Sunday, December 28, 2008

God's Greater Gift

When my mother was pregnant with me she thought she was going to have a little girl. When the doctor told her that the brand new bouncing baby boy had been delivered her idea of naming me after her mother went out the window. Moments later, as I am told, she decided that if she couldn’t name me after her mother that she would do the next best thing and name me after her father.

Old and traditional, I seldom meet other men with the same name, particularly men my age or younger. It is a name that I have come to cherish along the way and value as much as I have come to love the man I was named after.

Today my family lost him. The original ClayStarr. Today I lost him. The only man I’ve ever called grampa. Forever I will carry his name and forever I will carry beautiful memories of him.

I was very happy two days ago when my mother convinced him to come have Christmas dinner with us. Holidays had never been his thing and in old age, he at times forgot that they came and went. In fact I asked him if he was ready for his birthday on the 29th and he told me he didn’t even realize his birthday was coming up in just a few days. I still smiled and just enjoyed knowing he was with all of us on that day.

I thank God I did. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d see him alive.

God has a plan bigger and greater than anything we could imagine for ourselves. For weeks I had been saying that I wanted a book for Christmas. I told everyone that if I got that book for Christmas I wouldn’t care about anything else. In my little human mind, I thought that would be the ultimate Christmas gift this year. The ultimate Christmas gift however was my whole family getting to spend one last Christmas, one last meal, one last laugh, one last smile, one last hug, with my grampa. It was an invaluable gift for which I will always be grateful to God.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No Place on Earth I Would Rather Be

There is no place on Earth that I would rather be than where I am sitting right now.

I am home. I am home with my mother, brother and sister. I am home in a place where when I walked in my entire body shifted. In these walls there is a extraordinary power, a love, a healing, a security, a haven that I can experience nowhere else on Earth. And I am grateful.

For weeks now I have been moving toward a crossroad in my life. This entire year has been one that I will never forget. How can I forget the incredible loss of my grandmother? How can I forget that sound of my own scream when I thrown to the ground by an attacker? How can I ever forget the feeling of helplessness when I called my mother while she sat in a hospital? How can I forget the bruise my brother left when he hit me with his words? How can I forget the heartwarming hug from my cousin that felt like he was embracing my body with his arms and my heart with his mind? How can I forget the moment I leaped to my feet when a Black man leaped higher than I thought anyone could jump? How can I forget the sparkle of the most beautiful city I have ever seen from atop the Eiffel Tower?

I will not forget. I know that I won’t because these are events, moments and feelings that changed me and my life – the world. And another change is coming. I know that change is coming because I now am experiencing a feeling that I have felt before. It feels kind of good and at the same time very scary. I don’t know what the freedom is going to look like but I know I am soon going to break loose. Be set free. Set myself free. Burst. Unleash.

So I am glad right now that I can be home.

I’ve wanted to be here for a few weeks. I had been really anticipating the holiday for this reason. It is a gift to be here. In the belly of a whale of peace that will give me strength.
Home is also the place I came nearly a decade ago. I just thought about it the other night. Next year will mark the 10 year anniversary of what has so far been the most transformational time of my life journey.

I will never forget that is when I stood up for myself. I will never forget that is when I took the big leap. I will never forget that is when I failed. I will never forget that is when I actually succeeded. I will never forget those tears. I will never forget wanting to take my own life. I will never forget learning to live all over again. I will never forget telling the world who I was. I will never forget that Christmas. I will never forget that I was able to and did come home. It was a year of great frustration and sadness. It was also simply great.

I am home now, reflecting on that time of my life and truly my life right now. On the eve of change and ten years after the biggest changes of my life I am home. I can’t imagine anywhere else I would rather be.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just Like in Movies

Plenty of my friends over the years have told me that they thought my life would make for a good reality television show. One in fact had looked into getting a videographer to walk around taping me for a week. I admit there are times when even I think only a lens could purely portray events that shape me. I’d only thought about it in the context of television though – until a few days ago.

I got a call from one of my dear friends. He wanted to share some exciting news with me. He had just bought his girlfriend an engagement ring and soon, very soon he would be popping the question. She has been anticipating that he is going to ask for a while now. They have been having preliminary conversations about it for several months. No doubt she will say yes, they will marry and ride off happily into the sunset. Just like in movies.

And just like in most movies these days, the romantic comedies at least, there is always that cheering and encouraging friend who helps shuttle either the bride or groom along. Often that friend is either a straight talking black woman or a stylish and witty gay man. Put those two character types together and you have me. Just like in movies. And also just like in movies while the couple rides into the sunset the supporting friend is left holding the bouquet or in the male characters case a cocktail still alone.

I felt like that character from the movies the other day. Happy for my friend who is taking another step in his relationship and building the life he has imagined. I also felt a little disappointed because I know what that means for our friendship. The ties that bind us will certainly grow just a bit looser.

Ironically it was bad relationships that brought he and I close and molded our friendship. We were there for each other while we both traveled in darkness. We held each others hands. He was sorting out the breakup of a seven year relationship and trying to find his way. I was fighting to hold on to a relationship that only wanted to hold me hostage or let me go and fall with tremendous harm to the ground.

When he could not sleep he called me. When I could not cry I would call him. We saw each other wounded and we saw each other begin to heal. Finding our way out of darkness and into the light. We were so close.

Then he met another girl that he fancied. She liked him to. I watched their relationship bud and now I am preparing to watch it blossom with the engagement. I cheered for him and for her all the way. Naturally over time as they became closer he and I grew and I imagine will grow further apart. But that is simply the nature of these things and I am happy for both of them. Truly.

Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy is happy for boy and prays one day he will be as lucky as the girl is.

Just like in movies.