My nose is running, and I am occasionally coughing hoarsely. My face is bright red, and my white legs are getting stares and catcalls. I can’t see from the sweat coating my glasses and running into my eyes. I gave up wiping it too much because I have a tiny stinging abrasion just under my right eye that I think is bleeding very slightly when I wipe it with my shirt. Either that or it’s just stains from my toxic sunscreen, which hopefully I haven’t completely sweated off from my already-red-and-tender neck. I know I shouldn’t be using the shirt to wipe my face because my nipple is slightly raw from rubbing against it, but I long since destroyed the tissues I brought with me. The toes that aren’t callused from rubbing against the shoe are a little tender the next day. And I’m not sure if my back is sore from running with the wrong posture or because I’m overcompensating for the day when I have an accident and my knees completely give out, like my father’s did.
And today, someone opened their front gate into me as I passed by. I managed to deflect off of it with my hands but it startled us both. And it probably would be been all right if I hadn’t, since I was bleeding anyway. I couldn’t have looked any worse.
So why do I keep running? Because it makes me feel so healthy.
I hesitated to post much about Sam‘s death because I knew I would turn it into something about me. But this is a blog, after all—by definition it’s all about me, isn’t it? And on the other hand, Sam never really pulled his punches when he wrote (at least, not that you could tell) so the least I can do in his memory is present my unvarnished post to the world. Juvenile innuendo intended.
I knew Sam online before he was even out of the military, back when he was a pseudonym dodging Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. When he had just moved to San Francisco, while he was together with Jeff, the God Of Biscuits, we’d finally met—we’d had cocktails together once or twice, had hung out at house parties, had said hey at street fairs. We were hardly close friends, but between the small town that is San Francisco and the targeted intimacy that is the Internet, you can’t help but get into everybody else’s business; you feel like you know a person as a confidant, not just a member of their studio audience. And while you rarely expect someone to die, you particularly don’t when they are young and vibrant, finally righting themselves out of chaos, doing things they enjoy, being with someone they love.
I admit I am new to the business of death. My grandparents have passed on, and some aunts and uncles as well, but I have been able to separate myself from that emotionally, or generationally. I grew up just after generation of men felled by AIDS. I don’t know yet what to do with death right here among my peers. What I will do when it happens closer in my family. Not quite sure where to put grief after it has outstayed its welcome. Still uncertain and slightly guilty to allow mine to sit next to the grief of someone who has lost more deeply. But here is all we have, so here is where I have to learn to get used to the feeling of knowing someone is gone. That they affected me, like I hope to affect others once we have ceased to be. Even if we are little more than a Twitter feed or a Facebook status update, maybe a little of us remains in everyone we know.
I haven’t met Sam’s partner Greg yet, but I hope to shake his hand at the memorial for Sam at the Eagle on Wednesday night. Greg was kind enough to keep Sam’s extended internet circle involved up until the last moments. Knowing only secondhand, and only through the same narrow internet channels where I’d known him before, that Sam had fallen so suddenly and so far…I couldn’t help project myself in and imagine the dark place I’d be sitting at the side of The Boyfriend, or being unable to comfort him as I tended to the business of dying. As the Cowboy Junkies sang, “To Love is To Bury.” I can only hope to be as strong when it happens.
Jeff posted a comment about the Flying Dutchman recently, the three-mast tall ship I had never seen before which pretends it’s the top of Sutro Tower. As it’s that time of summer, the tower is frequently engulfed in fog. And since we’ve moved upstairs, the tower is now my regular view out the bathroom window. So I see the ship there almost daily, start singing the Tori Amos song of the same name, and, these days, think of Sam.
Though neither Sam nor I actually believe in that sort of thing, it is comforting to pretend that the dead look back somehow, aren’t gone forever. That they are out there somewhere, sailing across the sky. Smiling in our windows.
OK, I don’t actually avoid eggs in my diet. However I do try to avoid them when they’re thrown at me.
I suppose my ridiculously white legs in black shorts with a yoga mat were too exquisite a target to ignore. I was late out of the house trying to make a 4pm yoga class at the gym on a Saturday, only the second class I’ve ever taken in public. I decided to save time by heading there in my workout clothes. Picked up my yoga mat and shuddered. I was going to be one of those people walking around in public with my yoga mat. I always projected that those people walking around the financial district were ready to hit people with their soft rubber emblems of superiority. “Move it, people; enlightened one coming through! Namaste, motherfuckers!” I readied myself for a new kind of walk of shame and hotfooted it out the door.
I knew I was going to miss the start of the class but hoped I wouldn’t be too much of an interruption entering late. Yet again, I was going to be That Guy. My self-opinion was starting to waver. I considered turning around, but marched on, down 15th street past Truck. (Yes, this happened right outside a gay bar. I’m not convinced that was mere coincidence either.) Suddenly something hit the pavement with a crack in front of me, and I leapt back a step and saw the egg splattered there. I looked for open windows; I looked for cars and bikes passing; I looked for a chicken’s nest in the trees above me, incredulously. No sign of whence it came.
Angered, I thought again about turning around, but something had steeled in me. Thank you for my rage, egg thrower. I went on, determined that I would make my class, that I will do my thing no matter what the universe throws at me—literally or figuratively. That’s a lesson I keep having to learn, to persevere on my path and to wear persecution at worst as a talisman, or as an award, or ideally as nothing more than a meaningless souvenir I picked up on the road to a goal.
A short while later, in the middle of Head-to-Knee pose, while trying to concentrate on my posture and my breathing, my eyes focused instead on a small yellow stain plastering down the hairs on one leg. And all I could was laugh.
Last weekend, before going to the birthday party of a friend who is separating from his partner, I found out an old blog friend was about to die. I tried to have a good time surrounded by the affectionate fellows at the party, but really just locked lips with Jose Cuervo and tried not to contemplate how young men shouldn’t suddenly pass away. The next day, the Boyfriend (who had just celebrated his birthday) and I (who, like most grooms, was slightly hungover) registered as domestic partners. Well, we got notarized, at least, at the P.O. Plus. Which was on the same weekend that another longstanding pair of blogfriends announced that their vacation trip to Massachusetts was partly because they were getting married there. The next day after I ran (while trying not to think of my first major crush and his friend, the friend who was my age and a runner and who had just died unexpectedly) I hit the kinky gay street fair. I attended with a friend in an open relationship; I flirted and got flirted with a number of men in unusual costumes, and then I came home with a beer buzz to try and cook a Norman Rockwell dinner for my husbandmy domestic partnermy increasingly inaccurately termed spousal equivalent The Boyfriend.
It’s been complicated.
And in the time that I’ve been looking at this entry thinking about all this, of course, the District Courts in California overturned the ban on gay marriage, and gay weddings here might start again as soon as Friday. (I expect not, but possible.)
I have had a number of feelings on all of these matters. They’ve all been complicated.
I’ll try to get them out eventually, hopefully before I trip over any more milestones. Who left all these here?