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2012 Poltical Thoughts

Over the past several months, I have been engaged in some heavy political discussions on facebook and at the suggestion of grgardner, I have decided to copy some from the past few days here for posterity.



Posted on Election Day: November 6, 2012

Four years ago I was sitting in my friend Shawn Bruffett Elessawy's apartment with Scott Manning, and Trent Redmond watching the election results in Tampa, FL. I was so sure of an Obama win. And then Florida went blue. I remember that night like it was yesterday. Tears, hugs, cheers, and all manners of delights.

This year, I live 3100 miles away in Seattle, WA. The world is different, the country
is different. I have much less certainty this time. But over the past 3 years I've learned a great deal about the differences in our country, our beliefs, and our politics.

It's actually quite scary to me. Having once been staunchly conservative and now having left those rags behind me in favor of a Spiritual experience that is far more evolving and creative in finding many ways to express the universal law of love, I am deeply saddened how I once believed so small and so limited.

To my counterparts that have yet to make that process I challenge you this: live some place for a while away from your conservative roots. Don't worry, you won't shrivel up and die. Befriend someone who has a far different story than your own, who might be of a different race, a different religion or spiritual path, a different sexual orientation, a different gender, or from a different part of the world. Open your mind (yes, I know that is a challenge for some of you). Associate with someone from a different country that sees things quite differently than yourself.

For those of you out to save the world in Jesus' name, please talk less and listen more. Having been in your ranks I can tell you that you have often done more damage than you've done for good. Read a book that challenges your views. Be open to the possibility of being wrong. Realize that there is no one right way to live. Acknowledge the privileges that have been afforded you in your life that others may not have. And don't be so quick to assess and judge a situation just on the basis that you yourself would "never" do it. Never say never! Become an ally with someone who's rights are impeded upon. Stand by someone who's struggle you may not necessarily relate to but who is trying to do and gain rights for their people (whoever their group is).

Look at issues that you have a hard-line stance on and honestly talk with those who are dealing with these situations. Be it immigration, gay rights, civil rights, abortion, healthcare, etc. These are not black and white issues as you once thought. Wrestle with it. Walk a moment in their shoes. STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS! Just listen to their stories. Seek to understand before you are sought to be understood.

And for goodness sakes, don't stop trying to educate yourself. Do your research. Reject group think. And yes, take a sabbatical from church once in a while. There is such a thing called tunnel vision and over time it does affect intelligence. God gave you a brain, USE IT! Hone it. Sharpen it. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you!

Seek the truth in what you oppose and the fallacy in what you espouse. Then and only then can you declare the truth you espouse and the fallacy in which you oppose.

Remember that we are all connected. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Discover what true love actually is! Judge not lest ye be judged. Remember that Jesus did not stone the woman brought to him in adultery although he was lawfully supposed to. SHOW COMPASSION (to suffer alongside another human being).

Remember that each action has an equal and opposite reaction, what goes around comes around, you reap what you sow, and Karma. These are universal principles. The rights you vote to eliminate now you will one day have to give account for. Justice always marches forward. Don't be so blind to think you are immune. Judgement will always come to the church first. ALWAYS! In the end your walled edifices will not save you if you crush bruised reeds with demands, hypocrisy, and injustice.

Injustice for one is injustice for all! Conquer fear. Embrace love. Accept difference. Create abundance. Use Wisdom. Embrace change. Be a producer not just a consumer. Be real, be human.

And always remember, in unity there is power. How you use that power is up to you!


Posted on Election Night, November 6, 2012

This is what I've seen. With this win I believe it marks the end of the current incarnation of the Republican Party. We are seeing its death right at this very moment. By 2016 the country and the world will look VERY different, racially, economically, civil rightly, etc. Next time we have a Presidential election, we will see some very different dynamics leading us into 2020.

I believe this is the end of a political era in this great nation!


Posted on November 7, 2012

Tonight we took a major step forward in our evolution as a people. I do not see us going back. Our father's and grandfather's politics are fading away. And in many cases we are finally joining the ranks of some of the other 1st world countries of Europe in our civil rights.


The pendulum might one day swing back, but it won't be swinging back to anything we've ever seen before. Conservatism, after tonight, almost only exists in fiscal matters only. More and more we are refusing to tolerate Social Conservatism in our homes, our bodies, or in our beds.

I'm sorry Social Conservatives, your Jesus is dying on the cross again. This time He's not coming back. I like the tone of Social Justice Jesus better anyway!

May the Spirit and Law of True Love Reign!


Posted on November 8, 2012
(This post goes very well with my essay "Poisoning the Well" written back in 2007).

The more I read the more furious I get!!!

Here me, all you Evangelical, self-proclaimed born-again, rapture ready Christians. And here me well!

I have once been in your ranks and no more! I speak your language, but I do not hold your flawed tactics. I have witnessed you destroy the lives of sane and beautiful human beings in your vile judgments and hatred of what "you" thought was unholy. I have
stood by and watched you meld your religiosity to your political beliefs thinking that this is what God would desire, erroneously touting that this political clout would usher in the Kingdom of God. I have continuously marveled at your cultural insensitivities to others who might look, think, speak, or love differently than you! I have grown weary of your incessant claims that you are taking America back or reclaiming America back for God while at the same time blatantly ignoring the historical truths about the lives and the peoples you DESTROYED in the name of this supposed divine right!

You have stood in your bully pulpits and spoke against those who often love much more rapturously than you do in your 50% divorce rate! You tried to coerce, persuade, threaten those that may not be like you to change, only for them to become worse than when they met you. The help you offered came with strings attached. You have repeatedly claimed that America was failing, that it was slipping to hell, that it was crumbling, but it was YOU, yes YOU and your thirst for war and powermongering that led us to the brink of economic disaster. While claiming on one hand that we should love our neighbors, on the other hand you tout that every man is on his own! You have greatly influenced a party that has led us into war again and again while also cutting the help to rebuild the lives that litter your own shores! And the list of your absurdities continues onward and upward. You have tarnished what was supposed to be "Good News," and coupled with your inability to accept common truths about the world, common facts about how the universe works, and obvious scientific advances that exalt the very mind that God created, have threatened to plunge us back into a dark age of small thinking, limited potential, crushed freedoms, and fear.

And now...

I say no more! By now you have seen that others have stood up to reclaim their freedoms. You are afraid.

And you should be!

Your influence in the political realm is waning. It was never supposed to be there. And now I witness the reeling and hurling of insults at Obama, one that beat you at your own game; a game YOU thought was rigged in YOUR favor! I watched your convention. I saw how you called on the name of God to right what you thought was so very wrong; to right mistakes you helped create! You like to invoke the name of God upon your mess and then think that it will be honored and blessed. NO!!!

If you live by the sword, you shall die by the sword! A fool and his money shall soon depart! And we are all watching your finger pointing and your internal tumults. There is a saying that when evil destroys good (or attempts to and fails) it then turns on itself. Your house is filled with vipers, thieves, and robbers. May you consume yourself as you have tried to consume others!


