It seems strange to be writing a post on the laptop sitting in the screened in porch, gazing at the backyard. Carrie is off to the left in a recliner and the dogs are circling as they are wont to do. The strangeness is the shear normalcy in the middle of the maelstrom of our lives. As I swung in the hammock earlier, enjoying what is still for the moment home, I considered the past seventy-two hours.
It was Wednesday afternoon that I checked in with Phil – I was in the City and figured we could catch dinner before the suburbs beckoned. It worked for him so we met on a Manhattan street corner and started to wander towards his apartment. On the way we passed a public art exhibit and spent some time looking and talking. And then a quick stop at his apartment which ended up being not so quick. As always, I leave some things to the imagination. Then off to a roof top bar – so what if the average age was twenty years our junior. The drinks were okay: the skyline views intoxicating.
Phil asked of my Father’s Day. I tell him of a cool shirt from my daughter – one that came with the note: “For when you go out!” In case I had missed the intent, she later explained that it was perfect for a New York summer bar. I tell Phil of Carrie’s gifts: a recliner for the backyard – her backyard, my backyard, it is so complicated. And then in the true spirit of mixed messages some boxers and tees – my favored summer sleeping. When I comment she must be bored of my old ones as I float around the house, she tells me these are for my nights out with the boys. In a rare moment of judgment, I do not share that on those nights, I do not use pajamas.
We finish our drinks and downtown for dinner, an outdoor space on a perfect temperate night. And then a walk across the village and some coffee and desert. Phil knows the City better than I and shows me things – different styles of brickwork, unusual buildings. We end the night on a subway back uptown leaning into each other as the evening drew to close. For once I get the coming home part right – it is after midnight and all is quiet.
The next day was a graduation – grade school albeit, but still big for two little ones. An afternoon off, a small family dinner: the real celebration will be the next night, but let’s not get ahead of things. That evening I had planned to attend a gay men’s reading group. It had popped up recently while trolling the net and I had even read the book. But Wednesday had been late and it was a graduation day, so home I remain. I go down to my basement office to write but my daughter is on my computer. She offers to finish up but I tell her keep playing, I lay on the couch, we exchange occasional thoughts and comments. And at some point I nap. When I awake she is still there and we continue to quietly commune. For at least one night I have chosen wisely.
Friday we celebrate – the graduation and a going off to sleep away camp for one of the kids – her first time. We have our insular family, we have a gathering of the older kids, and we have the couple who have been there with us every step of the last twenty years. And yes, we have the steaks and lobsters. In the strangeness that passes for our lives, the total success of the evening is also its dark cloud. This is our life as we once envisioned it, the backyard looks great, the evening air cool and fresh with the backdrop of music punctuated by conversation and laughter: Family and friends that any would take. It was perfect. That is except for the fact that we are separated, that I am gay, that the late night conversation – us and our friends – is on where I should move.
Everyone leaves and Carrie and I hold each other, tears are lurking. We talk but what can one say. Ultimately she is right: I never stopped when the opportunity was offered, I never accepted the unsaid offer of discrete sexual liaisons. Even if I could offer that I would not “live” my gayness, it would not change who I am. And of course that is ultimately the deal breaker. So she sheds her tears, freely now, and I try to comfort, but really, what comfort is there?
For those who are counting we are not yet near seventy-two hours but it is time to step back and let the evening settle. Tomorrow is another day, and early one at that.