The Black Dog is creeping around my door again. Those of you who have had visits from the Black Dog know whereof I speak. Those of you who don't, look up Winston Churchill.
It is a Saturday night. For many years I used to always go out on a Saturday night. I lived in Center City Philadelphia and the Westbury Bar and later the 247 Bar was my watering hole of choice. The Irish have their pubs, the religious flock have their church functions. I, as a gay man had gay bars.
When I was 37 years old (31 years ago), I gave up on gay bars. It was the classic case of looking for love in all the wrong places. I moved out of the city and into the country on 6.8 acres of wooded hillside land.
My longtime partner and I enjoyed a domestic lifestyle with our three Pomeranian dogs for over twenty five years on that wooded hillside in East Brandywine Township, Chester Country, Pennsylvania.
Then came a time when the ever escalating rise in taxes forced us to move out of Pennsylvania to the more tax friendly state of Delaware. I always wanted to live near the water so here was my chance.
In April of 2006 built a house in Delaware, just a few miles up the road from the increasingly popular gay resort of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, also known as "Gayberry."
We put our house up for sale in Pennsylvania expecting a quick sale. It was just the beginning of the housing crises. We almost faced financial ruin after a combination of me pricing our house too high and unscrupulous buyers seeking to take advantage of our vulnerable position when they found out we had we were paying for two mortgages.
We survived that crises. It was probably the worst thing I ever faced in my life short of being informed that I had a terminal illness.
During the last four years we have settled in quite nicely in our neighborhood. We have made friends, mostly straight. We have made a few gay friends (who we appreciate very much) but most of the gay crowd down here is very clannish. It's all about who you are and what do you do for a living. If it is not that then someone is coming on to me (yes, even at my age.)
So, friends are far and few in between. I have been fortunate in that I have retained some friends from my youth (grade school and high school.) I value their friendship dearly.
I can usually keep the Black Dog at bay by keeping busy. I have a lot of interests. I work part time. I garden. I write a blog. I research my family genealogy. I read. I take pictures. I cook. But every now and then a great sadness creeps up on me. Sometimes I can identify the cause of this sadness. Sometimes I cannot.
It is not a sadness for myself. It is a sadness for those who have gone out of my life. For those who have died. The five Pomeranian dogs we have owned during our time together: Hamburger, Sparky, Horace, T and Babydoll. I miss them terribly, especially the last three and especially Horace. Horace was the one dog in my life who chose me. We were buddies.
Me and my buddy Horace, near the end
Then there are the people. I will not mention them at this time but they are many. Those who I outlived. I remember something my grandfather once said when he was 86 years old. He told me "All my friends have died. I have no friends left." My grandfather died a year later. His heart stopped.
I look back over my life's landscape and note with increasing frequency that many of my friends have died. I'm only 68 years old. I have close to 20 years to go until I reach my grandfather's age when he made his observation about friends. I wonder how I will do. Maybe this is the cause of my visit from the Black Dog tonight.