Posted on November 10, 2012

I don't think we should lose sight of what has happened this week! We were witnesses to history yet again. In 50 years this will be taught in our schools to our children (of course, also sooner than that). The shift has happened. It didn't
happen over night, it was incremental. But just like an avalanche, when it happened, it was sudden and dramatic.

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears have been shed for this moment. And a lot of lives lost. But justice marches ever forward.

I know some of you would rather put all this business behind us, but realize that in 2015 we will be doing this all over again. With even GREATER ramifications for this country and the world! (It'll only get bigger from here on out folks) Things have forever changed. I'm just glad that in my lifetime I will see some of the most amazing political, social, and civil shifts this country has ever known!


Posted on November 13, 2012

Several years ago (back in the 90's) my mother used to subscribe to "Essence" magazine. I remember on one of the covers was written, "Why are white people afraid of black people?" I always found the title very interesting and profound.

Fast forward two decades later and we have a black president and a massive uproar. I, honestly, can not think of how Obama has made our country any worse than Bush
already did. The vehemence and vitriol that is shown to Obama is astounding. And through all the articles I'm reading, all the pundits speaking, the news broadcasts airing, newspapers printing, and bloggers writing, I am still not wanting to believe this is about race. I feel it's time to finally accept that this might be the truth.

Pictures of the word nigger, monkey, coon, of Obama with a noose around his neck, etc. is forcing me to accept that perhaps this really is primarily about race. I see white people on the TV astounded that he won, I read twitter posts of white people calling Obama all manners of hellish things. I read of white people signing petitions to secede. I just see white people doing some crazy ass shit!!!

I know this post is probably speaking to the choir but I really want a conversation about this.

What is it about minorities (blacks in general) that these white people hate so much? And what does that say about our country? And what does that say about white people? When I hear people say they are post race and that they don't see race, I think that's a bunch of bullshit! Obviously race is a major factor.

So, is there still some historical deep seated ideology that the slave never should have risen to such prestige? That we were still meant to be nothing more than entertainment on the fields, courts, and television sets of America and that we should have always stayed below and at service to the white man?

Although I believe in freedom of speech, freedom of speech often has a cost. That cost often leads to death. We've lost some amazing shakers and movers in the world due to the language and antiquated ideologies that some people held.

Day - 1

This Is It

As I type these final words of my "100 days 'till 30" journal series, I am currently in a nice hotel and spa in Provincetown, MA. I just received a telephone call from my mother wishing me a happy 30th birthday. She asked me if doing this series has been healing for me. I told her that it has been. There are still many things to heal, but having taken the time to acknowledge where I've been over the past 30 years has truly helped me make sense and help reconcile things that I've been through over years. My mother and I both found it incredibly surreal to be saying that today was my 30th birthday.

The conversation ended with her telling me that she was very happy for me. Then she prayed with me and thanked God for keeping me over the past 3 decades and that He would continue to bless me over the next one.

Next stop, 40.

There are so many more stories that I could continue to tell over the next 100 days. But in all honesty this project has taken a lot. I'm ready for a good night's sleep.

Before I do, however, it wouldn't be fitting to end this without some closing remarks and thanks.

THANK YOU for all who have read my journey over the past 3.5 months. I do hope that you gleaned some new insights into my life as well as yours. I hope some of my words have been encouraging, uplifting, and applicable. Remember that your never journey alone and your journey is only made possible by others.

As I close I wanted to thank all the special people who have journeyed along with me the past 3 decades. My heart is full beyond words. Some didn't make it to the end. Some only came for a season. Some for a reason. And others, well, they shouldn't have come at all. But I've lived and I've learned and I have become a far more wiser man because of it.

Solomon, when asked of God what he would like as a blessing, answered, "Wisdom." That has also been my prayer. I have found no other gift as precious (save love) than wisdom. God has been gracious and He has been kind. He has been loving and above all else He has been patient with me over the years. I am assured that He loves me with an unfailing love. And If I have in any way shared that love with any of the people in my life, I would not have counted our meeting vain.

Now, for some words of sound advice.

1. Believe in yourself.
2. Believe in others.
3. Believe in the Divine that connects and touches everyone of us.
4. Remember that we are all connected, what you do ripples across the world and returns to you. Ill for ill and good for good.
5. Forgive others.
6. Forgive yourself.
7. Sometimes you have to apologize even if you weren't the one in the wrong.
8. Choose to live a life worth living and when you do...
9. Live authentically!
10. Be honest with yourself, others, and the relationship that you have with them.

And since I love the number 11, I'll stop at this one.

11. Remember that you are your best asset. Protect it, nurture it, grow it. BLOSSOM!

And Now the End

I opened up this journal talking about the idea of reincarnation and past memories. Even if reincarnation did exists, most of your memories you wouldn't be able to recall anyway so in that light keep this in mind:

YOU ONLY GET ONE SHOT AT THIS. MAKE IT YOUR BEST ONE. TAKE A RISK. TAKE A CHANCE. THE ONLY PERSON EVER TRULY STOPPING YOU IS YOU! THE WORLD WAS MEANT TO CHALLENGE YOU. AS SOMEONE TOLD ME ONCE, IF IT WAS ALWAYS SUNNY, EVERYTHING WOULD DRY UP. IF IT WAS ALWAYS RAINING, EVERYTHING WOULD DROWN.

'Till next time, remember these three things above all else:

Faith, Hope, and Love...

The greatest of these is LOVE!

Go and do likewise!

Thank you and many blessings,
Garland D. Jarmon

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

Day - 2

Me at Mt. Ranier

Relationships

Years ago, in my sorrow for the friendships I had lost, I memorized a poem that my mother once had on a scroll. It was onFriendship.

****************
Friendship is a priceless gift that can not be bought or sold.
But its value is far greater than a mountain made of gold.

For gold is cold and lifeless, it can neither see nor hear.
And in the time of trouble it is powerless to cheer.

It has no ears to listen, no heart to understand.
It can not bring you comfort or reach out a helping hand.

So when you ask God for a gift, be thankful if He sends,
Not diamonds, pearls, or riches,

But the love of real true friends.
*****************

I have spent my entire life trying to be the friend I wish I had. I have tried my best to be kind and caring, gentle and understanding, attentive and giving, wise and intuitive. I have not always succeeded but I like to believe I have been a great friend for many people.

As I approached the end of this journal series, "100 days 'till 30" I kept thinking of how I would end it. Tonight, whilst over an Italian dinner in Boston, Massachusetts, it occurred to me that out of all my experiences, it has been my relationships that have seen me through. Family relationships, platonic relationships, sexual relationships, spiritual relationships, and colleague relationships have all played major parts in who I have become today.

Family

I have not always seen eye-to-eye with my family and growing up saw me more often than not at odds with them. I was, as my father once said, the child that "danced to his own drum." It has been very difficult not being understand yet supported nonetheless. For years all I wanted was out of my parents house. I likened the experience to MTV's "The Real World" - 4 complete strangers thrown into a house and told to live together. And when the time came, I left.

