A 30-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late May, 1982

Saturday, May 22, 1982

9 PM. Last evening I xeroxed the two stories that came out this week, the first time I’ve had two good pieces appear at the same time.

I then went to have dinner at Danny’s, where Lisa Robles waited on me (she had no other customers) and asked me what I thought about the idea of her transferring to Florida State.

At the college, I had a pretty good class on science fiction and the Gothic story, taking them straight through till 9 PM. I notice Sean now talks to the girl who he used to go out with in high school. She had stopped speaking to Sean, and that bothered him,

After class, he appeared, as usual, in my office. He was worried about being carded at The Copa, the gay dance disco on U.S. 1 where he was supposed to meet friends.

It’s very strange, but in the four weeks since Sean showed up at my door, we’ve never spoken on weekends. I guess I feel he has his friends to spend time with then and I don’t want to intrude.

It would be unfair of me to get so close to Sean that it would be difficult for him when I leave. As it is, we speak on the phone almost every weekday. Sure, I’d have loved it if Sean could have come home with me last night, but I can’t – and I don’t want to – keep Sean from the bars and his friends.

Besides, I can’t compete with those young, good-looking, slim guys who aren’t retarded when it comes to sex. If I sound like I’m complaining, I’m not; I treasure my weekends alone, and besides, I need the time: I have fifty papers to grade, after all.

It occurs to me that I don’t really know much about Sean at all. “I know all your secrets,” he told me after he read my books. Well, I know none of his. I’ve told him that I love him; all Sean has said is “Yes” when I’ve asked him, “Do you like me?” Oh, well – he’s only seventeen.

When we said goodbye last night at Sean’s car, he told me to be kind when grading his paper: “Remember, I’m a good kid.”

I leaned out my own car window and said, “You are a good kid.” And he is. Sean’s given me more than I could have expected. I’m crazy about him, but I’m kind of glad our “affair” – the word sounds silly – will end in four weeks.

In the fall, even if Sean doesn’t go to UF in Gainesville, it wouldn’t be the same. So this is just a summer romance? Well, why not? And if we’re lucky, it could be the start of a beautiful friendship, schweetheart.

I saw Maxine in the school library yesterday – I hadn’t seen her in months – and we were both pleasant, if distant. Maybe she did for Jonathan what Sean did for me; I hope so. Sean said, “Why did she expect you to be friendlier after she dumped your brother?” But that’s life.

I slept deliciously, dreaming vividly and often. Josh called this morning to bring me up to date on the latest news. His contact lenses are working out okay. His Newsday story appears tomorrow – finally.

He’s ready to kill Artie for not working on the magazine. Bob Hershon said the issue will cost $600 to print. Josh may cancel his vacation and spend the money on a computer and word processor instead.

I can’t wait to see Josh and my other friends in New York. If it will be strange to leave Florida, BCC and Sean, I’ll be going to someplace familiar – another home.


Sunday, May 23, 1982

4 PM. I accomplished only the bare minimum of what I wanted to do this weekend. I must be budgeting my time wrong. I didn’t yet have time to mark the morning class’s papers, to work on the computer, to exercise as much as I would have liked, or to visit Grandpa Nat in the nursing home.

Yesterday I didn’t get out of the house until noon, when I went to pick up my mail in Davie. Crad reacted to my affair with Sean by saying it was “no big deal” for him to know about it.

Sales on the street are shower this year, but Crad is surviving, and he’s finished a novella, his best piece ever. He’s thinking of street-selling his books in Manhattan when he visits his grandparents this summer, and he asked me what I thought the best locations would be.

I also got a letter and check from that girl in North Miami Beach, Ivy Garlitz, and I sent her an autographed copy of Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog.

After making vague efforts to fill out an application form for a Fulbright application to be a writer-in-residence in Eretz Yisroel, I lazed in the sun and chatted with my neighbor. I got a slight sunburn, just a touch of color, but I’m really trying to stay out of the sun now.

