“I hope you feel things you never felt before.”
On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, I would have missed taking Mom to the hospital for her surgery. Afterward, I would have missed a fellow runner’s “Hi there, girl,” as he passed me going down the Crystal Cove canyon I was running up — right around the bend in the path that leads to where I took a tree bath on July 15. And, following that tweak of joy, I would have missed the news — from a tall and handsome surgeon without a wedding ring — that everything went fine. I got to share the update with uncles and family friends, and, as Mom emerged from grogginess, I would have missed her saying, to a (Hispanic) nurse, “We don’t need a fuckin’ wall.” Most of all I would have missed treating one of her friends to dinner because he had waited at the hospital all day and does not have enough money from social security to buy food for himself sometimes. Our society is a disgrace, and sometimes it feels like American citizenship has become an abusive relationship difficult to escape. I would not have missed that. But I certainly would have missed the crypto market cap climbing over $150B — to $153B, no less — and watching Gilda and finally seeing, in all its electric context and narrative glory, that famous shot of Rita Hayworth flinging her head back and smiling, as her hair cascades onto her shoulders in perfect waves.
On Wednesday, August 23, 2017, I would have missed grins from no less than three nice-looking young men on my run in Crystal Cove — the first being from one in almost the same spot as the “Hi there, girl” guy. I especially would have missed his “Good on you!” as I ran up the trail. I would have missed picking up Mom from the hospital and helping her home and seeing her zip around the condo less than 24 hours after a spinal fusion! I also would have missed renting the rest of Gilda to make up for falling asleep in the middle — what a world we live in where so much art and knowledge and material in all forms hovers at our fingertips. As much as I long to have arrived on this earth later to see what we do, I feel so lucky to have been born in the last generation to straddle human existence before and after the Internet — I need to remember how much I would miss that experience, and the dreams and torment that come along with it.
On Thursday, August 24, I would have missed driving back down to Mom’s to retrieve my forgotten laptop and then going to the beach because, well, I needed something to write about for this entry. Although it was cloudy and a little too temperate for the close of summer, I would have missed the feeling of sand in between my toes, and, even more than that, the laughter and cheers of men playing whiffle ball nearby. Normally I long for peace and quiet, so how strange it seems to wax emotional about the sound of their voices — the lightheartedness of it all. I would not have missed the thirty minutes I fretted over all my crypto holdings before bed — suddenly, unexpectedly convinced that I had to sell it all immediately — but I would have missed the “Oh fuck it” part that follows whenever I remember that, at the end of this one-year endeavor, if it indeed all goes to hell, I’m outta here. And so, putting the pieces of the day together as I fell asleep, I would very much have missed ruminating over how I have finally begun to internalize what I guess must be the point of this project: learning, a little better, how to live.
On Friday, August 25, 2017, I would have missed calling My Dear Friend From College — in the aftermath of the President’s attack on the rule of law (pardoning a lawless, unrepentant sheriff) and transgender people (banning us from serving in the military). I would not miss fearing for the values I treasure, American society, and the safety and well-being of anyone who is different from whatever it is that Those In Power want to harm — but I would very much miss the deepening of connections with other people who are also fighting to preserve knowledge and human progress. I also would have missed ending up at my regular sushi place in Silver Lake after the old vegetarian Indian go-to was closed, and allowing the mirth and camaraderie of society to envelop me and dissipate the anxiety to at least some degree.
On Saturday, August 26, 2017, first of all, I would have missed having an orgasm — and a good one, at that. Over the past couple of years — but especially since everything went down with Jimmy almost a year ago — I think I have forgotten to keep the back burner, where I placed my sexuality, warm. Sex is something to celebrate. So I guess I’d miss the medical responsibility of having to dilate as a transsexual, which is the only thing that keeps me in touch with that part of myself? Anyway I would also have missed starting a purge here at the house in LA because I have too much stuff. Along with sex, another thing that has slipped my mind is how good it feels to lighten one’s load in the world. Though now I just kinda want to sell my property altogether — and perhaps the one in New York, too — and then go on to live a different life. An intuition tells me the time for change is coming. I would miss change. I would miss the dreams that wash over me when I consider possibilities. I would miss the lightness and forwardness and electricity of that process unfolding. And I would miss not just all those things but also a secret that I discovered I could have. There was a moment when I said to myself, “I need not tell this to anyone, and it will not only be okay, in fact, it will be better that way.” I am not sure whether I would have missed selling off some bitcoin and ether to hedge against some peak jitters — but I probably would have missed litecoin bouncing up even further that it already has over the past few days.
