Sunday, September 23, 2012

Are you?

Are you?
Are you gay?
What does that mean?
You know what that means.
There’s boys and girls and a nice neat line straight down the middle.  Gay's if you like shoes and musicals.  Straight if you read “Loaded” and eat Yorkie bars.  ~ Sergeant Hathaway.  Inspector Lewis

"There's nothing faster than a fall from Grace."  Mr. McCuen

Sunday, September 16, 2012

That Grin

Thanks to Facebook, we now have unheard of access to other people's lives, to stalk and be stalked. In less than thirty seconds, you can find someone.  Or in a surprise moment, their picture can pop up in the right hand corner as a "suggestion" or a "request."  And there it is.

Well over 7 years passed. Not one word, not a text, not an email. And it's better that way, for everyone. 

Oh, he was a bad boy.  Brown skin and a grin that just called for trouble. And a body to match.  Pursued by women, flirted with by me.  And all of a sudden, I had him.  Oh no, not for good. I had him, no more than any of the many women had him.  Occasionally.  On his terms.  And his times. 

One minute we were the best of pals.  The next, the best of pals, but with benefits.  And we both liked it that way. No strings, and I knew better than any of his girlfriends that his time was fleeting.  But oh, what a fun time to be had!  The bars, the beers, the late nights down the street at this hang out or that dive.  The calls to meet him and his girlfriend here or there, or to come to his fiance's house for a cook out. We would hang out for a week as the best of pals.  And then the fun time, completely out of the blue.  And that was fine with me. 

And there was his picture.  I admit, I clicked on the album.  I looked at the picture of his wife.  Noticed a tattoo that I did not know, and I knew every tattoo.  And about 5 minutes later, after I'd looked at every picture and gleaned what I could of his life, I scrolled the cursor to the far right and hit "block."  

That's a long time.

“That’s a long time to take care of somebody,” he said.  And that simple honesty is just him.  I’d forgotten the reasons he annoys me are the same reasons I adore him.  There was a time when we were chummy pals who hung out together.  And eventually I’d get annoyed with his ways and give myself a breather, only to rubber band back to his fun side.  And honestly, I have a lot of friends I do that way.  So he’s not different in that way.  Eventually his career took him far away and I haven’t seen him in years now.  He’s in town and reached out to me and we met for lunch.

Typical catch up lunch – checking off all the things that are said or asked. “How’s so-and-so?”  “Have you seen so-and-so?” “Are you still with so-and-so?” 

Usually when I talk to someone about MyFella and Jamie, they come back with some line like, “That’s such a blessing.”  Or “He must be a wonderful guy.” And truth be told, there is no joy like an afternoon spent with MyFella and Jamie.

But this friend for so many years, whose mother runs a home for elderly and had him employed as a teenager wiping bums and feeding others, said, with no tone of judgement whatsoever, “That’s a long time to take care of somebody.” 

MyFella hates the Christmas visitors. They take their church groups to the center one afternoon and milk a year’s worth of good feelings out of it.  We’ve seen them in the Pizza Hut on a hot summer day and they call Jamie by name and talk about their Christmas visit.  Then they’ll say something, “You’re so blessed this” and “You’re so blessed that.”  Just grinning in their Sunday best.

But never before has someone said to me so simply, so honestly, “That’s a long time to take care of somebody."

And I remembered how I can simultaneously be annoyed and love a friend at the same time. 

Plan B

I thought I had it all planned out.  And if I didn't have a written plan, I certainly had a screen play that ran through my mind with occasional updates and changes.

I was going to be gay, you see.  Handsome and gay.  I was going to keep working in the gaming industry making more money than I knew how to throw away.  I would spend Saturday nights in bars with other handsome gays and doing the pretty things that gay guys do.  I would live in a cute home in Midtown and have some of my closest, but superficial, friends help me to decorate it so that it was gorgeous.

And I would have the time of my life.

I traded it all.

I spent the morning cleaning horse poop out of a barn and riding in the back of a pick up truck.

I couldn't be happier.

She didn't come home that day.

She didn’t come home that day.

Almost three weeks ago, my roommate called, clearly upset about a phone call he had received to “come over, right now” before even 8a.m.  Within a little while I received a text, “She’s dead.” And that was it, the life of a friend was over.  She and her partner had gone to a resort area over the weekend with friends, and one of them simply did not come home.

I’ve heard small pieces about what happened – a panic attack, anxiety, etc. and I think we suspect some type of heart attack was brought on.  The autopsy report isn’t back yet.  But one simple truth remains, she did not come home.

The days that followed were a bit odd.  Flip flops discarded on the porch where she had left them gave the impression she would be home any minute.  Friends calling upon her surviving partner, neighbors walking up to the porch with dishes.* I asked the partner, “Are you keeping a list of who brings what?” She said, “Am I supposed to? See, she would have known that. I didn’t.”  I said, “You can. It’s O.K.”

In the case of my friends, death was fairly quick.  No hospital stay, no agonizing illness.  No hard decisions to be made.  And likewise, no one to argue over any decisions. There simply wasn’t time to argue over life saving measures.  She was happy and enjoying life.  And then she was gone.

I did not, and do not, know the particulars of her choices in the way of a will. Nor do I have any reason to know them.  I know she had a partner who loved her.  I know she had more than one grown child and small grandchildren she adored.

And I know that the last 3 weeks I have stressed over getting my own house in order.  I’ve called a friend of mine who is an attorney and annoyed her to no end. I’ve researched laws in my state of residence.  I’ve calculated.  I’ve considered.

 I’ve walked through my home and tried to take inventory of everything MyFella has given me, or we bought together as “ours.” I’ve called or emailed my contacts where I have my modest financial holdings to remember how I’ve set up accounts. I’m making a list.  I’m checking it twice. In short, I’m doing my homework to help my attorney help me get my affairs in order.**

And I am committed to the idea that MyFella and My Family will not wonder.  They will not argue. They will not be left without an idea of what I want to happen. 

Some of the questions put before a person making decisions such as this can be uncomfortable.  It’s fine to say, “I want you to have the power to make my healthcare decisions if I become unable.” It’s another to go through the form and decide how long you want to be on life support, on oxygen, if you do or not want to be brought back.  The medical mysteries of the body are too enormous – who is to know if I would come back a vegetable or perfectly fine? Who is to say if one more day would have made the difference?  And honestly, who wants to be the decision maker,  put to the test for another person?

So I’ll do the best I can.  I’ll make of it what I can.I'll try my best to decide what should happen to me.  I’ll make an inventory of my endless collection of stuff that might make for one good day of a yard sale. And I’ll hope no one ever has to worry about it.


Fall, Winter, Spring & Summer

Some people call it football weather.  School age children think of it as the start to school.  It's that first snap of a morning that promises cool weather to come.  It's the slant the sunlight takes in the afternoon, when it fools you into thinking it's not so warm.  But still it is.

It is those things, yes.  But for me it always means Birthday Season.  I love my birthday, I love to celebrate my birthday.  And I have no problem planning multiple events. 

With a birthday at the end of September, the start of the new school year always heralded a new birthday.  Kid's birthdays were no different than probably any other kid in my neighborhood.  A party in the yard with punch and cake.  There are photos in an album at home of childhood birthdays. I think from the gleam in my eye, my love of birthdays has been with me a long time.

And it's no different as this 42nd year draws to a close.  I look at it only as the opportunity to celebrate the 43rd beginning.

Even as we speak, I'm planning the evening's events.  But I've got in the works what I want for both breakfast and lunch.  And I may just take a day off work to ring in the year right!

It's going to be a great year.  I can just feel it!