Ivan Returns, 2019


-- चार हजार पाँच सौ उनसठ --

So this past weekend was pretty much all-Ivan, all the time. Some of it included Shobhit. Shobhit had wanted to do something, perhaps go out for brunch on Saturday or Sunday, to get himself a point on the next Social Review, but varying factors prevented that from happening. Under normal circumstances that would have precluded him getting any points on the next Social Review for any part of this past weekend, except I just remembered something just this morning: unless he does not engage with them in any way whatsoever while they're here, Shobhit gets a Social Review point, as I do as well, just for having someone stay with us as a guest overnight. This is not the same as when a roommate lives with us. The way I see it, having a guest is a straight up social activity. I do the same even if the person isn't staying the night -- if we have people over for dinner, for instance.

What this means is that Shobhit will get just as many Social Review points on the summer 2019 report as Ivan will, for this past weekend: three, for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

So, Shobhit worked a swing shift on Friday, during which I considered going to a movie but opted instead of vacuum the condo and wash the cat dishes, and then actually take a nap for about an hour so I could be awake enough to visit Ivan for a while once he finally showed up. Ivan has this odd habit where he'll book travel but never remember things like arrival times precisely; he initially told me he expected to arrive at "like 10 I think," but he also told me he was taking Amtrak, and I looked up the schedules and saw that the train was scheduled to arrive at King Street Station at 10:10. I knew that meant it would be much closer to 11:00 before he actually got to our place.

So, Shobhit actually got home from work shortly before Ivan arrived. He did message me at 10:19 that he was "At the Link station now," which indicated he was indeed taking Light Rail to Capitol Hill rather than, say, taking a Lyft or Uber (which he also sometimes does). Another thing he always does is text me once he's arrived rather than using the call box so I can just buzz him in; it was 10:46 when he texted me, "Here!!!" So, I went down the stairwell to greet him at the building entrance, let him in, and ride the elevator back up with him.

Ivan seemed quite happy to be here, particularly on Friday night. I noted that he had not been to Seattle since his February visit, which had been postponed over and over mostly because of Shobhit, as I had really hoped to get a visit to keep me company while Shobhit was in India, but Shobhit took literally weeks on end to finalize an itinerary for that trip, and Ivan finally lost his patience with it and booked to visit in February while Shobhit was still here. So, even though he and I did see each other once in the meantime when I stayed a night in Bellingham during my Birth Week in late April, it had been quite a stretch without him visiting Seattle -- nearly four and a half months.

He even said when he arrived that he "felt like I was coming home," which I enjoyed hearing, even though inevitably whenever he comes to live in Seattle after a while he decides he's tired of it and wants to go somewhere else again. His reasoning in the past, though, has been that there were too many memories of heartbreak with failed past relationships, and it's starting to feel like maybe those memories are finally starting to fade and not seem to disturb him so much as they used to.

Shobhit almost immediately started in, yet again, with his cynical expectations of Ivan's plans to try working in New Zealand for a while -- he already booked a one-way ticket out from Seattle on August 3. Ivan had to re-explain what he already had, which to be fair even I had forgotten some of: this is actually a last-chance adventure for him, something not available to any American without dual citizenship with any other country: because one of his parents was born in Canada, Ivan has gained dual citizenship with Canada (a legal process he only completed this year), and due to a special agreement between Canada and New Zealand, Ivan can use a work visa issued by Canada in New Zealand for up to two years. So, this is about more than just his semi-frequent insistence that he needs "a change of scenery"; the age cutoff for getting issued this visa is 35, and Ivan is 34 now. If he waited another year, his chance to do this, ever, would be permanently lost.

So, when he puts it into that context, it makes much more sense that Ivan wants to do this now. Neither Shobhit nor I have ever had any expectation that Ivan will actually stay in New Zealand for the entire two years -- frankly, his troubles follow him no matter where he runs to -- but at this point, even Ivan is agreeing that it would be rather a surprise if he stayed there for an entire two years. He could be there a year, he could be there two months. It depends on what kind of work he can find, if any, and how well it pays, and how much he likes being there. Apparently there's not a lot of countries with this two-year work visa agreement with Canada, and New Zealand was by far the most appealing country to him among the options.

