Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Gay Durrell

The cat palace is half  finished.

At 5:30 yesterday it was 33°. However, it’s nice and cool in my house; I still sleep with my down comforter at night, nice and cozy and not at all hot.
My friend Jacques from Montreal is coming by for a visit at the end of the month and Tim is coming mid-August. Both are short visits and that’s perfect.
I had a rather lovely conversation with two really impressive young people and their son. We hadn’t seen each other for a while and we wanted to get caught up. And part of catching up involved asking about their son when he wasn’t there; he had a mental health crisis just over a year ago. He’s doing well.
That’s when they asked me about my mental health. I’m very positive about it. I explained that it’s really only when I leave the house and mix with people that brings out my symptoms. I used the first 45 minutes of my trip to Victoria as an example of how I’m affected. 
They wanted to know what it felt like during those 45 minutes. That’s something Dr. Shoja is always asking: What does anxiety feel like? Where do I feel it? What makes it happen? How does it come on? How does it stop?
They were very interested in my answers—really  interested—because my answers were similar, but also different, to the same questions they’d put to their son. I had insight their son’s doctors lack. Like Dr. Shoja who wants to understand her patients, they want to understand better understand their son.
It’s kind of funny for me to think about it. There I was stting in a BC living room, a BC-born man sitting with two other BC-born people, talking about mental illness in a hybridized Australian accent.
Today I tidy up. My studio looks like a cyclone hit and my house is full  of crap that’s fallen off Sheba. And I draw up a menu and do some shopping, baking and food prep because tomorrow night I’m having a little dinner party.
I met François at Sandwell beach with his Whippets and I told him about the community dog walk and that’s how I met his partner, Ian. I like them both very much. They are French Canadian—my people! Ian loves plants and is more introverted like me; his company is particularly comfortable.
They retired young and spent years doing long-term international house sitting. Their stories are amazing. One long house stay was on a Tasmanian farm. They’re building a home here and living in a trailer. Soon, I believe, they’ll be renting a home for the duration of their build.
They are coming and so is Jay, the gay man who, like Patsy, has been a local mentor to my switch in lifestyle. I didn’t know him before I came here either but this, I think, will be our fifth dinner together—something like that.
I’m not someone who seeks gay connections. I’m not a professional gay man. However, gay men and theatre professionals have always been the first communities of contact in my travels. And it’s different but the same, with French Canadians. I have no experience there, just genetics. And boy do I feel those genes.
I feel so at peace here. After weeks without getting into the hot tub, I’m using it now that I have it at a more endurable temperature. I turn it onto silent operation and take music out there with me. I play it low so I can hear the birds and the fountain and I look at the trees and birds. I take nothing for granted.
I look across the courtyard, now surrounded with flowers, at my studio and I feel like I’m living the life of the Durrells on Corfu (as presented by the BBC) right now, living slowly and mostly outdoors with a strong presence of critters—happy in a strange land.

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