Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yesterday's News

In the gray days of February, it's nice to occasionally run away to memories you hold of times spent in sunshine, in heat both actual and metaphorical, times had on the beach, and also to run away to future memories in such spaces, to play out these scenes of you lying on sand naked in the sun next to a lapping shore with a faceless someone or someones at your side. A frequent setting for these memories and imagined future memories is Fire Island. Hearing the name of the place, reading it or saying it, hearing someone else say it, this itself brings about a certain happiness, a happiness stemming from reliving certain moments, yes, but also a happiness borne out of the certainty that there is in fact happiness in this world of an ecstatic sort, the type of happiness it's easy to forget actually exists in the world on rainy gray mornings in late winter when you are standing at your job listening to terrible jazz covers of Beatles songs.

And so it was a bit jarring yesterday to read news stories that appeared in my Facebook feed saying that bans on nudity were now going to be enforced on Fire Island.

It seems like the end of something. It's part of what made the place so magical, contributing to the feeling of freedom that the place seemed so full of on certain summer days, that this was some refuge just a short distance away from New York City, but something entirely else - an island with no cars, little cell reception, deer everywhere, and naked people lying on the beach treated like it should be, like no big deal.

And so now there is a point of demarcation. There are the numerous memories of prior summers spent lying naked on stretches of sand with boyfriends at the time, with guys I had crushes on at the time, with friends, and there are still memories I hold clearly of certain men who were near me on the beach, this one guy in particular with an insane body. I remember the thrill I got watching him take off his Speedo and lying in the sun, the distinct and striking tan lines, the white ass, the tan body. Fire Island is a fever dream, a fantastical realization of the dreams this particular gay man sometimes has on gray days in late February as he looks for something else in his life, an escape from what it has become. There are those memories and there will now be future ones absent those sexy ripped guys, who after playing paddle ball on the sand, stretched out on their towels and shyly removed their speedos, showing off their skin, beautiful, to the sun, and also to neighbors looking out of the corner of their sunglasses as discreetly as possible.

I'm sure there will still be men encountered with pants around their ankles stroking their dicks furiously in the Meat Rack. There will be still beautiful bodies to look at and pleasant deliriums brought on by excessive time in the sun, by salt-parched skin, by the sight of so much beauty, human and otherwise, on display. The news though did bring about a certain sadness yesterday, sad that human prudishness rather than relaxing with the march of time still constricts tighter and tighter in the twenty-first century, and sad that there will be a distinction now between past years and future years, more of the ability to mourn an era's end. Summer ends every year sometime in the hazy border between August and September. The air gets chillier and we awake from our pleasant dreams into autumn. Months go by, fall turns into winter, winter into more winter, and I dream of that time more and more. I read the name of that island in a news article talking about legal changes to the place. I intone it over and over, clicking my heels three times, and I am surrounded by skin, by sand, by water, and by an incredibly bright, shining sun that embraces and takes everything, all of it, in.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

empire state

That opening piano playing, gentle, delicate, and instantly familiar, immediately puts me at ease once I start to hear it. Yesterday morning, I was riding Metro North with Taylor en route to go hiking at Breakneck Ridge. We had just passed Spuyten Duyvil and that's when I put on my headphones and lost myself in the scenery out the window, lost myself in the sound coming through my headphones, Billy Joel's beautiful ode to New York, "Empire State of Mind."

He was reading a book. I was listening to Billy Joel and thinking back to the years I have spent in this town, how it is definitely home for me at this point in my life, and how I am increasingly having a difficult time ever imagining myself elsewhere.

A couple weeks ago, there was a fantastic piece, "Street Life," by Joseph Mitchell that The New Yorker teased its readers with, the first chapter of his never completed, never published memoir. I am so hungry to somehow read the rest of this story because it ends on a note that mirrors my own relationship with this city. The piece is a recollection by Mitchell about how much he loves exploring this city by walking around it block by block, riding subway lines to random stops, taking buses to neighborhoods he has never been, and being overwhelmed with all there is to take in in this city, its great variety of life. There are such strong echoes of Walt Whitman throughout the piece, this cataloging of things and sights and taking joy in it all, the experience of being a part of it.

It's a beautiful little essay, but again just a tease, because toward the end of it, Mitchell talks about the experience that anyone who has spent a bit of time living in this city knows, about when the love affair is over, when it seems that this is not the city for you. The piece closes with Mitchell saying that during one of his wanderings, this time around Washington Market, he experiences something that takes him out of his depression.