The Earth kept revolving, the sun kept rising, and the clock did not turn back. The passage of my existence has taught me that those people whom I left, my family, were still ever loving and ever supportive of me on my journey. It was I that needed to find my voice. And in turn they would have to learn what manner of man I was meant to be. We have learned and grown together. And for that, I am thankful.

More and more I have come to appreciate my family and the roll they have played in my life. I look forward to sharing my experiences with them in the many years to come. I owe my very life to my family and if it is in my power to do so, I will do everything in my power to help them achieve their destinies. After all, I am still and always will be a Jarmon. I am proud to be part of a family built on strength, loyalty, and above all, LOVE!

Friends

My friends are the family that I chose to have in my life. They say that blood is thicker than water but there is a Proverb that states that there are even those friends who stick closer than even brothers. I am honored and blessed to have many such people in my life - friends who I call family.

There are a select few that I have committed my life to. Regardless of where I am, if you need me, you call. Regardless where you are or when you are, I am here. I will do all in my power to help you. For the blessings you have given me, this is the least I can do for you.

I am honored to call so many of you brothers and sisters. Thank you for praying with me, fighting alongside me, challenging me, encouraging me, being the shoulder to cry on, the ear to listen, and the arms to hold me.

Some of you have helped sharpen my sword. Others of you have helped carry my sword. And there are those of you who have given me new swords. Thank you!

Lovers and Complications

The process of sustaining romantic relationships continues to be a tumultuous and baffling ride for me. I think at this point I have more questions than not. I have come to discover, in short, that I am more than capable of loving more than one person at a time. What that means for me, I am not quite sure. I have had the honor and privilege of loving and being loved by some very remarkable people.

As my life continues to expand and my experience continues to broaden wider and wider and the horizon continues to stretch forward at breakneck speed, I have come to the conclusion that I will probably never be able to receive 100% from any one person. Call me insatiable, call me wise, call me foolish, call me enlightened. I guess it all depends on how you look at it.

Currently, I see my life as short. Why should I settle?

I have witnessed and experienced for myself how monogamous relationships can leave a person shipwrecked. What more did you expect when you put all you eggs in one basket? You wouldn't do it with your money, don't do it with you relationships. Don't do it with your heart. I have seen more ruined relationships than not. And in the gay community they come a dime a dozen. And the straight community doesn't fare any better. I see the appeal of polyamory and open relationships but I have also witnessed and experienced when those relationships go terribly wrong as well.

Polyamory and open relationships, contrary to popular belief, are usually not about greed. It's about reality. I'll be honest, I don't know if I could stay engaged and "non-bored" with a singular person. It would have to be a very interesting person to keep my attention. And for that, I think I am realizing more and more that I might end up settling for singledom indefinitely. I have come to the conclusion that different people in my life have brought SO many different things, different blessings, different skill-sets, different perspectives, and different ways of enriching my life. I am always amazed how me and them fit together in our own unique way and how my life is ever more enhanced by their presence.

When I was with my ex I was choosing "love over life." My life was in shambles but I had someone in my corner all the way. When I moved from Tampa, even though I was seeing someone, I decided to choose differently. I chose "life over love." That decision has made all the difference. For the first time in my life I have a career. For the first time in my life I am financially stable. For the first time in my life I answer to no one. I don't have to go through anyone for their opinion, say, or permission. For the past 5 years I have been building my own castle into the sky. I have been setting my focus upward and onward. I have had no one to hold me back. The ONLY time anyone has held me back was when "I" chose to have them in my life and "I" made the foolish decision to allow them to hold me back.

I wrestle now with that third part of the equation: Hot job (check), Hot house (check), Hot lover (no check). But do I want a "hot lover" at all? I mean, don't get me wrong, my heart often times thinks that having a partner, a partner in crime would be so helpful. (Of course it would be, I'm not stupid) But my opinion about that "partnership" has changed drastically over the years. I no longer see it as a loving relationship (although love does have it's place in it) between two people as the reason why we get together. No, I see it more as, "I've spent a lot of time getting myself where I am, what can you bring to the table to help me further achieve my goals and dreams and destiny? And in turn, how can I offer you the same?" Love definitely has a HUGE role to play in this. For how can two walk together unless they first agree? But I have learned the hard way that falling in love can be a dangerous place to build anything on. As quickly as one can fall in love, they can fall right out. And when that happens it's merely impossible to get that back.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!

I would love a person, or persons, to explore this castle I'm building. But I'll be damned if I allow anyone into it that is going to start a fire or dictate to me that I shouldn't build so high or so large. Believe in my dream or get out. I've done this alone with the support of my family and friends, and I am more than capable of doing it without you.

Codependent No More - Melody Beattie

I was joking with my friend Gary today about writing a book. "One day I would be on national TV and the interviewer will ask me if I ever thought that my book would be as big as it is. I would say, 'absolutely, why would I invest in my dream and vision if I believed it would fail?'"

What would happen if more people believed in themselves, their vision, their gifts, talents, abilities, and purpose? We could change the world in 1 generation. It's called being in sync with the Divine.

I have and continue to struggle with the opinions of others. Yes, I have not attained my perfect vision of myself. But I feel I am on my way. Codependency tends to be the major thing that destroys relationships and people. I joke often that straight women tend to fall for the wild man and then spend the rest of their marriage laboring to domesticate him.

That is not what I want. I am striving to follow my own spirit and learning to speak with my own voice and act with my own intention(s). I am learning that my value is inherent, not external. It has been a struggle and I continue to fight my own demons, but I do see the light at he end of the tunnel.

My mother once told me, "Garland, when you finally get your stuff together, you'll be a force to be reckoned with." I believe this with all my heart.

So this sheds a totally different light on the type of people I want romantic relationships with. I desire those who are also on the path of evolving - those on the path of enlightenment. There is more out there and I am searching for it. I believe that one of the reasons why God moved me to Seattle was to help me shake off my conventionality and rigidness (oh I can be VERY rigid).

The Mystery

My spirituality continues to lead me further and further into the Mystery that is. I'm done with a religion that seems to have all the I's dotted and T's crossed. For instance, as a Gay man my religion tells me that God doesn't bless sinners or those in blatant sin and disobedience. Uh, well...have you looked at my life. Someone's wrong! I long to step into the flow of the river of mystery. There I believe God exists, possibilities exists, creation exists. I feel I am living there now and I look forward to joining those who also share this passion to pursue the Mystery.

Selfishness

I feel some will call me selfish for speaking about relationships as business proposals. Well, ya know, if more relationships started with a joint proposal in the first place, how many would have even gotten started? How many would've lasted?

I once had a therapist in Tampa who directed me to make three lists of things I wanted in a partner. The first list were my ideal qualities of my perfect mate. The second list were of "negotiables," those things that weren't Ideal but things I could live with. The third list were my deal-breakers. When I finished writing the list I read over it. I quickly realized that the person I described as my perfect mate was none other than "Me." Go figure.

As I've continued to take note of our society I fear that we are catering more and more to the least denominator among us. Is anyone impressive anymore? Does anyone know how to communicate anymore? Does anyone truly know how to engage another person's spirit anymore? I fear we are losing much more than we know.

