Archive for March, 2010

Starting Over
March 31, 2010

How many times in an hour or a day or a moment do we start over? What governs this inner desire to improve on the next moment. These moments can relate to any number of infinitesimal subjects. What are we trying to accomplish? Why is it so important?

We see death and we want life. We see hate and we want love. We see sadness and we want laughter.

Isn’t it freedom we want? Aren’t we confined and limited by our bodies, our thoughts and all the ‘things’ around us. Don’t these things put expectations on us, and in turn, don’t the expectations require us to sacrifice the present moment for the next? Can we stop, take that moment and reminisce? The reminiscing is almost always as good as the experience. Sometimes better. If you remember something you hadn’t noticed while in the moment, it can change how you think about an experience. It can make the experience more  full filling.  A moment can come back over and over to be enjoyed.

That’s why we start over.

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The Dream
March 30, 2010

It happened shortly after I arrived in Los Angeles in ’84. Much more than a lucid dream, it was like it had been programmed into my DNA. For weeks afterwards it permeated my thoughts constantly.

I was riding a horse and someone was riding a second horse beside me. At the time, I couldn’t tell who. I now surmise it was Eberhard. I looked at the horses and they were thin and weak. One was pale brown in color and the other was a darker brown. We were driving cattle through an area that looked like desert. Small tuffs of grass were present which the cattle were trying to eat. The cattle themselves were weak looking and their bones were starting to show through their hides. As we rode along, things became increasingly desolate. There was blowing sand, the grass disappeared and the color of everything became a bleak dull brown. The cattle and horses began to lose weight. It came to a point that the bones started to protrude though the skins of the animals. They became skin and bone. Some cattle dropped and died. In the middle of no where, we came to a gate. A white gate. I looked across into the area on the other side and it looked just as desolate as what we’d been travelling through. A voice from no where said “come in, there is plenty here”. All of a sudden the gate opened by itself. I looked across and I said to whom ever was on the horse next to me, “it can’t be any worse than what we’ve been through, we may as well go ahead”.

We started to move the cattle forward. Grass started to grow from the sand. The further we moved along the stronger the grass grew. The cattle began to eat. So did the horses, and the surroundings became brighter and brighter in color. The animals all regained their normal weights. The grass continued to grow and changed in color, turning brighter and brighter into an emerald green. It grew so much that the height covered the cattle. All that you could see was movement in the grass. The horses and cattle disappeared from sight. You knew they were there because you could feel them beneath your body or see the movement of grass in the distance. The grass continued to grow until it was up to our shoulders.

For weeks on end I searched for the white gate in my daily life. It always turned out to be a false gate. I always assumed to have a dream like this would mean that things would change in your life dramatically and quickly. Little did I know I was just starting to cross the desert.

Are You a Boy or a Girl?
March 30, 2010

Wendy, my younger sister and I were at a shopping center in Edmonton and had been shopping with mom. Mom had gone on ahead to get some personal items. We were outside the Kresge store (Woolworth in USA), when two teenage girls approached Wendy. We were younger than the girls. I’m not sure what age. I was looking in a store window when I heard the comment “are you a boy or a girl?’ being asked to Wendy.  When I turned around, the girls were already ridiculing  Wendy with comments like “it’s a girl”, “no it’s a boy”, then they said “what are you?” When they saw me approach and saw I was with Wendy, they started with the same questions directed at me asking me what she was? I hadn’t been in a situation like this before and I really didn’t know what to do. Looking back, it would have been better not to respond at all, but I replied that Wendy was a girl. It made matters worse. The girls intensified their bullying. I was embarrassed in one sense and angry in another. It ended up with the girls still laughing and ridiculing both of us as we walked away.

Later when we joined up with mom I told her of the experience. Mom brushed it off, but I pursued  the line of conversation with questions. I asked why Mom would send her to a barber to get her haircut and Wendy always came out looking like a boy. Why Wendy never wore dresses either. It was always a shirt with pants or jeans. But mom told me that was what Wendy liked and wanted. At this point I said that fact couldn’t be true and I didn’t believe her. I told mom it was embarrassing for me.

