I think I’m in an Amy Winehouse funk. I know, I know it’s the cliché for the summer. I’ve never been one to listen to radio these days so latching on to what’s hot and hip and current is quite difficult (except when I catch the Top 20 countdown before my lowbrow pleasure, Best Week Ever on VH1 every Saturday morning.) (I’m already an old dog and am quite content to simlpy hold on to what was hot and hip when I was twelve.) But when I heard her Rehab song blaring through the speakers during Low Tea in Fire Island sometime Mid-May (and saw every homo shaking their hip and wagging their finger in no-no-no fashion), I knew there was something worth noting. I’ve since danced to her songs countless (shirtless) times in the Pines and bought her CD (to dance to it even more here in my apartment in front of my mirror, in underwear!) It is now the last Sunday in July and Amy W is cranking out You Know I’m No Good off my IDock. There is a mix of 50s beats and technofunk thumping around my apartment. I can’t help but write on my IBook, shake my head and wag my finger in no-no-no good fashion.

I turned 30 over 3 weeks ago, and, no, the world has not come crumbling down. I’m still working, still with friends, still with a boyfriend, still alive. (This last phrase has become more poignant in light of Tim’s appendectomy on the 1st day of July. I had to spend my birthday in the hospital with him. But he’s recovering now – that is a totally other thread altogether.) Three decades into this planet really isn’t that bad. Naturally, I’ve noticed how much different my body looks from, say, when I was 8 (d-uh, of course) or from what I looked like 8 years ago. I feel like my features have grown sharper or maybe I somehow grew taller (or maybe it’s because I just got even slimmer due to an extended period of body dysmorphia.) There seems to be a weathered quality to my face (but that’s due to all those summers baking out in Fire Island and Thanksgivings back in Honolulu.) The more important matter is the issue of wisened quality that usually comes along with weathered. One of the better messages I got for my birthday regarding my (overly dramatized and apparently, in hindsight, unfounded) anxiety over hitting 30 is that the best years lie far beyond one’s 20s. The gift of wisdom and the promise of fulfillment become more portent as one matures. Knowing that the future will take care of itself, my anxiety over what is here and now remains to build and compound. So far, I have been consumed by long hours at work, sometimes even overwhelmed by the pressure, understandably so owing to the learning curve. (What ever happened to the lean summer season?!) I have been coming home to my shoebox of a studio and into uneventful tv, quick dinners and, maybe the gym to burn off the Indian take-out, if I don’t crash into food coma after eating chicken tikka masala with a side of CNN. This vision certainly doesn’t cry wise and fulfilled 30-year-old. It screams corporate whore, a cliché in the New York ratrace of apartment space sacrificed for location and middle-class liberal sympathies, if not contrived cosmopolitanism, tinged with the narcissism of one’s own physical beauty as it equates to power in the social, political and sexual arenas.

I guess turning 30 really isn’t that life-altering. I’ve held on to my jaded and cynical sense of life (which I’ve painstakingly carved out of failed relationships and my frustrating former job.) Yet, I can quite tell a sense of extremes. My cynicism has become more nuanced; my jadedness even more tense. But, concurrently, my attentiveness to its exact counterpoints flow with the same sense of intensity and urgency. I am now more enthralled by moments of youthful exhuberance and child-like wonder. They cut just as sharply, if not wound freshly even longer, than thrusts of my own bitter strokes, whether self-inflicted or dealt by fate, absolutely independent of my control.

I was watching this documentary, Camp Out, last night on Logo. It was about a group of gay and lesbian Lutheran teens in Bible camp (given by gay and lesbian Lutheran pastors) somewhere out in the Midwest. It was a very simple and straightforward telling with a cast of contemporary young adults – the hot redheaded jock, the chubby gay kid, the gay kid who luvs ballet and prays three times a day, the Goth lesbian, the big (like trucker-dyke big) lesbian chick, the thin gay nerd kid, the token gay kid of color (and so on). These were teens who were faced with issues of sexuality as well as struggles with religious identity, if not a desire for a genuine faith. One kid expressed it quite well when he said that he went to the Bible Camp hoping to discuss subjects that matter, for a change, relative to the sexually-charged world of high school he left behind. (This was his abrupt response to an impromptu game of Truth or Dare that was played, which he found objectionable given their setting.) I mean, these were kids who were asking real questions – the Goth lesbian, at the docu’s end, realized that Christianity was not her path and that she decided to open herself to other religions while remaining respectful of Christians and their beliefs – and, yet were also living out their developing history if not their hormones – one kid had a crush on the redheaded jock, well, I think 7 kids did. I found the kids, in their confessionals [no pun intended], to be very introspective and articulate and pointed. Unlike adults who belabor a point until a good and notable impression is made (which is usually what happens over brunch with a group of my friends), these kids are simply telling how they think and what they feel, stripped of any self-aggrandizing agenda. I can’t even remember the last time I was in that state. (It seems everything, even talking points, is a commodity and has been negotiated to my advantage, whether at work or in social circles.)

I was riding the subway on my way to work 2 days ago and saw this little girl, no more than 8, with her sketchbook, doodling what seems to be a really well-drawn out caricature of herself in black ink. (I remember being so bad at art class that it was my next most hated subject, next to gym.) She was showing it to her mom, who smiled, and to the adult stranger, who seemingly shrugged her off. She simply went back to her drawing and sketched some more, quite unaffected by the rejection and ably continued being consumed with her art. This brings me back to those days when I would play Dungeons & Dragons with my cousins all afternoon during the summer and wrote stories about the characters at night, after which I would read my Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels (with the fervor that teens these days read Harry Potter.) It was an all-consuming endeavor, unaffected by my mother’s rants and my dad’s commands.

I was doing laundry yesterday morning when I bumped into my neighbor and her kid, this 4-year-old Jewish boy, strolling in the hallway. He cried out my name and smiled. I have probably met this kid once a year ago and have bumped into him a handful of times, and he has called me by name all those times. I could even barely remember the names of any of the people on my floor. (I mean, I know his name and his nanny’s name, but I certainly don’t remember his mother’s name.) I could barely remember the day when I was not yet a snob and yet, was just shy, not saying hi not because he or she was just uninteresting, but because he or she was unfamiliar.

Yes, the future will take care of itself, but only if the present restores the past enough to enrich what is of the moment. The years ahead look promising, but what is here and now can be quite, and yes, even more wonderful. I mean, I know there are Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. But there is also Amy Winehouse (who seems to resemble Shirley Bassey with the Propellerheads) and Rihanna (who reminds me a little bit of TLC.)

If these past few days were any indication, then growing old really isn’t that bad. It is quite wonderful; like a stream-of-consciousness bubbling through. It certainly is about getting in touch with my inner Proust which, for a gay cliche, is one worth embracing.

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