Fire and Rain. Graphite on Paper.
My hypnotherapist bought Carly Simon’s place directly from her in the Village. Everything about the place reminds me of the music of the 70s. There’s a claw footed bathtub in the room where I go into a trance. My hypnotherapist, Joan, was given much of the original furniture that was in the place, because Carly found it too difficult to move- it would have required the removal of walls and windows. So there’s a Frank Lloyd Wright-ish quality to the place, things built into the walls and space in natural woods and specific shapes- a warmth, really an architectural optimism, that is very familiar to me having grown up in a mix of the wealthy Midwest and the highly educated West Coast. It’s an interior that could easily be seen in Marin County, or the Los Angeles of Shampoo… It brings me comfort and helped me to find a calm, comfortable space to, I guess, get in touch with myself, and to help find some peace.
I went to the hypnotherapist to address the nerves and the hunger. This is just one of many roads I have taken. I have done lots of Kundalini and Ashtanga Yoga, Pilates, worked out 4 times a week, gone to therapy, done group therapy, done art therapy, taken pills, done outward bound, taken supplements, run, cooked, knitted, drawn, painted and read myself silly and still somehow I haven’t dented the bedrock of wily anxiety that often seems to make up my very essence.
One of the most effective parts of hypnotherapy was finding a centering place in a deep meditative state. This is a space that is to be kept private and special to me. It was a profound task for me considering how much I have wandered.
I have lived in 54 different places in my 49 years. I know that sounds impossible. It isn’t. I am restless. I must have scout DNA. I am forever seeking the next thing to tackle. I take risks. I open doors that should remain locked. I am that fool in the horror movie going down the stairs in the middle of the night to check on the mysterious sound. And I am a nervous wreck about it too. I am not easy-going even if I am brave and stupid.
The irony is, I think if I hadn’t been born gay, I never would have left Green Lake, Wisconsin. On a daily basis, I am milquetoast and domestic. I spend my days talking with my cats and walking my dog. We have a lot to do and we like our routine. I spend parts of the day cleaning, doing artwork, shopping, walking the pets, and doing errands. Then my husband, Keith comes home, and we have dinner and movie or TV night. And on weekends we have plans with friends, go to plays, and maybe go on short trips. This really works for me. It took a long time to get here. But it shouldn’t have.
I grew up in a lot of fear. I never hated being gay. I loved that I loved guys. I just wanted to find the right one and fall in love with him. And I never hated myself. I hated my situation - being gay in a hostile world. And being gay really pushed me beyond myself. And that being pushed beyond myself - to cities and into social situations I was not prepared for - was probably too much for this basically quiet, domestic person I am, so I sort of lost myself along the way. I was basically a nerd. The kind of kid that sits alone with his field guides and talks to pets a lot. I wasn’t really meant to be out late clubbing in the wild late 80s and early 90s, but I needed to find my people. And that’s how I did it.
Along the way, I met a ton of people I never would have “naturally” met. A lot of wild, sort of magical people, very adventurous and often very beautiful people of the cities. I have these memories from San Francisco to Chicago to Los Angeles to New York of everything from neon lights and pulse pounding music to drum circles to dark corners and bleary mornings stumbling home or being carried there by friends. And I am sure my story is typical. I am not unique. I met the same story over and over again. We were forced from our homes by hunger and maybe fear to find each other. Maybe looking for love, or adventure, or to belong.
I check facebook sometimes to see the people I grew up with in Wisconsin and Oregon and so many of them stayed, Stayed within 100 miles of where they grew up. A lot of my straight friends. I used to be so jealous of them. They seemed so centered and grounded. They had roots. They belonged from the get-go. I have no idea what that is like. I have had the fortune to be able to return and look into some of my friends lives and have lost the jealousy. While it is true they haven’t had my struggles, it seems everyone has their sack of rocks to carry.
Over time, I have lost my intense hunger for adventure. I still love to travel, but I want to stay in nice hotels and be in bed by 11. And I have found my family. I still struggle with anxiety a lot. Sometimes it is hard for me to get myself to the grocery store because somehow that has become an ordeal in my mind. But at the same time, I am more often at home in my own skin and living in a small bucolic town and moving at a slower pace really does seem to suit me.
I have lost a lot of people along the way. The people who, like me, went very far seeking home. Some have died. Some went crazy. Some are doing fine way over there. Some of these people I thought would grow old with me. If I didn’t die young. I see a few of them on social media. Some I have friended and some I have not. I don’t know if who I am now would be friends with who they have become. I sure loved them at the time.
And then, I have kept up with some. And I talk to a few of them often. Across continents and time we have managed to stay close. And some I see now and then.
Fire and Rain. Graphite on Paper.