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4. Traveling Alone

London, May 27, 1995

This is my first attempt at putting anything down on
paper. I'm afraid if I don't write something down I
won't remember anything. I've been spending nights at
a small pension a few blocks from the hospital. Thank
God Stefan is here now. I don't think I'd survive
without Stefan! He took the room just across the hall
from mine. Adriano has been spending the nights at the
hospital with Rob. It's really better that way. I
would be totally useless if I didn't get some sleep. I
force myself to eat when there is no appetite. I force
myself to lie on my back in the bed when I feel I'm
too exhausted to even sleep. Each morning I wake up
with a feeling of impending doom that I find
impossible to shake. I force myself to eat breakfast,
gagging on every bite as I swallow past the permanent
lump in my throat.

Directly across the road from the hospital is a
cemetery. On the same side of the street I am forced
to walk past a place where they make headstones for
graves. I try to ignore them, but they seem to jump
out at me to say, "you can't run away from this
truth!" In the hospital hallway just before the exit
to the street is an entrance to the morgue. I see a
vision of Rob being pushed down that hallway on a
gurney. What has happened to my power of denial? Where
is it when I need it the most? For ten months that
blister on Rob's foot kept telling us to wake up to
the truth. We finally found a doctor in London who was
able to make the blister go away last October. Now we
have returned to London to face the truth!

London, June 1, 1995

Rob has died today. There is no more Rob and Bob! I
thought I knew the meaning of grief before, but I was
wrong. I thought I knew the concept of pain before,
but I was wrong! Rob has died today and some part of
me has also died. My biggest fear is that I will live
a long life. How will I possibly endure this feeling
for so long? It's hard to imagine that it will ever go
away. Today I understand so many things that were
nothing more than words and concepts before. Today I
understand the true meaning of love. 

Mürzzuschlag, Austria October 17, 1995

I am in a small mountain village south of Vienna. I am
lulled to sleep at night by the sound of rushing water
in the Mürz river which passes about 100 feet from my
window. It is so close I can feel the dampness of the
cold water as I lie in my bed. Even though it is
mid-October, we are high enough to still get sunshine
everyday. I spend two hours each afternoon lying on
the balcony catching the last rays of sunshine before
the sun sets behind the mountain at about 2:15 PM.
This is the time when people take walks to the eastern
part of the village where there are still park benches
that remain in the sunshine for a little longer. I can
see that the locals are counting the days before their
long cold winter sets in.

I am staying with my friend Stefan, his wife Marianne
and their daughter Veronica who will be two years old
on January 1st. Stefan is the doctor who came to
London to be with Rob in the last days of his life. It
is hard to believe that Rob died just four months ago.
I really appreciate being here participating in a
family setting. It helps me to be able to distract
myself from this overwhelming grief. I have taught
Veronica a few words in English and she is teaching me
a few new expressions in German. Stefan and Marianne
are translating my book, "Speaking Into The Silence"
into German. It's an interesting process since I'm
also having German conversations with Veronica when
we are left alone together. Stefan studies in Vienna and
I have use of his train pass on Mondays, Wednesdays,
Saturdays and Sundays. Rob and I have about eleven
friends in Vienna. I'd like to see them all if

We had a gathering in Berlin to watch the memorial
video I had made for Rob. I showed the collection of
his artwork that I brought along. In my two months in
Berlin I met with twenty-three of our friends. This
was just weeks after his death, and it was not an easy
thing for me to do. But after the incredible support
and love I've received, I am sure I'm doing the right
thing. I will dedicate this year to Rob. I will go to
all the places we have been together while I'm still
protected by shock. I am writing a book about our life
together using Rob's journals and my diary. In April,
1996 many of our friends will gather in Loutro for a
memorial for Rob. I will spread his ashes in the
castle ruins where we taught yoga. I hope this will
provide some kind of closure.

There are so many moments when I feel totally lost.
That is why I have to be with friends right now!
Sometimes I just fall to pieces without warning. I
worry about the toll this takes on my health. People
say time heals everything. I'm not sure I believe that
yet. I'm like a tightrope walker in the circus. I
balance myself on the wire trying to keep from falling
with the weight of memories on one end of the pole and
an uncertain future on the other end of the pole. I
thought I was prepared for anything life could throw
my way. I never allowed myself to consider this. I am
totally unprepared! I am totally in shock! I merely
exist between moments of recognition of what has
happened, waiting for the next wave of shock to
protect me until I'm strong enough to face the truth.

Koh Samui, January 1996

A dream in my wooden bungalow.

I could hear the sound of a small animal gnawing at
the outside of the wooden enclosure I was in. It was
pitch black, so the only way I could see was to use my
hands to survey the small space that was my prison. I
had no recollection of how I had come to be in this
place. I had memories of my life, but they were thrown
about in disorder. There was no way to know which
memory was my last. There was an odor of antiquity
that brought me to a memory of my grandmother's attic
when I was a small child. I used to crawl about in the
attic even though it was forbidden. Suddenly a tiny
ray of light pierces the darkness with a stinging
brilliance. I am aware that I am in my bungalow in
Maenam. The gnawing of the animal continues inside the
space in the wall at the head of my bed.

I am awake now, but I still reside in a place that is
defined by imagination. I fall back into the dream
where I imagine that the tiny pieces of sawdust
falling onto my face have turned into snowflakes. I am
inside the box again gasping for air. I press my face
onto the tiny hole where the ray of moonlight has
penetrated the darkness. I suck fresh air into my
lungs with the desire of a newborn who suckles his
mother's breast. But the hole is too small. I fall
into an unconscious state where even dreams do not

The silent darkness is interrupted when I open my
eyes. I find myself laying on a blanket under a tree.
A man with black curly hair and green eyes is kneeling
beside me. He presses his lips on mine and pushes air
into my lungs. He smiles when he notices my eyes are
opened. "For a moment there I thought I had lost you,"
he said. He asked about Rob's ring on my finger. He
wanted to know about my life. I couldn't remember my
life. All I could remember was his lips on mine. I
wanted to feel them again.

