Saturday, August 30, 2008

Getting Old

Today I find myself enjoying becoming an old man. Reading Wordsworth, puttering about the apartment, affectionately knuckling my dog’s bony ribs, eating rolled oats with butter.

It’s a good thing.

This morning I’m re-embracing my adolescent love of solitude and independence—not to be equated with isolation or social phobia.—but neither calculating how to adjust to current trends nor agonizing over how to build an identity of my own—not terribly concerned with preparing for my future or reading the beads of my past. I’m kind of settling in today to the self that I have built up for the past half century.

It’s comfortable—and just my size.

Last night I corresponded at length with an old friend from over 30 years ago and in the process discovered that I don’t miss my youth at all. It was, of course, fantastic while it lasted—if I wasted some hours of it along the way, and I did, I like to think I wasted very few. I had adventures, revelations, excitement, laughter, passion, friendship, and sex with precisely the people I wanted to—what more could I ask for?

This friend found me through Facebook, as have a few others recently. He knew me before I announced my homosexuality, back when I was in the closet, trying to sort some of the affections and affectations acquired secondhand in the preceding years, namely my evangelical Christian faith. He, on the other hand, has happily married, adopted two children, now grown, and built a career teaching religion at a midwestern seminary. He, too, seems at peace with his life, different from mine as it is. He wrote me a lengthy message. I wrote a long message back—celebrating my own memories and fondness for the time we spent together as friends back then, also speaking frankly, yet kindly, I hope, about how life has so far removed me from all that now. What his response to my message is, I have no idea.

So today I’m getting old, really getting it.

I’m not nostalgic. I’m both deeply in tune with my present situation—this now—and aware that all of this unfolded over decades—and continues to unfold—for how much longer? Less than the journey’s already been, that’s for sure.

Outside the cicadas sound their science-fictiony hum, in overlapping percussive waves, and my trousers tumble rhythmically in the dryer, zippers ticking erratically. The light in the venetian blinds is gray-green—autumn is coming. My toes are cold in thin socks. My cock strikes a different pose in my Polo Ralph Lauren briefs as the eroticism of my body, gray, palely age-spotted, and going to flab, becomes a conscious thought. I smell the salt of my skin.

I’m not becoming complacent. I hope not. I’m still well aware of the millions of things that need to be done to make the world a better place. I am not resigned to death—though today it doesn’t worry me. I can still imagine tomorrows that I would like to experience. I am not claiming any kind of wisdom here. This is not the end of the book—but it is a point where you can sort of see the end coming.

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