Friday, March 17, 2006

Act Two

Like most holidays the best usually comes last. My final two full days in London were perhaps the best. Through the cold and clouds the sun prevailed. I was vibrant and awake. With 48 hours left I asked myself what was it that I must do before I go. The answer screamed three words. Culture. Beauty. Art. I completed my international experience with all three.

As I walked to the entrance of the British Museum I had no idea of what was truly before me. I was knocked off my feet by the most extensive collection of objects from ancient Egypt that I have ever seen in my life. It was exquisite and I could only look at artifacts and art in awe as I walked the hall. Just when I thought that I’d seen all that I could see I noticed other museum patrons climbing a flight of stairs. Although I usually warn against following the crowd this was an exception and what they led me to was nothing short of exceptional. On the second floor of the British Museum encased in glass is what is believed to be the mummy of one of the most beautiful women in the history of man – Cleopatra. A chill ran through my body. Here in front of me were the remains and objects of one of the most talked about figures of all time. It was simply incredible.

Incredible is also the word that I would use to describe my first kiss with Othello on January 1, 2006. I was the unlikely stranger who in the heart of Brixton met someone who would hold a dear place in my heart. Finally, the time had come on this visit for he and I to reconnect. We spent hours in the flat just talking to each other. With every thought he expressed I was reminded of why this young man had captivated me. I believe so deeply that the best is yet to come for him. I pray only the best for him. He is so kind, so passionate, so ambitious, so open and such a genuine soul. I enjoy his company. Later we went to dinner and he shared with me stories pictures of his family.

As my time in London was winding down, I sat in the front row of the Apollo Theater as the curtain raised on the evening performance of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? The cast led by Kathleen Turner gave great life to the characters created by Edward Albee. During the second intermission in a place not at all familiar I heard a familiar voice. Othello who works at the theater had come to check on me and hear what I thought of the production thus far.

Seeing him again brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. I knew it would be the last time I would see him before my flight left in the morning. I knew it would be the last time I saw him for at least several months. Before he left my company he wished me a safe flight home and confirmed that I planned to return to London again. I assured him that I did. We clasped hands for a moment and then he walked away. I thought it was so fitting that the last place I would see him on this journey was in a theater, my dear Othello. His stage awaits.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Standing On Top of the World

Not surprisingly, this has been a great weekend. Although my Thursday and Friday were a bit slow the past two days with Meech have been worth the visit over here. Saturday I woke up feeling refreshed and not long after I opened my eyes I got a call from Othello that was like a breath of fresh air. And the weekend went from there. It led me to a movie, some reading, dinner at Meech Muffins favorite Morrocan restaurant and even through the gates of Heaven where I body was taken over by the beats in the hip hop room. But bigger than my good weekend I think is my reflection today on how small the world really is, not just in physical size but in makeup and mental and spiritual scope. Tom Friedman says the world is flat. I don't disagree. I do however want to attach to that and say that the world is small and at the core everything is made up of just a few simple elements and it just depends on where your feet are planted how they are mixed up - but at the end of the day, its the same thing.

This afternoon Meech and I took a short shopping excursion through Camden and I decided that at some point as we sifted through all the outdoor vendors that my stomach needed nourishment before I could go on. It takes real strength to look for a shirt and a scarf. He needed no food so the decision of what I ate lay totally with me. I longed for something warm and pizza was not the answer, chinese wasn't either. An kebab wasn't even close to being in the running. I chose to snack on a samosa. As I was eating it and enjoying it very much I thought how similar it was to other fare I've eaten from different cultures. Seems like every culture has something similar, an egg roll, spring roll, hot pocket. The idea wasn't so novel. The ingredients weren't either but nevertheless it was a samosa and a type of cuisine known as being from that culture/country. It's all the same. It just depends on where you stand really.

After dinner and a nap I figured I would give Kudos another try. I hopped on the tube, got off at Charing Cross and a block later I was walking down the stairs into the basement level of Kudos. How odd I thought. For a second I had a flashback to one of my least favorite establishments in Washington, DC - The Fireplace. It is the local watering hole near Dupont Circle where throughout the week, Sunday evenings in particular, Black gay men descend upon the second floor en masse segregating ourselves from the white patrons that occupy the first floor. Kudos equals The Fireplace upside down. All of the people that clearly appeared to be not of African descent were in full force on the first floor and virtually every man of color was in the basement boppin' to the tunes of the latest hip hop and r&b. Even thousands of miles away it is so evident that race trumps everything including the dividing lines of sexual orientation. It's all the same. It just depends on where you stand really.

I have spoken with several men of African descent that live here and are men who at least privately identify as being gay. Almost all of them have been as inquisitive about me as a person as they have been about me as an out gay man in the United States. Questions they have, I answer. They aren't questions that I haven't answered before about who I am and why I'm proud of it. But the question I never ask folks who ask me about being out - because it use to be rhetorical, now I just think I know the answer and don't have to ask anymore - is what kind of world do we live in today that people are still in some degree of fear to openly live their life if they chose to, particularly men of African descent. The stigmas, and so on and so forth. . .etc. . . It's all the same. It just depends on where you stand really.