So I am alright with being selfish if it helps me retain my unique individuality. Isn't that what growing up is truly ever about?

FINDING YOURSELF. DISCOVERING YOURSELF. CREATING YOURSELF. BEING MORE! (And there is much much more)

Just Believe. Then Do!

Thank you for all those who share with me this journey! There are too many to name!



Liberation Retreat
Me and GaryBrother's LinkMe Eric and GFMe and Garland

Day - 3

HIV/AIDS and Reflections on the Gay Community

Moving to Seattle and working in the HIV/AIDS field has given me a very interesting prospective on the gay community as a whole. Being that this is Gay Pride month and I am currently in Boston where they are having their Gay Pride week, I felt compelled to talk a little bit about my observations having been in this field of work for the past 3 years and out for the past 12.

I feel like an outsider when it comes to the gay community. Never truly felt like I fit. Just like, when growing up, I was not able to fully assimilate into many aspects of the black community, I am also unable to assimilate into many aspects of the gay community. Clubs and bars and raves bore me to tears. In my experience is just full of men trying desperately to truly connect. Once the alcohol starts, the inhibitions leave, and all manner of craziness begins.

NOT MY SCENE!

On several occasions I have felt on the outside of the gay community looking in. Beyond the fact that I am sexually attracted to guys, all the other accouterments are lost on me. I don't have a swish, a lisp, or a wholly twinky figure. I neither am big and muscly. Nor am I overweight and hairy. I'm not nelly or flaming or consider myself queer.

I am a literalist. To put it bluntly, I am a homo-sexual. Nothing else. I don't believe in the trappings. I never joined the military, or a fraternity for one reason: I did not need or feel like I needed to belong to a group in order to have my identity verified - so I could BE something. I have ALWAYS been something. And I have ALWAYS been the leader of my own group.

I march in gay parades for my job and I look at all the different groups, faces, and agendas. Some are promoting nudist social life, some daddy/boy, BDSM, Bears, Leather, Twinkie go-go boys, muscle building, polyamory, and the list goes on and on and on.  And I look at all this going on and think to myself, "Where do I fit." And the answer is always, "no where." After marching and getting to the end, I walk around the park a couple of times and look at all the "happy" faces and think to myself that I know much better. Many of these faces are self-medicating in some form or another just to keep smiling.

After 3 years of counseling gay and bi men, I have heard of so much pain and hurt, depression and suicide attempts, all manners of violence and abuse, and that list goes on and on as well. And then I look at our fight for social equality and something very dangerous starts to emerge for me.

As a black man, I live everyday in a post-civil rights era and I can attest to the fact that it is not a walk in the park even though we are equal to all other citizens in this country. I fear that the gay populace is in for a rude awakening when they one day wake up and find that even though their own sun of social justice has risen, they are so internally dysfunctional that they can't fully realize how to function in this type of renewed environment.

I've seen gays makes some HUGE rash decisions about relationships in order to feel the sense of belonging, acceptance, and love. I have seen so many hooked on crack, cocaine, meth, alcohol, marijuana, and sex in order to numb or completely remove themselves from any negative feelings whatsoever.

Again and again and again I keep running into the main issues that the gay community needs to seriously work on if this "bright new day" is ever going to be fully appreciated: Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-value. I often ask my clients one pertinent questions that gets them thinking about how they thing about themselves. I believe that as a man thinks so is he. I ask them simply how they see themselves, what do they think about themselves.

You'd be surprised the number of negative responses I receive to this question. One can argue that society as a whole has done nothing but tear us down but at what point do we stop using that as an excuse? Much like the Christians in this nation complaining that they are being persecuted. Or many blacks complaining that the white man is still bringing them down. Gay pride is great for a weekend or a week, but do you know what happens when the lights go out and all these people go back to their personal lives. Some are going back to their own personal hells.

I have heard of several occasions where an obese individual loses weight and although they might have the physical body of a god, they still feel like an obese person inside. And because of this they continue to act like they are continually victimized. The same is also done in the training of a dog or wild animal. Once you convince their brain, the rest of the body will follow.

This is where my job comes in. Part of my purpose is to help others believe in themselves again.

I have several clients and very close friends who are living with HIV/AIDS. As I've said numerous times before, I never thought that I would be working in this field. HIV has really changed my life and opened my eyes and there is still a lot of work to do in educating people that this is still an epidemic and taking a pill once you've been infected is often only the tip of the iceberg of complications a person can encounter.

We have a lot more work to do. Marriage equality is just the tip of the iceberg. Like Vets from a war, that's when the REAL work begins!

Day - 4

Due to the nature and process of my evolving spiritual and sexual journey, I am reposting something I wrote a few years ago. It explains my current evolution of this reconciliation. It is slightly edited for continuity purposes.
***************************

Back in May of last year (2009) an old high school classmate asked me how I could reconcile my sexuality with my professed spiritual beliefs. She felt they were contradictions. I didn't answer her, until now, almost a year later. But I did write a hard copy journal entry the next day on my thoughts of my 10 year journey of acceptance and reconciliation. I've come a long way since 2000 when I officially came out and started this 10 year desert experience. I shared these thoughts with my current church two Fridays ago during the conclusion of my testimony. I hope this helps someone. This desert experience has surely brought me to a new-found appreciation and love for the God I serve. I thank Him for keeping me even during these times. Here is my response.

**************************

The purpose of it all is to love. Motives and intents can be changed and often do. But the purpose is to create through love and love through creation. Sex matters not, race neither matters. Political affiliations count not. Creed and vows will of’ fade.

I was asked yesterday how being gay and being a follower of Christ can coincide when they (according to this particular woman) seem so contradictory.

I can only think of one thing. I have fought and defended this stance ad-nauseum and I can’t any longer. I have spouted scriptures. I have pleaded contextual filters. I have logicized and theorized and rationalized this topic. I have written papers and read countless books and chapters – thumbing through glossaries for any and all references to my attractions. I have analyzed sin. I have debated righteousness, salvation, heaven, and hell; God and Satan, Jesus and his word, written and unwritten. I have argued against and for. And I tire of such superficial discourse, monologue, and dialogue.

But there is something that pervades my consciousness above all things I have read, studied, and heard. And that is this: He who has ears let him hear and he who has eyes let him see. The letter of the law killeth but the spirit giveth life.

I am persuaded that my faith and relationship with the Divine is not weakened or counted as null and void merely for my sexuality. Instead, in my reality and realization of my body’s proclivities towards the same-sex, my relationship and faith is much more real and ascertainable. I believe more surely in light of it and in spite of other’s beliefs. I know what the physical word says – the black and white of it. I’ve been over it time and time again. But my faith is built on nothing less that Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

He would have me to love my neighbor, to live peaceably with all men as much as possible. To forgive. To strive for peace, unity, compassion, justice, and equality. To understand before I am sought to be understood. To love myself and to love my God. To help the poor, to assist the weak. To pray for those who work against me and to love my enemy. To be faithful to the call of life, hope, faith, and love.

