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Too Young for Me

I’m in my father’s living room, or rather the television room. Truth be told, there are several rooms on the ground floor of their Alexandria townhouse that contain couches and televisions. I’m in the farthest room from the kitchen, which is where his partner Fred is making dinner, and quite honestly I need a break from Fred and Fred’s opinions, which are strong and plenty and are often given in dramatic pronouncements in a voice that could, with minimal provocation, rise more and more shrilly into higher octaves for maximum effect. Fred, who had extolled the racial diversity of their church but says mildly offensive statements about certain neighborhoods. Who sat in the pew nodding sagely during the minister’s sermon, but who later, in the car, said “He’s great eye candy but he needs to find another job.”
“I thought he was okay,” I said.
“Ugh. God help him, he stumbles and fumbles over every sentence and you CANNOT follow a WORD he SAYS.” Fred’s screeching fills the car and for the second time he passes the turn-off and my father says, nearly inaudibly, “Fred, you were supposed to turn back there.” The opinions only strengthen with age, and the voice only gets shriller, such that I’ve begun wondering about his mental faculties. I don’t know why I always forget this about him, only to be reminded within the first ten minutes of our reunions.

I’ve gone for quiet relief into the farthest room, eyes scanning their bookshelves for escape, but I’ve seen all the videos and the shelves only contain travel books of every country they’ve visited over the years since I left for college; places I’ve never been. Above the books is a map of the world littered with push pins indicating every single accomplished destination. Their collection seems like one of Fred’s pronouncements; look at all the places we’ve been. But their external travels take them further from themselves, I tell myself, from the rumblings of their hearts. Yes, you’ve been everywhere, I think, but your insides are dry and fossilized. Fred knows everything already; there are no surprises left in the world for him, and my father is the quiet companion whose silence allows it all to continue, unchecked, unexamined. Or so I’ve come to believe.

“Are you okay?” he asked me last night, after we had returned home following a harrowing two-hour dinner experience in downtown D.C. which involved a forty-five minute car ride with Fred at the wheel. We had circled the same five streets endlessly, Fred convinced a parking meter would open up, unwilling to pay money for a spot in a garage, the tension rising with each turn and each missed stop light, Fred slowing for a woman in a crosswalk but spitting “Bitch” at the windshield as she passed unknowingly before us. He laughed at his joke and turned to me but I looked out the opposite window, biting my tongue till it bled.

“It’s not you,” I later told my father. “I just…I just find that I get tired when I spend a lot of time with Fred.” I’ve never ever said anything like this to him.
My father’s brow creases. “Has he done something?”
I shake my head. “No. He just, well, has a lot of really strong opinions.”
There is a flicker of humor in my father’s eyes. “Fred likes to say things to get a reaction. I’ve just learned to ignore him.”

In their living room I turn on their television and channel surf my way into a painless vacancy. My shoe-less feet curl in upon themselves: I stretch out the cramped arches, my feet sore from walking earlier for several hours through the streets of Georgetown with my father. Fred had stayed home, said he’d been to Georgetown more times than he cared to remember. I had felt such relief at his words.

The hours alone with my father were perfect in their own way; his quiet and mine walking together. He followed me into several stores as I hunted for a decent pair of sneakers. My steel-toed boots had set off the metal detectors at the airport and I wanted to avoid the strip search on my return flight. I settled for a trendy pair of Steve Madden’s, then I pulled him into Urban Outfitters.
“They have an interesting variety of products here,” he said.
I dug through a pile of Adidas t-shirts and turned to find him sitting in a lounge chair, waiting patiently, a middle-aged man surrounded by loud music, loud furniture, loud boys and girls. Later in Banana Republic he brought me over to a sweater display. “This is the only thing I really like in here,” he said, pointing to a black v-neck with white stripes, “but do you think it’s too young for me?”
I laughed at first but then stopped short. I saw him clearly then, a good, hesitant man in strange surroundings. I saw that I had grown bigger than him, in shape and size. I saw that I had been handling him gently, to avoid hurting him, and I saw that I would continue to do so. My heart broke a little and I told him, “No.”

Later when the sales boy at Diesel asked him “Is that a Members Only jacket?” I whirled and glared, sure that the trendoid was trying to pull an insult in sheep’s clothing over my father. I wanted to protect my father, I wanted to spit at the boy but the boy said he keeps seeing them in thrift stores and I watched him carefully, unsure if he was genuinely interested or dissing my Dad. I watched for the joke but then turned away, not wanting to know the answer. We left the store.