On Sunday, August 27, 2017, I would have missed inverted conic pillars of mist rising from the pond surrounded by evergreens on top of the mountain that I jog up both sides of every morning when I’m in Los Angeles. I would have missed scoring another goal from the post — a garbage goal, no less! — during six on five practice at polo, and another one on an approach via assist. I have gotten better at simply going for it, and I think I now score more frequently than I ever have in life — including high school. Yeah so I also would have missed this ongoing purge at the house, which lasted for eight or nine unbroken hours after I got back from the pool. I am yet again reminded that life comprises a battle against the unrelenting accumulation of stuff. Did I ever even want those fucking rugs in the house? Those cheap ugly little tables? I would have missed all this extra room suddenly appearing — and floating through it less encumbered. But most of all I would have missed throwing myself into bed knowing that I would wake up sore — a phenomenon I have loved ever since gymnastics camp when I was ten or so because the aches and tightness and sheer weight of muscle exhaustion means that I have worked.
On Monday, August 28, 2017, I would have missed tempting emotions with When Harry Met Sally on the flight back to New York. Would it make me long for the City and jeopardize my resolve to give it up altogether? Would it remind me too much of Terrace, the actress in Paris with whom I reenacted the entire movie — especially the interlude with the elderly couple where the man rode up nine extra floors (nine extra floors) just to keep talking to his future wife — over and over, squealing with delight laced with darkness, back when we were both 16? Yes. Of course those memories would overcome me. But I was not expecting what topped it all off and stirred the nostalgia across the edge — just, you know, basically that whole part of being in my 20s and 30s and feeling so full of life and everything I’d learned so far, but still young enough to believe there was more and fall in love with a heart that could still break. I guess that’s what makes the story such a great New York movie, that it’s not even really about New York, but, rather, that moment, the two decades of life when everything peaks, which incidentally I was lucky enough to experience mostly in something approximating the right body. My heart is a marionette and Time is the puppeteer. Jesus. I’d also have missed treating myself to Hidden Figures (a movie I hadn’t known about), and the buoyancy of: Is it too real, or too fake, to discount? — that flows from having touched all my dreams. There is little left now but to open my soul to whatever is next. The only other instance of this feeling I can remember has been the period following my very first trial, when I served as co-counsel to a mentor whose disorganization was rivaled only by his body odor, and we won. Why am I so afraid of success that I want to run away? Perhaps because achievement in life requires maintenance — and, like every relationship I’ve ever had, the end always seems too close to go all in on — let alone risk everything — for. (Just like the crypto market right now — perched as it is, jittering atop all-time highs over $160B.) I would so miss adventure on the horizon, for the horizon goes in all directions, even within, and the one inside runs parallel to every one that lies with-out. At night, as I could not go to sleep for fear that these sensations would leave me, I would have missed this moment with My Dear College Friend:
On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, I would have missed Tweeting that the sex sequence in The Nix by Nathan Hill is perfection –
– and him responding that he was glad I liked it. (Which reminded me, of course, of how I would miss the gratitude of receiving periodic notes from people in various parts of the world whom my own art has touched — a phenomenon that has lent purpose to my life, I like to hope.) I would have missed strolling through Tompkins Square Park in a gentle drizzle –
– and then shedding a tear because it all just passes so goddamned quickly:
At the Baths, I would have missed the eye-opening experience of a guy who remained absolutely convinced — and would not hear otherwise — that “bitcoin will increase in profitability forever because its supply is unlimited,” the Persian complimenting my nipples, and youth and beauty in the form of two dark-featured men with mouth-watering physiques. The world was on fire. As soon as I stepped outside onto the street, I would have missed realizing that, since science will soon lengthen lifespans indefinitely, we are among the last generations for whom time will have this degree of poignancy and sheer impact. At my favorite Japanese restaurant across the street, I would have missed the lighting and ambience that they finally got right, and a waiter dashing across the room to rescue my bowl of scalding soup, which I had not realized I had perched too precariously on the cork placemat edge.