Maenam, February, 1996

I try to remember the smell of clean sheets fresh from
a soft summer breeze. As the sun makes its way across
the equatorial sky it augments the stench of stagnant
water, urine and rotting flesh. I cannot look at the
pigs heads, the chicken or beef, piles of corpses laid
before me. Flies circle like bombers dodging
anti-aircraft fire while the vendors fan them away in
a futile attempt to make their offerings acceptable
for consumption. I am too weak to incorporate the
cultural challenge.

In my moment of acceptance there appears a man
disguised as a teacher. He tells me in a familiar tone
of arrogance, how everything I perceive as bad I am
responsible for creating. "You don't see the magic
because you don't want to see the magic," he explains.
I have no energy to engage him. I allow him to see me
as ignorant. In this moment he really is my teacher
because I do see the magic. I see that he has come to
teach me the concept of compassion for another's
suffering. It is consciousness that allows me to
experience my process without judgment.

As I walk along the beach I notice a ship on the
horizon that slips behind the mountain as it sails
toward Nathon. I hear the sound of the surf whispering
as it slaps the hot sand with its cooling wave. I can
hear it speaking to me in a measured rhythm. Choose,
choose, choose! A bird sails down the shore and my
consciousness attaches to its rigid wings. We ride the
soft breezes that inhale and exhale like the breath of
the gods. The teacher appears again from beyond the
trees. The bird swoops down and "splat" on the left
shoulder. "Shit!" he exclaims as he attempts to remove
the stain with sea water. He seems shaken, almost
angry. Doesn't he know it's good luck? I have learned
my lesson well. I hold back the laughter and help him
remove the stain.

April 1996, Loutro


Sometimes the pain feels so unbearable I think I can’t go
on, but then I realize the pain is all I have left of you.
I understand the concept of healing very clearly. I know
I can open to let you in, then you will be with me forever.
I must accept that you have gone from the physical world,
that you will never return to me in the physical form. Only
then will true healing begin. I know all of this intuitively, but
I am not ready. My mind will not allow me to remember
your last breath very clearly. It still believes you are waiting
around the next corner. I keep turning one corner after
another to find more memories and heartbreak. I will keep
turning corners until I find the road to my new life.
Throughout the journey my hand is held empty in the
memory of touching yours, waiting to be filled with the gift
I know you have wished upon me through your love.

I wish I could be the first to find the words that could
accurately describe love! Perhaps then I could speak them
slowly and they would fill the void I feel in your absence.
My soul recognizes we are inseparable for we are one and
part of the same whole. But my thoughts and memories of
you make me long for you to manifest once again in the flesh,
even though I have witnessed your flesh without your spirit
and experienced the joy of your spirit entering my heart.
But memory still makes me long for you in the flesh, speaking
to me, touching me. Even though I know it in my heart, it is
hard for me to accept that when I look at others I am looking
at a reflection of myself. I cannot accept that we are all the
same, for then I must accept that death is not a bad thing. In
this moment death is pain and loneliness. I cannot accept that
you are without form, because I am selfish and cannot accept
that I have the capacity to love everyone as I have loved you.
I want you for my own so I can once again pretend that it was
you who kept me grounded in the temporal world. It is a hard
lesson to be the one left behind struggling with the will to live,
when letting go of life seems so tempting. I am learning each
day, the way of  spirit. I hear your voice in my head. I see
the not so subtle signs you throw on my path. But I am stubborn,
hanging on to memories, longing to recreate everything that was
wonderful about our life together. Please be patient with me, for
it is nearly impossible for those you have left behind to have
the same understanding as you. We can only come as close
as we dare, lest we also die from the flesh.

Loutro April 10, 1996

I had flown to Berlin where I spent a few days before
my departure to Greece. I found a cheap fare to Athens
on Malev, Hungarian Airlines with a stopover in
Budapest. When I boarded the plane in Berlin I knew
that everything would be OK. My seat assignment was
seat number 11F. When I received my seat assignment in
Budapest I was disappointed to get seat number 15C. I
had just seated myself when the man beside me asked if
I would mind if his wife a few rows ahead of us traded
seats so they could sit together. His wife was seated
in row number 11. I spent a few days in Athens before
catching the flight to Crete. I couldn't walk anywhere
without hearing Rob's voice. Every place had very
clear memories attached. Sometimes I would turn a
corner in a place I thought I'd never been before and
find myself crying. I sat down many times on the
pavement in a dark corner because I could no longer
find the strength to stand. I really didn't know if I
had the strength to face going back to Loutro alone. I
received some reassurance when my seat assignment on
my flight to Crete was seat number 11A. When I came to
Hania on the north coast of Crete I ran into people
who remembered me and asked about Rob. My first
reunion was with Lin who owned the German restaurant
near the harbor. We sat together and talked on the
morning that I left for Sfakia to catch the boat to

In Sfakia I met Paul and Natalie from Loutro. They
offered me a ride to Loutro in their small boat. It
was just like the first time we had arrived in the
fall of 1991. I surveyed the landscape, the mountains
jutting up as high as two thousand feet in the
background, the village of Livaniana, I took it all
into my heart to save for every moment when I would
wish I were back here. I kept thinking of Rob's words
as he was dying, how he considered this the only place
he had ever really been alive.

I got out of the boat and made my way toward
Pandalitza's. The first person I saw was Maria from
the Mini Market. Then I turned the corner beside the
school and looked past the church toward our room. I
had imagined this moment everyday for the last ten
months. Somehow it was easier than I had imagined it.
I still felt I was coming home. I went to Pandalitza's
door and knocked and she came out and hugged me. We
sat for a while drinking coffee, until finally I
pointed up to the room. She walked up to the door with
me and helped carry my bags. I opened the door and
stood for a few minutes before I could enter. I walked
into the room carrying Rob's ashes with me. I talked
with him about the changes I noticed in the village. I
hung his black ink drawings of Loutro behind the beds.
I put up posters with photographs of our four years
together in Loutro. Soon Tobias appeared at my door
and I no longer felt alone.

