Justin's Life... March 15th - 30th, 1999

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March 15, 1999 - Monday - Spring Break

5:06AM Eastern Time

When was the last time you were barreling down the freeway at 70 miles per hour while still sitting in bed? For me, the answer is 2 minutes ago... and right now, too.

After stopping in Perry, Georgia to eat at Red Lobster last night, Dad decided we'd finish our day of driving at a campsite at the same exit (about two hours north of Florida). We pulled in, found a sign that said "Register Later" and parked the camper alongside the others. We then transformed the tables and seats into beds before quickly falling asleep... at around 10:30PM.

Then this morning at around 4:45AM, I groggily awoke to Mom sassyly telling Dad where the light switch was for the bathroom sink. They were already dressed and Mom told me to go back asleep... but I was awake and so I watched, from my bed viewpoint, as Dad disconnected the power and we got on the road. I can't remember the last time I slept and dashed, but hey, why not save $5 or whatever the camping fee was.

Seriously, Mom said it was just because Dad was awake and wanted to get going... but hey, it does add a little adventure to it, doesn't it?

So, now we're on the road in the pitch black, driving down the freeway; Dad driving, Mom in the front passenger seat, me on my laptop in the bed just behind the driver's seat, and Katie in a bed asleep just behind mine. (The cameras are definitely rolling.)

Oh, and for what it's worth, this is MUCH more like what I remember as a kid. The being-seat-belt-monitor/parent-to-Katie thing sorta sucks when you're trying to relive childhood memories. I mean, when we were kids, we never wore our seatbelts and jumped all around everywhere while the camper was moving, so I even perceive myself as being a tad hypocritical, too.

Anyway, we're on the road; I'm going to have a much better time to today; and well, if Katie should happen to not wear her seatbelt, I'm going to beat her with a stick and not worry about it anymore. (It's a joke, alright?)

11:03PM Eastern Time

After falling back asleep for a couple hours, I woke to find us in Florida still on the road. A few hours after that, we'd parked the RV and called the campground's recommended car rental company to rent a car for Dad (so that he could drive it on down to Lake Okeechobee). Yet, after being picked up by the courtesy van and arriving at the rental office, we were told that if Dad was the only person driving the car, he had to be the person renting it and that only the credit card of the person renting it was acceptable for the pre-authorization or payment on return. I wanted to pay for the car and I really couldn't see the problem; I was there, had identification, and would sign the forms... and from the way the transaction had already gone, I was growing increasingly weary anyway. So I finally just forewent my normal communication apprehension (which seems to be an increasing trend ) and raised my voice to interrupt the lady's crap and said, "Just take me to a real rental car place because I really can't see the problem." To that, the other employee stepped in and asked what was happening. When she explained, he told her to do it and long story short, it was done.

And that sorta has been the tone for the entire day. Although punctuated with periods of fun, most of the day has been confrontational with Katie. She started on a negative note this morning before we ate breakfast and by the time Dad and I were back from the car rental place, she'd broken a Cabbage Patch Kid by smacking it into a tree. At Epcot (where Mom, she, and I went after Dad left), she pushed and pushed... so much that I really don't want to be around her. I can't see why we're at the Happiest Place On Earth(TM) yet I'm anything but happy. I mean, it can't all be blamed on her, but I was definitely having deep thoughts about rather hanging out with the young guys we saw than being a parent. Of course, as a red head was among the group of guys with whom I was placing myself, I was really seeing that as better than arguing with Katie... but still, if this was the way it was all the time, I'd soon grow to the point of completely withholding food until she improved.

March 18, 1999 - Thursday - Spring Break

9:08AM Eastern Time

Tuesday morning about 7:30AM, Larry arrived with Spencer here at the campground and the day that followed saw a much improved Katie... but the stress level was still high. While Katie had calmed down due to her Dad's presence, Spencer was commanding more attention than she had due to his kidney infection and medication. He absolutely abhorred the medicine and spat it back each and every time we tried to give it to him. The standing in line in the overly crowded Magic Kingdom for kiddie rides combined with the multiple thirty to forty-five minute stress filled medicine administrations was more than I could bear. As we got on the monorail to head back to the parking lot (and then on to Disney's Animal Kingdom), I told Larry that I was about two seconds from crying... and I meant it: My eyes were welling up and I was holding it back by trying to think of other things.

When the monorail arrived back at the main entrance/parking lot, Larry again asked me if I wanted to go back to the camper or go on to the Animal Kingdom. I once again told him that I didn't care. And I can't remember exactly how many times he asked before or after that, but I know one of my responses was "If I have to tell you I don't care one more time, I'm going to slap you while I say it." or something to that effect. It was really nastily, I know, but I was already stressed to the limit and didn't want to have to make any decisions about where to go... and by that point, I really didn't care; I'd turned on the emergency overload protectors and had shut my brain down.

