In suburban Miami the mockingbirds don’t wait until sunrise to chirp. When the remains of the thick night air linger between 5:30 and 6 a.m., the blasted things are trilling in palm and olive trees, addled. On the rare occasions I skip my morning walks I’m listless and cranky. In this respect nothing has changed since last Pride.
Except everything has. We’re vaccinated but frightened of risk, thanks to Delta. We take trips, our first since March 2020, and marvel at how swiftly our bodies respond to a tear in the fabric of routine: a time difference no later than an hour feels like taking the Concorde to Singapore. And it’s Pride weekend in South Florida at a moment when sixteen months of some kind of isolation has eroded my relationship to my own body and slackened my relations with other men. Trying too hard. Not trying enough. Feigning indifference. Succumbing to it. A flat EKG reading.
In a piece I wrote for last year’s Pride called “Queer in the Age of Quarantine,” I wondered how three months of Zoom happy hours (remember those? I don’t want to.) would change us: “Many of us will emerge from our homes eager to perform this freedom but may realize to what degree the manner of the coquette and the avidity of a bar queen look like another era’s flotsam.” Yeah, well. Optimism depends on verbal qualifiers. To please others is to please oneself; when the instinct for the former slackens, the latter shrivels into a species of narcissism.
I have friends who’ve returned to hookup apps. I’m not there yet despite a couple tentative steps toward uh fulfillment during those softly warm days in May, June, and early July. Here’s hoping I screw my courage to the sticking place.