Arbitrary Story #3: Why do you'all want to go South?

When I was with He Who Shall Not Be Named, his idea of a great vacation — especially at Christmas — was to go to Roanoke, VA.  If it was a good year, we’d stay at the Holiday Inn, Roanoke (they had REAL MARBLE IN THEIR BATHROOMS).  If it was an average year, it was Days Inn, Roanoke.  But we did upgrade to a “suite” with a whirlpool  bath.  The bath sat in middle of the room, convenient from the bed.  You couldn’t actually turn on the bubbles, otherwise, dirt and hair would shoot out.  

And, on those holiday visits to the Days Inn/ Roanoke, the working women would leave their doors open to their “suites”, inviting in both He Who Shall Not Be Named and I with cries of “come on, baaaby, you know you want it.  Sugar, why you keep walking?”  Never mind I’m gay.  It was the 90’s, don’t ask and don’t tell.
On years that were not so good, it was “Best Value Inn”.  Best Value Inn had paper bath matts.  Now, think about that.  When you got out of the shower, and aimed your feet for the white square spot on the floor, your wet foot immediately adhered to the paper matt with a picture of a smiling sun that said, “have a blessed day.”
So, it was with bated breath that I entered the “what do you want to do this Christmas” discussion with Matthew.  We hadn’t been together long, we were still feeling each other out.  We were riding in the car, heading to House of Zen 1.0 after shopping.
“So…..what do you want to do for the holidays?” Matthew asked.
“I don’t know, what did you have in mind?” Me: sideways glance at Matthew.
“I thought we could go to Athens this year.”
“WTF?!” I said, my temper rising, “Why do I go out with guys whose big idea of luxury is to go to the fucking South.  I hate the south.  I hate the paper bath matts.  I hate the hooker suites.  I want to go NORTH.”
“Um,” Matthew said, clearly a little puzzled, “Mike, I’m not good with directions, but isn’t Athens EAST?”
“East?  No…
And he did.  And we went.  It was my first time out of the country since I was a little kid with my parents.  We flew on Continental Airlines, and took our bikes.  That’s when Continental Airlines was still NICE.  We biked all around Athens, and stayed at a very cool European boutique hotel over looking the Acropolis.  When I upgraded the room, Matthew didn’t say anything but, “what a cool room.”  During the day, we biked all around the city.  In the evening, we ate each meal at 3 restaurants — appetizers at one, entree at another, desert at a third.  It’s the EUROPEAN way.    The week flew by.  (AthensEventPhotos.com does have a certain ring to it.  But I tried to learn Greek.  Not. Happening.)
Since our Athens trip, we’ve travelled all over the world.  But a Christmas doesn’t go by that I don’t think, “Hey, SUUUUUUUUGAR, why don’t you stop in here, cute thing, where are you goooooing?” every time I pass a Days Inn.  And, I haven’t stayed in one since.
My life has changed dramatically in the past 10 years.  Maybe that’s why I started writing this blog.  In a way, it has happened so FAST.  Those hooker suites weren’t so long ago.  I had never owned a brand new car until after my Athens trip.  Business went from being weekly trips to DC, to weekly trips to the airport.  And, most importantly, I went from a person in my life who wouldn’t speak to me when I had to go out of town, to one who happily travels with me.
Things aren’t perfect.  But, God, I am lucky.  And blessed.  My bath matt doesn’t have to tell me that — I just know it.