Little things these may seem but they do mean more.

How soon it will be before I return to London, I don't know. Now that I have been here twice it is time for me to get a few other stamps on my passport and explore the whole wide small world. Maybe things are more different than I think, I guess it just depends on where I am standing.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lessons from London

Unlike my last trip to the UK when I boarded the plane with a bottle of Vodka and the latest issue of O magazine, this time I boarded the plane with a bottle of water and a double dose of O - both the March and April issue. Perhaps that should have been a sign that indeed this trip would be a sobering experience and thus far it has been. To date these few days have reaffirmed two life lessons that I learned long ago but apparently I needed a reminder of. First, that when something is good you should most often leave it that way. Go out on a high note. My first trip was almost magical. I should have left it at that and waited longer for my return. Second, there are some things best enjoyed with others. On my last excursion I was with AQueer and he and I laughed, talked and painted the town red. It isn't as much fun now with only one paint brush.

I cannot say that everything has been bad. I enjoyed the evening watching movies with Meech Muffin. I enjoyed my visit to Harrod's. I had heard much about the place and it is even more than the stories that had been told to me. I can't say that I have ever been to a store like it before in my life. Impressive to me and to a real shopper it might even be overwhelming. Last night I ventured to a popular pub here, Kudos for a drink or two. I was met with the horror again of not being able to have a cranberry and vodka just the way I like them. Pubs here usually only have one kind of vodka and boys and girls, children of all ages, it is not my kind. They spirits that own the spirit establishment dabble in the likes of Smirnoff and apparently shun Grey Goose, Kettle One and my dear friend the real Mr. Belvedere. Nevertheless, when in London, do as the Londoners do. I grabbed a Smirnoff Ice and bopped my body to the sounds on the speakers. Good times there. Then the best line I've delivered since I got here brought a smile to my face.

Flunky: Hey, how are you?
Me: I'm good thank you. How are you?
Flunky: I'm great. My friend wants you to come over and talk to him.
Me: Your friend?
Flunky: Yes, the guy in the red shirt across the room.
Me: Oh, him. Well tell your friend if he wants to talk to me that he should come over here and speak for himself. I just travelled across an ocean. I am not going any further just to meet him.
Flunky: (laughs) I will tell him that.

So, today is a new day and I have several more left. I am an American and what do we do best? We are not known for being great thinkers, philosophers, etc. We are known for inventing wonderful gadgets and gizmos and fun things. In the next few days I'll do just that. I hear Meech Muffin taking a morning whiz, I guess the fun starts here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

In nearly five years of living in the District I have played hosts to numerous friends and fraternity brothers during their visit. My sister has never been here. My brother came here once to drop me and my truck load of possessions off in August 2001 and again in May of the following year for my graduation. My mother accompanied and read directions both times.

Since graduation she has always said that she would return to spend some time with me and get away from Cleveland for at least a weekend. Whenever she said this I never really took her too seriously, especially as time went on. My mother and I have lots of things in common but we also have a number of contrasts. She is not the type to travel on a whim, to wake up one morning, or leave work one afternoon and decide to go halfway up the coast or across the country just because. Travel for her normally requires a push.

Yesterday that push came. I believe a combination of seeing me, visiting DC and wanting to take a bit a time off from caring from my grandfather on an almost daily basis was the push she needed. Yesterday she actually bought the plane ticket and will be visiting me for Easter weekend.

What do I do with my mother for a weekend? I am thinking a cocktail party. I’d have two of my favorites – my mother and a martini. This weekend will definitely take some planning, for her sake and mine. I have not been in the company of my mother on Easter since I was in high school so I am sure it will be nice. Maybe I’ll even resurrect our tradition of Easter dinner this Resurrection Sunday.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


March 1 means a lot of things. First, it means that today I celebrate the birth of the woman who birthed and nurtures me. It also means that already, two months of the year have passed. It sounds pretty basic on the surface but when I reflect I am almost taken aback by how much time has passed already. I am grateful to say that the prophetic words from the chapel down the street have been true. It is the year of breakthroughs. I have experienced some over the past few weeks that have been building up for the past few years and I pray that more will come.

I believe that God has helped me in these breakthroughs and I also believe the people he has brought into my life have played a very significant role. It was a coworker who gave me an added push to better my health. It was an unconquerable friend who reminded me that there is reason and confidence in my ability to be head sorcerer and lead Black Magic. Unexpectedly, The Wiz gave me the comfort to explore sex in a way that I had not done in years. It was more than just an act of the flesh or sexual tension. It was a major step in me letting go of so much and gaining more of my own self and assurance of who I really am. It was also very good.

A week from today I will return to London for a week of rest and adventure. It is there that I am praying I will have my next big breakthrough. May my mind and hand craft a new art.