By April 7th Pandalitza's house was full of friends
who had come for the memorial. I had talked with
Stefan after returning to Texas from Asia. His son
David had been born a few weeks before, so they would
not be able to come. The last ferry had arrived, so I
was sure that everyone had arrived for the next
morning's ceremony. As I was walking back to my room
with Julie we were greeted by Stefan from the balcony
at Pandalitza's. They had gotten a last minute flight
and arrived in Sfakia after the last ferry had left.
They had hiked on the dangerous trail from Sfakia in
the dark with a three year old child and a six week
old baby. Once again I was overwhelmed by their
demonstrations of love. When I saw David for the first
time I was overwhelmed. He represented new life, the
cycle of life that includes death and rebirth. David
was concieved on the day Stefan returned from the
hospital in London after Rob died. From my perspective
David had two fathers, Stefan and Bob and the spirit
of a thrid man he would never know. That's what makes
a family!  

Loutro, April 18, 1996

When Rob and I sold all of our worldly belongings and
found new homes for our two dogs, most of our friends
must have known it was more than just escaping the
relentless grief. As I climbed into the small fishing
boat in Sfakia on the south coast of Crete I could
hear Rob's words from his death bed. "Boy were we in
denial! Don't let anyone tell you denial is a bad
thing though. Denial was our form of self induced
shock. Denial is what afforded us the opportunity of
being fully alive to the end. Don't let anyone tell
you that denial is a bad thing!" As we approached
Loutro I remembered that first glimpse in September
1991 when everything was exotic and unfamiliar. This
time I felt I knew every stone intimately. I tried to
remain composed as I watched all of the beautiful
memories dancing in my head. My biggest fear over the
past ten months had been the anticipation of getting
off the ferry alone. Here more than any other place on
earth would I feel the separation that had been
imposed upon me by death. It was here that the entity
of Rob and Bob had become mature, complete somehow.
Now I was faced with the task of becoming just Bob.

Loutro is accessible only by boat or by a foot path
along the coast. It is a cluster of whitewashed
buildings with the typical Greek blue trim. As you
approach the village from Sfakia by boat you are
treated to a spectacular view of the protected cove
with jagged mountains jutting up to as high as two
thousand feet in the background. As I watched the
familiar scene come into focus I felt separated
somehow, as if I were sailing into one of Rob's black
ink drawings. Each particular piece was accentuated by
ten thousand memories, a whole lifetime lived out in
just four short years that now seemed to have taken
place centuries ago. I was seeing my life here as part
of the history and myth of this magical place. The
thirteenth-century castle ruin is the crown on
Loutro's head. It was Rob's sacred space for
meditation and healing. I had come on a mission to
bring the remains of Rob's physical existence to be
joined with the spirit he had left behind here.  

I had imagined there could be problems coming back
here. I remembered the ignorance in the beginning of
the epidemic in America. This was Loutro's first
experience with AIDS. Who knows how a village of
thirty five people on this southern Greek island would
react to the news that one of the inhabitants had died
from an AIDS related illness? I was afraid that any
negative reaction would wipe out the feeling that we
had truly found our paradise. Although I knew I could
never return here to be just Bob alone, I didn't want
to have to give up the wonderful memories. As soon as
I was greeted by the first Loutran these ideas were
cast out of my thoughts.

I was overwhelmed by the love and compassion expressed
by the people of Loutro. I flashed back to the
memories of my hometown in central Illinois and Rob's
hometown in New Jersey. Loutro had become to us
everything we had thought unattainable in America. We
had become accepted and loved as we were, a Gay
couple. As I went through the village to have people
sign a book for Rob's parents I was told about the day
they learned of Rob's death. I was unaware of how we
had touched their lives in such an intimate way. When
we first arrived five years ago we both felt that we
were coming home. It was like we had lived there
before in another life. I had the feeling I had made
this trip before. Rob used to tell me he felt he had
been one of the people who had built the castle.

It was seven days before I could get the courage to go
up to the castle. I imagined spreading his ashes in
the tower where he had meditated each morning. I was
not too surprised to find that the tower had fallen
during a storm. It was Rob's sacred place on this
earth. It was no accident that the tower died with him
after surviving 700 years. A few friends and I
scattered Rob's ashes on the night of the full moon.
On April 8, 1996 people came from all parts of Europe
for a memorial service for Rob the yoga teacher from
Loutro. He is now a part of the history and myth of
this beautiful place. Rob is one of the lucky ones,
for he left this world in peace with the knowledge
that his life was complete. He truly had found his
place in the castle above Loutro.     

October 7, 1996

To My Friends in Europe,   

I am in San Francisco after spending one month with my
parents near Chicago and one month with my sister and
her family in Texas. On Wednesday I will begin 16
sessions of therapy with a psychologist who
specializes in grief counseling. This is a government
program related to AIDS and HIV. I have found it
difficult at times, in this period of transition, when
I am coming out of shock and facing a new life alone
(without Rob). The past 16 months seem like a dream in
a way, because I am now healing and wondering what my
life will be in the future. In that period of shock,
time seems more elusive and undefinable than ever
before. I have thought of all of my friends who were
an incredible source of strength for me, but
unfortunately I have in some cases no way to remember
if I have contacted you or only thought of doing it.
Now my life is getting some order again and I will
record that I have sent this note to you, in case my
memory fails once more.

I will try to raise the money to go to Thailand once
again for the winter. I need the healing environment
and the positive realization that my life as magic can
continue even now. I am writing and learning to use
the computer in ways I never dreamed possible. I have
been able to make new friends on the internet and even
exchange short stories and other writings with authors
around the world who share my interests. I am staying
in San Francisco with my friend Gary Alinder and also
in Marin County with Bonnie and Daun, Rob's roommates
when we visited San Francisco from our travels. I have
been able to escape the summer fog in SF and enjoy the
sun on the other side of Mount Tamalpias. This has
been one of the blessings of this trip home, because
the fog only added to my depressions.

