When I was in third grade my teacher asked our class to answer the following question for a writing assignment: if you could be any age, what age would you choose to be and why? After all was written and graded, a quick survey of my classmates’ responses revealed their ideal ages to fall somewhere between 16 and 18. The practical kids chose 16 so they could drive while the cool kids picked 18 so they could drink. I on the other hand, who has always liked to stand out in a crowd, chose to be 33.
I can remember sitting in on my parent-teacher conference later that year, with my mother and sister at my side, while my teacher showed them my well-printed response. “I would like to be 33 years old, because by that time my broken nose will be fixed and I will have a wife, two kids, a dog and a house.” Once my sister learned this, she teased me to no end “33? Why on earth would you want to be 33?” But now at 23 years of age, with only ten more years to go I can safely that if asked the same question: numerically my answer would be the same, but my reasons why would be completely different.
After coming out, I proceeded to take a mental machete to any heterosexual dreams I had stored up for the future. Immersed in the television show Queer as Folk at the time, I could see my house turn into an expensive downtown loft, my kids into plants and my wife into a revolving door of men. The only salvageable piece of my childhood fantasy that I could reconcile with my new gay adulthood was the dog: whose name I had decided would be Elton John.
But of course that was then, and this is now. And now involves no interest in a loft or for that matter a revolving door of men. Each year it seems my dreams for the future tend to imagine themselves a little bit different. After attending my first wedding in the fall, for the first time since grade school I thought to myself: hey this could be me one day. It could have just been the bottomless glass of red wine at the reception afterwards that refilled me with committed optimism: but it was as if catching the bouquet suddenly became an option again.
If today I still shared the same naïveté as that little redheaded boy 14 years ago, my answer to the question would most likely read: “33, because I would have a husband who loved me (and preferably knew how to hang up shelves and budget his money), a child who transgressed their gender, a house with a sun porch and a dog who was knighted.” But contrary to popular belief I am not that clueless, and with each year that passes I learn time and again that just as much as reality bites, fantasy stings.
That said I can still offer this: If I am still alive and not imprisoned (here’s hoping!) by the time I am 33, I only wish that I will be in close proximity to a notepad and pen, good friends and family and lots of red wine. If I do have a child, than I hope I will be a good father (even if that means cutting back on the wine). Whether the husband, sun porch or dog (not Elton John!) is in store for this life or next: who knows?
I can only wish and hope and pray that like Rupert Everett tells Julia Roberts at the end of My Best Friend’s Wedding, “Maybe there won't be marriage... maybe there won't be sex... but, by God, there'll be dancing.”