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Archive for January, 2009

Terminal Addiction

“I fucking HATE going through JFK!”

Those words are spoken with the same sentiment that a former heroine addict uses when speaking of their addiction. And just like when the addict returns to Needle Park, so was I the moment I stepped foot into Delta’s Terminal 2 at Kennedy.
“I fucking LOVE this place!”

Despite the layers of paint and numerous remodel attempts, Delta’s JFK facility can’t hide the fact that it was once the grand departure hall for Pan Am. The ceiling tiles are water stained and falling. The drinking fountains don’t necessarily work. The restrooms smell of piss from the last Golden Age of air travel and trapped pigeons fly over head while throngs of people push their way through corridors that were never meant for dense crowds.

I had three hours between flights and since I used to work at Kennedy, I thought I might run into a few former colleagues if I managed my time strategically. I took a quick cruise around Terminal 2 and then took a leisurely stroll to Terminal 3, which is the actual former Pan Am structure. The two buildings are connected by a wobbly set of moving sidewalks.

As I made my way to the back side of T3 I checked the departures screen to determine the gate for the Paris flight. It was too early to be listed but from the corner of my eye I spotted a familiar coordinated color scheme of pink and orange. Dunkin Donuts had come to T3 since my last visit. I ordered my usual and sat in an empty departure lounge in order to enjoy it because there is no space for tables or chairs.

The duty-free shop was boarded up, undergoing another renovation but a sign stated that it was open. Large vending machines had been placed in strategic places, selling such things as high-end ear phones, cell phone chargers and another sold ProActive skin care, products that I’ve only ever seen on television. Sunglasses and other sundries were available from the usual places and the skank-ass Burger King was still open for business.

I noticed a line near the gate to the Moscow flight and I remembered that a friend of mine used to fly that route exclusively. I thought I might see him if I planted myself there and waited for the crew to show up. While waiting I realized that there’s something remarkably wonderful about watching the young ‘bitchy-sexy-hot’ Russian women flaunt themselves at JFK. Thick pouty lips, heavy eyeliner and angular hair styles highlight the pale white porcelain-like skin. Severely pointed boots lifted up on heels – footwear made of deconstructed domes and spires from the Kremlin. From the sleeves of fur coats emerge top of the line Nokia phones.

Delta crew members straggled to the gate, only one of whom was equally ‘bitchy-sexy-hot’. Across the hall I watched as the Istanbul crew arrived. Mismatched bags, non-uniform overcoats and ill-fitted separates. Its a common theme despite having spent more money on a new uniform design.

I didn’t see my old friend but I think I passed Holly, a woman I knew from Salt Lake. By this time the Paris flight was listed – showing a departure gate of T1. It took a moment to realize that the combination referred to the next building.

Terminal 1 has been rebuilt while I was working at JFK and I witnessed the construction from within the cracked concrete, jerry-rigged acoustically poor Pan Am building. We crossed our fingers hoping that it was being built for Delta, but it wasn’t. Now because of a code-sharing agreement I had a reason to go there and I departed Needle Park immediately.

Soaring ceilings and wide halls greeted me as did working escalators. The greenery wasn’t mold. Steel buttresses supported walls of glass and in an instant my thoughts of JFK were reshaped. Beautiful, fashionably dressed people were everywhere and T1 supported their lifestyle. Hermes, Swarovski, Montblanc, Cartier and clothing shops that sold things other than t-shirts. A wine bar and cafe’ offered fine treats and firm breads.

At 4 p.m. it isn’t just the passengers one has to ooggle. Home to Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Aero Mexico, T1 offers a stunning backdrop for the flight crews as they arrive for work. Crews from Paris and Milan know how to wear a uniform and a hands-free orgasm is easily achieved at the mere sight of the Lufthansa crew walking onto their aircraft. Crisp and creased with high-gloss black polished shoes – not a hair out of place. I felt the need for a cigarette when the door closed behind them.

The seating area at the gate for my flight was ample and another bistro offered fine baguettes, imported beers and dark coffee, complete with tables and chairs. Laughter came at the end of sentences spoken in various languages. Not one airline employee could be heard yelling and public address announcements sounded as if they’d been crafted using Pro Tools. Terminal 1 became my nirvana.

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Here’s something fun for those looking for a unique Valentine’s activity.

Hixon Dance is hosting a swing dance at the German Village Meeting Haus on February 13th.

