Death and Dying

I have been thinking on this quite a bit lately.

While none of us are immortal and we all will face death at some point, I have to wonder what my thought process will be when my time arrives.

It is not just about me however. The reason this comes up at all to me, is because my thoughts always, and I do mean always, turn to Annie.

I did everything I could to protect her from the haters and from harm during our time together. Yet, my mind cannot accept that I could do nothing to save her from the inevitable.

I was not there for her at that moment, and I will never be able to forgive myself for that. I wake in the middle of the night quite often with tears in my eyes, wondering what she felt as she faced that moment. Was she aware of what was happening to her as her body failed her? Did she know that I was not there beside her? If she did know, would she ever forgive me for not being with her in that moment? Was she able to carry my love for her with her?

I feel a certain terror and anxiety over this constantly, and there is no resolution for me, because no matter how much I might cry out to her, she cannot answer.

My time will come. 

I have not yet boarded the last train to clarksville just yet, but I am on the off ramp to that one way track. And…the thought of facing my own demise without knowing what she felt haunts me.

That is where my mind goes and I have not been able to find a way to stop it.

Losing My Mind

It has been thirteen years, three months and eight days since Annie passed from this world. She has been with me in spirit every day, and my love for her has never waned. Often, I think of the day when I will join her wherever she is.

Mindful of how others might perceive my grief, I have managed to prevent those thoughts and feelings from seeing the light of day when others could also see them. I have become an expert at hiding myself.

Yet, my mind has managed to turn on me. While I know in my heart, I will never give up on the memory of Annie, I seem to have another woman break into my thoughts more frequently than I could have predicted. My friend I have written about a few times has become an important part of my life and thoughts, even though we do not see each other as often as we have in the past.

It is a platonic friendship, at least at this point. We have never shared a romantic embrace, kiss or anything like that. And though these things have never happened in real life, they occur more frequently to me in my dreams.

For the last two days, I have been bedridden with illness and there is where my mind decided to attack me. I may have been delusional in my illness, but I prefer to think of it as a harbinger of possibilities, even though the universe will not give that to me.

You see, she appeared to me at my bedside yesterday. I felt something take hold of my foot and when I turned, there she was. I watched as she shed her clothing and stood before me as she pulled back the blanket and joined me in bed. The visual of her beautiful, nude, melanin body against me with her braids covering our heads like a curtain, was such a rush that I had a difficult time breathing. She has shared quite a bit of her damaged journey in growing up, and I knew in that instance, I finally had the opportunity to show her how a man could not abuse her, but treat her with physical love.

And then a neighborhood dog barked, my eyes flew open, only to find the bed empty next to me. It was all a dream.

So close. So close to showing her a loving experience. 

I must be losing my mind when my dreams are more real than the reality of my life.

Stay or Go

Writing this blog has never been easy. Reconstructing all my memories of Annie and the life we experienced together during the short year we had each other has been heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Make sense?

Until this past week, I have shared this blog with only two other people that I know in person. From them, I receive only respect and encouragement to keep writing and express myself in the only way I can, as I am not an eloquent speaker.

This week, I shared it with a third person. Someone whom I have known for 6-8 years in social settings, always seemed like an open minded person. We discuss many topics, and I have been  supportive of her struggles during Covid, as that is what a friend does.

Sharing this with her was a terrible mistake. A side of her came out that I never knew existed. Rather than give me understanding and empathy over the words I write, I received hate, bigotry and disrespect. After reading most, if not all ( I could tell by her comments), she decided to die on the white privilege hill of her own making.

To paraphrase, since I never had the thought to record her comments, she could not understand why I would ever love an Asian (American) like Annie. I wasn’t sure if she was taking issue with Annie being Asian or transgender, or both. To top it off, she took issue of my writing about my feelings for my black friend. She wanted to know why I couldn’t simply find a white woman.

Well, she is now gone from my life and I have no regrets about it. How dare she comment on who I loved back then, and who I have feelings for now.

The hate and comments I endured during my time with Annie was common back then, even though I knew nothing of it until Annie and I became a thing. It was a constant worry for us wherever we went…would she be safe…could I keep her safe…constant vigilance as to who was around us at any time or place. It was exhausting to fear violence that could erupt without warning.

I thought that was behind me after all these years, but with what has happened in this country with the murders of black folks, and the terrorizing of transgender POC, I realize that this country is no better off than it was back then. Now, when I go out in public with my friend who is black, will my whiteness bring on trouble for her as well? Must I scrutinize every person that comes close to us when we are in public?

