Lockdown Day 82: Take a Lesson from The Kid / Encierro Día 82: Toma una Lección de El Hermanito

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

THE KID BROTHER. WE SPOKE again Tuesday night (afternoon for him), as we do every Tuesday night (afternoon for him). He’s been fairly pleasant these last four weeks.

Work is “good.” “Busy.” “Not too busy.” He’s eating. “Don’t worry about me,” he says. “Looks like no softball for me this year!” The weather is “nice.” Except when it’s not. The news is “bad.” His roommates are “fine.”

Well, one roommate, Chris, is fine. He won’t speak of the other who regularly answers the phone and whom I like very much. According to The Kid Brother, “He’s messy! He needs to pick his clothes up off the floor… And wash them!” And there’s no forgiving that.

In The Kid Brother’s mind, there’s also no forgiving prejudice. Somehow, he grew up with no racial bias. I had to learn to overcome what I saw through my parents’ eyes, my early childhood suburban eyes, my white-privileged eyes. The Kid Brother was never affected by any of that and would never tolerate it. He also wouldn’t tolerate unkind comments about anyone else’s appearance or awkwardness. The Kid Brother requires all my patience. He also teaches me a lot.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to teach The Kid Brother to hold the door for anyone else. He’s got his priorities.

The photo at top is of The Kid Brother in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, 1980. The one below is of us with him in Brooklyn in August 1989.

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EL HERMANITO. HABLAMOS NUEVAMENTE EL martes por la noche (por la tarde para él), como lo hacemos todos los martes por la noche (por la tarde para él). Ha sido bastante agradable estas últimas cuatro semanas.

El trabajo es “bueno.” “Ocupado.” “No demasiado ocupado.” Él está comiendo. “No te preocupes por mí”, dice. “¡Parece que no hay softball para mí este año!” “El clima es agradable.” Excepto cuando no lo es. La noticia es “mala.” Sus compañeros de cuarto están “bien”.

Bueno, un compañero de cuarto, Chris, está bien. No hablará del otro que regularmente contesta el teléfono y que me gusta mucho. Según El Hermanito, “¡Está desordenado! Necesita recoger su ropa del suelo … ¡Y lavarla! Y no hay que perdonar eso.

En la mente de The Kid Brother, tampoco hay prejuicios indulgentes. De alguna manera, creció sin prejuicios raciales. Tuve que aprender a superar lo que vi a través de los ojos de mis padres, mis ojos suburbanos de la primera infancia, mis ojos privilegiados blancos. El Hermanito nunca se vio afectado por nada de eso y nunca lo toleraría. Tampoco toleraría comentarios desagradables sobre la apariencia o incomodidad de los demás. El Hermanito requiere toda mi paciencia. También me enseña mucho.

Desafortunadamente, nunca he podido enseñarle a El Hermanito que abra la puerta a nadie más. Él tiene sus prioridades.

La foto en la parte superior es de El Hermanito frente a la Campana de la Libertad en Filadelfia, 1980. El siguiente es de nosotros con él en Brooklyn en agosto de 1989.

You can always tell when the [vertically challenged] Dowager Duchess was the photographer; the photos are taken from below.
Siempre se puede saber cuándo fue la fotógrafa [desafiada verticalmente] Dowager Duchess; las fotos están tomadas desde abajo.

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.