Love's Gay Fool. Autobiography of John Alan Lee.


Chapter 22. Love's unravelling.

From our hotel window, the Grand Canyon wrapped in snow.

The great pyramid of Tikal echoed to praise of Hermes.

Bob Miller.

The gardens of the Alhambra.


January 2. Home from a whirl through the American west: we flew an ultra-cheap "gambler express" to Las Vegas, rented a car, and toured Arizona and California. Our delights included silent deserts, snow-topped mountains, Indian ruins, vast caves, and the southern home of the whooping crane. At Palm Springs we enjoyed total decadence in a gay villa until terror struck: during sex with Dane, I noticed for the first time an ugly mole on his back. I've said nothing about it yet. It looks like KS to me.

January 5. Today I told Dane about the mole; he'll see a doctor quickly. I'm not as ready for Dane's death as I am for my own. His absence would devastate me.

January 16. Relief! Biopsy suggests Dane's mole is benign. My son has received his M.A. and today I helped him store his belongings here. He's going to Kingston to begin a job at $47,000 a year!

February 18. Guatemala. The drive from the airport to the Tikal pyramids passed many squalid Indian settlements but Tikal is dazzling. What mystery and grandeur! All day I wandered alone. The great square was empty on my second visit. I shouted "Hail Hermes" to the echoing temples.

February 21. Lake Atitlan: blossoming gardens and resplendent views. I’m well but I wish Dane had come with me. He now refuses "adventure" vacations. He'll spend his two-week vacation at a luxurious St. Lucia resort (and damn well pay for it himself).

March 4. I threw a small party last night – the Spences from Alumnae theatre, Frances Burton, Harry and Mary Nishio, Marge Kimmerly. Good friends and allies.

April 11. Peter's 27th birthday: Dane and I took him out for dinner, and a play at the Tarragon. He is such warm and stimulating company!

April 25. I visited Bob Miller at Howland House for a trip back in time. Bob now lives alone in this huge house. Much of the wallpaper and furniture is unchanged from the 1950s.

May 8. I'm trashing all my research files. Whee! I've erased discs and tossed files into the fire.

June 14. Granada, Spain. Most destinations don't measure up to the travelogues on TV. A film can be made over weeks, in all weather, and from many camera angles. But the Alhambra does not disappoint. The buildings are lapidary, and the gardens delicate dreamscapes. I'm inspired to go home and perfect my own gardens.

June 25. Gay Pride: Dane and I marched hand in hand. I wore my T-shirt: Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

July 1. Twelve years, quite incredible for two men so dissimilar. Dane gains a better lifestyle than he could afford on his own, and total sexual freedom. I get a solution to my fear of aloneness. It's a marriage of convenience more than love, but it works.

August 15. Montreal. Johanna and I are on mini-vacation to see an exhibit of ancient gold and erotic pottery from pre-Incan tribes. It's wild stuff – tiny clay figures of both sexes in every possible sexual posture. While in town I tried to visit Nelson Carry but learned he has died of AIDS.

August 29. We visited Tiff (Timothy) Findley's and Bill's country home. It was a remarkable clutter of things collected over a lifetime. They gave me seed from the giant nicotania running rampant in their garden.

September 5. Home from a weekend in outer Killarney, with a climb to Silver Peak. I'm not packing enough booze for our trips– we ran short on the last night. I'm drinking more and more with Dane, to dull the fact that we run out of talk.

This was probably our last visit to Killarney. Even the outer area is too crowded, and the old woodsman ethics are ignored by modern campers. Three canoes of people wanted to land and share our site, claiming the right to share any site not occupied by at least nine people! I managed to fend them off.

September 10. A phone call: "Are you the John Lee who wrote Colours of Love ? "Yes."

 "You may not remember me, but years ago you gave me a copy. I'm a doctor and my name is Adam."

"Oh, I remember you. Where have you been all these years?" Adam went off to India to do good deeds, but now he is in Toronto, with a practice of gay males. How timely; I need a new doctor.