I have no solution to this dilemma, and I absolutely refuse to give up not only my friendship, nor my feelings for her. I will fight the haters wherever I find them. Who I choose to love and be seen with is no one’s business and I will make that crystal clear to anyone who gets in my way.

I waffled back and forth as to whether I would delete this blog. Yet, I find that I cannot let the actions of bigots deter me living the truth of who I love and care for.

If someone has issues with me writing about my relationships and friendships with women of color who may be transgender or cis, then just get over yourself and stay off my lawn.

I do not, nor will I welcome you into my life.

So, if you have read this far, just know that I will keep on writing about the women who have made such an impact on my life. This is not only my truth…it is their’s as well.

Structure

Structure is a vital component of daily life, at least for me.

During this period of Covid, the structure that at one time helped to regulate my days seems to have vanished. As the days turn to weeks, and the weeks have turned to months, it appears that I am adrift most of the time.

My to do lists continue to grow. Those items on the list that have been completed continue to become smaller with each passing day.

Structure for me has been an elusive goal since losing Annie. What was once the backbone of my existence has failed me more and more as time progresses.

While I had managed to remove most people from my life, in order to refuse anyone else from observing  my grief and lack of caring, there are a few people who I kept close. But, as Covid recedes and people get to go about their business in a more normative way, those two or three people now have better things to do.

Pushing everyone, save two or three individuals away, may have served me well in the past, but now, in the present, I am more isolated than I suppose I intended. I can recognize that I need to do something about this, yet there is a complete unwillingness to try and meet new people. I hold onto frail hope to be able to visit with them more often, but now that their lives are moving forward, I am confident I will be left behind. Rather than become the pest that they will shun, I retreat daily into the darkness that has given me comfort these past thirteen years.

It is tiring to watch myself from outside my own body as I struggle to remain relevant to those two or three people, when the truth of the matter revolves around my inability to let go of everything that Annie meant to me.

Most days, my mind is like a rudderless boat, adrift in the sea. Never knowing which direction it will take me. I start things I don’t finish, put off starting new things, with the knowledge that they won’t be finished either, and through it all, the few people who could and would listen to my ramblings, busy themselves with their own lives. I see them less and less frequently, which leaves me to revisit the dark times more and more often.

The darkness of my mind is the friend that provided me a structure of reliving my memories and grief, and I can now see that this friend is not done with me yet.

So there is that at least.

Dreams

Dreams come in many types and sizes. There are night dreams, day dreams, happy dreams, sad dreams, and of course there are nightmares, which are a specific type of dream. Most of us experience different types of dreams at various times in our lives. Dreams can be recalled and have an effect on our daily lives or in the case of many people, dreams are not remembered at all.

For most of my life, I fell into the category of people who do not recall their sleeping dreams. However, having said that, I certainly remember when I did begin to recall my dreams. 

It all began the night I met Annie. Once I met her, not a day went by that I did not have day dreams about her; about when I would see her again, what we would do when next we were together, how I relived every moment of the time I spent with her. The night dreams were the most intense. The intimacy we shared was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I do not know how I got any sleep during the year I knew her. She took up all my mental bandwidth whether it was day or night.

She passed away thirteen years ago, and my dreams of her have never stopped. I can remember every moment we spent together it seems, and am obsessed to this day, over how our lives have been cheated of the future we had planned for ourselves.

My dreams of Annie are with me every day. But…someone else has also made an appearance in my dreams, and the frequency of her in my dreams grows as the time progresses. I think of her often when I frequent places during the day that I know Annie enjoyed or might enjoy with me. I think…she would enjoy seeing this or that or experience something that I could share with her. While most of those times it is day dreams where she appears, I also dream about her at night. Not so much as I fall asleep, but most often, as I awake in the mornings, when I see her laying next to me and often wonder what her body feels like and what she looks like when she is sleeping. Will she respond as I explore her? Can I hear her breathing and her heart beating as she sleeps?

Nothing would make me happier than to experience a fraction of the intimacy with her that I enjoyed with Annie. I would love to take long walks with her…holding hands and for no reason, just turning towards each other to enjoy a kiss and an embrace. Showing her how beautiful she is by pleasuring her is an elusive, unattainable wish.