Back in their house now I need peace, solitude. I sit in the dark living room, pressing the remote’s UP button over and over. I don’t hear my father enter, only glimpse him from the corner of my eye; his hesitant, apologetic posture registering in me as a burning, cruel affront. Because the resentment is familiar, it finds its way back to me, again and again. What does he want now?

“Is there…” he says in his soft voice, the one I inherited from him, the thankless gift. I should tell him about speaking from the diaphragm. I have to turn down the volume to hear him. “Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?” he asks. Fred is safely distant in the kitchen.

No, I think. I don’t want to talk about that, about my resentment, about the incident. I don’t want to talk about you and me. “Uh,” I say. “um…not really.” I pause as he stands there, waiting for my answer, and I know I should give in, I know we should talk. I offer a smile to cut the edge from my voice. “Well, maybe a couple of things.”

I was pulling out of the Best Buy parking lot yesterday when a car of boys pulled up nearby. The two hotties in the front were checking me out. It was five pm; beer bust time at the nearby Eagle. They were going out, I was going home. This has been my life. I am currently spending too much money on home electronics, DVD’s and searching the Internet for movie posters. Also spending lots of time with women classmates and co-workers. I will soon be in the “gay” Hollywood Square, making you laugh while desperately covering up my sexually neutered status. And failing. I will live vicariously through all your sex lives while pretending not to understand what “punch my kitten” means. I will write closeted “fan mail” to various San Francisco Giants, hoping they might want to “hang out” during this difficult time. Also I will build a shrine to Paul Wellstone in my bedroom and hang roses upside down from the ceiling so that they dry the right way. At the grocery store I will hide the Enquirer in my underwear while buying lots of frozen dinners and making inappropriate remarks to the bagboy who won’t understand English anyway. I’ll channel surf for Law and Order reruns while wearing a flannel bathrobe and fall asleep before eating the vegetable portion.

Several years ago my younger brother and I were at our father’s townhouse in Minneapolis. He and his partner had just returned from a trip to Japan and we were standing in their stairwell admiring a print they had brought home. A watercolor of cherry blossoms or something; along the side were Japanese letters.

“What does that say?” I asked him.
He wrinkled his brow. “I don’t know,” he said.
There was a brief pause.
“‘Kill Whitey!'” my brother said.

We still laugh about that. Or, at least, my brother and I do.


Having gay parents means everyone thinks you had an AMAZING childhood and that they’re hip and funny like all your friends and well, um, no.

They’re still my parents, people (or, at least, my Dad is…I don’t know if I can say that about my dead mother…can you say “she’s still my mom?” or is that, like, past tense?) Meaning that they weren’t cool and they had taste in furniture that I thought was funny. Especially my father and his partner. Really, you would expect questionable taste from lesbians, but from the men, too? YES, like, who ARE these people and who told them that a cityscape made entirely out of mirrors and hanging over the white couch is a viable aesthetic decision? (Dad, you said you wouldn’t read this anymore, but if you lied then you can’t blame me for speaking the god-honest TRUTH). And wardrobes from J.C. Penny and American cars and lots of casseroles for dinner. Cool Whip in the fridge, always (I know, I like Cool Whip, too) and no pets because that would mean hair on the furniture and gay RSVP cruises and buying toiletries in bulk and buying groceries from the cheapest store in the neighborhood and FAKE bonsai trees and bathrooms decorated so they look ASIAN (whatever that means) and no, we never went clubbing together but yeah, sometimes we cruise guys together and I still love them.

It’s clear we’re above the East Coast. Sprawling green farms dotted with white farmhouses and honest-to-God red barns slide below us. Everything’s lush; it’s like looking down on the broccoli section at Safeway. Thick emerald tree cover and drizzly wisps of cloud slowly burning away in the rays of the emerging sun. I press my nose against the glass; eyes devouring the architecture of another world.

If it weren’t the closest airport to their house I might have avoided the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (“Everyone still calls it ‘National’”, my transplanted barber told me earlier). I stand with my bag in the D.C. dusk, waiting for my father who is unusually late. I call his partner at home.
“Where are you?” he asks.
“I’m at the airport.”
“Yeah, I’m looking at the sign now. It says ‘National Airport'”.
“Actually,” I say, “There’s kind of a new shiny building over there that looks more like an airport.”
“Oh! Oh, you’re at the old terminal.”
“It figures.”

