A Time Capsule To Call My Own


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 . . .

21 thoughts on “A Time Capsule To Call My Own

  1. yes, something about Marilyn…. I love that you can live your life open..i still have 2 friends that cant come out even with me….I look forward to more discoveries!

    • Hi Sharon. How sad for your friends. Coming out is a certainly a process and such a strange one at that. I mean how often does anyone say, “This might come as a shock to you, but I’m heterosexual.” See how strange that is? The best thing to do is to be what you are: a good friend no matter who your friends happen to be. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Great post! And what’s not to love about MM?

    I recently re-watched one of my favorite movies: The Wonder Boys and there is a scene where Walter Gaskell says to one of his party guest, Antonia (who, unbeknownst to him is a transvestite), “…everyone woman secretly wants to be Marilyn Monroe.” And Antonia says, “Oh, I couldn’t agree more.”

    I was fortunuate enough to stand along side a friend who came out during the late 80s and we have remained close friends to this day. In our 20s, we used to hit all the gay clubs in Boston, Providence and Ogunquit, ME. I’m not gay, but I had the BEST times of my life in some of those clubs. It was liberating. I could be myself without having to worry about impressing the opposite sex. Plus, I am a firm believer that every woman needs a gay man in her life. Gay men tell it like it is. If I’m wearing an outfit that doesn’t flatter, I can always count on my gay friends to tell me. Lastly, There’s a line from Will & Grace that stands out in my mind (and I’m paraphrasing): [“… Everyone woman needs a gay man in her life to keep her out of bad lighting and taffeta. ”]. and it’s true!

    As always, I love your blog!

    Best,
    Susan

    • Hi Susan — thanks for sharing your memories and some of your favorite quotes. There was time in my life — and maybe I can blame youth — where “gay” meant everything. As I’ve aged, gay is now only a small part of who I am. There are so many facets to all of us that make us whole people. I’m not familiar with “The Wonder Boys,” but I will definitely check it out. Be well!

      • Hi Kevin,

        You’re absolutely right, *gay* is too generalized of a word and doesn’t define who you (or my friends) really are. When people ask me what I do for a living, I always say, “What I do doesn’t define who I am and what I am about…” Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
        If you get a chance to watch Wonder Boys, please let me know what you think. It is one of my all time favorite movies.

        Best,
        Susan

  3. It’s funny how we tuck away little parts of our life, forgotten and dusty. But oh, the memories that come flooding back when those are brought back out to the light. Marilyn had a vulnerability to her that is rarely seen. I think that’s why people loved her. We are all a bit vulnerable in the dusty, forgotten corners of our minds.

  4. Very touching post! I have a gay friend who moved halfway across the country just to be somewhere where he could be himself. (Thank God for email!) But I think a lot of people feel alone in a crowd until they’re happy to be who they are, no matter what anyone else thinks!

    • Hi Kathy. I know that many gay men look to move far away from friends and family to find peace and comfort and acceptance. There’s something sad about that — that for whatever reason, they can’t be themselves in their own community. I’m glad to hear that you are able to maintain your friendships across the miles. Enjoy the day!

  5. What a wonderful idea leaving a letter to yourself in the future! Marilyn is always a wonderful inspiration to everyone, and the photograph you chose one of the best. If only she had had time to discover gardening, she could have benefited from the grounding calm of tending your plants. Happy gardening, Ursula

  6. Hi Kevin, some ‘wise person’ once said that you should put things you rarely used or looked at in boxes and if you had not opened the boxes in the next 12 months you could safely throw them away – you would never need them. I could certainly not do that, I have lots of little things that I keep as mementos and even if I don’t look at them I know exactly what I have and where they are. They are all important to me and remind me of things that have happened in my past. Every time I have moved house, which has happened a lot, I am now living in my 23rd counting from birth, I get an opportunity to go down memory lane again. I hope going through your crates are going to give you happy memories too, even though we all have memories tinged with a bit of sadness or difficulties. Happy hunting 🙂

    • Hi Helene. I often struggle with that wise person’s advice. I have almost mastered it when it comes to clothing — but object are another matter. Hold an object in your hand, and you can remember who gave it to you or where it came from or the occasion of it. It’s great that we humans can attach so much to an object. Hope you’re well and settled. 🙂

  7. It’s always interesting to meet our previous selves. I’ve found little things before that I’d kept and then couldn’t figure out later why they were so important. I wish I could go back into my previous thoughts to find out why they were so significant. It would be a weird journey, I’m sure!

    • Exactly. 🙂 I did come across several items — letters from people, in fact — and I could not remember who they were or why I felt compelled to save their letter. There has got to be an easier way to connect the dots.

  8. Pingback: A Time Capsule To Call My Own (Part 2) « Nitty Gritty Dirt Man

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