I have not been idle during these months. In response
to being repeatedly infected by exposure to cigarette
smoke in Germany, I have done research and written a
pamphlet on smoking which has been translated into
German. Since returning to the smoke free environment
of California I can say that my health is continually
improving. It is a difficult situation for me since I
love and miss my German friends, but find it difficult
to socialize with no choice of any smoke free

Please take this opportunity to write to me, since my
address will be constant for the next three months. I
crave the contact and wonder what is happening in your

June 8, 1997

On Friday I was invited to a picnic in Kroneburg, a
small village north of Frankfurt with a castle. My
friend Christina's house is a 300 year old
Fachwerkhaus. She and her niece Heike knew Rob and I
from their many trips to Loutro. They were both
surprised to see me with short hair. We had a barbecue
in a small park with an artesian well. The niece's
boyfriend Holger cooked every kind of meat available
in Germany and we were all stuffed at the end of the
evening. Of course the side dishes were all Greek. We
looked through the three photo albums from Crete until
10:00 pm when it was too dark. I was once again
reminded how important these trips to the south are to
Germans. I am enjoying the summer weather here now,
but in 8 or 10 weeks it may be over for another year.

As Christina drove me back to the station to catch the
train I could see the castle illuminated on the top of
the hill. It is only here in the smaller villages that
one gets to experience the real old Germany.
Everything in the cities was destroyed in the Second
World War. My three friends stood on the platform
waving to me as my train left for Frankfurt. Sometimes
it's hard for me to grasp the number and the
importance of the relationships we experienced in
Loutro. I am blessed with so many rich relationships
from that time. On Monday, tomorrow, I go to Cologne
and on Wednesday will meet Stefan and family in Faro,
Portugal for a two week vacation. I am looking forward
to seeing them and to see a new part of Europe. 

June 26, 1997

Our trip to Portugal started out on a bad note when we
were caught in a tourist trap. We decided to have a
feast the first night at a nice little restaurant in
Faro. We had a meal of fresh fish which were not
really cooked well, and the potatoes and vegetables
were terrible. The bill came to 130 dollars for three
adults and two children. At first we thought we were
calculating the exchange wrong. Then the waiter told
us we ate more than 1 1/2 kilos of fish. Of course we
couldn't prove we didn't since we had already eaten
them. Then we lost one of David's shoes on the way
back to our room. The next morning we boarded a train
to Lagos and then took a bus to Sagres where we rented
a nice apartment for a week. It was a little slow and
they didn't seem to be used to tourists yet, but the
beaches were beautiful. We were just glad we weren't
in Faro any longer. On Sunday the beaches were crowded
with locals. We left the Kinderwagen (Baby stroller)
at the edge of the beach as we had done the days
before. When we returned later the Kinderwagen was
gone. We decided to go back to Lagos and give it a

When we got off the bus in Lagos we were met by a
middle-aged woman asking if we needed an apartment.
This is pretty normal in all of Europe and I've always
had pretty good luck this way. We all decided that it
was time for a little miracle. She led us through
winding cobblestone streets so narrow one has to turn
sideways to let cars pass. When we reached the top we
were at the edge of the wall which surrounds the city.
It was built to protect from pirate attacks. The city
was also a slave trading center, so there was a lot of
wealth. Stefan and Marianne and the two children took
the apartment on the top floor with a roof terrace
that overlooks the entire city as well as the ocean. I
was in what I affectionately call the tomb since it
takes about 48 hours to adjust to the smell of
hundreds of years of damp. From all of my travels I've
gotten the culture shock down to a few hours now. The
thing we noticed the most about Lagos is how all of
the old people seem to love children. After the way
Veronika and David were acting, we were considering
donating two children to the old people of Lagos.

We were there for the summer solstace and the full
moon. As is the case in the south of Europe, we all
experienced strong dreams and could watch the stress
and BS melt away with each day. Stefan and Marianne
had a really hard time going back to Austria. Stefan
had the idea to go back to this apartment for another
holiday, then perhaps make an offer to buy it. If I
lived in Austria I might be tempted to do the same.
Now I am back in Cologne watching the rain and hoping
tomorrow will look more like summer. I'm not sure when
I will have access to a computer in the coming weeks,
but I will eventually get my mail at this address. 

28 June 1997

This morning I had another very strong dream about
Rob. It started out by him calling my name "BOB!" in a
very strong whisper, the way he used to wake me up in
the middle of the night when we lived on Crete. It was
that same urgent whisper that woke me from my sleep
the morning I got that desperate phonecall from London
telling me to come on the next plane. I found myself
in the dream, standing in front of a huge office
building with tall glass doors. He lead me through the
doors, then to a banquet room where we were seated at
a huge table together. I was eating this wonderful
delicious meal and I noticed that Rob was not eating.
I asked him why and he told me he could only remember
taste. I reached across the table and put my fork to
his mouth forcing him to taste the food. The food just
fell through his body and landed on the chair. At this
moment I remembered all the fear and confusion of
sitting beside his bed in London. The room began to
spin and I found myself seated beside his bed on the
day he died.

Stefan and Adriano were out of the room to give me
some moments alone with Rob. I asked him if he wanted
something to drink and he shook his head slowly up and
down two times. I held a glass of apricot nectar close
to his mouth and inserted the straw through the bottom
of the oxygen mask. He took just a small sip of the
nectar and made a sound that reminded me of my friend
Jiggs just before she died. It sounded as if he had
just tasted nectar from heaven or that he had just
experienced taste for the first time. This was my last
interaction with Rob and the apricot nectar was the
last thing he tasted before he died. I woke myself up
crying at this point. It has been very difficult for
me to remember that day and especially those last
moments, so I am doing a ritual of sending it out to
the whole universe this morning.

A few days ago Rob's ring fell off my finger and I
found it lying on the floor bent out of shape. I don't
know how it became bent because it couldn't be bent
back into shape. I decided it was time to let go.
After all I still had the earring he gave me on my
birthday in Bangkok in 1994. He had inserted the ring
into my ear himself. I woke up this morning crying and
went into the bathroom to wash my face. I look down
into the sink and saw a small ring lying next to the
drain. I looked back into the mirror and noticed the
earring missing. Rob is never subtle in these moments
of forcing me to move on. I guess that's something he
learned from me. So this is one of my days to cry.
They get fewer and farther between as time goes by. My
lesson today is that I need to remember holding Rob
the way he remembers the taste of apricot nectar.