September 12. Adam and I met, and I queried his willingness to accept my Living Will, my membership in Dying with Dignity, and my intention to end my life at any time I consider it no longer worth living.

Adam is Catholic, and he gasped once or twice, but concluded: "I hope you'll consider your doctor, and get your Secanol well before you use it."

September 14. Epicurus called it "condensing pleasure." The wise man tries to pack more experiences into a week than most people in a month. I live in a city rich in arts and close to natural spaces. I can be on the water in 10 minutes. I can go to a play or dance performance almost every night in the week.

September 17. I'm back from an exhilarating canoe trip alone, my first ever in the woods. Autumn darkness engulfed me until only a small circle of firelight remained. Like life itself.

September 21. Last night I saw Ionesco's play Exit the King, with its stimulating discussion of the value of small things in life, the treasuring of every minute of time, and the need to greet Death with acceptance.

October 4. Today I bought a sleek, 29-pound Jansen solo canoe: another landmark in the fading togetherness of our marriage.

October 5. Simplify, simplify. Today I rearranged my college office, trashing many files. I gave hundreds of books to my students. I'm dumping ballast from my balloon, to fly higher and see farther.

October 7. Tonight, sipping white wine, we discussed our marriage. "Are you happy?" I asked.

"Not really. I only do camping and theatre because you want me to. I don't see how you get so much pleasure from them. I'm probably HIV positive. I have to live my forties and fifties in the next few years. I want to do only the things I want to do."

I sighed: "I've failed miserably to infect you with my passions. After all these years, you still prefer Barbra Streisand, B movies and restaurant meals."

"People never really change, John. We have a lot to work out, if we're going to stay together."

The Black River, solitary solace for my soul.

October 18. Today I faced a day of duties – writing lectures and letters, reviewing journal papers. But the sun smiled and I wanted one more canoe trip. By 10 AM, I was on my way to the Black River for a solitary night by the rapids. The forest floor is golden with leaves, and the rain waited until I got my tent up. I love my new solo canoe!

October 19. I returned directly to the college, just in time for my afternoon lecture. Now I have four plays reserved for the rest of the week. I'm freeing myself from duty.

November 9. Today I lunched with Clarence Barnes: a relaxed two hours with a longtime friend. I dined with Adam after my general physical exam. (I'm in fine health).

November 10. Tonight I enjoyed a chatty three-hour dinner with John de Cecco, chief editor of the Journal of Homosexuality. I told him I will do no more writing for any journal.

November 17. A gripping play, Potestad , reminded me tonight that I have experienced pure evil only vicariously, never in person. I do not agree with Anne Frank's sentimental observation that "deep down, all humans are good." I believe there is Evil in the world. There are demonic spirits, in the most horrific sense of that word; cruel without limit, because cruelty gives them satisfaction. There are people with no brakes (Agatha Christie)

I moved on to a disco and met Craig, an attractive 25-year-old. I mentioned where I teach, and he asked: "Oh, do you know Professor R?

"Yes, but how do you know him?" (Craig has never been to college).

"We had an affair."

November 21. Today I ran into R in the college corridor. "We have a friend in common," I baited him. "Who?" he pleaded, his lips thin with fear. "Please don't tell anyone."

"Of course not. I've never outed anyone here."

December 6. A colleague in English shares my despair over the quality of students: "Some of mine want to know which chapters they have to read in a novel!" Once again, for the eighth time, I have written a letter refusing to stand for promotion.

December 11. Johanna is a solid friend, and told me last night that she cares a great deal for me. Falling in love and building friendship are so different. I can love someone without their choice in the matter, but I can be friends only if the other person wants to be friends.

December 17. British Virgin Islands. This beach vacation is a concession to Dane. The climate is balmy and the natural setting quite picturesque, but there's little to do. We walked two hours to the only settlement, Road Town. You can walk round this whole island in a day. The sky at sunset is awesome, with long tiers of red cloud over the ocean.

December 26. Home again. Our return flight on Xmas day was exceptional: thirteen passengers on a 300-seat jet. We were all invited into first class.