The whole situation was never explained to me and I’m sure mom had the correct answer that I needed. I never figured it out till much later. I was on the phone to Wendy, after I had divorced Brenda and was telling her that I was gay. To my surprise, she replied, “you too?”  And Wendy went on, “Nancy’s gay too”. Double surprise. With my brother Doug, that made four gays in the family, out of seven kids. When I had finished telling the family, mom told me that out of all the kids, her and dad always thought that if any of us kids were gay it would be me. My response was, “thanks for telling me now”. “You could have saved me a lot of soul-searching and grief over the years”.

Some people can see things in us that we don’t see or are afraid to recognize in ourselves. Maybe it’s better we do these realizations on our own. Maybe its not. Most people dislike being told how or what to do with their lives.  Finding out your own truth is usually a longer path, because it doesn’t always come in a timely manner. But when it does, it definitely makes you stronger.

Tempered Tempest
March 29, 2010

Shakespeare’s works revolve around the human condition and what is accepted as a major character flaw in each of us. He expounds on these flaws with such reverence that his works are just as profound now as when they were written.

I think each of us has within us a character flaw that we must address and overcome. I think we are born with it. Some of us either choose to disregard the flaw and suppress it or we choose to take on the flaw as a challenge. It can show up as early as child-birth, or later as a life experience. My parents mentioned once to me that my sister Brenda never stopped crying as a baby, no matter what they tried to do to console or care for her. When I look at Brenda’s life, the part that I know of, maybe as a baby she knew what her life would entail to a point and she couldn’t accept the pain she felt early on. I don’t know if she’s found her flaw yet or even overcome any of it, but I know she has had her challenges.

My flaw is a temper. Mom and dad said I had a temper even as a baby. From when I could stand I use to shake the crib across the hardwood floors. One time, they said, I shook the crib so violently, that I had moved the crib against the bedroom door and wedged the lever door handle against the crib bars and locked myself in the room. There was no window in the room and they couldn’t get into the bedroom, so they had to wait until I got mad enough to shake the crib away from the door, before they could get back in. When the crib disappeared, they said I use to run on the spot when my temper kicked in. I was nick named ‘temper boy’ and I was teased constantly from family members. Dad would say to me “running on the spot, begin”, and of course this would make me even madder as I ran as fast as I could, on the spot. I do remember one day saying to myself that I wouldn’t show my temper in front of the family ever again. It worked to a point, but inevitably, when it did rear its ugly head, there was a fireworks show.

One time at Beans and Barley in the earlier days we use to serve breakfast. It was not something I particularly liked to cook.  I couldn’t adapt to people ordering eggs scrambled, poached, over easy, boiled , sunny side up or down all at the same time. Timing for this was nightmarish. One day at 11:00am, I announced that we’d be switching to the lunch menu and there would be no more breakfast orders. As soon as I turned around I saw an order for breakfast on the ordering wheel. I snapped. I grabbed a tray of two and half-dozen eggs and threw it against the kitchen wall, all at the same time yelling, “I said no more breakfast orders”. Everyone scattered but Doris. Doris was all of four feet eight inches. She told us once that one of her classmates had taken her to the front of the room for show and tell, because everything about her was so tiny. They raised her hands to the classroom, expounding on how small they were. Doris was tough. She came up to the ordering window, looked me square in the eye with no fear, and said “Boob, get your shit together!” and calmly walked away. You might guess why they had nicknamed me “Boob”. It was such a shock, it snapped me out of my state, and I cooked the breakfast order in record time.

This last example terrified me. Meditating can give you a tremendous amount of energy. If, however, you don’t channel it into some form that uses it up, it can become quite dangerous. I was overloaded at this time.

Brenda, my sister use to come and see me after her work hours on a regular basis at B&B. Generally we would sit and have a coffee or a bite to eat. A lot of times she would tell me what I was doing wrong and how I should be running the business. One particular evening she came in and started in at me. I had had a very stressful day and the anger boiled up within me. I wasn’t in a state of mind to accept any counseling. From the base of my spine I felt something move and it travelled quite quickly upwards, following my spine. I felt it at the back of my neck as it entered my head. Then it shot out of my eyes with lightning speed. This was a physical feeling and very unnerving. I had no control over what was happening. During this time I was tearing a strip off Brenda verbally, up one side of her and down the other. She was frozen where she stood, with the most terrified look on her face. The next day, her husband Heinz came to the restaurant, sat down at the staff table where I was sitting and slugged me. I hit back and at that point of commotion, the staff showed up. It took four staff to get him off of me and they threw him physically out of the restaurant. Brenda and I didn’t talk for years afterwards.