On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, I would have missed awakening empowered from a dream. At the Baths — they really are so central to my life in New York, aren’t they? — I would have missed taking control of a discussion about transgenders among a group of men in the sauna, and challenging one of them — he had blond hair and a nice body with that pale-skin-over-slightly-bulging-muscles-thing going on — who claimed I lived inside the bubble of Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. At which point I stood up, facing him topless and staring directly into those blue eyes of his, and asked, “Would you date a transsexual?” I would have missed the instant of silence in the room more than the decisive yet somehow still meek NO he uttered a few second later — but not more than I would have missed remarking that everything has only gotten worse with increased exposure in the media, hypocritical liberals, and people like him. I would so much have missed the personable, pudgy guy in the room who later said Thank You for acknowledging how contemporary culture has shoved gender identity down everyone’s throats. “We’re on the same page,” he said. Oh my gosh his smile when I asked him how was the trip to Italy that he took his mother on — which I remembered from the last time we spoke earlier in the summer. I would have missed sharing whatever knowledge of bitcoin I have, to the best of my ability, with a close friend who walked me home, and then sitting on the stoop talking until almost 11 — one of those true New York moments which reminds me of when I fell in love with My First Boyfriend on the stairs of that brownstone on 10th between Fifth and University, omg it was 23 years ago next month… And then my across-the-hall neighbor showed up looking all tall and sexy and end-of-the-summery. I would have missed him correcting me when I asked about that girl I’ve seen with him — “She’s not my girlfriend, exactly…” — and lingering longer than he needed. And I would have missed the glimmer in his eyes and the expansiveness of the sky over a spot where I have stood on a stair kissing a handful of men over the last decade.
On Thursday, August 31, 2017, I would have missed a day of the senses. On my way home from the gym, I took a detour through the park — something I would probably not have treated myself to, or even thought to do, had this project not reminded me of the preciousness of every second on earth. The lush green trees were abuzz with nature. I closed my eyes and slipped into a vast chamber of so many sounds — birds chirping, horns honking, children playing, people talking, an airplane, leaves rustling — all coalescing in one of the little corners of the world where I get to live. At the Baths — here we go again — after a discussion where everyone in the Russian Room started talking about bitcoin, and then more people showed up and wanted to discuss ether, I would have missed a guy friend squatting down in front of me, placing his palms on my knees, and asking me how is my personal life? I sheepishly admitted that bitcoin is pretty much my personal life for the time being — at least until I work on myself some more and get better. I know that writing every day is helping, but I want to improve even further before I open up to dating again. I’d prefer to attract the right kind of person, if anyone, at this point. Lemme dodge that black hole of a subject, okay: as I turned the corner toward home after dinner, I would have missed the euphoria of incense sweeping through the air from the plant and dream-catcher store on 10th Street, over which one of my blockchain friends briefly lived with his wife — who is also so supportive of me. Oh my God — I almost forgot. I would have missed Nathan Hill responding to me that he LOVED A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (the book that brought me back into my body for the first time since second grade, as I wrote in To Whom I Could Have Been: A True Love Story). Hanya is, so far, the only other author I’ve written to, and, like Nathan, she wrote me back, too. I would have missed this artistic communion, for it is all I have ever really wanted in life — possibly even, at least sometimes, more than love. I also would have missed a retweet by J.K. Rowling of a tweet by Susan Calman in response to someone shaming her for not using Twitter to campaign for same sex couples: “I’ve campaigned for LGBT equality for many years. Now I’d just like to dance.” Me too.
On Friday, September 1, 2017, I would have missed a feature in the New York Times about the 13th Street Repertory Theater (where I started volunteering as a stage hand in my first theater job 23 years ago this month) and the company’s 100-year-old denizen Edith O’Hara. When I first rolled in off the street entirely by chance, Edith said to me, “The 17-year-olds who have come to us have gone on to do very well.” I would have missed swinging by the shoe repair store around the corner from my apartment for a battery replacement in a watch that One of the Loves of My Life gave to me… and smiling inside at how the neighborhood still feels like a village where we get to just walk around for what we need. I ambled through the park with a bounce in my step. On the way to my recovery meeting, I would have missed taking 10th Street so I could pass by the grate where My Dear College Friend and I used to sit those 23 years ago, talking endlessly through the day and night:
And then I would have missed walking into a room to fellowship faces familiar from over the last decade or so — including a man who back in 2006 asked me to share my story, a nail-biting event which ended up being the first time I spoke about being transgender at a meeting in New York, only to learn as the years rolled on that getting to know me was a catalyst for many gay men in the fellowship to embrace transgender equality.