July 1997, San Francisco

I have just returned to California from Germany where
I had gone to Cologne for the International Lesbian
and Gay Association (ILGA)
World conference. The conference was scheduled
from June 29 to July 5. I stayed with my friend
Stefan Meschig who lives in Cologne. I was really
excited about participating in this conference. It
was my intention to address the issues of smoking
in the Gay community, how the prevalence of tobacco
smoke in the Gay community affects persons with
disabilities and how that relates to the violation
of human rights of Gay people with disabilities
(especially persons with AIDS). Stefan and his friend
Frank were with me in San Francisco when I was
diagnosed with Asthma in April. This subject is especially
important to me because of the circumstances of Rob’s
death and the incredible burden secondhand smoke
imposes on my personal life. I am angry that many of my
friends who had died from AIDS had been cut off socially
even more in the last days of their lives because of not
being able to tolerate the smoke pollution in most of the
places provided for Gays to socialize. I am even more
angry about the intolerance of Gay smokers toward
Gay people who do not smoke.

I arrived at the conference on the first day to register
for the committee on lesbian and gay people with
disabilities. The entry room was filled with smoke. I
held my breath thinking the smaller room where I would
actually register would surely be smokefree. I walked
into a smaller room filled with people sitting at tables
smoking. The smoke was so thick I was unable to breathe.
I couldn’t even stay long enough to complain. I went outside
into the parking lot to try to recover. It was one of the few
 times I was forced to use my inhaler. I felt absolutely
overwhelmed and defeated! For the first time in my life I
saw Gay men and Lesbians as my enemies, not my allies.
I could not wait to go back to California where there were
at least restaurants and cafes where I could socialize.

When I arrived at the Dom Hauptbahnhof to buy my ticket
to the Frankfurt Airport I was required to stand in line
while people all around me smoked.When I requested a
nonsmoker seat the ticket agent told me it was impossible,
 that I would have to reserve a smoking seat because smokers
had taken all the nonsmoker seats. It seems they don’t want
to sit in the smoke for the entire trip, so they walk into the isles,
smoke their cigarettes, then return to their nonsmoker seats
leaving their smoke to oppress someone else. When the train
arrived I was lucky and found a vacant seat in a nonsmoker
cabin which was reserved from Frankfurt to Munich, so I was
able to use it to the airport in Frankfurt.

When I arrived at the airport I was sure my ordeal with smoke
had ended.After all I was booked on a Delta nonsmoking
flight to the States. I entered the waiting area to find myself
surrounded by Germans sucking on their last cigarettes before
the flight. I was outraged that I was confined in this small space
and required to breathe their pollution. When I complained to
the Delta employee she simply stated, “you are not in the States
sir, you are in Germany!” Then I began to argue with her. I told
her there was not even an attempt to separate the smokers from
the nonsmokers. Then I noticed there were ashtrays everywhere
so I began to roll them all into the far corner in a cluster. Then I
announced that I had asthma and the smoking area would now
be in the corner with the ashtrays. I asked that everyone please
refrain from smoking in all other areas. To this I received
applause from the other American passengers. Then a Black
security guard came to me with a friendly smile on his face.
He handed me a form for making complaints to the airport.
Fill this out and return it to me and I will make sure your
complaint is heard, he told me. I felt like we were two
foreigners conspiring to break the intolerance of
German smokers.

This trip made me aware of the extremely dysfunctional
attitude that exists in Germany toward tobacco addiction.
One person had told me he was not responsible for my
asthma and actually asked why he should have to change
his behavior to accommodate my illness. First I told him that
it was I who always had to change my behavior and my life
because of smokers’ addictions. Then I told him that actually
my asthma was caused by cigarette smoke, and since I had
never smoked a cigarette in my life, smokers were responsible
for my illness. And then there are the German anti-health
smokers who ridicule everything healthy and everyone who
is supportive of a healthy lifestyle. I can see how nervous it made
them to be around people who actually care about their health
and who make a conscious effort to protect their bodies. What
I witnessed was a kind of  tobacco fascism. They were willing
to do everything in their power to protect the illusions that made
them able to believe that smoking was normal and desirable. I
was frightened by their lack of compassion and the vicious way
they attacked anyone who chose not to support their
addiction and their backward thinking. And as I began to see
more clearly I began to stop seeing myself as a victim. It became
clear to me how they were manipulating my life. I am even
more determined to use every ounce of strength in my body
to fight this horrible injustice!

January 20, 1998

Upon my 49th Birthday
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
January 20, 1998

The thing I remember most about my childhood is how
huge and grand my grandmother's house seemed. Behind
the kitchen was a big walk-in pantry where every
autumn one could smell the scent of apples that
ripened in a big bushel basket. This was a time when
we went to the orchards and actually saw the trees the
apples were picked from. Just at the time the last of
the apples were beginning to ferment, the aroma of
Christmas fruitcakes soaking in brandy would take
their place. Below the pantry was the entrance to the
basement where the old Maytag ringer washing machine
stood before two big rinse tubs. We used to enjoy
helping my mother feed the clothes into the ringer and
watch them fall into the second rinse. We would poke
the clothes with the sawed off end of an old wooden
broom handle to get the last bit of soap out. Above
the tubs was a small window that looked out into the
garden. In the spring and summertime I could hear my
mother's voice through that small window, singing
songs that would connect me to a time before my own
birth. The basement was my mother's place, where she
did laundry to make extra money for the family. In the
summertime she would hang the clothes outside on
clotheslines held up in the middle by long wooden
poles to keep them from sagging to the ground. In the
winter the basement was turned into a maze of drying
clothes that obscured the furnace room.