Like a good Samaritan, to help those less fortunate than myself. To sacrifice for the betterment of others. To strive for the peace of all mankind. To heal the brokenhearted. To move to a place of healing those that have been wounded. To minister to those who have been ostracized, demeaned, abused, forgotten, neglected, hurt, segregated, and outcast. To stand in the gap for those who can not stand at all. To give vision to those who lack sight. To believe for those who have lost hope. To love those who have been walled. To break the shackles that bind. To tear down the bondages of addictions, curses, and prisons.

My sexuality is inconsequential to this end and my heart is indeed not far from my God’s that He not only knows me but provides for me and protects me as a lover shield’s his own soul.

There is, therefore, no longer a defense I have for myself than the life I live due to my encounter with and relationship with the Divine. I am a follower of the Spirit of Christ. My spirits is not my sexuality and the two can not and shall never be equated. I will be judged not on who I love but on HOW I loved. I will not be judged on how eloquent my arguments are or were nor on whether I won every debate but on how gracious, forgiving, merciful, and loving I was to my opponents, enemies, and those who would sooner have me destroyed.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control are the fruits of the tree and the spirit which should be my life. And against such there is NO law. And the ultimate law is to love the Lord our God with all our strength, heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor and love yourself for we are created in His likeness.

With intention I follow THIS law!

Day - 5

Love, or so they call it...

Since moving to Seattle, I've had three guys I've been interested in. All but one have turned into a grave disappointment and heartbreak.

Jim (Fuzzy Face) - 2010


Jim

Me and Jim I
Me and Jim - July 4, 2010

Jim and I met online. It was a totally mutual attraction and ended up being a love affair that last for the entire year of 2010. However, Jim lived in Long Beach CA. I, lived in Seattle, WA. Jim truly made me happy. We laughed a lot together and when we were together it just felt so easy and so right. Visiting in him in Long Beach was such a peaceful and homey experience for me. We'd talk everyday and do all those things that "lovers" do. But with him and I almost 1000 miles apart, it did make things difficult.

He did talk about moving back to Seattle and even looked for jobs. But I made sure that he and I were on the same page; that he was not to move to Seattle for me, but because of what he truly wanted and felt he should do. Later in the year I went through some medical issues with him and that really proved that our relationship wasn't just a fit of fancy but something that was solid and built on love, care, and friendship.

However, as most things, the pursuit of a deeper relationship came to an end. Jim and I started talking/seeing each other before I started my Masters degree and when he came to visit me again after I had started school, my mind was so preoccupied with so many other things that it was somewhat difficult to fully be present with him. I later called off our deeper pursuit in December primarily because of proximity and frequency. With me being in school and other things that were going on in my life, we lived to far apart and I didn't get to see him enough for me to truly warrant spending much more energy on that aspect of our relationship. In short, I just didn't have the time or the energy.

Jim and I are still very good friends and I still go to visit him. We don't talk as often as we used to but he is still near and dear to my heart and is still my Big Fuzzy Face.

Robert - 2011

Robert came into my life quite unexpectedly. And we parted ways quite abruptly. To me, he was a beautiful man with many flaws and insecurities. We met online in March of 2011 and parted ways exactly a year ago this week...yes, the week of my birthday. In many respects, I feel that Robert resented the fact that I was as successful as I was. At 39, Robert did not own a car, lived in a basement room of his best friend's house, and worked as a cheese and wine seller for a local supermarket and just recently found out what he wanted to do with his life. Better late than never I always say.

I liked Robert a lot. We met just as friends one night for dinner. When I drove him back home I had every intention of going home. I asked if he wanted me to come in for a little bit (not trying to make a pass, just wondering if he wanted to spend a little bit more time before I headed home) He said, "I already told you you were spending the night." I said, "Oh, you did?" He replied, "Yeah when you opened the door of your car for me when we went to dinner." I did NOT come prepared for that. If I had wanted a hookup I would've prepared and if I wanted to spend the night I would've packed a bag.

I agreed to crash with him anyway and ended up spending all the next day over there. Our relationship's mutual attraction blossomed extremely quickly over the next couple of months.

The one thing, however, Robert could NOT handle was Gary's presence in my life and the more we went on, the more I felt that Robert (who was white) had a fantasy of being fucked by a strong black man. There definitely was some racial power/sexual play going on here. I had made a promise to Gary, as I have with Lee, that regardless of who might be in my life, they are and always will have an important place in my life. I determined that I was through with having friends pushed to the back-burner just because a "new lover" happened to show up in my life.

My philosophy is clear: Friends are often more important to me than my lovers. Friends were there long before lovers came. They are there through my entire relationship with my lovers. And they are usually the people helping me pick up the pieces after my lovers have gone and broken my heart!

The situation with Robert prompted me to go back to therapy. Towards the beginning of my seeing him, I started going back because I wanted to analyze my fears around entering relationships. I convinced myself that I could try to see Robert without getting my heart involved. If I didn't get my heart involved then I wouldn't get hurt. So I approached the relationship very cerebrally.

What started happening over time was that I started getting these angst feelings within my chest. I later recognized these feelings as anxiety. By keeping my heart at bay from getting involved with Robert my heart was causing me great anxiety. I didn't want to get hurt and in the process was causing myself great distress. After several weeks of doing this, I just got emotionally and spiritually tired of holding back. Then, because of my exhaustion, my heart got involved. This greatly changed our relationship 'cause I could be far more emotionally available, but it also meant that there were things and emotions that I was going to be unable to fully control, now that the cat was out of the bag.

Robert had a horrible tendency to speak about things he knew nothing about about. He wanted to come across as impressive because he lacked the self-confidence needed to come across any other way. One day, in an olive branch attempt at making peace, Gary asked to meet and speak with Robert because he knew it would help me balance both of the men in my life.

Robert agreed, then showed his ass. In short, he met Gary and attempted to try to tell him how spoiled I was and how Gary shouldn't be paying for my schooling and that I should "struggle because it creates character." There were many other things he said but that was the clincher for me.

After meeting with him afterward and speaking with him, he was not truly forthcoming about the conversation he had with Gary (I later found out that he didn't think I would believe him...huh?). And after hearing Gary's side of the conversation I felt the need to address some of the issues with Robert via email. Robert, in his reply, ended the relationship. Afterward we exchanged any personal belongings we had of the other's I didn't see him again.

Charles - 2011

Charles was a 40 something year-old man who worked for one of the Universities in the Northeast and I met him while he was visiting his mother for her birthday near Seattle. I picked him up form the Ferry and took him over to my place so we could visit before I dropped him off at the airport. This was on the tail end of Robert and was yet another crazy surprise. We were only together for no more than 2 hours but through the conversations on the phone we had a lot in common. I thought we connected rather well but I know now that my guard was down due to my experience with making my heart available with Robert. I should've known immediately after he said "I love you" upon the first 20 minutes of our physical meeting. But I let it slide.

Even when I went to drop him off at the airport he surprised me yet again by impetuously giving me his class ring as a guarantee that we would see each other again. I insisted that that was a bit much and that there was no need. He wouldn't let it go, so I obliged him. After he returned home, we spoke often throughout the following days. I actually warmed up to him a great deal. He even floated the idea of looking to move out to Seattle which I was totally opposed to. Having gone through what I went through with Jim, I told him "no." But again he insisted that we could work it out because so many people could. I had my doubts.

