Monday, February 05, 2007

Old Friends

For reasons I'll probably never completely understand old friends have been cropping up, left and right, in my life lately.

It started a couple of months ago when I got an e-mail from an old friend in England, whom we'll call "George" (for St. George, the patron Saint of England.. you know.. the one who slayed the dragon).

Anyway, George is a decade or two older than me and I originally met him, and his then lover, now deceased, "Harry", in 1979. I met them through my ex. Over the years they, and then after Harry passed away, George alone, would often visit the states and I would go and visit with them. On my first trip to England, in 1981, they took great pains to show me the England of "the 1930's", the one that appears on tv in either Poirot or Ms. Marple mysteries on PBS. It wasn't until my next visit, in 1984 with my brother in tow, that I realized that England even had freeways ("motorways").

When Harry passed away we were very concerned for George, even though we knew he had a good, solid, circle of friends. I visited him several more times before I left my ex. Through George (and Harry) I met a number of their friends, all male couples. One couple had a gorgeous Edwardian Townhome in the Earl's Court section of London, in addition to a beautiful weekend "beach home" in Brighton, near to the famous Prince Regent's "Chinese" Pavilion built by the spendthrift George IV while he was still the Prince of Wales. Another couple were international, one being English and his partner being a Catalonian who headed the Spanish National Bank in London. Eventually, after they both retired, they moved to Barcelona to be near the Spaniard's family, and especially his mother. I visited them once there, in 1993, just before I disappeared into the mists of booze. They also had a weekend "getaway home" in Sitges, the gay beachside resort about 20 miles south of Barcelona, on the Mediterranean.

There were others, including even a Vicar, the Reverend "Gin-Wrigley" as he was kiddingly known.

I loved them all and enjoyed both their company AND their extremely gracious hospitality towards me over the years. The Spaniard/Brit couple, especially, had wild senses of humor and were extremely funny to be with and around. They would somtimes stage mock "battle royales" with each other, usually at dinner time, screaming at the top of their lungs, which never alarmed the neighbors, who'd grown used to their shenanigans over the years.

I thought all of this was lost to me. The Europeans were "the first" to go when I started whittling my world down to the size of a scotch bottle. I thought, "Well, they're all HIS friends [the exes], not mine! They don't really want anything to do with ME!"

How wrong I was. As I mentioned above, "George" finally broke down and got a computer and an e-mail account sometime in November or December. He sent me an e-mail. I e-mailed him back. The next thing I knew, over the last month, I've been barraged with e-mails from most of the entire crowd. It's been heartwarming and exhilarating.

Eventually I sent them all a one-page description of what happened to me over the last 13 years, and how I've bounced back thanks to God and my recovery.

They've written back how grateful they are that I survived and that I'm a better, happier, person than the one they originally knew and loved.

These are gifts which have no price tag. I never in a million years could have imagined that this would've happened and, more importantly, just how much it would mean to me.

I am blessed and humbled. God is doing for me what I could never do for myself. And for that, I am truly grateful.

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