Jan 23, 2016

THE OTHERSIDE OF THE VOLCANO - Chapter Eighteen: Arizona, late 1960´s - I experienced life while looking through heavily tinted/medicated/inebriated eyes - playing pretend

Breaking my own rule by telling you part of my ¨drinking¨ saga.    
I am reflecting about my life as I type my ¨personal¨ story.  Not an unsual thing since it is an autobiography.  I can see as I type/reflect and write about my life in the sixties there is much drinking, drugging and lots of self-medicating by me.   In San Francisco and in Arizona I drank without much restraint several times a week.  I took me with me when I moved to Arizona, then back to California four years later.  Interesting, now, after more than half of my life sober, I'd forgotten most of the out-of-control everyday antics that led me to another whole new version of ¨being¨ in my later life, at 35 years old...I'd forgotten the madness that helped me reach out for a saner based existence. I'll share some of my earlier real life experience which led me to wanting me back from the addiction of alcoholism.  

Living in Arizona, late sixties, I experienced it through heavily tinted/medicated/inebriated eyes.  After arriving in Arizona I set out to make friends.   I knew not one person and there were only a couple of Gay bars (as opposed to San Francisco/San Jose area dozens).  I liked my new job as a buyer at Goldwaters.  Everyone at Goldwaters seemed to be ¨Conservatives¨ but very accepting of the rights of the individual...I was amazed.  I was fond of my coworkers at Goldwater's, but, I knew right away my social life must reinvent itself..finding a ¨Gay¨  outside social life in Phoenix was going to be a challenge. Phoenix/Scottsdale was not a Gay destination (yet).  

There was a Gay bar by the the name of Diamond Lil´s on the ¨right¨ side of town and another two Gay bars deep into the downtown bowels of old Phoenix.  The downtown bars were totally out of question and not well patronized but LIL´S I could tolerate. The newish bar had small tables and plenty of air conditioning (no dancing). Lil's, in a strip mall, was the only place where younger Gay people, out-of-towners and/or newcomers like me met.  That was good (enough). The ¨local¨ Gay people seemed quite closeted, shy and secretive and needed a little ¨organizing.¨  A small group of us, more experienced with Gay life we out-of-staters, helped them!  We found one another, poco a poco, eventually...then, finally, we created some excitement in the night hot Arizona air.  We made up a social group of  (those of us sentenced to the calm Gaylife in Arizona) who began to have FUN in the ¨Valley of the Sun¨...Maricopa, Country, Arizona. Here we are! We grew, we had parties,  we made Lesbian friends, Bi sexual and Heterosexual friends too...we made the place move with our ¨group!¨ Almost every Sunday we went tubing down the Verde River and had late afternoon cook-outs afterward...Mondays were a struggle after all that fun in the sun!  Lot's of dinner parties, meeting new acquaintances and laughing all night (or at least until one o´clock when the bars closed).  Later another bar, with dancing, Mi Casa/Su Casa opened up the street from Diamond Lil's..it rocked.

I went to New York and Los Angeles on buying trips from Goldwater's.  Since I had spent my high school years in Los Angeles I knew my way around the ¨City of Angels¨ and Hollywood/West Hollywood too...Los Angeles was where my family lived and I considered Los Angeles home (I still do and I have not been there for decades and my family has mostly all departed).  

New York was/is wonderful.  I had visited New York as a buyer for Hart's in San Jose and going back more regularly for Goldwaters was  inspiring! New York always takes my breath away with the real possibilities! 24/7 real possibilities of enchantment, romance and many discoveries.  Some of my San Francisco friends had moved to New York city in the 60's...I had pals in NYC and quite often I would use the per diem for Hotel/etc and party with the friends I stayed with in The Village.  I also received lots of ¨pairs¨ of Theatre tickets and saw most everything on Broadway (with great seats - the vendors paid for them) during those years! The bars in NYC were open all-night.  I drank all-night.  Almost always I would have a heavy work schedule in the market (or at the 5th Ave office of Associated Dry Goods) each day.   I took tranquilizers, I drank at lunch, I survived myself. I was young, filled with energy but DREADED each hung-over work day. When staying in Hotels I sometimes would call the house doctor in the morning for ¨vitamin¨ shots (which I think were pure sedatives because I felt ¨perfect¨ immediately).  

I pretended I was alive inside. I have always lived in a world of my own especially neurotic, imaginative, overdrive.  I was, sometimes I am still, hiper or edgy and suffer from claustrophobia and fear of heights! I find most every person, every place/thing and *situation* fascinating (both good ones and not so much).  I can become rivited on the bazaar and not hear a word spoken around me...thirty seconds short of obsessed , I come back and I move along. 

When I had appointments high up in New Yorks Empire State building or when I would have lunch dates at the ¨ Copter Club¨ on TOP of the Pan Am building I would get very nervous...my shakey hands would swet...I needed a drink (or two) and I would find a bar and have vodkas on the rocks (you can't smell vodka..verdad?)...then, and only then, would I ascend in the elevator (all the while thinking about the great distance as I was taking myself away from the ground level...swet, swet) . Then, post lift off, I would join in and pretend that I wasn't scared to death when they seated me next to the window (always, so I could enjoy the view)!  Most of my 20's I was hung over to the point of feeling sick, upset and different than everyone else...I was (but I didn't want them to know I was)...I am really good at playing pretend with myself and others.  

to be continued