- Tom- Tom
Ben and I traveled to NY and Fire Island to celebrate the wedding of two great friends, Jay Pagano and Mark Fortier. Jay and Mark have been together for 17 years – a respectable engagement – certainly enough time to get acquainted. The announcement of their wedding followed the New York change of law allowing same sex marriages. That allowed us a celebration that would have seemed an impossible dream to the young men we were.
The wedding was a beautiful affair. Over a hundred guests wore white for the beach ceremony followed by a dinner dance at the Pines Community Center. This new facility was a project Jay helped come to exist as part of his life long commitment to the Pines. As President of the Pines Homeowner’s association, Jay is – in effect – the Mayor. Mark, a book publicist, is expert in promoting business themed projects. Theirs is an intergenerational marriage that empowers them both.
My friendship with Jay began when we were both young lawyers, sharing a house in the Pines in the early 1970s. Jay’s daughter, Amara, spent summers with us from the age of seven. We were a bit of an unusual family back then. What a gorgeous woman Amara turned out to be. And when Jay met Mark and left his establishment Washington DC life to move to New York to be with this charming and handsome young man, I applauded. Jay was the best friend who supported my own transformation. So I understood his desire to have his own.
I hadn’t seen Amara for a decade so our reunion was an especially happy affair with volumes of reminiscence to share. Jay was concerned back then about the effect on Amara of being raised in a gay community. We did an interview with Amara for our Fire Island project. She summed up the experience of what she learned being with us summers at the beach in one word. FREEDOM. Freedom to live and love as we were. She has passed this lesson on to her own two children who’ve had their share of Pines experiences. We were all reunited for this celebration.
When Ben and I were not at one of the many pre and post wedding dinners and brunches, we did what I most love to do in the Pines. We played on the beach. The ocean was warm enough to swim in without all ones pores slamming shut in protest. Naked and Free. In a word – GLORIOUS.
Ben and I will be on our way back to the Pines in a few weeks where we’ll spend a month with Jay and Mark. I’ve often described the Pines as my spiritual birthplace and hometown. Ben took me to Yorkshire last summer to meet his family. I took him to Fire Island this summer to meet mine. Very different worlds – but all good.
We gave Mark and Jay a large format print made from the SX-70 Polaroids I took in the Pines over 30 years ago. It now hangs pride of place in their Sky Walk beach home. The picture is called “Clearing” taken on the beach as the sky was opening after a hurricane. We’ve weathered a lot – all of us. The picture reflects the optimism with which we’ve lived our lives as the first gull returns after the storm.
No doubt, we’ll have much more to report during our next month on the beach with our friends. Shortly, we’ll have an expanded look at one day’s travels on the beach. Can’t wait for more. As I said. Playing on this beach is my idea of heaven.