Pete Cherches called to say “the shit hit the fan.” His San Francisco apartment swap fell through, he’s lost his job at Brooklyn College because of budget cuts, and so now he has to get a full-time job.

However, Pete is encouraged by his readings and performances and is hoping to get an agent for his book. In Art News, a painting based on one of his works garnered praise, as did Pete’s “poetry.”

Neil Schaeffer is the new Brooklyn College English Department chairman, and Peter Spielberg told Pete that he voted for me in the Associated Writing Programs board of directors election.

I went shopping at Publix, where I ran into Casey and his hyperactive son. Casey is working at Motorola on Sunrise and University this summer, rewriting and editing technical manuals; he likes the increased pay but not the long 8 AM to 4 PM day.

Casey said he’ll probably have no time to work on his dissertation this year. That reminds me: I wonder how Wade is doing with his dissertation on Henry James back in Charlottesville. I guess I’ll find out when I see him in July.

More and more I’m inclined to return to VCCA this summer rather than go to Ragdale. I need a familiar place now, and I know what life in Virginia is like in July.

I called Grandpa Herb, who said he was out walking the other day but is very weak and tired most of the time. Aunt Claire is out of the hospital, and Grandpa told me her problems are not physical but psychological; like Grandma Ethel, she’s extremely nervous and depressed.

I did nothing but lie around most of the afternoon and evening yesterday, and all I did today was read the Sunday papers, mark my 102 class’s papers, and exercise for fifteen minutes. I feel so tired.

Last night I lay awake thinking from 9 PM until 2 AM. I began going over all that was wrong with my “relationship” with Sean, but finally I realized that, like a typical neurotic New Yorker, I was looking for problems.

Furthermore, I was definitely enjoying all the problems as I was turning over the relationship in my head.

I expect too much of Sean. If he doesn’t allow me to get close enough to see his pain – if he reacts to things very matter-of-factly and doesn’t analyze them – maybe I need to just let it go.

Isn’t it enough that Sean has liberated me physically? Three weeks ago I had no sexual experience with a male. I may not be an expert now, but I know myself better and I’ve had lots of hugs, kisses and orgasms, and most of all, a sense of intimacy with another person.

After years of being celibate, I’m a sexual being again. I can’t expect Sean to do more than he’s done, even if it is human nature to always want more.

Poor human nature.


Monday, May 24, 1982

10 PM. What a pleasant, wonderful day! Of course spending the afternoon with Sean made it a special day, but I also seemed to be functioning really well as a teacher, too.

And my next year’s plans are just about settled: I’ve got a one-year temporary job at BCC. Dr. Grasso sent me a letter offering me an appointment; a note, “A lot changes over the weekend,” was attached.

Apparently there will not be a search for permanent faculty members this summer, and that makes everyone, including me, happy. I’ve got a nice tentative schedule: two 100’s, two 101’s and the advanced creative writing workshop at night. No 8 AM classes, either.

I still don’t have a contract, but unless something very unexpected occurs, I’ll be back at BCC for another academic year. I had good classes on extended definition this morning with both my own 8 AM section and with Rosa’s 9:30 AM class.

At 11 AM I called Sean and we agreed that he’d come over at noon. I even bought ice cream for him. I was wearing glasses and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when Sean arrived in his “I Love New York” T-shirt.

He told me he wouldn’t be coming to class tonight because his old friends from the Nova High chorus were performing. Sean learned he’s probably getting some kind of award at his high school graduation. (I almost feel like saying, like a Jewish grandmother, that he gives me naches.)

We went to bed almost immediately, though at first we spent a lot of time still dressed and just hugging and kissing and holding each other. For five hours I felt I was in heaven.

I realize now that I was trying to make something complicated out of something simple. Sean is guileless and completely open, though it’s hard for me to believe it even now, because it’s not what I’m used to.