I want so badly to know what this experience was, and yet am also happy to not know what it is, to have to come about that moment on my own, to find my own Washington Market.

And so, I am riding on this train, Metro North, to go hiking in the woods with a boy I don't know too well, that I met a week or so ago, but who I find myself really attracted to and who I find myself wanting to spend a great deal of time with. He is moving away from this city in a month, moving to Portland. He is over it. I sometimes am, but am other times so in love with this city, head over heels in love with, graffiting its name under bridge in love with. Those opening piano chords start and I exhale and I admit that I can't go anywhere else, that this is home.

"Some folks like to get away/
take a holiday from the neighborhood/
hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood/
but I am taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line."

And so maybe it wasn't a Greyhound I was on, maybe it was a commuter rail line, but the song was having an incredible effect on me as I rode along the Hudson River, hearing these lyrics, looking at rail yards, small towns, leafless trees, and bits of ice bobbing in the river.

There was snow on the ground, a thing we had not really anticipated when we decided to make this trip. We scaled rocks, slippery and big. We made it to the top of these rocks and lay in the sun and made out on a rock overlooking the Hudson. The hike down went on and on, the trails covered in slippery snow, which our tennis shoes weren't doing much to keep from soaking our feet. The sun got lower and lower. We made out of the woods before it was entirely set.

We ate burgers, drank beers, and caught the train back to New York City. We watched "Drag Race" with friends at Macri Park and then went to Metropolitan for dollar PBRs. I was ready to be home. Metropolitan was like what I imagine a sad Berlin gay bar to be, mainly because of the terrible dance music that was being played. The music was really putting me on edge and making me vaguely paranoid. I said goodbye to Taylor.

Waiting for the train, I put on my headphones, played a particular Billy Joel song, and calmed down, immediately felt better, felt secure about where my place was in this world, believed I had a home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Beds of Meserole Street

I walked past my old house yesterday evening, 180 Meserole Street. I had gotten off the Montrose stop and was on my way to a bar to meet up with a guy. The bar, The Graham, was located on the corner of my old block. He had suggested the bar. I probably would not have suggested a bar on the same block as my old apartment. There was a brief moment that came over me as I approached my old building, as I passed it, doing my best to look into my old window to get a glimpse of what lives might occupy the space I used to call home for a couple years. And then, as quickly as it came, the moment passed. I was past the building, on my way to this bar, this boy I was about to meet on my mind.

It's funny how time works, how several months ago I would have been made insanely emotional by walking down this block and how now there is a brief moment of me picking at old wounds that lasts only as long as the time it takes to walk past the place. In several more months, that moment may pass by even quicker, may take on totally different forms. I may notice a burnt-out lightbulb on the porch, think of how shitty the super and landlord were, and think nothing of a failed relationship.

Last night, I was also running late by a couple minutes and my main goal at this point was just to get to this bar as quickly as possible, to not be much later. I was also a little nervous, this my first time meeting this guy, T. These things, getting there on time and thoughts of the guy I was about to meet, took precedence over thoughts of 180 Meserole Street.

I saw him sitting at the bar as I opened the door and he was just as attractive as he is in pictures, an insanely handsome guy, and I didn't know how long this encounter could last, that this guy was too attractive, that he would have a drink and then find an excuse to leave. We talked about our days, what we had been up to. He already knew quite a bit about my life and then we talked about that, about how he knew so much about it, about my diary.

It is very likely that this person might be reading this entry and so I write all of this hesitantly, not wanting to alter anything organic that may or may not occur, that I want to let things run their course, for him not to think I like him too much and to pull away. And so quit writing, duh. Delete this entry, you say.

He found my diary somehow sometime ago and at some point wrote to me about it. I messaged him on Facebook. Last night, we collapsed a divide between digital selves and physical ones, met up in person.  I ordered one of the bar's beer and shot combos and was quickly smitten with how cute and nice this guy was.

We talked about what it means to have an online diary and the tricky difficulties about writing about people that may potentially read your diary, about whether to go about such a thing, and if so how. And, of course, here I find myself the day after this conversation encountering this exact dilemma, knowing that T is probably reading this.

