Seattle Part 7: Halloween in the Big Gay House

November, 2014

After a little over a month in my new city, I accepted an invitation to live with a couple of new friends in their large home. They had a spare room open, and the rent was affordable. It was a brand new beginning once again.

I moved in at the beginning of November, on a week end day, and as I unloaded boxes, I had this sense that I was being given another chance to do things right. This could be my college years, those I had missed out on the first time around. I’d been so caught up in Mormonism that I had drowned myself in church, missionary service, school, and work. In college, I had never dated, never sat around with friends on the couch getting high and laughing at movies, never cuddled with a guy who stayed over late. I’d had roommates, but I’d been deep in the closet then, inauthentic. And here, a house of young attractive professionals, who seemed to live the very life I’d been looking for. There was a hot tub, and a big kitchen, and everyone seemed confident and fun. They called it the Big Gay House.

I’d only been there for a few hours and was barely settling in when I learned the roommates planned to go out for the evening to the local gay bars to celebrate Halloween. It was a few days after the holiday, but they assured me everyone would be dressed up and ready for a very fun evening of drinking and dancing. I’d been out to the clubs a few times since I’d moved here, but never with a group of friends like this. I had very fond memories of dancing with my friends in Utah, and this sounded delightful.

So that evening, after it got dark, I put on my slightly scandalous boxer costume: red silky shorts, boxing gloves, a red cape over my shoulders, and a black stripe drawn over my nose. I was shirtless, and wore tennis shoes, and it was cold outside, but I was working hard at becoming more comfortable in my body, and this seemed like a nice chance to celebrate.

The roommates offered to drive to the club, knowing a good place to park, and as we headed outside I realized how briskly chilly it was, and how little I was wearing. We laughed together and soon arrived at the club. I reminded the guys that I didn’t have a house key yet, and asked how late they wanted to stay out, and they said they would play it by ear.

An hour later, I was on the dance floor, slowly sipping a vodka cranberry and dancing with a very cute guy, when I looked up and realized I couldn’t see my new friends anywhere. I kept dancing for another 30 minutes or so before excusing myself. I scanned the dance floor, the patio, the bar, and the sidewalk outside the club and couldn’t find them anywhere. I sent a text, asking where they were, and thirty minutes later I got the answer that they had decided to walk to another club, Neighbors, one about a half mile away. “Sorry we didn’t tell you! Must have forgot!”

Frustrated, I clutched my arms around myself in the cold and briskly walked to the next club, where I paid a cover fee to get in. This club was packed full, but mostly with straight couples, I realized. I saw the roommates out on the dance floor, dancing and drinking, clearly enjoying themselves. They saw me and gave me huge enthusiastic hugs, and the evening went on from there. I danced, had a second drink, and relaxed into the evening, as I watched the predatory behavior of a few straight college guys chasing girls around the dance floor, the girls pretending to be demure. I’d never been in a club like this, gays openly dancing among the straight guys, the music blaring, the drinks strong, and most of the room in costume. It was magical in its way. But as 2 am rolled around, this being much much later than I normally stay out, I began to get very tired. I looked around and realized that, once again, the roommates were gone.

Over the next 30 minutes, multiple text messages went unanswered. They were gone. I walked back to where we had parked the car, and it too was gone. They’d left me there. Simply forgotten me.

It was now past freezing outside, and I began to realize I didn’t have a key. I opened my phone up and got an Uber, barely remembering my  new address to get home. A few minutes later, I was at my new home, the roommate’s car in the driveway. The house was dark. I walked up to the front door, where I could see one of the roommates passed out on the couch. The other must be asleep in his room upstairs. It was nearly 3 am now.

I knocked. I rang the doorbell. I knocked again. Then on the window. I shouted through the window. More doorbell. I called both of their phones and could hear them ringing. More doorbell. More knocking. Finally, the roommate on the couch looked up, stumbled to the door to unlock it and let me in, and then walked, without a word, up the stairs to sleep.

I entered the house, shivering, and closed the door to my new home behind me. This was my first night here. I hadn’t even unpacked my suitcase. I’d been forgotten, left outside. I’d wanted the adventures of a college student, and, well, I guess this is what it was going to be like. Drunken dancing until 3 am? Left behind by friends? Shivering on a front porch in only a pair of shorts in the middle of the night? Is this what I had been after?

In my new room, I pulled the covers up over myself. I was simmering with self-shame, with anger. I was 35 years old. I’d given up most everything to come here, to find myself. A thousand miles away, my sons slept in their small beds. I missed them so much that I physically ached. And what had it all been for? This?

I closed my eyes, exhausted. But before I fell asleep, I vowed to myself anew that I would become healthy. Strong. I would do it on my terms. For me. For them.




This weekend I signed up to be an Uber driver. As if I’m not busy enough.

The idea is appealing. I can log on when I want to, accept the fares that I want to, and make a bit of extra cash during times when I don’t have my kids or when I’m not at work. I had to send in copies of my vehicle insurance and driver’s license, and get my car inspected, then I had to download a driver app.

And so, on Saturday night, after my plans ended, I opened up the app and clicked ‘go online’ for the first time. “Well, here we go,” I thought.

Within seconds, the app rang loudly and I pushed a button that told me the first name and the location of the person I would be drive, but there was nothing about them or where they were going. I clicked a key that gave me driving directions toward her and began working my way through the complicated downtown traffic, made much worse by a police cordon; I later learned the police had shot a young black male and people had had a small riot over it.

Soon I picked up a young woman with spiky gelled hair and a thick leather jacket. She was on the phone. She piled into my front seat, said “take me to the nearest grocery store” without actually looking at me, then returned to her phone call as I drove her a few blocks away. “Listen, mom, grandma has been a grumpy bitch for years , even before she got the cancer. But I’m telling you if there is one thing I know about it’s pot. Drive her to Colorado, get her some medical marijuana, and watch–she’s gonna cheer up and get happy, feel better, and it will cure her cancer. Trust me.”

I dropped her off, closed the fare (about $4, all sent electronically) and got another ping, soon driving to pick up a middle-aged couple who wanted to try out a new trendy bar. After driving a sad, very drunk girl home from another bar nearby, I logged off the app and went home, that was enough to start.

But seven hours later, I was back at it at 5 am. I drove a man home to his wife after he’d been out all night drinking, and he hoped his wife wasn’t angry with him. I drove a couple home from a friend’s house, where they had stayed up all night partying, and we went up and down the streets until they could find where they had parked their car. I drove three men from India to the nearest Wal-Mart… so they could get haircuts. I drove a woman from Peru to her job at an architect firm.

At 2 pm, I drove a very drunk couple back to their apartment. The woman rolled down all the windows, sang loudly to the radio, and kept calling me Chad Michael Murray as she reminded me, repeatedly, that it was “Sunday, Funday.”

I drove two teenage girls to the mall, and they hoped their mother wouldn’t find out they were going to a business on a Sunday. I drove a moustached woman all in leather to her job at a call center, and a very shy man from Pakistan to his job in a kitchen. I drove a man with a major nosebleed all the way up to Snowbird Ski Resort so he could meet some friends, then drove a couple of economics professors back from there to the Airport so they could catch their plane.

North, South, East, West, on the freeway and off, turning around in driveways, passing slowly over speedbumps, through yellow lights and stopped at greens.

Out of 25 fares, I got two tips for five dollars each, and by day’s end, I had earned about $250. Not bad for a first time driver, I thought.

I stretched heavily, my back sore from a full day in the car, my head spinning at all the people I had met, and I calculated getting out of debt and all of the things I could do then.

I went to bed exhausted, then woke in the morning, my finger already on the Uber button.