Friday, November 23, 2012

My Golden Girls are Boys

To be comfortable one on one in the presence of another person is an incredible feeling. To sit across the table and listen as he recounts the day, or week, he’s had, and to find genuine interest in said recounting is gratifying. Then when the tables turn and he’s listening to me bemoan my day, well let’s just say the comfortability level increases to the moon. I’m up there waiting for Alice should Ralph ever follow through with his threats.

I wasn’t on a date and I haven’t met the man of my dreams. I had dinner with one of my two best friends from college. I’ve written about them both before and I’m sure I will again. One lives here, the other in Boston. This particular dinner was with the New Yorker.

We’ve known each other more than twenty years, the three of us, but I consider our best friend status to have turned 20 years old this past summer. You see it was the summer of 1992 when the three of us were doing summer stock together that our friendship took roots. Over the course of the next school year those roots took hold. I have literally grown as a human being, as a man, as a gay man with these two remarkably indulgent, caring, forgiving men. They know everything there is to know about me; the good, the bad, the ugly, the comical, the stinky, the wrong, the right, the confused, the selfish, the generous.

They are my brothers; family that I chose and who chose me in return. They help me through rough patches and laugh with me in good times. Over glasses of Pinot Noir or Malbec in a darkly lit wine bar. Over beer and pizza at John’s Pizzeria. Over Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, and Jamison on the rocks whenever, wherever.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be the best man at each of their weddings. When the New Yorker got married, the Bostonian and I had a moment alone with him in the hotel where we all stayed. I told a story of the TMI variety that I was not one bit ashamed to divulge in front of them. We three laughed so hard in that room there were actual moments of lost breath and tears. I remember it today as if it just happened. Pure joy. Nothing hidden. No holding back. No judgement. 

When the Bostonian got married, the New Yorker was out of the country. I carried a picture of him in my pocket during the ceremony. That may sound cheesy, but we three love each other dearly. That picture was a stand in for the missing piece of our friendship triangle. If he could have flown home to be there he would have. That picture was our way of feeling his presence. 

I am a better man because these two men are in my life. I can say with some certainty that the road in my life’s journey has been shaped in part by them. We are individuals, our personalities distinct, but we compliment each other. We last. We graduated from reason and season to hit lifetime status.

Matt’s Grill was where The New Yorker and I had dinner. It’s one of those neighborhood restaurants where you expect customers to know the staff and vice versa. The New Yorker frequents the place more often than I and he does know some of the staff. The waitress, for example, knows what he drinks. It’s kind of nice to feel like somebody knows you in this big old City we call home. It’s like mom’s mac and cheese or grandmother’s potato salad; mamaw’s sweet tea or the Bostonian’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. It’s comfortable, easy. Being around the two of them is comfortable and easy. It’s like slipping on that warm sweater you’ve had for years, but wouldn’t trade in for a new for any amount of money.

At dinner we talked about our lives over a hearty meal. We listened to each other. We laughed. There is genuine love between the two of us. That comes from history. Our history has deep roots from Kentucky to here.

That’s not to say there haven’t been times of discord. We’re not saints. I’ve gone months without speaking to the New Yorker before for one reason or another that seems right at the time, but in hindsight is ridiculous. He forgives my childishness and folds me to his chest wrapping me in his arms and I know that he loves me, flaws and all.

I share my life with the New Yorker and the Bostonian because I want to. I’m proud to call them my best friends. The Bostonian wrote a letter to the two of us once, day dreaming of what it would be like if he owned a brownstone and the three of us lived there together, each occupying our own floor. To me, that idea still sounds heavenly. We may never find ourselves occupying the same house, eating ice cream, watching reruns of The Golden Girls, but we will grow old together.

For now, I look forward to the next story I can tell them that will make them laugh or shock them into laughter. I look forward to laughing with them. I look forward to hugging them and feeling their arms around me in return. I look forward to the next bottle of wine we can share together. I look forward to the New Yorker’s next move in owning his own business. I look forward to finally taking that hot air balloon ride the Bostonian wanted us to take two years ago even though he’s “horrifying of heights.” I look forward to the music the two of them will expose me to. I look forward to the moments that are few and far between when the three of us are together in one of our homes; existing in our universe that’s infused with history, breathing in the present, while anticipating the future. 

That future holds amazing things for us; beautiful memories we haven’t made yet. I forget sometimes that I’m the luckiest man alive to have two of the most generous, kind hearted, understanding, supportive, loving men possible in my life.

The New Yorker and the Bostonian are easy to take for granted. They’re always there if/when I need them. I couldn’t be more astounded that our friendship has not only lasted these many years, but has grown stronger.

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.
And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew.
You would see, the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say,
Thank you for being a friend.

In high school I used to watch the movie St. Elmo’s Fire anytime it was on television. I always cried at the end. I used to pray that I would one day have friends in my life who would stick by me through thick and thin. That is one prayer that I know got answered. I don’t need pudding to see the proof either; I have it in memories, in pictures, in my heart.

Ballerinos forever!!