An anniversary date passed on Monday, the 17th for Rodger and I. He's in California throwing a bash for his Dad's 80th birthday and seeing old friends, and I was up here with the brother. We had a trip to Europe in June to celebrate this day, but still, while in California last week, Mr. R had these sent home from Ca: Who would have known this could even happen? We've tried to make it official a few times, the state married us, the state annulled us. A Lawyer set up a Trust to protect us from perhaps a relative I know would have considered coming after any inheritance I would have left for Rodger.......... because that person believes me (as a gay man) less worthy than he to even HAVE an estate........a NOT rare event in this country. We've only lived in 2 homes in 20 years and shared family deaths, marriages, births, friends who remain, and those who've moved on. My mother loved Rodger as her own and bravely said near the end of her own life that she had finally come to the conclusion that, "The Mormon Church is wrong in their stance on homosexuality. I believe God simply hasn't given us the full truth about the subject because He intends for us to love everyone the same..... and it's OUR job here to prove to Him we can." We simply met unexpectedly at a "bar", felt a spark of shared interest, and moved in together within weeks. That was despite the fact that my opening completely idiotic line as he came near me that night to put something in the jukebox was, "So, what kind of shi* are you going to play?" He responded, "I don't play shi*!" As Janice Joplin came on, I realized, we both loved the same music. It was very foolish for us to join up not knowing each at all. We never looked back, never regretted it, and have given each other all our life can offer. I am MOST grateful to this man for sharing his life with me: THEN: NOW: I consider myself lucky, and if an agnostic may say, my life has been much better for having lived with Rodger. He'll be 48 next Monday.............. He should have the best birthday ever.
Saturday June 7. We arrived Europe just Wednesday, and 72 hours later, as day 4 begins, we feel like a lifetime of experience has moved all around us. Perhaps we're still running on adrenalin, but it sure seems that a 9-hour jet lag hasn't set in yet. We're up remembering some of the beautiful architecture we've seen. It is an spectacular city architecturally, clean, maintained, and we haven't even mentioned Gaudi yet. We begin walking toward the Mattia Scooter site: JUST nice architectural lines....this entire city it seems joined up in the Modernist design movement: ** We make it to Mattia. Even a scooter site is in a cute alley: It is only a few minutes of chat with the crew, and you can see Rodger's a natural for a motorcycle, eh? DRIVING the scooter IS the ONLY way to go....I, of course, am banished to the back seat because of the recovering knee.... and I'm NOT a 94 lb girl, many of whom we see flashing by on the back seats of these things. I get on this, it feels awkward, and if you haven't been on one, remember this: The GRAB handles are NOT in front of you...they are next to your hips below and in back. THAT alone is your GRAB point....for the next couple days, I live a life half in terror, half excitement, but admittedly, bedazzled by being able to see all we saw. So. We begin to "MOTO" the city.... It's NOT long, we see MORE jaw-dropping beauty: As we approach one of the cities biggest official park sites, we see Barcelona has its own Arch de' Triumphe: I KNOW that compressing the pictures steals them of such rich detail....but I could NEVER get all I wanted to show in here without that compression. Here's the top of that arch, the sculpture work is beautiful: In front of the arch, and flowing for at least a 1/2 mile, are these gorgeous streetlights....if you see Rodger, you can see they're not small: We finally cross town far enough, we've arrived in front of the Holy Grail of worldwide religious structures (in my mind), The La Sagrada Familia Cathedral that was first commissioned in 1883, and is not finished to this day. It IS the building Antonion Gaudi will be remembered most for. He was very young in 1883: He spent his last years working at the site which now strikes the skyline brilliantly: And a little closer: IF you find time later, I would CLICK on that link here for "La Sagrada Familia"....it's a vast site with everything you could want to know shown on the place. And as I begin putting in a few pics Rodger took, I feel I must say this: I am an agnostic, coming to that after being raised in a very conservative Mormon Home, and since then rejecting organized religion completely. Although it has some social benefits for those with families, gay people, for the most part have not been treated as equal participants in a spiritual journey. I don't want to get into a religious discussion here, just making a point, that I'm an agnostic. BEING INSIDE of this cathedral was as much as spiritual experience I've ever known. Remember there were probably 1000 other strangers in there doing the same thing I was, but the power of this place, even though unfinished, was jaw-dropping. WHY IS THAT? Although GAUDI was a devoted religious Catholic, his first love was nature. NATURE IS a spiritual giant, and it's alive and well within the La Grada Familia. Just approaching the entry has to be done slowly, or you miss too much: Or this: Or this: Or this: Once inside, you're taken away from any and every angle in awe, in humble admiration seeing what a genius mind could create: ALL of the distant gigantic ceiling points are points of light from flowers, giant flowers! And the colors inserted into the stained glass seen from a distance clearly show all the colors of nature: UNLIKE ANY OTHER religious monument of earlier periods, this building displays nothing but the finest in humanity and nature, unlike a place like one of the worlds largest cathedrals, the Duomo in Milan that is imprinted with hundreds if not thousands of scenes of carnage and bloodshed come to those not in favor for something. THAT is why this place is so FULL of beautiful spirit: I know, the mind can only absorb so much............ WE did see other amazing things....concrete winding circular stairs that seemed to have NO start or stop point for example. Again, the windows generate such awe and power in their beauty, I was completely transfixed for a while They were apparently designed so that as the sun moves across the sky, the darker glass will help balance lighter areas so that it shows like this ALL day long, no glare spots, no time of day it's out of balance. We moved to the rear of the building and again were stunned seeing that NO tiny place is left without inserting beauty in it: and here: and here: OKAY. We're outside, we're exhausted by the experience, but we have some more GAUDI we have to see.....remember, we only have a couple days in this fabulous town. So, we MOTO off to Gaudi's famous house, that when finished, he'd hoped would become a model of modern living for the 1900 family. I MUST make that a new post.....remember, it IS July, and there is work to do. Whew! FUN to remember the trip doing this.
