Nine years ago yesterday I landed in West Hollywood! I like to tell people that I was just a young ingenue (of 32) with dreams of a better life. Well, sort of.
I know that I shocked my friends and family. My Mother reminded me today that she still hasn’t given me her permission to move. I also remember that I made a 3-ring, tabbed, color-coded binder to keep my move organized. I grew up in Newton, MA and spent most of my life in and around the city. I was definitely a neighborhood kind of guy back then. For many years I lived in Newtonville, one of Newton’s 13 villages, and didn’t own a car for seven of those years. I frequented all the local shops and restaurants and was even dubbed, the Mayor of Newtonville.
It was a challenge to pick up, leaving a job of seven years, my family, lifelong friends, my local claim to fame. One sister, in fact, was in denial. I had only visited WeHo once, about a month prior. You see, my BF at the time was given a great job opp and I decided to “give it a go.” Go West! With great friends, family, and co-workers came, I think four, great going away parties.
West Hollywood was a huge change for Suburban Sam. This was the big city. And I only knew two people, the (now former) BF and Mr. Byron Bush, who lived in Long Beach. I had no idea how far away LB was. Fortunately, I acclimated quickly. I learned my way around, found some hot spots, became a regular on Friday night’s dancing at Pop Stars and quickly made friends. And I soon loved WeHo. I could walk anywhere. I had everything I needed right here; restaurants, shops, groceries, dance clubs, coffee shops, places to exercise, all the comforts. I was once again, Mister Neighborhood.
So many milestones in nine years. So many lessons too. Some losses, including my beloved Grandparent’s. Some gains, a couple more godsons (and I still haven’t changed a diaper). Volunteering for, and then joining the Board of Directors of, The Trevor Project, changed my life. Becoming a Public Safety Commissioner for the City of West Hollywood has brought many rewarding experiences. Both have given me lifelong lessons, personal growth, and true friendships (I would list some but if I miss anyone I am sure to get in trouble. You know who you are). And, the B-Man, who has survived with me longer than any other man. I am fortunate that I remain in contact with some of my besties in Newton, including Michele, who I met, and married, on the first day of kindergarten. And Jess, my lesbian gay-boy.
It’s great to remember where you were, who you were, when major milestones happened in your life. The plan was to give it a shot in West Hollywood for a year and see how it goes. It’s going. I remember about three months into it I was flying back in from MA and thought, as we were landing, I am glad that I am home, I am glad that I am home. The nine years have not been without tough times but there have been many more people, places, and things that have brought joy to outweigh the challenges. As I say often, I have been blessed. And this past year has brought some endings and a few new beginnings that have been great. Thanks to all those that have been part of my nine year journey. I couldn’t have done it without you. I look forward to the next nine. 2018 here I come!