Years later when we talked about it, she said she thought she was going to die. She said whatever it was, was like a murderous rage. I myself had been terrified and had not felt anything like this before or have to this day. I shut down. I couldn’t look at anyone in the eye again for quite a few years. I would glance at people when I spoke with them, but never directly look at them. I lived in fear for quite some time and I stopped all my meditation.

Over the years, I have learned to channel energy much differently. With age, I’ve mellowed and my anger buttons have mostly submerged to a point of non existence. It’s a good thing.

Appreciation
March 26, 2010

Spring has always been my favorite season. There’s an outpouring of new energy from the heavens every year and a chance at new beginnings and re-births. From my balcony I can smell the combination of orange, lemon and grapefruit blossoms in full bloom. Their smell is intoxicating. New ‘green’ is budding and unfolding. I hear crickets close and distant, and birds in song. Soft breezes lick my face and surround my body gently encasing me like a good meditation. Palm trees like giant shadows frame an indigo sky which is slowly slipping into twilight. The mountains stand firm and tall. I go into them and sense their power, mass, timelessness and depth. It leaves me breathless and in awe. The phrase ‘rock of ages’ actually has a meaning. Have you ever really felt a mountain?

I have new sight in my left eye. My cataract gone, and with a new lense inserted, it’s like my eye has been re-born. Colors are brilliant. Shapes are sharp. Clarity. Gone is a fog of unawareness in more than just my sight. It’s like the cataract was a metaphor over my heart. Again after so many years I feel a resurgence in so many areas of my life. Inwards and outwards. I can feel the slow grind of my chakras move from their self imposed prison of stagnation. There’s light emminating from my heart again…I can feel it. Things around me are light in nature, not heavy. I’m feeling abundant and content. I appreciate what is happening.

Thank you. I can hardly wait to give.

Making the Best of Things
March 25, 2010

An appropriate title for these times. This was my parents first house. They had moved to Edmonton from Hamilton to get away from my mothers aunt. She had raised my mother. Auntie Ber (short for Bertha) from the stories we were told, was severe, demanding, meddling and a spinster. As we grew up we were always told that moms parents had died in an automobile crash when she was young. None of us had heard the truth until I applied for my green card. It was revealed that when my mother was seven years old, mom’s father had hung my mother outside the bedroom window (seven stories high) and threatened to drop her. At the time they were living in Chicago. Mom’s mother ran away with my mother to Canada. Moms sister Bertha became my mothers guardian.

Mom and dad had moved from their apartment into this little house. It had a dirt basement,  and from time to time we had mice.  My brother and I made a game out of trying to catch them. Mom and dad put a lot of work into the place. I can still remember mom painting the back splash above the kitchen counters a bright red. I was four or five. Our next door neighbors raised chickens and I remember my mom sitting with the neighbor’s wife dipping the chickens in large galvanized tubs of boiling water, so that they were easier to pluck. I had no idea how the chickens got to this point, but I found out one day. The neighbor gathered one of the chickens, held it’s head down on a wooden stump and with one quick swing of an axe, severed the head from the chicken’s body. Then he let the chicken go. The chicken ran around the yard spewing blood out of its neck, until it finally dropped. It was the first time I had seen death and it freaked me out. I couldn’t handle it. I ran back home screaming and crying and told mom all about the experience. She tried to calm me down, but I was a mess for a while. It took me a long time before I would venture back into the next door neighbor’s yard.

I remember dad would take the piece of cardboard out of the pressed shirt that came from the cleaners and fold it into small squares and place it in the bottom of his shoes. Both shoes had large holes in them and it would allow dad a days worth of walking. He couldn’t afford the bus so he would walk to and from work every day. In winters it was worse, it was an eight mile walk.

In winter the house was heated by a monstrosity of a furnace in the basement. This was the early ’50’s. One time as I was playing down there, my hand got too close to the furnace as I ran by with a toy. It was burned severely and I remember dad trying to console me from the pain, as I cried all day. I remember he even offered me ice cream. Something you couldn’t afford back then. For some reason to this day I don’t have a scar from that burn, and all they did was put butter on my hand.

