Monday, January 31, 2005

Seek and ye shall find

It is true, seek and ye shall find. That is exactly what I did. About a week ago I was wondering what ever happened to a dear friend of mine from my freshmen year of college. I turned that wondering into wandering around the internet and doing some power searching. After a few minutes and some simple deductions I found him.

He just recently moved to LA and had posted his resume and bio on a site for creative professionals. It included a cell phone number and email address. I emailed him and the next day he emailed back very happy that I had been able to locate him. Iked9 is doing great. He and his girlfriend moved to LA in January and he has already found a job that he enjoys. We both vowed to make better efforts at staying in touch this time around and I told him that I’d be sure to give him a heads up on my next LA tour date. I’ll kick off my 2005 travel tour next month when I blow in to the Windy City.

And since, the title of this entry is seek and ye shall find, I decided to take the lead from some of my fellow blog fam and open the floor up for any questions readers may want answered about me. Drop your question to me in the comment box or email me directly and in a few days I will answer all of them (within reason).

Friday, January 28, 2005

Working on My Wings

I’m watching the clock like it’s the last fine black man at the club. It is Friday afternoon and I am ready to leave this office and everything in it for the weekend.

I had a lot of stuff on my mind yesterday and it still lingers there of course, just not as heightened as it was yesterday. That’s a good thing because what I must not forget is that those feelings and questions are there and must be dealt with step by step or once again they will rear their ugly heads again in unison once more. I don’t want that to happen.

Yesterday and last night was a lot about what I have been doing the past few months, discovering, rediscovering, having epiphanies and coming more and more into my own. Last night I thought. I wrote. I talked to two of my closest friends – who I love so much. I felt like I had some breakthroughs. If I hadn’t been going through it yesterday, I would have never asked myself many of the questions I needed to answer, some questions weren’t new and I’m still coming up with an answer for them. I’m 25 years old and it may take me another 5 or 10 years to come up with the answers but at least I’m looking for them. That I think is part of a healthy life. It is a natural part of evolution.

A caterpillar eases its way into a cocoon and later has to go through great pains to break its way out of that shell and come out a butterfly. The caterpillar gains its strength in the process of being in the dark and fighting to bust open that shell. Once it emerges it is beautiful, strong and flies.

I’m still relatively young. I’m in a cocoon. Lord guiding me, I will evolve. And I don’t know exactly how or when. And at this moment I’m laughing right now because when I am full fledged butterfly…..*mad giggles* Be ready!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Where I am in this moment (plus)

I don’t cry anymore. I haven't since August of 1999. But this morning and I just feeling like crying. I want to cleanse myself and wash away some things, mainly frustrations. I want to just let it all come down. Every tear that falls will leave me cleaner and lighter. I am sure that each drop will weigh at least one pound. And I will cry a thousand tears.

What would I be crying for? I’d cry because I am afraid of the unknown. I’d cry because I am young and don’t know what to do. I’d cry because I don’t know if what I’m doing right now feels right. I want to be free. I want to think. I want to be vibrant. I want my days to feel like spring. I want to be the person that I was meant to be. I want to allow my spirit to dance as it is destined to do – but here on earth not just in heaven.

Today a man that doesn’t know he knows me told me something I’ve been struggling with for some time now. He said that I should do what I think about doing not just think about it. But how do I make that happen? Where does that road lead? I am not sure where the one I’m traveling leads to either but at least I am already on it and it has some directional signs.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. I say that. I hear that. But I don’t know if I’m yet receiving that. The one thing in this world that I hate more than anything is uncertainty which is itself a paradigm because the world is uncertain.

Lately, I have been asking myself just when will I come to the point where the two roads meet. When will I find myself in that place when all my experiences in life and what God has prepared me for meets with just that, what I believe in my heart he has and is preparing me to do and be.

*the phone rings*

It is 11AM on Thursday morning and I am at my desk at work and my cell phone is ringing. It is Ajones, the first person I truly had a crush on and thought I could share something special with. The first person to ever also crush my feelings – repeatedly. I have not heard from him in some time. We went to high school together and he now lives in the DC metro area. I saw him a few weeks ago and he paid me very little friendly respect. He called me just now to ask if he should let his parents claim him on their taxes because he is trying to figure out what is best for his financial aid package.

