Gay 'n Gray: The Divine Order of the Wings of the Cosmic Rainbow
|by John Siegfried|
I have no idea what all that divine order and cosmic rainbow stuff means but I do know that Sundance 2001 was one smashing success. What impressed me most was how much Sundance over the years has become a truly "community event," and I don't mean the gay and lesbian community but an event for the larger community of Rehoboth. This was evident by the diversity of attendeesgay, straight, old, young, pin striped and polka dottedthey were all there. Even a beautiful eighteen month old on his dad's shoulders attended his first Sundance Auction. And further proof was the listing of 53 sponsors, 25 supporters, 112 business hosts and 316 individual hosts. Howard and I had New York guests with us for the weekend and even they, with the sophisticated provincialism of New Yorkers, agreed that this was an extraordinary event.
Before I'd had time to complete my first walk around the auction tables, I was stopped by a friend who asked how I could write so many positive things in Letters about Rehoboth and my love for Rehoboth and then put our house up for sale. As we chatted it became clear that this was grist for another Letters entrynot because our decision to sell is in, or out of, the "divine order of the wings of the cosmic rainbow," but because the decision making process of leaving behind that which is loved, whether profession, person, or place, is one that many of us have faced, or will face.
My love affair with Rehoboth began more than a decade ago with a shared August rental on Cookman Street, then a condo in the Henlopen for half a decade, and finally, upon retirement from Washington, a home that met four criteria. It was within walking distance of the Moon, had a small yard for me to garden in, a fireplace for fall evenings, and a big bathtub for Howard who loves to read the Sunday New York Times in the tub. Those repeated weekend jaunts and vacation visits soon made Rehoboth a focus of friendship and tranquility in my life.
I could feel the weight of the Washington work week roll from my shoulders as I crossed the Bay Bridge and cut through the back roads of Maryland and Delaware. And even on January weekends, when "dead" takes on new meaning, I could share a drink or an impromptu dinner with a friend.
Frequently as Howard and I meandered from the Henlopen Condo over to Baltimore Avenue we'd pass the green house by Lake Gerar and I'd repeat my mantra: "If we ever own a home in Rehoboth, I hope it will be like this one." It became a family jokeuntil the sale sign went up and we plunged. I have loved living by the Lake, I love seeing traffic stop to let the ducks cross First Street. I love seeing the kids fishing from the Lake Gerar bridge. I love watching the hunks and lunks who skate, jog and bike past my windows. It makes window cleaning worthwhile. And to this day, Rehoboth still is a place of peace and of friendship for me. That's a hard legacy to leave behind.
But as always, if there's a yin, there's a yang; if there's divine order, there's also chaos, and sometimes the cosmic rainbow ain't enough. When you try to get the yin and yang of two people in sync you may hit ecstacy or chaos, but in most cases you come down to someplace in between.
Howard's a city boy, Bronx through and through. I'm a small town kid who still visits New York with a gaping mouth and a boggled mind. I've lived most of my life in a private home and enjoy it. Howard has never lived in a single house prior to Rehoboth, and he hates it.
Security and peace for him is in a high rise with a guarded entry. By his description Rehoboth is the first location he's lived where he can't tumble out of bed and open the refrigerator in one fell swoop. My love for Rehoboth is matched by Howard's love for Fort Lauderdale with its huge gay population, its year round social swirl, and a cadre of good friendsironically, many of them transplants from Washington and Rehoboth.
The compromise that we've operated on in recent years is that as long as I am physically able to care for my garden and to climb ladders to empty pine straw from the rain spouts, we'd stay in Rehoboth and winter in Florida. My experience of recent years, however, is that despite what the TV ads say, Celebrex isn't the fountain of youth and, as I describe it to friends, "I'm doing fine, but the scotch tape is drying out." Never was I more aware of this than at Sundance where every dance I attempted came out looking like "the rusty scarecrow."
It's also become increasingly obvious to us that maintaining two homes wastes our limited resources, physically, emotionally and financially. I'm tired of cruising Interstate 95 in an SUV loaded with cats, computers, and clothes two or three times each year. I'm also tired of intervals when I'm here and he's there, or he's here and I'm there. While we've danced the Rehoboth/Lauderdale tango successfully for several years, one thing has become clear to both of us. We tolerate long separations poorly. Granted, when we're together separation looks alluringsometimes VERY alluringbut the reality is that the phone bill skyrockets when we're apart.
In the process I've learned that for me, person tops place in priority. And so to quote the old Gregorian chant, "Good night sweetheart, well it's time to go." But in bad penny fashion, I'll be back and I don't want to hear, "John who?"
John Siegfried, a retired association executive, resides (for now) in Rehoboth Beach and Ft. Lauderdale.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 11, No. 13, September 21, 2001