Comstock's magazine 1117 - November 2017 - Page 57

NIGHTFALL DIMS THE ROOM, AND AS THE MAYOR GOES ON ABOUT THE TRAGIC ROOTS OF HIS REMARKABLE ENTERPRISE, HE ALLOWS HIS ROOM TO FILL WITH DARKNESS. scattered blight remains throughout the city, Cabaldon has shepherded progressive pro- grams like bike-sharing, urban farming and locally-subsidized preschool. Given those accolades, a fast, confident speaking rhythm is unsurprising. But when faced with intimate questions about the vio- lent death of his mother during his childhood, or about hiding his sexual orientation un- til age 41, the pace of Cabaldon’s words slow down. The volume dips. What was vibrant and verbose becomes soft and hesitant. His speech is only part of it. A visible change occurs, too. Since he was an adolescent in Los Angeles, Cabaldon says he has always enjoyed being known as “the smart one, the driven one and the one who gets things done.” He appears completely at ease with public speaking and boasts that his speeches are never written or rehearsed. Cabaldon’s involvement in a national mayor’s group has granted him access to Congressional leaders and the White House. He also works as a partner at Capitol Impact, an education advocacy group, and has sat on multiple nonprofit boards and public commissions. When Cabaldon returns home each night, he shuts the door behind him and con- tinues to work. When he isn’t working, his focus shifts inward. The mayor, who turns 52 this month, enjoys solitude — at times to the point of being reclusive. As a boy, Ca- baldon would spend hours in his room alone. As an adult, the mayor has never fallen in love, had a long-term partner or even a short-term boyfriend. But through his entire adult life, he continues to share each personal milestone with his mother, Diane. Ë Cabaldon leaves town a few times a year to travel over 360 miles south to the San Fernando Mission Catholic Cemetery in Mission Hills. He speaks aloud to Diane while standing over her tombstone, sharing with her his deepest thoughts. He consid- ers what advice she would offer. In 2000, six years before he very publicly came out of the closet, it was Diane to whom he said, for the first time in his life, the words, “I'm gay.” Though the mayor characterizes these meetings as uplifting, he says he typically walks away in tears. When Diane died in 1979, Cabaldon was just 12 years old, sitting in the backseat as his mother’s BMW smashed into a guardrail off Victory Boulevard in North Holly- wood. She is buried in a family plot, eight miles from the scene of the accident. When first asked about the details of his mother’s death, Cabaldon backtracks a few months and conjures the image of a Betty Crocker cherry chip birthday cake with November 2017 | comstocksmag.com 57