So, for all intents and purposes, I have officially closed the chapter of Gaskill Street.
Yesterday, with the help of Jay and Jamie, I was able to bag up the remaining trash, box up the remaining items to be kept and clear out all of the furniture in the room. All that remains is one dusty space, to which I will do my best to spruce up over the weekend.
As I stood in my empty room, and looked at the dust bunnies that had gathered behind furniture that hadn't been moved in well over a decade, as well as the shadows on the faded walls, that traced the memories that once hung there - I flashed back to that fateful day when I first moved in.
June 1993. I had spent several years living in a small one-bedroom apartment in NE Philly on Roosevelt Blvd (US 1 for those not from here). It was a crazy busy street but my little corner of the world was my sanctuary.
I had moved there to escape a world that had grown dark - and I loved being away from everything. That is until I saw Gaskill Street.
In 1992 a good friend of mine managed the classified section of the Philadelphia City Paper. One day she called to say that someone had submitted an ad for a house rental and she was going to check it out before printing the ad, since she was in the market. By the end of that week, she was committed and soon had moved in, along with two of her friends, to this beautiful three-bedroom home in Society Hill.
A year went by and one of the roommates decided to move out and into a space with her boyfriend - so I was asked if I was interested in seeing the room.
At first I wasn't sure; since I treasured my freedom away from the Center City world - but I realized that the time had come. After 7 years of a self-imposed exile, I would return to the heart of the city that I love and start a new chapter. Chapter Three.
The first chapter was from 1981-1986 when I lived in the epicenter of all things gay in Philly; not only geographically but spiritually; since I was the co-founder and General Manager of Au Courant Newsmagazine - Philly's gay arts weekly newspaper.
From 1986-1993 I lived a simple life, complete with your 'spiral out of control' moments in NE Philly, in the above said apartment.
And now, in 1993, I would return to Center City with my head held high and carve out a new world for me.
In those 16 years at Gaskill I did pretty well. I entered the home in my final fleeting minutes of my 20s and left it just weeks shy of turning 46. I made a new network of friends; both professionally and personally. I created a new public persona and went on to produce some pretty sweet nightlife events. I put myself out there - but relished being home alone, in my room, when all was done.
Fact is - I was such a public persona during the past dozen years or so, partly to hide the frustration of being so alone inside. I figured (at the time) that it was easier to toss on a new coat of paint versus rip out the plumbing.
But, as with any old house, sooner or later, you have to deal with the inners. Thankfully, I did just that and soon after that project began I met John. Together we have both helped each other grow, balance and love ourselves.
Last May John took on the rental of a house he once shared - to assist, I agreed to sign on the lease and cover utilities; since I was there often. Turns out I would be there nightly for the last year (haha!). John and I connect so comfortably together that we never truly tire of the other. Just as we were a great couple, it seemed that we were great housemates as well.
So - the revelation struck over winter; the time had come. The house on Gaskill had served me well, but my home was with John at our new place. Sure the dollars saved by consolidating my overhead would be quite welcome, but I knew that emotionally and spiritually, this was the time to move on with my life.
So, as I stood in my old worn-out empty room yesterday, I realized that this was not the end of a chapter, but the beginning of a brand new one.
And I couldn't be happier! :)