Sunday, March 28, 2010
27 March 8:30 am On Board Virgin Atlantic Flight VS18 to London
On board the plane, I am not nervous, but filled with anticipation and desire. What is it about travel that allows one to imagine a different self than our everyday one? It can be a magical feeling of limitless possibility. I am off to London with the W____ family which includes my goddaughter N____. Since the beginning of February, I have been her Mary Poppins for 2 days a week in addition to my regular gig. It has been hard and a hoot; also, it has brought me the greatest joy in my life, caring for her and watching her grow, the incredible changes that happen from day to day. Since I started watching her she has learned to clap her hands and wave hello and goodbye with which she charms everyone, but I digress...
I have not been to London for 22 years; in 1988 I studied art history in Norwich for my semester abroad and then with great luck landed an internship at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, doing research for their exhibition entitled "A Nest of Nightingales". What a delicious title! It was pure heaven. But then later on in life, when you have depression your world gets very small, sometimes to just one room, and travel seems daunting and mostly impossible. But not today...
Besides revisiting my past, I will be seeing my dearest friend H____ whom I have known and loved for 30 years; We met in the horror filled days of junior high. She like N____'s mom are the sisters that I never had. And so I am sitting on the plane, waiting to take off, and wearing my Psychedelic Furs badge that is nearly as old as our friendship. H____ and I discovered The Furs together somewhat late in their game. For us they were cool, they were different. They were unlike any of the drones and worker bees we went to school with in M____-S____ H____. And we debated that their new toned down version of Pretty in Pink for the Molly Ringwald movie of the same name was not as raw and authentic as the original. We connected to their otherness and obsessively went to their shows on the Pier and in a scary, rundown theater in Passaic, New Jersey that I am sure was mostly a porn theater during the day with sticky floors and faded glamour. And Richard Butler, so sexy, so incongruously smooth with that raspy voice singing Love My Way and Imitation of Christ with his arms outspread as if he were on a cross. The sounds and images fill my head as I wait to see who will sit next to me on the plane.
There are a lot of cuties on board this flight. Thank god it is not the "ugly plane" to London. I would love an attractive English lad to be my seat mate...so pent up physically...think about C____ whom I have been having phone sex with for months. So hot, so connected, but the magic would end probably in the real world, fear of rejection. I am heavier now than I have ever been, but comfortable with it in one sense as long as I'm a eunuch in the Forbidden City or a retired concubine or a disembodied voice. Just not motivated to lose weight right now. When I was younger exercise, going out, having a "body" was my routine. What clothes to wear? How tight should the T-shirt be? I was never a muscle boy, but I was decently lean with some definition. Now I have gone to seed a bit, but I am content not living under the pressure (and I never was totally subsumed into the gay body paradigm) of looking a certain way, having a certain waist size, having the right look. And the boys that I was attracted to then were all shapes and sizes; no type limited me. What I would not accept on me, I readily found attractive on others. So now I try not to look in the mirror much.
But, I am happy now because of my goddaughter, my new Mary Poppins job taking care of her, my apartment in its tchotchke glory and my idea for an antique personal shopping business. Surrounded by my collection of silver, I experience great satisfaction especially when I use these sometimes archaic implements for entertaining friends at silver dessert soirees. I wonder if C____ would like my silver collection or would it just make me an old queen in his eyes, instead of a hot dad.
I often think of Quentin Crisp- his wit, his elegance, his sheer determination and self-possessed assurance of his own identity and his basically f*ck you attitude. I aspire to that way of being. Often I tell my friends jokingly, but with a bit of seriousness that when I turn 50, I am going to start wearing jumpsuits and elaborate 18th century powdered wigs. An antique monocle will be fashioned around my neck like the one worn by my great great aunt Margaret Timm who led a life of discernment and style. She had fresh violets delivered everyday to wear on her dress and when she came east from Seattle to visit the family (she was widowed young and never had children) she would rent a suite at the Gramercy Park Hotel and stroll with her nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews through the private park. For her, like me, the world was still an imaginary 19th century space, like in paintings, filled with the bright spirit of a new modern world untouched by the horror of The Great War, the Holocaust or World War II. And racism, slavery, imperialism, the medicalization of same-sex desire, misogyny, homophobia and so on.
So far, the seat next to me is still empty and the plane is fairly full. No cutie to admire or chat with during the flight. Well, at least I have more room- still a bridesmaid, still Mrs. Haversham on a Virgin Atlantic flight to London. Sitting there I admire my new key chain which I bought at the concession stand while waiting to get on the plane. It is a round matte silver disk engraved "I Love NY" with a ring of rhinestones around the edge. It just appealed to me and will go well with the jumpsuits and wigs. The sentiment "I Love NY" combined with traveling to London allows me to imagine I needed a NYC souvenir after I just spent some time in my pied-à-terre in the Big Apple. Now, I am returning to my real home in London. I'm a jet-setter, international traveller, a new millennium multi-city dweller. I'm 2010, but also 1979 collecting a complete set of Concorde china like Andy Warhol. I am Joan Collins and Joris-Karl Huysmans in an English pub near the Paris train station meant to deliver me to the coast.
I finally get a seat mate- a cute, very English hipster boy with blond, tussled hair slightly longer on top with the most amazing icy blue-green eyes like a pale turquoise stone without imperfections. My fantasy of an over the Atlantic romance is dashed when he mentions his wife and 2 kids. Did he realize I was a f*g so easily? Or was he a guy who had been on business in the USA in some hinterland of Pennsylvania looking forward to getting home to see his family after a week away? Probably so.
When he sits down in his window seat, his sweatshirt rises up a bit above his stylish, black pants and I catch a glimpse of the area above his ass, the lower back...my favorite part of a man's body especially when there is a smattering of light hair like my seat companion or dark hair. My airplane fantasy of love found is in full swing until of course a mere seconds later when he mentions his family. But I savor his pale blue-green eyes for the next 6 hours and know that this trip will be just swell.