In all of that there are many stories. Good friends would in some way insist that phone call was the point where my two roads meet. Ajones is 2 years younger than me and like several other young black men come to me for guidance, an elder of sorts though I am their same age or they just a little younger. Someone who sees me out and about asked me a few months ago would I be his mentor. In some way I get satisfaction from seeing all of them succeed and it ultimately makes me feel good. At other times it is draining on me and I wonder where the hell is my mentor. What about me?

So much, so much. Just like me, I’m so much. In fact for years now I have been told I am too many things – masculine not being one of them. That was a conversation I had with someone on the internet this morning before I came to work. A guy I was chatting with seemed interested in our conversation and even me, that was until I told him that I wasn’t masculine. And again the burden of my beauty weighed down heavy upon my shoulders with the rest of the weight of the world.

He went on about masculinity was part of the package that he was looking for. I had a flashback to when a fellow back in Cleveland who I admired told me that I was a wonderful young man and if I went to butch camp I could have any man my hearts desire. All during my childhood I was called names and denigrated because I did not fit the mold of what it meant to be a black boy or a boy at all. I was too feminine. I was too girlish in my walk, talk, ways and thoughts. I was looked down upon. Some things just don’t change. Even in the community (if one exist) of those who talk about loving and being loved and accepting and being accepting – to a large degree I am not loved, I am not accepted and in this lifetime I know that I won’t be by a vast majority. No matter how talented, committed, spirited I am – they won’t see past the construction of a male identity that enslaves them and they help perpetuate.

A few weeks ago Pooquie and I talked about black manhood and black masculinity and masculinity in general. He said he wanted to just be the best man he could be. I offered that I just wanted to be the best person I could be. We both paused because that was quite a thought and quite a statement about how we looked at the world and how we looked at ourselves – through our own lenses prescribed and created individually for us by our own separate life experiences.

That’s where I am right now. I have some shit on my brain and here I am exposing all of me in the medium that helped create me. But that’s another story for yet another day. Bare and naked. Here I stand in this moment.

* * * *

I have just returned from lunch. I'm back at my desk and wondering how is it that in the midst how in this moment in my life (its linear and in another second my mood will change) why I am so extremely productive with business and personal projects I'm working on.

Fighting to Hold On

Last night I had a dream. I was in a room with about seven or eight other black men, a variety of ages. An argument began between two of them, and then another two and a fight broke out. One man involved in the altercation pulled out a knife and stabbed the other in the chest. He went for the man in front of me with his knife next. I stood there paralyzed by the thought of what was going on around me. Then the man with the knife came toward me. He was going to try to slit my throat. I unfroze. We began to fight.

I was fighting back. I wasn’t going to let him cut me. I was not going to let him kill me. I was not going to die. Not like that. I was fighting.

I woke up. I have another fight left in me.

In this world I better.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Planning Ahead

It is not often that my mother offers advice. So when she does I tend to listen and take it to heart. On one such occasion a few years ago I called my mother before I headed off to class. I was doing a big presentation that day and before we got off the phone she said “nothing can stop a prepared black man. Always be prepared.” I think those are the three most important words my mother has ever told me beyond the words I love you.

Am I preparing for tomorrow today? I know that a man that fails to plan plans to fail.

Last week my best friend O-Canada and I were talking out and developing my five year plan. Hers is already done. I admire her so much for that. She is always on the ball and keeps her eye on the ball. Now that she is married she keeps her eyes on his balls too – if you know what I mean. At the end of this several hour conversation there were some areas of my life where I had developed very clear, measurable, realistic and obtainable goals and steps to get there. Faith, family, finance and friends were all covered. Then there was one part of my life where I have for many months now remained unsure. My career. I know how I want to make my life, just not sure on how I can be fulfilled making my living.

Since graduate school I have been in the same field and I don’t know how much I enjoy it anymore and if I can see myself being fulfilled and satisfied doing this for the next five or ten years. I once asked a friend how he decided on his profession. He said that it was the only thing he was ever really good at. I think I’m good at a variety of things and I have a variety of interests. What color is my parachute? I don’t think we live in a world where for me I have a lot of time trying to pick the right color. Fumbling around could put me further behind or in deeper debt that I already am.

I have got to come up with a plan.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Where is he now? Iked9

The Love Hater asked me– who would I like to reconnect with again?

More than anyone in the world the person that I wonder where he is now and would love to reconnect with is Iked9. He and I shared a special friendship when I was a college freshman.

