Sunday, April 19, 2009

Death of a Reptile

Mountains of every hue roll past the windows. David's camera clicks away in the back seat then falls silent. We watch in amazement as the handiwork of millions of years stretches to the horizon. David's raspy voice breaks the silence.

"I have changed."

I look at him in the rear view mirror. "Changed? How?"

"The reptile is dead."


"Yes the reptile side of my brain."

There was a time when David's primary, if not only response to the world was rage. David's friends Linda, Tom and others have cared for him for decades. The rage softened but was still always close to the surface. David calls the rage the "reptile brain". He wrote about the reptile's death on our last night in San Francisco:

I spent the night trying to re-awaken the reptilion side of me. In preperation for one last final war. But I found it impossible. Standing at the corner of castro and market street. The hate machine just would'nt start. Like an old lawn mmower. You yank the starter cord. With all your might. And the moter just sputtered a little. Then went silent. Is most frustrating when things don't start. Which is why I rent my housing instead of buying. No lawn to mow. As to why it won't start I don't know. Maybe it was the stroke? Maybe it was just worn out? All I know is. The dammed thing just won't start anymore! Oh well I'll just wait tell I get back on bartelt road in Iowa city Iowa. Grass there is Kentucky blue. Things aways start on that stuff. Of course. It is illegal to tress pass on other peoples property in Iowa. (I know! I have the scares from rock salt in my rear end.. As testiment to this fact.) So it looks like this moter is completly shot. And will never start again. So I just tossed it into the dumpster. To go off to the San Francisco county landfill. Which if my memory serves me right. Is in some place called china?

David refuses to use spell check, his syntax can be surprising and his humor is sometimes subtle to the point of obscurity, but his message is clear. He feels transformed somehow...different from the David who left Iowa just 14 days ago.

David will feel anger again. I will feel anger again. Who lives forever free of the reptile within? Yet something in the miles of travel, the endless scenes of wonder, the capture of his ant colony at my Dad's house in Arkansas, the welcoming arms of San Francisco's Castro district have changed David. How much? Who can tell? But his step is livelier, his eyes are brighter and his laugh is louder and more frequent.

It is no wonder that David longs to live in San Francisco. Perhaps for the first time in his life he felt free, that he was not a freak - that his true nature was not a cause for shame or guilt. He was freed from state institutions in 1985. He was freed from guilt about his sexuality on April 15, 2008.

So now David has a new dream. A dream of returning to live out his days in San Francisco. He wrote about this as well (parentheses are mine):

Tomorrow. I will head off for an exended outing in Iowa. Which is just my home away from home. Tell of course I can find an affordible apartment in my home town. Of San Francisco. I aways rent my housing you know. Me and all manure of small moters. Including those in lawn mowers (like the one used to start the reptilian brain). Just do not get along very well.

May David never find the need or the means to restart the motor of his reptile brain. May he find a way to move to San Francisco. And, in the meantime may he find a home in the now fully enfranchised gay community in Iowa. Above all, and perhaps most importantly, may he never cease dreaming.

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