The dude's optimism and life experience was very persuasive.

He then mailed me his book that he wrote about his trips to Africa to help with orphans with HIV. Around this time he was setting off for his annual trip there and I was setting off to Europe for a trip in London, Scotland, and Paris. We didn't talk much during our getaways.

When I returned I expected to hear from him but the Northeast had just had an earthquake and he had a friend who recently died (unrelated), so I understood that and gave him some space. A few weeks passed with little to no communication until one day I just asked him what was up and if he was still thinking about all the things we spoke about before.

Long story short, when he flew back to the Northeast after getting back from Africa, he had found someone else and was "slightly" amiss in telling me. Apparently he hadn't figured out a way to tell me yet. In my book that translated to him keeping me for nothing more than a place-holder in his life until something better came along. I was furious and hurt. On the tale end of Robert, this was the last thing I needed.

As much as he apologized I still felt that he was full of shit! He couldn't understand why I wouldn't be a bigger man and be happy for him.

Gary took it upon himself, when I asked him to drop the ring in the mail, to mail back the book as well. Apparently, I didn't know this until Charles told me. He said that he felt like I was saying "Fuck you." I told him, "Considering the circumstances, did you expect anything less?" And after thoroughly letting him know how I felt (another one of my lengthy pointed and blunt emails), I let it all go and vowed that my 2012 was going to be NOTHING like my 2011.

Moving Forward

After some long bitter tears and heart searching I came to the conclusion that for some strange, unknown reason, my heart loves to go sprinting off in directions of supposed "love" in spite of previous experience, hurts, and pains. They say hope springs eternal, but I for one am SICK AND TIRED of being hurt.

I therefore launched into a deep search for what relationships (dating and otherwise) truly mean for and to me. But that is a post all its own.

Day - 6

The blessing of the Lord maketh men rich: neither shall affliction be joined to them.
Proverbs 10:22

As I mentioned earlier, my first attempt at applying to Graduated School in Tampa did not work as intended. After spending money to take the GRE, it felt like a let down after I was still not accepted. But I still had every intention of going to Grad School. After that denial, I didn't know how Grad School was going to work out or how I was going to get in.

Then I moved to Seattle and school became even more uncertain. I remember telling God that, because I had every intention of going to school on my own AND staying in Tampa (I was willing to work in the field for a while and then reapply), if He was moving me across the country then He not only had to get me IN school but also provide a way for me to pay for it. The condition was that I was NOT going further into debt to do it. I was already sitting on $13,000 of debt and the thought of adding to that just so I could go back to school was out of the question. There was no way I could pay off the debt I already had, so if God made it possible for me to go to school then He'd also have to fund the venture.

And my mind was set. If I had to go further into debt to do it, then it wasn't going to get done. Period!

As I've discovered throughout my whole Seattle adventure, God had already moved all the pieces ahead in my favor. He was already light-years away from the present situation that I was looking at.

And boy did He do a number! (Or in Pentecostal circles, God showed up and showed out!!!)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Where God guides, He provides. I have witnessed this to be true.

When I moved to Seattle I started looking at MSW degree programs. I settled on The University of Washington. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, it is a pretty prestigious public University and its School of Social Work is one of the top in the nation. My immediate boss was a graduate of the program and was strongly encouraging me to apply. Not only did he encourage me but he wrote a glowing letter to admissions on my behalf.

To be honest, I almost missed the deadline altogether. The entire application process was so rushed. I had to get everything together within a two week period. And then I sent it off. (Good thing I was good friends with one of the registrars at my old college) And I waited. Fortunate for me, the School of Social Work did not require GRE's. They didn't find that GRE test scores were legitimate measures of a student's potential success within the program. So this was a double plus for me: a boss that graduated from the program and not having to retake the GRE (since I don't think I scored that high on the first one).

I'm not sure how long I waited before I got the letter in the mail. But upon receiving and opening it I paused at the first word of the letter...

CONGRATULATIONS!

After that word the rest of the letter seemed to fade into memory. I was accepted in to the UW MSW Program! God had kept the first part of my request. Now I waited to see how He was gonna pull of the second part: funding.

Little did I know, but Gary was in my life for far more than I originally surmised. After hearing the news that I was accepted, and knowing that there was no way I was going to be able to afford 3 years of Graduate School, he graciously agreed to pay for it himself!

WHOA! WHAT?! I was speechless. Immediately my modesty kicked in. "You can't do that. How can you do that? Why would you do that?" (When someone tries to bless you, LET THEM) His reasoning remained the same as it was since we met. He had one singular purpose when it came to matters of finance with me. He believed in me and saw the potential I have and wanted to make sure I not only had the support but also the means to utilize and fully realize my potential. In other words, he put his money where his mouth (and his heart) were.

God had fulfilled both parts of the request. I was officially a Grad Student and I had the means to afford it.

But God did not stop there! He had one last trick up His sleeve.

My parents came to visit for my mother's 57th birthday in August of that year right before my first quarter started. They were staying with me. Upon one of the last evenings during their visit they called me into the bedroom (I was sleeping on the couch) because they had something important to discuss with me. Actually they had a proposition to make with me.

My parents started by saying that throughout the years after I graduated from school, I have not asked them for anything. They have witnessed me try and try again, struggling to make it on my own and through it all I rarely ever asked them for any financial help whatsoever.

My father then said that he didn't want to die leaving his children in need. He wanted to make sure they were secure in their lives before he passed. My father is 61 so he probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon but I am sure that old age has made him think about the life situations his children are in.

They then made the following proposition: They could either pay my way through school or pay off my debt!

WHOA! WHAT?! Again, I was speechless. Then I quipped that Gary already agreed to pay for my school. To which they replied, "Go Gary!" And then they followed up with, "Ok, then I guess we'll take care of your debt."

God had moved both Gary and my Parents to be the provision for me in this next chapter. And I was given a clean slate! For the first time in my life I had the ability to truly put money away in savings, buy things that were actually going to be an investment, and start investing my money in the Stock Market.

Regardless of how much I might gripe about Seattle (I always tend to gripe about places I live), I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God has me here for a reason and He continues to prove that to me. Everything has been provided for either by my own hand or by the kindness, generosity, and blessings of others. I am truly humbled, grateful, and blessed.

I shall never leave you nor forsake you.
-Joshua 1:5b; Hebrews 13:5

I am loved!

Day - 7

Finding Spirit and Finding the Spirit

The police didn't find my car 'till January of 2011 but by that time my insurance company (trusty USAA) declared Spirit totaled and I had already purchased a used Red 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.

When I went to go see Spirit in the towing lot it was raining. There was a trash bag over the passenger window that had previously been busted out. When I went inside there was glass all over the floor, all my valuables, save one of my prescription sunglasses had been stolen. Spirit no longer felt like my car. But my new car still had yet to feel like my car either. Hence, the reason why I have been unable to find a name of it. I said my official goodbye to Spirit on that cold, dark, and rainy night.