We are friends after all, and somewhere in that, is a line that I fear cannot be crossed, no matter how often I dream it or desire it.

In thirteen years, she is the only friend I have made, in whom I can confide not only my fears, but my experiences with Annie. She is the only person who has managed to draw these things from my broken mind. Were I to act on my desires with her, I risk losing not only that friendship, but the one person who understands the turmoil that lives within me.

It pains me each and every day that passes, that I cannot live out those moments with her that consume me, in both my day and night dreams. The simple fact is…I just do not know how to deal with these wants and desires because dealing with them contains too much of a risk.

So…I do nothing. And I hate myself over and over for being such a coward.

End of an Era

My musical career ended when Annie died. The simple act of performing on stage, playing the songs Annie loved was just too much for me. Over the years, no matter how many times I was asked, I always made an excuse to turn down the band to do another show or tour. They did understand my reasons, and yet they continued to ask. I am not sure if they continued to ask in order to draw me out of my depression, or if they truly wanted me back on stage.

Some time ago, I got yet another call about performing. Pete, the lead guitarist rang me up and said the band had finally decided to pack it in and stop performing. After over twenty years together, everyone was getting older, had family obligations and just didn’t think they could continue to mount tours and deal with all the expenses, coordination, and travel like we did when we were younger.

So, Pete said there would be one final farewell show in the place we called our home away from home, Las Vegas. People knew us there, and we had a great fan base. Pete said they were bringing back several of the musicians that had filled in over the years and they needed me to hold it all down one last time. With much reluctance I agreed.

I had not performed in around eleven years following the disastrous attempt after Annie died. I will never have closure over her death, but I thought perhaps I could get closure regarding no longer performing. So I went to Vegas for the first time in many years.

I was determined to do the job properly this time. Rehearsals went well and it turned out to be a fun time seeing all of the old guys again and meeting some of the musicians I had never seen before. It turned out to be one of our longest shows. Three and a half hours without a break. The place was sold out and there was so much energy in the room, we could not leave the audience wanting until we had run out of songs, and even played a few more than once.

Afterwards, some of us were hanging around and Pete asked if I wanted to do some session work in the future with his production company. I had to turn him down. This was my absolute last show. I did for the guys, for the music, and in order for me to get closure on music. The passion for music that drove me for my whole life was gone, and I could not fake it, or take the place of another musician whose own passion drove them.

We partied pretty heavily at breakfast the next day. Some of the guys were leaving with all the gear and a few were staying on to gamble and have some fun in Vegas. Goodbyes were said, and I headed out as well.

All in all, it ended on a good note. We performed yet another sold out show, the audience got what they came for, the band went out with a bang, and I got my closure. Some of us still keep in touch and I am grateful I decided at the last minute to do the show. 

While music no longer drives me to the stage as it did for most of my life, I have no regrets over leaving it. There are years and years of memories of stages, clubs, cities, fans, and the camaraderie of fellow musicians. But the most endearing memory of all is recalling in my mind the times I would watch Annie dance and spin around while watching us up on stage, looking as happy as I had ever seen her.

Unexpected

Reflecting on the years as they have marched on I am continually reminded of all of the unexpected twists and turns that have occurred in my life leading up to where I sit today.

I grew up in a white family, living in a white neighborhood, in a white part of the city and only heard negative comments about people of color from all the adults in my life.

My first interactions with POC were when I attended high school and I had no idea how to interact with them. They dressed differently, they talked differently, they seemed to possess a sort of power and resignation at the same time concerning their place in society which I could not understand.

I was clueless in a new world until I met my first girlfriend who happened to be african american. I had never experienced racism against myself until our relationship became known.

I meandered through life accomplishing most of what I set out to, never really coming to terms with the fact that my success was in large part due to my white privilege. Sure, I  came across POC in my profession from time to time and various creatives over the years, but never had an enduring friendship with anyone of color. Still clueless.

When I finally met Annie everything changed. She overpowered me with her beauty and personality and once again I had to learn how to deal with racism and virulent hate over our relationship because not only was she a person of color, she was transgender. That combination attracted the most hateful people I have ever come across and universally they were all white people.

When Annie died, it ripped out my heart. I had no tools to to work with that could lessen my despair and grief over losing her. By the time she passed, I had pushed away most everyone from my life, because I simply could not deal with their feelings of animosity towards her. How could I possibly accept anyone’s friendship if they were not willing to extend the same to Annie? Now, without her, I was alone in my mind and no one was worth my trust.

