I felt foolish.
I had shipped all of my carefully selected presents to those I love in Los Angeles ahead of my arrival, each on wrapped in gold foil bought on sale from CVS. I was now facing the fact that a random thief had taken all of my Christmas gifts. Seething, I still wondered how disappointed this thief would be with Ricky’s duvet cover from Bloomingdales, and a signed, first edition of William Burroughs’ Queer earmarked for Joe. I couldn’t imagine someone who would steal Christmas presents having much use for either gift.
It was the kick-off to a difficult but sometimes thrilling week back home. I was so grateful to be back in Venice, excited to show Joe the places important to me, and yet my mood was gleefully on a swing set; soaring up to see the sky then quickly back down, facing the earth head-on.
Ricky was profoundly depressed, spending his first Christmas as a single man after an ugly divorce. He was disoriented, and pining for the traditions him and his lover had carefully designed over the past six years. I understood but, at times, trapped in my own emotional minefield, I’m afraid I was little help.
Somehow, Joe navigated the two of us with compassion and patience. He found escape in Ricky’s hot tub, nestled in the tiki hut Ricky had built in his backyard.
Christmas Day was a nasty piece of work. Joe and I went over to see my home. Tommy has been living there since I finally was able to get rid of the tenants who went out of their way to destroy it, and I found Tommy had lovingly renovated the interior. I oohed and ahhed at his handiwork, all the while crying at the thousands of memories within every square inch of our beach cottage.
I had forgotten the key to the guesthouse, that sits above our garage, back in Maryland. I asked the concierge of my apartment in Maryland to FedEx the keys, but they hadn’t arrived on Christmas Eve as planned either. We walked into the garage, once Club Bildoe, half art installation and half sex club Billy had built over the first two years we lived in the house. The first thing I saw was the ceiling, a checkerboard of undeveloped Polaroids, each one stapled by Billy in a feverish flash of inspiration. A plastic tarp covered his workbench, freezing it in time.
My eyes were puffy red and I felt a hundred years old when we went back into the house. We visited with Tommy for a few moments. He gave me a gift and I returned it with a shrug, telling him he was supposed to get a thin flannel plaid Ralph Lauren shirt, one of the few items found in the thief’s box that might actually have been appreciated.
I’ll write more later but before I leave now, I have three film reviews:
A Very Long Engagement - A beautiful follow-up to Amelie, replacing whimsy with mayhem. Ricky, Joe, and I cried at the end.
The Aviator - I spent two hours and forty minutes trying to imagine someone other than Leonardo in the part. A chore of a film, it manages to take one of the twentieth century’s most eccentric figures, and it makes him dull.
Bad Education - I loved it but Ricky fell asleep and Joe gave it two shrugs up.