Aging takes various forms at various times in our lives. It means a loss of beauty, fewer dates, muscles tiring more easily, and lines forming around the eyes. For some it’s a time of loneliness, a period when it’s hard to make friends, but as gay men we don’t have to subscribe to that kind of thinking. Sure, we do a few more push ups; we run an extra quarter mile. Doing that to maintain our health is positive but doing it to reclaim our youth is an exercise in frustration because we can’t go home again. A friend who’s all excited about a younger guy he’s dating asked me “Wouldn’t you just love being twenty-seven again?” I told him I indulged with the best at that age but why would I want all the confusion of being twenty-anything now?
Sure, the days I spent in bars and baths are now spent at my desk cruising profiles but I’m not dead. Last Thanksgiving I spent the day with a high school friend and his wife. That night I spent it in the playroom with someone I met on line; we were both looking for a quickie. That Saturday I got together with a man who was great fun naked fifteen years ago. We smoked pot, we fucked; we smoked pot; we fucked again…. Within four hours I’d had more sex than I’d had in all of November. We played as the friends we’d always been and were even better at our game. Life keeps being good.
Being healthy is being alive with who you are. It’s not that you are 45 or 57 years old, it’s what are you’re doing with those years. I spent most of my professional life working for other people. I was good at it and I worked with some fascinating men like Joe Alioto and one woman, Dianne Feinstein. I knew when I stopped work I had to find something I loved or I’d go nuts. For me it was writing. I studied poetry for two years and realized I’m a decent writer but will never be a great poet. I also realized I’ll never be a great anything because people who get to the top start very young with a clear goal and work all their lives at it. My goal without ever consciously spelling it out was becoming a man. That meant raising a son, falling in love, and making true friends. I knew I didn’t want to die with a pile of regrets.
We are the only person in our lives and I find myself endlessly fascinating with regular surprises. If I understand sixty per cent of what makes me tick by the time I die I’ll be content. A year before he died my father’s said, “Next April I’m going to be ninety-five years old. I think that’s enough,” and he died four days before his 95th birthday. That’s how I plan to go. If I’ve been alive throughout my life and had enough I’ll let my body die.