I've known men who have dedicated their lives to cock. I've known others who have inadvertently serviced alcohol for most of their adult lives. Others plan their week around their perpetual search for love without ever reaching into the pockets of their souls where they'd find the note explaining why they'll never get it. Hamsters on a wheel, rats in a maze, stevedores on the clock, we all have our predisposed distractions that, unnoticed, chew up our lives. The problem with death is that there is no preview, no rolling of the credits before the final frame. We get arrested by death with no reading of the Miranda rights and no attorney to present the justification for how we spent our days. We fuss with our hair, oblivious to the percentage of our lives devoted to the maintenance of this excretion.
On Tuesday, I did get a preview of a show about priorities and choices, and these thoughts came to mind as I chatted with Soledad O'Brien of CNN, Jarrett Barrios President of GLAAD and two gay men, Gary Spino and Tony Brown, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to become the parents of a boy with the help of an egg donor and a surrogate mother. Soledad, Jarrett, Gary and Tony are all raising children - without sacrificing great hair. (The show Gary + Tony Have A Baby, reported by Soledad O'Brien in CNN's In America series will air June 24 at 8PM ET/PT. I highly recommend it.)
I began to wonder if there is not a nest being feathered somewhere in the heart of every queer. If not for children, for what?
Today I ran three miles in Central Park finding my usual route interrupted by the barricaded flow of thousands of energetic folks involved in a race sponsored by a bank founded many years ago by the venerable American financier J.P. Morgan. They were running in a direction opposite mine with IDs pinned to their chests and hoping for respectable finishes for some good cause. They were tiring themselves for a reason perhaps admirable. The women jostled hopeful eggs, the men bounced eager sperm and from heaven, the prosperous J.P. Morgan blessed their efforts.
Exiting the park, I passed a corner bodega where I inhaled the scent of banks of flowers in buckets on the sidewalk and I was reminded of the recent wake of the father of a close friend. He died in his 80s having raised a family and bested the drinking that had almost destroyed them. The white flowers I ordered to accompany his coffin paled in comparison. Suffocating is the thought of mortality before accomplishment. Dreadful, like the scent of carnations, is the possibility that you'll take a path into lifelong rambles.
I ran past a prestigious address, the Prasada, on Central Park West, where I dodged film star Antonio Banderas as he exited a cab and greeted the deferential doorman who ushered him into the emblem of his success. He'll sleep on an upper floor with a view of the park and all its fervent running, half way between me and J.P.
I ran down a side street where I passed a beige leather sofa and a heap of personal oddities put out for the trash collectors. Perhaps this was the detritus of someone who had died. I imagined the relatives fussing over the trappings of a life whose resolution saddled them. I could almost hear their murmuring voices deciding what of the man's life had worth and what was simply garbage. Did they even run their hands beneath the cushions of that sofa to extract what change may have slipped in? Or were they in too much of a hurry to erase him?
Some of me will eventually end up on the sidewalk. Some of all of us will eventually end up on a sidewalk.
A few days ago, my husband and I saw a potted plant on the sidewalk outside our building. A paperclip held a note to one of its thick deep green straps. "I am an orchid. Pretty! Please adopt me." We deferred our coffee gratification for the few minutes it took to return inside, wait for the elevator and place our adoptee on a window ledge. Its flower stalk had been clipped so we don't know what color or shape its blooms will take. I wondered if it might have roaches hidden in the mulch. Will we regret adding it to our plant family? Not so different a speculation from what Gary and Tony express as they select an egg donor and a surrogate.
I am a childless wordsmith. Although running out into the night in Manhattan may make me wonder about my personal race and my personal best, I have no regrets. My route is clear and filled with things I scoop up from the path. I wonder if eventually overburdened with what in love you've picked up in life, you eventually stop running. We'll see.