled guys in Chelsea made me more nervous than anything else. My friend Jonathan pulled me aside after two minutes and said, "Smile, honey. Even if you're not having fun, at least try to look like it. You're much cuter that way."
And Jonathan was right again on Friday. I was enjoying myself just listening to music, taking in the sights and downing all the pop I could handle. The absence of pressure to look fabulous, suck in unintentionally protruding flesh, smooth unflattering creases and otherwise catch the eye of a potential date was a relaxing and welcome change. I was soon greeted by Jeff, seemingly harmless but eerily similar to my ex, Bob. Turns out I used to work for his employer, so we talked at length about our jobs and companies.
It also turns out he lives near Bob. This was becoming too weird. Jeffy even thought he knew who Bob was. And since Bob still lives with his mother at 37, I wondered just how much these two did have in common.
"So do you have your own house? Apartment?" I asked.
"I live in a little Cape Cod," he replied.
Bob also lived in a Cape Cod -- with his parents. And Bob also would have dodged the "Have you cut the cord with your parents?" question the very same way. With that, I was even happier to have Bill in my life, even if he was in potato country at the moment. Jeffy was also getting quite touchy-feely despite my clear declaration that I'm committed and not interested in playing house with him (and, apparently, his mom). A tap on the shoulder is OK, but rubbing the back is definitely off limits except in cases of severe lint deposits, which could lead to grave embarrassment under blacklights.
I had to decide whether to tell Jeffy to keep his hands to himself or just run in search of a familiar face.
After a few minutes, my prayers for coincidence were answered: Jason's boyfriend Chris walked in. "I'll be right back," I said to Jeffy and was gone in a flash.
Chris and I talked for a while, having not seen each other in two months, and later danced a little. At 2:15, Chris was ready to go, as was I, and I said goodbye to a gorgeous out-of-towner named Tony who'd asked me about other places to go in the city.
Then, as if the night wasn't interesting enough, I walked outside to a coating of snow all over everything. As I drove home in the miniature April snowstorm, I felt a peculiar warmth, and I knew that I got just what I wanted out of that night -- some good, clean fun and the feeling that Bill and I would be fine no matter what.
Gasoline: 48 cents. Cover: $4. Diet Coke: Free. Having a boyfriend who loves you and doesn't live with his mom even if he's 2,000 miles away: Priceless.
Feverish for Spring
I spent Easter Sunday on San Francisco's Nob Hill at a cathedral called Christ Church. It rivals Notre Dame in architecture and is hands down a beautiful place. They baptized a dozen or so babies during the service, which to me is the faith and hope of all formalized religion -- new life.
The gardens across the street on the famous hilltop were in bloom with tulips and apple blossoms. Again fresh and budding hope that leaves and bees follow. The fact that turtlenecks and polar fleece would have been more comfortable than an Easter frock was overlooked. I could smell spring in the air.
Returning to the Greater Cincinnati International Airport on Friday evening, I was ready to be greeted by spring in full force. I was welcomed back to a dusting of snow around midnight in the northern burbs that, even though it wasn't what I had been imagining on the long flight home, was perfection. April holds no promises, but is promising.
Such was Saturday morning when the sun shone so bright I cursed Mother Nature and the three-hour difference in time from California to Ohio. The snow was blue in the reflection as I gathered The Enquirer and glimpsed headlines over my orange spice tea. Not much had changed it appeared other than the date at the top of the page. Still, I felt hopeful and put on polar fleece and turtleneck along with leggings. As I threw the rollerblades in the trunk, I vowed to seize the sunshine and don the gloves and muffler.
Loveland Bike Trail was peaceful and snow-free by the time I parked and headed south toward Terrace Park. I relished the flat ground that's plentiful here as opposed to San Francisco. We have plenty of great trails to bike, hike and blade. Oh, and run, although my favorite time to run is when someone's chasing me. So I strapped on my inline skates and looked like the polar express toddler as I realized how many months had passed since I last did this. No, I'm not drunk, just wobbly and jetlagged. It'll wear off.
Feeling invigorated after the rush of cold air mixed with bright sunlight, I headed to Mariemont for lunch at the Dilly Deli with my guy buddies. They wanted to hear about the Mission District, and I offered that it's a mecca of beautiful men dressed to the nines. They oohhed and aahhed and I was happy to be home in the company of friends. It was also great not to be paying a fortune for a deli sandwich and a soda. Welcome home to Cincinnati!
Filling up at the corner station gave me renewed pleasure as gas was $1.369 per gallon compared to $1.869 for regular. Hell, I was on a roll and decided to try Starbucks mocha latte partly to see if it was cheaper and partly because I was having withdrawal. Face it, Starbucks is pricey everywhere but the best whipped cream froth I've ever had on my upper lip.
Sunday I decided to stay with the healthy high feeling of more sunshine and even warmer temps. I headed out to Miami Whitewater Park off of I-74 and I-275. I usually have to get a little lost before I can find the 8-mile loop at the lagoon there, and today was no exception. Trust me, though, that the wandering around is worth it as this is the best park Hamilton County has to offer. I just like the loop effect of diverse terrain and not having to go out and back.
This time of year it's terrific because there aren't a ton of people on it with bikes, which makes skating, walking and running easier and safer. I would hate to be flattened by a biker and wear tire strips on my chest.
My dad always said he wanted to go at the hands of a jealous husband, but that is in line with how he liked his coffee -- hot, blonde and sweet, just like his women. He was a jokester, and I'm a weenie about cyclists. I do like the lycra tights, though, and those grasshopper goggles on the guys who are serious about the sport.
I looked in the mirror at the end of the weekend and my skin looked rosy and fresh. It could be the sun or it could be the wind from two outdoorsy days in early April in Cincinnati. Who knows? Probably a combination.
It felt good to be home in time to watch spring in full bloom all around me. Cincinnati has simple pleasures -- people who say hello when you pass on the trails, affordable food and petrol, the Reds and Joe Nuxhall. It is nirvana.
Submit your stories to Whirlygig at firstname.lastname@example.org