Last weekend, Friday and Saturday were beautiful, summer-like days. Sunday started off with sun and temperatures in the high 70s that rose well into the 80s. We didn’t get to the Island until after 4 on Friday, so didn’t have a chance to even see the beach that day, but Saturday, we spent about 4 hours on the edge of the Atlantic, first under the umbrella then getting a bit of sun lying on a towel, reading and finally taking a walk that was longer than I had thought possible. With Antonio’s encouragement, we probably walked 1.5 miles. Returning to our spot, I was exhausted, but felt proud to have been able to go the distance.
Being on the beach was almost surrealistic: seeing so many men who have worked hard to have the “perfect” body all winter long and now, showing their bodies off to one another…. That was ME as recently as last year. And here I was, not having been to a gym for a real workout in over 2 months, feeling a shadow of my former self. In spite of Antonio’s assurances that I am still as handsome as ever, I struggle with the transition that I know I have to make. Again, the world shouts loudly that I don’t have to have the perfect body, tan, etc…. When will I finally hear the message and relax a bit?!?!? I think that is at long last happening.
Saturday and Sunday evenings, everyone – including Antonio – went to the center of the Pines for tea – the daily meet, greet and drink extravaganza. I had no energy to be in the middle of that scene. Even the thought of it made me feel that it would be wasted time and energy. So I stayed home, made a few phone calls and listened to brain.fm to calm my thoughts and slow down. Saturday dinner was delicious thanks to Shish and Marc-Antoine and on Sunday, George and Chandler made a feast in close competition. Monday, Memorial Day, was rainy most of the day and everyone left by mid-day leaving the house to Antonio and me. We were able to relax and enjoy nature from inside out.
Tuesday was back to radiation, accompanied by Maie Ayoub; Wednesday, Susan Locke accompanied; and Thursday and Friday, Ed Sullivan came in from Connecticut. I enjoyed the company of each of them and we had some good catch up conversations. With Ed, we talked about having been closeted while in Senegal as Peace Corps Volunteers and the long process it took each of us to evolve into our gay skins with family and friends. We talked about the huge difference in gay people being out in the 2000s, accepted and having their human rights respected and having lived through that revolution. Ed has been with his partner John for about 20 years and they have a daughter who is a college grad now living in NYC. We talked about the “joys” of aging, including the (un)expected health issues around prostates, hearing issues, the body starting to break down, even when well maintained through good nutrition, exercise, staying active, etc.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at my energy levels. I still continue to get tired much more quickly than normal, and I know that is due to the radiation, chemo, trauma to my body from the surgery, but still I do not feel yet like “me” with my usual boundless energy, ready to go virtually non-stop. I am more amazed than ever at my 96 year old dad who even now – in spite of his health issues – plays cards twice a week, goes dancing weekly, to synagogue every Saturday and spends the weekends with Florence – in addition to his monthly board meetings for the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training.
The effects of my radiation also are now visible as I have some hair loss. I went for a haircut – almost a shaved head now, and that lessens the obvious hair deficit. And having white hair helps to make the loss less noticeable. I also have noticed that my brain does some funny things: for example, there are times that I “want” to do something and my brain hears that desire, but just does not react. For example, I will tell myself I want to stand up, but I just continue to sit and do nothing. Weird! And while not like before, I still forget things that before I would never forget, like taking the keys out of the lock after locking or unlocking the door. Luckily, it’s not been serious things that I forget.
During the week, on Tuesday we met Eduardo for dinner. Wednesday during dinner, my friends Gib and David gave me a get-well gift: a massage certificate. It was wonderful to catch up with them though being in a noisy NY restaurant was almost too much. Thursday, we went to dinner with Tiago at a very noisy restaurant. It was too much for me really, though I stayed with it and in the end, it was good to have been out, enjoying one of the joys of this city.
This was also a catch up week with family: I got calls from my cousins Lynda from Seattle, Carol from Philadelphia and my Aunt Jackie from Florida.
So for now, I continue with my treatment: radiation, chemo, physical therapy and acupuncture; I continue to get out each day; I continue to meditate with the aid of brain.fm, I continue to try to listen to my body and not overdo it (still not as good as I should be at that); I continue to catch up with friends and family via phone, email and this blog, although I don’t respond to all of the messages I get. There are over 100 people who signed up for my blog and I hope that those of you reading this are getting a good sense of where I am in my process. Feel free in the comments section to ask about anything you want to know more about and I will try to respond on the blog and/or via private communication.
I’m writing this on the train back out to Fire Island. This weekend will be just Antonio and me and I look forward to a quiet time.