Dirty Back Road

There was one other thing going on right at the end of the Exile in San Angelo (March 1986)…and this one caught me by complete surprise. I had fallen in love with a guy! He was straight, and it was something I was completely unaware of until I had already packed all of my stuff and was waiting for the cab to take me to the airport, to visit with my parents in Maryland before heading off to my permanent assignment in Texas. I know how crazy it sounds…how on earth can you fall in love with someone and not even be aware of it hehe…but there you have it. Looking back it should have been obvious, but at the time I guess I was just completely caught up in army studies and whatnot. He certainly never did anything to encourage me. And honestly I never even thought of him in those terms when I was hanging out with him outside of class…he was just another one of the guys we hung out with. I had never fantasized about anything happening up to that moment, or anything either. It just hit me like a ton of bricks, when he came and said goodbye as he was getting into his own cab to leave. I just realized I’d never see this guy again, and that it affected me tremendously. The next few days were a complete haze, as I wandered around numb from it. I had almost an hour to wait for the cab to the airport, and my friend Rob was there waiting also…and he realized something was bothering me, but it wasn’t the kind of thing I could confide in him about at the time. So I just flew back to Baltimore, met my parents at the airport, and went back to their place.

Emotionally I guess I was a mess…my mom instantly knew something was bothering me, but it wasn’t something I really wanted to talk to her about either. I mean I was gay! How on earth could I be gay?! I had “dated” girls in junior high and high schools. I had never really been interested in a guy that way. I had even enjoyed hetero porn, for Christ’s sake hehe. And I didn’t even want to begin to think about how it complexified my military career. I had seen several guys kicked out for being gay already, so it wasn’t really something I could be openly in the military…I would have to be closeted if I was going to stay in to the end of my term. But sheesh, I was closeted even to myself until the day I caught the plane! It was all so confusing. It didn’t bother me per se, it was just unbelievable that I had been totally unaware of it all. Perhaps it was because all of the guys that had come out that I had known were so over-the-top effeminate? I didn’t feel or act that way particularly. I got into my old bed and just wanted to sleep for my whole 2 weeks of leave…and that was bizarre in itself. I wasn’t the type of person who laid in around in bed all day, ever. And then I started dreaming about him. I had never dreamt about him before, but now it was every night for a few weeks. And I started seeing him everywhere. Of course it was never him, it was just someone who bore a striking resemblance to him.

At any rate after a few days I crawled out of bed; fortunately my parents weren’t taking off from work this time, so I had the place to myself most of day. I had gone home specifically to buy and pick up a new car. I had gotten most of my military bonus money (yay!), but then plopped it all down on the car downpayment (boo!). My step-father, in a rare instance of helpfulness took care of all of the car details, as he used to be a car salesman and at another time he was a car mechanic. Even though I can take apart computers and fiddle with them and do some programming, I know nothing about cars, so it’s good someone with some knowledge dealt with it all. He haggled with the salesman and everything, and got the price knocked down a bit. I ended up with a new (at that time) Sentra…not the sexiest of cars, but reliable for lots of driving, which I was anticipating doing a lot of. The rest of my stay in Maryland was uneventful. I was dreading going on to Fort Hood, but I really didn’t want to stay in Maryland either, as it didn’t feel like home anymore. Mother Nature came to my rescue though, and sent a freak March snowstorm bearing down on us. I used this as a pretext for leaving early…to avoid getting stuck in snow…and started the long drive back to Texas. I wanted to take a different route than we took the last time driving, so I was going to drive down the East Coast to Jacksonville, Florida, and then drive across Interstate 10 to Houston, and then take complicated state routes to get to the base. It had started snowing just as I was driving out of Baltimore. I did decide to detour to Ocean City though, and get some of those wonderful Thrasher’s french fries and see the ocean. I even spent an hour or so hanging out on the Boardwalk, but it was really still too cold to enjoy, being right on the Atlantic Ocean in March, with an approaching snow storm hehe. I had bought a beach towel, planning to sit on the sand and watch the ocean for a bit, but it was too cold for that. So I just ended up getting the biggest barrel of fries available, and strapped it into the passenger seat of the car so I could munch on the road hehe.

Instead of just driving back acorss the Bay the normal way, I decided to go down the long way, through the Virginia part of the Delmarva Peninsula. I had pulled ahead of the storm, but it was all gloomy behind me in the rear-view mirror, so I knew I couldn’t dilly-dally or I could get stranded somewhere hehe. The drive down the Delmarva was spectacular, but then I was stuck paying a 12 dollar toll! WTF?! It would add hours to my trip to turn around, so I just grumbled and paid it. The sun set with me lost somewhere in North Carolina, trying to find I-95. I eventually found it, before the snow got to me, and kept driving south. Finally I made it to Jacksonville, and found some hotel to spend the night in there. I woke up in the morning to Jacksonville, covered in snow! Schools were closed, and traffic was a mess…Floridians don’t do snow well lol. But it was mostly melted already on the roads at least, but it was surreal seeing snow on the ground there. The second day was sunny, but cold, as I drove across I-10. The interstate got more and more disrepaired looking, as I went from Tallahassee to Pensacola. I kept expecting the interstate to turn into a dirt road, it was pretty bad hehe. I had planned on going much further west, but ended up spending the night in Pensacola, after detouring and doing tourist stuff on the Gulf. Day three I got up early, and continued going west. Mobile was surprisingly pretty, and so was Mississippi, though it was obvious that the state was very poor. Biloxi was also very pretty, and I drove around a bit sightseeing. And then I drove into Louisiana.

And before long crossed into New Orleans. It was just before rush hour, and the sun was low on the horizon, as I crossed the bridge into the city proper…not the Causeway which crosses Lake Pontchartrain, but a bridge that was part of I-10. The city was surreal, and beautiful. The first few highway exits were blocked off, and overgrown with weeds, like they had planned to put in roads, but never got around to it. It was like driving into a city in one of those disaster movies, where all the people are gone. Keep in mind this was waaaay before hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so this had nothing to do with that. I spent hours just driving around and looking at the city, though ironically I never found the French Quarter on this trip! (I’d find it on another trip in the future, I was just driving up and down Canal Street but not turning in the right places hehe). The city reminded me so much of San Francisco, it didn’t even feel like an American city. I drove out of New Orleans during full on rush hour, which was a nightmare, with a heavy heart. I really didn’t want to leave. I ended up driving up to Baton Rouge, and spending the night in some hotel in Port Allen, right across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge. The water here tasted odd, but not unpleasant. It did have a slimey consistency to it though when you showered…like you could never quite get all of the soap off of you, that’s what it was like.

I’ll end the rambling here, and next post we’ll keep driving west! I’ve included music clips of some of the music I was listening to on the drive…kind of a gay new wave theme! (The Madonna song was of course released much later, it just made me think of the army guy when I first heard it).

~ by dagoril on November 4, 2006.

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