So Mom said that she thought that we should go on to the Animal Kingdom (as she'd learned from me that you shouldn't pass up things, counting on doing them the next day) and off we went. We looked at a few of the animals then rode the safari truck before the park closed at 6PM.

We then got on a bus back to the parking lot, found the car, drove back towards the campground, ate at Bob Evan's, then arrived back at the home on wheels. Before going to bed, Larry and I went to Wal-Mart to destress a little (and buy some junk), but that was about it.

9:49AM Eastern Time

Yesterday, a major change of pace was in order. I didn't want any more educational crap (Epcot) or any more too-crowded kiddie stuff (Magic Kingdom), so eventually we ended up at Busch Gardens. (We'd originally thought Universal's roller coaster park was the destination but found out that it wouldn't open until mid-summer.)

So anyway, we drove towards Tampa and stopped at Busch Gardens where there were virtually no lines (literally two people per stall in front of us) and rode "big kid" looping roller coaster rides. It was so non-packed, in fact, that when Larry and I got off the Montu feet dangling roller coaster the first time, Mom and Katie were nowhere to be found. They'd gone off, expecting us to take 15 minutes, so we got back on and rode again. When we got off the second time, they were just then strolling back from their walk with Spencer.

As for Spencer's medication, we'd determined that suspending it in a solution of water and sugar would get him to drink it from a bottle. So that was much less of an ordeal as well.

And before the day was through, Katie and I'd ridden Scorpion, a looping roller coaster (her first), Mom had had an excellent time on the Congo River Rapids (a 12 person innertube ride) by getting completely soaked, and Larry'd won a large Winnie The Pooh type bear playing a fishing game. Needless to say, the day was MUCH more enjoyable for me.

When we got home, Larry and I went out to various souvenir shops but found absolutely nothing, -- It's amazing that such large stores can have absolutely nothing of interest.-- and after that, we came home and fell asleep .

8:07PM Eastern Time

Today Larry, Katie, and I played a round of really boring putt putt before meeting back up with Dad and heading to The Florida Mall. And now, Mom, Dad, Larry, and Katie are at Capone's Dinner Theatre while I'm here at the camper with Spencer. The roller coasters really messed with my head yesterday and I've been feeling rather queasy ever since.

That's all...

March 19, 1999 - Friday - Spring Break

8:21PM Eastern Time

We're now in Georgia, south of Atlanta, heading back to Kentucky and I must say, the trip has turned out completely different that I was expecting.

I thought I would recapture the same magical charm that I felt when I was a child and my mom, dad, and brother all stayed at the campground, riding in the back of the tricycle to the store, sleeping in my own tight little bunk bed quarters, but I didn't. In fact, several times I was wishing for solitude... wanting to get away from it all.

Yet the trip was really nice. Dad had a really fun time fishing at Lake Okeechobee and in it's own special way, it brought us all a little closer. It's another one of those experiences which we've shared and while a plane would have had me back in LA hours ago, the journey itself has an undescribable charm/loathing quality. At one level, I pretty much wish I was in LA, just sitting at my regular computer, working on stuff, but at another level, it's nice to be here, taking in something different for a change, dealing with the craziness of complaining that the other table sat down after we arrived but got their food first. That stuff never happens in LA and while it does drive me insane, it is a part of who I am and I value it at the same time.

I mean, don't get me wrong. Last night when everyone was insisting that I go along to the dinner show or that they'd all just change their plans, I was ready to scream, but when they got back, everything was back to normal and no one said anything more about it.

Family is an odd thing, for sure... but I'll keep mine. That said, I've gotta go. We're getting ready to play Uno.

March 19, 1999 - Sunday - Spring Break


Larry, Katie, Spencer, and I are now on a plane back to Los Angeles... and I'm completely exhausted. Right this minute, Katie's playing with tinsel which she found at the house in Kentucky, I'm sitting here answering e-mail and typing this, and Spencer's asleep on Larry's lap. No gay boys on board to talk about and no nasty stewardesses. There is a bright red head, but he's pretty far back in the plane and straight and not "noteworthy."

March 28, 1999 - Sunday


Arriving back in LA was a welcome thing, but the pile of stuff (such as bills) that piled up since we left was a little less relieving.

Anyway, the week started fairly well, with my unofficially taking over the group in my Communication class (to which I got no resistance and a smile from the professor (who, incidentally, wrote back to say that my absence was probably a good thing (which would help to get the group kick started into actually working))) and with Shawn agreeing to fly out.

Shawn is an eighteen year old who lives in Ohio with his parents who wrote a couple weeks back to ask me what he should do about an online relationship that he thought was AOL (completely full of shit). I told him that he should just end it and move on and simultaneously I had the unreasoned idea to check his ISP. Turned out it was in Ohio and so I remarked about that. Long story short, he sent a picture, seemed like a nice guy, and I thought he could definitely benefit from seeing not only that real people were online but that he could be gay and normal.