I asked him if he ever made fun of me when he talked to his friends, and he looked confused and said he didn’t understand what there was to make fun of. Our lovemaking was playful, ardent, sweet.

We listened to the radio – I wish I had disco records for him – and ate ice cream in bed and talked and just lay together. It’s I who bring up the future: so stupid of me.

I know I’m older than Sean, but I don’t think I’m like an ex-lover of his, a 38-year-old who used to lecture him and say, “When I was your age . . .” I feel like a kid when I’m with him.

If I’d had a Sean when I was seventeen, things would have been so much better. I barely ever have regrets, and I met Sean just at the right time, but still . . .

We have so much fun. Today twice he told me I was “cute.” We took a shower together and had a couple of orgasms each.

Sean had a good weekend at the beach and roller-skating at yesterday’s bed race in Coconut Grove. It’s surprising that I don’t feel jealous of his friends, lovers, or whatever they are. He keeps coming back, after all.

As much as I love Sean – and in some way I always will; I know I’ll certainly never forget him – I do hope he gets into the University of Florida and goes off to Gainesville.

As I left for tonight’s lit class, I showed him a shorter way home for him through Plantation. At the BCC library before teaching, Lisa Robles told me that her family will help her financially to transfer to UF in January, which will be great for her, just as UF will be great for Sean.

My evening class went well. I taught Sherwood Anderson’s “The Egg,” James Alan McPherson’s “Why I Like Country Music,” and Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist.” I left at 9 PM and now I’m home, feeling good.


Tuesday, May 25, 1982

8 PM. This morning, when I spoke to Sean, I mentioned that tomorrow is the midpoint of the first summer session. “It’s going much too fast!” he said, and I agree. Not only am I have trouble keeping up with planning lessons and grading papers, but I also am reluctant to give up what has been such a pleasant time in my life.

I know that when the term is over, I’ll be giving up this apartment, the security and routine I enjoy, and my relationship with Sean. Of course I sense that both Sean and I are happy knowing there’s a definite time limit to our relationship, that neither of us wants to get very involved, that Sean and I can give each other only so much.

But despite all these things, it will still be sad that these pleasant days have to end.

Anyway (“Any-way,” Sean always says, mimicking me), I had an enormous amount of energy the past two days, in contrast to the weekend. Oddly, the more I do, the busier I am – the more I seem to accomplish. On empty days, however, I can waste hours.

Last night I slept well, too, though I did have angry dreams about people who made of fun or were shocked by the behavior of others. I interpret this as a healthy sign: I don’t feel guilty about my relationship with Sean and feel there’s nothing wrong with it. And I feel very comfortable with my sexuality.

Not so oddly, I feel more masculine these days. I just wish I could be as open with everyone as I am with Teresa and Miriam, Ronna and Stacy.

This morning I taught two classes on bibliography and footnotes and tried not to bore my students or Rosa’s. I had several talks with different kids, took a phone call from an irate parent and one from a sick student, and I dodged the rain. (These days it’s wise to always carry an umbrella.)

After lunch, I worked out with the weights, watched soap operas, and called Teresa at her new office on 40th and Lex. The Abrams campaign is just getting underway and things are going well.

Teresa’s found another guy, a friend of her cousin, whom she apparently slept with last night (she was so stoned she can’t remember), to supplement her hormone-balancing sessions with Doug; and Phil is itching to play mentor as he clues Teresa in about upstate political reporters.

As I said, one of the things I love about Teresa is that I can talk to her openly about anything, including Sean and my feelings for him. Miriam is that way, too: she wrote from Briarcombe, where she’s enjoying nature and is delighted by visits from Robert, her lover and fellow New Jerseyite and Jewish Zen Buddhist.

This afternoon I phoned Sat Darshan at her office; it had been a long-time since I’d spoken to her. She and “my husband” – that’s always how she refers to Dharma Singh, by their relationship, not by his name – have taken in a female roommate to help pay the rent and they’re getting a cat-mate for Slinky.

