Changed For Good / Cambiado Para Siempre

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

I RECENTLY RECONNECTED with a dear friend from my university days. I last saw Mary in 1984 and although I had tried for years to track her down, I had no luck until a month or so ago.

My sister Dale had just been diagnosed with cancer when Mary called from Boston one evening a few years after graduation. She told me to come up for a visit. I did and loved it so much that I moved there. I met her friend Brian who became one of my closest friends and my first gay friend. Mary and I could talk about anything. My parents and The Kid Brother adored her. And she taught me the words to every Irish song ever written — and some of them weren’t even drinking songs.

I have often talked about what an impact my friendship with Mary had on my life. Sometimes I’ll say I should have taken my education more seriously and not simply chosen the state university that was furthest from my parents. But then I think I wouldn’t have met Mary and what a loss that would have been. Then I think, had I not met Mary, I might never have gone to Boston. And had I not gone to Boston, I might never have met Brian, who made such a difference in my coming out. And I might never have met San Geraldo.

In the ’80s, San Geraldo and I moved to Los Angeles and then Washington DC. Mary and Brian took off for Maui. Mary met someone, fell in love, and moved to the Midwest before we made it to Maui for a visit. Brian died in 1993. Mary and I lost touch. She and her adored husband raised a son. So much has changed for us both, but we spoke last night and it was like no time had passed. Neither Mary nor I have any photos of each other. So this photo with Brian in Maui in 1986 will have to do.

Do you ever wonder what might NOT have happened in your life had you made just one different decision? Thanks, Mary!

RECIENTEMENTE ME RECONECTÉ con una querida amiga de mis días universitarios. La última vez que vi a Mary fue en 1984 y, aunque durante años intenté localizarla, no tuve suerte hasta hace aproximadamente un mes.

Mi hermana Dale acababa de ser diagnosticada con cáncer cuando Mary llamó desde Boston una noche, unos años después de la graduación. Ella me dijo que viniera de visita. Lo hice y me encantó tanto que me mudé allí. Conocí a su amigo Brian, que se convirtió en uno de mis amigos especiales y mi primer amigo gay. Mary y yo pudimos hablar de cualquier cosa. Mis padres y The Kid Brother la adoraban. Y ella me enseñó las palabras de cada canción irlandesa jamás escrita — y algunas de ellas ni siquiera estaban “canciones bebiendos”.

A menudo he hablado sobre el impacto que mi amistad con Mary tuvo en mi vida. A veces digo que debería haber tomado mi educación más en serio y no simplemente haber elegido la universidad estatal más alejada de mis padres. Pero luego pienso que no habría conocido a Mary y qué pérdida hubiera sido eso. Entonces pienso, si no hubiera conocido a Mary, tal vez nunca hubiera ido a Boston. Y si no hubiera ido a Boston, tal vez nunca hubiera conocido a Brian, quien hizo una gran diferencia en mi salida. Y tal vez nunca haya conocido a San Geraldo.

En los años 80, San Geraldo y yo nos mudamos a Los Ángeles y luego a Washington DC. Mary y Brian se fueron a Maui. Mary conoció a alguien, se enamoró y se mudó al Medio Oeste antes de que viniéramos a Maui para una visita. Brian murió en 1993. Mary y yo perdimos el contacto. Ella y su adorado esposo criaron a un hijo. Mucho ha cambiado para los dos, pero hablamos anoche y fue como si no hubiera pasado el tiempo. Ni Mary ni yo tenemos fotos del otro. Así que esta foto con Brian en Maui en 1986 tendrá que ver.

¿Alguna vez te preguntaste lo que NO pudo haber ocurrido en tu vida si hubieras tomado solamente una decisión diferente? ¡Gracias, Mary!

Una canción vieja. “Mary es un gran nombre antiguo.”

San Geraldo And The Pig

In the summer of ’82, my parents and The Kid Brother drove up from New York for their one and only visit to us in Boston. We moved, spur of the moment, to Los Angeles a few months later.

San Geraldo thought it would be fun if we all drove to the town of Plymouth (home of Plimoth Plantation and Plymouth Rock) about 45 minutes away. Plimoth Plantation was home to some of the first people to emigrate to America from England on the ship The Mayflower. Four of San Geraldo’s 10-great-grandparents were on that ship.

The “English Village” portion is a living history museum, which means everything is meant to be authentic. The staff stay in character and look and act as if they are living in the period from 1620, the time the settlement was founded, until 1691, when it was abandoned. It’s beautiful and fascinating.

In one reconstructed home, the housewife was preparing dinner. A chicken (or maybe it was a goose) carcass lay on the table surrounded by freshly chopped vegetables and a cloud of flies. The house reeked. Like I said, authentic.

(Click the images. You can almost smell the authenticity.)

FAMILY TIME AT NEARBY WAMPANOAG HOME SITE.
NOW STAFFED BY NATIVE PEOPLE FROM A VARIETY OF NATIONS.

There were pigs out back. The stench was awful, so we quickly walked to the other end of town and stopped, at which point My Mother The Dowager Duchess said, “What happened to Jerry?” He was nowhere in sight.

We had only just passed our first anniversary but I already knew him well enough to know exactly where he was.

“I’m sure he’s back there petting the pig,” I said.

The Kid Brother said, “Are you kiddin’?!?”

And I said, “Nope.”

So, we walked back through the village. There he was, scratching the biggest sow behind her ear and whispering sweet nothings.

My parents wrinkled their noses, but laughed. The Kid Brother scowled and snapped, “Tell him to wash his hands!”

