Friday, April 19, 2013

It's a big deal ...

It's a big deal, this move. A major life shift. So I've been wanting to compose a quick re-cap--just a very broad outline--on these past 35 years. It's a selfish exercise: I'm doing it for me. (And it's long.) I need the catharsis and to bear witness to (i.e. remember) this big chunk of living. For almost 2 years I wrote "morning pages" every morning. That is an exercise from "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron (I totally recommend it). Think of this as a slightly more structured morning page exercise made public. (Morning pages are meant to be private and not re-read.) So how did I get where I am now? ...

I came to NY because I had to. I'm returning to NH because I want to. The NH I'm returning to is not the same place I left 35 years ago: NH now recognizes same-sex marriage. Hallelujah! They're on the forefront. Who would have thought!?

The "reason" for moving here was to attend acting school. I attended for a short while, up to when the money ran out and I had to get a job. Looking back, I think it's just as well that it didn't work out.

My first years here were tumultuous, almost unbearably so at times. In my first year I came out of a very dark closet. So dark and deep. And it wasn't without a struggle.

When I was born, in 1956, I was a criminal--so said the law. Homosexuality was still illegal in 1956. The Stonewall Riots occurred when I was 13. It was not something we heard about. It was impossible to be out, and like so many others I lied and pretended. Sexuality, let alone homosexuality, was not discussed. But I knew who I was--inside--by the time I reached my mid teens. I had read a description of "homosexuals" in a book and realized, "That's me!" The only difference was that I didn't feel "perverted" or "deranged". I just felt like me. But I knew way before then about myself from the way I felt when I saw an attractive man. I always thought men were much more interesting--libido wise--than women. During my years here I have come to know of other gay men and women who I grew up with--and although we were classmates and friends, we never knew this aspect of each other. One of them also moved to NYC shortly after I did.

It cannot be overstated just how harmful the closet is. It is a devastating place, and by the time I'd reached my late teens I was in a very bad way. I had to do something. And that--minus all the details--is why I moved to NY. It wasn't easy. I knew no one here, and my first residence was the YMCA near Lincoln Center. That was short-lived, thankfully, as I'd been approached by a classmate about sharing an apartment in Germantown on the Upper East Side. I lived there a while--up to the breaking point: That night when I realized that if I didn't accept who I really was I was going to go insane. It was a cathartic and frightening experience. On the spot, I hurled myself out of bed and went out to a discotheque that I knew about. The Ice Palace, 57 West 57th Street. One where men danced with men, and held each other, and kissed. One that I'd been taken to once before by a kind man who had befriended me at church. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, these couples in love. I was one of a couple that night, for the first time in my life. He was Irish and ever so cute and handsome. And his apartment was in Queens, which is kinda funny when you think about it. I had my first intimate experience in Queens! And I was saved from insanity. The tumultuous times continued as I struggled to find myself and peace of mind.

The tide turned when I started a relationship with a very cute Texan working on his PhD in cinema studies at NYU. I learned a lot about cinema that year and we had a nice relationship. It brought some solidity and stability to my life. Alas, something was missing and I couldn't ignore it. That's when I started Bioenergetic Theraphy which is a Freudian offshoot with an emphasis on the body. It's a very interesting and intriquing theory and I read several books on the subject at the time. It came my way via a movement teacher at acting school. Curious about the exercises we had been doing I asked her what they were and she directed me to the book "Bioenergetics". I did 6 years of this psychotherapy. That was followed by 14 years with my "shrink" and he was pretty much a plain old Freudian psychiatrist. I cannot fathom where I might have ended up had I not undertaken this inner journey.

It seems to me the 80s were different in this respect: I didn't know anyone who wasn't seeing either a psychotherapist or a shrink. Perhaps it's simply that I've lost touch, but it doesn't seem as common as it was. Most thankfully, those were the days before medication become the panacea for all things psychological. No. I had a plain old-fashioned talking cure and I am ever so thankful for it.

During those years I found a solid job and read, read, read and learned, learned, learned. My love and interest in piano was reawakened and I tackled it in earnest. I stopped dating. Had to take time to deal with all the baggage I was carrying around. I call it the period when I was in the closet with the door open. Heehee. So I had a second coming out around the millenium. And I came out for good that time! But going solo during that period is something I've often reflected on with the realization that it probably saved my life. From AIDS. I knew many people who died in those years. I finally managed to get my own apartment when I moved to Brooklyn, and really settled in when I found this place I am now leaving. Eventually I took the advice of all my piano teachers and started teaching too. Learned how to spin wool and weave. I knew how to knit and crochet already--learned that when I was a teenager. My latest big adventure is the cello and I'm loving it.

And here I am, practically on the eve of returning to New Hampshire. Until a few years ago I had no idea what my future would look like. Now it seems clearer. I think I'm going to like it at my new house.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Bernard. I'm glad to know you a little more.


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