Sat Darshan is going to the 3HO Women’s Camp for two weeks in July. I said I’d call her while I’m in New York.

I saw Marc today, briefly; he was on his way to talk to Jay, Mom’s neighbor, about working in his electronics store. Later Mom told me that Marc got the job, but she’s worried because his stomach is bothering him again: “He feels so guilty about what he did.”

What the hell did he do? Marc made a couple of mistakes, perhaps was guilty of poor judgment – but that’s not anything anyone couldn’t say.

Last night Dad reported that Jonathan told him he “can’t hack it in college” and wants to drop out. He’s such a perfectionist that he’s probably distraught over a low grade.

God, both my brothers are as guilt-ridden as I am. No, they’re worse. And look at Sat Darshan, also feeling she needs to do her penance. For once I feel like an unrepentant reprobate.


Wednesday, May 26, 1982

4:30 PM. I slept only two hours last night and I’ve been feeling shitty all day. I was so dizzy I couldn’t get to sleep until 4:30 AM. Maybe I’m coming down with the virus that’s going around. I’d like to avoid taking any sick days this week, especially since I’m subbing for Rosa.

Tonight’s class should be the worst of it in terms of my workload; because of the Monday holiday coming up, I don’t have to meet with them for another week, and the rest of this week should be easy: mostly just going to the library before our three-day weekend.

Right now I feel very queasy; I wish I didn’t have to teach tonight. If only I can get through this one class. Only in the last half hour did I begin to feel this sick. I can’t write any more now.


Thursday, May 27, 1982

4 PM. I don’t feel much better than I did yesterday, but now I’ve got a throbbing sinus headache rather than nausea. Obviously things aren’t going that well.

A lot of the stress I’m under comes from my schedule. I don’t like having to get up at 6:45 AM every day. Of course, it wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t also have to teach at night. I seem to end up in bed every afternoon, and I don’t get enough exercise, and I eat too much junk food.

One explanation for my insomnia and for my bodily complaints is the coming change in my life. Yesterday I made reservations and today I picked up my tickets for New York. I’ve got a Delta flight that leaves Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, June 19, and arrives at Kennedy Airport at noon.

So I’ll be in Rockaway for the Father’s Day weekend. But I feel hesitant about returning to New York, and even more so, about going to a writers’ colony (I’m almost sure I’d rather have the familiarity of VCCA over the novelty of Ragdale, and also I could see Kevin and the McAllisters if I went to Virginia).

My placid routine in Florida is going to change, and my life will be unsettled for two months. Another factor in my mood is the miserable rainy-season weather we’ve been having. And then of course there’s Sean.

Yesterday he called half a dozen times while he was writing the paper, and last night after class we went out to Burger King. I saw him this morning at BCC, but he said he wouldn’t be coming over today.

It’s probably just as well, as I think I’ve been growing too dependent upon Sean. Maybe I’ve come on too strong, taking our relationship too seriously.

It’s hard for me to do otherwise, but I know Sean doesn’t need me to be at his side all the time.

Last night, telling him I wanted to see him the next week, the stupid phrase “I can’t live without you” slipped out. And today Sean mentioned a laser-light rock show; before I knew it, I was practically inviting myself along.

He wants to go with his friends, of course. I quickly backtracked and said I’d forgotten I had other plans that night: going out to celebrate my parents’ anniversary.

I won’t call Sean for a while, even if that means not seeing him or talking to him until next Wednesday at school. In a way I hate Sean, because after him, it will be hard, if not impossible, to remain celibate.

And of course I also sympathize with Sean’s desire to remain independent. He doesn’t want me to overwhelm him, just at his age, I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by Brad. More later . . .

*

9 PM. I’ve just come back from the Coral Springs Mall, where I saw the film version of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen.