I realized just last week that this actually means Ivan will be in New Zealand when Shobhit and I are in Sydney for Gay Mardi Gras next year. "So close, yet so far away!" He noted that New Zealand is not nearly as close to Australia as people assume, which is true; I looked it up and the distance between Sydney and, for example, Wellington, New Zealand (one of the towns Ivan has his eyes on for moving on to after spending some time in Auckland), is roughly the same distance as that between Seattle and Minneapolis. So, yes, that's far closer to each other than New Zealand is to the U.S., but suggesting he come see us in Sydney while we're there would still be the equivalent of suggesting to someone headed to a visit in Minnesota, "You should come see us in Seattle while you're here!" It's over 1,300 miles away, so that would be a pretty boneheaded suggestion.

That said, Australia and New Zealand clearly still have a multitude of associations with each other, so it remains an at least moderately amusing coincidence that we'll be in the two countries at the same time -- and Shobhit and me on the coast closest to him, at that.

Shobhit asked if he wanted wine, Ivan asked if we had any riesling, we had one bottle and so I opened that and we all had a glass, pretty close to midnight on Friday night. Ivan actually sat and chatted with us for some time in the living room, until just after midnight I said, "I think it's time for me to go to bed." And then, almost as if my saying that had flipped a switch, Ivan said, "Okay!", bounded up off the floor where he had been petting Shanti, and went to the guest room to finish settling in. And I went to go get ready for bed.

-- चार हजार पाँच सौ उनसठ --


-- चार हजार पाँच सौ उनसठ --

Shobhit actually just happened to get the day off of work on Saturday, a rare occurrence indeed, and at first he was suggesting he and I make some kind of plan to spend the day together and I could make more specific plans with Ivan for Sunday. This quickly evolved into other intentions on Shobhit's part, though, as he decided he wanted to go to the casino -- which he had not gone to since last fall. As always I said to him, "Just be sure to only take as much money as you're okay with losing." I guess he was under budget and so it was either that or pay extra to the mortgage. The choice is clear there in terms of practicality, but, unlike how Shobhit can often be when I happen to spend all of $5 extra on something sometimes, I know that's something he enjoys and as long as it's not ruining us, I'm fine with him gambling every once in a while. He got in touch with Sachin and they decided Shobhit would pick him up in Kent on his way down to Muckleshoot.

We went out for a bit of grocery shopping first, though, which was not without some unusual complications: we went down to the parking garage, got in the car, and it would not start. At first Shobhit was thinking this would mean he would not get to the casino after all. "I'm saving that money, I guess," he said. And he called AAA to get someone out to jump start his car.

We really lucked out in this scenario, the car being at home rather than out on a stretch of highway somewhere. A guy was quite nearby and was at our car in the garage within about fifteen minutes. Trouble was, the garage is kind of dark, and I think there were certain things the young man who helped us did not see. He said the battery was actually charged up pretty well, asked if we had left anything on in the car overnight (no), and said to just drive the car for about 45 minutes and it should work well again. We kind of met halfway on that recommendation: with the car restarted, and Shobhit deciding he would go to the casino after all, we drove to Broadway and I stayed in the car with it running while he want to get a bunch of cash for taking to the casino. By the time we got down to the parking lot above the QFC on Broadway and Pike, the car had been running about 25 minutes. We basically took a calculated risk and turned off the car to go down and do some grocery shopping.

And then? The car would not start, again. Shobhit had to call AAA, again. At least another guy was pretty close by and this time arrived well within about ten minutes. And here he found that the battery was indeed toast, and it had a sticker on it that it had been last replaced in 2012 -- technically longer than recommended for getting another replacement -- which was probably just much easier to see in the broad daylight of that parking lot. This guy was quite a bit older, a man with an accent from Ethiopia, who both Shobhit and I assumed simply had more and better experience than the much younger black man who had come the first time. (To be fair, again, it's much harder to see inside the garage, where there is not nearly as much light.) Anyway, the guy came with a truck fully stocked with new batteries, and so he had it replaced and the car running fine again within about ten minutes.

By then Ivan was messaging me asking where I was at, as we had plans to see a movie, and we got back to the condo barely in time to put the groceries away, and then Shobhit gave us a ride downtown on his way out to meet up with Sachin. He dropped Ivan and me off at Madison and 6th, and we walked the few blocks from there to Pacific Place.