THURSDAY, June 5: THIS became one of the most astounding travel days of my life. It remains a highlight of the trip. Franco loaned us a car, Emilio was going to take us to a medieval monastery, but we ended up driving what seemed a mysterious round trip through very remote hill areas of Catalunya. We found later that this is one of the most renowned, romantic medieval parts of Spain…… HERE in what seems innocent beauty, a land of farmers growing grapes, olive trees, gardens, produce, then steep hillsides, and absolute beauty, rich history exists. This part of the world has had its long share of occupation: Arabs conquered and ruled this land for hundreds of years BC, and then came the Romans who built many of the ruins found today. They were welcomed at first as liberators (sound familiar?), then the "Church" began to grow and empire really came to mean forced subjugation. But today, in these rural spots, we see some ghostly but spectacular architectural and historic masterpieces. Some have been beautifully restored. In a few places, at every turn in the road, large medieval churches AND castles could be seen in every direction you'd peek. The car would come around a corner to see on hilltops, the ancient beauty of a castle, and Church with little farming settlements in the river valleys below .....It left me wondering just how many of those families today are the same families that were there 500 years ago. I'm claiming this was a spectacular place in beauty AND history. The day began in Reus where one gargoyle seemed to be calling out, "I'm watching you............." We'll skip much of the day's travel, but the first truly significant village we come to is a classic late medieval place on its own. It's largely restored, and the Roman gates still surround these lovely streets (tiny lanes...with homes/shops either side): Santa Coloma de Queralt – an ancient village still much alive, and vibrant, but I do NOT think one person we met spoke English. We were kind of “stared at” if we saw someone…..I KNOW not many tourists come through this gorgeous sumptuous place. This place had the look and feel of Old Europe....a walled inner city, no cars, four midieval gateways stll preserved into town, an open plaza or two with shops all-round and stylish people shopping, dining, and living life. Gorgeous. Unfortunately, the large Cathedral was closed: But one of the side doors, just a side door mind you, was open to show this ceiling for a minor hallway. I know, this was modern and not part of the restoration...just showing what these people are willing to go through to make something beautiful: We move on, stopping at a rural cemetery, other points of interest, then we come to the place I've heard about: PONTILS - THIS soulful place almost requires more writing later. SO few visitors come here, that as soon as the car was parked and a door closed, an older lady opened the shutters from her 2nd floor, and kept watching us, front and back ….Emlio explains who we are....and she immediately warms up to tell us her daughter is married to a Canadian and living in Toronto. Somehow we KNOW that THIS is not the location of the real "ruin" we intend to see.....so we get to the close next corner, and there it is: IT is here in Pontils we hike to the gothic ancient small church and embattlement tower…..that is, nowdays, finally collapsing. THIS tiny medieval church now falling in with defense tower adjoining it was somehow full or more soul than anything I've ever seen in my life. Almost ghostlike, you could feel that time hundreds of years ago when villagers would be alerted by a flame in the tower that invaders were coming, and to get themselves with livestock UP the hill to the protected tower and church. We all explored the entire spot, almost silent, it truly felt reverent: Inside was no less powerful a feeling: That was hard to leave, but the hours were moving on....... Emilio's plan was to get us to Santes Creus, the old monastery. The Monastery at Santes Creus is next...............and we haven't had LUNCH yet! Santes Creus - A Monastery 500 years in the making, and begun around 1100. This was a huge religious compound, with the walls outside and leading up to it being private expensive homes, bookstores, giftshop, etc....all in typical old stonework. This ALL has been masterfully restored. The CATHEDRAL has a spectacular window inside..... Just the FRAMING of the window is pretty nice.........don't you think? The front of the church is this: Getting to the walkways let you past this beauty in stonework: The covered walkways surrounding gardens have THIS much detail in the work: Those walkways surrounded gardens like these: And THAT was only the parts of the place that have been restored. Lots of work still waits: I had to keep reminding myself this was an ordinary place, NOT one of the famous Catholic Shrines to history. It was obvious SOME of the old spiritual leaders either had