Late last year I received an email from some English friends announcing that it had been "too long" since I'd been over there (18 years) and that it was time for me to come back for a visit. I mulled it over for a few weeks and decided to go. Long story short, I'm leaving on May 9th for a two week visit.
The last time I was there was October of 1993 and I was a wreck. I was drinking heavily and I hated every minute of every day of my miserable life. I'd started that trip in Paris, then on to Barcelona and, finally, to London where I stayed with my friend Tom who'd been my host and guide on my 3 previous trips to the UK.
Tommy was a widower. His partner, Beauchamp (pronounced "Beech-um") had died of cancer in the very early 80's. Tommy grieved Beachies passing for several years. But he never let it get him down... at least, not when I was there.
That last trip, though, was rough .... hell, tell the truth, *I* was rough on Tom. I spent the whole trip drinking and bitching about my partner back in New York. I actually thought that he (the partner) was responsible for my crappy life. *I* certainly had nothing to do with it! HAH. I was a deluded, drunken, fool.
Back to Tom. What I didn't know, and wasn't capable of knowing then, was that as time went by I had developed feelings for Tom. Beyond friendship. I was incapable of feeling anything because I was so anesthetized and wouldn't have known a genuine feeling if it had come and bitten me on the ass. Eventually that trip ended, I came back to New York, things got worse, I finally left my partner and spent the next 4 years racing towards my bottom, lost everything and moved to NJ.
Then in 1998, five years after that fateful trip to London, I got sober. In the early 00's, I got back in touch with Tom. We talked every now and then and then, about 7 or 8 years ago, he invited me to come back.
I told myself that I didn't feel secure enough in my sobriety to go. But if I'd been really honest, I was afraid to admit to Tom (and myself) that I'd been attracted to him for many years. Somehow I felt that it was a disservice to the memory of Beauchamp. Never mind that on all those other trips, Tommy was always parading out some dishy young man, or another, and announcing that he was "the flavour of the month." Tommy, you see, was a bit of a whore. Not terribly, mind you. But just a tad.
I blew off that invitation with my latest affliction... recovery. "Tommy", I said. "I'm sober!" "OH!" he drawled. "We're TEDDIBLY sober people...."
"Not that kind of sober" I said. I think I sent him a Christmas pudding from Fortnum & Mason's that year to ease the sting of my idiotic refusal.
Two years ago, right after Christmas, Tommy died. His death kicked off a year-long binge of deaths among my friends and family. Each death just compounded the loss of the one before it.
When Tom's friends emailed me with another invitation I had no choice but to accept. Not because I'm just dying to do some more sightseeing in England but because I love and miss my friend Tom.
I have every intention of crying a lot when I'm there. It's the least I can do for one of the loveliest people I've ever known in my life.