An hours worth of lessons are available for those who need them and then the floor opens at 8pm. Members of Hixon Dance will be available throughout the evening to take you for a spin around the floor in the event your beloved has two left feet.

dance

Tickets are $20 for individuals, $30 for couples and are available at the door or in advance via the web site.  Proceeds from the event benefit Hixon Dance.

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And now for the number we’ve all been waiting for….$456.73.  That’s the total amount spent on gasoline for my car in 2008.  This includes two round-trips to Cleveland and a round-trip to Toledo.

For those following my COTA Challenge you’ll remember that the it started last January when it was announced that the oil companies had earned record profits.  It wasn’t that I was against profit making, rather I was tired of hearing people complain about it.  The biggest complainers where those who were contributing the most to the profit making.  The goal of the COTA Challenge was two-fold.  1) to see how much money I could save by eliminating use of the car whenever possible and 2) to have a way to bow-out of the ‘gas is too expensive’ bitch fest.

In January 2008 I decided to take the bus to work whenever it was convenient.  I began comparing the cost per trip for driving to work and using public transportation.  Public transit trips were slightly less expensive than driving.  I was using a monthly transit pass so I leveraged it by taking the bus to work even when it wasn’t convenient.  Over the course of the year, my idea of convenient changed.

I used to think that catching the 05:50 bus to work was inconvenient until I learned to grab forty winks along the way.  I used to think that I was missing out on valuable time at home because my commute by bus is 55 minutes each way.  Between books, pod casts and mobile e-mail, it has become the best “me” time of the week.  I no longer have to navigate between stressed-out commuters and lined-up on/off ramps.

Learning to shop local was another benefit of using public transit.  When convenience meant not having to play dodge-ball on the freeways I decided it was easier to take the bus or walk when shopping.  The concept also led to less spending.  You can’t buy what you can’t carry.   The additional walking allowed me to lose twenty pounds within four months.

There were a couple times that I cheated and used the car when I had to pick up things for the yard or house.  There are times that I have to use the car to get to and from work and I’ll stop along the way just because I’m already out.

Over the course of the year I’ve met more of my neighbors and see them more often.  If we’re not on the bus together, we often cross paths along the way.  I’ve made a couple new acquaintanceships with regular riders.  I’ve never been late to work because of public transit.

I did get caught in a down pour one afternoon on the way home from work.  I was soaked. Soaked to the degree that it looked as if I’d just emerged from the ocean.  It was that day that one of the State’s economic advisors introduced me to Cleve Ricksecker when we bumped into each other on the #16.   On more than a few occasions starry-eyed sub-urban drivers have nearly nailed me in crosswalks, likely because they’re not expecting pedestrians.

Life is far less stressful and I’ve got more money in the bank than ever before because I’ve reduced the need to buy gasoline.  The car will be paid off in less than a month and that will equate to more savings.  Because I’m not driving all that much, I don’t have to think about buying another car for years – and ideally, never again.  The way I figure it, the savings allow for an additional trip to Europe each year and a few more weekend trips to Chicago via Amtrak or MegaBus.

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Bar Exam

The thought had never crossed my mind, but when a friend stated that he felt we’d been raised by generations of dysfunctional men, I spent weeks pondering the comment.

“The behaviors we display towards one another and our expectations of one another have been taught to us by dysfunctional gay men.” The behaviors he claims, were learned, adapted and passed on by a marginalized and ghettoized culture that grew out of shame and self-loathing.

While gay men may no longer see themselves as a marginalized population, a ghetto mentality remains remarkably close to the surface. I had to look at my own experiences to make sense of the concept.

While I never really had to “come out” because I grew up in socially progressive Minneapolis, I didn’t participate in gay culture until I found myself in Los Angeles at the age of twenty. I befriended a colleague who lived there, and together we’d hit the bars in West Hollywood weekend after weekend.

Within the bars of West Hollywood I learned how to compliment a handsome man and I learned what to do when I was met with no response. I learned how to ask someone to dance, and then ignore him while I watched the video screens which hung over the dance floor. I learned how to send a drink to a stranger at the other end of the bar and to be thanked with only a nod of the head and then do the same myself when someone sent one to me.

I learned that a conversation I might strike up with someone was subject to interruption when someone better looking walked into the room. I learned that well-built shirtless men danced together in a specific corner of the dance floor. I also learned that the time frame immediately following closing was referred to as the “side walk sale” and I learned how not to be left out of that. I learned that if I had a couple of extra drinks these things didn’t bother me as much.