It was a good film, and I related to the Brooklyn atmosphere with nostalgia, especially to scenes of Park Slope. Much of the film took place around Carroll Street and Polhemus Place, where Harvey used to live, and I recognized individual houses in the neighborhood.

I’m glad I forced myself to get out bed; my headache isn’t so bad now, and I feel more philosophical than I did this afternoon. I guess I’m preparing myself to leave Florida and return to New York.

I haven’t thought about New York all that much lately, but I feel ready to go home now. That “home” wasn’t a slip; to me, New York – all of it, but especially Rockaway and Brooklyn – will always be home.

It will have been half a year that I’ve been away; I spent only the first day of 1982 in New York, the end of my Christmas vacation. There are people I have to see – Teresa, Alice, Sat Darshan, Ronna, Josh, Elihu, Stacy, my grandparents, Brad – and I also want to touch base with the places of my past.

The first half of this year in Florida has been good to me. There have been visits by my friends, the publication of my new book, an increasingly pleasant job, the excitement of publicity, my town council race, and my relationship with Sean.

I’ve got to let go of Sean and let him find his own way. In his letter, Elihu wrote, “I envy you, to share an interlude, even knowing it must end. Perhaps even more so, knowing there’s an end: less of a need to hide oneself, less of a fear of exposure. Relish what you have for as long as you have it.”

Elihu is right, but I also have to know, like a wise parent, when to let go. As I wrote the other day, I may “hate” Sean for giving me this gift, but I also know he’s opened up new vistas for me.

Just to run across him by accident in front of the BCC library, as I did today, makes me feel a kind of joy. Sadness, too, a little – but that’s part of life.

I remember last June, watching the terrible movie The Greek Tycoon, alone in Teresa’s bedroom. The Aristotle Onassis character shows the Jackie Kennedy character the view of the Greek isles and says, “They are sad – sad like you.”

“Why sad?” she asks.

“Because everything beautiful is sad.” Trite but true.

I think I did an okay job last night of trying to convince my class that poetry isn’t toxic. There are times when I suspect that I’m a good teacher.

I got a call from a Mrs. Angstrom, whom Nedda had spoken to about my doing lectures at condos. This woman is a booking agent for the condo circuit; we spoke for half an hour, and she seemed interested in me.

Next week she’ll call again. Mrs. Angstrom had asked me to let her know what my fee would be, and since I had no idea, I called Alice. She said to say it was negotiable but not to go under $100.

Alice told me how much she demands for her time and how she decides how much more to ask for when she’s given a writing assignment ($100 more if they pay under $1,000; $150 more if they pay from $1,000 to $1,500, etc.). Alice told me she and Peter are agreed that I can stay at their apartment while they’re gone.

I got a letter from Susan Mernit, who’s going through therapy and who’s busy with Teachers and Writers Collaborative.

The new American Book Review arrived; they ignored me but perceived Jack Saunders as third-rate Bukowski, a writer who would be wonderful if he didn’t take himself so seriously.


Friday, May 28, 1982

2 PM. I begin this entry with the hope that I won’t be able to finish it, that Sean will knock on my door within the next few minutes. But I don’t think he will.

I called him when I got home today, intending to apologize for coming on too strong the last few times. I didn’t apologize, though, because that too would have been a way of coming on too strong.

Instead, we chatted about nothing. When Sean told me he had tickets for the show at BCC, all I said was, “Good.” And when he mentioned that he’d forgotten to take the comb he’d left in my apartment, I said, “I’ll bring it to class next Wednesday – if I don’t see you before then.” And Sean didn’t say anything.

When we got off, I told him, “Well, if I don’t see you, have a nice weekend.”

“You too,” he said.

So I think it’s over, basically. Four weeks ago today he showed up at my door unexpectedly and that began a strange and wonderful experience for me. The kid was in control all the time; his visits were always unexpected. Of course, I took it because I was so hungry for love and so curious.