I would have missed bursting into tears upon gazing down at that anniversary chip because I remember, as if it were yesterday, when even 15 minutes seemed out of reach. And later, over dinner with the Healer after the Baths, I would have missed her observe: We all think we are human beings trying to have a spiritual experience, when in fact we are spiritual beings trying to have a human experience. She complimented my life and thereby helped me gain perspective on the incalculable scope of what I may be grateful for. And in this fashion I would have missed catching how, whereas in the past I’d have said I did not understand what she was saying — or should I say seeing, in me… because I feel like a failure, a nothing burger of a person, a waste… what I now said, instead, was that I did not understand because I see myself as normal. It was in that moment I began discovering how profoundly this project is changing me — for it is not just how I choose to react that has altered — but, rather, the underlying, instinctive reactions themselves. I am becoming a different person! Speaking of which, I don’t know whether I would have missed screaming at my phone screen, “Oh, just do it already!” when bitcoin was bumping up against $4980 — but it was fun anyway. All things considered, I would have missed how the moments that make up the story unfolding here have seized my life from inside.
On Saturday, September 2, 2017, I would have missed a loving note from my first boss in the theater where I worked after moving on from the 13th Street Repertory Theater. He said that he and his husband had just been thinking of me, and here I was, writing about memories we shared. Instead of waiting in the basement for the few minutes my laundry needed to finish drying, had I not been learning from this project, I might have missed venturing out into the backyard and appreciating the trees that have grown so much in the decade since I moved in:
On this day of days, I also would have missed seeing a movie that made me so glad that I’ve worked so hard to improve my sex life to the point where intimacy can be constructive, and, afterward, running into a man from recovery who lit up my heart at our meeting the day before.
On Sunday, September 3, 2017, I would have missed the tingling euphoria of chaos at 5Rhythms dance class, as the joy of movement swept through me and salved my brain. I would have missed gazing over during Stillness at two men in an embrace, dripping sweat into a five-foot wide puddle on the floor. I do so love — and am so lucky to be able — to exist among micro-societies where people can be themselves. I would have missed vacuuming my mattress and the crevices of my loft bed, and washing my mattress cover, because those chores are self-care — and they give the pleasure of physical activity on top of everything! Would I have missed all the men on the street staring at my nipples, which poked the static-charcoal-grey, light-fabric top that I wore? What a complex relationship I have to the dynamics of objectification-attraction-lust-interest between the sexes — as a member of one who was mistakenly born in the other. Also there is the age thing. Not to mention the range of respondees. Perhaps it’s not all over for me yet, after all. I probably want to believe I would have missed my old Sufi gathering more than I actually may have, if I’m being honest with myself. But need I be? Sometimes I’d just like to dance.
On Monday, September 4, 2017, I would have missed selling a little boatload of crypto, going for a 65-mile ride up to Nyack and back, and saying Goodbye to the most wonderful summer I’ve ever experienced — for the sole reason I decided it would be so. I am 40 years old and feel I have just begun learning to enjoy this precious gift called life.
And, because I can’t help myself, wouldn’t you know it: as I stood up on my bike to pedal beyond an intersection after a stoplight, I would have missed a man slowing his car adjacent to me so he could tell me I have a “beautiful back” — !!! (I was wearing a sports bra because the weather was just so.)
On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, I would have missed stumbling upon a distinction between mattering and importance: I matter, but am not more, or less, important than anyone else. No one is. I would have missed walking down the street I usually take to the subway and thereby straying from my customary route the courthouse where I ought to have been headed — and ending up on a street below Delancey that I almost never go down — where, all of a sudden, a young, probably early-20-something, man remarked, as he passed me on his bike, “Very pretty.” I liked seeing him look back, too. What would I have missed about it? The dopamine hit from a compliment? The jolt of interaction, laced with the possibility of the unknown? Mutual attraction? I suspect I would have missed wondering where the feeling came from more than the feeling itself, though the phenomena are interdependent. I would have missed releasing it all and flying into outer space at dance class, when mattering stopped mattering and everything turned to dark light.
