"Purpose of your visit?"
"To visit friends."
"And you're only staying one night?"
"It's for a party."
"Are you bringing gifts?"
As usual I began my trip to Vancouver, feeling like a really bad friend. As we began our descent into the clouds over the beautiful western Canadian city, I was feeling a little feverish, and worried it might be the Swine Flu. But it turns out, it was Olympic Fever. The Winter Games begin in February and there's a frantic undertone in the usual tranquility of Vancouver.
The veteran organizer Pat Hogan of Sounds and Furies Productions met me. She really is a production feminist friend from way back and seems to have longer days than most mortals. The show was in Wise Hall, an old cultural and sports center, that has been refurbished from its days as a post-game drinking hole for Welsh, Scottish, Irish and English teams. I had prepared for the requisite percentage of "Canadian content" but was mostly chagrinned to be describing our American struggle for marriage equality and healthcare. They have both in Canada. Their forbearance had just a tinge of justifiable smugness.
The next day, after hours of annoying if efficient immigration lines, I flew into Seattle, WA and hitched a ride with Seattle producer, Paul Bauer for a one hour drive to Olympia. Nothing like car rides for uninterrupted catch-up. That night I performed at the gorgeous Washington Center. Before the show, I stopped over to the Chica's Café for a 50th birthday party my friend Kathy [aka Doodle] Smith hosted for her girlfriend. I'll go anywhere for a Scorpio sister.
The next morning I left two days of rain and fifty degrees. In the Northwest they don't say rain. They say drizzle, and only tourists use umbrellas. One woman told me since it rains all the time, you just can't give into it. But what about my hair?
When I landed in Phoenix it was hot and dry. Luckily I had stored up hydration or I would have split down the middle.
But the ever-prepared Barbara McCullough-Jones, from Equality Arizona met me with a bottle of water. EA has done lots of events at the Fairmont Hotel in Scottsdale, so my lodgings were gratis. The place is a huge resort, but the man who took me to my room knew the way and it turned out he was from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. On our long trek, we shared about lake effect and the heartbreak of the Buffalo Bills.
That night I performed to a great crowd at the Wrigley Mansion. Yes, of the gum fame. Though not Nicorette, so what's the point? Arizona is a state that has valiantly fought the Mormons and the right wing for marriage equality, so it was a great night to let off steam. Also good hydration.
After a great breakfast chat with Barbara about all the strategies they've been doing to change hearts and minds in AZ, I flew to Tucson. The town is a bit bluer than the red of Phoenix and that day they were having their huge annual Day of the Dead Parade. The lovely Kristen Birner, a friend from back in the Olivia, Redwood travel booking days, and a transplant to Tucson of six years, produced the show for the Alliance. At the reception after I met the Alliance board members, Lane Aldrich an artist and transplant from Bowling Green OH, special guests and a wonderful group of young LGBT and allies who work with Wingspan, their LGBT center.
The next morning at 5am, Jeff who with his partner runs The Royal Elizabeth B&B where I stayed very happily, got up and drove me to the airport. He wouldn't hear of taxi. Jeff and Chuck are Long Island/DC transplants - I met one native Arizonan in two days - gracious hosts and political activists. I had one of the best early morning to the airport conversations I've ever had. Even better than the 430a ride to O'Hare with the vet at the Chicago Zoo who told me how she got rhino semen. Another story, another time.
Safely and happily home now in Manhattan. It's freaky warm for November and about to rain, this day after my birthday. My life is a gift.