He was my second love. J. Patrick Brown, or was it Patrick J. Brown? It was 1969 or ’70, we were 20 or 21, something like that, a generation holding on to the final fringes of the hippie movement, freshman at a Northern New Jersey, liberal arts college. Pat Brown was part southern gentleman, part brooding, sexy, druggie—not an addict, just someone who loved to get high. His southern roots were in Maryland, but his manners and mannerisms were more like those from the deep south, having been raised in part by his family’s black housekeeper. The brooding, sexy part came from head-turning good looks and a glazed-over, mysterious, stoner stare. He was gorgeous, smart, and gay. I didn’t know anything about gay men at the time, he was my first, and for many years I believed he would come to love me physically, for we were in love in every other way. We were inseparable. We smoked a lot of pot and hash and we dropped a lot of acid, enough acid that I had a semi-serious concern over possible birth defects in my future children, a notion from the late ‘60’s that was long ago discredited. We tripped at the Fillmore East, we did coke in clubs (he was a great dancer and singer), we spent entire weekends on the couch in his apartment with the curtains drawn. We were killing time until we dropped out of school and drove to California and back, a marvelous and eye-opening trip it which it became quite clear that this man did not want me as I wanted him. He moved to New York and I rented an apartment with a girlfriend in New Jersey. Over time we grew distant and I was sure he had died of aids, going so far as to write to his mother inquiring about his health but never receiving a reply.
And 2 or 3 years ago, after no communication whatsoever for over thirty five years, Pat Brown called. He had been searching for me for some time, eventually finding my sister’s name in a wedding announcement and contacting her. I was flabbergasted, totally and completely taken aback, and I’m sure he told me, but I don’t remember what inspired him to reach out. Pat Brown, son of a bitch. We met almost immediately, Patrick taking the train to Maryland where I lived, thirty miles from his parent’s home. And it was so different, not horrible or unsettling or anything but delightful, but so different. He told me that he worked many years at the U.N. in a clerical position, and during that time became a follower and student of a popular guru. He gave up all mood and mind altering substances and lived a monastic and celibate life as a student of this gentleman, but eventually left the fold and retired from the U.N. to take care of his dying mother. Our paths could not have been more different—Patrick, former yogi student for a decade or more, a gentle soul, Pam, pot-smoking, suburban mother of 2, a dirty writer. But the differences were greater than our paths—he seemed alien, a still handsome man in a bit of a time-warp, a man trying to catch up with a world that had been spinning without him, a man unsure, smiling and laughing at my cocksureity. My beautiful, sexy, stoner Patrick, replaced by this simple and humble person—one that I had a bit of a hard time relating to.
And that’s okay. Who we were or who we are, is not the point. Everybody and everything changes, but past loves remain intact within our most secure and sacred memory bank, the memories of our choosing. I remember the balcony of the Fillmore East, San Francisco, and nights that involved nothing more than smoking cigarettes and holding each other close. He was my introduction into the drug culture, my first experience, my first love outside the confines of home. His impact was, his imprint is still, enormous. Kisses to you J. Patrick Brown, and Patrick J. Brown, now in alien form.
photo credit: jonsenglishsite.info
And my first love? Silvio Balos, read and refresh.