I have conflicting feelings about Gay Pride. I enjoy the festive atmosphere, but after on and off-again (mostly on) attendance at Boston’s celebrations since I arrived in the city 25 years ago, the novelty has worn off. At this point, I have a Pride routine: I go to the Pride service at Arlington Street Church; I usually join a few friends to watch the parade pass me by; I walk over to Government Center and find myself overwhelmed by the crowds, and I think about (by don’t actually go) to the block party at Fritz—too many men packed into a one-block area.
This year, I almost skipped the entire event. A week earlier, my mother, who had been hospitalized after the death of a close friend and ongoing weight loss in February, had another setback. I got a call from her advocate/social worker in Cleveland, who explained that my Mom had fallen coming out of the beauty shop. By the next day, I learned that she had two fractures, one in a pelvic bone. Today, Mom is in rehab learning to walk again, looking at a slow, painful recovery.
Over the course of the last week, I’ve been glued to my cell phone and computer, calling my mother, emailing my two brothers and my mother’s advocate, and trying to make sure Mom gets what she needs. I found it difficult to sleep, eat, to stay anchored in my daily life here, while worrying about her situation in Cleveland. I’m in care-taking mode—though I’ve made only one trip to Cleveland this spring, I’ve been watching over my Mom and managing her care with my brothers since January. Emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, I’ve found the process exhausting.
I spent Friday afternoon and evening recovering from the past week, back at my apartment, alone. I needed quiet, rest, a chance to detach from everyone and everything around me (though I kept my phone on, in case of emergency). I woke up Saturday morning, reminding myself that I’d done Pride, been ‘out’ since 1985, and wasn’t obligated to wend my way through a crowd of 200,000 people.
Still, I felt nominally better, and a bit more energetic than I had the day before, and so I decided to go to the Pride service at Arlington Street. The weather was warm and sunny, the sky cobalt blue. My friend Yani showed up with an old-style boater hat and a big smile, and we headed over to Arlington and Boylston Streets. Watching the marchers from a small median strip on Boylston, the whole parade seemed to be coming right at us, starting with Moving Violations and the other women’s (womyn’s) motorcycle clubs, and then on to Governor Patrick, Mayor Menino, and the rest of the marchers, floats and banners.
Yelling, clapping, and grooving to the rhythm of the dancers and music—Brazilians, West Indians, Latinos, and generic pop music from the bar floats—I was caught up in the party, briefly on break from the what ifs that have circled through my brain for the past 7 days. Sometime later I was back home, where I managed to take a brief nap before I drove back into the city for a friend’s surprise birthday party.
That evening, as daylight turned to dusk and then to night, I sat on a deck in South Boston and looked out toward the Kennedy Library, Logan Airport and the Harbor Islands. The still water, the harbor islands, and the lights of the city were illuminated before me. Conversation buzzed around me, but I was happy to take in the scenery, smell the grilled steak and chicken, to just be in the moment.
That seems to be the challenge of my life today—to find those moments of peace, quiet, or brief joy and savor them in the midst of chaos, worry, and life not going according to my plans—the reality of life in middle age.