My Life As A Gay Man Has Changed Dramatically As I Near 80

I've turned inward and become more contemplative.

Man keeping a clean house, going out and starting to careless as he ages DisobeyArt | Canva, Courtesy of Author

I've been thinking recently about how my life seems to be changing without my awareness or purpose. As I lay in my bed this evening after dinner, staring at the ceiling, contemplating nothing, and not looking forward to cleaning up the dinner dishes, I came to an awareness.

The awareness arrived like this:

My life seems to be turning more inward. I've been contemplating my past and present, and thoughts about my future. I've been processing and writing more about my life including essays, poetry, memoirs, and now and then a fictional look at life.


I've been paying more attention to being creative with art projects. I've paid more attention to my kitties — to keeping them healthy and well-fed and spending more time petting them and brushing them. I look forward to taking an afternoon nap and sometimes two in one day. While I'm m getting plenty of rest and sleeping well, instead of my usual 10 a.m. start, I'm now beginning my day at 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.

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The awareness continued:

My life has been turning less outward than it ever has been in the past. Turning away from house cleaning, cooking, reorganizing my collections, and decorating for holidays. Letting dirty dishes build up in the sink, sometimes soaking, sometimes not. When I shop for groceries, I prefer to do it online with Instacart, and when they arrive, instead of putting them away in the refrigerator or on the pantry shelves right away, they sit out for a while. Eventually, the refrigerated items get put away but the dry goods sometimes take a few days to get put in their place.


In general, I've been caring less whether my condo is in order or not. I've been doing less caring about my clothing and what I wear, fewer changes of sheets on the bed, and fewer showers — although I keep clean. I've been letting things build up on my desk, on the guest bed, on the kitchen counter and island, in my closet on any flat surface. Clothes are draped over a chair in the bedroom instead of going into the dirty clothes hamper or hung up to wear next time. Sometimes I just toss them into a pile on the closet floor until the next time I send them to the cleaners. I have enough underpants and shirts that I only have to wash them once a month (of course, I still change them every day).

Author's condo Photo by author

I shop less and rarely go to a play, a musical, a movie, or a museum. I haven't traveled locally, nationally, or internationally since COVID. I would rather stay in my PJs, not get fully dressed, and just hang out in my condo. I rarely go out for walks. While I don't the kitty litter get too gross, I avoid scooping the poop daily like I used to. I rarely entertain family or friends now, never throw large dinner parties anymore, and prefer to spend holidays alone being contemplative.


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In many ways, this is very unlike me. In the past, the condo was always in perfect order, with a place for everything and with everything in its place. After eating a meal, the dishes were rinsed and put into the dishwasher until it was full. Then I would run it and when the cycle was finished, put the clean dishes away, sometimes even before they were dry.

When I brought groceries home they would be put in the refrigerator or on the pantry shelves immediately. If I had purchased fruit or vegetables that needed to be handled before refrigerating, I would handle them and then put them away. My bed would be made or at least “thrown back every morning. The kitty litter box would be scooped every day and sometimes twice a day.

Clothes in my closet were always placed in order according to shirt weight: light, flannel, heavy. Often the shirts were in order by color. I would shower daily. For holidays, birthdays, and sometimes just because, I would have friends over for a home-cooked dinner. Often I would give “immediate world” parties and provide heavy hors d’oeuvres for 30 or 40 people. Now my entertaining is far less often and with fewer people invited.


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So why are all these drastic changes taking place and why am I so different? Is retirement after 25+ years finally kicking in? Is living alone without my husband of 41 years causing some of these changes?

Is the fact that I'm almost 80 causing me to slow down physically and have less energy? Am I re-prioritizing what is important to me as I grow older? Has COVID changed my lifestyle, like it has for so many others, to be more isolated and contemplative?

Maybe the reasons are all of the above or none of the above. But I must say that I've been enjoying myself having less immediacy to accomplish “law and order” in my life. I'm enjoying being less hard on myself in trying to achieve perfection in my day-to-day life and home environment.


I still get things accomplished and my condo is far from a hoarder's den. I still achieve much in my need for creativity and my need to write daily. I eventually clean up the place, go grocery shopping, cook healthy dinners, and entertain a few friends now and then.

I continue to learn so much about myself and continue to change who I am, my belief systems, and my understanding of my purpose in life. I continue to be generous with others and help good causes when I can. So what do I have to complain or worry about? Maybe I'm still becoming. Maybe that never ends — and that cannot be bad.

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Michael A. Horvich holds his BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences, his MA as an Education Generalist with a concentration in Gifted Education, and an Advanced Certificate in Education Administration and Supervision. After a 30-year elementary school and university teaching career, Michael has been retired for 30 years and is active as an educator, and storyteller.