Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rewards and Punishments

Chapter One: Rewards and Punishments

 -- End --

A Cautionary Tale

At this point in my life, when I look back on my past,  I often feel like such a fool.  Why didn't I just use my brain and take the time to notice my reality? The answers I craved were right in front of me, with rapid access for their application. Everything that I needed to survive I already possessed or had experienced. I did not, however, pay attention. I missed almost every lesson. I did not profit from those experiences, and any ability I may have possessed, to do so, was lost to my stupor.

In plain English, I was plain stupid.

            I recognize that this state of being is not exclusive to me. Most people are stupid. Apparently, they always have been. I think that the human race, in general, is a dull bulb. I would argue that, as a whole, we have yet to figure almost anything out. All the while, our history is repeating. When we don't learn, we don't change. We think we can thrive in this daze because we have the building blocks for that change, but we use them for pleasure, and profit, instead of for revelation. We repeat the same mistakes, over and over, because we do not learn from them, over and over. Our poor ability becomes our greatest downfall.
            When something looks stupid, acts stupid and seems to be stupid, it usually is. It, most certainly, is not oatmeal. It is not that I am cynical about oatmeal, rather we tend to pay little attention to the more vital things of life and focus on the mundane. We miss the forest for the trees, so to speak. We move about like blinded solders, taking direction from men with no eyes. When the opportunity to grow presents itself, we keep going and reliving, knowing the outcome yet expecting a different result. We do the same things, make the same choices, always hoping for a happy ending. Usually, one never comes.
 “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity;
and I'm not sure about the universe.” (Albert Einstein)

            I finally understand the Christian idea of being "born again". For me, it was not from an altar call or some grand display. One day, I just woke up. I was new again, ready to face the world. The event was not exclusively spiritual nor academic. It was more like a switch got turned on inside the very fibre of me as a being. Every part of me seemed to be connected, working together in balance rather than out of focus. It was as if I was walking along a well lit street on a dark winter day. As I passed it, the one streetlight that was burnt out turns on with my approach. Suddenly, to become one string, one flow in formation with the row of lights ahead and behind it.
            I had been out of focus for a very long time. Almost the entire first 40 years of my life seemed out of my control. Finally, with proper treatment for my disorder, the light came on. I do not suggest that my renewal was pharmaceutical in nature. Any substance which successfully managed to stop mega rising, or calm an ill wind, merits credit, but it was not the cure. I suggest that, like the streetlight, proper treatment connected the parts of me that had been lost to chemical warfare since I was 15.  
            All my education, all my experiences had already fully formed their lessons within me. I did not need to seek for I was already found. I opened my eyes to myself. I saw my life as a ongoing book with the first 40 chapters used for character development. Everything I wanted to be I realized I already was. I only had to apply my life lessons in order to benefit intellectually, physically and, most importantly, spiritually.
            I didn’t even need to go looking for God. He had been with me all the while. That still, same voice lingered through every rebellion and cursing of It's name. When the fog cleared in my defective mind, I found Him where I had left Him as a child. The notion of the Spirit within me had never taken, as if those moments, from my life, where I felt it, were external measure and not from within. I was wrong. I spent my entire adulthood looking for safety when I didn't even need to search.
             From a distance, there was no harmony. I was always pushing and pulling,  thinking I knew what I was doing when I knew nothing at all. My awakening allowed the realization that throughout all the good, and all the bad, and everything in between, It was always the same. A constant I had forgotten in the chaos of my mind. Suddenly, it became real to me. As real as any memory, any moment, any thing my life has offered. I never once needed to open a Bible.

"Every bad day needs it
Every good day breeds it
No matter how it feels
When it's real you know it's real
Stronger than any bomb that any man has ever made"
(The Power, Amy Grant 1994)