I enjoyed this house and growing up there. There was nothing to compare it to, so things were good for me. One of my favorite memories was the time I came in the house and forgot not to slam the back door. Everytime you slammed the door, the door of the oven fell open and whatever was on the shelf in the oven, would end up on the floor. Mom had just finished washing and waxing the floor. We use to help her polish the wax by sliding across the floors in woolen socks. She had made a lemon meringue pie for supper that night and it came shooting out of the oven and spread all over the floor. “You kids get in here”, she said to my brother and myself. “Dad you get in here too”. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to throw this pie out, the floor is clean, you’ll have your dessert first tonight”. We all sat on the floor with spoons, laughed a lot, and ate the best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever had.

It’s a Bad, Bad Day
March 24, 2010

It had been raining awhile. I’d finished work about 4:00pm and I gathered the meal I made for Jorge and headed over to his apartment. I had moved out some months earlier, but whenever I could I’d stop by to bring him a lunch or dinner. When I arrived Jorge’s mother opened the door and let me in. “How is he?” I asked. She told me he had been restless and he wasn’t dealing well with his medication. We moved towards the bedroom. The nurse was beside Jorge when we entered. She was adjusting his IV and afterwards took up a chair next to the bed. His mother left us and went into the living room. I sat down in the opposite chair and the nurse began to explain what had been happening with Jorge during the day. All of a sudden Jorge let out a rant and began cursing me and accused me of waking him up, just when he was getting to sleep. “Why are you here anyways?” he boomed.  “I brought you some dinner and I came by to see how you were”, I replied softly. In expletive words he told me I wasn’t welcome, and with a series of verbal abuses and statements, he carried on for some time. The nurse looked at me and began to cry. When he was finished, I got up, and was wondering why I had even made the effort to come here at all. I left the room and joined his mother. It was Christmas eve.

Other family members were also staying in the apartment. Jorge had refused to let his father stay here, so his father was staying down the street in a motel. One or two of Jorge’s brothers and some of the extended family were also staying at the motel. Jorge was very protective of his mother and he resented the way his father had treated her over the years. His father was a womanizer. At one point in our relationship I had accused Jorge of the same thing and as you can imagine, it didn’t go over well. Everyone had gathered here that year to have Christmas dinner with Jorge, since he was too sick to travel. His mother’s cooking filled the rooms with his favorite smells and memories. Because of the rain, some of the family had been delayed. We were waiting for the rest of them to arrive.

The phone rang. It was a distress call from some friends of one of Jorge’s brothers. They were stranded up in the grapevine and were afraid to travel any further. Jorge’s brother conscripted me and one of the cousins who was seven or eight years old to accompany him on this perilous journey. He drove without any caution, reason and very little common sense. It was pouring rain at this point and travelling at high speeds, weaving in and out of cars was not my idea of a good time. Traffic was bad. We arrived two and half hours later at our destination. Then he abandoned me and his cousin for the “friends”. He’d drive them back to L.A. and I’d take his car back for him. It was 10:30pm by the time we arrived back for dinner. But since the others still hadn’t arrived, dinner was postponed again. I had been up since 3:00am that morning and I was willing to forgo this Christmas eve. I apologized as much as I could, gave Jorge a goodnight kiss as he slept, and left. It was after midnight when I got home. That was the last time I saw Jorge alive.

Two forty-five in the morning. Who’s calling me at this time, I asked myself? It was Billy, Jorge’s new lover. “Robert,…. Jorge has died”. “I’ll be right there”. I got dressed and drove to Jorges’ as quick as I could. It was New Years day.

I couldn’t remember seeing Jorge look so peaceful. These past few months had been hard on him. The meningitis had ravaged his mind and body slowly and deliberately. Jorge’s mother entered the room. I grabbed her in the biggest embrace I could muster and we wept uncontrollably for the longest time. We spoke years of love in that moment without a single word. I took the next little while with Jorge alone and remembered our times together. I was happy for his tranquility. Something I don’t think he experienced too much of this time around. I said my good-bye.  The ambulance arrived with paramedics and they carried out their duties.

