Sunday, June 13, 2010
Regrets, I've Had a Few
Last night I went to a party at Laurie's. Laurie is a person who has parties like Jews have holidays. In fact, I'm pretty sure Laurie has more parties in a year than there are holidays for every religion known to man.
Anyway. At one point I was talking to our friend Farley and the topic of regrets came up--as in "Christ I'm fifty-seven what have I done with my life?"
I would have to say I don't have many regrets, mainly for the simple reason that I don't have the imagination to conceive of things being very different from what they are.
My explanation to Farley, also true, was that at some point in my twenties I decided to live with a consciousness of what I imagine that twenty years on I will wish I had done now. (Note: if you know anything about English grammar, you should recognize what a fucking miracle I just worked with that sentence's verb tense sequence). So now at age fifty-seven I look back at myself at age thirty-seven and think: "Damn, what a good year!" while at the same time I am thinking of what I, at age seventy-seven, should I live so long, will think of how I am living my life right now. As philosophies of life go, it's not much of one, I know, but it's doing the trick for me so far.
This, of course, does not mean that my life has been perfect or that I have made only good decisions. I have my regrets. Some of them are for things that were totally out of my control at the time, but hindsight fools me into thinking that maybe just maybe I could have played it a little differently back then.
Still, sticking with reality, as my old ex-friend Dutch used to say, "You've got to play the hand that's dealt you," or to cite Joan Didion, "play it as it lays."
So what, then, do I regret?
I regret not coming out of the closet sooner than I did. I was around thirty when I finally got around to telling everybody I know that I enjoy sex with men. Now I won't shut up about it. But I can't help but think how much kinder I could have been to myself had I done the deed some ten or twelve years earlier.
I regret going to Christian colleges--first Bob Jones University (I know), then Baptist University of America (which doesn't even exist now), and then Tennessee Temple College (an OK school, truth be told, but I wish I had gone to Florida State, instead). By my mid-twenties, I recognized the error of my ways and tried to compensate by attending graduate school at secular institutions--Marshall University for a master of arts degree and University of Miami for a doctor of philosophy (in English literature). Yes, I would like to have gone to an Ivy League school, but realistically I don't think I ever had the capabilities for it.
I regret not trying harder to hold on to my relationship with Vince, though my recollection is that I did try pretty damn hard, just not with a whole lot of savvy.
I regret not moving to a big city--New York, San Francisco, Paris--when I was young. Simultaneously I regret not living on a beach somewhere, in a houseboat with a cockatiel, doing odd jobs while I wrote poetry or a novel, or directed gay porn movies.
Like many of my regrets, this last one contains obvious self-contradictions--doing things differently, as pertains to even my earlier regrets, would have effectively negated some of the best things that ever happened to me--a smoky night of sex with a guy named Brandon (don't ask), shaking hands with director Robert Altman, directing the Marys and Rob in a production of The Hot L Baltimore, going to Shane and Barbara's wedding in Prague, spending $300 on a go-go boy/hustler in Key West (easily worth three times as much), taking any one of my trips to New Orleans, seeing the Goya paintings with Dominique at the Prado, bonding with my dog Ripley, and on and on.
So, then, here's another reason I don't have many regrets: Even my fuckups have led me to some pretty good times and, when all is said and done (which it by no means is yet), to a good and reasonably productive life.
Posted by Joe at 1:16 PM