These lessons are not exclusive to gay men, but for most the bars were the only place to express oneself without overt ridicule. Ironically it is within the bars that we learned how to covertly ridicule one another. Pornography taught us how to physically respond to one another. Our movie stars didn’t teach us how to kiss.

For decades gay men have had few places to meet outside of the bars that were populated only in the cover of night. For the longest time these bars were tucked away in back alleys or in unpopulated areas of town. Gay men had to relegate themselves away from the general population for the sake of their personal safety. Its just the way things were. Take the concept of social isolation, persecution and degradation and “the bars” become the ideal place in which to commiserate and self-medicate. Multiply this by decades and imagine the effects on cultural identity.

It might have been Los Angeles in 1985 but the social lessons learned were taught by the veterans who’d fought before me. The four-star generals led the troops into battle with vodka-tonics in hand.

Regardless of whether I was in Los Angeles, Salt Lake, Billings, Berlin or Amsterdam, the behaviors were relatively similar. While the gay scene in Berlin may have been more progressive than the scene in Billings, the bars remained the primary place for socializing.

Fast forward to 2009 and gay men continue to use bars as a primary social location. We may have our own bowling leagues, softball leagues, rugby teams, choirs and fraternal organizations but when the game, concert or convention ends, it’s off to the bars. Granted, I’m speaking in general terms and there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. And yes, I have met some interesting people in the bars with whom I’m still in touch. My point is that perhaps, as we march towards social equality, our progress may be be limited by our cultural ties to the bars.

Columbus hosts one of the largest gay pride events in the mid-west. Its interesting that during the week-long celebration leading up to the festival itself, it is not our museums, concert halls or libraries that fill with out-of-town’ers. It is our bars. When the local “bear” group (referring to a once original sub-set of gay men that held its values outside of mainstream gay culture) hosts its annual event, men from around the country come here not to attend workshops hosted by established community leaders. Rather, they come here to eat, drink and get laid.

Could it be that this continued behavior is a case of arrested development? Think about the cultural implications of not being allowed to hold hands in public but having access to physical interaction in the dank little booths of New York’s 8th Avenue “theaters”. Think about having to remember to change the gender of your spouse when talking about them at work, but knowing that it’s okay to get a blow job from a stranger in a park. What happens when you see that guy at the Palace Theater with his wife two weeks later?

The vast array of psycho-social-sexual possibilities become so complicated that its no wonder gay men continue, well into middle age, to choose the bars as a preferred method of socializing. It may not be the ideal setting in which to act out a life, but it is at least a place where a disjointed culture can be mitigated with various levels of merriment and/or intoxication. And so the cycle continues.

The bar culture sends coded messages to its next generation even today. Straight adolescents do not see their role models hanging out in bars. They certainly participate in their own bar culture but typically move away from that culture as they take on more responsibilities, such as a spouse, career and family. Young gay men, however, see their progenitors running around to bars at age fifty and beyond. Could it be that the underlying message is that, socially, the bars are the only thing we have to aspire to?

Understand that I’m not opposed to enjoying a couple martinis every now and then and a PBR on a summer afternoon can really hit the spot. The challenge I face when wishing to meet an interesting man with whom I can converse is that it almost always requires participation in the culture of the bars.

Access to a wide range of personalities can now be accomplished via the Internet and that is an option that many men now prefer. As they were designed to do, computers allow for the faster processing and sorting of data. Thus, meeting and interacting with men with similar interests has accelerated such that I can communicate with men in London and Los Angeles at the same time from the comfort of my own home.

Long distance friendships are easy to acquire and far easier to maintain because of the new electronic medium but they are not adequate replacements for human interaction. Essentially the gay ghetto is now available as an on-line action game. In response, some of the gay on-line chat rooms now sponsor ‘bar nights’ where those who socialize on line can socialize face to face – in the same cultural setting that is seemingly inescapable.

When we tell our out-of-state gay friends that Columbus has twenty-six bars could it be that we are telling more of a story that we care to admit?

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For years I’ve had a photo of myself standing near the villa at Eläintarhantie 14 that I’ve wanted to send in to the people responsible for its restoration. The experiences over the years of brining people together over the story of an abandoned villa meant that more than just I had a history with the location.

A couple months ago I wrote a letter and sent the photo. Without an associated name or title, I addressed the envelope simply to “office” at Eläintarhantie 14.