            For the very first time, I was truly happy. My life was better than I had expected. I was balanced, stable and had been for years. With no more voices to haunt me, and no longer being a slave to my instincts and impulses, my path was clear and sure. I had resolved most of the issues which had dragged behind me like bags of dirty laundry and I tossed anything soiled and without use. I felt whole and complete, not just content but satisfied with my life, my future and who I was as a person. I realized that I had everything I ever wanted. Be careful what you want for.
            She didn't lay as Doug's had, all rigid and chalked from the ice and snow. It was almost as if she was merely sleeping. Initially, I ran from the room. Seeing my Mom dead on that metal slab almost killed me. I was flooded with pain, angst and uncontrollable sorrow. My entire being shook as if an earthquake had ruptured inside me. I couldn't breathe. I couldn’t think. All I heard, inside my skull, was a constant, pounding chorus of "No! No! No!" There she was, and I never really got to say good-bye.
            If there was one thing I wanted for my Mom, it was a peaceful passing. I had witnessed her anxiety, and suffering, for years and years. We all knew she would never lead a much longer life, so each day mattered, at least to me. Her cancer battle of the year before was merely a warning sign. I may not have been ready, but I was certainly prepared. It didn't make it any easier, but it made things more manageable. After the initial shock, the rest was like being on autopilot.
            I think the experience I had after my first partner's death really taught me how to cope, at least with my Mother's death. My emotional experience was, without a doubt, as devastating, but my cognitive reaction was very different. I had control. I had control over my reaction externally and I had control over my impulses internally. It is not that the idea of standing in front of a train did not enter my mind, rather I was able to dictate how I responded to the pain. I got to choose the path I would follow.
            It is not that I consciously governed my reaction. My instincts and life experiences took over and led me to a safer, more sane place in my grief. Everything I had experienced, throughout my life, had some purpose, made sense finally. The combination of proper chemical function, coupled with what my past had made me to be, gave me the strength to get through. I may have gotten what I wanted for her in death, but her life gave me focus. My stupor was gone.

"A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."
(Mahatma Gandhi)

            Human beings tend to forget to look around and see the joy in their lives. Sometimes, it is hard to do so as life can be very overwhelming. We get so caught up in our pain and misfortune that we lose sight of how we can be. It is up to us to be that change, but we do not look beyond ourselves. We let sorrow command us, or experience restrict us. Even in all this, we must find our own truth.
            We know what we can be, but we still cannot see. We cannot focus and, most certainly, we have trouble understanding. We do not see that life is not about being happy. It is not about rewards and punishments. It is not about merely paying attention, then applying that knowledge. Life is not only about pain. Life is about learning. Life is about taking each moment, then living each moment. There is always something to be thankful for. People who don't see this are stupid. Each one of us a cautionary tale.
            We waste so much of our lives wanting to be different, wanting to be better, but we expect some resolution from outside factors, not from within us. We cling to hope, ill-gotten through religion, and forget that it is trust that will see us through. God does not appear like a plumber; high cost to repair our workings. He is always there, ready for us to lean on, but we do not see. We let opinion, and bias, and ideas shape us and how we respond. We let what others think of us dictate how we think of ourselves.
            Each life is a light. Each person a treasure, to understanding, compassion and reawakening. We can learn from ourselves. We can learn from others. We can even learn from history. These do no good if we do not apply those lessons and become who we are supposed to be. It only takes the recognition that God already loves us, that He is always with us, to see the road ahead and walk it wisely.

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered;
the point is to discover them.” (Galileo Galilei)

            I cannot walk on water. I am not perfect, in any way. In fact, I may be dense, quite stupid. The very best I can do is to trust, outside of myself, and follow, where I am led. My grandmother may have taught me her vision of Divine providence, but I, and I myself, am responsible for how I think, and feel and react. My truth is mine and mine alone. I can choose to hold to it, battling all others in word and wisdom, or I can share it in the hopes that even one other may benefit from where I am, where I am going and how I got here.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Unbreak My Heart

