From the Edge of 17 to the Edge of 40

bphs.jpgI graduated from high school just a month or so after my 17th birthday. I felt as if life would never begin. I have always been impatient that way. I couldn’t imagine 30, much less 40.

In my delusional 20s, I was certain I’d make a dramatic splash of James Dean proportions, somehow leaving a lasting legacy and a beautiful corpse. I stopped dating girls, stopped fooling myself, and stopped lying to my family about being gay. I cheated on a good boyfriend. Mom beat colon cancer and it just seemed like some surreal role she was playing to increase her range. We all knew she’d kick it. I lost my Grandmother and Grandfather to cancer and a broken heart, respectively; still I remained, battling monotony, boredom, and impatience.

My 30s have been the decade of things taken seriously. I lost my best friend to AIDS and moved across the country, rushing to the inevitable City of Angels where I had formerly feared to tread, because of earthquakes and a high cost of living. I got ‘real’ jobs that lent serious weight to my resume. I made some amazing friends and marvel at how they are making some pretty lofty dreams come true. We lived in a seriously cool, 5,000 square foot house with near 360-degree views at the top of Sunset Plaza at a point when we couldn’t have scraped together $200. It was Minnie Driver’s house. Long story. I stood in the doorway where Marvin Gaye was shot by his father and I auditioned for the touring company of Rent, never having seen the show or heard the music. I sang a verse of Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis. Totally inappropriate, and the casting director told me I’d never make the show, but that I should take a swing at pop.

I conquered the serious debt I created in college. I got into a serious relationship. I watched Mom go from miserable poverty in Virginia and her last divorce, cross the country, and land in Los Feliz and an incredible state of self-realization, happiness and success. So proud of her.

I bought real estate. I spent four years on a therapist’s couch and resolved a very serious issue – having been molested from 12-18 – and wrote a musical about it. I was a finalist for the Sundance Labs, and leveraged that to get my screenplay read by a seriously huge producer (who loved it), and leveraged his interest to get a seriously high-powered agent (who loves it) and a seriously brilliant manager (who loves it and has helped me make it even better) to boot.

hwdandbronson.jpgI was researching a spec for Nip/Tuck and wound up on the table, having liposuction – the self-indulgence that unearthed the waist and jawline I had before college. I lost 3.5 liters of chips and sour cream. Within a week, I lost another 155 pounds… Joe and I split up. I had my first and last “divorce” and, having learned from Mom, settled more amicably than she ever did, and not as empty-handed. Now a couple of years later, Joe and I are really friends again.

I’ve watched my salary quadruple since I arrived. Not a great feat, considering how poorly that first job paid. I’ve had houses full of furniture, done thousands of dollars in drugs, and had great interactions with maybe a hundred people that I had only dreamed of meeting, including my half sister, Cassie, who is fantastic. Her sparkle lights up the room.

I met Sam, the love of my life, got a serious tattoo, made some serious mischief, and had a seriously unforgettable wedding and honeymoon, embarking on our “hundred years of happiness.” I learned how to dog a steer, and look forward to competing in the Gay Rodeo this summer.  I’ve learned more about life and love than I ever thought I would, and I publish my findings to the world – here. I do all sorts of things, almost daily, that I never, ever imagined I’d do. Not in my wildest dreams.

Of course, I’ve still never seen Watts Towers and I have only felt one small earthquake.

Life is great, and I am grateful. My 40s have a very tough act to follow. I only wish I’d started earlier. It might not have hurt for me to have followed Mom’s pre-Connick, pre-Bublé advice and recorded that album of standards. I would also have had fewer credit cards, and bought that 2/2 condo in Naples when it was offered to me for $60K. That’s the advice you didn’t ask for, and probably won’t heed. Impertinent youth.

5 Responses to “From the Edge of 17 to the Edge of 40”

  1. 1 Conny
    Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    You’ve come a long way, Baby Boy; and yet, not so far. You are still the energetic, dynamic, curious, loyal, creative, talented and loving little boy of 2. Like you’ve heard me say a hundred times,”I want to be just like you when I grow up.” XOXOMOM

  2. Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Happy birthday, Son. I wish that I could have these 40 years with you all over again! (I guess I shouldn’t wear eyelashes tonight.)
    It used to bother me that you would never know how much I love you. I don’t worry anymore…you DO know.

    Mama Sunshine

  3. 4 Pants
    Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Somebody has their Birthday Pants on!

    Happy Birthday, Bronson. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and you get everthing you wish for – and then some.

    Love you – Judith

  4. 5 Daphne
    Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 7:39 pm


    I am sooooo sorry that I missed cheering you on your birthday. I didn’t know. (Sam – You didn’t call me!!) It sounds like an unbelievably warm and cozy, loving day and I would have loved to have been there. I just had a glass of champagne on my own – to you! You are an incredible being and…..I love you. Happy Happy belated birthday!

    xxxooo Daphne

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