His skin feels warm against mine. Intertwined like this, our limbs look like roots of a tree, a very sacred tree. Sade croons in the background, and I can see his torso rise and fall almost in sync with the fluid rhythm… in and out and in. He sleeps peacefully.
How long has it been? Three months… four? I wasn’t looking for him. One summer afternoon he literally bumped into me. Smiling, he apologized, and without even knowing why, I smiled too. Later, in the little vegan place I liked so much, he shared a story about his grandmother and signs…
I listened, studying his lips as he strolled down memory lane, musing about life and strange philosophical questions. Mesmerized… I followed him into the field of dreams, stepping carefully through the shadows of past heartaches, until we found ourselves slow dancing in the land of secrets. A penny for your thoughts…
Of course this happened over many afternoons… lazy afternoons filled with old records, iced tea and good times by the beach. We’d listen to sound of the ocean, healing waters flow. Then he would head off to play basketball, or work on his paintings. I’d watch him walk away and think, “maybe… just maybe…”
Then one day he turned around… His skin feels warm against mine. Intertwined like this, our limbs look like roots of a tree… a very sacred tree. The tree of life…
Inspired by “He Heals Me” Listen if you can… its one of my favorites!
My Nature Boy Story
He said come with me, I want to show you something. And me always wanting some new adventure… some new kind of experience, reached for his outstretched hand and followed him down the path into the grove. I’d never come this far before. Before there had never been any reason to, but now it all seemed so natural, so organic, almost like it was destined.
He wasn’t much older than I, but he moved with an easy freedom I found myself reflecting. His movements were fluid and strangely intoxicating. I kept trying to wrap my mind around each step, but the understanding kept evading me. At times I thought I was dreaming and at times time seemed to be slowing down then speeding up… and there was that curious taste of honey on my tongue.
We moved down the narrowing path, past the pond, under a bridge, through another patch of trees, round a corner and finally reached a small clearing. Jutting out in the middle was a large chunk of bedrock. He let go of my hand as we made ourselves at home. A few moments passed, and then he slowly leaned over and started doodling in the dirt with his finger. There was something unusual about how the light and shadows bathed his body, I felt like I was seeing him for the first time… my nature boy.
He was no longer just an enchanting enigma, now I could sense the need. The need that mirrored itself in me, simple until denied. I must have allowed some small sound to escape my lips because he turned and looked up at me. Our eyes met. It seemed in that moment, surrounded by foliage and flowers and moonlight and insects and Gods know what else, we were standing before each other naked and beautiful as the day we were born. No walls, no pretense, no distinction.
What the birds and the bees would have witnessed, had they been present, were two young men sitting on earth stone, deep in conversation while all around them a new day began to dawn.
Listen to “Nature Boy” from from #1 OutVoice album “Made To Love Him: Celebrating Love”
The East Village! That’s where I wanted to live… amongst all those very cool individuals who seemed to do as they pleased, regardless of what others thought. They seemed to live beyond social norms and paralyzing convention. I saw them as renegades, they symbolized everything I felt inside. I still remember that first drive through this part of the New York City. I was with my aunt, but my face was pressed against the window like a child outside a candy store. I wanted it all.
Then my life arranged itself so that now I was here, living in the East Village. I hadn’t planned it, rather it had planned me. It was like when I was a child and had the distinct feeling that I would wake up and realize my life wasn’t real. Now I realized I just had to pivot my gaze ever so slightly, and then I could see… everything. In a way it was like waking up – that’s where I found this song…
I returned from San Diego last Saturday. I was visiting my sister and everything was beautiful and sunny and relaxed and fun until the day I returned home… I woke up with a stiff neck. I was just slightly uncomfortable and only on the left side, so the remedy seemed simple enough. Whenever it crossed my mind, I would stretch my neck muscles by slowly turning my head to the left.
I made it to the airport on time, and was standing near my gate, when my discomfort crossed my mind. So I turned my head to the left and came face to face with a ‘Great Dark Man.’ Pardon the expression – I just saw “An Englishman in New York,” and Quentin Crisp’s elaborate term for the illusive perfect male archetype is still dancing in my head.
The ‘Great Dark Man’ was late, and our flight was late, but he didn’t know, so there was a pressure building within him. He placed his carry on bag on the ground, and as I turned to stretch my neck muscles, he turned to ask whoever was standing next to him “Is this the flight to Boston?”
A beautiful smile
Relieved by my good news, he relaxed, smiled and told me about American Airlines selling him a direct flight to Boston, that made a stop in Chicago… and a funny airport security story… and the good times he had with his boys in San Diego… and Michael Jordan love… and how important his son is to him… and… well you get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I did some talking too (much more than normal), but mostly I listened and laughed and enjoyed his beautiful smile. Then his phone rang and just as casually and effortless as it started, our conversation ended.
Introverts & extraverts
Being an introvert, I seldom open to moments like this… and being an extrovert, I’m pretty sure he always is… but what stayed with me was how nice it was to go sailing down the river of someone else’s life for 10 minutes, while he showed me some of his favorite spots. It was yet another reminder to be open to whatever little surprises life has to offer – even achy necks:)
I remember the first time I was nominated for an OUTMusic award. It was 2004, and I had recently released my sophomore CD Someday Peace Love & Freedom. The OMAs didn’t have as many categories, so I was up against Rufus Wainwright for OUTStanding New Album – Male.
I remember thinking, as the announcer read the nominations… what if I win? But I didn’t win – Rufus Wainwright did… it was probably for the best, I was seated all the way in balcony and I would never have made it to the stage in time:)
However, I kept my dream of winning an OMA safe, and in 2009, when I’d practically forgotten about it, I won my first OMA. A big thanks to my friend and House Producer Tomas for suggesting that I submit Love for OUTStanding R&B/Soul Song. As it turns out I was the first black male to win and consequently got lots of love from kewl blogs like BET‘s Centric Soul Sessions and Rod 2.0.
I guess I was lucky that first time around, I escaped the anxiety of sitting through the nominations and “the winner is…” moment. The R&B award was part of the pre-show and took place while I was doing my soundcheck. My mentor sean360x told me later I won and 5th Dimension biographer Robert Allan-Arno handed me my award (how kewl right:)
This year, however as we took our seats – 2nd row:) I realized I would have the full experience, there would be no soundcheck (or balcony:) to shield me from the reality of this moment. Whatever happened I would be present to experience it. I took a breath and relaxed.
Earlier I’d taken the opportunity to wish OUTStanding Hip Hop winner baron a good performance, chat with OUTStanding Jazz winner Avi Wisnia and American Idol contestant William Scott, and ogle at Mike Ruiz on the red carpet:) Now the house lights dimmed and the 7th Annual OUTMusic Awards commenced…
To be continued…