This is how it went for over twelve years and I was never remorseful over pushing everyone away. My mental health was always in question over those years, and yet I was unwilling to let anyone in. I took an oath to myself that I would never allow myself to become involved with another person. I could not envision any scenario where I would find another person who would ever be able to gain my trust, and this became even more evident as the world further devolved into hate and discrimination.

Over the years, I met many people, some nice and some not so much, yet all were kept at arms length. No one was allowed into my inner sanctum where my thoughts and fears lived together.

Last year I met someone who finally was able to penetrate my silence. I never expected to meet anyone again that would be worthy of my confidence, nor was I looking for anyone. My solitude of thought and feelings had been my safe place for so many years. And yet, there she was. Out of the blue, another person of color who would gain my trust and exert her power, to allow me to see what I refused to see.

The stories she reveals of her life, reinforces all of my thoughts over the years concerning these three women of color who have influenced my life. Why is it that simply receiving a new picture from her makes my heart skip a beat? Why is it that all three of them have some sort of super power over my thoughts and emotions? Why do I feel complete comfort and serenity in the presence of women of color ,whether they are cis or not? Why can’t anyone answer that simple question for me?

Over the years, there have been countless murders of POC in this country and in particular the murder of transgender women of color has particularly infuriated me.

The shootings this week in Atlanta, murdering six asian women of color by a white man for hateful reasons brings me to a final conclusion.

I despise my white privilege. My white privilege has allowed me to walk unharmed through life, while POC continue to suffer at the whim of white people. I do not have any resolution for the rest of the hateful world. All I can do is try and be the best person I can be.

In the end, now that I am an official old person, I embrace the super powers that certain women of color hold over me. Without them, I would not be the person I am today.  Most likely, I will never again have a relationship with a woman of color, and while that thought saddens me to no end, I will never fall back upon my white privilege in order to have a relationship with anyone who also benefits from white privilege.

I refuse to allow my whiteness to define me.

Betrayal and Desire

And so it was that I spent the anniversary I dread, with my friend and muse. She had graciously invited me to spend a few hours with her, so I would not be alone on this day. We had such a good time, cooking a meal together, and talking about everything other than the meaning of this particular day. As we sat down together to enjoy a dessert together while watching something on the television, she sat right next to me.

This was the first time she has sat next to me or come any closer than a goodbye or welcome hug in all the time we have known each other. Our positions in our meetings have always been across the table from each other. We both deal with issues, and the fact is, that after all the times we have met, she was finally trusting enough in me to get close. That gave me great joy.

We sat there together, legs and shoulders touching. When I could feel she wasn’t looking, I would steal little glances over to see her expressions. One observation is that in profile, she has one of the cutest noses. At one point, I reached over and put my hand on her leg, and surprising me, she did not move away. I thought briefly, what if I leaned in closer and we kissed?

We are very similar in some ways. Neither of us had the need for idle conversation, and I for one took great comfort in being in the moment with her without having to get distracted in thinking about what to say. The silence, other than the television, feeling the heat of her body next to me made for a wonderful time.

It has been thirteen years since I have enjoyed anything like this with someone new, and have thought that it would never happen again. You see, Annie and I spent hours in silence together. There is some type of bond happening when two people can spend hours in silence, feeling the presence of the other and simply enjoying those quiet moments.

The fact is…I have been thinking of her quite often in the early hours as I awake. However, the next morning after the anniversary something else happened.

My mind betrayed me. I didn’t wake up thinking of Annie, as I have done every single morning for thirteen years. I awoke with thoughts of my muse and friend. I thought of every little movement I remembered from the day before. I recalled each time she smiled during my visit and how much I love to see her smile and push away the issues of the day.

The betrayal off my mind wasn’t limited to who I thought about. My mind also presented me with desire for the first time in thirteen years. All I could think about was what her beautiful body would feel like in my arms and how I might be able to find the ways to pleasure her and make her happy. I desired to taste her kisses and every part of her.

My mind betrayed me with a longing and desire I cannot act upon. I could never bring this up to her in person and risk losing her trust. Trust is something that has to be earned, and while we have reached that point, I could never disrespect her, nor violate that trust.

