How I Moved to Northampton

A year has past since my second heart attack and I’ve been in Northampton with my partner DK for six months now. The journey here ended up being bizarre and unworldly. Living in San Francisco and working with people that had family in Asia, I had an inkling in February that there was a pandemic in China. My office was next to the break room so I overheard co-worker’s phone conversations home about the sick and dying piling up in hospitals due to a new disease. News was trickling out piecemeal. DK mailed me sanitizer, because by then it was being snatched up on all the stores in San Francisco. I spent one afternoon decanting it into smaller containers for travel and for my friends.

I’d been planning the move to live with DK for months. DK and I had rented an apartment in Northampton in the beginning of February, and my daughter, Katie, and her partner, Kirk were flying in from Ohio to help me move. Kirk is a country boy, a home cook, and a foodie. He had never flown and spent the three months before the Grand Adventure researching restaurants in San Francisco. The plan was that I would take a week off before they arrived to say good-bye to San Francisco, they would come on Monday and spend a few glorious days eating their way through the city, we would load a Penske truck on Friday, then Katie and Kirk would drive my belongings across county to Massachusetts. My 15-year-old Maine Coon cat, Lulu and I would board a plane, fly to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, get picked up by DK at the airport, go to our new apartment, and see Katie and Kirk in a few days. Of course, this was not how it went down.

In the end, the store that I worked for put off hiring someone to replace me until the last minute, so I couldn’t flâneur my way through Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden, pecan roll in one hand and a coffee in the other. Instead, I spent my last free week in my basement office training my replacement. As I took the F streetcar home one last time, I spied a busker playing his violin on Market Street. It seems a fitting goodbye to the city that I’d loved for so many years.

My last day at work was March 13th and San Francisco went into pandemic shut-down on Monday the 16th. Katie and Kirk changed their flight to arrive on Monday instead of Tuesday and we frantically moved everything back, fearful that we might not be able to rent moving trucks if we waited. I was fortunate that one of my oldest friends held my hand throughout the entire pandemic-moving mishegas. We had no idea how the pandemic would pan out, how long it would last, and what the new restrictions would be. In hindsight, we were sweetly naive.

Lulu and I changed our flight to Thursday instead of Friday, worried that flights would become limited or even disallowed. Then our flight was cancelled due to a Covid outbreak in one of the air controller towers in our layover city, Chicago. Fortunately, we were able to book a later flight. With the help of my friends, we hurriedly loaded the moving truck to the eerie silence of emptying city streets. Katie, Kirk, and I took one last drive through the city, ending at Ocean Beach. We drove past my beloved Botanical Garden where I’d done so much writing and daydreaming, but by then it was already locked up, with one lone visitor standing at the green metal gates, clenching the bars and looking forlornly inside.

On Thursday afternoon, Lulu and I raced to off SFO, Katie driving. I took one last selfie at SFO, looking and feeling stunned.

Despite her age and shyness, Lulu was a champ. Occasionally, there would be the tiniest, squeaky meow from her carrier causing people at the airport to startle, but that was it for the entire eight hour trip. It seemed that Lulu was born for adventure.

Lulu and I arrived in Northampton in the middle of the night on Friday, March 20th and Northampton went into pandemic lockdown on Monday the 23rd. Lulu was excited on Friday morning, never having spied upon squirrels or seen snow before. Katie and Kirk arrived a few days later, having valiantly driven 3,000+ miles in the middle of what turned out to be a global pandemic and coming into Northampton in the middle of the last snow storm of the season.

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It still feels unreal; leaving San Francisco, the pandemic and  lockdown, finally being with DK, and living in Northampton. Moving in the first days of the pandemic has been traumatic; both San Francisco and Northampton feel dreamlike, neither their true selves, but ghost-like cities. Both here and not here. And then there’s our political and cultural upheaval, which has only gotten more intense with each passing day, each passing hour.

Lulu has been the constant in my life, helping me adjust to so much change. I adore her joyous enjoyment of small town life; fresh air redolent with the scent of chipmunks and pine trees, early morning birdsong, and basking in the love of two mommies.

More to come….

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The Solstice Gift Won the NLA 2020 Pauline Reage Novel Award!

The Solstice Gift, just won the the 2020 Pauline Reage Novel Award from the National Leather Association (NLA). It feels amazing and a little surreal to have my kinky, queer, and strange little book recognized by the NLA.