Beloved companions for 14 years, Night and Noire.


January 3. New York City. I'm here alone for a mini-vacation. I've already seen four plays, including Dustin Hoffman in an outstanding performance as Shylock. During the day I wander the museums.

Today I treated myself to a handsome escort at Rounds Bar. He was knowledgeable about art. We toured the Museum of Modern Art and lunched there, before sex back at my hotel.

January 9. At my office for the first day of term, my TA revealed that last autumn some disgruntled students passed round a petition that I be replaced as instructor, because I insist on first-hand research instead of the puerile exams my colleagues use. The perpetrators dropped out when they couldn't rally enough support. I'd love to know the charge. How did they phrase their lament with my pedagogy?

January 18. Adam is a control freak. He sits on a chair a few inches higher than the patient's, and won't let his patient end a consultation. When we go out, Adam must choose the restaurant, and the play or movie. If I attempt to choose, he finds faults with food or farce.

January 21. I've discovered Joe Calleja, who works at Glad Day book shop. He's intellectual and enjoys theatre.

February 3. Today I found a nasty anonymous letter when I arrived to teach Interpersonal Soc. I was shaken, but promptly read it to the class, for discussion. Their response was generally supportive of me. My policy of being a noisy victim served well.

February 10. Dane has suggested marriage counselling for both of us, rather than therapy for himself. I readily agreed.

Valentine's Day "Being lonely is a way back to oneself" says Moustakas. In the final analysis, I am all I've got.

February 26. Home from New Mexico All week we were polite and even considerate with each other, but not lovers. I did enjoy a splendid museum of folk art, with vast displays of dolls and toys. We also visited the great pueblo at Taos.

Dane is riding an emotional pendulum. Sometimes he says: "You are the most important person in my life." He admits: “I've been playing power games to keep from being sucked into your world." But at other times he warns ominously: "I may have to bite the bullet. You will always have more control than I, over what kind of life I have. That means leaving you."

March 1. Life is back on track; Dane is more sanguine. Seeing my anguish, Johanna is becoming a closer friend. She talks with me every day.

Last night Peter was here for dinner, in an effusive mood. He readily concedes that he shares my need for a romantic relationship. Peter gets along famously with Johanna; he joined us for an Alumnae play. Dane pours vitriol on my obsession: “I’m boycotting theatre.”

March 6. Tonight I heard Paul Monette reading from his new novel, Afterlife . I'm not in tune with his deeply felt emotions, because Fate has been generous to me. I'm already living "my afterlife." I have not dawdled until some dreadful loss. Life is a serve-yourself buffet; I've gone back to the well-laden table many times, and I have eaten dessert first.

April 13. Dane is purchasing a new car at twice the price of mine. Having no savings, he’s paying for it with a bank loan, plus loans of $5000 from my son, and $15,000 from me. He snarls that the dogs will never be allowed to ride in his car.

May 1. South Carolina. I'm here with Clarence. We both adore antebellum Charleston, and the Brookdale Gardens full of monumental outdoor sculpture (much of it gloriously male!)

May 8. Tonight I had a delightful trick with Kirk. I got his attention by telling him how the leather scene works. "Teach me!" he exclaimed, and I did. At 23, Kirk is eager to engage in fantasy, and he's a delectable fuck.

May 10. The most important talking is the talking I do to myself. While working in the garden I've "talked" to Dane, Kirk, students, and the Environment 2000 conference, which is paying me $1000. Some of this "talk" is creative – I get good ideas and write them down – but much is waste, and prevents being there in the garden.

May 12. Today I gave an ouch-rageous speech to 300 businessmen at the Environment 2000 conference. I began: “When I was a boy during the Second World War, I tried to buy a new bicycle tire. The clerk said: ‘It'll be at least a month before we have any tires in stock.’ "What's the problem?" I asked. The clerk droned: "There's a war on, you know."

“We are presently engaged in a world war, but we need to be reminded again and again. Even in the war zones, most life goes on as normal, just as it often did in occupied countries during the World War.”

