Ten Years Ago This Summer

The photos and prose here were uncovered in an old project of mine – A Man of Mode – that I wrote ten years ago, right after I met Andy. Not to portray myself as psychic, but it’s amazing how much of it has come true in the ensuing decade since it was written:


August 2000: At the end of the summer I sit on the back terrace of my parents’ house. The sky is that brilliant blue which only comes with the arrival of fall, and the sun is intensely bright through the crisp, cool air. A breeze rustles the leaves and the pool glistens with tiny waves.

The gardens are wildly overgrown, but the flowers of the perennial bed are rich and vibrant ~ the startling golden-yellow of the black-eyed Susans, the light magenta of the purple coneflower, and the orange-red shadings of the gloriosa daisy. The fading blue globes of echinops and the pastel palette of the malva are the only subtle bloomers now. It is almost time for the gardens to go to sleep. In a few weeks I shall return to plant the spring bulbs and say good-night for another season. All the rain has fortified the plants and next year looks to be brighter and better. I breathe this sunny air and feel calm. The chaos has come to a close, the curtain contentedly descended. A monarch butterfly alights upon a bush by the pool, its wings gently undulating and reflecting spotted glory. I am alone in the sublime beauty, but my heart does not ache.

Fragmented visages of the future soar before me as the butterly flutters through the forest and disappears. I can see Andy with me ~ working in the garden I think ~ as a friend or lover, I cannot tell and it does not matter. Of course Suzie is there and she is making me laugh. My parents ~ older and funnier ~ wiser and accepting ~ are at holiday dinners and summer vacations. I can see my brother and his wife and their children ~ my nieces and nephews ~ and these kids like me. To them I am Uncle Al ~ the crazy fun guy in the family who gives the best birthday and Christmas presents. I make them laugh and know that they won’t let me die alone. That old fear has been erased ~ replaced by the sweet realization that I am somebody to be loved, and always have been. Why has love been so easy to give and so difficult to receive?

I feel the transient nature of the moment, but not the panic that customarily accompanies the feeling. There is no longer the need for a photo shoot or other lasting evidence ~ I take the beauty into my soul and it is all I need. A dragonfly darts about the pool, skimming itself across the water and crackling light off its translucent wings. No one sees this but me, and I smile a smile which no one will ever witness.


In some ways, this is the life I have crafted for myself and Andy, and though it hasn’t always unfolded in the exact way we may have envisioned it, everything that’s happened was meant to be, and we’re both pretty lucky. I can’t wait to see where the next ten years take us together.

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