The next day I returned and remnants of the family were there with some of Jorge’s friends. Some family members were already dividing up who got which TV and who got the refrigerator and other odds and pieces. They were like locusts devouring the apartment. I had left this furniture when I moved out even though I had purchased most of it. At the time, my escape was more important to me. Conversations ensued. Some good, some bad, but mostly selfish. It was revealed that Jorge had taken some medication with wine and the combination was lethal. But he didn’t do it by accident. He had planned it right down to New Years day so no one would forget him. I thought about the events afterwards and I believe also that Jorge knew when he saw me at Christmas it would be our last time together. Some how in his mind by being hurtful to me one last time, I wouldn’t forget him. A funny way to show your love.

Many incidents happened between New Years and his funeral the next weekend in his home town. I didn’t go.

Pie Dough
March 24, 2010

This recipe will make two hundred and fifty mini tart shells or ten double crust nine-inch pies or a period of transformation for yourself. Depending on how much of any one item is required, you can divide the recipe accordingly. Which ever of the items you choose from the above list, you will have to give it your undivided attention.

In a large mixing bowl combine twelve cups of all-purpose flour with one and a half teaspoons of salt. Mix well. I use a wire whisk for this step.

Some of us cannot be alone at any time. To others, alone time is cherished and needed. We have lovers, pets and many man-made items we call toys. We rely on these items for love, comfort and to shed loneliness. We tend to look to external stimulation to fill the gaps we feel on the inside. If you actually stopped to look at one of these gaps, what would you be looking at? Is it something to fear, and so much so that you then re-cover this gap with another stimulation? Or is it something you could look at and accept, look into more deeply, and enjoy? By transferring the refusal to know into another stimulation, we end up continually replacing these gaps with more and more stimulation. How many of us put more love into our items  than we do into facing ourselves?

Next, you will need three pounds of vegetable shortening. I’ve always used Crisco and have had outstanding results. You will be blending the shortening with the flour and salt mixture. To do this effectively in this large quantity, I use a commercial potato masher. If you’ve chosen to cut the recipe down to a different portion, you may use a pastry blender or two knives and a cross cutting motion. You want to incorporate the shortening with the flour until you have  a coarse crumb mixture.

This crumb mixture, lets call it one of these gaps, needs one final ingredient to combine everything and make it whole. What if you could take one ingredient, and fill the gap you feel, forever? What would it be?

For the final ingredient, take one and a half cups of water and sprinkle it over the shortening, flour mixture. Using one hand, fold the mixture together to form a dough, while rotating the bowl with your other hand. When you’re getting close to the dough being ready, the dough will stop clumping on your hands and the mixture will incorporate itself into a ball. Your hands will become relatively clean. Do not over work the dough, or it will become tough. Treat it firmly, but not timidly.

What has the characteristics of water, can blend or adhere with everything and have transforming qualities? It’s energy. How do you get a cup and a half of energy? All the energy you need and more is already inside you. You have to believe it is there and then you have to consciously feel it. As you become more aware of this energy, you can start to use it in your daily life. Hold your two hands together in front of you with about a half-inch space between them. Close your eyes and try to feel energy going from one hand to another. Keep trying this exercise, until you can feel the energy. Then expand on this using other parts of your body while lying down. With practice you will be able to feel this energy growing stronger each day and like the pie dough being rolled out, your ‘being’ will stretch. Why is it that you look up, when someone who is unannounced walks into a room, and sometimes you don’t? It’s the amount of energy they project. Try it for yourself sometime. How much energy are you projecting?

The gaps you feel are like an empty pie shell. You can fill your shell with the most desireable attributes and when you are heated by the energy of transformation you will change into a new reality that gives its flavor to the world.

A Crimson Tipped Yellow Rose
March 21, 2010

 I’ve been here before. Disappointment is a hard feeling to handle. I know all the rules…acceptance, no resistance, surrender, be here now, but I’m still feeling the pain. Still trying to shake it from my being.

Out of all the rose bushes along the pathway, there was only a single rose in bloom and it was the first day of Spring. That had to mean something. It must be a sign I thought. I had put all the other indicators for the last week together and this was the final pronouncement.

But it wasn’t meant to be and we’d have to move forward. What now? 

Look at the rose. What is it telling me? Yellow is friendship, melded with red for love. Look how the colors blend seamlessly without struggle or toil. Pull the thorn from my side, like the disappointment in my heart and smell the fragrance. It is single, it is pure and it is mesmerizing.

Aaah! Realization! I already have the most important thing I need.