My father is waiting for me in the baggage claim of the new terminal. I see him a hundred yards away; a hesitant figure scanning the crowds for my face. He’s never had the natural ease of other fathers, other men in the world. He’s always seemed stiff, reserved, pleasant. Like there’s a layer between him and emotion. His unease reflects mine; my emotions constrict in his company. When my mother would get angry with me she’d say “You’re just like your father”, knowing it would sting. I am quiet like him, shy like him. But I was her, too…her passion and her temper and her selfless abandon. Her generosity and her need. I am both of them, but her death has made me value the part of me that is her more than the part that is him. In missing her I seek out what she left in me. When my father told me he wanted us to be closer because she was dying and soon he’d be my “only support”, I ducked my head, resenting his presumption. I didn’t want his support; I’d done well enough without it. I am here under obligation but driven by something else. Three weeks ago he had dreamed about her, dreamed they had been going through papers together. The next morning he had searched for her name on the Internet, and found me instead, found my site. I know my mother is orchestrating forgiveness. She’s pushing us together and because I love her so much I’m letting her push.

He sees me coming; his eyebrows raise and he smiles nervously. It’s the first time we’ve seen each other since he read my site, since he unearthed my resentment, since we talked, haltingly, about the memories we’d rather forget.

Control, or No My Name Ain’t Baby

“I really admire your strength; two years of sobriety, that takes incredible will power,” he says.

But will power is the red herring; sobriety isn’t about will power or control; it’s all about the opposite; the surrender, the release. Two years of will power is doomed from the start; a crack, a hairline fracture will spread; the whole affair will come crashing down.

You don’t build it up, you tear it down, day after day. You strip away your will, you strip away expectation and control. If you don’t you’ll die. You’ll get fucked up again, and you’ll be taken (no control) to the edges of life; jailed, hospitalized, homeless. And it’s either kill yourself quickly or do it slowly, gutlessly.

There’s not much we can control. We can’t control lovers, parents, bosses, presidents, public transportation. We can’t control their approval, their acceptance, their love. We can’t control corporations, traffic, disease. (Manage, maybe, if we’re lucky, but not control). We can’t control editors, publishers, arts councils. We can’t control people with guns or bombs.

We can kill them, sure, but do we wipe them out? What about their friends, their children, their lovers? Don’t we just welcome revenge? I don’t think killing stops killing; I think it begs for more. You can’t stamp it out like a fire; it’s more like water, running, dripping, pooling. It escapes confinement.

All I have are my actions. Naive as I may be, I choose negotiation. I choose olive branches and compromise. I choose who are you and how do we get this to work. If you don’t want that, guess what, I can’t control you.

I started this with a mission, a message. A thesis statement supported by facts and figures. But it’s come out forced, clunky, self-conscious. All I know is to try and learn how to love more. And to strip away everything else. To love and then surrender. To screw it up one day and try harder the next. To look for the spark and sugar in others. To scratch my dog more often.

And yet, in spite of all this it feels okay to take a break from the Love Bomb this week. I don’t know what to tell you except that I’m spread thin and I couldn’t do a target justice; it would sound half-baked. Ultimately though the Love Bomb is not my creation, not really; it’s more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s also all of you who participate; that’s what makes it a bomb. So choose your own; someone in your life, perhaps, that needs to know they’re loved.

I’m off for a few days on Wednesday to D.C. to visit my Dad and his partner, to dodge sniper bullets and to hopefully connect with at least two other bloggers while I’m there. There’s much to be done before I leave; I better get moving.

Dear Mister Latino Daddy

Finally! How long have I been working out there? It’s about time you fastened your gaze on me. Your sweet smile when asking how many sets left is today’s happy pill, and I do appreciate the boost. Perhaps one day I will be able to do 160 on the seated row instead of 120 but at least it’s more than 100 which is what I was doing. Perhaps you can spot me next time on the incline, I wouldn’t mind looking upside down at you and your chest and the slick gold chain around your neck. No, I wouldn’t wear one but you can certainly pull it off. If that was your boyfriend with you last month buying groceries then we’ll have to talk, perhaps over a Peenya Colada Jamba Juice with two protein boosts that we’ll sip overlooking the Safeway parking lot and the swooping flocks of pigeons. Perhaps Ray the Jamba barista will upgrade you to Power size for free, like he does for me. If you haven’t noticed, the Human Bullet’s super mutant powers are growing stronger, and people can’t help but give me things for free.

