We were invited to spend the Columbus Day weekend in Provincetown at a friend’s house so we accepted the offer, packed up the car and headed out after work Wednesday.
We decided to drive into Manchester MA Wednesday night to get some of the driving out of the way and then head into Provincetown Thursday morning. We’ll be there until Sunday.
We haven’t been to Provincetown in over a year. We used to go multiple times a year, then once a year the last few years. Our last visit there was not a positive experience and left me not wanting to return, so I am looking forward to being there again and rediscovering the magic of the town with some good friends and experiences and replacing the bad memories of our last visit with good ones.
Last summer being the exception, I have always loved Provincetown.
The first time I visited it (somewhere back in 1992 I believe) I was only 22, had no real career to speak of, barely had a home (I was sleeping on the couch of a friend) and had no idea what to do with my life. I had been out of the closet for 5 years but did not have very many friends, gay or straight and no community to speak of. My experience with other gay people had been limited to a small support group on my college campus, a few out gay and lesbian friends, a gay and lesbian workshop weekend (how to advocate for LGBT rights) and a NYC Pride parade (which was amazing.) I was single with no prospects, 2 ex-boyfriends under my belt and quite lonely. My lesbian friend (and roommate at the time) invited me along on a road trip to visit her (then) ex (now reunited and married) girlfriend in Massachusetts and I accepted. After we had arrived and hung out for a bit, the ex-girlfriend suggested we drive into Provincetown for the afternoon since we were so close. I jumped at the chance.
An hour later, I was standing in what I believed at the time to be the closest thing to paradise I had ever known. There were gay and lesbian people and couples everywhere. The town bathed in rainbows. A whole village of my people, that I had only heard about in whispers, laughing and dancing and holding hands and hugging and kissing out in the broad daylight with nary a care or concern or closet to be seen. Oh, sweet mystery of life, I had found you.
We spent the day just walking around, watching and listening and absorbing every ounce of gayness we could. We were poor and broke, so there was no shopping and we barely had enough money between the three of us to swing three diet cokes and 2 bags of chips (I kid you not) at a local restaurant (the name of which totally escapes me.) I could sense the derision of the waiter but I did not care (besides being hungry and wishing I had more money) because I was still basking in the gratuitous amounts of gay everywhere I turned.
And don’t even get me started on the MEN! Yum!
With great pain, we herded ourselves back to the car and prepared to depart. I literally teared up leaving this world behind, fearing I would never see it again or have that feeling of total gay immersion and wonderment. One of the women tried to convince me to throw caution to the wind, get out of the car and just stay in Ptown. She tried to convince me I could find a houseboy position somewhere and get room and board for the summer. Oh, the though was tempting but I had not the courage, confidence or cojones to take such a risk and I could not fathom having no place to sleep or live, nothing to eat or drink and no means of earning the money to obtain either. So I drove back home in silence wishing I wasn’t leaving. It took almost two weeks to adjust to being a nearly invisible, unwelcome minority again in my dreary, drab everyone-else-is-straight world.
Eventually I was able to find my way back to Provincetown and it was just as wonderful as I imagined. Even more so since I now could afford a room and some meals and stay for longer than a couple hours. In fact, I got to stay a whole week with my best friend at the time (at the Beacon Light) and, despite a humiliating moment involving an “I like you but not in that way” speech from a guy I was (unreciprocatedly) smitten with, a lot of alcohol, some ill-fitted daisy dukes and a scary moment in the Vault (pre-fire when it was still beneath the Crown and Anchor) it was, up to that point, the best week of my life.
My next trip I visited for a long weekend with an older, married heterosexual female friend who offered to split the cost of a room (At the Blue Dolphin Motel just outside of Ptown) for the weekend as an impromptu get-away and, although it was great to just be there again, it was NOT the same being there with this person (through no fault of her own.) Young, gay, single man in P-Town with older, married, heterosexual woman does not a wild weekend of love and debauchery make if you know what I mean. But I still hated to leave my home away from home none-the-less.
Not long after that, I met Jeffrey, fell in love and we experienced Provincetown together for the first time the first year we were together via a bus trip with the GLBT Chorus we belonged to (We were going there to perform and the Chorus got to stay for free at the Surfside Inn ). What a difference it was being there with someone I was involved with. It was the first time he and I had walked down the street holding hands out in the sunshine for the entire world to see and I thought life could not ever get any better than that moment. We hated to leave then as well.
After that, it became an annual pilgrimage for us, sometimes 2 or 3 times a year, and I would count the days in-between visits until we could return again. We even researched ways we might be able to live there but we had neither the resources nor the opportunity to move there and build a life so we had to settle for visiting as often as possible.
For our honeymoon, we were gifted a week’s stay at one of the many bed & breakfasts there (The Watership Inn) from our wedding party. I can’t imagine any place we would rather have celebrated our nuptials. It was the first time we had been there in the fall (October) and continued to go every year around the same time for our Anniversary, sometimes during Mates Leather Weekend, sometimes during Women’s weekend, but we always had a great time and loved that time of year. There seemed to be more couples, shorter lines at restaurants, smaller crowds in the streets and at bars and cheaper shopping, while still having plenty of gay life and energy to enjoy our time there.
We eventually started visiting at different times, including in December for Holly Folly, in March, in May, in June and, eventually, we went for Bear Week in July. We could not find a time there we didn’t like, no matter the weather or size of the crowds.
On May 25, 2005, we even got married there.(#5 of 6 marriages)
So this weekend we make what I hope will be our triumphant return, to rekindle the flames of romance with a town that I fell in love with so long ago and miss horribly. Like any relationship, we hit a bump but I’m ready willing and able to work through it and get back to what made our relationship with that town so special.
I have fallen in and out of love in Ptown. I have made, lost, rekindled and cemented friendships there. I have bought art and made art there. I have been single and in love there. I have had both some of my very best and very worst times there. I have had great sex, eaten great food, seen great movies and sipped great cocktails there. I have ogled sexy men of all shapes and sizes there and, if I may be so immodest, been ogled a few times myself there I have had big loud fun and beautiful quiet moments there. I have danced and walk
ed and run and worked out and made out and swum and lounged there. And I have been married there and celebrated more Anniversaries there than any other place.
I look forward to adding to those experiences this weekend!