I left the theater with Brad and we went to a sad neighborhood gay bar on the other side of P street across Dupont Circle. The crowd there was mixed; boys and dykes, black and white, young(ish) and old, military and civilian. The only thing everyone had in common was that they were freaks. Well, we were there among them so I said "God Bless the Freaks" including Brad and me in the expanse of my toast. In order not to get too depressed I resolved to see my fellow freaks, equally listless and nervous, expectant and hopeless, through A's eyes. There was one couple that caught that eye; a man who could have been straight, with a military haircut and a perfectly ordinary tattoo, cradling a tiny person in his arms. This person had the same military cut and Brad and I amused ourselves by trying to guess the nature of their relationship. Because this person was of a permanently indefinite gender. Neither of us could make up our mind; in one moment she seemed a perfectly butch little lesbian, and in the next he appeared a frighteningly feminine petite gay man. One thing was clear, they were madly in love, the way couples are when it is obvious they were made solely and only for each other. There were others there, too, including the bartender, who existed on the very margin of gender identity. I felt that A would approve of this confusion, even while his refined aesthetic sense would be assaulted. Instead of pretty men dressed as beautiful women lip-synching ballads on the balcony stage, there were bad American Idol wannabes sawing through karaoke. When one particularly talent-free young black man began a heartfelt rendition of "She's Having my Baby" we fled. Gender confusion is one thing; but the aping of straight marital conventions in a gay bar is never appropriate.
I left Brad with an embrace and traveled back home along P Street. By the time I hit the circle I wanted company; a miracle, the lights in Kramer books were on, it was open after midnite! I wandered the shelves searching for a book that A wrote he had read while filming "Mala Educacion" but I couldn't remember the title or author. (It is "An Unfortunate Woman" by Richard Brautigan, and I returned this morning to get it, after learning that this bookstore opened again at 7:30 am, how unexpectedly civilized of DC.)
I left the bookstore and walked home, something lifting in my heart, as light and free and young as the flag of a new country. I spoke to my heart then. I can't recall the words but in any case they were meant for that moment alone and are private even to memory. I do remember repeating the phrase:
"something in me tonight"
followed by a litany of expressions of freedom. I looked at the streetlights reflected in the streets wet with melting snow and suddenly felt
in a way that usually only happens when I travel abroad alone. The week I spent in Paris alone, for instance, seldom speaking except in bad French to waiters and bartenders, submerged in silence and thought. Outside of my customary existence and aware that I am perfectly free. And last night I suddenly knew; I am not bound. Not by this job at Vogue. Not by whether I stay in DC or return to NY. Not by my senses or the actions of this body. Only by my thoughts. Only my mind has the power to bind me and only my mind has the power to set me free.
Suddenly I wanted to stay up all night with this newfound friend, the Self that reconginzes it cannot be confined within the walls of a garden it has outgrown. I didn't: I went home and to bed. What would I have discovered about myself if I had kept that date?