I described environmental disasters, from pollution of water and air, to extinction of species. When I turned to unchecked human growth, I unrolled a large poster. It displayed a big red circle with a bar across it, the “No smoking” symbol; but instead of a cigarette, the bar crossed the figure of a baby. And the words read: BABIES SUCK.

I could hear the sudden sucking-in of breath in the audience. They continued to listen politely but at coffee the icy stares said it all – my message was not well received.

Canoeing with the Seniors Canoe Club.

May 15. To find new canoe partners, I've joined the Seniors' Canoe Club. At 58 I'm one of the youngest members.

June 1. Dane says " Love is too much work, I need a vacation from you." Yet he claims he hasn't stopped loving me. "That's my problem," he joked.

"Are you just treading water until someone else comes along?" I inquired.

"I can't really answer that. But I've finally decided to see a marriage counsellor."

"I thought we agreed to see a counsellor, months ago. It takes two to make a marriage, you know."

He quavered: "I'd rather go by myself."

June 25. Gay Pride Day was one long banquet of silliness and friendship. Andrew and Alex, Lionel, Clarence, Tony Q and Joe C all came for brunch, then we marched in the parade.

June 30. Today Dane helped me shingle half the roof. We were exhausted and napped for five hours. Yet we are now dressed in our military costumes for a boat cruise in the harbour, to celebrate our anniversary.

July 11. I invited Dane to take the role of master in a scenario and he played it well. Yet he claims I seem to be in control even when bound. Where, exactly, does “control” exist?

July 12. Today Dane and I had a joint session with his marriage counsellor. I'm shocked at how he exaggerates the facts. For example, he pouted that he had "three full time jobs" – his work, his volunteer work at Casey House, and his chores around the house.

"John's always got a list of chores when I get home" he crabbed. That is not, and never has been true. The counsellor suggested that we seek a new model for our marriage, since the Pygmalion model is obsolete. "Dane is grown up now and wants to be his own man" she advised.

July 29. We're home from a canoe trip on the Montreal River. Surprise: Dane did more than his share. We basked in seven warm days, paddling through varied topography with lots of high water. The vibes were good and I felt real companionship.

The Montreal falls, painted by the Group of Seven 70 years ago, are stunning. In one section the river serpentines through wide-skied meadows of grass and bulrushes – a serene experience. Dane actually got up two days in a row to make and serve breakfast. A trip like this proves the strength of our marriage. We can survive in the middle of nowhere, and enjoy ourselves.

August 3. My contentment has returned; it's my habit to see la vie en rose. Dane's out bowling. [ I hadn't the slightest notion that Dane was bowling with a new, very secret affair, and debating whether to leave me].

August 6. Dane is off to Boston for the week. I miss his presence terribly; the house seems hollow without him. I sent flowers to his hotel but he has not called.

August 17. Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. I'm here for a three-week canoe trip in the Arctic, fulfilling one of the last items on my life agenda. (Dane would not come). The air here is supremely fresh and clear.

August 18. All the trippers dined together as our guide, Gus, explained our trip. There are a few ominous signs: no one else brought any booze, and Gus says not to carry my tarp because we will just stand in the rain to eat: "It doesn't rain much up here – about 7 inches a year."


Instead of a camera, I took my oils to record the Arctic.

August 19. This morning we loaded three bush planes, and flew for two hours over barren wasteland, muskeg and nameless lakes. There's no way we could walk out of this hyperborean wasteland if we have an accident and lose a canoe. There are no signs of human settlement, and no roads.

The planes landed and we ate lunch. As soon as the planes took off, Gus's manner flipped from charming to authoritarian: "This is my land you are on. You are my guests and must do things my way."

He explained his rules – never put anything on his wannigan boxes, sponge out the canoes after every use, don't camp on sand, and so forth. "There will be no campfires for warmth or pleasure, only a small fire for cooking. All waste, including all paper waste, will be packed out."

