Friday, February 3, 2012

pressed paper and giant mushrooms

one of my binding rules has always been: don't have sex with friends.

now, i've become friends with people i've slept with and there have been people i've slept with multiple times that acted friendly (straight people call this friends with benefits, we gays called it for what it was...fuck buddies), but even they started out as perfect strangers.  but there are a few who have been both and even fewer who should have been.  that's why kevin's death has rattled me so.

at first he was just a backwaiter at a restaurant i worked at.  we had similar ideas about being queer in the early nineties and when we discovered that we both resided in the Lower Garden District (which Esquire magazine had chosen as the hippest neighborhood in America that very summer), he invited me to stop over at his house to get high after work.

on our way inside we stopped by the chain link fence surrounding the old house he lived in, and he picked up, what appeared to be to my eye, some trash off of the ground.  It wasn't.  It was paper.  Paper he had made by collecting shredded bits of notes and writings and soaking them in water, then pressing them into planks with herbs and things.  It was art to write on. 

up till that moment, paper had just been something churned by invisible hands in some far away factory.  i think i fell in love with him that day, the golden light of a new orleans summer afternoon dancing through his tussled hair.

later, in new york we spent all day together taking nude photos in central park, being chased by cops and acting like good old fashioned queer hooligans.  there's a picture of the five of us, (kevin, me, adrian, keith and brian) sitting on the mushroom at the alice in wonderland statue.  there are only two of us left from that picture.  and the photo itself lies at the bottom of lake ponchatrain after my house was deluged by hurricane katrina.

one time, while showing a friend that picture, i referred to them as my contemporaries.  she asked why i would use that word to describe them.

"because in that moment, those were people who absolutely believed the same things that i did."

it's a rare thing to find.

it was facebook, of course, which reconnected us all these years later.  it was a 'oh goodie!  it's robert!' that greeted me.  through the short year he shared poems and comments.  there was a queer-zine that i self published in the early nineties that he still had a copy of (he wrote a guest editorial called kevin's crotch, my article had a condom glued to the page), which he took a pic of and posted.  he called me a wicked, and mean writer.  but i could never touch him for his use of words and generating images.  he told me to write, to fill in the pages with my thoughts and ideas.  i wish i had some of his hand made paper to write on now.

for my birthday, there was an admission.  a sort of regret that we had never slept together in our youth.   but that would have broken my rule about friends.

last night i sat in my bed and read the past year of postings and reviewed all of the photos he had taken.  the footsteps he took towards the end of his life.  our memories are like crumbs left in a forest for friends to find their way.  they don't lead you home, they don't take you to a destination.  but if you follow them, you'll go anywhere.

i breathe for him today.


  1. Probably a good rule to live by. Many times I wish I had.

  2. it's funny how things happen. a few months ago, i was invited to attend kevin's second line, which happened yesterday in new orleans, by a mutual friend who thought i knew him... but i realized i did not, though we had many people in common. apparently you were one of them.

    something about going through all the pictures on the event page for the second line, and thinking about seeing my old friend who i knew in the same timeframe as i knew you in new orleans, back in the early 90s, made me think of you, even though i did not realize you knew him until i saw his picture here.

    i tried searching for you on facebook, but to no avail, as there are several men with your name and no obvious picture. but then i googled you, and here was this blog. and now i have spent several hours over the course of this weekend reading through it to see what i might glean of your life now... as it's been, what, 16-18 years since we last ran into each other? i actually have no idea the last time i saw you or had a conversation with you. maybe it wasn't that long, or maybe longer? oh, my memory is so spotty and uncooperative.

    and yet, you have popped into my brain on more than one occasion in the past few years, and i have wondered where you were and on what kind of journey your life has taken you. nice to read some of that here.

    a lot of my past seems to be revisiting me, either of my own doing or others' efforts. i'm not sure why or what the universe is trying to tell me, but i'm trying to pay attention and figure it out. i am pleased to read that you seem well, and your blog has been a compelling read. i will have to look out for that novel. (you always did have a way with words, robert.)

    find me on fb or twitter if you like. should be easily found by my name. i would enjoy reconnecting.