Anyway (I still hear Sean imitating me as I say that: “Any-way”), maybe I’m more comfortable with lost love than with present love. No doubt about it: I was, and am, in love with him. But I’ll get over it.

He gave me more than I had a right to expect; he taught me a lot; whether he said so or not, he loved me, too. At least I felt loved. Maybe I was just another trick to him: a fat, un-pretty English teacher who ended up being a bore.

But I think he’ll remember me. And like those flashbacks that movie characters come up with when they wax nostalgic, there are reruns of scenes I can play with in my mind.

I’ve been having severe soreness and pain in my wisdom tooth area, and it’s not the one being extracted. I hope I don’t end up with a real problem; I’ll see if it gets any better over the weekend.

Hey, I’ve got a long holiday weekend ahead of me – to lie about, to be anxious and depressed and to avoid doing the seventeen items on my “To Do” list.

Last night I slept soundly, if for only five hours; I dreamed of babies and of our old house in Brooklyn. Today’s classes went well, and I had good talks with Jacqui (she’s definitely taking the job at Southern Bell), Mick, Richard and Joanne. Even the provost, Dr. McFarlane, gave me a friendly greeting.

The mail brought a letter from George, whose love affair has just ended, too. And he sent Susan Lawton’s book of poems, Hysterical Fugue, in which I’m mentioned twice: she says I make her laugh, am glad she doesn’t jog, and that, like her, I’m probably in love with George.

The first may be true, but not the rest; I certainly was never in love with George. And she describes calling me with her “thighs humming” – whatever that means.

Today is my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary: they’ve been together, married, for just about one-third of this century. How come nobody my age seems destined to match that? Not me. Not George with two divorces behind him. Not Ronna, who probably will never marry Jordan.

Anyway, my jaw hurts, my thighs aren’t humming, Sean ain’t coming, and it’s raining again. I’ve got a feeling I’m in store for pain. But living was worth it. For once in my life, I took a risk with another person. Maybe next time it will end up lasting one-third of a century. Anything’s possible.


Saturday, May 29, 1982

11 PM. I was so wrong about Sean. Why? Obviously it’s my own insecurity; in our relationship, the neurosis is all on my part. Just because Sean can’t see me every day, I assume that he’s ending our relationship. I guess it’s hard for me to trust people.

All yesterday afternoon, I felt sorry for myself, but I did accomplish a good deal, taking care of various chores and errands. I went to sleep early and slept till 10 AM; then I stayed in bed two more hours.

I was about to go over to Davie to collect my mail when Sean called, asking if I was busy and if I wanted to go to the movies. We met at 2:15 PM in front of the Broward Mall theater, and I paid for Sean and me to see Victor, Victoria. It was his fifth time seeing it.

He had only a dollar and I didn’t mind paying at all; later, he told me that he didn’t mind, either. The movie was a delight: a warm, funny, very pro-gay film that was witty and charming.

Sean took my hand as soon as the lights went down and we held hands throughout the film. It was so sweet, to be at a movie with a boyfriend. When he was intently concentrating on the screen, I sneaked a peak at him, so young and handsome and intelligent and damned cute in the yellow Sasson shirt I gave him.

Afterwards he followed me back and we spent two hours in bed making love. It was fine. God, how could I have doubted that Sean cares for me? Maybe I’m one of many lovers and maybe it ain’t love, but I have no reason to believe that real feelings aren’t behind our sex.

Last night he got drunk at the Copa and awoke with a terrible hangover today. He told me that last summer at his brother’s wedding, he got so drunk that he passed out after making his best man’s toast and ended up vomiting all over the place.

I would never say anything to Sean, but I hope he doesn’t end up abusing alcohol. So many guys go to gay bars nightly and end up becoming alcoholics before they realize that they’re going there, not to meet people, but to drink. Enough.

Today in Reno, Sean’s sister got married to the father of her baby.

