The thing about summer is that with sunset comes a swelling of hushed expectation. This direct correlation between dusk and hope is a peculiarly summery phenomenon; at no other time of year does the setting of the sun create a palpable sense that at any moment, something wonderful might occur.
This feeling was born for me in adolescence. I don’t remember being a kid in summer and at night feeling much more than the physical smoothie of tiredness, happiness and wish that it would be morning. Only the sprouting of strange hairs and even stranger desires made twilight potentially magic. There was, with adolescence, a new and profoundly erotic romance to dusk. It was like I could suddenly feel an entrance to a magical realm where fairies would run amok doing unutterable and mostly unconceivable acts to one another with unabashed joy. Maybe Shakespeare had it right; midsummer makes love-besotted asses of us all.
I’m looking at my life with most likely more than half of it gone. It’s a strange place, this interstitial space between youth and decrepitude. I don’t feel my age; I suppose I don’t look it. In my head, which is where I live most of the time, I oscillate in age. One moment I feel like I did when I was 22, another I’m 13, still another I’ve telescoped to a chronologically appropriate 45. On the inside, I’m like Alice in the drawing room, shooting up and down in interior size, but often without the aid of biscuits or elixirs, though I wouldn’t rule them out.
And yet, however constantly shifting the internal landscape, summertime’s sense of nightfall wonderment lingers. There could be something, it feels, something so astounding I can’t quite make it out sitting there, right there, just beyond, just next to that firefly or that one or the one over there, if only I could be quick enough to grasp it.
There have been a handful of times when the wonderment has been requited. One was at a camp dance with Adam Fell; we met fortuitously and flirted with the white-hot intensity of stars on the verge of supernova. Another singular bunch happened repeatedly with Donny Barber; we would come together under the velvet fall of night, and unspeaking, solder our mouths together; his kisses invariably tasted like tobacco and beer. There was the hot, pulsating night that my seduction of Marta became inevitable. Once, on Summer Solstice, about twenty-five years ago, I met a detestable rich boy who later that night taught me to orgasm during sex; I disliked the boy, but I loved fucking him. Another time, I met a boyfriend at an Oscar Wilde play; dressed in a friend’s white linen suit, my hair plastered to my head, I looked like a boy; we walked home hand-in-hand, and a some guys yelled out anti-gay epithets and we laughed because we could.
More recently, there was the first date with Donny, my X, when we walked the promenade on the Hudson; he told me about the engineering of jet planes, and I watched his pervert’s mouth with avidity. There was another night too, a comedy of errors, early in Donny’s and my dating history, a night of wandering around Riverside park, missing one another by minutes, and a roller skating guy who acted like Hermes and brought a message from me to Donny.
My magic revolves around others; my magic revolves around love. That something glowing and effulgent and corporeal; that something just outside of my fingertips and on those slender occasions when I can touch it, that something so pleasurable it makes me will myself from exploding. All those years later, all this time and all this experience, all those days beginning and ending, all those seasons rolling off one another like words from my tongue, all that everything, and still the crepuscular wonder remains, that hope, that wish, that near dusky touch of something waiting, something astounding.