Iked9 was my next door neighbor on the 3rd floor of Calhoun Hall. He and his roommate were natives of Texas and on the soccer team. The two of them introduced me to soccer and I attended some of their games. They were both wonderful guys but Iked9 and I had a connection that I shared with no one else that year. Iked9 was short, dark chocolate, with ivory white teeth, a small muscular frame and a laugh and energy that would bounce all over the room. In one-on-one moments though, he would offer a serenity that would calm any troubled water. He was sweet and a person that everyone wanted to be around.

Now at that time although everyone on campus thought I was gay, I never acknowledged to anyone that I was. On one hand I wasn’t offering any confirmation. On the other hand I wasn’t denying it either. I was very “just so.”

I was pretty popular among the guys on my floor that knew me. I was Clay Starr and accepted as just one of the guys, a little special but still one of the guys. When I look back on my freshman year and the guys who lived on the 3rd floor of Calhoun I have some of my warmest thoughts. We were all young then.

Anyway, I usually bought a card, a cake or something for every birthday on my half of the 3rd floor. February came along and I wanted to give Iked9 something for his birthday. I didn’t know what to get him but I wanted it to be something special and something of value. After a lot of thinking, I went to the bookstore. I purchased Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris. On his birthday I gave him the book and told him that I hoped he would enjoy reading it because it was a story dear to me. He said thank you and I was off to class. I didn’t know when or if he would actually read the book or exactly what his reaction would be.

Two days later I got to my dorm room and there was a message on my dry erase board to knock on Iked9’s door immediately. My heart pounded. I wasn’t sure what was to be expected based on that message. I knocked on his door. No one answered. I felt temporary relief.

Hours passed and while I was sitting in my room there was a knock on my door. I opened the door and it was Iked9 with a huge smile on his face. He gave me a hug and we had a beautiful conversation. He said he was happy that I felt comfortable enough with him to share something so personal. I was happy that he was someone that I could share that with. Our bond grew tighter.

The next school year I only saw Iked9 a few times on campus and the year after that I transferred. I haven’t seen him since. I once had an email address for him but that account is now closed.

I have no idea where he is or what he is doing but I pray that he is happy, healthy, living and learning. I also hope he still has my book.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

On the Pulse of the Mourning

Iraq, A river of tears, A Tree
Hosts to principles long since departed,
Marked the true American.
Believers, who left small tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our nations floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of a dark age soon to come.

But today, Iraq cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Leave, you may no longer stand upon my
Back and face your manifest destiny,
Seek no haven in my shadow
I will give you no hiding place over here.

You, created by the very things you now love to hate,
have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance
Your mouths spilling words

Your innocent children again armed for slaughter.
Iraq cries out to us today, you may no longer stand on me,
and hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A river of tears make a new song,
It says, come rest here by my side.

Each of you an aborted country,
Once friends, we no longer make proud,
Thrusting perpetually under siege
You struggle for profits
We have left collars of waste upon
Your shores, heavy debris upon your chest.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war with us once more. Come,
Not clad in peace and I will sing war songs
And claim that the Creator gave them to me when I and the
Tree and all his people were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across my
Brow and when I knew but told you I still
knew nothing.
The Tears pour down.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The tears and Iraq.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They all hear still
The speaking of the Tree.

They hear the first and last of every Tree
Speak to humankind today. Come to me, besides the tears.
Do not plant yourself, nor lose your vision behind the tears.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers--desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Arab, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot,
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am that Tree distanced from the River,
Which will not be moved
I the Tree
I am yours--your Passages have been paid
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need

Do not allow the spirit of mourning to enter you this morning. For all of you, today dawns a new day for you.
The history of the past four years, despite its wrenching pain, wretched suffering, backwards steps,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, activeness and collaboration need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out and upon me
, Iraq, the River of Tears, the Tree and to your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the spirit of the American then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, and into
Your brother's face, your country
And say
With hope

Do not let this day be a day simply of mourning. Renew and recommit to a new morning.

This poem was inspired by and borrows from On the Pulse of the Morning, written and delivered by Maya Angelou at the Presidential Inaguaration Ceremony, January 20, 1993 for William Jefferson Clinton.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Mrssissippi Yearning

This Saturday night I had nothing to do. Then a spirit moved me. Around eight o’clock I called my mom to ask for Mrssissippi’s telephone number. Mrssissippi is the mother of my father. I have met her once. I have met him only twice. A relationship between my father and I, or his family and I does not exist.

This has never bothered me and honestly I have never given it too much thought. I have a mother, brother, sister and a family network in Cleveland that has loved and supported me. Who could, would or why even ask for anything more? I have been comfortable with this for years, or so I thought.