He’s shorter in person, handsome in that learned, distinguished fashion. Gray hair and glasses, oxford shirts, slacks, a gleaming Mercedes parked out front. His voice is deep and familiar, one you’ve probably heard before. He gives us the prime time news. In promo spots he grills the governor, the president, Yasser Arafat. You get the idea.

I’m asked to talk about the twelfth step; a humbling affair since it suggests I know something about the other eleven. I talk about my two-year anniversary, about the two men who asked me last week to be their sponsor, about my father and truth, about my weekend in Palm Springs. That night on that stage in that ballroom, the five hundred men, the shell around my heart breaking open; that night, Bearbait said, when people started calling him.

“You should see your sponsee,” they said.

And what he told me, what I couldn’t believe: that my night, my experience in the desert, gave others something resembling hope.

“Someone was going to drink, and they saw you and decided to stick around a little longer.”

So I talk about that, about the people who watch us when we never realize we’re being watched.

He approaches me afterwards, doesn’t hug me like the others but he says in that deep, television voice, “I want what you have. I want that honesty.”

I look at him, look for the joke, but there is none. He means it.

“It takes practice,” I say. “It’s like diving off a cliff. If you think about it too long, you’ll never do it. You have to just jump.” I don’t tell him what else I know: people like you when you tell the truth, more or less. Unless you’re talking about them.

Gratuitous Gay Boy Soap Opera, or Why Men Are to be Avoided, Mostly

Scene: A bright, unusually hot day in a city by the sea. A crowded street fair in the gay ghetto. Odd assortment of booths: beer tents, art galleries, politicians, porn studios. Four men saunter slowly up and down the streets.

Handsome aka “Swivel-Head”: (watches a group of campaign supporters hand out fliers on their candidate) : “ Look at THAT one: He’s so cute…and he’s political!”

Michael aka Your Reliable Narrator (and the only one wearing a shirt): (makes a “tisk” sound)

Hottie #1 aka Tony: “Did you just say ‘political’?”

Hottie #2 aka Daddy-o: “He did.”

Handsome (head swivels again): “Ooh, look, there’s T.J. He works at that cute store, you know, the one with all the candles and the rusty Buddha statues.”

Tony: “He owns it, actually.”

Handsome: “He DOES?”

Michael: “Suddenly he just got much more attractive”

Daddy-o: “And interesting.”

Michael: “Look, that guy is naked.”

Tony: “Talk about letting it all hang out.”

Michael: “It’s never the ones you want to see naked.”

Handsome: (swivels again as a barely-legal boy passes) “Ooh, pretty eyes.”

Daddy-o (to Michael): “He likes em young, doesn’t he?”

Michael: “We never have to fight over the same guys.”

Daddy-o then performs for Michael a thirty-minute dialogue on the kinds of boys he likes, why San Francisco will be better for his sex life than Los Angeles was, and the fact that he didn’t feel the need to shave his back this morning because body hair is more accepted here. During this monologue Tony and Handsome fall back and Michael hears them whispering to each other.

Handsome: “I’m just staying out of it.”

Both Tony and Daddy-o wander over to the chicken skewer tent while Handsome and Michael stand in the shadow cast by the leather-vest booth.

Handsome: “Tony’s sad now.”

Michael: “Why?”

Handsome: “He’s quite taken with you. And you’re spending all your time with Daddy-o”

Michael: “Oh.” (sighs) “I’m not DOING anything. I’m just listening” (pause as he watches the two men order their skewers) “Tony’s adorable, just not….my type. I guess.”

Handsome: “Heartbreaker. Do you want me to leave you and Daddy-o alone?”

Michael: “No. He’s trouble.”

Handsome: “Why?”

Michael: “He’s a player. I want someone who’ll pay attention to me, not every other boy who passes. I hear he’s already broken three sober boys’ hearts in the two weeks he’s been here.”

Handsome: “Well, when it’s over I’ll tell you my perception.”

Michael: “You knew him in L.A.?”

Handsome: “Yeah.”

Michael: “Oh, come on. You can’t tease me like that.”

Handsome: “Shh, they’re coming back.”

Tony quickly devours his chicken.

