Friday, July 16, 2010

Ordinary World

...with apologies.

It's been over a year since last I wrote in these pages. Much longer, if you were looking for anything of substance.

Blogging has changed...it's certainly not the animal it was when I started doing this back in 2005. Rather than sending missives out into the ether, where they would float and languish in the brackish backwater that is this blog, occasionally snagging the odd wayward traveler, I've been availing myself of the much more immediately gratifying social interaction platforms since invented, and pretty much now regard The Mark of Kane as one would, say, a first generation iPhone; still interesting, but almost quaint in it's obsolescence.

I noticed that this wasn't only happening here. Many of the blogs I once read have changed, or disappeared. When I started, I would often devote a couple of hours a day catching up on the blogs I favored. My daily required blog-reading list has dwindled down to a mere handful of familiar names requiring perhaps a daily allotment twenty minutes, if that much. In addition, I've been excised from many of the blog rolls I was once formerly a part of. I can imagine those parties felt no need to continue checking this page, only to be confronted with the same old Shirley Jackson novel title and stolen photograph of the building in which we reside.

Which brings me to this: I really did not want to write about the past year. I didn't much feel like sharing the intimate details of how Tim and I cobbled our lives together, after 14 years of living apart. Suffice to say, we have been rather successful in that regard, and the general consensus is that we should have done it years ago.

In the process, much has changed. Tim is no longer bartending at the Dugout and the Dugout, of course, is no longer. After a dozen years of Sundays spent slinging cocktails (Tim) or leaning against one jukebox or another (Me), surrounded by many, many dear friends, we found ourselves without so much as a home base in the world at large. For a time we tried a few other options, anything to avoid the dreaded Sunday Scaries, but after a while we came to realize that there really weren't many palatable options out there for a couple of gentlemen so clearly in their fifties.

GAY is a radio frequency I find I'm having trouble receiving these days. I'm sure the transmitter is as strong as ever, but now the signal arrives full of static, broken up, or not at all. After tuning in for well over 40 years, I suppose I should be more upset than I am, but there you have it. I'm not.

A fairly recent blog purports to be a guide written for the "postfabulous" homosexual. Upon perusal, one finds that there's very little "postfabulous" about it. It's pretty much your standard up-to-date gay gazette of all the latest, greatest notions put forth for the elucidation of those denizens of a world I've left behind. For me, it might as well be written in Farsi.

I realize that I'm not post-anything.

I've turned a corner in my life which has afforded me a vastly different panorama, though no less wondrous.

I have a home and a husband now, and I enjoy them both to the such an extent that I don't often want to leave. That outside world we've both known so well is now pretty much gone. We still go out and walk among the ruins sometimes, pausing to view the new city built on the ashes of our own.

Then we head home.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Have Always Lived In The Castle

Home Sweet Home!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

If You're Going To San Francisco...

with thanks again to Liz Hickok


I think I'm a little too old to wear flowers in my hair, although Harry Hay may have had a difference of opinion on that subject.

We're off to celebrate Tim's 50th birthday in our favorite city.

When we return, we begin the process of combining our households.

Lots of excitement afoot!

See y'all soon!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Twilight

with apologies to JL1967


I just wasn't feeling it.

After so many years of heading down to the bar on Sunday afternoons, I've lately become rather recalcitrant about making the trip west. It's odd, but being at the bar for those couple of hours is yet another way I get to spend time with Tim. We share glances, smiles and short updates over the bar all through the evening. The nights that I rebel and stay home strangely feel like punishment. I revel in those evenings when my pals turn up en masse, but then there are those nights when I'm mostly left to my own devices, doing all I can to fade into the jukebox, watching the passing parade of disinterested men and fighting off impending panic attacks. But I'm a creature of habit and devotion, so mostly, I grab a sandwich for Tim and head on over to take my place and make my stand.

That night I arrived more than an hour later than I usually do. Tim saw my face and quickly passed me a shot of bourbon and a beer in hopes of awakening my liquid personality. As always, I short circuited the on-going Madonnathon for my own amusement and arranged myself in the same place I've stood for nigh onto a dozen years. In the dim red light, I caught sight of my grim, grey face in the mirror on the opposing wall and smiled ruefully.

As luck would have it, I was soon pulled from my doldrums by the arrival of a very small group of friends who piled their gear behind me, grabbed beers and arranged themselves around me, surrounding and distracting me from the dark thoughts that have nagged at me all season. I was most grateful for their smiles and small talk, the hugs and hilarity that ensued. The bar was filling up when the side door opened, and he walked in.

I recognized him immediately.