It was within the first few weeks of the year 1998 that I discovered Eläintarhantie 14. I’d awakened early one morning and decided to go for a walk and I took the long way into the center – around Töölonlahti, through Linnunlaulu and across the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks.

I had taken this route into the center dozens of times and seemingly passed the villa without noticing it. Oddly enough, however, I noticed it for the first time that early morning. I became fascinated with the villa, which at the time was still in a state of disrepair. At the city archives I was able to view the blueprints for the building and given information about original owner as well as a copy of an article that had appeared years earlier in a book that had been written about the area.

When a friend accompanied me to Helsinki in February of 1998 he snapped this picture of me. It was late in the afternoon with not nearly enough light to have considered basic photography, but when we arrived at the villa the clouds parted just long enough to give us the light needed to capture a few photographs. This one has always been my favorite.

I’d written letters to friends telling them about the villa that I discovered. In the summer of 1998 I discovered that the city of Helsinki was in the process of restoring the villa. In 2002 I returned and was delighted to have had the opportunity to view the restoration work.

Early this year, ten years after having discovered the villa, I received an e-mail from someone in South Africa. He introduced himself and stated that while I didn’t know him, we had a mutual friend. He went on to say that during a recent visit to Helsinki he remembered having been shown a letter I had written and set out to find the villa. Based upon his recollection, he pieced together what he could remember and indeed, he had found it.

Shocked to have read what I had I began to realize how the villa at Eläintarhantie 14 has connected so many people in my life. Friends, as well as people I’d never met, from around the world still recall the story of the day I discovered this villa. It was just the inspiration that I needed.

Just a month ago I completed the manuscript for a book that looks at my twenty-five years of travel to and from Finland. Oddly enough, when I showed this picture to the man who offered to design the book’s cover, a man I’d never met, he immediately felt that it should be part of it. Yet again, the villa brought together two strangers.

I’ve been meaning to send you this photograph for years. There is a story about the history of this villa and it seems that I too, am a part of that history. Its important that you have a copy of this photograph.

Last week I received a large envelope in the mail that had been addressed by hand and had no return address. It was post marked from Finland. Inside I found a letter from the City of Helsinki Cultural Office and a book. The book is, itself, historical documentation of the villa and it’s original owners. The letter invites me to tour the villa whenever I return to Helsinki and was written by the woman who has taken care of the facility since 2000, when the restoration work began.

Visit it on the web at  www.elaintarhanhuvila.fi

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I pulled into the driveway, opened the trunk and pulled my suitcase up the four stairs to the front door. Inside the mail had piled up on the floor beneath the slot in the wall but everything else looked just as I’d left it. There was a note on the refrigerator left by Leesa informing me that she’d stopped in on her way to Hawaii. She’d taken the dry clothes from the basement upstairs, scrubbed the kitchen and dusted the floors.
“PS. Welcome home Mr. Helsinki”.

In the office downstairs a fax had come in and fallen to the floor. It was from Kai. “Welcome home Jeffrey” it started and then went on to details about the ferry ride to Estonia, telling me that everyone at the office got drunk and how he ended up dancing with one of his female colleagues most of the night. It was no surprise. Drunkenness and ferry rides were synonymous in the lexicon of Finland. The ferries made hoards of money selling liquor and the Finns boarded by the hundreds, daily, to buy it at tax-free prices. Tickets for the ferries were sold as loss leaders.

I left my suitcase downstairs, took a shower and went straight into my bed. I was never so happy to see home. I fell fast asleep and awoke twelve hours later in exactly the same position. It was too late to meet the guys at Café’ Med so I decided to carry on with my tasks as I adjusted to the local time zone. I penned a note and faxed it to Kai, telling him briefly about the house I had encountered at Linnunlaulu.

The radio was on in the car as I drove around town to accomplish three weeks worth of back logged tasks. I was on 7th South when a song came on that I’d never heard before. Deep melodic sounds drifted into my ears and the lyrics caught my attention.

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless, please remember me.

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire

Cast your eyes to the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless, please remember me.

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly fears.

Cast your eyes to the ocean. Cast your soul to the sea. When the dark night seems endless, please remember me…please remember me…please remember me…

Tears came to my eyes and I had to pull over. My breathing grew deep and my head hung, slightly turned as I listened to the lyrics. “What’s happening? Why am I sobbing?” Then it hit me. “This is what the house wanted to say”.