Sean has been a gift to me: he’s utterly precious, and if I sound like I’m waxing ecstatic, you wanna make something of it? I am proud to be out in public with Sean, and I’m proud of him and of my courage in not doing what I always did before and run away from a real relationship with a guy.

Soon after Sean and I showered and he left, my family came – part of me hoped they would be here early enough to meet Sean – and we went out to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate Mom and Dad’s anniversary.

Marc and Jonathan both worked all day in their respective stores. Marc seems tired because he’s unused to such long hours. It was a pleasant meal, although I find I can’t be with my parents that much anymore; I love them but they get on my nerves.

Still, it was fun for the five of us to be out together again and to hear family news. Aunt Sydelle has taken an apartment in Aventura; Robin called from L.A. to say she’s divorcing Drew; Scott and Barbara’s baby is due soon. When I got home, I phoned Grandma Ethel to say I’d see her in three weeks.

Paul Fericano’s hoax about Sinatra, Sinatra winning the Howitzer Prize fooled Coda; in their June issue, they printed his announcement along with those about the Guggenheims and other writing awards. I was so tickled I phoned Paul in San Francisco, and it was delightful to break the good news to him, as he had not yet seen the issue.

Commercial Break will be out next week, Paul said, and Kathy is expecting a baby in December. (I was touched when Paul said, “You’re going to be an uncle.”)

I spoke to Darlyn Brewer yesterday, and she said she planned to run my regional report on the Florida literary scene in the next issue of Coda.

And I sent away the check to the National Writers Press so they can go ahead and print Eating at Arby’s.


Sunday, May 30, 1982

11 PM. It feels good to be able to stay up late on a Sunday night and not have to worry about getting up early on Monday to begin the week’s work.

I didn’t get up until 11 AM today, and then I went back to sleep until almost 4 PM. Part of my laziness is caused by a sinus condition, but most of it is catching up on sleep that I missed all week.

When I did get moving late this afternoon, I accomplished a lot: I thoroughly cleaned the apartment, started packing away my papers, and caught up on correspondence and phone calls. I also exercised a little; in the fall I intend to join a health club and work out regularly.

And Sean called at 8 PM, so for an hour I bent his cute little ear (actually, like most parts of his body, Sean’s ears are bigger than mine). It’s terrible how fond I am of him. My relationship with Sean is the closest thing I’ve had to my college relationships with Shelli and Ronna, with the almost daily phone calls.

Just thinking about Sean makes me smile. For the past few nights I’ve been dreaming about New York, and it’s going to be hard to leave Sean here. I hope it won’t be difficult for him.

Tonight Elihu asked me how I’ll “end it.”

“Maybe we’ll have a party?” I said. I really don’t know. Perhaps I’ve misjudged the situation, but it seems that it’s just going to end – though I hope our friendship remains.

Josh phoned this morning. He got the copy of Dog I sent him. His job may take him over to the Board of Education to do some computer work there, and he’s not thrilled with his company, which has made misrepresentations to him.

Josh has decided to buy an Atari 800 computer, and it was good to be able to talk with him about computers and learn a little more about the subject. I’ve been playing around with my Sinclair ZX81 and am making progress in learning how to program it. We bullshitted for an hour, and I can’t wait to see Josh in New York.

Late last night, I called Alice and Peter after I saw Peter on Saturday Night Live. It was an interview with people in the street about whom they hated most; Peter said Donny Osmond. They both had missed the first showing of the segment because it was the night of Alice’s party.

Today I called Tom, who’s been writing a novel with Mike Presti, one chapter a day. He’s finished with his students and just has a couple of more days to work.

For the summer he plans to write like crazy and not worry about schoolwork until mid-August. Hopefully Jeanie Thompson will take the administrative chores and allow Tom to have control in the classroom next year.

Tom’s more cynical than I am, of course; he admits it. After his experience with Liza, he cautioned me about idealizing Sean. Of course in one way I know Tom is correct when he said, “Sean may be special now, but it’s too early to find out if he’ll end up being special.” I may never find out.

