Monday, November 24, 2014

Moments and Times

Each of us has indelible memories of events in our life which stand apart from all the others, and which shape and mold not only how we view the world, but who we are as individual human beings.

I was thinking today of the moments and times in my life that I consider to have had the deepest and most lasting effects on me. In my mind's eye, I became like a gold miner in a rushing stream, swishing memories around in a mental sieve, and carefully picking out the ones which remain. I hope you won't mind my sharing some of them with you. And while they are indeed mine and not yours, I hope you might see why I chose them.
1) Hearing, while eating dinner with my folks when I was around four or five, the ringing of the bell on my tricycle, which I'd left on the sidewalk, realizing someone was stealing it, and my father—who had not heard the bell—refusing to allow me to leave the table to go save it. I'm sorry to say I think it negatively affected my entire relationship with him for most of the rest of his life.

2) Being asked by a stranger, at around the age of five, why I was singing Christmas carols in July. For some reason I was humiliated and I look on it as the moment when my tendency toward shyness turned to stone and put a wall between me and being able to express my emotions freely.

3) Attending the funeral of my beloved Uncle Buck in 1953. I had never before experienced such wrenching, unbearable grief.

4) As a Naval Aviation Cadet drinking beer with a NavCad friend and eating pizza at a little bar off Pensacola Beach while the Everly Brothers' "Unchained Melody" played on the jukebox.

5) Soaring alone in a huge valley surrounded by clouds, doing acrobatics and looking down at the green patchwork quilt of the earth far below.

6) Diving off a quay in Cannes into the crystal-clear Mediterranean with Marc, Michele, Gunter, and Joachim as part—though I did not realize it until later—of one of the happiest and most memorable weeks of my life.

7) Driving with my then-partner (the word "lover" has fallen out of fashion in the gay community, I fear) Norm back to Chicago from my parents' cottage in my new, bright red Ford Sprint convertible, watching from the corner of my eye as Norm studiously rummaged through a large bag of potato chips, finally pulling out the perfect chip, and handing it to me.

8) Being awakened at 6:15 on February 9, 1970, by the deep, ominous and absolutely unmistakable rumbling of an approaching earthquake.

9) Driving my mother back to the hospital from which she had just been released earlier in the day, after subsequently suffering a minor stroke which left her only able to point to things and say "What's that?" I was in anguish, and she reached over and patted my hand. I still cry when I think of that.

10) Leaving the theater after viewing Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake for the ninth time and suddenly realizing that my obsession with it was that, to my mind, I was the Prince and Ray, the love of my life, was the Swan—goodness and sweetness and kindness when sober, and incomprehensibly cruel when under the influence of alcohol, which eventually killed him.

11) The true sense of shock and sadness I experience every single time I look into a mirror or accidentally see myself in a reflective surface.

These are only a few of the many, many memorable moments of just one life out of billions. I know you have your own, and I hope you join me in the appreciation—hard though that word is to use with some experiences and memories—of each and every one of them. Gather all of yours together, then step back to get a better perspective, and what you see

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

You've got the full range of memories listed, D. I got something out of each and every one of them; sad, tragic, and happy alike. My hope, though, is that you will still add to that list. Maybe a couple more happy ones. Those are always welcome additions.

You're a man outside his time now, but there's still beauty to be found.

Helena said...

This is a very moving blog post. Each of those memories could be the basis of a story or book, there's so much encapsulated within them. Thank you for sharing.

Dorien Grey said...

And thank you, Helena, for taking the time to read it! A writer is nothing without readers!