In the late 1990s, Ray and I lived on Baker Street in the Marina area of San Francisco, directly across from the Palace of Fine Arts.
The beautifully crafted, classical colonnade was the last of the remaining buildings from the 1915 Panama-Pacific World Exposition hosted by the city after the devastating earthquake of 1906. You’ll often see it as the background of a TV commercial or magazine ad.
We’ve never been able to afford anything we wanted, but we always really wanted and fully enjoyed the houses and apartments we could afford to buy or rent in Boston, Gloucester, Atlanta, New York, Provincetown, Naples, the Adirondacks, Fort Lauderdale, and Wilton Manors. I have truly wonderful memories of our time in each location, with each different group of neighbors, friends, and shopkeepers.
While watching with joy the movie, “Bros,” we got excited when the shot taken of the couple on the beach in Provincetown was right next to the home we fully enjoyed every summer for sixteen years. When my heart gets tugged, as it does each time I see a scene or photo from our old neighborhoods in cities around the country, I start torturing myself with thoughts, such as, “Why did we sell that place? I loved our time there. Remember all of the Memorial Day cookouts we hosted for the neighborhood? Do you remember me coming back in from fishing with a big striped bass that you cleaned on the lawn?
Then I remind myself, “If you hadn’t sold, you never would have bought the dreamlike place on Tupper Lake, and brought folks there together for monthly potluck game nights. And if you hadn’t sold that place, you’d not now be in Wilton Manors tending to your most favorite garden, both of you saying it’s your most favorite house.”
No one can take away from us the great memories we have of times spent with family and friends in the places we’ve lived in the past, and we can’t go back to those places with the expectation of recreating the same experiences. We had our turn in those cities and in those houses, and we made the most of each opportunity there. It’s now someone else’s turn to enjoy the house and the city, and it’s our turn to thoroughly enjoy our lives today in the place we live, with the friends and family we still have, and those we will make.
Life requires that we constantly let go, let go, let go, and that we participate in the re-creation of love with all that surrounds us. Love from the past is not lost, it just matures as it flows forward through us more freely, with more awareness and gratitude.
Brian McNaught has been a leading educator on LGBTQ issues globally since 1974. He has made his many books and DVDs available for free at Brian-McNaught.com. The New York Times named him “The Godfather of gay diversity training.” Brian has a weekly YouTube/FaceBook podcast called, “Are You Happy Without the Movie?” and McNaught's latest book, “On Being Gay and Gray: Our Stories, Gifts, and the Meaning of Our Lives” is available now on Amazon for $14.99.