Saturday, July 13, 2013


C and his friend E went whale-watching today and I stayed here alone. I might have enjoyed whale-watching, who knows?, but what I really wanted was a day by myself, no plans, just my book of Alice Munro stories and the quiet breeze. I don’t know what the rest of the guys did today. Tonight we’ll meet for “tea,” which is gay for drinking in the afternoon, and then dinner at the Lobster Pot. At 10, we have tickets for Joey Arias’s show.

We are in Provincetown. We rented a house for a week with a group of seven men (three couples and E, who is looking for love), all but me old friends who used to when they were younger spend lazy, horny weekends together in a big beach house on Fire Island but whose lives’ exigencies have pulled their summers apart, and I think this week in P-town was to some extent meant to recreate those Fire Island days.

C and I argued a bit last night. We’ve both fallen in love with this town. All afternoon we mused about the possibility of buying a place here and opening a bed and breakfast. Then late in the evening, he suggested an alternative prospect: buy a house here, rent it out until it’s paid for, then move here when we’re old. C worries about retirement more than I ever did. He was upset that I was less smitten with the rental property idea than with the bed and breakfast idea. One felt like an adventure, the other like a wise investment.

There’s something perfect about this place. Not only is it a venerable old gay vacation spot, it's where the Mayflower landed and the Puritans are my favorite bit of American history. T and I made a show called A, based on The Scarlet Letter, in 1992, and we’re both still fascinated by the story and the period in which it’s set.

On the way up, C noticed at the last minute that we were passing through Fall River, so we got off the highway and found the Lizzie Borden house, which is now a bed and breakfast. We had just missed the beginning of the tour, so we vowed to stop again on the way home. I felt all tingly the whole time we were there, the pear trees and looking in the side door where Lizzie stood and said to Bridget, “Father is dead. Somebody came in and killed him.”

That house, that yard, have lived for so long in my imagination and then to actually be there right next to it. It awoke something in me that had nearly died in the endless tension-filled days upon days of haggling over contracts that our little Lizzie Borden musical has become lately.

This week hasn't been quite what I imagined. I expected that everyone else would be on the beach all day baking in the sun and I'd be at the house alone reading, writing, and then we'd all meet up for drinks and guacamole, dinner at home or in town. But it's not that kind of town. The beach is a trek. Days are for shopping or bike rides. I have had a few hours here and there alone during the day, but there's been no routine. Still it's been a sweet break from the noise and heat and stink of New York in July. Though it has been nice to see a couple shows – Sandra Bernhardt on Tuesday and Varla Jean Merman last night – and do some shopping and dining out in this very charming and very gay seaside town, just a week of intermittent silence in a big house with the windows open day and night and no TV is the best vacation I can imagine.

Maybe it’s Alice Munro, maybe it’s the white wine with lunch, but I’m going to say it’s the long, quiet days that open everything: my imagination, the future, hope, love. And it’s Friday and we’re leaving first thing Sunday morning, so I’m already getting a whiff of dread that soon, back in the city, so much less will seem possible. I guess that’s one reason I’ve fallen in love with this place, the way I fell in love with the desert. It doesn’t have to be just a vacation, it’s possible to actually live in a place where it’s quiet enough to listen to your heart. Everyone says, "you'll hate the winters here -- for two months, it's bitter cold and bleak and so lonely you'll lose your mind." But that sounds like heaven to me. Maybe finally I'd get some writing done.