I changed my mind about my previous refusal to see MidSommar, which I thought might scare me too much, for two reasons: 1) the movie is getting a lot of buzz among critics and pop culture commentators; and 2) Ivan was really eager to see it, and clearly had no one else to see it with. "I'll do it as a favor to you, as a friend," I told him. And then? I wound up being much more impressed with it than I expected -- I have it a B+. This in spite of at least one sequence that is truly gruesome, so much so that even Ivan was averting his eyes, which seemed out of character to me, but whatever. He goes through weird phases where his tendencies shift in unexpected ways: I am now considering for the first time actually watching Hereditary, writer-director Ari Aster's previous film, because it's now clear to me this guy is shaping up to me a director whose body of work I should be familiar with. And to my genuine surprise, Ivan balked at watching that with me, because "I think it might freak me out." What the fuck?

So, in the ample time on both Saturday and Sunday that Ivan and I had together without Shobhit, we watched other things instead. Ivan and I walked first to the new-ish Whole Foods on Broadway and Madison on our way back from the movie, so he could check it out for the first time, and then at about 5:00 we stopped for dinner at Ramen Danbo, the ramen place so popular now it often has lines literally out the door, on Pine between 12th and 13th. We both quite liked it. We got back home, and I took about an hour to write the review, and then I came out and we watched Thoroughbreds on HBO, a dark comedy I thought Ivan would appreciate. We split the last of the Riesling while watching that, and Ivan downed his quite a bit faster than I did mine.

-- चार हजार पाँच सौ उनसठ --

As for yesterday, Shobhit worked again, 12:45 to 9:15. Ivan took a solo walk downtown in the morning. Shobhit and I had considered going out for brunch, but he decided against it, perhaps because he had lost all his gambling money on Saturday (I mean, whatever, I would have wound up paying for him and me anyway). So instead I made us both an English muffin egg sandwich with feta cheese, which was actually rather tasty.

I considered going to another movie yesterday, but never did; I actually got a fair amount of reading done in my library copy of Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered. There was a couple of separate little whiles there yesterday when both Ivan and I just sat in the living room reading, actually. And we also watched the second of the two suggestions I had found on HBO Go when he asked if we were going to watch anything at home; this time we watched An Ideal Husband, which I'm pretty sure I had not watched since it came out twenty years ago in 1999. It was interesting to see the likes of Julianne Moore playing such a conniving person. Ivan laughed and said, "I like her!"

There's another great line that Rupert Everett says in the movie: "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." I said, "That sounds like my motto!" which made Ivan kind of giggle and say, "That's what I was thinking."

Ivan and I decided to go out to dinner yesterday too, although we did not go far at all to do it: we walked all of two blocks away, the corner of Pine and 13th, a place he always liked called Manao Thai Street Eats. I went ahead and bought a dish for Shobhit to go, and Ivan kind of marveled at the amount of red pepper flakes I drowned it in. "That's how he knows I love him," I said.

When Ivan and I got back home, we read for a bit again, and then I tried to take his suggestion of watching the first episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse. Unfortunately that was last year's season and it's still not available streaming anywhere; the most recent season is Cult, which Ivan insisted was good too and I should watch the first season of that. I only ever watched the first three seasons of that show, and there have now been eight; the fourth one had the circus clowns and I just wasn't interested. I knew Cult was famously tied to the 2016 election, making it far too fresh for me to have any interest at the time; now enough time had passed that I was willing to give it a try. And you know what? Not horrible, but not great -- and why the fuck do we need even more killer clowns again? I finished that episode not especially interested in seeing more.

A bit more reading then, and then I got up to make us all a batch of chai for when Shobhit got home from work. To make enough to fill three large mugs, I used a larger pot that I will never use again, as it was impossible to pour without slopping all over the counter. Shobhit had his dinner I had bought for him and then we all watched episode four of season one of Fleabag, which Shobhit was not nearly as into as when I got him to watch the first episode of Sex Education on Saturday night (I finally took Karen's recommendation on that one), after I had already watched it while Ivan was off on one of his strolls earlier that day, but this episode held his attention better. People keep calling Fleabag's recent second season "a masterpiece" so I expect that to be better; I just want to see the first season first. But this was the episode where she and her sister go on a silent retreat, and I found it by some distance to be the best episode of the season so far.

