I know. This is a gardening blog and this post will not exactly be a gardening one – but I will try and find a connection. It may be a stretch, but it will be a gardening connection of sorts. Besides, how often can anyone say that they’ve had the chance to meet themselves – or at least their 20-year-old self?
In past posts, I’ve explained that there is a cement crawlspace behind a closet in my house. It’s my winter storage bunker for elephant ears and canna. What I never told you is that my perfectly dry and evenly cool space also holds some boxes and crates filled with my past.
I’ve always thought about cleaning things out, but whenever I’m in the bunker, I’m either loading or unloading plant materials – and gardening, like time and tides, waits for none. So, my past has remained undisturbed for the 25 years that I have lived with Joe.
Until the other day, that is, when a local cable guy arrived to rewire the house and I had to empty out the bunker – without the excuse of elephant ears and canna. My personal time capsule would, at last, be opened.
As I carried the crates into the sunlight, I wondered about what was important to me then – so important that I placed them in a crate; so important that I had forgotten about them; forgotten for so long, in fact, that I wondered if they would still hold their importance.
The first things that I pulled out were books – lots of books – about Marilyn Monroe. I knew I had a Marilyn obsession when I was younger – I had forgotten just how strong it was.
As a young gay man in the early ‘80s, there weren’t many role models, the stages of coming out were a major struggle – and there was the feeling that AIDS was lurking around every corner. And there was Marilyn. There has always been Marilyn.
I’m not sure why she appeals to so many gay men, but for me – and I have thought about this often – it had to do with the fragility and tragedy of her life. I remember reading in one of the books that Marilyn, one of the most glamorous women in the world, had often felt alone, even in a crowd – and that is a feeling I remember having at that time in my life; feeling that I was the only person who had these feelings, and if I wasn’t the only person, then who could I trust to reveal this part of myself to?
I often think that I would have liked to have known Marilyn. Maybe she just needed a friend, someone who wouldn’t use her for the fantasy of her. Just a friend.
At that time in my life, I was a total club kid, often going out seven nights a week to various dance clubs and returning home in the wee hours. I loved ‘80s music – and there, in one of the crates was saved magazines and a folded up piece of paper. On it, a list of songs that I especially liked.
To be continued in the next post . . .