Friday, December 23, 2005

Wrapped Up for Christmas

Tuesday morning I walked in my living room and Meech Muffin was on my couch half asleep wrapped up in my afghan blanket. The very image of him made me smile and the significance of that afghan stirred something in my heart. It was a reminder of home. In my family there are very few traditions but one as unique as my family itself is the making of the afghan. Just a few months before high school graduation my mother posed to all of her children – what color? She would sit on our couch and crochet a queen size blanket from yarn in our favorite colors. My sisters’ is purple, pink and white. Jimmy Jams’ is all black and mine is three shades of blue and white. Going out in the world, my mother wanted something to cover us when she couldn’t, when we were more than arms length away.

I have lived away from home almost ever since I graduated high school and no matter where I go I take my afghan with me. For the next few days though I won’t need it because my mother will be able to wrap her arms around me herself. Tomorrow I am heading home for Christmas and I couldn’t be more excited. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. I have broken my old record of six months between visits to Cleveland. I haven’t been since April when I surprised my brother for his 30th birthday celebration and this trip home is now long overdue.

Since Tuesday the visions of fresh baked holiday cookies have been dancing in my head. If my guess is right, around the same time I step off the plane my mother will be pulling the first batch out of the oven and by the time I make it home they should be cool and ready for me to devour. Christmas Eve I’m going to a football game with Jimmy Jam and my annual gathering with friends from high school. Someone else from our inner circle has gotten married since last Christmas and I anticipate I will meet her new husband. Christmas Day I am looking forward to most because I will say amen to the birth of Christ and later on sink my teeth into a bone. Of those few traditions my family has, another is barbecuing on Christmas. Somewhere around 4th or 5th grade there was a family meeting about the Christmas dinner menu and the consensus was that following Thanksgiving no one really wanted turkey but a few slabs on the grill sounded just fine. Since then in cold and or snowy weather we have managed to do it every year.

Of course over the years people have called us strange for doing what we do. Who ever heard of sitting around eating Christmas cookies and barbecue ribs in almost freezing temperatures? Probably not many, yet we like it and have a wonderful time with each other. I’m so looking forward to Christmas. I won’t be wrapped up in a symbol of home because that will still be sitting at the foot of my bed here in DC. I will however be wrapped up in home, sitting at the foot of my mothers’ bed in Cleveland.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Then and Now

These past twelve months have been very meaningful for me and I know for myself that they have helped me to heal, grow and mature. I am a better man today than I was one year ago. Reflecting on where I was just a year ago as a person and where I am now is breathtaking. I am miles from where I want to be at the end of this journey and I am only a portion of the man I want to become, but I am further down that road now and closer to developing into the man I want to be.

Then: I could not sit still.
Now: I understand the importance of stillness.

Then: I couldn’t answer the question honestly.
Now: Yes, I would date myself.

Then: This thing just started.
Now: Everyone that I meet had a life already in progress before I met them.

Then: He must be…
Now: He just must be.

Then: In my community.
Now: In our world.

Then: Maybe I am not.
Now: Yes, I am.

Then: I want to.
Now: I want to be a better man.

In a coffee shop in the Warehouse District of Cleveland while I was still a sophomore in college someone told me something that he surely has forgotten but I never will. His words were “don’t be afraid of the man you are becoming.” Then I was. Now I know I can’t and shouldn’t be.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Year of Transition

I have walked down that street many times before at the very same hour of the late night and nothing, nothing ever seemed to be unusual. Last night I walked down that street at 11pm and for the first time ever, out of the corner of my eye I noticed something different. Something was unusual. The gate was open.

There is an entrance gate to a cemetery on North Capitol Street that at night is always closed and for whatever reason last night it was not. I didn’t stop walking after I made the observation. I only noted to myself that someone must be coming out or going in.

This morning at 8am my mother called to let me know that my great grandmother had passed away yesterday. Someone had gone in and little did I know it was Ernestine. After 93 years the Lord called her home.

