As I mentioned in a previous post, being a Gay Man of 70 years, I have not been able to measure my life in milestones as do non-gay men who grew up when I did. In the traditional situation, a man measures his life by his accomplishments and successes but also by family events.
Nowadays a gay couple or individual can adopt and have a somewhat traditional family of his/her own. In the post I discussed what it felt like being a "father figure" and/or mentor to a series of young men who entered Gregory and my life and how this served as a series of milestones for me.
Isaac became part of our experience when he was born to dear friends Jan and Jake and now to me during his recent living in the condo until he leaves for his adventure in Japan.
Ben, Ken, and Alaksh arrived as companions to Gregory when I needed support in providing Gregory as close to a normal existence as possible considering his diagnosis of Young Onset Alzheimer's Disease and also giving myself "away time" from the 24/7 responsibility that is loving and living with someone who has dementia.
One other important young man, who I though about last night as I anticipate his Christmas vacation visit, was also a milestone event for me but I did not discuss him previously. I will use his initials, CP, so as not to embarrass him in this honest essay and if my failing to include him previously caused upset, I apologize and hope to make up for it here.
I first met CP when he was just a child, nephew of dear friends. He did not distinguish himself in my mind over the years of his being part of this multiple nephew/niece group of dear friends whom we only saw each July 4th.
As he grew up, became a man, and began attending university, we reacquainted on a more intellectual, adult/adult level.
I have to admit I was attracted to him: young, handsome, intelligent, kind, friendly. Why wouldn't I be. I was attracted to his respect for me and honoring me as someone to whom he looked up. I was flattered and why wouldn't I be.
While I admit to this "crush," he was never in danger of my acting on the "crush" as I honor the friendship above all else and even more strongly would never betray or seek to realize an inappropriate man/youth attraction/fantasy with anyone so far out of my age range and certainly not without mutual consent.
So CP and I began what was to become months of e-mail communications based on the book, "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer-Maria Rilke. Our mutual love of writing was the glue that supported our new relationship. Recommended readings and shared writings were sent back and forth.
We talked about poetry, writing, life, death, and everything in-between. He shared his youthful ideas: sometimes foolish, sometimes insightful. I shared my "wiser" ideas: sometimes foolish, sometimes insightful. Over time we came to know and respect each other and our foolish if not sometimes insightful ideas.
Most often we agreed with each other and most often we learned from each other. Most importantly we peaked each other's interest, motived each other to higher thinking, and motivated our continued sharing.
Since then, conversations have disappeared, understandably so as he became more immeshed in his university studies and as I became more entrenched in my life partner Gregory's diminished abilities due to his diagnosis of Young Onset Alzheimer's Disease.
So thank you CP for being one of my milestones in "growing into old age gracefully" and into having been yet again a mentor to another amazing young man. I look forward to our upcoming visit during your Christmas break. Like the nurturing person I am (and to use an older gay joking phrase - an Old Auntie,) I will probably bake some cookies for your visit.