A chapter had been closed.

My new car did have some perks that Spirit did not. It came equipped with a subwoofer. As much as I love music, this was a huge plus! It also came with 4-wheel drive, which in Seattle is a HUGE plus and it came with break-assist so when I'm stopped on a hill (and there are several hills in Seattle) I won't go rolling back when it's time for me to pump the gas. I still will avoid, as much as possible, stopping on an upward hill in the rain. That can be some very scary stuff.

Liberation Ministries

Before I moved to Seattle, I started attending an Inclusive Pentecostal Church: Liberation Ministries. I found it to be gratifying for a while and it helped me plug in to the the faith community again. I quickly joined the praise team/choir, attended men's fellowship, bible studies, and other church related goings-on.

The Pastor and I, however, seemed to be locked into this silent yet quite noticeable power struggle. Darrell is only 1-2 years older than me and we are both Gemini's. Per my experience, me and other Gemini's rarely get along. There were a few times when both of our heads butted. We would resolve the issues as politely and amicably as possible but I always felt the show was often about him. I always have issues with people in control. I'm always questioning whether or not they understand what it truly means to be in the seat of power and influence. Having been in that seat myself and coming from two parents that were also in that seat (militaristically speaking), I feel that I more thoroughly understand what it takes to honor, respect, and listen to those under you. I couldn't begin to tell you how many people I spoke to that were very disgruntled with how Darrell was running things.

There were many things about the church that eventually led to my departure, the least not being the pervasiveness of "gay" within the congregation. I felt that there was so much emphasis on the fact that most of us were gay rather than on the Jesus. There were times I felt it worked more like a three-ring circus than an uplifting faith community. In time I eventually felt that my gifts were being dulled and my sword blunted. Either my ability to expound on the word of God was either too deep for being to understand or to high for others to grasp.

Although I think often of the men and women I departed from (I made several friends), I remember telling Darrell during a phone conversation in which he was attempting to do his pastoral duty and convince me to return, that I understood what he was trying to do, however, what he was saying was no longer resonating with me. I knew myself well enough to know that neither he nor I would truly wanted me to return; not unless he wanted a festering cancer within the midst of the congregants. It was best I departed for a while.

Graduate School gave me the perfect excuse to do so.

Day - 8

Book 3: WTF? - THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR!

Ya know, one thing about following God's plan for your life is that it doesn't always rarely works out the way you thought it would.

Welcome

Upon getting to Seattle, I moved in with Gary for 3 months because the job that I was hired for was in the process of grant renewal. They were not sure whether it would be approved. I knew this before I signed up for the position. And I was pleased when the grant was approved and I became a permanent employee of Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

Unfortunately my predecessor did not leave the agency on the best of terms with my boss William and he left me with a huge mess of client notes. Step 1: Make sense of his/my clients notes and organize them. And because I came with my deliverables under par, I had to catch up for lost time in order to make deliverables in my first couple of months. Step 2: Catch up on missing deliverables. This usually resulted in my seeing, on many days, 7 clients a day. Multiply that by 5 days and I was seeing up to 35 clients a week some weeks. That's HUGE, especially when you are doing counseling. I later learned that my safe limit for clients was no more than 4 per day.

The Seattle Chill

Once I got the job under control and manageable I had to come to grips with the fact that Seattle was NOT the south! Seattle is often called the Emerald City because of all the greenery. The Wiz's OZ characterizes the residents of Seattle much better than Judy Garland's version. In the Wiz's OZ (Diana Ross), the inhabitants are very non-welcoming, cold, and aloof. I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a restaurant and felt like the waiter was giving off the impression that it was MY honor to be served by them. Huh?

The sense of entitlement in this city boggles my mind. They fight for everything under the sun, including the sun. Everything is about rights, preserving the Earth, equality, etc. Seattle exists primarily because of the benefits their big businesses and corporations have brought them, yet they HATE big business and large corporations. Huh? Unions run rampant here. Not to say to much bad about unions, some are good. But you can't get blood from a turnip.

And this city is hella White! There is no way to say it. And there is no nice way it should be said. I have had some of the most bizarre racial incidences in this city that I've ever had in my life. Many white people here seem to suffer from extreme white guilt. Native Americans hardly exist in great proportions here like they once did but I can't turn my head without seeing some Native American name or emblem plastered on a county name or Seattle's city seal. (Named after Chief Seattle). And to be so white, the irony is that the name of the county was renamed to King County, in honor of Martin Luther King. Huh?

I have been cut off more times, had cars honk at me more times, and been refused merging entry into traffic more times in this city than I have ever in the 12 or so years I've been driving. I have even been chased by other people on the road. WTF?!!! One guy even tailed me for miles 'till I got to a major intersection. He pulled up beside me and rolled down his window and proceeded to curse and scream and holler about how he was going to kill me and shit! WTF!!! Fast traffic does not ride in the far left lane. Slow drivers purposefully drive in the left lane to keep people from going fast. (Which is Illegal) People when walking down the street don't even know that it's common practice to pass on the RIGHT of someone. People here, more often than not, pass on the LEFT! Huh?

People here tend to be far more rude, disrespectful, snobby, and arrogant. Shopping at Wholefoods, driving a Prius or Subaru, or recycling is not a lifestyle it is a political statement. Only in Seattle have I ever seen people make rainboots fashionable. Bikers are crazy here. One moment they want to act like cars and slow traffic down with their obliviousness. Then when lights turn red they either want to run them (which is illegal) or jump onto the sidewalk and use the crosswalk like a normal pedestrian. Huh? And then there are the pedestrians. WOW! I can not tell you how many times I've almost hit a pedestrian because they just jumped out into the street expecting me to come to a screeching halt because there were too lazy to wait a couple of seconds for me to pass. On that note, who in their right mind jumps out into moving traffic without looking both ways before they cross the street? What?!

SEATTLE IS NOT ACCEPTING! THEY ONLY ACCEPT YOU WHEN YOU ARE DOING WHAT THEY THINK IS RIGHT!

I learned early on that the only difference between the conservatives and the liberals, the left and the right, is what side of the fence they yell from. That's it. And that's all.

To top it all off, trying to meet new friends was at first difficult because Gary's Ex, Tony had already tarnished my name among the community, saying that I was the reason their marriage ended. On several occasions when introducing myself I would get, "Ohhh, so YOU'RE Garland!"

Seems I came to Seattle to clean up a lot of other people's messes!

Finding Healing at Last

On a different note. I have noticed that the black people here are much different than many I have encountered in the South. For the first time in my life I have been surrounded by some very educated, well spoken, attractive black men and women. At first, I was taken aback. Black folks in Seattle are a peculiar group. Being from the South, I am used to black guys nodding at you automatically when passing you on the street. Here, there are two types of black guys. 1. The Black guy who will give you the "knowing" nod or 2. The guy that will completely ignore your existence due to some sense of competition he has internalized; that the existence of another black man in his proximity lessons his chances of being seen as an upstanding citizen of society or of getting ahead.

