Monday, July 22, 2013

We change, and do not change...

Andy’s B-Day surprise at the Ox. 21. … thinking, 52 years. What did I do on mine? Went to a bar—my first legal drink. Alone. In Kansas City, 1962. Spent that summer at my parents. Best I can recal, working as an electrician’s assistant… joined the IEBW. Construction. I hitched a ride home—picked up by a Catholic seminary student. Got into a deep discussion. He seemed a bit surprised that I’d read, and was familiar with stuff he knew from his studies. When we got to my parent’s house, I invited him in. He accepted (Mom and Dad were away for much of the summer—I was there to take care of the house). We talked into the early morning... avoiding what had really brought brought us there. That was the summer I hauled rocks in a wagon to build a natural Missouri indigenous garden in my father’s back yard. My translation of the Japanese gardens—I’d fallen in love with them from photos in books. When you’re 21… it’s all about love. There was another ride home… not sure if it was that birthday, or another time that summer. Or when I drove a cab the following summer… seem to remember I was in the driver’s seat. No… don’t think so. Yes, I was driving, but had picked up my passenger—who, through many circumlocutions, and many apologies lest I should misunderstand—that he was interested in sex. When I declined, he was in such obvious discomfort—full of apologies, hoping there would be no problem… I remember reassuring him. It was okay. I had no problem. I apologized to him—that maybe I’d misled him… that I just thought he wanted a ride. Kind of mutually embarrassing—for all the wrong reasons. We talked. He told me how hard it was—that he was desperate for company and shouldn’t have risked hitchhiking. Had only accepted when I stopped because he felt comfortable with me. Comfortable. Okay… nobody used the word ‘gay’ then. The Seminary student, too—though he didn’t say anything openly. I remember feeling it pretty intensely—I was even aroused, but it seemed only to make us talk all the more around the elephant in the room. All this came to mind. 21st birthday. July 21. My 21’st on June 22, 1962. It was different age… even more dangerous than now. At least, one to one. Maybe not for the world. Pieces of my life keep coming back to me… 72… reconnecting with the 11 and 12 year old I thought I’d left behind.

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