            Hollywood left me disillusioned. I had waited my entire 22 years to embrace it, and all its promise, but I was left with little but a bad taste in my mouth. I could not even be sure that this taste wasn't the result of garbage blowing around Hollywood and Vine. Perhaps an ill wind had skipped some trashy thing past my senses and into my Canadian orifice, as my jaw dropped while watching some guy shoot up on the corner. It was so dirty, and so unlike what I had imagined from television, movies and print, that I almost cried at the thought. I wasn't sure what had happened to it. I was not sure if it wasn't always this way, but I knew instantly it did not live up to the hype.
            It was as if my heart was broken. This place of dreams was nothing more than what any other city, in another place, might be. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was merely a spectacle  for dogs to take a crap on. The world  famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre may be home to the historic forecourt, featuring handprints of iconic celebrities, but it paled in comparison to the images and jubilation I had imagined in my head. It was tacky, to say the least. Not Joan Rivers tacky, more like her daughter Melissa tacky. Most certainly, I was underwhelmed.
            I visited the Hollywood bowl, walked about Rodeo Drive, and even hit Muscle Beach. I'm not sure why I was so disappointed with each "highlight", or "attraction", but nothing held up against my grand expectations. Hollywood was always mythical to me, growing up. I suppose I believed the real place was always exempt from the real world. Unfortunately, the hookers, the homeless and the gang members are not what I pictured when I planned this journey.  
            I can only speak for the time I was in California, and March of 1988 may not hold up to a more modern Hollywood environment. At that time, I did not find much merit in the city. Even the Hollywood sign left me yearning for something more. After only 2 days of a week-long visit, I left Hollywood behind me in search of "cleaner" pastures. I returned to the Montarossa household, where I was staying, packed an overnight bag and headed for the Greyhound station.
            For a Saturday night, the bus depot was quiet and calm. It was not at all like it had been on my arrival here. I bought my ticket to Garden Grove and settled myself in for the wait. Just south of Anaheim, in northern Orange County, California, Garden Grove was founded in 1874. What was once a quaint rural community, well known for its Strawberry festival, has grown into a tourist destination, and in the 70s and 80s absorbed a large Asian population.
            California at night was like a Christmas Tree set to flame. The landmark Hollywood sign, located on the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica mountains, is a cultural icon, glowing bright like a beacon, visible from a great distance. All down the I5 freeway, town after town sent pinpricks of light as if an unending string of electric holiday illumination. When the bus turned onto South Euclid Street, it passed Disneyland. Never having been to Florida, I was unsure how the original park stood in comparison to this park, but I could not believe its size and massive brightness. For a second, I thought Tinkerbell had multiplied into a billion fairies, flittering about miles of perpetual joy and bliss. It held so much excess that it lit the dark. As we passed, someone on the bus yelled, "Welcome to Vegas for pedophiles!!"
            When the glowing cities and glittering towns merged at my destination, I was ready to get off this mode of transportation. The bus pulled into the station around 3 a.m. and I instantly thought I was in Hong Kong. Not even in Chinatown, New York or Toronto, had I witnessed so many Asian cultures rammed into one area. One would have imagined that, in the middle of the night, these strangers of foreign ancestry would find rest in the still past twilight, but outside the terminal met me with glimpses of Bangkok, or Hanoi, or Seoul. For some reason, I thought I would be greeted by good Christian men and women, travelling as I had to see a sight, but there was no water for this thirsty man.
            From Disneyland to Garden Groove was like jumping from Christmas Eve at Rockefeller Center to January 2nd in Charlie Brown's backyard. Regardless of the obvious ethnic population, you could tell it was a smaller city, nestled in the grandness of California dreaming. Almost every Sunday morning, this town would greet me, and members of my family, via broadcast television. My Father still spends an hour on each day of rest in communion with Robert Schuller, and his flock, nestled in the Crystal Cathedral.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:1-8, NIV)

