I always felt I would live out my final years in Provincetown. It lured me at 19. I was smitten by all things Ptown — the combo of ye olde new england Portuguese fishing village at the end of the world — but also somehow full of counterculturalfaves — rollicking gay night life — best drag acts — anywhere — beautiful beefcake boys, meat racks, meatier lesbians, and the naughty drunken past of Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, Norman Mailer marking their territory — like a dog. And the beauty — the beaches, the smells, the lighting — oh the lighting — of P-town. It made me misty. Still makes me misty.
I saw myself with a black lab — or maybe buff (!) colored (and I am not a dog person) and some kind of partner. Maybe a big, burly Gertrude Stein type, and I would allow her to mother me, to love me, to cook for me (I know, Alice did all that – but these are my daydreams.)
For the past four summers I’ve been going back to Ptown, and, despite a few husbands and many many male lovers, my dream of being the eccentric ole girl on Provincetown Beach persists— dog in tow, Gertrude baking muffins. I see me writing. I see me going to readings with Eileen Myles (would she give me a toss when we are both 80?), and earnest artist chats with Michael Cunningham — you know — the whole package.
Back in New York, I forget about my fantasy. It is, after all, two decades away.
Last night, I dropped by the always delicious Debra Rapoport, who lives in the hood, as she packed for a trip to Mexico. I am a notepad girl, and when you visit Debra, you just leave out your god damn pad and pen ... she says sooo many “you must see, did you know, are you aware of ...” I am scribbling away over a cup of tea, when she tells me that the west village wonder, 98-year-old Ilona Royce Smithkin, of Advanced Style fame, left the village and has moved to live and paint in Provincetown. It was then I realized – I have not seen this magical creature in the last years. What stunned me was— I hadn’t really noticed she was gone — she was simply a presence that vanished. POOF. Like so many landmarks in this fading neighborhood. No more.
I cried all the way home, tears turning to icicles — and pondered my ideal future that Ilona is now living, painting, writing, being. I hope she has a Gertrude …