Into the newness of life
Steam was coming up through the grates, and that surprised him. The stink of it, and that it was real, and not just something they'd made up for cinema. The sun was just coming up on the city street and it was cold, but clear, and the long street was broken into blocks of warm morning sun and skyscraper shade. Somewhere down there was the ocean. Somewhere over there was the theater district. He could hear the highway, cutting through the skyline somewhere, but he couldn't see it.
He thought he should give himself a new name, but he hadn't decided on one yet. Maybe Louis. Pronounced the French way. Maybe Wilde, like the poet, or Ivan. Maybe something stranger, more mysterious, magisterial and unforgettable. Something brilliant. If not famous then at least notorious. He didn't know. He hadn't planned past this point, past getting here, past this rebirth.
He walked, spiraling out from the bus station, exploring with no destination. He kept moving left, street by street, seeing the sun rise and the steam rise and seeing this city he'd dreamed of. There were lawyers in suits lined up to go into a big brown building, and black men with their belongings in bags were coming out of another. There were women in high heels walking little dogs, the women walking like they were on the catwalk while their little dogs ran beside them. There were fish, laying on the street, open eyed and open mouthed and he looked at them, gaping, while a man in an apron with a knife yelled at a woman in Vietnamese, or Laotian or Chinese or whatever it was, he couldn't tell. This place was full of people, fantastic people, and an old man who looked like a Jazz musician went by with a grocery cart of cans, and a baker in a big white hat crossed his arms and smoked, and there was a woman who wasn't wearing a bra, a man with a bundle of flowers, a man with a push broom, a cop, a driver, a worker, a walker, a hooker, a Muslim, a cowboy, and a punked-out kid. And he watched all of them. He loved all of them and all of them excited him as he walked in a circle around his new city.
He felt reborn. He wanted to scream with it, scream, I did it! I did it! I did it! Scream a victory scream, I'm here! He felt like the bus had been his tunnel, his womb, the grave he'd gone through to get here, to this new day. He smelled bad, too, like farted death, and he didn't care his clothes were stinking with days of sweat and not showering, and his shirt still smelled like the shit of the cows from South Dakota, and it was OK because he was done with that. He was here. He was here, now, here where it would be OK to be gay and where he could have the fullness of life.
And so he stripped off his flannel jacket, and threw it in a bush by the street to the park. And he stripped off his t-shirt and dropped it in the grass. He stripped off his long-underwear shirt and kicked off his shoes, and he undid his belt as he ran. His boxers came off with his jeans and he was completely naked when he went into the lake. He was as naked as a new day, naked except for his socks and the extra-thick glasses that slipped down his face as he went into the water and baptized himself.