I spent New Years Eve with a group of friends at a Dearborn Italian restaurant. There were 20 of us, all gay men, all gathered there for a second or third gay-friendly year of celebrating in a row.
Afterward we socialized at a comfortable home in Garden City to watch the CNN News Time Square ring in 2010. (I’m told it’s the “in” thing to say twenty-ten, not two-thousand-and-ten. How about: second millennium – try-harder-this-time – decade two?)
The moment the geodesic ball descended 10, 9, 8, 7 … John Lennon’s “Imagine” provided surprising, and touching, musical scoring. Will we ever be done with war? Religion that inspires war? Or – so shamefully Ex-Gay evangelically abetted – the recent Uganda kill-gays hate?
On Jan. 2, I had another countdown as I lay listening to the slow movement of Schubert’s C-Major Quintet, a timeless piece of touching loveliness. (I first heard it many, many years ago in Professor Malcolm Johns’ Music Intro class at Wayne University.)
I drifted slowly inward to its harmonies, and had a visitation from an old friend, Bob Thomas, who died 16 years ago. A scholar. A gentle soul. A collector of rare books and vintage people. Bob had an intuitive gift without ever being asked for helping those in trouble or need, myself included.
In my dream – the setting a small library – perhaps Bob’s own. (He owned a first edition of Thoreau’s “Walden.”) There were no words spoken. Only looks of joy. Instant recognition. Two friends separated by a long, long journey somehow – somehow beyond our Wildest dreams – for mere milliseconds – from an eternity – reunited.
We hugged. Held each other closer than reality. Reluctant to let each other go. What now, Bob? I thought. Where shall we go for dinner? I’ve so much to share. How time has passed us by! What’s it like where you’re living? Yes …
Then I awoke.
Another dream also just days fresh in memory involves a “soul mate of sorts,” who for the few fleeting countdown of our mutual dream encounter was drawn to me and I eagerly to him. I recall asking him, “May I see you tomorrow?” He said a simple, “But of course!” As though it were a given. Taken for granted. The start of something really grand.
You can imagine how I felt those snowy mornings when I awoke – alone in my studio – only to realize I had been dreaming. (Is it possible that in our sleep, during our one, two, three nightly REM periods, we tap into another, ongoing dimension of time, a parallel universe, a realm of yet-unattained possibilities? Life as stranger yet than fiction?)
I recognize in these brief episodes of mental fabrication the plain fact of connecting life’s zigzag dots: I’ve grown old. I’m at times reluctantly forced to recall a saying from earlier days, “Nobody wants you when you’re old and gay, er, gray.” Yes, I’ve become, by default of natural processing an inhabitant of that one-stool limbo, the party’s over, please-drive-carefully, Wrinkle Room.
“Why go there, Mary? Everybody’s over 35?” I was advised so long, long ago when turning an eager, with-your-looks-you’ll-go-places, hot-to-trot 21 … 25 … 35 … 50 …
Literary curmudgeon, Irish playwright G.B. Shaw, who lived cantankerously into his cranky 90s, was the guy who first quipped, “It’s too bad youth’s wasted on the young.” (I like the gay rhyming version better. It’s one thing to be cursed by exceptional good looks, It’s another …)
There are, however, compensations for becoming irretrievable a “wrinkler.” May you live long enough to discover these wonderments for yourself. As they say in the program: One day at a time. One decade. One dream. One life. We mellow with age. (Or, do we? Don’t ask.)