I started writing more about my complicated feeling around this, but erased everything. What I do know for sure is that I love to write and I enjoy BDSM…and I’m honored by this award.

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1/6/2020 – A Golden Dream

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1/6/2020 – The day begins before dawn. It begins in my dreams; we live together, awash in the pale golden light of love. We glide through our cottage, the air thick with domesticity and desire. Birds dine on sunflower seeds on our kitchen windowsill. They’re singing and chirping, making bird noises that you translate for me as our coffee brews.

I wake, tentative. I snuggle in my cocoon, Francy purring under the quilt. I turn to you, my hips and legs moving carefully as not to disturb the cat, and I reach out to pull you closer.

It’s 3:30 am and Australia is no longer burning. Rain falls gently over the ashes, washing the pain away. It’s peaceful in Shiraz, the early morning streets bustling with chadored housewives buying fresh naan for breakfast.

But there is no you there; no solid, warm flesh to grab. No snores and slowly blinking eyes awakening. No soft belly and no tender nipples. I listen to my heart flutter and skip, beating my dreams away and sending them to rest, until the daytime passes and I can dream again.

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12/28/2019 – Francy the Cat Moonbathes

12/28/2019 – Francy has found a spot in the bay window to moonbathe, the tufts of dark fur between her pink toes perky and her green eyes half shut. She’s a chunky cat, sturdy but mainly fur, not fat. Her soft belly slops down over the back of the leaf green velvet side chair and she’s frames by linen curtains, the pale, glowing moonlight shining through the night. I’m packing up Christmas decorations, wrapping them in gold speckled tissue paper before storing them in my wooden pirate chest. It’s bittersweet to do this chore alone, but for the company of a large half-asleep cat. The tissue paper crinkles and Francy’s ears twitch in annoyance, so I turn on Marlene Dietrich’s greatest hits. “Can a woman like Marlene even have greatest hits?” I muse, as I tenderly wrap a glass goldfinch ornament with a long feathered tail. It seems trite to apply the popish term “greatest hits” to a Nazi fighter. Marlene glares at me from the cover of the album, equal parts fierce and sultry. I tuck the goldfinch next to a slightly tarnished bluebird as I sing along to “The Boys in the Backroom” Francy does not join in, but the phone rings, and suddenly I’m not as lonely.

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12/24/2019 – A Killing in the Building

12/24/2019 – I get ready for sleep, undressing and slipping between my worn flannel sheets. The apartment still smells of baking cheese from the gratin and I cannot hear my neighbors. It’s an old apartment, built in 1906, the year of the Great Earthquake. The walls are thick, but haunted.

There was at least one murder in the building and sometimes late at night I think it. The killing happened at 10:10 am on March 24, 1927. I don’t know which apartment number, so I wonder if they were killed in my cozy apartment. All accounts are somewhat nebulous. Mrs. Klatt and her pal Mrs. Vera Olsen, were both murdered first thing in the morning by Roy, a handsome pugilist and a petty gangster, after Mrs. Klatt demanded that Roy stop chasing her 15-year-old daughter, Genevieve. Genevieve was upstairs visiting neighbors at the time. The mother was shot as she opened the apartment door to the killer, and Vera was shot while in her bed. Roy was arrested for the double murder by San Francisco police Officer O’Brien two days later. Roy’s ex-wife, Lettie, denounced him as a “beast and a brute” in the courts and he’d been arrested for beating another 15-year-old girl a few years earlier. Roy was a bad egg, that’s for sure. I lie in bed, covered by quilts and think about murder. I wonder about Mrs. Klatt’s first name. None of the news articles give it, only her husband’s first name. Somehow I don’t think her name was “Fred.”
 
Thinking about murder makes me nod off, but then I wake up early in the morning, the way that old folks do, that restless slipping out of sleep, discarding all dreams as frivolous. Waking at 3:30 am, I hear the clip-clop of ghostly horse hooves rounding the corner in front of my apartment and want to rush outside to join them. Is it Roy?

“I don’t know
Why some say that the horse is a noble animal, the pigeon is beautiful
And why no vulture dwells in any person’s cage
I wonder why the clover is interior to alfalfa
One must wash eyes, look differently to things words must be washed
The word must be wind itself, the word must be the rain itself”
From “The Water’s Footsteps” by Sohrab Sepehri

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