That grand old coal furnace was the men's
responsibility. My brother and I were taught how to
stoke the furnace as part of our familial
responsibilities. I was never sure if it was really
true, but we were told that one mistake could blow up
the entire house. After shoveling coal into the
furnace we had to open the bottom door and close the
top door to create a draft to make the coal burn. When
the pressure gauge reached a certain number the bottom
door had to be closed and the top door opened. I guess
the reason the furnace is part of my romantic memories
of that old house is because of Christmas mornings. Of
course every child is awake on Christmas morning
before the parents. We would lie in bed awaiting the
sound of the radiators clanging, which meant our
father had fired up the furnace. Then the small metal
valves at the end of each radiator would begin to
whistle as steam was released. This was the sign that
we could get out of bed. The other chore relegated to
my brother and I was taking out the ashes. The ashes
left from burned coal were very sharp irregular stones
which we placed in the alleyway behind the house. In
the winter they served as traction on the snow and
ice. In the summer they irritated tender bare feet and
provided challenges for boys to prove their

As I approach my 50th year I look back upon those
times of my childhood with a sense of longing. I long
for that feeling of connectedness we have destroyed in
our incessant struggle for convenience. I miss the
idea of needing each other, the dependence and the
sense of community and sharing. I don't know if
everyone before me has made this observation about
their life, but in some ways I have a feeling that we
are at a crossroads we have never come to before. I
have the feeling that we are on the verge of losing
some very important things forever. Perhaps I am the
last of a generation who will believe these things are
important because I will be the last to have the
memories that they have ever existed!             

Frankfurt November 5, 1998

When I finally decided to go back to Loutro I knew it
would be difficult. I was not prepared for the kind of
continuous process I would have to endure for more
than two months. Throughout the ordeal I just kept
telling myself that what I would find at the end of
the experience would be worth everything I might have
to go through. First of all I came at the hottest time
of the year and the temperatures this August set all
time records. It was between 105 and 110 degrees for
an entire month. By September I had lost 20 lbs since
leaving Texas in June. Many people asked if I was sick
and told me I had lost a lot of weight. It wasn't
until I received my photos from Loutro that I saw it
for myself. Loutro had changed the most in the last
two years. Now there are the new package tourists who
are afraid to go anywhere on their own. The beach is
now lined with sun beds and umbrellas and old rich
English tourists who are rude to the workers and
simply boring. So I sat at my restaurant every night
alone hoping that perhaps the next day would be like
the good old days when every ferry would bring another
interesting set of travelers. This never happened.

On the first day back I went to the Castle to find
that more of the west wall had fallen. I stood at the
entrance for about ten seconds before it was clear
that the life I had known before was over. I stayed
away from the castle for another month with this idea
in my head. It didn't help that there was now a disco
beside the castle where we had gone in the middle of
the night to watch
shooting stars and look with wonder at the Milky Way.
They had even put lights leading up the pathway and
around the castle to the disco. After the first month
I realized that I was afraid to go back to the castle
because it meant I had to face being there in Rob's
place without him. One day I decided to teach a
combination Yoga/Meditation class. I taught
a few classes that were really wonderful,
but after about five weeks I again realized
that the type of tourists had changed dramatically.
I just went to the castle alone every morning
to be disappointed once again when no students
arrived. September had always been our best month, so
when September came and I went weeks with no students
I finally took down the signs and gave up.

On the first cool evening I had my first encounter
with my real feelings. I sat on the balcony listening
to music on my walkman as I watched the ferry come
back from Sfakia. I stood up from my chair and turned
toward the room and prepared to call out Rob's name.
At that moment I felt that familiar lonely feeling
that seemed to follow me everywhere these days. I felt
an irrational anger at all those couples who now took
up the spaces at all the tavernas every night for
dinner. Now it became even more clear that my
suffering was more from being alone than from Loutro
changing. Even when there had been no new tourists in
other years I always had Rob. I began to look more and
more forward to the day when Holger would arrive from
Frankfurt. He arrived on October 7th and stayed until
October 14th. It was without a doubt the best week in
Loutro since I had returned. The disco was closed and
we were able to spend one evening in the castle
watching shooting stars. Everything I love about
Loutro still exists but is harder to find behind all
the new distractions. I have left all my essentials
once again in boxes in my room number 8 at

Maenam, 19 January 2000

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow is my 51st birthday, and on the full moon!
The twenty hours of flight were just as grueling as
always. After 4 hours of sleep in the Bangkok airport
hotel I took an early morning flight to the island. I
arrived at Cleopatra's to find that all the wooden
bungalows had been replaced with new bigger concrete
bungalows. They lack the charm and adventure of the
original bungalows and the price is 4 times more.
Perhaps someday someone here who is not too greedy
will realize there is a special market for the wooden
bungalows and will stop their destruction before they
all disappear. As in Loutro, the new tourism seems to
be concentrated on one specific group (kind) of
tourists and something special and very real is lost
for profit. I got a little bit nervous when I saw a
7-ELEVEN store in Maenam on my first shopping trip.
Internet and e-mail seem to be the big new industry
here. I will try to keep my visits to a minimum and
concentrate on the many wonderful aspects of Koh Samui
that haven't changed yet.

My bungalow is about 25 feet from the ocean. Although
I have screens on my windows I bought a mosquito net
anyway. There is a feeling of crawling back into the
womb when one sleeps under a net. There is an illusion
of being totally safe from any kind of danger. The
last two nights I have gone to bed at 9:00 PM and
awakened at 6:00, then watched the sunrise. Most of
the night the only sound I hear is the surf. I am now
in the process of healing from all the stress
accumulated by living in the modern world. Does this
sound familiar? The first few days are a practice of
watching my thoughts. The heat and humidity are a
wonderful tool for this. I am always amazed at the
automatic desire to "do something" that has been
created by the expectations of the system and culture
we have created. Now I know the secret by heart after
traveling for so many years. At the moment I let go of
the idea that I have something I must do, I enter the
world of synchronicity and the serendipitous journey
begins. This is the moment when I truly begin to heal.
At this moment I can throw away all of my medicines
and herbs because I have removed the cause instead of
the symptom of illness. At the moment of this writing
I can honestly say once again that I love my life.
This is always the true test! As I told my landlady
Sa, I have accepted that life is about change. I may
be sitting in my concrete bungalow at my laptop
computer, but that other perception of life has not
been totally obscured. When I see from that
perspective again it is the concrete bungalow and the
cyber world that become the illusions.