The Host
March 19, 2010

I am lying on my bed wondering what to write about for my next blog. The window is open and a gentle breeze is blowing over me with the scent of lemon blossoms. The smell is so sweet and the fruit is so sour, I thought. Then I remembered Ross. I haven’t thought of him in many, many years. Like the lemon, this is a very sour part of my life. I will try and be as honest as I can remember about the events. It may even help me in some way.

Ross applied for a job at Beans and Barley as a waiter. There was no job open for that position at the time, but we needed a host. He was a good-looking man, early twenties, out front type personality with an incredibly deep voice. Friendly in nature, good sense of humor and open about his gayness. It was the late seventies, and in a redneck city like Edmonton it was a rarity. He often said that because he was open about his gayness, he was just accepted for who he was. I envied that, because all my latent gay feelings were bottled up. I was married to Brenda (Lady of the Glass) at this time.

I hired Ross and the staff enjoyed him as a new partner. He was like a breath of fresh air to the place. Unfamiliar with some of the food items we sold, I heard him once telling the specials to a table of customers, “tonight’s special is Cornish gay hen”. It added to his charm.

We were all very close at the restaurant. Often the staff would join in song after closing with some of the troubadours that patronized the restaurant, or meet after work for social gatherings. Curious about Ross’s gayness and how he seemed so comfortable with it I would ask him all sorts of questions. I became infatuated with him. Deep down I wanted the freedom to feel what I saw in him as a natural and normal existence. I had hidden my gayness my whole life. I wanted that freedom.

Brenda and I had an envious life at this time. We were well-known in the city. Her through her art and myself through the restaurant. We were deemed “successful”.

Solar green house near Tomahawk, Alberta.

We had a section of land with the largest solar green house north of the forty-ninth parallel that I designed. We were able to grow vegetables for the restaurant all year round and we were planning to build a country inn next to it. In the city, we were finishing off a new restaurant in an upcoming area that was designed around a waterfall, a small indoor lake and a stream that flowed through the restaurant.

But, on the home front, Brenda lacked the love from me that I never knew how to give. Emotionally, I would say the word love without knowing anything about it or its meaning. Brenda knew. When I look back I know she tried to awaken my feelings. I was dead in the water. I had suppressed my true feelings for so long it affected that part of me that should have known better and could have made a difference.

I would have conversations with Ross. Long in-depth conversations. One day I invited him to go out for lunch. I met him at a restaurant down town and he showed up wearing spray on white 501’s and a flamboyant shirt. I’d never seen him dress like this before and since I was ultra conservative at the time, I was embarrassed.  But we had lunch. I really can’t remember how it came about to our first sexual encounter, but I do remember wrestling with the decision in my mind for a very long time. I knew there could be repercussions and that I was jeopardizing everything in my life at that time, but I decided to do it anyways. Pandora’s box was opened. And the walls came tumbling down.

I really didn’t know anything about gay life at the time, but I thought I did. I remember Ross telling me I wasn’t good at sex. I couldn’t believe what he’d said to me. But he was right. How could I know, I hadn’t had enough. One of Ross’ other traits was his honesty. We had agreed to keep our relationship to ourselves, but because of his honesty he felt he had to tell someone. So he told a waitress at the restaurant with which he had a close connection. I couldn’t believe he’d done that and I panicked. I went bezirk. Word spread throughout the restaurant like the plague. I decided that I didn’t want Brenda hearing it from someone in the restaurant. I’d tell her myself. There was a movie out at the same time called ‘Making Love’ and when I told Brenda, the scene played out almost word for word from that movie. Dishes were broken. There was a great outpouring of tears and I’ll never forget the words she said, “how could you lie to me all this time?” It still hurts. She didn’t deserve what I’d done, and Brenda I really sincerely apologize. I can never make up your lost time. I can only hope you’ve healed.

There were numerous unpleasant encounters following this, worth a lot of words, but in the end, we initiated divorce proceedings.

Ross and I ended up together for a period of two unpleasant years. He was trying to give me a crash course on how to be gay and I wanted everything I’d lost, back. I went through a long period of non-acceptance. A lot of resistance, but eventually, all my barriers were broken down. Not a pleasant site when I look back. Maybe Ross played me. Maybe I played him to get my freedom. In the end, I lost everything, and I moved to Los Angeles.

This was the first place that I felt free, and I stayed.

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