As we made camp for the night, Gus became The Servant who is master. He refused to show us maps ("I don't want my route to get out to other guides") nor will he teach us how to use the emergency radio. What happens if he is knocked unconscious, or worse?

August 22. High winds, waves and bitterly cold rain have trapped us at our third site. We eat standing in the lee of frail trees along the shore. There is no way of drying anything. Thank heavens I ignored Gus and brought my own tarp. I've erected it near the cookfire as a wind and rain shelter, and eventually everyone comes over to eat under it, except Gus.

August 24. My 58th year begins. The wind is down and we've made the portage. Thank heavens, the next site is a sheltered park-like taiga. The trees are about 20 feet tall, very old but well developed. After dinner I walked far enough from camp to be out of sight, gathered dry tinder and wood, and rejoiced in a tiny campfire, with a nightcap of my precious booze to celebrate my birthday.

August 31. Today we're slipping down an exciting stretch of narrow river lined with gold-leafed birches – changed overnight by frost. There was ice at the water's edge this morning.

September 1. This is our final campsite. Tomorrow the bush pilots will fly up this river, watching for our tents.

September 2. Fort Smith. Back in civilisation. I rose early to walk the shores of Slave River. In the sandy banks, I scuffed huge letters with my boots: "Thank you Hermes," and, in a mammoth heart, "Dane and John."

September 28. The galleys for my very last academic publication have come and gone.

October 10. Peter, Dane and I savoured a completely congenial weekend on the Black River, with lively conversation over a succulent Thanksgiving dinner. We used both the tripper and solo canoes.

October 16. Every Tuesday is marked on our common calendar as Dane's night out with "Club Z" – Richard, Cindy and two other friends. They go to B movies. [Unknown to me, one of these Club Z friends was Doug, Dane's secret love affair. Also unknown at this time: Dane enrolled in a payroll-deduction Savings Bond to force himself to save money. He foresaw that he could not break with me until he accumulated some savings].

October 29. This weekend I canoed alone on the lower Black River with Night. I set up camp by a lonely rapids, and relished the serenity of total solitude.

November 28. After canoeing the Don River I stopped at Johanna's for lunch and a chat about my marriage. Dane is driving me crazy by sitting for hours at his home computer playing "bomber" games. The whiz and whine of "bombs" echoes through the house. He's making the point that his interests are not mine.

December 3. Anonymous feedback from students this year is encouraging. I've winnowed the classes down to students who enjoy my approach, and are willing to get involved. They also appreciate the work I put into extra, voluntary tutorials.

December 9. I canoed on the Don yesterday, an experience sui generis late in the year. I'm trying to stay happy.


January 9. Today I skied for the first time in my life, six kilometres on groomed track. My instructor is excellent. Once I learned to bend my knees I found myself dancing on snow.

January 20. Wilder's Our town is replete with schmaltzy American moral virtues, but there is one sentiment I concur with: most human beings go through life blind to its daily joys and pleasures. I think I do well at cherishing life's abundance.

February 3. Imagine: I canoed on the Don today, in sunny weather.

February 10. Today we talked, and recorded it so that we could listen again later. Result: two hours with no angry outbursts or long glum silences. Seeing the tape running helped us keep our tempers. Out of many pages of transcript, here are a few salient thoughts:

Dane. “Until recently I thought we could find a working solution; now I'm thinking there's no way to go on. I’m waiting for my results. ( Dane has just been tested for HIV). Our problem is that you want a partner who enjoys the things you do –theatre, canoeing, classical music ... You don't want someone who just agrees to your suggestions, you want someone proactive, not just reactive. You want a partner who even takes charge sometimes. But I'm asking myself "What am I missing in life by staying with John?" Let's talk about what we're going to do when you retire.”

J. “ Well, as you know, I'll have to sell this place. I don't have a university pension. We're living in my pension plan. I'll survive on part of the sale price and the remainder will buy something less pleasant than this house – unless you save up the money to help buy a place for us.”