I remained at the curb waiting to hear the name of the song. It was Loreena McKennitt singing Dante’s Prayer. There was a music store a few blocks east and I drove there immediately. I walked in bought the CD and went straight home. I listened over and over so that I could write down the lyrics and by the time I’d written them completely I was emotionally exhausted. As I pondered the effects of what had just happened I fell asleep on the sofa as the rest of the CD played on.

Originally excited to have some time at home I was now counting the hours until I returned to Helsinki. I planned to take the music with me, visit the house and allow it to give voice to the forgotten estate. I faxed Kai informing him that I had special plans for us when I returned to Helsinki, assuring him that it would be something unlike anything he’d ever experienced before. Even I was impressed with the plan. I would have never imagined that I’d be preparing to stand in a dark forest in the middle of a winter night listening to a CD and pretending that the lyrics were the words of an abandoned house. The more I thought about this the more I realized it would be best not to tell anyone else.

When asked the next morning by friends at Café’ Med what I’d been doing during my three week absence I told them that I’d been stuck in New York and left it at that.
“Send us a postcard next time” the owner said. “We’d thought you’d up and moved”.

My suitcase weighed more than ever with four 12oz cans of pumpkin wedged in between the layers of clean clothing I took to replenish the winter wardrobe that I kept at the hotel. The measuring utensils took up little space. I passed through customs in Helsinki and then to the Red Line.

There was the Red Line and the Green Line. The process was based upon the honor system. Green Line meant that you had nothing to declare. Red Line meant that you had something that needed further inspection before leaving the customs hall. Most people took the Green Line but occasionally customs officers who watched from behind two-way mirrors would emerge, pull aside random individuals and go through their bags. It happened, but very seldom. The Finns were simply not good at diplomatic intimidation.

I stopped at the stainless steel counter and looked into the mirror. A man with thick blonde hair came out from behind.
“Do I need to declare two kilos of canned pumpkin?”
“Will you be selling it?” he asked with his thick accent.
“It’s a gift. I also have measuring cups.”
“Are those gifts as well?”
“Yes. They’re for the woman who owns the coffee shop at Kluuvi. Have you been there?”
“No,” he responded. I had pulled him into a conversation and he startled himself by answering.
“You should go. She’s going to make pumpkin muffins and I can ask her to set a couple aside for you if you’d like.”
“Okay.” We stood there looking at each other for an odd moment.
“Can I enter?” I asked.
“Go ahead,” he replied.

My driver lifted my bag into the back of the Yellow Line van, stopping momentarily because of the weight. “What have you got in here?”
“Canned pumpkin.” I’m sure he’d never heard anyone say that.

The sun was shinning when I arrived. Daylight increased by fifteen minutes each day and in the course of my absence another hour and a half of it had become available. At the hotel I retrieved my suitcase and took the elevator up to my junior suite granted as part of the Six Continents membership.
“Let us know how you like the room,” the receptionist asked. “It’s an experimental décor and we want to determine our guests’ reactions.”

I called Kai and reminded him about the plans I’d put forth. He asked about what I had planned and I said that if I told him it would ruin the surprise.
“Meet me in front of the City Theater at eight o’clock tonight.”
“On Eläintarhantie?”
“I’m not sure what the street name is. But you know the City Theater across the bay from your apartment, right?”
“Yes.”
“Good. Eight o’clock. See you there.”

My junior suite wasn’t much of a suite. It was still just one room though it had two big terrycloth robes, larger bars of soap, upgraded shampoos and lotions, a marble bathroom and at last, an electric teapot. I didn’t care about earning free limousine rides. An electric teapot meant an end to lukewarm coffee.

As for the décor, I wasn’t impressed. The hotel was long overdue for a renovation and the room I’d been given wasn’t modern or streamlined like the newer hotels. It was “puffy”. Big puffy curtains, big puffy pillows (and lots of them) and a puffy lime green chair and ottoman. The room looked like it had been renovated ten years ago and forgotten about until I walked in on it but I could overlook puffy for the sake of an electric teapot.

I pulled the room-darkening curtains, turned back the puffy duvet and crawled into bed. Muffled sounds came from the low volume of the television. As I lay there I thought that this must be what was like to be inside of a marshmallow.

