The End Of An Era
The final, oh so very final episode of Six Feet Under was last night. I knew it was coming but somehow that didn't make it any easier to watch, knowing all the while that next Sunday night, we'd come home to a Fisher-free Tivo, that really, we'd probably cancel our HBO subscription since we don't have the patience to watch movies at home and without Six Feet Under, HBO has nothing we want to watch. Unlike Showtime, which is the master of placating us, offering a different show as soon as one season ends.
They did an amazing job of wrapping up loose ends, of helping us say goodbye to the family, both the living and the dead. I cried like I was losing my best friends through the whole thing. When Claire packed up her car and headed off to her very uncertain future across the country, I didn't see her, I saw me. That's the way I left Ohio in 1994, in a withered and weary Toyota van that was packed to the gills with the few things I'd determined to be important. Except that Claire had a reliable car and a trust fund. I had that rickety car, a few hundred bucks and blind faith in life's ability to work things out.
That summer, Dan and I drove through the night to get to my exciting new life with my brand-new girlfriend in Oregon. We'd met in Ohio, had 3 weeks of Big Fun (and yes, lots of the sex), then she left and I decided to go with her. Looking back now, it's pretty safe to say that I knew it wouldn't last -- we'd talk about getting a dog but both of us would stop, knowing that even a dog was way more responsibility than our fragile-from-the-start relationship could bear.
Though I knew it wouldn't last, that we'd never have that lifetime of wedded bliss together, I went anyway. Transferred college for the second time, quit my job, left my few friends, and wrestled with two demons -- leaving behind Daisy, our family beagle who was getting up there in years and more importantly, leaving Grandma, taking away my ability to see her every week or more -- whenever the urge struck me. I talked to Grandma about the move more than once and though I can't remember it exactly, I'm certain she said something wise about doing what I needed to do for me, to not worry about her, though of course I did and of course over the years my heart ached to be near her.
I never fully explained to her why I was going (for the sex, of course), never really came out to her about my ex. I said she was a friend and we left it at that. Later, when I visited Grandma with Andrea in tow, Grandma said she never liked that Marcia, that she was kind of stuck up. Grandma thought Andrea was much nicer, and funnier too. Both counts, true. Only after Andrea remained a regular part of my life did Grandma and I discuss the nuances of me being gay, which for her meant knowing who cooked, who cleaned the bathroom and the critical lifestyle determinant -- who took out the trash. Once she had all that squared away in her mind, she embraced Andrea with the same love and generosity she embraced everyone with.
But that night, in the summer of 1994, I knew none of this. I had no inkling that my old van would overheat somewhere in Wyoming, that we'd spend the better part of 1200 miles worrying about when, where and if it would konk out for good. Dan and I fought over the stupidest things, his broken heart was just too raw for that kind of close quarters and everything reminded him of his ex. By the time we arrived in Oregon, we were barely speaking. It took some years to return to our natural easy-going relationship but I'm glad we got back to that point.
That night, I cried many buckets of tears, left my parents house, then drove to Grandma's house for a last stop before I left town. We stood in her doorway for a long time, hugging and kissing. I must have told her I loved her a thousand times and each time she told me that she loved me too, that I should go, to get where I was going. Her house was the last place I stopped as an Ohio resident, though my mom didn't know about that stop until just last week.
I've always been glad that she was the last person I talked to that night, that it was her arms I left in the end, that I started the journey of 2500 miles right there, from Grandma's driveway while she waved goodbye. When the Fisher family gathered on the porch to wave goodbye to Claire, I didn't really see them, I saw only Grandma waving me on, toward the future that she knew I had to find.
For a time, that future was sketchy. Things quickly fell apart with Marcia and visits home had me crying as I boarded the plane. But I stayed out here, out west, because I knew deep in my heart that this is the place where I belong. Finally, when I met Andrea, the journey that started there on Suffolk Road became clear. Though it's by no means finished, my life is finally on the path that Grandma imagined, the path where I'm safe, sound, loved and happy, here in our little house in California, where I am more often than not lulled back to sleep by the gentle sound of my love, of my past, present and future breathing softly beside me.