Wow, all these comments yesterday! I will have to write about gay bars more often! Thanks, everyone, for weighing in.
George Honduras, whoever you are, your comments are so incisive!
I have to say this: During the last week, while I was out here in California, the comments people were nice enough to send me reminded me that I was not alone. This book is a very big and frightening project and this week was not all the fun and games that my blog suggested it was. But it relaxed me to write what I did, and it was such a comfort to know that people were going through this experience along with me.
Leonard Pennario and I did not get quite to the end of the chapters I had sketched out, but we got through 1948, which is a pretty good accomplishment because his life has been very eventful. I read it to him out loud and he offers comments, is the way we do it. He has been very generous in his praise of what I have done and I am more honored than I can say. "This is beautifully written," he told me today. I thought I would die with happiness.
As I was reading the part about his debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic -- he was 19 -- I started getting choked up, because I was thinking: when I am very old, I will be remembering this. I will remember how I sat with the great pianist Leonard Pennario and went through this exhausting, nerveracking, marvelous experience of giving him my version of his life. I have often thought that it must be stressful to be written about. It must be is as if someone is holding a mirror up to you, and maybe it reflects you at weird angles, in ways you don't expect. But it is stressful for the writer, too. I wrote some very personal things about Leonard, and about our conversations and experiences last winter. I was not sure how he would take them.
Not to get spiritual on everyone but last fall, when I met Leonard, I just felt called to do this. I just knew it was something I was going to do. I think we all have to be ready for this kind of thing. It is a mystery why it happens, but it is wonderful when it does.
Speaking of mysteries, one mystery I am contemplating now, as I head back to Buffalo, is...
Why do I pack so many things I don't need?
You wouldn't believe what I brought and never used. Big, bulky sneakers. (When I walked, I walked on the beach, so I went barefoot.) A bathing suit. (I bought a new one, my first day here.) Two skirts and two tops I never wore. A pair of black sandals I never wore -- I just wore the same old sandals, over and over. A jacket. Didn't need that. A black sweater. A black tank top. Black anything. For heaven's sake, it's 90 degrees here. What was I thinking?
When I come back to California in a couple of weeks, I'm traveling light.