Lately I have been thinking about him. If I heard his voice I wouldn’t know it was him. If I felt his touch I wouldn’t be able to identify the feeling. If he stood beside me I wouldn’t recognize his scent. Circumstances as they are now do not allow me to reach out to him right now so I decided to reach out to the closest thing, the person who has in the past attempted to reach out to me but I never reached back, Mrssissippi. When I was a child she would occasionally send me cards on holidays. I would open them, take the money and throw away the card before my mother got home. My mother would have made me write or call Mrssissippi to say thank you. I was a bitter child then and had no desire to do such. I just wanted to take the money and run. After all, didn’t her son run away from me?

One night during my senior of college I was lying in bed doing nothing and had no homework to do. There was nothing on television. There was nothing on the radio. Something moved me to get up and write a long overdue thank you note to Mrssissippi. I couldn’t blame her or make her suffer consequences for something she didn’t do. I was angry at my father, not her. She didn’t deserve to be treated poorly by me. I sent that letter off and within a few weeks she had written me back.

She was glad to hear from me. She asks my mothers aunts about me all the time. She wished I would write her more often. She prayed for me. She wanted her son to do better. She was proud of me. She wanted me to come visit her sometime. She invited me to a family reunion. I did not attend.

I didn’t write her back after that and she never wrote me again. My mother’s aunts tell my mother and I that she asks about me all the time. I believe she really is a good woman.

Tonight I called one of my mother’s aunts and asked her for a number to reach Mrssissippi. She was elated that I was calling for that reason. She and Mrssissippi are good friends and according to her I was asked about yesterday at the grocery store.

So, I got the number and called Mrssissippi. An uncle that I have never known answered the phone. I asked to speak with Mrssissippi. She picked up. We talked for all of 10 minutes. She asked questions and I answered. I actually smiled a lot because I could tell without being able to see through phone wire that there was someone on the other end of the line who was pleased to be hearing my voices. Mrssissippi said she prays for me every day as she does for all of her grandchildren. I know that she has a lot of grandchildren, an exact number I don’t know. I do know however that she birthed at least eight children of her own.

Mrssissippi was glad to hear from me. She said she asks my mothers aunts about me all the time and she heard I was doing well for myself and had gotten a good education. She told me she was proud that I was staying out of trouble. She asked how old I was and told me how time flies. Yes, it does.

Mrssissippi said her birthday is March 30. My mother’s birthday is March 1. Like book ends, two women who are directly and indirectly connected to my being hold the third month together. Black women, aren’t they always holding things together though? I told Mrssissippi I would call her on her birthday. She will just be turning 68. Still got a lot of living to do I bet. As our conversation was coming to a close I told her to send my father and his other son my regards.

I went back to loafing around my apartment. Whatever moved me to write her that letter a couple years ago must have been the same thing that moved me to call her tonight. I hope I am moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

More than a Number?

Yesterday I had my first business lunch of the New Year. It went well. The conversation was terrific, food perfect, wine delicious, my colleague and I were both on message, I looked good and most importantly, I wasn’t paying for it. Life - sometimes you have to love it. The guy my colleague and I were having lunch with is a well respected black guy in DC with a pretty impressive resume and a rolodex I’d steal if I had the chance. At several points during lunch I looked at him just wondering how did he get to where he is in his professional and civic career and just how on Earth do I get there too. My insecurities began to take over after long. I was wondering why wasn’t I where he was now. A loud bell rang, the alarm sounded, the buzzer went off, the words came out of his mouth that answered the question of why I wasn’t where he was just yet.

He told a story about a great time he had in college. He ended the story by saying, “That was 25 years ago.” My insecurity about my career and social climb faded for just a minute. This guy was at least twice my age. He didn’t get where he is now overnight and at my age I need to realize if one mans life were looked at as 24 hour day I’m still very early in the morning.

Age is such a funny thing. Not funny ha ha but funny in an ‘ah, there is the rub” sort of way. I sometimes I hide my age from others fearing they’ll think I’m too young. When I first started my move into the working world people were put off by my accomplishments and young age. So, I started taking the dates off of my graduation dates on my resume and shying away from any discussion that would lead to me saying exactly how old I was. People loved me, my work, etc… but were put off by my youth. Another example of the burden of ones own beauty. One day I’ll probably hide my age fearing that I’m too old by someone else’s standards. The beauty of aging is heavy to carry as well.