When the alarm went off at four o’clock I rushed to fill my electric teapot. Instant coffee had never tasted better. I sipped it carefully so as not to burn my tongue. My phone rang and I realized that I left it on while I slept. It was Veikko.
“You’re back,” he said, sounding elated.
“I am.”
“Can you meet us for a beer? Janne and Kalle are stopping into town after work.”
“I can, but only for a short while.” I was to meet them at Mann Street at six, which would give me about an hour and a half before I’d have to leave to meet up with Kai. “But just for one beer,” I told him.

I didn’t know that when I turned on the bathroom lights that I also activated the heated floor until I stepped out of the shower and noticed that I wasn’t standing on cold marble. “THIS is fantastic,” I thought to myself.

My portable CD player barely fit into the exterior pocket of my down jacket. I had to put the CD in the other pocket and I brought along extra batteries in case the current ones died. When I finally snapped the pockets and zipped the jacket, I too was puffy. There was still light in the sky but the sun had sunk below the horizon. A strong wind blew from the north as I walked along Mannerheimintie.

I ordered a beer and sat with the guys, excited about the time I’d be spending at the boarded up house. I now referred to it simply as The House. Veikko asked about my flights and I told him about Vesa who’d worked the flight from Dubai in drag and about the problem of getting into the US when Finnair misspelled my name.
“Imagine,” he said while tossing his scarf to one side, “not being able to enter your own country.”
“And all I do here is wave to the customs guys and walk in,” I replied.
Janne listened but didn’t understand. Veikko retold the story entirely in Finnish so that Janne got ever word of it. He listened to Veikko but looked at me while nodding his head.
“So what are you doing tonight that you can’t stay?” Veikko asked.
“I’m going to a concert,” I told him.
“Oh, lovely. A concert. Who’s performing?”
“It’s a private concert.”
“Where?”
“In the forest,” I said. I took the last drink of my beer and told him I had to be on my way. “I have to meet someone at the City Theater first.” I left no time for further questions, as I wasn’t prepared to talk about The House publically. “I’ll call you next week.”

Being in the center of town there was no direct route to the City Theater. I took the main streets, crossing the Pitkäsilta bridge into Hakaniemi and turned left at the Säästöpanki building. It was the same route to Ravintola Marco Polo where Maria and I liked to dine and a route that was now quite familiar. Most everything I did in Helsinki now revolved around Hakaniemi.

Kai stood on the street at the entrance to the parking lot for the City Theater.
“Come on. Let’s go.”
“Where are we going Jeffrey?”
“Just up the street. I told you about the house I discovered at Linnunlaulu, remember?”
“Yes.”
“Okay, so here’s what happened. Don’t talk and don’t ask any questions until I’m finished.” He agreed and as we walked I told him the story and how in Salt Lake I’d heard the song on the radio and realized that these were the words that the house wanted to have heard. He looked at me quizzically. “I know this sounds odd and I agree that it is completely out of the ordinary. I’ve never before felt as if a house needed to speak to me, but please just trust me on this.”
“I will,” he replied.

As we arrived at The House the winds had stopped.
“This is it,” I said.
“So this is your house?”
“Yes.”
“Now what shall we do Jeffrey?”
“I want to feel the stone foundation.” The ground slopped away from the foundation along the western side, exposing nearly all the courses of stone.
“Jeffrey,” he said. “The stones are warm.” I took off my glove and touched them as well, looking at him. “How can that be?” he asked.
“This house is magical I told you. Now listen to this.” We stepped back enough to be able to see the entire west side of The House and I pulled the CD player out of my pocket, plugged in an adapter that allowed two sets of earphones to be used and gave a set to Kai. “Put these on.”

I queued up Dante’s Prayer and pushed play. “Just listen.” As the song played on his eyes filled with tears. Mine welled up too. Our senses were enveloped by the energy. The deep voices of the stones and the whispering voices of the treetops became the background to the message that The House had been waiting to express.
“Please remember me…”

“This is the amazing,” Kai said while wiping the tears from his face. “I wish we could capture this on film.”
“Film couldn’t possibly capture this.”
“I know Jeffrey, but there has to be away to record this.”
“There isn’t Kai. There’s just isn’t a way.”
We listened to the song again.

* * *

When morning arrived I hauled the pumpkin to Shelly’s coffee shop. She wasn’t there but a man that I’d presumed to be her husband was. He watched as I unloaded the cans onto the counter and must have thought it strange because his face went blank except for a tiny wince in his eyes.
“These are for Shelly,” I said while realizing that I’d forgotten the measuring cups at the hotel. “Tell her that I forgot the measuring cups but I’ll bring them next week.”

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