Last night Angelika and I returned to Magic View
restaurant for our first shark dinner. When we first
came to Koh Samui, Magic View was just a small shack
on the beach that the owner Jaroon and a few friends
had built in one day. His wife Ampa cooked on one gas
burner that was placed on the dirt floor in the back
room. We were always amazed that she could produce
some of the best food in Maenam by squatting in front
of that lone wok and turning out as many as 20 meals
in one night. Now Jaroon has five bungalows and a new
expanded restaurant with a more realistic kitchen. It
still seats about 20 people and to our advantage Ampa
still does all the cooking. There are two favorites
that I use as my medicine when staying in Maenam. Last
night I had my first dose of shark with pineapple,
peppercorns and garlic. Today I will follow-up with
the chicken coconut soup. These are two things that
definitely make the 20 hour plane ride from San
Francisco worth it!

Yesterday I made trips to Nathon and Chaweng to buy
supplies. Transportation is by what Thais call taxis
but we would call them pickup trucks. The backs are
covered and there are benches on each side which would
reasonably hold about ten people. On a busy run I have
counted as many as 26 people. The last arrivals stand
on the tailgate holding onto a bar provided around the
edge of the roof. Something that is always obvious to
westerners who come to Thailand is the apparent lack
of regard for safety. It is simply another difference
in cultural thinking. It is yet another reason I am
drawn here. As one Thai man told me on the plane to
Koh Samui, "it is no problem when I die today. I will
come back again for another lifetime." When I first
arrived here in 1996 I had come from my sister's in
Texas. I had watched my niece buckle all her children
into the seats of the car before each trip to the
supermarket, as required by law. A few days later I
found myself hanging from the back of a pickup truck
going 60 miles an hour followed by a Thai woman on a
motorcycle. Seated in front of the woman on the tank
of the motorcycle was a baby who wasn't much more than
one year old. The mother had both hands on the
handlebars and the baby was holding itself up! There
we all were living on the edge together and it all
seemed so real and somehow necessary. I felt that some
great lie or illusion had been exposed to me in that
experience. I think about it every time I want to
embrace fear and retreat into some boring safe
existence that's not me!

Maenam, January 2000

I am now in my tenth day back in real life. I have
crossed over the bridge from the world of clocks,
schedules and expectations, once again setting off
down the road of the serendipitous journey. Each
morning I feast upon papaya, watermelon, pineapple and
bananas while dogs and roosters and mynah birds
compete for space in the dining room. Each evening I
wonder how it is possible to do absolutely nothing and
still feel there was not enough time in the day for
all the wonderful experiences the universe presented
to me. The food here is absolutely fabulous as usual.
I'm pigging out on shark with pineapple and
peppercorns, Pad Thai, coconut chicken soup, and every
kind of fresh fish you can imagine.

Today I have only just arrived. I have gone through
the obligatory dreams, waking myself up crying for all
the pain and grief I was saving for a time when I was
strong enough to handle it. On the other side of the
dreams I have come to this familiar place without
headaches, stomach pains and other stress related
maladies. Now I am once again in that waking dream
state where one is able to simply visualize a
heartfelt need and the physical world provides it as
though you were being looked after by a fairy
godmother. I feel safe, protected and blessed. I can
truly say today that I love my life!

I have made many new friends and experienced numerous
moments of magic that are too complicated to cram into
one little e-mail session. The news is that my plan to
come here is successful and I am happy I have done it!

The Following Pieces Were Handwritten On Paper. My
Computer Stopped Working. They Are Not Dated.

Why I love my life:

Because I can ride to Chaweng in a songthaew, sit on a
bench facing a young boy and girl who look into my
eyes and simply smile. Although we have exchanged no
words we have acknowledged that we are on an adventure
together. Two boys pass us on a motorcycle, the one on
the back holding a beautiful chicken with multicolored
feathers to remind us we are not in Kansas. A mother
follows on a second motorcycle with a baby not more
than one year old. The baby sits on the gas tank
holding on to the handle bars, supporting himself.
Everything we have been taught to believe has been
challenged in this moment.

I receive a book on loan from a British couple who
tell me it's an easy read, but really good.
The main character in the book is named Will.
After reading the book and returning it to the owners
I am joined the next morning by a British boy named
Will. After a short conversation I realize he is the
character from the book. I have once again fallen
through the looking glass. I am inside the story! I
can choose to be the writer or I can simply remain
conscious, taking the well defined path that appears
before me one step at a time.

I love my life!!

Happy Chinese New Year.

Two days ago Stefan (a German boy from Kiel) and I
hiked into the jungle for three hours. I wanted to go
all the way to the other side of the island, which is
a 7 hour trek. Stefan had to catch the boat to the
mainland in the afternoon though, so we came back to
Maenam after three hours. It was a cloudy day, so we
didn't have the problems of sun and heat most people
encounter on a sunny day. We went off the path and
into a small stream at one point and the most exotic
thing we encountered was a nest of spiders and about
10 water buffalo.

Today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year
celebrations. At some point the dragon will come
to Nathon and there will be a big celebration the whole
day. I hope I can remember the right day and be there
for photos.

It has been cold the last three nights and I have had
to cover myself with towels and extra clothes to keep
warm. The Thai people act as though it's freezing and
the Germans think it is still pretty good compared to
the snow back home. I'm in the middle!

I have a few good books to read in case my whole plan
has been disrupted by technology (my computer isn't
working). I guess that's what I get for bringing a
computer to paradise.

At least the e-mail lines are still open, so far.

A Few Days Later:

Today I have moved to a new bungalow at the end of
Maenam beach. I had problems with smoke when they
started burning garbage at the end of the rainy
season. I spent three days in bed and had some serious
chest pain and breathing problems. I really thought I
would have to go to the hospital or end my trip. But
one thing led to another and now I am at Laem Sai in a
much bigger bungalow with my friends from England who
arrived two days ago. I found an Oriental doctor who
does acupuncture and Chinese herbs. And as always when
there is no smoke there is no problem!!

This morning as I was walking on the beach I noticed
that the three huge trees near one of the restaurants
was dropping bright red pedals onto the beach. It is
really magical. And everyone is seeing cobras in the
jungle between the bungalows and the road. I haven't
had the pleasure yet. Next week my friend Jean has
friends arriving from London with a 12 year old
daughter. We will all hope to take the elephant trip
through the jungle to the waterfall. I'm looking
forward to my first elephant ride.

