How I became a Gay Gringo
By Cal Avocado
© 2017 Roaming Gardens Press
I am a Gay Gringo facing old age and looking back on history through romance, especially one. I arrived in Mexico bursting with dreams for love after 25 years in San Francisco and New York as the AIDS epidemic began and burned through. Fulfillment came but not as I hoped. My conflict is not wanting boundaries for love and sex in a world of homophobia, disease, poverty and the nature of men. A world full of obstacles.
I planted my desires into Paco like a container that would take them. Each event between us leafed into possibilities and problems. My thoughts grew seeds of doubt and hope, and rained and shined over them. He might not recognize himself from my point of view and feel insulted as will others. These are my opinions. I’m not a camera. Names are changed to blur identities, to protect the innocent from my distrustful and hurtful speculations. Most people prefer a portrait of themselves as a flower or a god, myself included. I present details without vanity or consideration to hide ugly. I want the dirt of real history on my pages. We name streets after ideas we support, not diseases we suffer, but both are guides to living. The HIV crisis shaped my life. The empathy of biography smells like real bodies, fresh or stinking. Biography is musty paper crumbling apart in your fingers recalling original oils, delivering an unrepeatable, nostalgic experience fiction cannot.
Your fire next to me
On a chilly morning
Gets in me like a small sun
As we hike away from the cold
Two hermits disappearing
In free green mountains.
We begin as strangers,
I get to know you deeply
As the day passes.
We pursue a welling spring
Starting in a trickle,
Giving into a creek,
Then a waterfall
Chanting for our climb.
The furious water
Warns its danger.
To take us.
We puff ahead
In surges of inspiration
Up through early mountains
Warming from green to violet,
Stopping by clear pools to drink,
Wading knee deep in swirling ponds.
Bees dusted in yellow nectar
Bum honey from flowers.
Oil of pine scents our fingertips.
Your sharing starts mine.
Our hearts merge in a single star.
Shining white for hours.
Meanwhile, loitering in the West,
The coming night waits like a Tomcat,
Arrogant in a cave by the sea
Attracting fainting spiders
That scramble from webs
In damp crannies
To ask for poison.
He massages a cold serpent
From icy blue to hot black tar.
The relaxed snake twists around
And looks in his eyes
Flicks its forked tongue,
And hisses, yearning for another bump.
Hunting down the day,
Hijacking the earth,
To grunt its heft
Away from the sun.
Coal dust gathers in the sky,
Blocking sight of hope
For the blind day,
As night begins.
Black mist settles out there,
Haze ambushes oceans,
Light rays through crystals dim,
Green elephant ears, freckled tiger lilies,
Waving banana fronds disappear.
A flock of day birds shrieking madly
Murmurs to silence
In a steamy tropical garden.
A slow-moving shadow
Falls over croaking frogs,
And insects rubbing out a call,
It creeps over iguanas
Hard to the touch,
Inches along pyramids
And lost plantations hidden
Under matted jungles.
The black bird goes over paths
Hemmed in by sticker wire
From post to rustic post.
Towards a silent graveyard
Behind rusty gates
Where your grandparents,
Younger than you are now,
Read, in disbelief, their epitaphs.
Shade obscures ripe red berries
And gooey figs on sticky branches,
And muddy rivers swelling up summer banks,
Mossy oaks blur into swampy bottoms.
The advance continues,
Past desert highways
Leading up to watermelon hills,
By pregnant vines sucking up afternoon showers.
Finally, to sturdy pines dripping amber sap,
The tallest guardians of the highest peaks of May,
Young man trees yearning to poke holes in the sky.
The wind arrives at our retreat,
Blowing in after hours of pleasure
Passed in a minute.
We’re like children unaware of time,
Our brains are honeycombs
Of sweet thoughts,
Our hearts sugar,
As we lay back on
Glazed green grass,
Talking and eating white clouds
Seeing beauty through
Your brown eyes.
As dusk orders curfew.
Nags down primary colors and rainbows,
Pulls curtains over iridescent peacock feathers,
Stops the pomp of strutting turkeys,
Censors cock tails and low hanging fruits,
Conceals grapes from my grabbing hands.
Behind us the past camps in Autumn by the shore,
Naked boys jump in the water and feel fine.
Exercise flushes their smooth red cheeks
Fading as time moves away.
Dramatic sweeps of valleys dim,
Jillions of unseen leaves flutter
Across the border of night.
Flowers paint the last scene of the day,
Until the sizzling colors of sunset
Blend to muddy gray.
The sun’s glassy sparkle on the lake
Doubt enters my brain,
and reproduces in darkness.
I squeeze the climax of our union
Until rivulets of molten gold
Flow out of us.