A couple of months after I arrived I attended a retreat call "Brother's Link." The retreat was put on by a nonprofit called Center For Multicultural Health. The purpose of the retreat was to bring together African American gay, bisexual, and transgendered men to discuss issues around sex and sexuality. OMG! This experience just opened up a whole new world to me. For the first time in my life I was able to share my ideas and opinions with other black guys and I wasn't laughed, felt intimidated, or dismissed as "weird." This experience was far different than experiences I had growing up. I made several friends - solid friends, from this group of guys.

Working at Lifelong AIDS Alliance has contributed to my healing process as well. I was hired to counsel other African American Men. This has been such an opportunity for me to work through my own internalized racism that I've accumulated over the years. Being able to relate and converse with other black guys without the fear of being dismissed, judged, or ridiculed has been such a blessing for me. And I've become an important voice in the African American Sexual Health Scene here and esteemed highly by my clients and colleagues.

Against all the aggravations, Seattle has afforded me many opportunities that I would not have otherwise had.

From Seattle With Love

I end this post with an incident that happened to me a few months after I moved to Seattle. This incident drove a stake through the heart of my emotions made already fragile by the distance I was from my loved ones.

One night I was visiting my friend Thom downtown. I believe the month was October. After coming down from his apartment, I stepped out of the building and started walking towards my car. As I was approaching, I noticed that it appeared my passenger side window had been busted in. I couldn't really tell, due the overhead streetlight, whether the window was indeed busted out or not. As I continued walking towards Spirit, he quickly made a U-turn and drove in the opposite direction.

For a second my mind entered that space of disbelief where present circumstances and past experiences had not quite solidified into a cohesive reality. "Is that my car moving...WITHOUT ME?!"

During the rapid solidification of my particular present reality, I high-tailed it after my vehicle yelling, "HEY, THAT'S MY CAR!!!" After several yards, I finally gave up the fight.

SPIRIT WAS GONE!

After calling Gary, who knocked me back to my senses and reminded me to call the police first, Thom coming down, the police writing a report, and Gary coming to pick me up, he took me home. I don't remember anything more about that night. I was in Shock. I do remember contacting my boss and letting him know. Since I had not been home before seeing Thom that evening, all my work stuff and keys were in my briefcase. I also lost the GPS that my father bought be before I made my cross country trip (which was not on the window), the iPod Classic that Lee bought me from the previous Christmas, one pair of my prescriptions sunglasses, and most of all, my four-wheeled Graduation gift from my parents. You don't own your first vehicle for 5 years, go through two accidents in it, and drive it across the country without forming a bond.

That bond was now severed.

That night I fell asleep exhausted. I woke up later that night not able to sleep. All I felt was utter violation coupled with deep emotional sadness. I remember crawling out of Gary's bed and into the guest bedroom where my bed was set up. I sat there on the edge of the bed and lost it. I just started crying and crying and crying. Losing Spirit was the last thing I expected after everything else I had given up to move to Seattle. And then I got angry at God.

"YOU MOVED ME HERE FOR THIS?!!! YOU DIRECTED ME 31 HUNDRED MILES AWAY FROM MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND EVERYTHING I'VE KNOWN FOR THIS?!!! YOU COULD'VE WORKED EVERYTHING OUT IN TAMPA! I COULD'VE STAYED THERE, FOUND WORK, AND GONE TO USF LIKE I ORIGINALLY PLANNED!!! BUT NOOOOO, YOU HAD TO MOVE ME OUT HERE?! I DIDN'T EVEN WANT TO BE HERE BUT I BELIEVED IN YOU AND YOUR CALL!!! AND NOW WHAT? EVEN MY CAR HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM ME!!!"


"Why, God? I don't understand."

Gary, sensing my absence, crawled out of bed and sat next to me and just held me as I wept in his arms.

"God, I didn't ask for this."

I didn't ask for this

Day - 9

The Ending of Book 2: Final Destination

When I got to Sturgis, SD I was met with thousands of bikers. It truly was a sight to behold. Nothing like a whole bunch of mostly middle-aged and retired white men on vehicles that make the ground rumble. There I met up with Gary and we drove around a bit. He wanted to show me the place. I stayed two nights.

Then we were off again.

Upon leaving, Gary gave me a choice. We could either go see Mt. Rushmore or Devil's Tower. Since, at the time, I was not wholly excited about seeing a mountain with dead President's faces etched into it and I have wanted to see Devil's Tower for many many years, I chose the latter.


Devil's Tower I

Devils Tower II
I haven't seen Mt. Rushmore (yet), but I bet this natural work of art dwarfs dead President's any day. Although both sites are Native American sacred grounds. Go figure!

After winding around in the Black Hills, Gary and I hit the road again heading west into Montana.

Gary on the road
Following my faithful companion. They don't call Montana "Big Sky Country" for nothing.

I have to say that this part of the country is absolutely stunning. The rolling hills, foot mountains, and the expansiveness of the sky will take your breath away. There t
ruly is no other place I've been to in this country quite like Montana. After driving for several hours we encountered a very bad rainstorm up in the mountains. Gary was in front of me and there were several trucks passing us. It was raining so hard it was even difficult for me, being in a car, to see. I knew that it was far more dangerous for Gary. So I signaled for us to get off the road for the night. We found a Holiday Inn in Bozeman, MT where we got the last room available. Although it was a smoking room, we were glad to be off the road an into some dryness.

The next morning we started off again going west. I decided that I had been on the road long enough and really ached to get to my destination. The last two states I had left were Idaho and Washington.


Gary on the road II
Three of Gary's favorite passions: Trains, an open road, and a motorcycle

After Montana we entered the even more mountainous terrain of Northern Idaho. If you get nervous about steep drop-off's and winding road, Northern Idaho is not for you. Then we came to it at last, the Washington state border. What I found interesting about the experience of crossing over was that you literally climb out of Idaho and fall into Washington. The climb takes a while and then you get to the top of this huge overlook and in front of you is this huge sign saying "Welcome to Washington" and then you turn left and fall (or coast) for several miles into Washington State.

For several months I had been visiting Seattle and never went East of the Cascade Mountain Range. When I got into Washington the landscape was QUITE different than what I expected. It was almost desert like. There was none of the green lush foliage I was used to seeing. The landscape was incredibly flat, you could see for miles, and the highway went on for miles in a straight line into the horizon. The temperature was quite warmer as well. Then we came to the Columbia river.


Columbia River
The Columbia river and Bridge that spans it. We stopped here to take some amazing pictures.

And as the sun started setting we got back on the road. We were almost there.

Columbia River II
Almost home.

Once we crossed the river and headed through the mountains we came back to civilization and freeways packed with cars. As providence would have it, a song started playing on my iPod that I repeated 'till I drove up into Gary's driveway.

The Long Day Is Over by Norah Jones

We got into Seattle and thus ended the second book of my life that spanned from my graduation from High School and starting college in 2000 'till I left and arrived in Seattle in August of 2009.


My heart was very much aching for all those loved ones I left over 3000 miles away.

The Adventure Continues in Book 3

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