this is a portrait of a young man coming out of his [insert your favorite analogy here: pupa, shell, closet.] he’s been working on this moment physically for at least 21 years, if not longer psychically; the dream of so many before who did not. his new life shocked no one. it caused no natural disaster. he lost some friends (which even then did not bother him.) he made a lot more. there were miscues, missteps, mistakes and other ‘mis’ses: the affianced ‘boyfriend’ whose smooth body, ruddy nose, and aggressive behavior can still be recalled as vividly as if he’d just been freshly, left alone in his bed, cold, angry, hurt(ing), and confused by what he thought it should be and what it actually was. was it rudy? alan? john? what about the blond who picked him up in the park and took him to his apartment on belmont and proceeded to — you’ll forgive the constant referencing of sex, but, really, that’s all there was, that was the identifier then, the difference on which you proclaimed your freedom, cried out in the night, early morning, late afternoon, at the lake shore, on the bus, at school, work, that creeping paranoia of otherness staring at your back as you walked home from the ‘el’ stop, the occasional catcall that made your spine stiffen and your gait stumble as the target got affixed to your back, ready, aim, fire.
but it never happened, that shot, although it was never far from his consciousness (he carried a certain amount of psychic awareness around with him like a handkerchief just in case someone sneezed or there was blood on the tracks–that may be the result of otherness, too, a little bit of the boy scouts, careful upbringing, manners instilled by grandmothers, aunts, that midwestern ‘gosh-golly-ness’.) he went about his life, a partial list would include school, work, drinking, smoking pot, cruising the park at lawrence avenue and lakeshore dr., drooling over a roommate, blind to the obvious and cognizant of the hidden, his world a negative ready to be developed. we’re unsure, at this writing, how long he may have waited for the positive, blind as he was to the chemical bath required to bring the portrait to life.
is there a lesson here? not really, he’s not exceptional, his tale has been told countless times by better wordsmiths and worse, god knows worse. each tale though has it’s merits and badges, language, arts, sports, wood shop, and friendship. and yet, each tale is worth telling, a reminder that there is common cause among us, a magical thread of hope that the negative will not have been damaged while it was in storage, that its development (however it comes to be, analog or digital) will be as it should be and that the final portrait will be beautiful.