Window of Evolution, Soho, New York
I’ve never composed a single’s ad, nor have I visited one of the many coupling websites. Of all their appellations, the word “Tinder” amuses me; I love the pun. The platform is tempting, especially because it is less bourgeois than the others and kind of transgressive. It has a Sixties ring: “Baby let me light your fire,” but also, “Love me Tender,” as in, “I’m an unbuttoned guy but I’ll be good to you.”
I’m seventy-eight, and the idea of dating seems absurd. But there’s a part of me that wants to go to the movies and hold hands. I was young at the cusp of the sexual revolution, where the legs-crossed caution of the nineteen-fifties gave way to the pill. Because of the Sixties, I never learned how to date. I’ve maybe had three dates in my entire life. In the Sixties, we just took off our clothes and then tried to figure out what we were doing. We lived in the forest of Dionysus.
Not long ago I fell in love. Hard. Not the genteel love of an old man, but with a woman I’d lay down my life for. Complete, devastating. Unfortunately it was not to be. It hit me hard, because it happened at an age when most people have long let go of their romantic youth. That ship seems to be headed out to sea. Nevertheless, and still.
So, here I am, living alone, seeing that many of my friends, particularly women, are living alone. Either their partners have passed or they’ve uncoupled for this or that reason. They don’t complain. If they are lonely, I don’t hear about it. I have more women friends than I used to, but no lover at present. Yes, lover, that still matters.
The company of women is essential to me. It allows me to bring forth a part of myself that is confined in purely masculine company. Although we are now “sensitive” we are still other. My life is out of balance and I’m learning how to correct that unromantically. I have several gay women friends and two I’m close to, love deeply, and whose company I often seek, whose intellectual and spiritual relation is important. There has been much writing about CIS women’s friendships with gay men, but not the other way around. I am perhaps breaking new ground here. But that’s not the subject of this post.
I’m about to venture out into possibility again. I don’t really want to—my last love lingers strongly and she will be hard to replace—but I will. I’m standing at the edge of the pool. Maybe someone will push me in.
But let me say this to all: I come with baggage. Some of it has been transformed but some of it remains undigested in the back rooms of my memory palace. I am likely to tell you anything. I have boundaries but no walls. I am a spiritual aquarium with clean glass. Look in at me. Can you accept all of it? There’s a war in there, there’s a recovery from alcoholism, there’s a long line of serial monogamy and one marriage. There are contradictions. I do a Buddhist practice but I’m still angry at certain things, things that are uncompromisable, or things that injure my core integrity. I’m devoted to the writing and photography I do. I still publish books and have deadlines. I used to be attracted to “Cluster B’s” because they’re “exciting” but no more. I can spot one three blocks away and will cross the street rather than engage. I have plenty of imperfections but I love them, work with them, do not reject them; I treat them like prodigal children when they come home to roost. And I’m open to yours.
These are things I want to say to whomever. I don’t know if there will be a whomever. Nevertheless, love won’t die in me.