Standards are sometimes marked by age. If you are X age you should be this and doing that. If you are XX age you should have this and be working on that. I can see both the positive and negatives of setting goals and using age as a bar to have reached certain successes. But what do I know? I’m only…

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Oh no!

There are reasons that I have social policies and typically abide by basic rules of etiquette, so much so that my friends sometimes find it annoying. I do all of this in my eternal quest to be “just so.” Well, tonight I was reminded in no uncertain terms that I should not break from my typical rules and social policies. For years I have had a rule against eating bar-b-q ribs in public. When I go to restaurants with friends or dates and see ribs on the menu, or any heavy food for that matter, I always skip over it. Tonight against my better judgment I through caution into the wind. I was with Foxy, A-Queer and Thirty-Red. Foxy was in town to help Thirty-Red move into his new apartment. Great. Foxy had the big idea of going to a bar-b-que joint and ordering some huge platter for four. Great. I figured I’d be amongst close friends and I could eat what I want and not be concerned about getting messy. I was so right, but so wrong.

The food was good. There was a huge platter served to us that was more than enough to feed all four of us and quite possibly another person. I sucked the marrow out of the bone. It was all fine and dandy until all the food had been cleared away, the check had come and everyone loosened their belts. Suddenly, I felt a grumbling in my stomach. Oh no! I had a case of bubble guts. I excused myself from the table and went outside to get some fresh air and leave some bad air behind. I thought I was fine. I went back to the table and sat down. My party was still sitting their shooting the breeze. Oh no! My bubble guts were more serious than I initially thought. The worse case scenario was playing itself out. I had to go. Yes, I had to GO! I didn’t want to go but I knew that I was at least 30 minutes away from home and this was as my sisters say, “is a serious matter.”

I rushed to the bathroom. I did my bizness. I got up. I heard nothing. Oh no! It was one of those new toilets that flushes on its own and it wasn’t flushing. I panicked. I laughed. I panicked again. I washed my hands and tried to make a clean break. No one would know it was me. Think Again! I rushed back to the table to hurry my friends out the door. As I was telling them what transpired and they laughed at me I saw two small boys on their way to the bathroom. Oh no! I must save the children. I turned around and went back to the bathroom to hang out in the stall and keep them from it.

Meanwhile back on the ranch and unknown to me one of my friends was telling the waitress I broke the toilet. Oh no! I didn’t break it. It was already broken. Why didn’t the toilet have an emergency flush button anyway?

What do I do next? I decide to lock the stall door and slip under it and make my grand escape out the restroom. No one else would go into that stall again. Oh no! As I was making my way up under the stall and just as I was standing up on the “right” side of the stall the bathroom door swings open and it’s the manager. He saw me, I saw him. He walked out the bathroom quickly without saying a word and I followed his lead. I grabbed my coat and ran to the car stomping on the laughter of my friends. I won’t be eating there ever again and that’s not just because they now probably have a sign up saying that I’m not allowed to eat there either. As for eating heavy foods in public again – Oh no!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Pleasant Surprises

Every night for the past three nights my phone has rang and I have welcomed the voice of an unexpected yet very pleasant surprise. Tuesday night I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I looked at the caller id and saw it was St. Croix. I haven’t talked to him since late November and really hadn’t thought that I’d ever hear from him again. When we initially met I was going to attempt to make it a love connection. That didn’t seem to quite work out but we do enjoy each others conversation and have gone out to dinner. St. Croix and I may never have a relationship with romance but he is a great candidate for a friend.

Wednesday my pleasant surprise came from Southern Chocolate. He is a young man (yes, younger than even me) that I met while I was in LA last summer. Young, laid back, cute and amused by jokes – of course I liked him. We exchanged numbers and vowed to keep in touch. Since July we’ve probably touched base all of two times prior to Wednesday night. I was delighted to hear from him and learn his last semester went well.

Tonight I was lying in bed minding my own business when my frat brother the Notorious I.C.E. called. We met through a mutual friend a few months ago and he is becoming one of my favorite brothers and breeders. I’ve been trying to expand my pool of hetero friends and he is a nice fit. Am I tokenizing straight men? Even though that sounds very, “I have a black friend,” it’s not. Talk amongst yourselves.