After all these years, to have finally found another, so much like myself, is difficult to comprehend. I want nothing more than for our friendship to flourish, and despite my desire for her and the betrayal of my mind, I will be happy with this. Unless she gives me some sort of sign that more is possible, then sitting alongside each other, and enjoying our moments together are the parts of our friendship I will continue to cherish.

Anniversaries

There are many different types of anniversaries, and most of us celebrate numerous ones over the years. Most of these are occasions that mark happier times, but some remind us of struggles and sadness over events we may or may not have had any control over.

Next week is one of those in the latter category for me. Annie and I only celebrated one anniversary together, marking the span of time where we not only were able to learn so much about each other, but to realize how right our relationship was from the very beginning. Back then, there was so much hate in the world, not only for who she was, but by extension, our relationship itself.

Virtually no one in my circle of life accepted her, nor the feelings we had for each other. For a straight white male to love and cherish a transgender woman of color was the ultimate insult to what we today call white privilege. In spite of all of that, we celebrated that first anniversary together, without others, in what we described as our normal.

Here it is now, thirteen years later, and quite honestly, although great strides in equality have been made, it is still not enough. Were Annie to still be with me, I am pretty confident we would still be facing the same hatred and disrespect, although it may not be as openly hostile as in that past period.

Marking the annual date of her passing is something I have chosen over the years to do in my own solitary mind space. Until recently, no one has even known where I disappear to on this day. I am just silent and invisible, with no desire to socialize or even engage in idle conversation with anyone. For most of these years, depending upon the weather, I will just find some solitary place out in nature and recall all of the happier times we enjoyed together.

But, this year will be different for me. My friend “A” not only knows the story, but she has read this entire blog as far as I can tell. In a shocking turn of events, recently, she asked me if I wanted to spend a good part of this day with her. She had concerns over me spending the day alone. My first thought was to immediately decline her invitation, but within minutes I texted her back to accept.

How could I not accept such an offer of kindness and personal generosity for the first time in all of these years, from someone who I trust implicitly, and has shown me nothing but empathy and caring?

I cannot wait for the date to arrive and we get together. I just hope that I am not in my usual morose anniversary mood, and spoil the great gift she is offering to me. Normally, I put on a happy face that hides my feelings, but with her, I cannot do that. When I smile in her presence, it is because my smile reveals that I am indeed happy to be with her, no matter what she may have in mind as a surprise for this day.

I am pretty confident that this will be the best anniversary of all of those marking this date, for with this simple invitation, she has turned the tide from sorrow into something more…

Human Touch

Human touch is one of the most important senses in a relationship. Humans are very sensory oriented and to go years without that experience is traumatic.

I returned to our hotel at a very late hour one night, to find Annie waiting up for me. I described my day as did she. Due to deadlines and employee problems, she was pretty stressed out, so I suggested that I give her a massage. She immediately declined while refusing to look at me, so I knew something was up. It took several minutes before she would admit that she had never had a massage and she refused me as a result of her fear of being touched by a male.

I explained that we had been together for quite some time now, and we touched each other all the time, yet she had never allowed herself to relax and enjoy such a thing where she was the object of my attention and had nothing to do in return. I told her to try and relax and all she had to do was say the word stop and it would be over. She reluctantly agreed, removed her clothes and laid down.

I began with her neck and shoulders. She was so stressed, that I could feel her muscles all knotted up. It took me over 30 minutes before I could feel her start to relax and soften the tenseness. I slowly worked my way down her back and it seemed like it took forever for her to finally relax. By the time I asked her to turn over, I realized she had drifted off to sleep.

 She turned over and made all kinds of little squeaks and sighs whenever I touched a new spot. Through it all, while she was on her back, her eyes never left mine. She knew she could trust me, and despite her fears and apprehension, she did trust me and enjoyed the whole experience. I never asked her to reciprocate, only to be calm and the object of my concentration.

Over time, we built on the experience in ways to find out what her body craved, and how I could make sure she received the loving touch I could give to her.

Next week will be thirteen years since I enjoyed the pleasure of feeling her body in my hands, and the smile on her face as a result of my attentions. I miss the feeling of her skin and the look of pleasure on her face. Human touch is a frail thing and a direct result of trust. I loved the feel of her body, the way she would hold my hand when we walked down the street or in nature, the way she would lay her head on my shoulder when she was happiest.

Human touch is frail and fleeting without trust. I wish I could experience those fleeting moments yet again. To find someone who trusts another enough to allow themselves the pleasure of human touch without the expectation of anything in return being required.