Though it had been over thirty years, he still pretty much looked the same. Tall, taller than me, age had filled out his rangy limbs and softened his lupine features. The same hank of sandy hair hung over his forehead. His pale hooded eyes searched the room as he walked to the bar. I could not take my eyes off him.

He wore a heavy black leather jacket, perfectly tailored to a man his size. I watched him as he made his way to the bar and ordered a drink. Leaning back, he sized up the crowd. Our eyes met briefly.

I saw him order another drink and make his way around the room. Various denizens of our forest stopped him, engaging him in conversation. One of our more forward souls cornered him against the bar, chatting him up as he reached and opened the top three buttons of his shirt, revealing his pale furry chest. Though he broke away minutes later, his buttons remained open.

Brushing up against him in the crowd as I made my own way to the bar, he smiled at me and muttered "Handsome man". I grinned back, stroked his arm and kept moving.

Later, as the bar slowly emptied, I returned back to my post at the jukebox to find him standing in my spot, grinning at me. I took a very deep breath and walked over to him. We smiled, exchanged names and a slow meaningful handshake. As he was about to make his move, I asked him:

"Did you live on the Upper West Side?"

He stopped short and looked at me.

"Did you have a boyfriend with dark curly hair?"

His eyes widened and he nodded. "David", he added.

Thirty five years, when Christopher Street was at the peak of it's glory, we'd promenade from Greenwich Avenue all the way down to the abandoned elevated West Side Highway. In an effort to brighten the waterfront and lessen the late night truck carousing, Mayor Lindsay had caused there to be a small waterfront park built adjacent to the open-air Morton Street Pier. Now, many of the other piers in vicinity are considerably more storied, but in those days the Morton Street Pier was our Piazza San Marco, our Grand Central Terminal. It truly was the crossroads of a thousand lives. Christopher Street was a mere thoroughfare for the crowds that would head down to the river and spend their weekends in the sun, breathing the fetid river air.

I first met John and David on that pier some sunny summer Sunday all those years ago. David was short, a muscular fireplug with dark curls. John towered over him, handsome and thin, regarding me with his gray wolfish eyes as David chattered away. I joined them for a drink outside Keller's shortly after we made our acquaintance. After a couple of beers, David mentioned that they thought I was really cute, and would I like to come home with them? I glanced first at John, then David, and decided it definitely would be a good idea. They hustled me into a taxi, placing me between them as we headed uptown.

I relayed in great detail the many and varied activities of that evening thirty five years ago to the gentleman leaning against the jukebox, watching as his smile grew wide in amazement. At first I'm sure he didn't believe my tale, but as the details I sketched fell into place, he began to warm to the notion.

"Well, you are just the sort of man I would have liked", he said.

"I was 20", I mentioned. He frowned.

"May I?", he asked, as he unbuttoned my shirt, revealing my chest.

"Oh, yeah", he breathed, "exactly the sort of man I like".

I shuddered, feeling every single one of those intervening years. I stepped back and took a deep and thirsty drink. He did the same, his eyes glowing at me. He pulled me forward by my shirt, close to him.

"It's really odd. Right at this moment, I feel so much love for you", he whispered.

His long arms draped around my shoulders as I wrapped my arms around him, our lips meeting.

Tightly, we held each other as years raced around us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

...To Wrestle The World From Fools

In 1988, when all my friends were either newly dead or preparing to die, Patti came back from retirement to leave this gift.

I would listen to it over and over, feeling completely powerless over what was happening around me.

I don't feel that way now.

It's time to man the barricades again.

People Have The Power.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Folks Who Live On The Hill

I was asked not to write about our wedding. And I haven't.

The requirements we met to satisfy the state, the traditions we chose to uphold, the words we selected to say to each other are all sacred to us, now even more so as our very right to be together in this manner is threatened.

This past election day I sat teary-eyed and hyperventilating, watching the results of democracy in action. My fellow countrymen had spoken with their collective hearts and minds in a way I'd never seen before and I was completely bowled over by the outcome. The man who inspired this avalanche of emotion spoke eloquently, accepting the difficulties and challenges that lay ahead of us, and attempted to make sense of the events of the day.

I listened incredulously as he attributed his election to the:

"young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled; Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals...".

When we first met David, the gentleman who joined us together, he asked our reasons for wanting to get married. I explained that the two of us could not have been more committed to each other. A ceremony and a piece of paper with an official seal would not change that or make it any more so. What we wanted was our place at the table; and here was our chance to take that seat, no more, no less.

Now I'm a fairly basic man; my wants and needs are simple. There's an old song I know, written way back in 1937, sung by people as diverse as Irene Dunne and Nina Simone, and then forgotten. It has always brought tears to my eyes and longing to my heart.