Tony: “All right, guys, I’m out of here.” (he looks at Handsome as he says this, hugs the three men, then slips off into the crowd)

Michael watches somewhat guiltily.

Handsome: “Onward?”

Daddy-o: “Onward.”

They press forward into the crowd.

Daddy-o: “Look at that one.”

Handsome’s head swivels up and down the block.

Daddy-o: “And that one.”

Handsome: “Hello!”

Michael: (interior monologue): I am hitting the wall. This is so not what I want to be doing right now. Men are pigs. Am I a pig? I need a nap. Are my expectations too high? This shirt is too hot. I’m not going to take it off. (glances sideways at Daddy-o’s chest) Yum. Why are the wrong ones the hottest ones? Is this how I have to find a boyfriend? I don’t want a boyfriend, he’ll just cheat on me. I just want someone who’ll treasure me. Oh my god that is the ugliest stained glass rainbow triangle I have ever seen. Who buys this crap?

Daddy-o: “I want some coffee, you guys want some?”

Handsome: “No, thanks.”

Michael: “We’ll wait here for you.”

Daddy-o wanders off.

Michael: “Okay, talk.”

Handsome: “Okay, okay. I was in L.A. when he started visiting from Houston, and it was just like he did before he moved here; he visited four or five times. Then he moved in with a couple who were in AA. And two weeks later one of the guys fell or was pushed off their balcony and he died.”

Michael: “WHAT!?!”

Handsome: “I know.”

Michael: “What’d the police say?”

Handsome: “They said he could have just fallen backwards off the railing. But then, I swear to God, less than three weeks later Daddy-o and the other boyfriend started dating. It was so creepy.”

Michael: (watches Daddy-o approach, coffee cup in hand) “Oh my God, I’m never dating again.”

I knew something was wrong when I read the email…”Last installment very powerful. You definitely have potential…” and I copped a resentment. I really hate the word “potential”, if only because I heard it so much as a teenager and as a 20-something that I wonder at what point do I get to arrive. But it’s all process, right? It’s the journey and I must remain teachable; I must be able to keep learning.

Another “real-life” friend who’s a published poet read my site and told me “…it was good“: the “good” rising in inflection towards the darkening sky, a “good” loaded with “buts”.

I have got to make this about me. I’ve got to make this my little shrine, or sanctuary, or secret clubhouse.

But I need you guys, and you keep me going. You make it worth it. So it can’t be all about me, or only for me. If it were only for me, it wouldn’t be online. If it were only for me, I’d never have met you. If it were only for me, it wouldn’t be communication, and that’s what writing is. For me. The praise; I love it, it’s seductive, addictive, dangerous.

What a fucked-up week; the dad-finding-my-weblog affair, a critique of my Palm Springs story by a class who wanted to know what I meant by “fear”. Aren’t any of them afraid? Or am I the only one who got all paranoid and twitchy on speed and who, towards the end, would hyperventilate whenever passing a gay guy on the street?

Maybe it is just me.

All they really wanted was more: more information, more background, more hot man-on-man 4 sex 4 man dirty details. (“Let us witness it”, the instructor said. Is that where I start talking about his “turgid, swollen member”?) But nobody said it was the most beautiful thing they ever read, and I went home dejected. Ahem. Dogpoet needs to learn about criticism, no?

None of this is art, forgive me, but if I don’t get some of this shit out of the way I’ll stop writing. I’ve just been feeling….raw, exposed. I turned over a log and uncovered a nest of beetles who, like me, want to scurry for cover.

Something changed this week; almost overnight dogpoet ceased to be something I could hide…more and more “real life” people are reading, more friends and acquaintances ask me for the link. And the brutal candor I’ve displayed here is having consequences in the “real world” but it’s too late to stop: I can’t hide anymore because I’ve outgrown that old outfit and anyway it makes me break out in a rash.

I don’t know where I’m going. At least not yet. I’m still finding my way.

I’ve created a pretty monster, one I need to feed and who feeds me, who devours all my words and needs constant affection. I love it but it’s so fragile, so transparent. You tell me I’m stronger than I think, I have fangs and claws but all I see are the soft softs on my body, on my monster.

Wednesday night I heard a young woman named Dragon speak at an AA meeting. She was talking about “bad things”, you know, like her father fucking around with her when she was a kid. She said something that shook me up, said that the bad things become the good things, with enough time. She said if her Dad hadn’t fucked around with her she wouldn’t have been so messed up and ended up in AA so young and now, she said, she has her whole life before her, just waiting.