            The weekly broadcast of The Hour of Power has been televised from the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove since 1970. The Protestant community, offering “positive Christianity”, is headquartered in this place of worship. The assembly was founded in 1955 by Robert H. Schuller and is affiliated with the Reformed Church of America. Originally housed in a drive-in theatre, in 1961, the congregation moved to an all-purpose building in the Grove. In order to house a rapidly expanding base, construction on the current church began in 1977. The church, designed by architect Philip Johnson, was completed in 1981 and seats 2,736 people.
            I had walked in the night and found it. It stood as if to herald prosperity and lack of want. It glittered even in the darkness. I sat myself down across Lewis Street, waiting for the dawn. When the morning arrived, I slipped down the street and changed into a more appropriate outfit for worshipping the Lord. It was not that I longed for union with their deity, rather, I had to see this glory for myself. I returned to my bus stop and settled on the hard bench until the bells met my resting. I walked across the large parking lot, noting a gentleman who seemed lost among the cars and people. He was ragged and torn, beaten by the life which followed him. He spied me, quietly, then simply walked away. It was almost as if he knew better than to ask anyone here for small change.
            The building itself is awe inspiring. Large lots and beautiful landscaped gardens surround the perimeter. I understood completely why they called it a Cathedral, regardless of it lacking a Bishop's official seat, required for this Catholic definition. It was an ominous place. It was not crystal however, merely an "alliterative construct", formed of metal and much glass. It loomed over the entire area, testifying to God's just mercy and the greatness of man here on earth.
            The Bell Tower, under construction during my adventure, was dedicated in 1990. It would eventually become one of Orange County's highest structures at 236 feet. The entire complex is comprised of sharp and polished stainless steel prisms, mirror-like,  catching light from all directions. As I approached the sanctuary doors, I wondered if this was what Reverend Schuller meant when he eulogized, on television in 1980, that the project was "To the Glory of Man for the Greater Glory of God."  Honestly, all I could think about was how much this monument cost.
            I walked into the sanctuary and was literally stunned.  The space was more like Madison Square Garden, or Skydome, than a church for to worship a god. I instantly thought of the ancient Temple to Zeus in Olympia, Greece. Rather than marble and gold, glass and shine was everywhere. It was breathtaking and overwhelming. I was ushered to a seat in the back and I settled in for the service.
            As I looked out over the ocean of white that made up the congregation, I spotted tokens of color scattered here and there. Every pew was polished wood, every rail shining silver and bronze. Sunshine filled the space, captured by a ceiling of chiseled glass and steel. Fountains and fresh flowers filled each crevice of the enormous space with color and vibrant objects of attraction. The organ, the third largest church organ in the world, with over 16,000 individual pipes, stood as large as my parents’ home. Its sound echoed voices of Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's Cathedral in New York City. The powerful chant of ringing chimes sent shivers through my very being. How could one not be moved by such grandeur and display?
            The service was a spectacle. Country singers joined in with the choir to tell of God's love and compassion. Great words reverberated off the ceiling of glass as Reverend Schuller performed his show. By the time he finished, I felt more like I was at a concert than a church service. When they took up the tithe, the collection plates overflowed with American greenback. I kept waiting for God Himself to show up and do a little jig, but I assume they just couldn't book Him.
            The entire experience left me lacking. I just could not justify the monumental waste of resources as men starved out in the parking lot. This too left a bad taste in my mouth. Instead of being inspired, it was as if my heart was broken. I never understood how men of God spend so much time in His worship and so little time in His service. We house God and abandon those who have no home. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He warned us not to worship like men who stand to be seen by others. Perhaps somehow the messenger became the message and the kingdom cannot come.
            On October 18, 2010, the board of Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy. On November 17, 2011, a court ruled that the church building could be sold to the Diocese of Orange County. The Catholic diocese plans to lease the facility to Crystal Cathedral Ministries for three years, after which Crystal Cathedral Ministries may relocate to a nearby Catholic church facility. The diocese intends to then begin remodelling the interior of the building for use as its diocesan cathedral. A proper Cathedral for proper worship of the Lord.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Warning Signs

            I strongly believe that the people who come into our lives bring meaning and have purpose in doing so. Be it Divine intervention, destiny, or even serendipity, there is a plan, a reason, for the contact. From the stranger on the street to our family and friends, each person brings with them a unique experience all their own. We can learn from every one, no matter who they are. This capacity to affect, or to be affected, can be a gift or even a curse. Some people bring good with them while others may bring more negative forces. Regardless, when we interact with other human beings, there is a ripple effect.  Most times, we don’t even know it.
            These "unions" can be quite casual, mere moments in a lifetime. They can also be magnetic, a force which draws that which is unknown into a connection, an interaction for the length of the pull. There are also people we feel as if we know, never having met them. We do not recognize them, let alone having had the time to foster any sort of emotional response towards them. It is there nonetheless. People come and people go, but arguably, there are no true strangers.
            Sometimes we get involved with people, in spite of our best judgment. We know they mean trouble, but we cling to them anyway. Often, some of the people we meet are easily discarded. We won't become involved because we don’t have the time, or we have trust issues, or we just don’t give a damn. We don't realize the potential for growth when we have it. We heave away relationships like sandbags on the edge of a flooded plain.
            On occasion, there comes along a person who defies the rules of reason. We gain nothing of substance from them. As soon as they come, they go, never to be heard from again. We analyze, scrutinize and try to find some purpose in what once was, but the effect of the other left with them. They served nothing. They might as well never have been. The part of our lives that was for that moment, cannot be recycled. It has no value, not that it ever did. It is gone, lost to the wind, and we couldn't give a shit less.

