Las Vegas, as everyone knows, is the city of Sin. However, I choose to live a life of personal responsibility and accountability, no matter what the odds. I even manage to have a little bit of fun doing so.
I believe the only way to truly make a difference in this world is to lead by example, like the famous Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I hope you enjoy my journey of life and self-discovery.
Friday, July 8, 2011
"We Write To Taste Life Twice, In The Moment And In Retrospect." — Anaïs Nin
"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman."
— Anaïs Nin
Obviously, given my most recent vacation with a boyfriend, I had some concerns about going to San Francisco with Tim. However, these days, I’m even less about wasting time than I usually am. If this isn’t the man for me, let me know now. And as I’ve said many times before, what better way to see someone’s true colors than taking a trip with them.
Naturally, I spent most of my time comparing what was going on in San Francisco to what went on in Hawaii. My mind automatically broke things down into categories and took notes as the days went on. I’m a pretty stellar multi-tasker so I was able to do this and enjoy my vacation at the same time...
Yes, it seemed like a competition for me. Hawaii vs. San Francisco. I couldn’t help it - so many circumstances surrounding both trips were similar; they were both with very new relationships, the length of time the same, there were other people on the trip to consider, etc. Now that I have returned and eased back into my Las Vegas lifestyle, I find it’s time to reflect on the scorecard even though the winner is very much clear to me.
I’d never been to Hawaii before. The sights and smells of this tropical paradise were amazing. I didn’t spend any time on any other island other than Kaua’i. While it was absolutely beautiful, it is definitely more on the sleepy, beach town side of things as compared, I’m sure to Maui or some of the other more lively areas of Hawaii.
For someone like me, it was a little easy to get bored as my ideal vacation does not consist of laying on the beach for four days. I like to get out and do stuff and it was easy to run out of things to do, even in the short time I was there.
I’ve been to San Francisco a number of times in the past and it never fails to amaze me. This trip was definitely different as we were staying outside of the city in El Sobrante. This city itself had little to offer outside of local needs, but it was quite lovely and the neighborhoods were filled with beautiful homes and lots of hills to keep my quads and gluts engaged.
We did make a few trips into surrounding areas such as Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco itself. In a city such as this, it’s not finding something to do, it’s narrowing it down that is difficult. This type of vacation is much more my speed.
I like to look nice. I make an effort to do my hair almost every day. I don’t wear a ton of makeup, but having a nice foundation to leave the house with makes me feel confident. Hawaii wasn’t having any of this.
Let’s set aside the fact that the first night there, we evacuated to higher ground due to the looming tsunami threat resulting from Japan’s horrific earthquake. Other than that, the weather was pretty neat in that it would pour down rain one minute and then be sunny the next. The humidity was a bit much for me, though, as it was useless to make any kind of effort to “look pretty.” Plus, this kind of weather and climate attracts mosquitos. Thousands of them. And I must have had the best tasting blood of anyone on the island.
Hot and sunny, just the way I like it. The weather in San Francisco was perfect. Because we didn’t spend a ton of time in the city, we didn’t really mess around too much with the fog that can be a bit of a nuisance. Every day we were there was just a bit warmer than the one before. The only real challenge was forgetting that, unlike Las Vegas, the temperature does drop once the sun goes down and I found myself quite chilly at night when I had forgotten my hoodie at the house. Our final day there had started to creep into more of the humid side of things, but overall, I was more than pleased with Mother Nature during the trip.
Accommodations and Transportation
Okay, Hawaii definitely wins for both of these categories. Not only did we stay in our own beautiful beach house, we also had one of five vehicles at our disposal the entire time we were there. We were free to come and go as we pleased and if we wanted to chill in the house, there were two televisions, a full kitchen, a beautiful patio, plenty of seating and views of lush greens and mind blowing beach scenery. No question on this one: Hawaii for the win.
The accommodations in San Francisco were not awful by any means. In fact, it was very sweet and courteous for Tim’s uncles to open their house to me without knowing who I was. The air mattress was actually pretty comfortable and for needing to share a bathroom between the four of us, there was never a wait. I suppose that’s the advantage of three men and one woman sharing it. I imagine most of the time, they were waiting for me!