THE KID BROTHER WITH SAN GERALDO.
ONE OF THE TWO WAS IN HOG HEAVEN.

An Aura of Saintliness

We had a brilliant New Year’s Eve with friends that would make anyone grateful. More on all that is still to come in a day or two. Here are some photos from Thursday night lights and dinner in Málaga. We hoped to catch the holiday light show at 9:00. We waited among the crowd until 9:20 and it still hadn’t begun. So we left to catch our 9:30 dinner reservation at El Meson de Cervantes.

MY EXQUISITELY DELICIOUS MOJITO.
MY TWO EXQUISITELY DELICIOUS MOJITOS.
(THE ONE AT LEFT BEGAN AS SAN GERALDO’S
EXQUISITELY DELICIOUS MOJITO.)
SECRETO IBERICO (PORK), BAKED PUMPKIN, AND PINEAPPLE MARMALADE;
CARILLADA (PORK) IN A CHOCOLATE SAUCE;
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH RED BERRIES;
WARM APPLE TART.

The first time I saw San Geraldo (in 1981) was in Boston on a Sunday afternoon at a bar called Chaps. He was standing across the room from me and I could swear he was levitating and surrounded by a heavenly light.

The reality:
The grandson of kings was standing on a platform. Behind him were the pinball machines. Their electric lights provided the glow. I prefer my initial version better.


Most people who know San Geraldo say I’m the saint. Whether that’s true or not (and if you lived with San Geraldo for a minute, you would say it’s true) he really does make the world glow brighter.

THE CROWD AWAITS THE LIGHT SHOW.
STANDING OUT IN THE CROWD,
SAN GERALDO AND JUDYSHANNONSTREETWHAT.
JUDY NOTED IT WAS ALL ABOUT SAN GERALDO.

“Baby, I can feel your halo.”

Drawing on Memories

FEELING LOST AND LONELY IN AN ELEGANT APARTMENT.
SELF-PORTRAIT, AVENZA, CARRARA, ITALY, 1977.

I just pulled out an old sketchbook and discovered some drawings that brought back memories.  The memories that come back when I look at my old drawings are often more vivid than those that are awakened by looking at old photographs.  I think it’s the fact that I was completely engaged in the action at the time and spent more than a moment snapping a photo or awkwardly posing for posterity.

10 SEPT BECAME 11 SEPT 1980 WHILE I WAITED IN MY ’78 MAZDA GLC TO GIVE
A “FRIEND” A LIFT BACK TO BOSTON AFTER A BUSINESS RECEPTION IN CAMBRIDGE.
HIS NAME WAS STEVEN AND HE WAS MORE THAN AN HOUR LATE.

When I was 25, I landed a job in Medical Illustration at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.  I drew kidneys and muscle tissue.  I traced cross-sections of cadavers that had been cast in polyurethane.  I created art and typography for slides that were used by the medical school.  It was fun work and was what began my career in publications and communications.  At the time, I never went anywhere without a sketch book.  I would sketch unselfconsciously, and had been doing so for years. I doodled my way around Italy in the ’70s and gave away almost all the sketches as “thank you” gifts for the hospitality I received there.  I wish I had had a scanner!

BANANAS, MAY 1980, TOP FLOOR, 15 CHARLES STREET, BOSTON.

SEDUCTIVE BANANAS.

While working at Downstate, I drove up to Boston, just 4-1/2 hours away for a weekend visit with an old college friend, Mary.  I fell in love with Boston and immediately decided I had to move there.  I left  Downstate four months later after only 1-1/2 years for a job as a typesetter and graphic artist in a small, quirky (aka, cripplingly dysfunctional) studio in Cambridge, ironically named “Together Graphics.” The job in Cambridge paid a lot better, but was not as interesting nor did it offer the same opportunities for professional development and personal growth as the job in Brooklyn.  But it did get me to Boston, which is where I met Jerry a little over a year later.

SNACKING AS I SKETCHED, ENABLING NEW POSES.

HOURS OF SKETCHING.  I CONSUMED MY RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE OF POTASSIUM.

For my first month in Boston, while I looked for my own place, I stayed in a basement apartment on Gray Street in the South End with Brian, a friend I met through Mary.  He was to become my best friend over the years and was my first good gay friend.  I was still living the life of a straight person, thinking I could ignore who I really was and wanted to be.  As a good friend (and someone with “gaydar”), Brian clearly knew the truth, but he never let on and he let me come to terms at my own pace. I spent a month on his couch and many afternoons hanging out at Mary’s apartment with my sketchbook, sketching the room, the house plants, and, as shown here, bananas that happened to be left on the coffee table. Jerry and I had already moved twice by the time Brian and Mary decided to move together to Maui.  I lost touch with Mary, who met someone in Maui, married, and was living in Missouri the last I heard.  After a few years, Brian (who was a serial monogamist) had also met someone.  They moved to San Diego and stayed together about a year.  Brian remained in San Diego.  So, I was elated when Jerry and I had the opportunity in late 1992 to move to San Diego, as well.  But, just before we left Connecticut for San Diego, Brian went back to his parents’ home in Massachusetts, where he died at the age of 37 of complications from AIDS.

DARTMOUTH “T” STATION, 1981.  BACK FROM ENGLAND TWO WEEKS AFTER MY SISTER DIED.
ON MY WAY TO A PARTY WITH STEVEN AFTER DISCOVERING MY CAR HAD BEEN STOLEN.

I think it’s time to start sketching again.  It’s very therapeutic and I like the depth of the memories.