So without so much as a phone call between us, I definitively offered a ticket, he accepted, and the flight for the April 9th weekend was purchased... and even more amazing, all that happened without him even asking his parents if his first time on a plane could be to fly out and meet some "gay Internet freak".

Monday night, after the ticket was purchased, I got Shawn's phone number in an e-mail and gave him a call. We talked for a couple of hours and I must admit, I was more than a little worried at first. He seemed painfully formal, not even using contractions, and nothing like the more laid back guy I'd seen in e-mail. As our conversations progressed, I also found out that he only wore khaki pants and button down shirts, but he loosened up a bit and before we were done, I wasn't really worried about spending a weekend with him any longer.

By Tuesday, he'd bought a pair of denim jeans and by Wednesday, I got this e-mail:

Subject: Tonight is the night.


Tonight is the night I am going to open up with my mom, and tell her everything and let her ask any questions she might have. I am printing out the "Letter to a friend" that is how I am going to break it to her. I just become very tired of hiding things all the time, and I only want what is best, and I know that after the initial shock is over she will be ok with it. At least I hope so (I could be homeless by April 9th *just kidding*). I am going to ask her to keep it between us for now, so that as time passes I will feel more comfortable in telling more people. I mean I think this is a bigg step now. Hopefully it will open the doors to our closed relationship, hopefully she will see why I have been secluded and so many other things, I just hope that all works out for the best. I will probably email you tonight to see tell you how things went.

Scared but sure I want to do this,

I simply wrote back "Good Luck :-)" not really knowing if coming out at that particular moment was the best thing or not. I mean, I didn't want to persuade him from not coming out, but I couldn't imagine a mom being told her son was gay and two weeks later letting him fly out to California to spend the weekend with two gay guys, know what I mean?

Nevertheless, I got this letter later that same day:

Subject: Re: Tonight is the night.


Well, it happened. I did not cry, she did not cry. But yet she is in denial, she said that she did not want any of "those" people over at the house. And she thinks if I see girls, I might be attracted to them. Yeah right. She read one paragraph of the two page letter and said "So you think your gay". I was amazed, she is just telling me to keep my "opportunities" open. I am also still SET FOR THE FLIGHT OUT! YEAH BABY! (She still thinks that there is a sexual undercurrent, but I assured her there isn't). Did it bring us closer together, I don't think so. Maybe in time she will understand, but at least she said that she will always love me and never do anything to hurt me. That is a comfort. I should be going it is 12:06 here.


By this time, I was pretty amazed. Not only had he come out to his Mom, but he had told her about the trip. I figured for sure that would have spelled c-a-n-c-e-l-l-a-t-i-o-n but apparently it didn't. Nevertheless, I wrote back to ask exactly how he'd told her about the trip... and he said that he just told her and although she wasn't thrilled at the idea, she understood why. To me, that sounds like everything's going remarkably well.

Anyway, since then, I talked to Shawn on the phone and everything still seems a-go. Oh, and one other thing that I left out along the way is that Shawn's never met a real life gay guy... so this trip will REALLY do him some good.

March 30, 1999 - Tuesday


Last night David came over. It was the first time I'd seen him since before Spring Break, and I was a little apprehensive about it. See, when I said something last Wednesday about driving down to see his new apartment in Long Beach, he didn't seem really keen on the idea and I'd gotten a tad pissed about it. Nothing major, and nothing I really showed, but David and I had already been growing distant and the fact that my wanting to drive down to see his apartment was met with him not wanting me to (because it was piled with boxes) sorta rubbed me the wrong way.

So, anyway, last night he came over and was as distant as I've ever seen him... but what pisses me off and really made me just want to tell him to leave right after he got here was that he was being artificially distant. Maybe it's just a pet peeve of mine, but I cannot stand it when someone you've "dated" treats you like a casual friend, or even an acquaintance, when the relationship is "over". To me, if I hugged you once, I can hug you again. If we've French kissed before, we can surely give each other a peck on the lips now. I mean, there was no argument, no fight, no "break up"... we just grew more apart until it was finally tacitly realized that we were no longer "an item". (By the way, if you're sorta lost now, most of my relationship with David and Larry's relationship with David (not "Larry's and my relationship with David" because they were related, simultaneous, but distinctly separate) happened during the hiatus.)

Anyway, it wasn't very fun and it certainly wasn't real and David left around 9PM (as opposed to 11PM before). I moped around a bit afterwards, but Larry got home from the office, told me that he still loved me, and hugged me all night long. It really is amazing how people can be so important in your life... and then go to not even really wanting you to hug them... just to put some distance between you. Life is already too damn short to be any less connected to others than you possibly can be; to feign distance is ... terrible.

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© 1999 Justin Clouse


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