Many men with lofty aims,
Strive for lofty goals,
Others play at smaller games,
Being simpler souls.

I am of the latter brand;
All I want to do,
Is to find a spot of land,
And live there with you.

Someday we'll build a home on a hilltop high,
You and I,
Shiny and new a cottage that two can fill.
And we'll be pleased to be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".

Someday we may be adding a thing or two,
A wing or two.
We will make changes as any fam'ly will,
But we will always be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".

Our veranda will command a view of meadows green,
The sort of view that seems to want to be seen.
And when the kids grow up and leave us,
We'll sit and look at the same old view,
Just we two.

Darby and Joan who used to be Jack and Jill,
The folks like to be called,
What they have always been called,
"The folks who live on the hill".

It seemed a dream I could never take part in. Until now.

I will never forget the way Tim and David held me as I struggled through my marriage vows, fighting in vain to staunch my tears. Nor I will forget the way Tim looked at me as he bound his life to mine.

These are things that no one can ever take away from me.

Let it be known:

I am prepared to fight.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Back Pages

The picture?

Probably 1984. I'm not certain. It was taken one rainy Memorial Day weekend at Arthur & Barry's old farm house in Atwood, New York. Nolan, my schnauzer, still had her puppy coat. I'd just crawled out of bed to walk the dog. She never did like getting her paws wet.

I might be 29 years old here, perhaps 30. I can't remember my exact age, but I can remember how the cold wet grass felt on my bare feet and I can clearly conjure up the smell of wet puppy. I also recall how Robert and I hurried back upstairs to our tiny guest bedroom, skinning off our damp clothes and jumping back into the ancient iron bed and each other's arms as the puppy whimpered a bit and then settled into a sleepy heap on the floor.

That morning, 24 years ago, crept in my thoughts during my shower today. I generally wake up in a fog, groggy and sensitive with sleep. I need a bit of quiet and solitude before I can face the world. By the time I'm in the shower, I'm planning the day and ready to strategize my upcoming battles. Today, as I gazed out my bathroom window through the morning's hazy Autumn air and worked my Brazilian Rosewood soap into a lather I remembered today's date.

I nodded and took a deep breath.

A few Octobers ago, I wrote a small piece here entitled My Best Friend. As is my wont to do, the title comes from an ancient Jefferson Airplane song. It briefly detailed the years that Barry and I spent together before he died at the age of twenty eight, some twenty one years ago, last night. My great friend and blog mentor, Joe, graciously linked the post in his blog and I was visited by several hundred people in short order. Forty or so of them were thoughtful enough to express condolences and outrage. One reader even admired the tie Barry wore in the faded Polaroid I included.

Shortly after the piece was posted, I received an e-mail from Arthur. We had not been in touch in several years. A friend of his had followed Joe's link and forwarded the post to Arthur, now relocated to Fort Lauderdale. He was deeply touched and told me to watch the mails.

Some weeks later a large brown envelope arrived from Florida, containing a short note, a color copy of Barry's 1979 New Hampshire driver's license, and neatly folded within, the narrow Thai silk tie that Barry is wearing in the photograph. Arthur had a notion that I might want to drape it over the picture of Barry that graces the top of my piano. Instead I put it away, to rest along side a cache of old photos, notes and letters, ephemera that Barry and I exchanged. It held way too much power for me to view everyday.

It's unfathomable to think that we've not laid eyes on each other in all this time. Twenty one years later, I wonder what we'd have been like today. Back then, I would sit with him, laughing in the face of oncoming tragedy, then go home and cry until I could no longer. I wonder what two such young men might have grown to be, if both their lives hadn't been so cruelly waylaid, one way or another.

Even as i was blogging it, I knew I was not happy with the tone of the original piece. In fact I said:

"it doesn't convey our life, the humor, laughter, the sadness and pain of that time. I'm just not able to capture the very essence of Barry, in the much same way I can't remember the sound of his voice, no matter how hard I try".

Tonight, alone, I sit here and try to comprehend the dark and complex emotions I've been steeping in all day. Once again, I'm not happy with what I've written, if perhaps for different reasons.

An hour or so ago, I retrieved the tie and knotted it around my neck.

A deeply foolish and sentimental gesture, I know.

It's hard for me to look back at those days and I mostly avoid doing so. Most of the stories I could tell of that era don't include anything that even resembles a happy ending. I have great difficulty relaying the horror of those days to the bright eyed and eagerly curious young men I meet today.

Someone should, though, even if it's just a sentimental old fool like me.