The week has begun, rather inauspiciously. Last year at this time I was in Manhattan, proposing to a Russian hooker. One wonders why I’ve not been invited to join the current administration what with my fondness for and near immediate surrender to a fellow named Pavel, who didn’t charge me a dime by the way, because I didn’t know he was a hooker and … never mind, not important. Wasn’t the story I meant to tell.
Last year at this time I was in Manhattan and my first night there I saw She Loves Me, to which I was introduced many long years ago when I ran away to California, auditioned for the show, and was shamed by the audition death-panel of flannel-shirted, mustachioed gay men (it was 1979) who hit me with HUGE attitudes for not knowing who Barbara Cook was. After the audition — where it was made clear I was too light for the role and in danger of not being welcome into the group I thought would surely embrace me, GAY THEATRE MEN — I stopped at a Tower Records (remember those?) and bought Miss Cook’s Barbara Cook At Carnegie Hall, and started a love affair that has lasted lo these many decades. But my favorite song from She Loves Me was not on the Carnegie Hall album, so it was only later when I got the original cast recording that I discovered Where’s My Shoe; all of which long explanatory intro has to do with my inability this morning here in the final few days of my house/pet-sitting gig to find my shoe, and the memories of last year at this time being in New York, and the many decades I have always — in my head — both wished I lived in New York, wished I’d ever been embraced by a community of gay men, and, too, have always started singing Where’s My Shoe to myself whenever I go to put on shoes, all of which, this morning, for some reason, made me cry.
Actually, I probably know the reason. Last year at this time when I was in Manhattan I was scheduled to see Miss Barbara Cook at 54 Below. But, alas, the show was cancelled. I’m grateful to have seen her in concert twice in my life and I cried through both of those concerts. None of which has anything to do with crying this morning.
Last year at this time I proposed to Pavel because he told me he was here illegally, couldn’t return to Russia because he was gay and they would jail or kill him. Pavel, who had already been too sweet and kind to me in a fractured English that both filled and broke my heart, turned me down. He warned me that I was too nice, I was going to get used and hurt by people because I opened up my heart so quickly, I should not, he said, be so trusting and believe so much.
Last year at this time I opened my heart a lot on that trip. I met in person so many wonderful people I’d only known through social media. And I reunited with people, some new friends and some I hadn’t seen in years — one of whom had taken me to my first Barbara Cook concert. And it was a heart opening, perfect week when I trusted and believed and was healed rather than hurt.
But, Pavel, it turns out, was right. And wrong. For reasons wrapped up in a story I can never tell, I meant to tuck away and wall off my heart. A few people I trusted with my life, trusted with my love, had broken pieces of my heart for reasons in which they felt fully justified and that’s not mine to judge, I don’t claim to be a saint, I’ve made many mistakes, and I mean to throw no shade on nor assign any blame to them.
But, it turns out I am awful at closing off my heart. Or, rather, it turns out I am fantastic at being open-hearted and loving. Which comes with risks. And I take those risks. And sometimes I am taken by surprise to discover I have given a piece of my heart to someone — or, have given a piece of my heart to a someone who I’ve imagined into being, who I’ve layered around the shape and intentions of a real human being making up this pretend version of them I have created.
Or, have I?
I have been told by both a psychic and a mental health professional that my problem is not that I choose the wrong people to trust, but, rather, that I see to the centers of people, past the veneers and shells and layers of protection in which we all wrap ourselves. Oftentimes, we humans are not willing or able to operate from our centers.
So, just like it isn’t about me being bad at closing my heart, but instead, gifted at opening it, then in the same vein it isn’t that I don’t see, it’s that I see too much.
Which, I continue to think is a better way to be despite this latest little piece of me being broken. I’m not looking anymore to wall off my heart from hurt, I’m trying — instead — to peel away every layer and open myself to everything and everyone.
And I may not be in Manhattan, but, the week has only begun, and there are other ways and places in which to be happy. And a little crying never hurt anyone. Which is good, because since November, crying is my go-to response to any kindness, beauty, joining, or instances of love or light. We need as much as we can get right now to heal the world. And I think healing requires open hearts. And open hearts often involve tears.
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. But I wanted to say it. Whatever it was, wrapped up in stories I can’t tell.
And, I found my shoes.
Love and light dear ones.