But then it was well after 10:00 and time for me to get ready for bed. Ivan leaves while I am at work today so I made a point to say goodbye to him before going to bed, and he gave me a hug. Then I had a pretty terrible night's sleep; it took forever to get even barely to sleep to begin with, and then two large bangs I am convinced were fireworks woke me up sometime around 12:30 (Shobhit was convinced it was gunfire, but given it was still 4th of July weekend, even in spite of Shobhit reminding me of a recent shooting in Belltown, I am still convinced that in all probability it was fireworks). This was just in time for me to hear Guru hacking up a fucking hairball by the bedroom door. So, I got up to clean that up, and then it took a while for me to get to sleep again after that.

-- चार हजार पाँच सौ उनसठ --

So, Ivan is off back to Bellingham today, though he will be back again for one final visit before his New Zealand adventure soon enough: he returns Wednesday July 31, mostly because that is when his lease ends in Bellingham. He'll then be here until flying out to New Zealand on Saturday August 3 -- the day Gina and Beth should be coming up to watch the Blue Angels with us (Ivan's flight leaves in the morning). I already told him he could store a couple more boxes in our storage unit down in the garage. I think Shobhit even told him he's welcome to rent out the guest room again upon his return to Seattle, which he said he would "definitely consider." So that raises the possibility of Ivan living with us a third time, about which I have mixed feelings at best. It's easier for me to exist comfortably in a platonic friendship mold with him when he lives elsewhere, without any crush-like obsessions; and honestly, just broadly speaking, I prefer having the condo to just Shobhit and me. Also it's quite convenient having the guest room open for actual guests. I know it's really nice for Shobhit to get the extra rent income, but this is still much what I prefer. Honestly, after all this time, I think I would be fine living with Ivan again -- but, for a multitude of reasons, it would still be easier and more comfortable having the place to ourselves. We'll just cross that bridge when -- if -- we ever come to it, I guess.

As for Ivan's next visit, we have already made some plans, some things we've liked to do in the past and will do one last time as a sort of "one for the road": another visit to Neko Cat Café; another Moroccan dinner at the Marrakesh. I asked if he had ever ridden the Seattle Great Wheel, and he said no; when I asked if he was interested he said yes. So, I figure we can make an evening of it: dinner at the Marrakesh in Belltown and then walk down to the waterfront for a ride on the ferris wheel. I've already been on the thing eight times but it's been three years since the last time, and I'm rather eager to see the view of downtown from it, with most of the Alaskan Way Viaduct now demolished. I should be able to get some nice "after" photos. Also, it's nice to make these plans a few weeks in advance, so I can roll them into my budget beforehand and they won't be any kind of unplanned or surprise expense.

That weekend should thus be the most photogenic of Ivan's visits back to Seattle since he and I went to the "Lusio" light show at Volunteer Park and also visited the renovated Space Needle observation deck, both of which were part of his visit last August. I have photo sets for both his visit last February (7 photos) and for this past weekend's visit (11 photos), but not for anything major or particularly notable we did. Still, I did just today write out a complete timeline of all our visits together ever since he returned from Europe last year -- effectively, all visits, either him in Seattle or me to see him once in Vancouver B.C. and once in Bellingham -- the first two of which were too brief to yield any photo albums. Counting those, though, and counting his next one at the end of this month, it makes a total of nine. And although duration between visits with each other have varied between about one month and roughly three and a half months, we've basically seen each other one way or another on average every couple of months.

Again, that'll change, at least for a little while, after he's off on yet another international adventure. Whether it winds up being for just a few months just like his trip to several countries in Eastern Europe last year, or for much longer in New Zealand, time will tell. I suspect the former, but you really never know with him.

And now, by the time I get home from work this evening, Ivan will be gone and Shobhit's brother will be here. Fifteen years with Shobhit and this will be my first time in-person meeting either of Shobhit's siblings. So this week should be interesting, perhaps even revelatory. I have no idea what to expect as far as hanging out with this guy is concerned, mostly just because over the years I have kind of learned not necessarily to trust whatever impression Shobhit has given of something before I experience it myself.

-- चार हजार पाँच सौ उनसठ --


[posted 12:19 pm]