shoreward Take time to create a memory today. It doesn’t have be anything outrageous or outlandish; no need to initiate a scandal, overindulge, or spend lavishly. Hell, it doesn’t even have to involve another person; feel free to do something private, something unknown to anybody other than you. It can be something quite banal. Take a moment today, stop and observe yourself, your surroundings, your place in those surroundings. I really don’t think it makes no never mind whether you stop and smell a rose, or just look down at a piece of gum on the pavement; maybe accidentally step in it even. Maybe intentionally step in it for that matter. Just be mindful of it, and in so doing, create a memory. At some point in the future, look back and think of the color of that flower, it’s delightful fragrance or lack thereof. Recall the frustrating inconvenience of accidentally stepping in that wad of gum, and laugh at the spectacle. Or, recall the absurdity of intentionally stepping in that gum, giving yourself permission to act out in a manner that’s illogical, inane, evening seemingly insane. Look back on that little instance where you not only allowed, but actually encouraged yourself to commit a random and pointless act. Provided that your actions don’t compromise the safety and feelings of another person, there’s really no harm done. It’s quite possible that this topic is on mind today as the result of a dream I had last night. Now, as a 1957 vintage gay man, who has been a relatively coherent and cognizant witness over the past 35+ years; it’s quite common that the denizen of my dreams, are many faces familiar, but long ago passed. I hardly think I’m unique in this. Such was my dream last night. I was at a smart little soiree at the home of a friend. As the length of the dream and number of occupants increased, so too did the size of my friend’s home. Soon groups were arriving in droves, four to six abreast, some looking quite fresh from their midnight ablutions, and others that had obviously had a cocktail or ten, or a couple bumps from Bogota, since performing their toilette earlier in the evening. Their indiscretions e revealed by their subtle stagger and slur. However, all were amicable, smiling, laughing, chatting both with and at one another. I first recognized Eduardo, and he was accompanied by, but a step ahead, of Roger, Carlos, Ernie, and Chris. It was obvious that Eduardo was the designated driver, or at least I hope he was. Maybe he was just a tad more sober and didn’t want to be too closely associated with his posse.As the room expanded in both size and attendees, I began to realize that I knew nearly everyone there. Some were close friends, some barely acquaintances. I ran into a couple of exes, and a few one-night stands, where it seems we both had obviously made an unspoken agreement to leave the encounter itself unspoken. It was so good to see them all, to have a giggle, trade a bit of dirt on a mutual friend. This is a nearly a decade before we’d have a kiki. They all looked so incredibly young, and their energy escaped me. Here they were, beginning to arrive at about the time I was ready to take my leave. But, I was so overjoyed to see them that I decided to muster my mettle and stay. I have to admit that I did feel a bit peculiar. I mean, I had known these people for years. We were all about the same age, give or take five years; yet I somehow felt a bit dowdy and worn alongside their youthful smoothness and exuberance. I was chatting with Rolando at the time that I awoke. As I left my dream world and became more aware, I realized that I had once again had one of those dreams where I’m one of the few, if not the only, person in attendance that is actually capable of waking up today. I’m here, I’m alive. I must make this day matter, I must create a memory. It’s my obligation.That being said, I have a little memory that I’d like to share with you. One day, must have been sometime back in the mid to late 1980’s, when Miami Beach was still being referred to as “God’s Waiting Room,” and SoBe was simply South Beach., if not just “the beach,” and was preferably avoided. Anyway, I was up in what we used to refer to as North Beach; not to be confused with North Miami Beach. North Beach was actually just north beach, an area up in the numbered streets, say from 70th-85th. I was coming around the corner from 71st St, making a left to walk north up Collins Ave. There was a McDonald’s on that corner. Seated right inside a corner window of the McDonald’s was an elderly woman, well into her eighties. Her shoulders hunched over with age and osteoporosis, her quad-cane standing in wait beside her chair. Her face was deeply etched with wrinkles. I’ve no doubt the sun may have played some small role, but am more inclined to believe that her lines were earned from experience, from the very act of living itself. What had she witnessed? What were she thinking? What were her memories? Had she lost her parents in the concentration camps? Perhaps been there herself? At that time, it was not uncommon to encounter Holocaust Survivors amongst the older folks on Miami Beach. But then again, I may be making assumptions here, as a means of embellishing my memory, bedazzling the moment. Seeking a poignant hook to tug the heartstrings of the reader. Hell, she may have been some old Presbyterian broad that had witnessed little more tragedy than a fallen angel food cake and fallen arches. Anyhow, it was obvious that she had just had her hair done; not unlike nearly all old ladies of every race, creed, and denomination were wont to do back then. A soft petal cut, wash, set, comb-out with a bit of light teasing to fill in a thin spot here and there. All being held in place by an inexpensive sheer chiffon scarf in a bold shade of blue; quite possibly purchased at the Woolworths just a block north. She had the requisite smear of orange-red lipstick in the general area of her mouth. Her hands were badly gnarled with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but her nails were painted, and she was wearing a ring or two. In one painfully gnarled hand, she was holding an ice-cream cone, one of those soft-serve things that McDonalds used to sell, they may still. Just plain vanilla, nothing fancy.But, as I watched that old woman lick that ice-cream cone, there came over her a look so pure. A look of pleasure, of satisfaction, of bliss. Her eyes, long dulled by cataracts, seemed to light up and sparkled. Her wrinkles softened, the milky paleness of that vanilla ice-cream, in sharp contrast with her orange-red lipstick. Like a little girl playing dress up. She was transformed in front of my very eyes. This was not some old crone enjoying a cone. This was not the face of a woman that had quite possibly outlived her entire family, children included. What I saw before me, what I was fortunate enough to be presented with, to witness? I was gifted with the vision of a young girl, free of concerns, free of arthritis, physical aches and pains, her vision clear, her hearing keen. Erased were the lines of loss, the weariness of struggle, the furrows of grief, some acknowledged, much denied and left unprocessed, most likely denied for the comfort and convenience for those that had relied upon her to be strong. Yes, I realize this is sheer conjecture, assumption, presumptuous even. Pure projection. I have no idea what this lady experienced in life, what her memories held.But, she has provided me with a memory of my own. A memory that has sustained me for years. An experience that has allowed me to behold the child within those I love and care about, total strangers, even those that vex me. But, it has also allowed me to be kinder to the child that resides within, and to honor that child today, even if he was unable to honor himself at the time.Get out there and make a memory today.