Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Act One

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They all have their exits and their entrances,And one man in his time plays many parts.
William Shakespeare

Walking on the plane I had a prayer in my heart, a bottle of vodka in my left hand and the January issue of "O" magazine in my right. By my own standards, I was equipped for my maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. AQueer and I were on the way to visit Meech Muffin and bring in the New Year in a new land. We brought in the last year with Foxy Brown and Thirty Red on the Hudson River while catching a glimpse of the fireworks that lit up the beautiful face of Lady Liberty. This time we would meet Big Ben. AQueer has travelled throughout Europe previously and this was my first time and I knew that just as it always is when we get together, there would be an adventure in store. I admit that I didn't have high expectations of something happening but I did anticipate that some feeling somewhere, some day during my excursion would be felt. The emotion, I did not know in advance. But something did happen, more emotions were felt and it was a blessed new beginning to a New Year.

Something happened that first night. AQueer and I met a fairly young man, of age 31 and spent the evening with him and a bottle of red wine. Talking. Drinking. Sharing. Although I have prided myself on being one who understood the idea and reality that I live in a global society and every one thing in every one nation is connected I had not been so struck by the breakdown of it until Thursday night. Our new mate was originally from Sierra Leone and has been living in London for several years now and for five years prior resided in Germany where he was married to a woman. He said that was part of why he left Germany, not really because of the country or his station there but because he could no longer continue to live his life as he was living it with his wife. They parted ways and he departed to London where he lives now. The seed of our real conversation was planted by an image we saw on television. It was of a Black woman who had gained some degree of notoriety while on a television game show. He talked about how he believed race played a factor in her not finishing the show as its victor. From there the conversation went deeper to discuss race and ethnic relations in the United Kingdom, particularly related to how he viewed the oppression of children of the African Diaspora by white Europeans. The original colonizers of the world. His candor in discussing his observations, theories and own feelings on people of African descent throughout the world was insightful and left me with lots to think about. Much more than I would like to in fact but I know that I must in order to continue develop as a critical thinker, as a person of color in a world where people of color are the majority but hold a minority of its power.

And this man spoke to me. He talked to me. He was his authentic self in what could be conceived almost as quite a contrived physical space. One evening I found myself consumed in a chat with a very nice man from Turkey. He, like several men I met during my stay worked in the hotel industry. He says that he may be taking a trip to the States in a few months for a training. I told him to visit more often, at least the room is discounted. Nevertheless, I thought after striking up an exchange of pleasantries that would be the end of our encounter. Instead for some reason, some purposeful reason our talk turned to his life. His girlfriend. His ex lover and his family back in Turkey. We even talked about how he thinks he needs to be loved and for that reason he may never be able to fully experience it. His girlfriend, he says is a nice woman who deserves something he may not be able to offer her. His ex lover is in need of substance abuse treatment and uses drugs to cope with serious emotional scars and subsequently creates physical ones. Back at home in Turkey, my new friend told me of his siblings still reside there. His sister is the oldest and beautiful on the inside and out. His brother was once a handsome man but after a divorce stopped taking interest in his appearance and health. He believes that his brother has lost his will and realizes there is nothing that he can do about it but be supportive. A charming young Turk, only 24, I told him his is a path I'd like to cross again in ten years. As I do for myself, I wonder life has in store for him.

Nothing less than wonderful can I call the city of London. Its monuments, culture and treasures that I've been able to absorb some small piece of over the past several days have been an enriching experience. I've had good feelings about every place that I've seen or touched. Yet, the best moments that I have shared cannot be found in any of the travel books I have on loan from the library. The very best and most touching parts of this trip have come in the laughs, hugs and company of my brethren Meech Muffin and AQueer. Yes, I've gone clubbing and caroused until hours of the night but I think I've spent an even amount of time sitting at this table playing scrabble until 4AM and watching DVD's and listening to music. Three different Black men with several common shared experiences, bonded together in what must be love. Dinners with the guys, sitting in St. Martins-in-the-Field with my eyes closed listening to a violin concert of Bach, raising my hands and voice with Aqueer in Heaven, those types of memories are the ones I will remember. Those memories and of meeting...

New Year's day I still had a little more celebrating to do and Sunday night brothers here head to Brixton for the Caribana party. When in London, do as the Londoners do. So we did. AQueer and I hopped on the double decker heading to Brixton Station, found Brighton Terrace and the club. As we walked down the steps I was greeted with and bounced to the hip hop beats that I enjoy at home. Cover, coat check and the customary first stroll through the club to get a good bearing of your surroundings and moreover, see who is there surrounding you and who you might want to surround. I'd seen nothing but heard a beat that called me and my Cape Cod to the dance floor. AQueer followed and the music belonged to us. A few more spins and I headed to a stool to sit and observe for the rest of the evening. A man caught my eye. He was the kind of man I like to look at but not necessarily talk to. He was a six foot tall dark brown complexioned fellow with muscle and somehow at the same time modesty. His hair in cornrows to the back, a perfectly lined up short beard and enchanting brown eyes. I caught his eye too. I turned away. Some time passed before I looked again. This time he caught me looking. He called me to come to him. I was on holiday, I would answer his call.

I liked his energy. I liked his spirit. I liked his vibe. I liked his words. I liked his approach. I liked him, Othello. We talked off and on for the rest of the night. Venturing off to chat with our friends and then returning back. I gave him my number here and told him my friend and I were leaving and assured him that it was a pleasure making his acquaintance. Indeed it had been but it wasn't over yet. He wanted to see my off properly so he walked me out and upstairs, ground level to the exit doors. He shook my hand, drew me closer and kissed me. Not just an ordinary kiss. There was both lust and life in those lips, in his tongue and in mine. I didn't know if he would ever call me or if I'd ever see him again but that kiss made it all right.

Before the night bus dropped AQueer and I off at the flat he had already sent a text message inquiring if I'd made it to my accommodations safely. A gentleman, and a move I'v seen played many times over. But, I still liked it. Everyone rather they admit to it or not, wants to be liked and cared about even when we can only get a sliver yet we all want a hunk of the cake that is affection. It's so sweet.

The next day we traded text messages and spoke on the phone and this afternoon he came to see me before I depart in the morning heading for home. Just he and I in the flat on another typical cold grey winter day in South London found light in the fire of candles and warmth in the arms and touch of each other. He is younger than even I am and I find a level of sophistication in his communication, level of thinking and yearning for understanding that I've not encountered in men who have seen many more moons than the both of us. He appeals to all of me and he is precious. He gave me countless thoughts and covered me with a thousand kisses before he headed to work and wished me safe travels. He bundled up and headed out the door. I stood in the kitchen window and watched him as far as I could see.