Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lesbian Life BCE (Before the Cat Era) and Beyond

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Crystalizing My Lesbian Identity

The other morning, I was finishing up stretching after my indoor-rowing session in our house in Montclair, New Jersey, in the sunny room downstairs with the triple-glass doors. Just then, Randy Crawford's "Wrap U Up" began playing, according to the algorithmic personalization of the free music that boomed from the black Bose box on the floor.

I sat down in one of the four Carolish-era Herman Miller Eames shell chairs I had inherited when my mom (z"l) died 20 months ago, cracked open a Costco bottle of water and swigged as I looked out into our half-snow-covered garden. Listening to Randy Crawford's molten voice, I remembered a winter-night date more than a quarter of a century ago, back when I was renting an efficiency apartment near Ashland and Addison in Chicago. The apartment wouldn't have had room for a rowing machine, even if I could have afforded one then.

At a friend's party the prior weekend, I had met a tall, Midwest-born-and-bred classical musician with classically beautiful features. Our first date included dancing to late-'80s music in all its glory at a then-popular-and-now-extinct Chicago North-Side lesbian bar. After a marathon of songs, we paused only to go to the multi-stall Ladies Room. I was ready to return to the dance-floor when she kissed me for the first time. Against the sinks, in the bathroom.

"I don't want this in here. It makes it seem dirty." With her graceful hands and tender mouth, she tried to change my mind, but I was repulsed. We were too beautiful to be doing something so gorgeous in such an unappealing place.

"Let's go for a walk," she suggested and I was relieved. We left the club and walked out into sub-zero wind. We walked against the wind all the way to the Lake. No one else appeared to be there in such forbidding weather. I could hear my teeth, tapping together. She smiled at me and took the mitten off of one of my hands, and warmed each one of my fingers, in her mouth.

CE - Cat Era

Thrilling as it had been with the musician, and a number of other remarkable Chicago-area women in my twenties, Pat emerged as the kindest, funniest, most appealing, brilliant and magnetic among them.

Yesterday afternoon, on our way home from an afternoon ride in our station wagon to Chester, New Jersey -- which my wife Pat and I had read was quaint, according to Yelp -- we stopped at a grocery store and I whispered out of the side of my mouth, "Pat, look, sisters." For the first time, she didn't turn to look. We kept walking and I said, "I guess it's no longer such a big deal, huh?" Throughout our nearly 24 years together so far, the term, "sisters", had been code for whenever we thought we saw an apparent couple of two women. It was always exhilarating to be reminded that we weren't alone.

Pat always said I could blog about whatever I wanted, as long as I didn't invade her privacy with my postings, so I'll step gingerly around this point: For our first decade and a half together, I could enjoy intimacy in our relationship practically whenever I wished, and then we adopted two sister-cats, one of whom sleeps with us routinely. (Just ran this paragraph by Pat and she acquiesced to my including it.)

The post-rowing Randy Crawford tune and the book *Carol*, and the movie -- which I felt improved upon the book -- awoke my BCE memories. And then Pat gave me an article by Frank Rich, where he wrote: "Even today, Todd Haynes’s mesmerizing adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s classic novel comes as a shock—mostly for how much lesbian culture remains invisible to America at large." 

This post is my humble contribution to increased lesbian visibility.

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