Nevertheless, I have enjoyed all my pleasant surprises these past few days. It’s nice to know that there are some folks out there who just want to call and enjoy my voice and see about my general well being. The only thing is that although I am happy to have received calls from those three guys, my mind keeps wandering to why I haven’t gotten a call from Shadow. As I have been easing thoughts about Langston out of my head I’ve been toying with the idea of moving Shadow into that space. Shadow is/was my latest focal point of amorous attention. Maybe he is now lurking in the shadows.

I don't know how the Shadow situation will work itself out but I do know I’ll cherish my pleasant surprises.

Monday, January 03, 2005

So Live

My New Year’s trip to New York that started with a small snafu ended up being spectacular. On that small spot I will no longer dwell. It is the big picture that is most important and I had good time in the big apple.

Friday night, New Year’s Eve, several friends and I went out for a late dinner and at 10:30 pm began our trip down Christopher Street. All week I knew that I’d be spending New Year’s Eve in the city but I had no idea where midnight would find me. I was positive I didn’t want to be anywhere with too much smoke, too many people or not enough good energy surrounding me. This could prove to be a hard test. Around 11:00 pm we were strolling through Chiz Chiz and by 11:10 pm we were doing what would be our final toast of 2004 at the Hangar. 11:40 pm found my friends and I walking into the New Year. Laughing, joking, singing and dancing we strolled down Christopher headed toward the pier. The temperature was just right, the sky was clear and the wind was blowing. It was picturesque. There we were four friends standing near the end of the pier surrounded by other people and their friends and family fellowshipping, facing the Statue of Liberty and watching the start of a fireworks display. 11:58 pm came and the four of us got into a group hug huddle. We prayed. 5-4-3-2-1! Happy New Year! It was a New Year’s Eve I will never forget. I don’t know if that pier, if the New York skyline or the Statue of Liberty ever looked so beautiful to me. The fireworks that lit the night were like confetti being thrown over the waterfront and the city.

When I woke up on Saturday morning it was time for me to shower and dress and head to midtown where I’d be meeting Langston for lunch. I saw him first halfway down the block. He apparently spotted me as well because my phone rang and when I answered he immediately questioned if I was the handsome man approaching the corner of 33rd & 8th in the blue jeans and black shirt. Yes, I was both of those things, handsome and approaching that corner. It was so good to Langston and we embraced and took the opportunity to just enjoy each others beauty for just a moment. It has been months since we have seen each other face to face. We began to walk and talk and he told me he wanted to go see the home the Ailey Dance Company. We hopped on the train and in minutes we were standing in front of their building. The we looked at the pictures and shared highlights great Ailey performances we’d seen and both agreed that Ailey would be proud to see his living legacy continue to flourish artistically and in terms of its management.

We then headed to lunch and I remembered why I had become so enchanted with this man. I enjoyed our conversation and his presence. I truly want to be his friend. For the first time, at lunch I was able to look at him as just that and be at peace with it. He on the other hand hadn’t been thinking the same thing exactly. He asked for a kiss. All of my body and just a little bit of my heart wanted to lean over that table and kiss him but luckily my head prevailed. I refused his offer. That opened up the gates to a conversation that was probably overdue for me and perhaps him as well. I very much laid out to him that yes we both shared an attraction for each other – but because I am an entrée and not a side dish – that’s all it can be, two friends that happen to have a special fondness for each other. Two friends, not two friends with benefits, just two friends. I needed that conversation. It was very healthy, realistic and good thing to get off my chest. I think I was getting a very good start to my New Year with that. Langston and I finished up lunch and went shoe shopping after that. He found a shop in that had what he said was exactly what he’d been looking for. I was happy he had what he wanted. We parted ways, he headed to his hotel and I headed for cocktails and dinner with my friends. I haven’t talked to him since.

Saturday at 3:00 pm the curtain went up on what I think was without a doubt the crown jewel of my trip to New York. House lights went down and the audience was silent in the Walter Kerr Theater for the matinee performance of the latest August Wilson play, Gem of the Ocean. I don’t know of another playwright that I can even compare to Mr. Wilson. He weaves love, race, class, family and life and death into this play so well. Sitting in the audience listening to his words I felt like a small child in a candy store. Each word, each line was a delicious treat. There were times I wanted to yell cut and have an audience discussion. Some words spoken were pure sweet and others were of the sweet and sour variety. All of them delicious, those delivered by Aunt Esther, Black Mary, Solly Two Kings, by every character. But perhaps the one most memorable was by Eli right before the lights blackout on the stage for the final time.

Overall I had wonderful trip to New York City and I think it was great way to begin a new year to live, learn and grow. So live.