On Wednesday, September 6, 2017, I would have missed treating a mentor to lunch at a vegetarian restaurant that he chose out of consideration for my tastes, and our open conversation — finally, after so many years, it’s like developing friendship over the course of adulthood with a parent — about so many things. He wanted to know all about bitcoin and the socio-economic philosophy undergirding cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger and decentralization technology, and on and on. I would have missed sharing what I have learned, and connecting with him, in between glances out the window to the rain falling on the streets. Can I say another thing also. Something I would really miss just generally is walking through the City along with everyone else while holding secrets inside; all the experiences that I want to keep from you, even now that we know each other so well.
On Thursday, September 7, 2017, I would have missed a lovely day in New York. I also would have missed seeing a series of friends at the Baths, really just one after the other after the other after the other, and somehow coming to understand more deeply how I am better off alone. A woman who is always very nice to me and likes all my stuff on Facebook used the male pronoun to refer to me for at least the second time since I have known her — which has been a while. Though she did say at one point that I was a “legend” because the sauna had been talking about crypto earlier in the evening and my name had come up in connection with “that woman” who does the law stuff or whatever. It remains true that, at heart, I will simply never be accepted by the vast majority of human beings for who I am. But that’s okay. I am stronger and sturdier because of it, and I may survive even stronger and sturdier as time goes on. I hate being transgender — absolutely hate it — but I would miss the insights on the true duplicity and horrors of humanity that I would otherwise be blind to if I were normal.
On Friday, September 8, 2017, I would have missed flying across the country and ending up on a little office tour of Coinbase by their in-house counsel whom I have gotten to know:
I would thus have missed a conversation with another lawyer passionate about crypto, and a view of FiDi buildings through the fog. And then I would have missed a law school board thing in Ghiradelli Square — where I had never been, thank God for places I have never been, there remains a worldful of them and they are reason alone to stay alive — and seeing various alumni I’ve gotten to know over the years. I would have missed answering their questions — a veritable river of curiosity — about bitcoin and all the rest. Like woah I would really have missed smiles of recognition from the chefs at my regular sushi joint near Union Square.
On Saturday, September 9, 2017, I would have missed one of my very favorite things in the world: waking up in San Francisco. I would have missed a run from Union Square out to the Presidio, where I explored a trail or two I’d never been on — once again I am reminded how much I have yet to discover in the places I have lived, I mean, where have I been all this time to have missed so many things right in front of me? I would miss finding out.
I also would have missed a conversation over lunch at a law school board meeting with a piercingly hot man about how much we both love New York, into which we both managed to weave the topic of sex. I would have missed catching his obsidian eyes from time to time and salivating ever so much from his black licorice skin that I longed to lick — how tantalizing, somehow, that I could only see his face and neck and hands and wrists, which were lightly covered with hair like nighttime. I would have missed him turning me on to the Russian Banya here in San Francisco, and the hope that he — recently divorced as of earlier this year — just might get in touch the next time he’s on the east coast. I would have missed saying, Oh what the Hell, and having that goddamn pumpernickel bagel with lox and cream cheese, and then realizing that I was within walking distance of the apartment where I briefly lived with the Latin Water Polo Player Accountant 17 years ago. Shit, the memory of looking out his living room window at the mist over 16th Street as we were messing around one morning!
I also would have missed discovering — was it there before and did I just never explore only a block-and-a-half away? — an alleyway covered in graffiti all the way from Valencia to Mission:
Would you believe that I would have missed dinner with Yet Another Love Of My Life (from New York), whom I used to love and wrote a chapter about in one of my books, and his wife — and the confidence into which I was taken. And Lord Almighty would I have missed the civilizing force of walking naked around the Banya amongst other naked women and men, the pleasure of human existence. What the guys’ penises and scrotums lost in mystique, they gained in something I would have missed and have every wish to enjoy without describing.
On Sunday, September 10, 2017, I would have missed waking up in San Francisco for the second morning in a row! How thrilling to work out on the 35th floor, with a close-up view of the skyline in FiDi and the bay on either side. I would have missed brunch with a high school friend and her husband — with whom I have become crypto chat buddies — and the realization during our conversation that I can nevertheless be very much alive despite being dead inside of a broken heart. I need not let being transgender — or any other deficiency or shortcoming — define the limitations of hope, and, more importantly, I can still derive meaning and learn from trying to be a better person. On the flight back to New York, I’d have missed watching Avatar and soaring through the heights of human creativity, archetypes, beauty and… that story of boy-meets-girl that never gets old.