To what end?    

            I met Enrico Charma around Christmastime 1995. A mutual acquaintance introduced us and we quickly became friends. Having just lost my first partner in February, and most of my friends that past summer, I was glad to have any friend, even though I never really felt comfortable with him. There was just something about him that I couldn't put my finger on. At 30 years old, I was lost. Although he was a few years younger than me, at 26, he still lived at home, was not openly gay, and was better than nothing to my mind.
            I never would have imagined that almost every relationship I had achieved would disappear when I came out of the closet. People I had known since public school treated me like I had never been. I no longer held value. I felt discarded, alone and was enveloped by grief. Enrico was a distraction, an avenue for escapism from the daily grind of waiting for God. He attended Althouse College, on the University of Western Ontario campus. His intention was to teach, music theory I believe. He was short, only 5 foot 5 inches, and very Italian. His best feature was his head hair. All black and thick and chiselled into place. Unfortunately, his European locks did not stop at his neckline. A dense coat of back bush blended less than discreetly with his chest and arm hair. My nickname for him was "Yeti." We were merely friends, and nothing more.
            In spite of my sense of caution, we evolved into rather good buddies. He became important on a social and intellectual level. I appreciated his warmth, his sense of humour and his taste in music. Still, there was an odd energy about him which I could not define. I was sure my admonitory reaction found basis in trust issues which developed when my spouse jumped off the side of a building. Regardless of any valid, or imagined, reason not to, I liked him and learned to ignore my precautionary, and conditioned, interpretation of the vibe he put out. It was good to feel wanted again.
            On the first anniversary of Doug's death, Enrico offered me a fully paid vacation to Vancouver come March 1996. There were no strings attached and the 7 days were a gift. We would be staying, for free, at his friend's home in Richmond, British Columbia, a suburb just south of Vancouver. We would have use of a car and could come and go as we please. While I had never been to the Canadian West Coast, I had been through Oregon and Washington State on previous journeys. Seattle was beautiful, so I assumed, correctly, that Vancouver would be too. I'll admit it felt nice to have someone, outside my family, get what had just happened to me and how it lingered like the smell of bad cheese. He reassured me that his gift was a donation to my recovery. It was the least he could do, considering the year just behind me.
            On Sunday, March 3rd, 1996, we boarded an Air Canada 767 and took our spot in coach. He kindly allowed me the window seat and joked that I could look for those angels I had been trying so hard to find. I was amused. Across the aisle, a woman named Karen gestured to us a good voyage. By the time we hit the West Coast, the three of us were stone drunk and best of friends. I could get along with anyone if tequila was involved.  As we approached our destination, we buckled our seat belts, adjusted our priorities and prepared for the landing.
            The airplane passed over Vancouver and seemed to be heading out over water. Suddenly, it steered like a U-turn, dropping down over the airport. I am sure it was the expensive booze that urged me on to vomit, but I stayed the course in spite of myself. We disembarked like silly fools, laughing and loving the moment. God, it felt good to be happy again, if only for the life of my buzz. We got our luggage and found a telephone so Enrico could call his friend to arrange for our pickup. I headed off to the restroom, leaving him to procure our reservations.
            Enrico looked at me in such a way that I checked my pants to confirm I had done up my zipper. I could tell, even from a distance, that something was amiss. Apparently, his "friend" did not think we were coming and made other plans. When I asked Enrico what the story was, all he would say was that he believed everything was good to go and confirmed well ahead of time. When I asked him if he called the day before, he simply whispered no. We stood piss drunk, homeless and unsure what to do. I felt like turning around and getting back on that plane, but there was really nothing I could do but curse, loudly.

"Now what are we supposed to do?" I asked.
"Find a phone book," he replied.