All those bad things that happened have made me who I am, it took all of them for me to get here. And now I have my whole life before me, just waiting. Dad, we’ve changed a lot in 22 years. I get it now, there’s nothing you can say to make it better. I just need to forgive. One of these days.

To my friends and family: I don’t mean to say that I can’t handle you reading this. I just can’t keep needing the praise or fearing the silence. It may be a monster, but it’s mine.

On October 1, 2000, it was too much again. Too much of fill-in-the-blank fear; hopelessness, loneliness, alienation. Another three weeks of white-knuckled sobriety doomed from the beginning by my need to do it all myself. A desk drawer full of phone numbers that I never opened; well-meaning business cards from well-meaning strangers whose faces I could never connect to their names. My partner at the time out of town, an empty apartment filling with my need to breathe again, my need to gasp out loud and just give in, just fucking give up.

My dealer with the borderline psychosis had crossed his line and fled the city, back to the Midwest. So I did what I had done so many times before; I logged on. The boys these days make it easy for you: party has a whole new meaning. Party and play; alliteration and an image like a high school gymnasium strung with crepe paper and balloons. Yeah, let’s play. Typed the words into the search machine; party, PNP, tina. A list of like-minded men scrolled down the screen. Click, scan, click. Their stats mattered less on nights like that; just find someone generous enough, someone who’ll share.

His house on a hill above the Castro; shallow thrill breathing on the ride there; here we go here we go, yeah let’s get lost. He answers the door and maybe he’s alone or maybe he’ll surprise you with another boy, another one needing to breathe. Maybe his monitor is glowing in the dark; maybe your picture’s still up on the screen. Or maybe the room’s lit blue from the television; flesh bending and thrusting mutely so the circuit CD can synchronize to your heartbeat. A glass pipe or tinfoil and a bic; please thank you; suck in that nasty chemical cloud, that bitter drip at the back of your throat, the one you’ve grown to love.

The blood pumps and you can breathe now, you can laugh and be bigger than you are, you can wrap around him, flesh bending, get lost in him on a bed in a dark house. Get lost but come back quick, come back for more, over and over; the flick and the spark and the flame and the smoke and the suck and the hold and the blow, again and again. Heart pumping faster than the music, vision blurring at the edge, roll with him and dive down into it, running from the dread.

They’re always done before you; they lay still and disappear and you don’t want to end but the edges of dawn push through the blinds and you’ve fucked it up again. A new day dawns and you’re back where you began, no, further back; three steps, ten steps back. The blue screen of flesh contorting endlessly, pulling you back, keeping you up. Creep out into the street, light too bright. Hurry, hurry, run home. A bottle from the corner store; a morning drop to dull the edge, two blue pills to wash down and a call to work; sick again.


On October 2, 2000, I pulled the baseball cap down low over my face and went back to that flourescent-lit basement. Still the good little boy, showing up to make coffee for the group, can’t let ’em down. As they trickled in I kept my eyes to the floor, setting up the sugar and tea, arranging towers of paper cups, nodding at their greetings.

But Lee looked me in the eye. Lee asked “How are you?” and it was all over me; in my eyes, on my face; the sickness and the dread and in that second I finally gave up.

“I don’t think I can do this,” I told him, and I cried in spite of myself.

It was Lee who pulled Bearbait aside, it was Lee who said can you help Michael, it was Lee, my spiritual cupid, who gave me my sponsor, and though Lee later disappeared, I stuck around.

I called my sponsor and listened to his voice, and though I could not tell you what he said, it was how he said it that cracked through the wall; his voice a hand I grasped tight.

And when I couldn’t breathe I called him instead, and he showed me how to breathe differently, and how to be helped. I gave up and he pulled me into the raft. And here I’ve been; sometimes better, sometimes laughing. Around me are others who’ve shown me how. And some of them leave, but some of them stay. And you’re there, and we tell each other stories; through the day, through the night, and there’s no room here for fear.

“I finally became a man
singing among the flames, accepted
by friends who find their place in the night,
who sang with me in the taverns,
and who gave me more than a single kindness,
something they had defended with their fighting hands,
which was more than a spring,
a fire unknown elsewhere, the natural foliage
of the places slowly falling down at the city’s edge.”

-Pablo Neruda

Happy Birthday to me.