On Monday, September 11, 2017, I would have missed determining that, if the only fundamental difference of having more money is worrying less, I can already get started. I would have missed looking at, and touching, my paintings of One of the Loves Of My Life and me when we fell in love in Mexico eight years ago. I also would have missed smiling over the post-verdict picture of me with the client whose acquittal I secured last month. I can live off memories for some time yet, I think. At Whole Foods, I would have missed a pallid, long-haired cashier recognizing me as a long-time East Villager and striking up a conversation about our neighborhood. Shortly after, at the Baths, I would have missed a guy who writes for The New Yorker remembering something I guess I said to him in the sauna years ago: “In New York I miss the love, but in Los Angeles I missed getting fucked.” Reminder: just as others can have a lasting impression on me, so too can I have one on others. I so long to be a good person — someone other people want to be around.
On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, I would have missed arguing a case in the United States Court of Appeals sixteen years to the day after the client was filmed in a cave in the mountains of Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden. A flock of doves — at least I am going to believe they were doves, and not pigeons — flew overhead as I walked home down East Broadway. I would have missed a Tinder exchange — my renewed effort at getting myself back out into the dating world — that just totally lit me up inside:
I likewise would have missed wandering about the Africa and Oceania rooms at the Met, where I sometimes go when I feel confused.
As always, they made me feel better — but this time they did not, at least immediately, help me answer my questions about where I want to go, and what I want to do, next. On the one hand, they reminded me that I need not necessarily move to another continent and start all over again — I can start by studying and visiting. But, on the other, they did remind me that so much of what I spend my time on is so very ephemeral. Also I would have missed a 70-something attorney coming up to me at a lawyer event to congratulate me — on what I initially thought was the trial victory in Los Angeles last month, but which turned out to be my argument in the Circuit. Apparently, his associate was in the audience and returned to the office talking about my performance — going to show, once again, that we never know whom we might be making an impression on at any given moment. At least I don’t. I would have missed messaging with a scruffy genius guy I interacted with on Tinder in San Francisco a year ago, who was randomly in New York. After all this time and back and forth, I asked if he could meet in Union Square — and ten minutes later we had hugged hello and were on our way to sushi. I would have missed talking about crypto with him and a couple in the Russian Room at the Baths later on. No, actually, I wouldn’t have missed talking with the couple — but I would have missed the amusement their enthusiasm provided. Am I already jaded?
On Wednesday, September 14, 2017, I would have missed Yuval Hariri throwing it down in Sapiens:
I also would have missed standing up for myself in a Tinder situation:
I would have missed some continuing legal education in the restored library at 40 Foley Square — which houses the United States Courthouse for the Second Circuit and part of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York — where: (a) it became clearer than ever that the judiciary really have no grasp of financial markets and what actually happens in the sector, and (b) I fondly remembered a dozen years ago, when I stalked those shelves researching an arcane question of law on service of process in Indonesia. And also I would have missed trying a new sushi concoction after the Baths — and, you know what, fucking enjoying those little balls of spicy tuna on top to all hell.
On Thursday, September 15, 2017, I would have missed a tweet from astronaut Randy Bresnik that took me right back to that first overnight train ride up the Nile when I was 19 years old:
I still remember the chicken dinner — replete with an Egyptianized gravy over mashed potatoes which tasted so good — that the train car attendant so graciously served me after we departed Cairo. I had treated myself to second class and just felt all grown up as I reclined my seat to fall asleep. On my way to the Baths, I would have missed complimenting the man with a little cart on First Avenue just south of Sixth Street — whom I have bought fruit from for years — on the pleasant color of his pink plaid shirt… and his smile and Thank You. And then, once I reached the Baths, I would have missed running into a famous person whose memoir really helped when I started transitioning at the beginning of the millennium. Whenever I see her, I remember how we corresponded for a decade by e-mail until one night I looked to my side in the Russian Room and there she was. It was the same evening I gave a book talk at the Center about my own memoir and an audience member turned out — to the surprise of us both — to be someone I once went to Ireland with in college. He is famous now, as well. I would not have missed watching the crypto markets continue to tumble, but I would have missed the comfort of doing so mostly from what felt like the outside — wrapped in a thin layer of dollars to ward off the elements.
