I was gazing out my window, enjoying the view of the trees and garden in the back, when I noticed something peculiar. A spider had spun a web right outside my window. Clever rascal had built the thing safely out of my reach, but sadly, not out of my sight. Now she or he or it (do spiders have gender?) seemed to be gazing back at me with a kind of defiance that I didn’t find amusing. I taped on the window to say hi or maybe what the hells are you doing here! Nothing happened… so I went about my business.
The next day I looked for my spider friend… mmmm… that was fast, one day ready to kill, next day friends. Anyway he she it wasn’t there, but the web was… so I went about my business.
The next day or was it later that same day… one can never be sure. Anyway I looked again and spider was there, with what looked like fly, some smaller insect that I guess had come to close. She he it had wound it tight with a web like material and was standing guard… well at least that is what it looked like. I tapped the window and this time web, spider and fly bounced up and down. Curious, I’m sure nothing happened that first day I tapped the window, so I tapped again to be sure – up and down web, spider and fly bounced… so I went about my business.
Today I gazed out the window and everything was gone – web, spider and fly. All vanished without a trace… just like I had imagined the whole thing.
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…
I’m writing an article for a Newspaper in Guyana about my journey. But I can’t honestly write this article without discussing James Baldwin and Giovanni’s Room, so I just re-read it… for the 3rd time. You see even though my journey started long before I’d ever heard of James Baldwin – it was James Baldwin who gave it a name… explained its intricacies… and described in poetic detail the path I was embarking on.
I’ll be honest, after my first reading, I couldn’t remember any of the story’s details. But I knew a door had opened… I could feel the Light shining in. I had been stumbling around in my own private darkness… bumping into walls and people, and after a while I’d given up searching. But then James Baldwin found me, and now I was beginning to understand.
This society teaches us not to trust our impulses… our instincts… our desires. And even though on some level these messages never resonated with me, I never heard any other messages. That is, until I heard James Baldwin say, through the characters of this novel, “Its not only OK to trust your voice, its the only way to live!”
Seeing oneself in the Light is so important… especially in the Light of acceptance and understanding that we are fundamentally good and right… just the way we are. Thank you James Baldwin for giving me the gift of me.