more money or influence than others. Many were of course buried in the floor, but some had crypts built in their honor: OR this one: That was enough. Our minds/souls were full. WE were now starving, it was 1:30 pm, and we had NO idea if any good food was in this village. After asking the giftshop crew "where" we should have lunch, they reply there were only two places IN the village, one a pub with simpler food, and a restaurant at the hotel. After walking down the hill toward the two places, we see ALL the locals walking INTO the Hotel venue. So, the decision was easily made. We eat at Hostal Grau - A pleasant surprise when the Waitress was told, "Capisco umpo L'Italiano" and she replies that she's from “Jersey” FABULOUS lunch…. NO printed menu, just daily specials. The place is filled with locals, workmen, and the food spectacular. At the end of the lunch we watch in amazement at the table next to us, an older gentleman drinking from what we learn to be is a Porron. They see us gawking, and insist we share the wine from their Porron: , a lovely sweet dessert wine. (The narrow tip allows drinking from the Porron without touching lips to it, and so the "sharing" is safe, traditional, and a bit fun. I don't remember a day so full of rich experience in my life. The Day does end though. We're once again in Salou, as mentioned previously with a fabulous Tapas Dinner in the company of new friends Franco, Maite and our hosts Emilio & Elena. What an end to a life-changing day. We were happy tired Americans seen here in front of one of the royal family's homes in Salou:
I hope this hasn't been scaring you. . . . . THIS version of the Gathering Gay Storm re: Marriage should put you at ease:
This week, we saw a couple little gay movies we probably wouldn't have seen except for one thing: ME: "You know, you wouldn't TREAT me this way if I weren't on crutches!" HIM: But ya are, Mark, ya are! NUMBER ONE: SO. On an entertainment note, when you want a couple of hours of light viewing, go rent "29th and Gay" a truly and simply cute love story about a shy cute nebbish in Los Angeles trying to find love. Lowest of Budgets, and STILL cute. Loved it. (a long review is found at the link above) Here's the trailer: Aaaah! I REMEMBER falling in love..........gee, seems I wasn't that different than this guy. THIS IS A MOVIE I would recommend to ANYONE I know!!! It's just cute. Numero DOS: Next? If you can just enjoy a story about overbearing mothers in a screwball comedy, a Spanish sub-titled film, go rent "QUEENS". That link will take you to watch the trailer. The film revolves around the day Gay Marriage were legalized in Spain in a public ceremony, many couples were married. The title reveals, however, that this story is MORE about the overbearing Mothers than the gay boys. The NY Times review is HERE and the comment below their own tiny review is more revealing....the film was a favorite at the SF Gay Film Festival. Neither of these films are new: 2005. Oh well. If I wasn't on these....................
Dustin Lance Black's acceptance speech at last night's Oscar Awards became personal for thousands of Mormon gay kids who live under perpetual treatment by their Church as unworthy, immoral people. This brought me to tears partly bringing memories of my own: Hurray to Mr. Black !!! (and his Mom).
The Mormon owned SALT LAKE TRIBUNE today reports that Utah HB 160, a state House Bill was defeated............ it's purpose? SIMPLY to give GAY COUPLES rights to inheritance and the right to make medical decisions for each other. Now that it's also coming out that the official CHURCH itself DID give some money to causes that were propping up Prop 8 in California (the marriage bill), then to follow that with defeating THIS simple legislation? IF I WERE gay in UTAH...........I'd be fighting like hell for some rights, OR.........I'd be getting out. If you're curious you can go to this EQUALITY UTAH page and read exactly what was in this mild bill simply asking for a bit of recognition. I feel for those Gay couples living under this kind of condemnation........ By the way, the Church should lose its Tax exempt status.......it truly has, with a heavy hand, entered the political arena.
Thanks, TONY................ and to Homer too.............. I just heard Matt Alber sing this song: This artist captured in this fabulous song the beauty of being human .......... it is obvious he has been in love and been loved.................... I was crying full on before it was over recognizing the same heartbeat he was describing..... His beautiful voice reminded me of Rufus Wainright............another fabulous singer. I was surprised to listen to another of his performances, but this time as a counter-tenor singing one of the songs from the Messiah....... ...........WHAT A TALENT.....................
Hm. Is this the Adam and Eve YOU imagined when "they" taught you about that Magical Garden and how you came to be?