"The first time ever I saw your face..." I know I heard that while I was driving, and I believe it was nighttime. We lived in a town about 20 miles from San Antonio, so San Antonio was where I drove frequently. I went to UTSA. I think that's when it started.
"I thought the sun rose in your eyes..." Driving the familiar road to school – a place I was supposed to go – on days that I didn't work, my mind began to move around inside its shell. I should probably have gone to a different school, studied something more practical, not worked as much, but I didn't have a lot of guidance or role models. A frustrated father who pretty much hated everybody and couldn't work for anybody – that was my role model. I knew I wanted Not That. Not an incredibly specific site to be aiming at.
I had discovered myself at work – at a grocery store. Small town grocery stores in the 80's and 90's were their own kind of social club. People leaving work would stand at their trucks or cars talking, and in about 15 minutes there would be a crowd of people around that truck. The tailgate would be pulled down and people sitting on it. Tailgating. I hadn't had much of a social life in school, so this was where I learned to interact with people. I had my first experience with friends, with approval, with infatuation, with knowing what it was to be a gay man in a straight world. I'm not sure which was the most powerful. The approval seems to have been the more damaging because it held me back – made me feel safe rather than feeling like I wanted to grow, to learn.
"And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave, to the dark and the endless skies..." As I drove, either to school, back home, to go out to clubs or just to drive around for hours because I could, my mind would wander around, thinking about this man or that, thinking about work, thinking about my family or just thinking about what would happen if I took the next exit to whatever city was on the road-sign, if I took that exit and drove. What if I just drove there, to that city, and never looked back? Thinking about it made the immense weight on my chest flutter a little bit at the edges. On those times that I drove into the night, which I did regularly and without any direction, I could get a glimpse of what it would feel like to be free. Free from the worry, the guilt, the hurt and all of those things that had weighed on my soul for as long as I could remember. The sign above the road indicating a distant city and the next exit, that sign meant possibility, a new life, a dream that was always just out of my reach. But, it was, in its own unclear, undefined way, hope.