The transportation, however, was less than favorable. While the BART public transportation system is efficient, on time and clean, it’s still public transportation and I prefer to be on my own schedule. Towards the end of our trip, Tim’s uncle Jim was around more often and able to drive us to a few places which was nice. However, our plans to go to Warped Tour ended up falling through because we didn’t have a ride to the concert and needing to take public transit would’ve meant four hours of combined travel to get out to the venue and back. Relying on others and forming a schedule around that is not ideal for me and, in retrospect, renting a car probably would’ve been the way to go.
I did enjoy our pedi-cab in the city... definitely some of the most enjoyable transportation of the trip!
This is probably a draw for both vacations.
While there wasn’t an incredible amount of stuff to do in Hawaii, the things that we did experience were amazing. The drive to Waimea Canyon was long and tedious, but the views weren’t.... we had a dinner catered one night that I’m still reveling over, the charter boat that took us almost completely around the island was complete with snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching and included food, beer and wine, and our massive and intense hike up to Hanakapi’ai falls is something that I will never, ever forget.
San Francisco had it share of fun activities as well. While Warped Tour didn’t work out, we spent my birthday night wine and beer tasting in the city. We also took in a ballgame courtesy of one of Tim’s friends who lives in North Berkeley.
He and I also spent a night tooling around the city, finding some local watering holes and an unbelievable sushi restaurant and finishing up goofing around at the classic arcade at Pier 39. We got to check out Pyramid Brewing Company and spent the fourth of July out at the Berkeley Marina for a fabulous fireworks show. Even the last day was fun just taking some time out before our flight to play some pool in the local bar by his uncle’s house. All in all, good times.
This is where things start to get a little sketchy...
The challenge with Hawaii was that there were a lot of people involved in the trip. At any given time, there were as many as fifteen or twenty people between all of the houses and everyone was sort of doing their own thing. However, Jeremy wanted to spend as much time with all of his friends as possible, including his girlfriend at the time, and we all had different ideas of what we wanted our Hawaii vacation to look like. Therefore, coordinating different activities proved to be a little stressful at times. Plus, the three couples involved in this particular group all seemed to be taking turns not getting along with one another so in the end, we all sort of broke off to do our own things.
However, outside of my boyfriend at the time, Steven, I was really enjoying the friendliness and hospitality of everyone else in Hawaii. Jeremy was, of course, overly accommodating, his friends were extremely generous and mellow and the couple we were sharing the house with took turns preparing different meals and drinks during our trip. We did share lots of laughs and I enjoyed getting to meet new friends.
San Francisco, in other words, was quite challenging...
Tim’s uncles are a homosexual couple who have been living together as a married pair for 21 years. His uncle Jim has a very good job in the city as an Art Director for a successful magazine and his other uncle, Monte, stays home after having been a bartender for 25 years.
Jim and I at the Oakland A's game
When I first showed up, Monte seemed almost mesmerized by me. We had lots of pop culture things in common and spent hours talking about different movies, actors, books, shows, etc. that we both enjoyed. In fact, he spent so much time being focused on me that it was actually starting to bother Tim a little bit who felt really left out and ignored. It was almost as if, many times, he wasn’t even in the room. To others, Monte was introducing us as his nephew and “the most interesting woman I’ve met in a long time”.
At first it was flattering, but then it became kind of strange and overwhelming. I mean... I think I’m pretty awesome too... but the adoration was a little intense. For the first part of the trip, Jim was working and so the three of us spent a lot of time together. It became kind of frustrating because Monte would talk so much and interrupt everything Tim said in order to get his next story going. Tim and I couldn’t even have a conversation with each other. I couldn’t tell if Monte was trying to impress me or if he just couldn’t focus on anything because of his “condition”. (He told me right from the start that he has ADHD.)
And then, the night of my birthday, the three of us decided to go into the city. After getting a little lost a few times, we finally ended up at a great little wine bar in Castrol where we were able to wind down and Tim and I finally got some time together to engage in our own conversations. Afterwards, we decided to go to Haight and find this great beer bar that Monte had discovered there. Again, we got lost on our way and I was starting to lose confidence in Monte has a tour guide. As someone who is an obsessive planner and needs to be familiar with my surroundings at all time, especially in a city I don’t know very well, this kind of thing tends to make me nervous.