As the last spot of sun
Sinks below the horizon
Discovers a warm memory
And picks it up, rubs it against flint.
Sparks fly and it catches fire
A musky vision rises out of the blaze,
Part sun, part man, part goat
It’s your ghost from that perfect day!
Alive and relaxed in afterglow.
Then your apparition withers in smoke
Changes to charcoal,
Finally, to a diamond chip,
My blooming man.
It blows around my mind like a trapped bird
Trying to fly out my eyes like windows,
An outsider arrives discovering strange boulevards and gardens in Mexico City and new pleasures like tasting orange papaya and yellow mango for the first time. And Mexicans to love. The one that stirs me today from a safe distance occupies the gaudiest memory from the list. When we were near, it got hot, and thinking about him mushroomed into uncontainable emotions and a desperate need for someone to hear me talk, to get him out.
Like one empty night in San Miguel de Allende, a small city north of the capital where I rented a room in the winter of 2002. On weekends, I traveled down to Mexico City hoping to meet him, but I was back. It was Monday and I went to a support group for the addicted and lonely, Alcoholics Anonymous. I wasn’t alcoholic but it was available and anxiety qualified me. Although the moderator was a straight man, a warning sign, I noticed he was friendly with a lesbian type so I took a chance sharing, misjudging his tolerance for confessions of one man’s loving addiction to another. Shortly into my release he cut me off ordering, Who wants to go next? A cold sweat and past insults ran through my mind. Foolish faggot, dicks are for chicks. Perhaps he meant no harm, or wasn’t repelled by me, but he became a villain I resented. Usually I avoided inflaming homophobic prejudice by keeping silent.
I was testing livability in San Miguel for a gay man in the expat community and failing to find enough. In New York, it had been easy to find support in the gay community but no gay groups existed in San Miguel. So, I sought out an individual I'd met in his 40's like me, one partner of a newly arrived couple from rural California. It didn't go much better with him and I was convinced the time it would take to knit support in this town would not be worth it. He was out for a night time cruise in the vacant central plaza where gay men covertly hook up. He grew up in Texas where family had disapproved of his sexual orientation. His relationship was open, and probably sexless. He was starved for some. I had accepted an invitation to his house once. A laptop computer was conspicuously placed in the entry way playing a porn video as I entered, as a hook. But I wasn’t interested, somewhat annoyed, and ignored it.
Tonight, wasn’t different. I wanted his ear not the cock he was offering. I'd returned from Mexico City frustrated and Roger impatiently listened to me climb out of worry before rudely cutting me off, You need to get on anti-depressants! He was revealing his lack of interest. He didn’t want to listen but did want to tell his story. I decided to hear it rather than be alone. In a tense outpouring, he recalled a Prozac overdose in a California supermarket. He squalled in his pants before making it to the bathroom. Naturally he was embarrassed and it was dreadful, but I thought to myself how much worse it would be if caused by a disease he couldn’t control, not an optional medication he could dose down or exchange. He finished his story and left right away. It was clear after two meetings, he’s too self-absorbed to listen to anyone. He has scant potential to be a friend.
Every Friday I walked through colonial San Miguel to the bus station for an enjoyable ride to Mexico City. San Miguel always seemed delightful when I was leaving. I reluctantly returned on Monday mornings knowing I’d feel isolated again. In Mexico City, I spent the weekend at gay cantinas shedding 20 years of New York City striving. In New York, it hadn’t been convenient to go to gay bars. Work or distance interfered. Mexico was a long-crafted plan finally become reality. I'd left before to faraway places. After high school from Phoenix to San Francisco and eight years later, with just 2,000 dollars and a million in excitement, from San Francisco to Manhattan. I was splitting ready to move in each case but breaking off was excruciating. The fight for courage to go just a little stronger than fear not to.
During my last years in New York I took trips to Mexico that got longer and longer. It was so exciting, turning off to sleep could be hard. My favorite destinations were Mexico City and Oaxaca but I wanted the entire country and fantasized living where ever I happened to be. Being a foreigner was interesting for many reasons, including speaking Spanish, and the handsome men, a mixture of Spanish, Native American, and African. Apart from the different culture and people was new scenery and plants. Jungles as astounding as any northern forest I’d enjoyed. Mexico also offered the comfort of familiar landscapes from Arizona and California I'd grown up in, recalling home after two decades in New York. Finally, Mexico had low prices.
I'd lie awake in bed unable to sleep, Mexico City racing my heart, and get up tired the next day. It was a huge city, too big to understand, and mine to discover. I'd felt the same in New York and San Francisco each in its era, but they had gotten smaller over the years. Here, I had the money to choose where I wanted to live, not forced to last choices like in the former. If I had a tail it would be excited.