May 19th-25th, 2013
The bar is crowded, sweaty and I don’t exactly feel comfortable. Every direction I look I see men, some half naked, some wearing leather straps and others just staring me down. I’m a new face here in this bar, fresh meat to them. I grow some empathy for girls that get stared at by creepy guys.
It wasn’t my idea to come here nor my mom’s who is currently the barrier between them and me. My mom and I met these two guys earlier this evening at a play in uptown Charlotte, NC where we’ve been staying. Our two new friends Enzo and Michael are sort of the kings of this joint and they’re taking good care of us. They invited us here tonight knowing we were mother and son and that I am not gay but promised a good time. They haven’t let us down we’ve been having a good night of story telling and laughter.
This was always a world that I of course knew existed but had no reason to step into or learn anything about. Our friends are openly and respectfully sharing everything there is to know about this world and I slowly begin to understand a subculture that exists within every community everywhere. Like so many things; prejudices arise from ignorance, false stereotypes and closed traditional views of the world. As much as it creeps me out, I start to understand it a bit and actually find it fascinating as I would another culture that I have no intention of being a part of.
They take us back to our hotel and wish us a good rest of our stay here in Charlotte. The reason I’m here in the first place is because my mom is taking part in a nursing conference for her work and I’m staying with her since I’m out here anyway. I’m using this time to work on my bike, get parts I need, organize photos, blog, etc. and at night going out with my mom. It is such a nice break from the lonely road to be with family for a few days and recharge before I set off again.
Over the next few days we see all there is to see in uptown Charlotte, which is not much, and meet up a couple more times with our new friends who become the highlight of this otherwise boring banking city. They are both inspiring to me, having done very well for themselves and traveled all over. We share each other’s life stories and by the time we say our farewells I feel as if I’m leaving behind good long time friends.
After nine days of staying in a luxurious hotel, eating out at restaurants, going to the movies, not worrying about weather or where I’ll sleep each night, I must set off once again on my own. My mom leaves early in the morning to catch her flight and I am once again hit with loneliness in this empty fancy hotel suite. I sneak my side bags down into the parking lot where I’ve been hiding my bike to avoid the 18 dollar per day charge and set off again into the unknown…