Because we were relying on public transportation, we needed to be back on a bus heading to the suburbs by midnight. As 11:30pm approached, all three of us were well on our way to intoxication and knew we needed to make a move. We had been given Monte a hard time all night about getting us lost, but the jokes became serious when he wasn’t giving us any direction on how to get back to the BART station. Our questions were answered with “sures”, shrugs and, when we finally asked complete strangers where to go, he would simply say “I told you so.” Suddenly, it felt as if we were in the city with a child. I got nervous, not wanting to be stuck with no ride back to the house. Luckily, Tim knew he needed to take charge and did so, doing whatever he needed to in order to find the right train, get us on it, arrange a pick up from Jim and ensure that we got home safe.
For some reason, Monte was offended by all of this and upset that we didn’t have faith in his navigation. He and Tim had a bit of an altercation on the train back to the suburbs and by the time Jim picked us up, Monte was furious at the way Tim and I handled things and began using obscenities and melodramatic statements to insult Tim all the way home. Tim was silent. At one point, I looked over, expecting to see a face of stoic indifference and instead, watched as he stared straight ahead with tears rolling down his cheeks.
There are many things that we could have done to prevent this. We could have told Monte how we felt about getting lost in the city without making jokes about it. We were most definitely harboring some negative emotions about an incident earlier that day where we simply wanted to take a walk to the bank and instead, got taken on a four or five mile goose chase by Monte that resulted in needing to be picked up and brought back home. We were both tired of having our time wasted but didn’t speak up about it before alcohol became our voices for us.
I definitely take responsibility for how things transpired and escalated that night. We should have been more honest with how we felt and how we wanted information presented to us. However, the next morning, when Monte sent the following text to Tim’s dad (with whom Tim already has a strained relationship), I was at a loss of how to proceed:
“Your son is an asshole. And he is in love with the re-incarnation of Anais Nin. I just thought you should know.”
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
— Anaïs Nin
The next day and a half were rough. Tim had never experienced this side of his uncle before. He was hurt. He was torn. He was sad. And then, he was mad. His myriad of emotions were to be expected. We spent hours talking about how to handle and approach things in order to come to a resolution. When no resolution could be found the following day, Tim’s other uncle got involved. Eventually, between the three of us, we were able to find a way for Tim to approach Monte in a way that they could bring the emotions down to a reasonable level. They talked, they hugged, and we decided to get on with the rest of our vacation.
However, later that evening, when we all got in the car to head to the Berkeley Marina to watch the fireworks for Independence Day, Monte got into the passenger side, put on his ipod and disconnected from us the entire night. In fact, he ended up staying and sleeping in the car while the three of us took in the show.
He hardly spoke to me the rest of the trip. Although, in all honesty, I made no effort to change this. After doing some research on Anais Nin and talking to Jim, I found out that despite all of the things we had in common and enjoyed about each other, once he discovered that my political views strongly lean towards Libertarianism (and I mistakenly used the word narcissist in conversation), he decided I was not worth his time anymore.
We made the best of our trip. Jim continued to be supportive as well and the three of us enjoyed the remainder of our time together. What will happen from this point on in their relationship remains to be seen. Tim and I worked a lot on conflict resolution and I am hoping that Jim and Monte did the same. Along with family comes conflict - I know this more than anyone. But it is truly how you handle it that sets the stage for how intimate our relationships with one another can be.
Tim and his Uncle Monte
It’s easy to walk away. It’s harder to step into the fire and say “I will not stand for this because I love you too much.” I cannot force either of them to take this stand for one another. I can only hope that, one day, they are willing to. Life is short... and is over before we know it. How long will it take before being human becomes more important than being right?
I’m still searching for that answer myself....
I guess this point goes to Hawaii.
This is the easiest category of all.
Steven stood outside the car with too much alcohol and insecurity in his system, looked me in the eyes and said “fuck you.”
Tim and I woke up next to each other the morning after he and his uncle had their blowout and said “thank you for being my best friend last night.”
"Love consists of not looking each other in the eye, but of looking outwardly in the same direction"
— Anaïs Nin
Hawaii was beautiful, had moments of absolute peace and tranquility and I got to enjoy some good times with some good people.
San Francisco was disorganized, messy, emotionally charged and full of not knowing what to do next.
In Hawaii, I discovered what my heart will and will not tolerate, no matter how much love is there.
In San Francisco, I realized how in love I really am.
* * * * * * *
Word of advice... think you and your significant other has what it takes?
Go on vacation.
"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls."