Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Beyond Our Boxes

Friday night I looked at the stars and wondered how I got to where I was. Somewhere in the heart of Charleston County, West Virginia I was climbing inside of a tent to rest my eyes and bones for the night. It was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of New York City I’d experienced just two days before. In a matter of 72 hours I had sat in the front row of a Broadway production in the capital of the world, New York City, traveled home to the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, to collect my bag and my thoughts in just enough time to link up with friends and strangers to head to West Virginia the center of white water rafting this side of the Mississippi. It would be a very fitting way to end my vacation and time for reflection and rejuvenation.

Months ago Go Blue invited me on this camping and white water rafting trip that he takes with his college buddies every year. When he offered the invitation I thought he was joking but I also knew that I couldn’t refuse. Any time Go Blue and I get together it is fun and I feel like something special happens. Certainly, accepting his offer to partake in this adventure could only lead to good times.

When I first met Go Blue I would have never imagined that he and I would form the friendship that we have. He and I work together and when I began my job I held fast to the belief that my colleagues would remain in that box marked colleague and forever that is where they would stay. Slowly over time his openness and kind spirit attracted me to him as more than a box but as a wonderful human being. That box marked colleague was destroyed so that a friendship could be created.

Go Blue and I share many differences, including sexual orientation, that seems to baffle some folks – why would a straight Black man want to be friends with a poster child for same gender love they question – but the beauty of our friendship is that we are able to answer that question. We are two humans who see beyond the surface and social constructs of what is and what isn’t and we connect.

I met a lot of his very blue college friends this weekend and enjoyed meeting every one of them. Each of them had their own stories to tell yet they were all interwoven with many of the same life trials, tribulations and burning questions about the meaning of life/love and what should we do next that every twenty-something year old in America has. This weekend I was lucky enough to bare witness to others and share my own. It was a beautiful part of nature, equally as beautiful as the stars in the sky, the mountains and trees, the river and the sun.

Stepping outside of my box over the weekend was good for me. I pitched a tent, slept in it, grabbed my paddle and rowed with the best, jumped off a cliff and appreciated God’s country and those who shared it with me. I am glad I stepped outside of my box and that Go Blue challenged me to break down the one I tried to put him in. There is so much outside to experience.