Life, this universe is so full of so many ironies and connections and shared experiences. It is just so full. Yesterday, my friend announced the home going of his father. His dad, like my great grandmother was aging with Alzheimer’s. Ernestine passed away in the nursing home she had been in since my early years of college when my grandmother said that she couldn’t handle her anymore. Today my mother and I discussed my grandmothers’ not so good health anymore.

All I can do is say, cry out his name - - Jesus!

This has been a not so ordinary week for me. I have gone through a number of emotions in my ups and downs fighting my heart and desire for companionship, work has had its ups and down, I lost something extremely important to me, I have moved to the helm of Black Magic and already been delivered a punch to my stomach. Jesus!

But it is good. Life is good. It is a beautiful thing and this week I have been able to see my growth over the past twelve months. I like every other man knows not where the road will take me or when the Lord will take me or anyone I love away. I do know no matter what I am going through I must learn and live and that I can call out his name.

The church down the street from my house has a sign that has read all year long, ‘2005 The Year of Transition.’ A prophetic word.

Monday, December 05, 2005

To my heart...

Dear Heart,

First, I have to say thank you. Over the years you have proven to be true and strong. In times where my body or my mind had not the will to move on or ahead you stepped up to the plate. Without you I don’t know where I would be. It is on your strength that I am often carried.

I now know more about you than I ever have. You are intricate but not as complex as I once thought you were. I find that your simplicity is a large part of your beauty. I adore it and hope that you will continue to love me as much as I love you.

But there are times when I wonder, what are you doing and why. Last night and even just a few minutes ago I listened to you when my mind told me to do something different. This tremendous power over me that you possess is at times dangerous. I believe that you have the best of intentions. I really do. But it is hard to trust you and my mind always wants to fight you. I know it has the best intentions too. Will there ever be a time when you two agree?

Of course, you two agree on issues of family, most often of friends, but when it comes down to desires to pursue, build and share something with someone on a more intimate level almost never. One of you runs to the possibility, one of you runs away from the possibility and both of you are afraid of just standing still. We know we have to be hurt but we don’t want to gingerly walk into the pain. Thank you for protecting me from unnecessary pain. But I know how you move and that it will eventually happen – the pain that is, and the joy that will come before it and even the lesson from it. I just pray that you will as always be strong.

I don’t know what all I thought this letter would say or mean but I felt the need to talk to you. So to wrap it up I want to say thank you again and that I will try to keep all of us, mind, body and you my heart working together. Continue to be optimistic and curious like a small child, willing to try new things. I admit I will still hand over most power and decision making to the mind but I will however try to make more efforts to hear you out and let you learn, grow and make mistakes.

I love you.


Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Who Is Responsible?

Without fail I am led to think about the epidemic of HIV/AIDS every day. On World AIDS Day I am sure that I think about it even more. Each year on World AIDS Day I ask myself the same question over and over again. Who is responsible for this? Each year I arrive at the same answer.

I am responsible for being abstinent and practicing safe sex. I am responsible for not using drugs. I am responsible for avoiding the exchange of bodily fluids with any person. I am responsible for knowing my HIV status.

I am responsible for telling my friends and loved ones about practicing safe behaviors in hopes they will not be infected with something that is preventable. I am responsible for urging my friends and loved ones to be tested. I am responsible for encouraging the people in my life that I love that are infected to take care of their bodies.

I am responsible for my voice. I am responsible for using my words to spread truth and combat ignorance that is more harmful than the infection itself because people can live with HIV and die from those things brought on from the stigma attached to it. I am responsible for keeping my eye on the federal, local and state government spending on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. I am responsible for writing a letter, sending an email or making a phone call when I question their actions or direction. I am responsible for my own character and never refusing to express my doubts that there are those working with programs to serve my Black gay community that I feel are ill equipped to fight an infection because of their own ignorance or because they are too busy fighting themselves. I am responsible for doing my small part in creating a global community of love and acceptance.

We are responsible.

Once again, the blogger community is joining together to raise awareness about the world wide AIDS epidemic. Please click here to view a list that will be updated throughout the day of individuals raising their voices.