Just after the lights went out, and before my cellphone service died, my sister called me. "This is just like that TV show Revolution," she said. "You know, the one where there's a worldwide blackout." I knew exactly what she meant. And though the world didn't go dark, my life did. Well, that's a bit melodramatic, but it certainly changed. I know the powers that be were worried about a potential blackout, but I wasn't, really. So, yup, I was flashlight-less except for the teeny-tiny keychain flashlight that my friend Gianluca gave me when Hurricane Irene blew in last year. I kept that flashlight just in case.
Thank God I did. That tiny flashlight got me through the night and the next day, when my friend Mo gave me her favorite flashlight, a cellphone charge and some treats to get me through the day. I'll never laugh at Gianluca's overpreparedness again, because the next morning I was listening to his battery-operated radio while scarfing down brie and crackers along with some delicious Italian salami. (Up until that point I had been an "almost" vegetarian for years, which in my world means I eat fish, chicken and turkey.)
Marcelo, my friendly neighborhood antique dealer and owner of the Lively Set, charged my phone in various cars on Bedford Street with the help of our neighbors, some of whom I got to know even better. Together we were all just trying to get through the blackout.
Later on two of "my gays" and I wandered the streets looking for a hotspot where we could get cellphone reception, which ended up being on the pier at the end of Christopher Street, just about in the river. Word on the street was that you could also find a "reception" sweet spot at the top of the stairs at the subway station near Sheridan Square, and I did.
Sandy, who was clearly a really bad time, transformed me into a cracked-out techno junkie looking to score a signal so that I could send a text and maybe, just maybe, if I was really lucky, get some information about what was going on. In the end I resorted to the old-school payphone on the corner, grateful that it still worked. During one call my sister told me about the devastation in Staten Island, the hometown I couldn't wait to escape in my teens. It broke my heart.
Thursday night I found myself wandering the dark West Village streets with Greg and Marie, the cutest chihuahua in Chelsea, and we ended up at a blackout barbeque on the corner of Jane and Hudson Streets, given by some really special folks. The veggie burger they grilled up for me, complete with the fixins, was delicious.
That first night, when I came home way after dark, my super told me that Harry "the plumber" had come by to check on me (my sister had called him), worried about me. Then I started to think, "I'm living my own gay revolution." You see, up until five years ago, more or less, I had no use for men (except for Harry the plumber and my nephew), and though it sounds awful, it's the truth. I lived in a world of women, gay and straight, with a few bisexuals tossed into the mix. And then it all changed. It's not all that unusual in the gay community to find the men with the men, and the women with the women, but I do think, having been at both ends of this dynamic, that it's one that really limits us, socially, culturally and intellectually.
The demographics of my friendships changed almost without my realizing it, coming with a decision to be more open. If someone had told me a decade ago that this was going to happen, I would have told them that they were full-on crazy, but time has proven me wrong and them right.
A few years ago my friend Andrew, who rode his bike over to check on me after Sandy, threw me a birthday party. I hadn't had one since I was 8 or 9, due to scars from a childhood birthday party gone wrong that had never really healed. But Andrew pushed and prodded until I gave in. When I looked around the party, at least half the people there -- chatting, having fun and eating a couple of really scrumptious cakes -- were men: my gays. I know that calling them "my gays" sounds possessive, but that's how I feel. At the party a friend who has known me forever turned to me with surprise clearly etched on her face and said, "Remember when you only knew women?" I did. That was a profound -- and odd -- moment for me, one that made me think just how much I had changed. And, frankly, I was glad I had.
Clearly this trend has continued. So in the midst of wandering the streets of the West Village and Chelsea, looking for a hot cup of java, blackout-appropriate food, an outlet to charge my phone and the ever-elusive cellphone hotspot, I was once again grateful for all the men in my life, gay and straight alike. Because these days I even have some straight "boyfriends," too. Go figure.