Memories, Nostalgia, and Some Sadness

It was mid-April 1984. I wasn’t quite 19 yet. I has just moved to Halifax in an upstairs duplex on Quinn Street for a 4-month sublet. The owners had left all their stuff so I needed only bring my clothes and look for a job. And among their stuff was Keith Jarrett’s 3-LP Bremen / Lausanne Concerts.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for several years will recall the lead up to my move to Montréal. Some of you may have said to yourselves — nay, some of you have said to my face …lovingly, of course — “Oh, enough already and just do it!” So, in June 2007, I wrote a five-part blog entry that, on one part, amounted to my ode to Halifax and, on the other, served to convince myself that it really was time to “just do it.”

As for those of you who knew me well before this blog existed, back when I was that teenager who deferred university for a second year after finishing high school in order to get a job and live a year in Halifax, you’ll remember a small-town Maritime gay boy who had become obsessed with Halifax. That city seemed (and, in the early 1980s, was) so much more exciting than Moncton, yet not too far from my comfort zone. As I wrote in that 2007 five-part series, I didn’t think in August 1985 when I returned to Moncton to study translation that I would ever live again in Halifax. But things changed, and I returned two years later and stayed there almost 21 years.

Rediscovering Jarrett’s Lausanne had me almost in tears last night. I can assure you that, in 1984, I didn’t think about 2011. Perhaps I thought of the Year 2000 — who didn’t back then! — as it still seemed so remote and, good heavens, I would be 35 that year! Now here I am, about to enter the second half of 45.

Last night I remembered that teenager, sitting alone by the fireplace, tucked comfortably on that white sofa in the living room on Quinn Street, listening by candlelight to the Lausanne before going to bed.

Yes, last night, remembering that teenager, and perhaps for the first time in my life, I felt old and truly realized there is less life before me than there is behind me. Oh, the things I didn’t know back then! The optimism; the naïveté; the not knowing where life would lead me — not that it led me to a bad place… And last night realizing not only just how little 2011 resembles 1984, but also how little 2011 resembles what I might have thought it would in 1984.

Being gay back then was still a very big deal. Each time you befriended someone or got social with someone at work, you would ponder not only when but IF you would come out to them, and take some distance from the fledgling friendship if you sensed that coming out would lead to painful rejection. In that sense, for most young gay guys like me there was an undercurrent of fear, which I need to make clear here so that you not think that last night I looked back at ’84 through rose-tinted glasses and thought, “Those were the days!” With the advent of and phobia towards AIDS that rose in those years and the backlash to which to it led towards gay men, it was unimaginable that I, nearly 25 years later, would find myself legally marrying a man. And three years after that, be working on divorcing him.

Last night I acutely felt the sadness I have been feeling for several months now. It is not sadness over the breakup of my marriage nor about being single and not wanting to be so. It is not sadness due to being in the middle of a long, cold winter, as it took hold well before winter started. It is certainly not sadness about where I am professionally nor the city where I now live. No, it’s not that specific; it’s more encompassing. But the kicker is that, meeting me or talking to me, most wouldn’t know it is there.

I don’t need a fancy Westmount therapist to recognize that I’m going through a kind of depression. (There! I’ve actually written the word, and it staring back at me makes it more real.) But I also recognize that the time has long come for me to get off my duff and tidy up all the loose strings I have left hanging, be it financially or legally, or the need to lose weight and quit smoking.

It’s the time for DOING, as that teenager of ’84 would do after listening to Jarrett’s Lausanne and a good night’s sleep.