D. “You mean it's a question of staying in the relationship and living less well in the future, a real compromise for me, or else going our own ways. What's the use of compromise if I’m still unhappy? Especially if I’m HIV positive. All we're doing is keeping our marriage going until one of us makes a decision. I get the impression that it will have to be me. I don't think you've got the guts to break up.

February 15. Dane has his test results. He is HIV positive. While I am in NYC for Reading Week, he will decide whether to remain in my world. We agree that we should face the possible end of our marriage now, while we still have health. This is no time for half measures. I assume that if he has AIDS then I do too – we don’t use condoms.

February 19. New York City. I spent the day driving here, alone. I've just called Dane to tell him I arrived OK. He muttered only "I've had a bad day" and hung up.

February 21. Today I took Quentin Crisp to dinner. He was dressed like a glamourous old queen, with a flowing silk scarf and a wide-brimmed hat he doesn't take off inside the restaurant. He's still full of wit, and sees himself as the guru of the losers: "They need a hero too. I am a successful loser." After dinner I took him to a play.

February 25. Home again. Dane has not reached a decision and I will not push him. A letter from Peter responds to mine about his imminent visit. He is reluctant to "parachute into the middle" of our problems.

February 28. I showed Heinlein's definition of love to Dane: "Love is a condition in which the welfare and happiness of another person is essential to my own." Dane went rigid, shouting: "Love is not the issue, control is."

After he left, I sat down to think: "Is it about control, or is it about two different ways of enjoying life – the "my world" problem? I made a list:


Computers, Barbra Streisand,         Classical music, theatre, wilderness,
Star Trek, beach vacations,          gardening, fine art, fixing things,
fine restaurants, fine wines,                 adventure vacations, serious films,
light reading and TV,                        serious movies and TV, dinner at home,
workouts at the gym,                   flowers in the house, and our dogs.         
buying the best, on credit.             Buying only what I can pay for now.

March 1. When he came home, Dane gave me a letter: "Our 14 years have not only been happy, but exciting and challenging. The key is control. We each have a need to control, not so much each other, but our own destinies. I fear that AIDS will take away my control. It's not that I don't trust you; I've always trusted you. But if you can't support the way I want to spend my time in my last few months or years, it is the right decision for me to go."

March 4. I have stayed out of Dane's way as much as possible, but we got into a short exchange about Johanna. Dane boasted: "If we break up, Johanna will be my friend, not yours." I panicked, and called Johanna: "Can I come over?"

Johanna was amazed: "You are my friend. I've been nice to Dane because he is with you. You must realize he and I do not have much in common." She gave me a great hug. I returned home relieved, but said nothing to Dane.

March 5. Listening again to the tape of our talk two weeks ago, my attention fixes on something he evinced: "If I ever get into a marriage again, I want to be the dominant partner. He would have to live in my world."

March 17. Today Dane asked to talk about his problem : "I can't have both things I really want – an affluent lifestyle subsidized by you, and my own cultural world."

Next came a startling admission: "I feel emotionally empty inside. I've been thinking about suicide. I haven't told you but I'm getting hot flushes, and I feel sure I'm going to get really sick, soon. I feel like I've started to die. Nowadays my pleasures are all bittersweet because there's no point doing anything when I have no future."

March 18. I've just realized that some things Dane said yesterday are hints that he's already interested in another guy. But I didn't ask him directly [and I never did. Why not? I didn't want to know].

April 4. Jean and I enjoyed a cordial three-hour dinner at Victoria Cafe to celebrate her birthday. Jean claims she was "freed" by my decision to go gay: "In our case it was no one's fault." She has a kind heart.

April 6. I'm still refusing to get the HIV test. I'm not sure that HIV is the real or only cause of AIDS, and more important, I don't want to know.

April 7. Reading Continual Lessons, journals of Glenway Wescott makes me more conscious of my own journals. The world is not made up of atoms, but of stories.

May 6. Last night Dane and I ate happy tarts and made passionate love by the fireplace. After fourteen years we can still reach crescendos of ecstasy.

With my son (centre) and our guide, in the Lake District of England.

