GROWING UP, I used to pretend that my red Radio Flyer was my very own car. I’d take imaginary trips to see my grandmother in southern Utah, holding an invisible steering wheel as I guided the “car” along each bend in the road. When I arrived at her house, I never wanted to leave.
Some things never change.
On my shoulder is a tattoo from Where the Wild Things Are. It’s the story of Max, a mischievous boy who goes on a scary adventure in a jungle far from home. He dances with monsters, who crown him “king of the wild things.” We named our Yorkshire Terrier after him.
Max has come to symbolize my journey through life. After high school, I needed to get out of Utah. I didn’t know how to deal with the reality that I was into guys. After college, I moved to LA and launched HERO Magazine. Maybe then they’ll accept me, I thought. I spent the better part of a decade chasing that.
In the wake of my mom’s health, that seems so distant and unimportant now.
There’s this flood of conflicting emotions inside me; I’m still in a daze.
I’m angry that we’ve essentially lost 12 years: we’ll never get them back.
I feel guilty: did I contribute to her cancer?
I’m coming to grip with that line in Fight Club:
This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.
I’m overwhelmed by all the love and support, and at the same time I’m not very good at accepting help. Ironically, the concern of loved ones causes me to retreat deeper into the jungle.
Fortunately, Where the Wild Things Are ends on an up note: Max eventually gets lonely and returns home to his room and finds a hot supper waiting for him.
Like Max, these past seven days have taught me that no matter how hard you try, you can’t run away from home.