My new bungalow is quite nice. I have two single beds
in a huge room with dark bamboo furniture, and plenty
of room for doing yoga. It is at the east end of the
beach where we can watch the moonrise at dinner and
the sunrise at breakfast. Our meals are served at a
table next to the ocean in the sand. My little bout
with smoke poisoning turned into a good thing in the
end. I guess I have to admit that I am no longer a
backpacker tourist. It will completely deplete my
money, but I am really enjoying the better class of

That's the latest report from Southeast Asia. In case
anyone has seen the new movie, The Beach, that's where
I am. Don't expect to get much more from the movie
than seeing a nice beach though, from what I've heard.

Laem Sai, February, 2000

Each morning three fishermen paddle by in an old
crescent shaped wooden boat. They are skillfully
wrapped in colorful Thai cloth, leaving only their
hands and eyes visible. They set their net about 100
yards from shore, then paddle back and forth near the
shore while two of them beat the water with long
bamboo poles to frighten the fish into the nets. Their
strokes are long and methodical, reflecting the pace
and patience of equatorial existence. If you close
your eyes you can imagine you are listening to some
tribal ceremony designed to put you into hypnotic

During the day a middle aged Thai woman wearing the
consummate cone shaped Asian hat, walks up and down
the beach balancing two big baskets at either end of a
long bamboo pole that rests on her shoulders. In one
basket are the raw materials of her trade: chicken,
vegetables and corn on the cob, accompanied by bottles
of various Thai sauces. In the opposite basket is a
lighted grill for cooking the food. She has a very
distinctive walk, like that of a tightrope walker in
the circus. She squats beside her customers, very
patiently fanning the coals to make them hot again;
then slowly prepares the food, knowing nothing of the
rule that cooks should be frantic, stressed and always
short of time.

A man drives up and down the main road on a motorcycle
with a sidecar. On the sidecar attachment he carries a
display of a dozen bottles of sweet syrups protected
from the sun by a canopy. In a cooler are small blocks
of ice he shaves by hand to make snow cones. Children
watch him shaving ice as if they were watching a great
artist at work! By the strokes of his hand and the
care with which he fashions each cone, he is aware of
his position of eminence.

And there are other great artists at work on the
beaches of Samui. An 80 year-old man climbs to the
tops of coconut trees unaided by a rope or other
device. A woman magically carves an entire pineapple
with very few strokes of the knife. The coconut man
shapes coconuts into beautiful drinking containers
with the skillful strokes of a sculptor.

Each morning the sun is reflected upon blue green
water. Gentle breezes continually change the texture
of the water, sending one into hypnotic trance where
hours are lost in a sultry daydream. At sunset a flock
of snow white birds fly to the east, just above the
water. You know another day in paradise has come to an
end. There is nothing more to look forward to, unless
it's the golden moon rising over the water, sending a
shimmering path directly to wherever you decide to
stand. Perhaps it will be the stars, like pearls cast
from the sea below, suspended in an eternal moment to
preserve their irresistible beauty.

Maenam, February, 2000

Each morning I have a huge plate of fruit with
curls of fresh coconut placed on top.
From my table I can see the papayas hanging
in a cluster beneath the huge green leaves.
After six weeks I'm pretty good at judging how many
days are left before the next papaya will be picked
and make its way to my plate. Yesterday the pineapple
was so ripe and sweet I couldn't help but feel pity
for all the poor souls in the world who think
pineapple is supposed to taste the way it does in a
can or when it is picked green and rushed to
supermarkets to be passed off as fresh although it is
bitter and tart. The bananas are also in full view of
my breakfast table. Most people who grow up in colder
climates think bananas grow upside down when they
first see them actually growing from a plant. I like
to think of them as beautiful flowers with yellow
pedals reaching for the warm tropical sunshine. Even
the slices of lime that garnish the side of my fruit
plate are from the tree at the side of the kitchen and
in full view. The entire experience of eating in such
a setting is like a long prayer of thanks to nature
for providing such bounty.

Last night I ordered coconut soup with chicken,
garlic, ginger, lemongrass and pineapple. Jaroon
walked from behind the kitchen carrying a large plant
about four feet high that he had pulled up by the
roots from the garden. He laughed when he saw the
puzzled look on my face. He was carrying the ginger
root for my soup! They also picked lime leaves from
the lime tree and added it to the soup for flavor.

Jaroon pulled his small boat out into the sea and
slowly paddled into the sunset as he does every
evening. I could see the silhouette of his dark thin
body perfectly balanced , throwing his net into the
water. As I bit into a fresh piece of ginger I could
only imagine that later some tourist would bite into a
tender morsel of fresh fish and wonder why food tastes
so much better here than back home!

When one gets away from the routine of one's everyday
life there is a magical world that appears. A normal
three week holiday is not enough to earn the ticket to
this parallel universe. It takes time and many days
without schedules or plans. You must return to the
memory of your childhood when your parents assumed all
the responsibilities that you now have resting upon
your shoulders. Like a child you may then live in your
dreams and you may believe in things that adults would
ridicule to prove that they are somehow more
responsible. Without responsibility you are allowed to
be irresponsible, to be childish, to be happy and to
allow your imagination to take you to places that all
real adults long for in their secret dreams.

A few nights ago Rob came to me in a dream and held
me. I was being irresponsible and I had let my guard
down. Soon we were making love the way we used to make
love when we thought we were one. I found myself
kissing him passionately and I felt that security and
that feeling of invincibility that we had always felt
when we were making love. Then I woke up sobbing
uncontrollably and my responsible adult self placed
his hand over my mouth so I wouldn't disturb others.
But the damage had already been done. In this
solitude, this meditative environment I had come face
to face with myself, stripped naked, transparent. No
longer could I hold back the memories of those
intimate moments of love because they were too
painful. No longer could I pretend to be an adult who
has everything under control. I became a child who
lets his tears flow without shame for all the world to
see that I have feelings and I am hurting. And like a
child I became healed from those tears and stood up
and wiped my face and dried my nose and decided to go
back to play another part in the game of life. My trip
to Koh Samui has been a success. I am ready to claim a
new life that will draw on the past experiences only
for the lessons they have taught me. I want to be Bob
of the future and all the hope it holds for me!

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