My hot, 30-something gay neighbor sleeps fifty feet away in the adjoining apartment. Youth at rest; untroubled by concerns and worries so permanent nowadays they should split my rent. It’s the witching hour. Or the bitching hour more likely.  Generally I make coffee and stream NPR around 3am to begin another day. I used to just get home at this hour back in the halcyon days of disco. Actually, no; 3am was last call. We would leave the clubs at 4am and land in a Greek diner. The night manager had a huge crush on my 23-year-old ass and would comp scrambled eggs and vanilla sundaes. Not simultaneously but separate depending on the season and just how shit faced I was.

“We” is defined here as ‘deceased.’ All of my disco era posse is gone. They were on the front lines of the onset of AIDS. At my 50th birthday bash there were at least eight men who should have been there celebrating with me but they were long gone by that big zero birthday. I don’t think I have ‘survivor’s guilt’ but sometimes — not often, I think they left the party early; at its zenith — before the crushing demise of everything that was lyrical, beautiful, and young. I’m the one who now ages. Turns gray. Gets a dad body. And waits. While yet another big zero birthday looms on the horizon of the new year, I’m thinking how little time is left to find some semblance of happiness before whatever ailment lurking inside me in silence and oozing in destiny’s gene pool is born to define the inevitable downside of aging.

Author Andrew Holleran wrote — I think, in his novel ‘The Beauty of Men’ about how one should never grow old in a town they were once young in. I’m paraphrasing his sentiment but it is solidly true. Sometimes when I’m full of myself — or maybe just full of a half Xanax, I’ll be sauntering the city streets with purposeful stride thinking that I’m still quite fetch. Then I’ll glance into the night blue glass reflection of a SAKS window and see a stranger gazing back. Who is THIS man? I’m invisible nowadays.

Because there is no template for this. Anyone who could have been a trusted mentor on how to grow old gracefully is gone. It is up to me to define what lies ahead and how to steer towards some degree of happiness. I don’t want to live alone anymore. I miss the companionship and the Sunday afternoon sex.

I wonder if my hot, gay neighbor sleeps in the nude.