On Friday, September 15, 2017, I would have missed a very full work day of filing a legal memo and running between jail (twice) and a meeting at the United States Attorney’s Office — the halls of which I was once permitted to roam (alone) to retrieve an umbrella. (That sure felt weird.) I would very much have missed downtown Brooklyn bursting at the seams with a street fair: the liveliness and cultural diversity I might think I need a passport for are really only a subway ride away. I would very much have missed having dinner at La Lanterna — one of my favorite places in the world and, I think, virtually the only regular spot from the New York of my youth that remains — with a friend from college I have not seen in 20 years. He is, at heart, just as I remember him: I felt the same warmth that he always gave me when I was living as a gay male, and his response to everything was simply a bit of surprise upon learning that I had always wanted to be a lawyer. I would miss being at the point in life where so many moments are about sharing memories with other people of good old times — some before the Internet transformed human experience for the rest of history. And woah I totally would have missed bitcoin losing like 25% of its value, dropping below $3,000, and then regaining it all back in like minutes, over the course of a rather epic 36 hours or so. I am excited to see what, if anything, happens with the tens of thousands of ripples I bought.
On Saturday, September 16, 2017, I would have missed a flight to LAX bursting with life: a young man named Matthew with curly hair and sunglasses flirted with me and ate the handful of peanuts I gave him, and I literally LOLed several times at the movie Chips. The absurdity of it all made me adore LA again. I also would have missed sobbing from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. What gets me every time is how the characters know they are limited to the brief period they get to “meet in the middle” of life — a phenomenon that I have, really, experienced in all my love affairs all over the world. We are granted only a moment in which to touch beauty — and it is that very brevity, I believe, that renders the world. This passage from Benjamin’s letter to his daughter is one among my favorite quotes, and I have carried it in my wallet all these years: “[T]here are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” (Remember the Met?)
On Sunday, September 17, 2017, I would have missed a man coming up to me while I was finishing a meal at the Indian vegetarian on Sunset. We had caught each other’s gaze when I was filling up a cup of water — but I had not noticed him otherwise. He apologized for looking at me the whole time, explaining that he felt like he knew me from somewhere. Happiness overflowed me because it stands to reason that, if it never occurred to me that a man was staring at me all through dinner, then it stands to reason that a man might be attracted to me from time to time — even going so far as to express himself somehow — and I just have yet to practice realizing it. (Remember the Circuit?)
On Monday, September 18, 2017, I would have missed a day that began with precipitation rising from my body like steam on my morning run through the mountains and concluded beneath a Palestinian guy from Tinder from like three years ago. There is nothing like a man’s touch, and I can’t think of anything sexier than eye contact while he was eating me out — although all the cum on my breasts at the end was rather stirring. Along the way I would have missed stumbling upon the proposition that everything goes better when I see love as air, walking another client out of the courthouse after sentencing, witnessing two major car accidents and welling up with jitters of gratitude that I somehow escaped harm’s way just feet away, and bouncing around in euphoria at the trampoline park:
Also, I would have missed my heart warming up to the brim when the parking guy and the locker room attendant at the Club both greeted me with versions of “Hey there, miss! Where have you been?!” I exist.
On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, I would have missed a quiet, overcast day on which I took an afternoon nap. I would also have missed dipping into Max Tegmark’s new book Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence because most of the world is totally full of shit. You can propound almost any nonsense whatsoever, and, if people buy into it, you’re golden — and untouchable. The extent of this intellectual and ethical corruption is inconceivable, and awe-inspiring in its vastness, power and evil majesty. I would have missed wondering why populism isn’t called by its true name — ignorance — not to mention why truth has come to matter so little. I can imagine no more liberating a concept that the obviation of morality. At around 11:30 pm, I would have missed passing in and out of a dream state, and lucid-dreaming my way to victory over a setback because I wanted a different ending.
On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, I would have missed a walk around Echo Park Lake in the afternoon. If I were to make a list of things I want to do before I die, making money would not be among them.
Oh hey — I would also have missed a first date with the Handsome Graffiti Remover, which involved wandering in and out of galleries downtown and checking out graffiti art.
And as for making out behind a fake bookshelf that opens onto a hidden stairway to a secret room — I would have missed that moment very much.
On Thursday, September 21, 2017, I would have missed a second date with the Handsome Graffiti Remover, and the excitement of discovering our common interests in physics and technology over a meal at Whole Foods. I would have missed his eyes light up as we discussed the singularity and I shared what I know about crypto and blockchain. We floated on air together over live jazz at the Club, and texted nice things to each other before bed. And he sent this image of a piece that he came across in his work:
To be continued…
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