Now I Just Need an Extra $200,000

11.26.12

When Steven asked me if I wanted to go flying with him I didn’t ask where we were going. I didn’t care.

The last time I was in a small plane a truly small plane, smaller than commercial, was September 17, 1995. One of the men I worked with had a small plane and he took his wife, a friend of mine and me to Nevada for the weekend. It was an old plane and a slow plane but he loved it and we all fit comfortably, had a decadent weekend and then flew home. On the way back I got to hold the control wheel for a minute or so and it was exhilarating.

I loved the feeling it gave me and hope one day to feel that again. Well actually I hope to have an extra two hundred thousand dollars laying around so I can get the plane I want along with some lessons (I’d totally forego ever having a butler if Mr. G would buy me a plane).

Of course after I hopped off that airplane more than 17 years ago I went to go meet some friends and have a drink. It was my first date with Mr. G. It’s possible that all those good feelings are completely intertwined for me and I have no idea which part of it made me feel so joyful. I just know that it was a very happy day.

On Sunday morning there was fog at the Santa Monica Airport. In fact there was so much fog that no planes were taking off and since the original plan was to fly to San Diego we had to decide on a new place to go. Somewhere closer since we weren’t going to be taking off at 10am as planned. So we sat in the car to wait and eat warm potato tacos from a ham tin.

We even talked about maybe not going at all because it was so foggy but my hair came to the rescue. I am absolutely convinced that my perfectly blow dried hair singlehandedly captured all the humidity in the air so that the clouds would part and we could take off.

We got a look at the planes and were relieved to find out we weren’t going in this one

 

We did finally get up and go and found ourselves in a Cherokee that was just right. In fact my yellow pants matched it’s yellow stripe and my spiky shoes were just perfect with the rudder pedals.

 

I never thought to be nervous because Steven (who can be ridiculous) is deadly serious when he talks about flying. In fact I even got a lecture about how the FAA was worse than the TSA and there would be no Instagramming at 6,000 feet. The term “social media bullshit” may or may not have been bandied about. William and I dutifully nodded and promised to behave. I was only shusshed a few times, we were as good as two fools could be.

Flying low is beautiful. I spent an hour with my head craning down over the city that I love looking for homes I used to live in (found and photographed), parks I ran around and boulevards I drive daily. I loved flying over a wind farm and the Mojave Desert. Apparently the Mojave Airport serves a parking lot of sorts for aircraft not being used at LAX.

When we got to Kern County the airport is sort of tucked away in a corner beyond a lake and in a valley. I was happy that Steven didn’t tell us that the landing made him nervous until we were safely there and eating lunch.

Here’s the airport.

No, really, that’s the whole airport. The lady who runs the snack bar is sweet as can be and is also from Manhattan Beach. Her son is younger than I am by two years (okay four… shut up) so we just missed each other growing up there.

 

And no trip would be complete without a picture of our fearless captain.

If you want to see all 254 pictures, they’re here.

Tony Called and Delayed My Duck Confit

06.16.11

So I’m standing around at the cheese shop waiting for my Duck Confit sandwich to be ready and I’m grumpy as can be because no matter how many times I say please and thank you the folks who work at the cheese shop never say please or thank you. They have the most beautiful food but the most hideous manners, and I want both good food and good manners but I can’t seem to find it anywhere but the Beverly Hills Cheese Store, and I married for love so I don’t live in Beverly Hills.

Had I been anywhere where the help says things like Please and Thank You I never would have answered my phone when it rang, but it rang and it was a 415 number that ended in 00 which can only be someone from San Francisco calling me from their office, which can only mean a paying client.

So I answered the phone with, “This is Jessica.” And an unfamiliar man’s voice said, “Jessica, did you work in a tanning salon in West Hollywood?” As I gasped he said his name was Tony and I might have screeched a little. Tony kept talking but I was busy watching a movie in my mind. In the movie I was 22 or maybe 23 and Tony and I were driving down Sunset Blvd in my little red convertible and we were both probably too tan, wearing too much makeup and not enough clothes. We were both at the height of our beauty and completely surrounded by people who loved us.

My Tony Circa 1993

Tony was part of my early 20’s and one of the men who taught me how to love. He taught me how to love the people around me, to love my town, to love the moment, to love the opportunities around me and to love myself. When I think of Tony I think of Springtime.

I gathered myself together and asked all the questions you’d ask someone after a long separation. Where are you living? Are you married? Work? Friends? Do you have an above ground pool and drag queen friends? And the answers were San Francisco, happily married, photographer, many friends, yes to the pool, and more yeses to the drag queens. I really have to research this whole Imperial Court thing.

And my heart soared a little more. I gave Tony the Cliff Notes version of my 30’s, husband, two kids, dog, cat, a career that doesn’t really have a name, grad school, love, heartbreak and Steven died. He said, “I know, I heard, but I couldn’t come down for the funeral.” And then I told him that there really wasn’t much of one here, that it was all in Mississippi and it wouldn’t have offered closure anyhow. And I felt that familiar stabbing pain of missing Steven. I told Tony that Steven and Robert loved my kids, and that my kids loved them back. For some reason it was really important to let him know that.

So now I’m poring through photos of Tony and his husband Brian and I’m thinking of making Brian’s Piroshkis, but I’m much more likely to invite myself up there for a weekend and demand beg that he cooks for me.

We’ve connected in all the usual ways that people connect online, except I think it’s unusual because so many of those people we lost and left behind were people we needed to move away from, and Tony wasn’t one of those. I’m excited to have Springtime come back to me.