May 12. The Lake District, England. Peter and I are here for a walkabout with The Wayfarers. This evocative countryside is laced by many walls, ancient and mediaeval. Countless sheep of many varieties and colours. Wild flowers, bushes and trees in profusion of bloom. Small villages of quaint houses. And amid all, the sublime Lake Windermere.

May 17. We climbed "Struggle Hill," well named. On the Moors I spotted evidence of an old Roman road and walked in spiritual communion with the pagan gods.

May 19. Oxford. It's been a week of precious intimacy. I learned that like me, Peter feels a deep need to be in control of his relationships, but, unlike me, he will do whatever he can to obviate confrontation.

Peter enjoys Oxford so much he'd "be happy to die now." Yet he worries about how he will handle my death when it comes. He's a complex mix of shy boy and extrovert man who would give his childhood only "five on a ten point scale." It's a miracle that we remain close, because he's clear that I did not sacrifice my life for him, and do not expect him to do so for me, if I reach old age.

May 21. Brighton, full of memories. I've refreshed my long friendship with Gowan – more than 20 years. He's desperately weary of teaching. I expressed wonder that he’s able to survive without anyone to talk to, after a tough day at work.

June 6. Toronto: Steve Murray is visiting. What an affable reunion! He has changed a great deal; AIDS drugs since 1981 have made him much overweight, but he's in remarkable health.

June 8. Today I got a great letter from Tim in my Interpersonal Relations class. It began: "Dear Professor, you must be crazy" and went on to thank me for giving him a B minus ! He actually earned a C+ but I know he wants to go into teaching, and I'm sure he will be a good teacher.

June 18. I'm sitting on the deck, reflecting on all the times sheer luck has been on my side, when the alternative would have been long-lasting misfortune. Take the extremely fat guest who sat on a swinging chair I built on the deck. His weight brought the overhead steel pipes crashing down, inches from his head. He could have suffered terrible injury, and I, lifetime guilt. I can still feel the "unsurpassable joy of narrow escape from a dreadful calamity" (Epicurus).

June 30. Gay Pride Day. Dane and I marched, after hosting a brunch here. Our guests included June Callwood, Adam, Joe C, Tony Q, and Allan Millard's son, David.

July 8. Last week I was on the Black River with Joe, this week, Adam.

July 11. Dane wanted sex but I was unwilling. He lurched out of bed and played Barbra Streisand records, very loud – to punish me.

August 15. Jim Quixley (early GAU) has just died of AIDS. Dane says Casey House beds have turned over twice this month.

August 24. Happy birthday to me. I'm eating dinner alone. I've eaten dinner alone four days in a row.

My last photo of Dane, turning away from me.

This is the last photo Dane ever took of me, just after I paddled my canoe through Percé Rock.

August 26. Note to myself as we are about to take a week's vacation in the Maritimes: Go easy on Dane. He is utterly fragile.

August 27. Quebec City. We stopped for lunch with Peter in Kingston (he told me privately he found Dane's mood "extremely stoic").

August 28. Gaspé. I woke early again; in fact I'm all nerves. Dane is just barely polite, and there's been no physical contact between us since Toronto. I've walked miles of country roads, waiting for Dane to wake.

August 30. Percé Rock. This famous landmark is a solitary great rock rising out of the ocean, with a hole eroded through it. I paddled my canoe through the hole. Dane was not amused.

September 1. Summerside. I'm so jumpy I nearly had an accident; Dane's alert warning saved me. When I reached over to touch him in thanks, he snarled: "Get lost." Now we're on the ferry to Nova Scotia.

I suggested that Dane was not having fun: "Why don't we forget Halifax, and drive home? You can spend the rest of your vacation doing whatever you like." He seized this opening: "Yes, I want to go back to Toronto right now, because I'm leaving you. This marriage is finished."

I froze in horror: "What have I done?"

"Nothing special recently. You know it's been coming for a long time. I'm not enjoying your company any more. Now let's get on the road." When we got back in the car he added: "I want my own life. No more compromises." He fell into stony silence for the long drive home.


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