Just this morning I asked a friend to listen to me for a time, uninterrupted. I needed to feel some things that have been rumbling within for weeks. We’ve been friends for about 25 years. We’ve been listening to each other regularly, taking turns as each other’s peer counselor for a decade or more. I tell him things that are known by most people in my life, but I share them with him with feeling.
Today, it was aging, isolation, generosity, decisions, confusion, resignation. My ten minutes was mostly about the lack of fairness in the world. Then, when I got that out of my system, I rejoiced in the rest of my life – the bigger part, actually. The first thing I noticed was how I got to spend a few spectacular days with two guys and their 11-month old boy.
The minutes I talked with my friend launched a day reminiscing about men in my life. It’s funny how I usually think of the generous, kind, funny, smart women I know. I call them, have lunch, take walks with them, and laugh. But much less, the men. So, I have decided to end my year, naming the generous, kind, funny, smart men I know. The ones with whom I take walks, listen to jazz, laugh, cry, plan, and work.
There is a nucleus of guys with whom I have entrusted my life. They make medical decisions with me, come to the emergency room with me, and help plan where I will live next. They know my finances and where I will bequeath my belongings. They bring me into their homes, share their families, and show me their struggles and joys. Kurt, Josh, Jay, Jason, Patrick, Rudy – these men have me.
More still know me and love me and show it. Frank (25+ years), Gatlin (two years), Mike (20 years), Jesse (three years), Gregg (35+ years), Jim (40 years), Bill (20+ years), Pete (40+ years), Ray (10 years), David (15 years), Ronnie (10 years), Thomas (six years), Leonard (25 years) – are intimates, those whom I know can hear what I need to say.
But, there’s also Ed, Erich, Jazzy, Anthony, Jacob, Fran, Patrick, Christopher, Hector, Gerald, Everett, Brett, Michael, Zen, Andy, Jose, Jamaal, Broderick, Erik, Adam, Carmen, Todd, Steve, Jonathan, Paul, James, Cheyne, Weston, Charlie, Kevin, Keaton, Joe, and many more. Young adults, middle-aged, and old men. Black, brown, and white men. Straight and queer men. Fine, fine, fine friends.
Chanukah reminds us to re-dedicate ourselves. This year, I made a note to a personal Chanukah to generosity, friendship, and love. As the decade closes, I extend that Chanukah – with gratitude – to men.