Vacation is a state of mind. You can be there if you tell yourself you are there. Forget the job you left a week ago and also don't think about the one you are starting on Tuesday and enjoy this time, this leisure. Do as you will. This morning, Jacob asked me what I was going to do today. I'm going to the gym, I said. That's it, he asked, judgmentally. He doesn't understand leisure; most people in New York don't. We rarely allow ourselves to really do nothing. We feel guilty if our day is not packed full of plans and things to do and places to go. I am doing my best for the next few days before I have to start my new job to leave that mindset behind, to do as I will.
And so I did indeed go to the gym this morning and did indeed do very little else. It was a great day. After working out, I sat in the steam room by myself, enjoying the rare solitude of that space. A boy came in and sat directly across from me in the narrow space. I knew that he wanted to jerk off, that this is a method of flirting in the steam room, sitting awkwardly close to someone. I wasn't into him and did my best to seem uninterested. He was a cute white, twentysomething with a hip haircut and a tattoo on his shoulder. In these steam room situations, I never find this type attractive. In a bar, I might, maybe, but here, it is a very rare thing. I am always vaguely embarrassed by this type for reasons that aren't entirely clear even to myself. Some of it probably is that I don't know where I will encounter this person again, but the likelihood of an encounter outside the gym is probably far more likely than with an older, more muscly dude, that I don't necessarily want that awkwardness of going to some gallery or Metropolitan and seeing this person that I jerked off with in the steam room. It's also just harder for me to see them as dirty, sexual enough - that they seem to lack the physical passion that I imagine other people having, that I can't make dirty faces at them as I am working up toward orgasm, that I would feel ridiculous.
A little while later, a Latin guy, older and muscly, came in and sat nearby as well, also across from me. I was able to look to my left and see this one type and to my right and see this other type, this Latin guy. I kept looking to my right. Slowly everyone began to dip their toes in the water, to hold their hand over their crotch for longer and longer durations, to eventually rub their crotches slowly, to eventually start stroking their dicks.
I came on my towel, showered, and then got dressed. I thought about these two guys, the differences between them and how it highlighted my sexual preferences as of late, allowed me to think about what it is that turns me on these days and why that is. I have Jacob at home, skinny, young, white, and hairless. And so the first boy across from me did little to tempt me, too close to Jacob, too close to myself. This second guy with his beefier build and hairy body did much more to tempt me, there was more of a body there to project on to, to imagine losing myself over, more things to like.
I went out into the rain, bought some arugula, mushrooms, avocados, generic Advil, and a face mask. I came home, ate some of those things, put on a face mask, and read on my couch for most of the day, really enjoying this ability that I have had this past week to do as I please and to feel no obligation to worry about this or that, to put all of that on a temporary hold, and to just sleep in, work out, go see art, read on the couch, and get lost in thought and dreams of the good kind.
I finished Christopher Bram's Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America this afternoon and now have a very long list of books and essays that I need to read. The book is a good history of gay American writers from the 20th century and weaves together stories from many writers I am familiar with, with some I wasn't familiar with, into this dishy narrative about the connections among all these men. The first half of the book was the most interesting part for me, and seemingly for Bram as well, focussing to a great deal on the connections and careers of Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Christopher Isherwood. The second half of the book, focussing on the 1980s and 1990s, doesn't have as good a narrative engine as the friendships of these men. But that is probably because the field of gay literature expanded a great deal during these last couple decades with many, many writers and so it's not as easy a story to tell, or at least not as compelling a story to read.
The to-read list I made at the front of the book probably has about twenty novels on it that I need to get around to reading soon. The book inspired me to read a lot more, but also to produce stuff to be read, to again get serious about writing things myself.