I’m in love with that song

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Yesterday on the street I passed someone I knew another lifetime ago, someone I hadn’t seen since I moved from 9th Street. She is part of the fabric of this town, a lifelong New Yorker now in her 80s with stories and secrets whose surfaces I only skimmed during the five years I knew her. She was an integral part of Louie’s first few years, and she helped me immensely during a very difficult time when I couldn’t always find the energy to take care of my dog. For this I will always be grateful. I didn’t stop her – she was doing her thing, we had somewhere to be, and I’m not sure how much catching up we really need to do. But it was strange and comforting to see her still thriving in her very unique manner of thriving.

Last week, or maybe the one before, while Louie and I sat on the bench outside Joe’s and drank our (my) coffee, a gentleman sat down and struck up what seemed an innocuous conversation. The dog, the weather, the neighborhood. In the thirty minutes I knew him he told me a lot — strangers do this with me. Stranger is not the right word. He’s in Chelsea only temporarily while he waits for his apartment on the east side to be renovated; it was destroyed in an electrical fire almost a year ago. He divides his time between his friend’s place in Chelsea and his home in Hartford, Connecticut. He inherited this home from his now-deceased partner of several decades; they met in a gay bar in the West Village in the late 70s. They built a life together, alternating between the city and Hartford, where his partner was an architect and adjunct professor at the university. His partner died of a heart attack a year and a half ago, while my momentary friend was on the train heading up for a visit. He told me how hard it is knowing that he’d taken his time, that he might have been able to save him, that he didn’t get to say goodbye but was the one who had to identify the body and call his love’s children and ex-wife. He told me his love was a packrat, a borderline hoarder, and now he doesn’t know what to do with all the stuff. Everything has meaning; he remembers where they bought it and why, how they acquired it and when. He apologized for burdening me. I asked if he minded my follow-up questions and he said he appreciated them. I assured him that he was absolutely not burdening me, explained that I’m the “feeler” in my immediate family — not that the others are cold or unfeeling, but they aren’t comfortable with talking about the dark side of life, death being the darkest side of all. I have had to become comfortable with it because I’ve had to become all too aware of it – nothing I would wish for, certainly, but ignoring it doesn’t really allay my fears or expedite the grieving process. Some people, like this man (James), want to be asked about their departed loved ones, want to talk about what happened and how they feel and what they’re going to do next. If one believes these things, and I do, there’s a reason we got coffee at the same time and the bench was free when it was and the weather was such that we had something to talk about beyond what a good looking guy my dog is. I served a purpose for those however-many minutes, and I am grateful that I did. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger whom you’ll likely never see again about the things that matter. I guess. I need to talk to the people in my life in order to feel like what I have to say matters.

Beautiful weekend this past one was, combining some of my favorite things – travel and music and good food and new friends and comfort and weather and light. And love, in all its many, many manifestations.

May the bad times be fleeting, et laissez les bons temps rouler.

I wanna be the one to walk in the sun …

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…and other lyrics that meant absolutely nothing to me thirty years ago and that read much better out of context…Thank you, dear L, for indulging me in music, excellent food, and a jaunt down memory lane. And thank you for the gifts. You rock, mamacita. I simply love you.

Since the mishigas of last week I have taken stock of things and spoken with some of my favorite people and holy shite did I need out of that web of toxicity. There are more elegant ways I could have handled matters, but I’m going to attempt to be Machiavellian about it all. And the people at the center of that environment have no impact on my life. Except for you, dear lad, but I know you already know this, and ours is a friendship writ in the stars. Onward and upward. We’re going good places. Like Chicago. And back to the Bronx.

It is so easy to get caught up in the bullshit and forget how far we’ve come, all of us. It’s so important not to, and a big part of that is not adding to the negativity and stooping to the levels of our perceived enemies. This is the real world, and there’s no table here for the cool kids. In the real world the artists and poets and trombone players and AV squad and people who think for themselves and buck the trends and dream bigger than most are the ones who rule. Be kind to yourselves and be kind to others, because we’re all dealing with something.

Someone asked me today how I feel comfortable exposing my past and my psyche in this forum. The short answer: it’s cathartic, it’s making me a better writer, and it matters to people I love and some whom I have yet to meet. I’ve spent way too long feeling the need to hide certain aspects of myself and that really never worked. The people I connect most with get it, and I don’t have anything to hide from them. Nor do I have reason to be in denial. This is me, flaws, fabulous assets and all. And you who read my words give me purpose. Milles grazies.

Not to mention, there is a hell of a lot left unrevealed …