            The reason I chose the East Hastings Hotel had more to do with Doug's last name then it did with grand expectations. Any that the two of us might have had disappeared quickly when the cab pulled out front of the establishment. As we lingered out on the walk, intimidated by the dirty entrance, I noticed my surroundings. The shops seemed all boarded up, or at least run down. I wasn't sure, but it appeared that large groups of homeless people had gathered in spots up and down the concourse. On the corner, an ethnic flavour filled the space. It did not take long to realize it was an area reserved for the drug and vice trade. Almost everyone looked like they needed a bath. In fact, East Hastings Avenue, near downtown Vancouver, is considered one of the most impoverished urban areas in all of Canada. Not knowing this at the time, I just shook my head and bid Enrico to enter. The inside was worse than the outside.
            Although the price was right, $30 for the night, the ambiance created by old urine and mould did little to stay my welcome. With little choice, for the moment, we headed up to our room in the hopes of some reprieve. The common bathroom looked like it had once been flooded but no one bothered to clean it up. I can only imagine what the designer was thinking using only shades of chunky brown. Our room for the night was disgusting and I imagined that even a devil worshipper would feel out of sorts in its "glow". We decided quickly that we would stay one night, using the infested room as a storage spot for our belongings. We left most of what we had brought sitting on the one bed that came with the room. I prayed for their safety in my absence.
            We wandered through Vancouver proper, looking for the gay village. In 1996, I'm not even sure if Davies Street was considered a gay village, but it contained the only gay bars we could find and most of the shops seemed to target this niche segment of the city's population. Long before GPS or the smartphone, the Yellow Pages were our guide. We took East Hastings until it became West Hastings. From one side of the road to another, the difference was drastic. Even the garbage dare not show itself on the west side of the street. The damp and depressing poverty we had witnessed all about our hotel swiftly turned to the proverbial streets of gold.
            We followed Howe Street until it hit Davies, then followed the signs pointing to the beach. We jumped in and out of different bars, descending down the street towards Stanley Park. The fledgling community lacked the abundance of other gay districts such as 'the Castro' in San Francisco, or 'the Village' in Toronto, but you can always tell from the people on the street whether you have found the right area. It only took one drag queen to know we had reached our home away from home.
            Numbers was a busy place. The old wood floors and oak accents were hidden by one patron after another, each standing, adding to the space in both body and voice. You could hardly hear yourself think. For me, this was not a bad thing. I have never been comfortable in a place such as this, so I tried not to notice my surroundings. My spot at the bar became a vantage point in hoping to find Enrico, as he moved throughout the place. I just wanted to leave, but I couldn't just abandon him.
            In general, it's not that I have issue with gay bars. They were never high on my list of things to do. If you've seen one, you have pretty much seen them all. In my experience, it is not the place but those patrons who frustrate me so. I cannot count the amount of times I have been groped, without permission, by some random knob who decided he could just reach out and grab mine. If I'm not being assaulted, I am being asked to leave. Such things happen when people just won’t leave me alone. No means no for me too pal, not just your sister. I prefer to be fondled after consent is given. I'll admit the same free-flowing stereotypes one tends to find in these establishments make me cringe as if I'm standing in the middle of a Pride parade. I've never really fit into the atmosphere these environments tend to exude.
            As I sat waiting for Enrico, who had disappeared into the back rooms of the bar, I decided that I would retrieve my luggage come morning and check both of us into a nicer room. I wasn't comfortable staying someplace that moved about, on its own, when the lights went out. I had no idea what to do next, but at least I had a plan, a goal. I hoped to salvage the remains of our visit and explore the city I had heard so much about. The night grew late, and with a day of hiking around Stanley Park quickly dawning, I gestured to Enrico that I was about to leave. He approached me with the look I had seen hours before in the airport.  
            His new friend James had invited Enrico to spend the remains of the night with him. Enrico confirmed he would not be returning to East Hastings. Our plans to explore the park in the morning still intact, I left Enrico to his pleasure. I headed down Davies and wandered the streets at 1 a.m. When I got back to the hotel, Enrico's belongings were gone and so was my tolerance. The next day, and Stanley Park, would convince me that relying on someone else, and not yourself, was my error in this matter. I should have paid attention to the warning signs.
“We are threatened with suffering from three directions: from our own body, which is doomed to decay and dissolution and which cannot even do without pain and anxiety as warning signals; from the external world, which may rage against us with overwhelming and merciless forces of destruction; and finally from our relations to other men. The suffering which comes from this last source is perhaps more painful than any other.” (Sigmund Freud)


BC Place
Vancouver, British Columbia
March 5th 1996