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Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 2: The Bat Signal

the bat signal
By Tony Yamashiro

Monday 19, October 1998. Los Angeles, California to San Francisco, California

Dear David- There was a knock at my parent’s front door and when I opened the door I was greeted by a tall blonde FedEx messenger standing there holding a courier envelope addressed to me. I signed for my new life and quickly ripped open the envelope with its hidden treasures.

In the deep pocket was a hard copy flight ticket and nothing else. No itinerary, no note welcoming me to my new life, no nothing.

I looked at my flight time and much to my shock my flight was in 4 hours, it’s at least 2 hours to the airport on a good day.

Crap! Okay…I was packed and ready to go…Don’t panic. I called Don, my best friend who offered to give me a ride to the airport and said, “The Bat Signal is up”!

As I sat in the passenger’s seat looking at my plane ticket thinking for the thousandth time I say to myself, “What the hell did I sign up for”? I looked over at my best friend and once brief lover who is fighting the many emotions of road rage of the morning Los Angeles traffic.

Don and I grew up together and he has been more of a brother and a consistent in my life more than my real brother. That closeness naturally developed into a passion that burned itself out as quickly as it developed. Sadly, he was able to move on…I was still carrying a torch for him as bright as the Hindenburg Disaster.

After my husband passed away Don was my life raft in an endless ocean of emotions of my life being ripped apart.

Focused on the “somewhat” ever flowing traffic of the 405 with its 12 lanes of congested LA commuters, Don breaks my focus by saying, “Are you sure you know what you are signing up for?”
Bastard, why does he always know what I’m thinking?

Instead, I said, “I think so, after closing up my costume rental shop after 5 years of building a successful business in Allentown. You know why I moved back home with my folks? I needed to regroup after I ended a 4-year loveless relationship. I needed a new start.

The one thing I’ve always loved about working in theater is that with each new project is a new start, a new show to explore; a new beginning is always just round the corner.

As we are drawing closer to the airport I am building my confidence by repeating to myself, “this is exactly what I need to do for myself”’ Don flips on his signal in preparation to take the airport exit and we merge into the next set of traffic lanes leading to the departing levels of the LAX. With his focus still on the road, he says in a soft low voice, “please don’t go”.

Why do people do that?

I look at my best friend and say, “Don, there is nothing for me here. I can’t go back to doing freelance creation work and waking up in the middle of the night in hotel rooms that all look the same and trying to remember what city I’m in, let alone what project I was working on.”

“I don’t want to go back to living my life setting up shows, fighting the same fights with designers, directors, and producers. Creating a fantasy escape for other people to watch and experience.”

“I want to be in my own fantasy escape”.

The traffic in front of us began moving again. Don now looks directly at me with hurt and sad eyes, “I’m not talking about work, I am talking about us”.

I take a beat before saying, “Don, there hasn’t been an ‘us’ in some time. Are you saying that you are finally ready to live a life as an openly gay man and that we can actually tell people that we are a couple?”

“I’m not sure, but I don’t want you to go”, he wipes away a tear and focuses back on the road.

I’ve been here before with Don and the memories of endless nights once again start haunting me….’Maybe this time, maybe this time it will be different.”

We both stare at the traffic for what feels like a life time.

“I can’t wait for you to sort out your thoughts about who we are Don, you have to decide who you are before you bring someone else into your life”, I said in a low voice trying to just focus on the road in front of us. In most respects, Don was my first love before my husband. But until he is able to find himself there can’t be an “us”.

“Don, I have lived my life for so many people because I thought that was the only way I had to find love.

I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.

A leap of faith without all the boxes checked off is what your life needs to grows and you have to trust in yourself that you will make it to the other side, hopefully not as scarred than when you began. Now I have to live life for myself”.

We pull into the loading and unloading lane and I quickly get out of the truck. I sort out my sewing machine travel case and my suitcase before I change my mind and stay. Don gets out of the truck and awkwardly stands in front of me with his hands in the pockets of his jeans.

We look at each other for what feels like an eternity without speaking. I break the silence by pulling him into an embrace.

At first he keeps his hands in his pockets and then he wraps his arms around me and hugs me tighter than ever before.

Without looking at each other I say, “Goodbye Old Friend”.

Don’t miss any Tales Of Cruise Ship Life excerpts from The Floating City of Misfit Toys by Tony Yamashiro:

Continue reading Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 3: Hello, My Old Friend

Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 1: Dream

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