I study him as a discipline, an endless fascination. Maybe I think if I can figure out Frank Sinatra, I can figure out men. Maybe I just wonder what's really going on behind those deep blue eyes, both wide open and hidden at the same time, like a theater with double front curtains.
I never try to figure out Bill Holden. He wasn’t complicated, anyway. His intellect took direct paths, for better and for worse. And for me, he was just attractive, until he wasn’t, but because I love the younger man, I love the older one, too. That’s how I love. Bill is like one of my first boyfriends I broke up with badly, only he’s older than me and gets there first, because I can’t imagine it any other way. We don’t get a happy ending, though there is a sweet, sad parting in my mind, a lingering fond farewell, and I learn to smile when we run into each other now and then, even when he calls me “kid.” I keep loving him even when I don’t need to anymore.
I don’t love Frank Sinatra. At least, not like that. I find him mesmerizing, but I don’t want him in bed or at breakfast. I want him next to me on the bench in front of Abraham Lincoln, on the subway heading all the way downtown from the 80s, or across the dinner table with plenty of other people around. In those places he’s a man I’ve seen everywhere, almost unnoticeable until he speaks, and then everybody listens. He commands the room and you can’t look away.
But when you start imagining someone that way, you make him bigger than life, bigger than other people, which is a dangerous thing to do. He must have known that about himself sometimes, maybe pretty often. We take ourselves seriously in a certain particular way that nobody else can. There’s still a struggle that other people don’t see anymore.