Elihu and I blabbed for another half-hour after I got off the phone with Tom; my phone bill will be something this month.

This weekend has turned out all right. I haven’t marked the papers yet, and I didn’t go to visit Grandpa Nat as I’d planned, but I accomplished everything else on my “To Do” list.


Monday, May 31, 1982

4 PM. It’s another rainy day; it seems as though it’s rained every day in the past week. I don’t really mind, however. This time of year it’s too hot to sit in the sun and I could use a change from the usual bright glare.

Sean called again last night; he couldn’t sleep and he thought if he spoke with me, it would make me him feel more relaxed. He’s almost all moved now into the apartment near the house by the pool. Sean had his waterbed there, and now he’s got his radio and a phone.

The other night he won a free album from a radio show, he said. Sean also told me he had been mixing with his tape recorder, trying to do things with songs the way they do at the discos.

My relationship with Sean has given me much to think about. Elihu said that age differences don’t matter, but that isn’t entirely true. Perhaps Tom was more correct when he suggested that you can’t really tell what kind of an adult a 17-year-old will make.

None of us are ever “finished,” I suppose, but I think of so many people at college whom I thought would really make it in the world and who never went anywhere.

Take Laura, who once intimidated me with her freakiness and imposing manner when she was a cooler-than-cool yearbook editor and a senior and I was a nebbish sophomore.

Josh ran into her at the Board of Ed, where she works as a paraprofessional. He said she was friendly and he took her out for coffee, but she looked terrible and said she was broke. Laura never could get her writing shit together.

Or take Slade: I always he figured he would be a big-name writer because he was so charismatic and his Kingsman columns seemed so brilliant. But the last I heard, he was working for the phone company.

One thing in Sean’s favor, I think – and in my brother Jonathan’s – is that they haven’t peaked too soon. Then again, maybe I have peaked too soon, and it’s all downhill from here for me.

I went to the North Miami Convalescent Home to see Grandpa Nat today for the first time since last Thanksgiving, just before Grandma Sylvia died.

He looked bad and kept chewing on his upper dentures. His shirt and pants were all stained, and he looked wildly unkempt. Surprisingly, though, he knew who I was this time, although he once slipped and called me Scott.

I wheeled him out to the day room. He could read the signs on the doors and said them aloud: “pantry” and “nursing supervisor.”

I chatted with Grandpa Nat the way I usually do, telling him I was going to New York to stay with the Sarretts and that I was teaching and making lots of money. Perhaps this was cruel of me, but I told him about Sean and how much I like him.

“Do you think I should marry him?” I asked Grandpa.

“Sure,” he said.

“But don’t you think that it’s strange, two men getting married?”

“What’s so strange?” Grandpa Nat replied.

“Well, um, Sean isn’t Jewish,” I said.

“So what?” he said. “It don’t matter.”

I rubbed his knee and said, “Grandpa, I’m glad you’re still around for me to talk to,” and he smiled widely, showing me his dentures.

“Do you have any advice for me?” I asked.

I should give you advice?” he replied, with that Jewish rising inflection.

I told him I was turning 31 this week and he replied that he was only 33 himself. As I left, he said, “What’s your rush?”

“I have to go to work,” I lied.

In one way it’s a terrible pity to see that incredibly active, intelligent man reduced to that level, but in another way it’s a comfort. Whatever happens, Grandpa Nat is serene. Life his good, he told me: he doesn’t need anything; he’s got everything.

Sometimes, when I think that what I’m doing is earth-shaking or somehow important, I should remember Grandpa Nat. And Sean, too: I should remember him.

Not that I’m comparing them except in the sense that both of them are human beings whose feelings, whose needs, whose goals are every bit as important as mine.

Now if I could only believe that the same holds true for all the people I don’t happen to love. TC mark

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