A Life Slipped Through the Cracks

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I dreamt of Robin, and when I awoke, I knew he was dead.

Robin was a man I knew for a season when I was 19.

We were never friends, though I would have been gladly that, and more, if he had given me the chance.

I hadn’t thought about him in at least twenty years, and here I was, googling him on my desktop first thing in the morning.

It took me all of a half-second to find the dated Boston Globe story.

Robin actually died ten years ago.

Shot himself in the head.

His body was only found when police came to evict him from his apartment for non-payment of rent. Who knows how long it had been there.

His siblings refused to pick up his body from the morgue, stating that they had lost contact with him years previous and had no idea as to what his final wishes were.

Two friends were finally able to secure the rights to give him a proper service.

He was 63.

I met Robin when he worked as mayoral liaison to Boston’s gay community. That was a big deal in the late seventies, and Robin was quietly impressive, working with the Boston police, among other things, to make sure the city’s annual Pride celebrations were safe for all.

I don’t remember why it happened, but we met for a brief chat in his apartment one afternoon.

What was supposed to be a 20-minute conversation turned into eight hours of talk – and a lot of flirting.

Robin was the very first man I’d ever known to make it clear that he found me cute.

Although I was out of the closet and an active volunteer in the city’s gay community, I had zero experience with men. Hadn’t even been kissed.

Robin waited for me to make the first physical move, but that was never going to happen.

I didn’t even know how to process what I was hearing, so mostly I giggled. A lot.

No game in this quarter. The night turned out to be frustrating for both of us.

That turned out to be the first and last time we were together. I saw him around a couple times. He never returned my phone calls. Turns out, he didn’t stay in contact with many people at all.

He drifted from job to job. There were stories over the years about his drinking, of the erratic and strange stories he would spin about his personal life.

When I think of Robin, I think of how easy it is to simply disappear in plain sight.

He didn’t reach out to anyone for help. He probably felt as if there was no one he could turn to. That no one would listen.

I can understand Robin’s pain because I’ve felt it. I’ve been there.

The last few years have been rough. I was laid off from my newspaper job of 22 years. Spent almost two years unemployed and hearing that I had too much experience.

One Harvard University manager greeted me with, “Isn’t it wonderful we would consider a candidate as old as you?”

When the world keeps telling you there’s no place for you, you start to believe it.

But I continued to work on my writing, and that saved me. I have a job now, and I’m rebuilding so much of my life in ways I never expected. I remain preciously aware of how one thing can break in your life and leave you freefalling.

I have no idea why my subconscious decided to dredge Robin into my dreams, but I hope he knows peace – and my gratitude for one long afternoon so many years ago.

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