One Gay Traveler Was Tired of Luxury, but Then This Happened…

Written by | Gay Voices

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Lawrence had a habit of complaining about experiences others would love to have — until life hands him a startling reminder to enjoy every minute.

Oysters, Anyone?

I once had an experience that drives oyster lovers wild. I was on a boat excursion in the cool clear waters of Grebbestad, Sweden. Apparently, they are an ideal environment for wild oysters, langoustines and other succulent shellfish. I was there on this “oyster safari” as a journalist to learn about and consume some of the world’s most sought-after seafood. My guide fished out a cluster of oysters (not to mention a sassy little crab who reminded me of Lady Gaga). He showed me how to pry the shell open, detach the meat, add a squirt of lemon and slurp it down.

Yuck!

What an ingrate, right? But I hate oysters. It doesn’t matter how high quality they are. It doesn’t matter to me that they’re served in the world’s finest seafood restaurants with outstanding sauces and garnishes. I just can’t get past their texture and briny flavor. The guide watched me wince as I swallowed. He offered me another.“We have a Japanese breed you might like better: it’s creamy!” he volunteered enthusiastically. I politely declined.

Getting Tired of Luxury

I tend to run into these kinds of situations fairly frequently when writing about travel. The job allows me to partake in experiences billed as the world’s most indulgent. And many of them feel that way to me, too. But sometimes — due to my own personal tastes or simply because I’ve already had too much of a good thing — they don’t feel so luxurious.

That’s how I would end up complaining about things that other people consider dreams come true. One discovers the inconvenience involved of taking a 10-day cruise to Alaska. There can be monotony in touring yet another castle. And it turns out I’m just not always in the mood for foie gras at Jean-Georges.

One of my best friends and partners in crime, Lewis, actually started scolding me when he’d catch me being less than grateful for the opportunities life offered. He’d remind me that negativity can be contagious. When I moaned about things like being stuck staying overnight at a five-star resort while waiting for a connecting flight in the morning, Lewis would straight up demand that I quit my bitching.

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The Wake-Up Call

However, a few years ago something happened that helped me change the way I approach these situations. In April of 2014, I happened to be visiting Lewis’s home city of San Francisco. I woke up to the news that Lewis had suddenly and inexplicably passed away. I almost couldn’t believe it, in part because we were the exactly the same age.

I thought of all the things Lewis and I had enjoyed together — from campy pop music to kitschy Japanese accessories. Much of it was stuff that some people consider obnoxious but we had found delightful. Losing him became a constant reminder to make the most of life while I’m living, to try to find the joy in experiences, to stop grumbling so much.

That doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly learned to love everything. I still have a fear of heights; so you won’t catch me ziplining or taking on any open air high-altitude adventures. But I am more likely to take chances on a variety of new experiences to try and find what’s rewarding about situations that don’t initially appear to be my cup of tea.

Taking a Chance on the Open Road

I decided to check out “Scenic Rush,” an experience that offers drivers an opportunity to get behind the wheel of premium Fast and Furious-worthy vehicles like Ferrari F430 Spiders and Porsche 911 Turbos on British Columbia’s beautiful Sea-to-Sky Highway.

There was a time I might have kvetched about how nerve-wracking it is to potentially crash several-hundred-thousand dollars worth of automobile. Maybe I might have even pointed out that the opportunity was wasted on me (a guy who rents compact cars for road trips or, better still, takes the train).

Instead, I chose sit back and enjoy the ride — in part because there are drivers out there who would love, just for a moment, to have one of their feet on that pedal.

And also: Lewis would have wanted me to.

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Last modified: May 7, 2019