We went into Manhattan and watched "Drag Race" at Heathers with some of his friends. We ate burritos at Zaragoza. We rode the L train back to Brooklyn together. I wasn't sure if we were going home together or not, whether this was a friendly hangout or something more. I was waiting until right before his stop to ask him if he wanted to come over. I was worried he would say no, and so wanted to minimize the awkward amount of time together on the train if he said no. He, however, beat me to the punch and asked me if I wanted to come back to his house. Obviously, I said yes.

When I woke up this morning in his bed, we cuddled for quite a while before getting out of bed and having some coffee. During this time still in his bed, he pulled his blankets over our heads and my eyes saw these blankets and my eyes saw the skin underneath them lit by just the smallest amount of light that penetrated the blanket's defenses. My field of vision had been narrowed to just slightly larger than this naked body next to me. The blankets also isolated his smell, trapped in it, his body odor the only thing I could smell. I inhaled deeply, wanted to remember what it felt like, what it smelled like in this person's bed this morning, how good it felt.

Friday, February 15, 2013

white light, green sauce, red heart

A meterorite crashed somewhere in eastern Russia some hours ago and I have been watching the footage shot from various locations of a bright light streaking across the sky. I have been watching and rewatching these clips this morning, fascinated, awed, and slightly terrified by our precarious existence.

I was hanging out after work yesterday at the John Dory Oyster Bar with some co-workers and, it being Valentine's Day and all of us single, we talked about romance, about being single, about not being single. Like single people will defensivley do sometimes, someone remarked about how stupid it is to be in a relationship, wondered why people did it.

It's because we are all afraid of dying, I said, that it's nice to have someone in your bed at night, to believe that you might not be alone in this universe, that it's a defense against existential panic.

When I watched that meterorite streak across the sky again and again this morning as soon I woke up, I thought about how if it was indeed the end of the world, I would have no one to cling to as fire consumed us all.

For lunch yesterday, I had Taco Bell and whiskey with a friend. For dinner, I had a burrito, a terrible burrito from a Mexican diner by my house. I passed out on my couch soon after eating it, drunk from numerous pints at John Dory. I watched lots of clips on YouTube yesterday morning of people singing songs about their love of burritos. This morning, it is videos of meterorites streaking across Russian highways as cars drive on, just another burning flash across a blue sky.

Monday, February 11, 2013

what it is about

"Harmony - that's the word that's stuck in my mind. Harmony. It's not about what's lasting or permanent; it is about individual voices coming together for a moment, and that moment only lasts the length of a breath."
-Frank Underwood's character, "House of Cards"

Saturday, February 9, 2013


He told me he could tease me when he was leaving. I told him to go ahead, please do so. I thought he might strip for me. I hoped so. I was seated on the edge of the bed and he was standing in front of me. I waited to see what he would do, hoped he would do something, that he would follow through on his boasting. He kissed me, a beautiful kiss, brief, that I was still tasting even after he had pulled away. He left. I told him to come back if he changed his mind.

I lay in bed and stroked my penis and imagined that the kiss had not ended, that it was still happening, tried to hold on to what that feeling was.

Today, that grasp became even more tenuous, the memories less and less precise, harder and harder to hold on to. I fought through a massive hangover all day at work today, getting about two hours of sleep before waking up. There was a blizzard that swept through the city last evening, dumping about a foot of snow on the sidewalks. I went out to bars in Chelsea last night with friends and with the streets covered in white, with the sky, the city, filled with falling white, flecks of it illuminated here and there by carlights, streetlights, and Chinese restaurant signs, the city took on a heightened sense of beauty that it rarely has. Everything was new, full of potential, yet to be dirtied.

I don't know lines. I never have. Being single now, I am again trying to navigate them, wondering about the possibility of friendships with gay men, so often those lines tested, blurred by desire, by attempts to make out, sleep, or date this or that guy.

I have written a couple people I have not hung out with in a while, gay men. I kind of want to make out with them and have plans to hang out with both of them soon. What they want from these hang outs is unknown. What I want is unknown. I am not sure how to make out with a particular person, if that's why they wrote me out of the blue after a couple years, saying they wanted to meet up, or if it is just for company. This person has gorgeous lips and the only time I have really spent time with him was when we met, when we both, as volunteers, were painting walls for a queer film festival several years ago. I have desired him since that day.

Desire is increasing. It has been absent from life for several months. I am happy it has returned. I will pour wine, slaughter my best goat, and invite the neighbors over for a feast. It has come back home. Let us celebrate.