Monthly Archives: April 2012

Lake Street Church of Evanston: my ecclesial home

How we live our covenant…

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A simple act…

We’d never spent that much time together
and were nervous about the weekend.
But all it took was a simple act–
a bowed head
a reminder of grace and gift
and I was hooked.

Virtual realities…

I spent the last week at the JW Marriott Resort in Orlando, FL on business. For four days I didn’t leave the resort grounds as I was involved in business meetings from morning until late night.  But nothing was missing even though I was confined to the hotel: the vistas were incredible from the window, the pool inviting, the lazy river tempting, the walking paths paved smooth, and not a leaf out of place.  Not a leave out of place...Contained within the hotel was a convenience store, gym, wellness clinic and spa, Starbucks, clothes shops, restaurants, cleaners, shoe shiners, a news stand, bank… you name it, it was available: all to be charged to the room in a simple signature.  In the mornings a maid came and cleaned up my messy room, brought fresh white sheets and towels and removed all traces of waste from my room. At night another uniformed woman came in and turned down my bed, leaving chocolates on the pillows. I didn’t have to mess with the vulgarity of daily living; I didn’t even need to handle cash.

For those four days I breathed in conditioned air, bathed with spa soaps, ate gourmet foods. I listened to papers and presentations by people who are top in the field: the brightest minds on the bleeding edge of educational technologies. Every hall conversation was polite, and elevator rides were friendly.  Those I encountered were servile: at my beck and call wanting nothing more than to grant me a magical experience.

The one outing I took from the hotel was in a large luxury bus, designed to take groups to and from resort locations.  I sat with forty others in leather bucket seats which reclined, listening to my own private music as a friendly porter carried us to an Argentine restaurant: a facsimile of Carnivàle, complete with tango dance lessons, open bar, Cuban cigar rolling, fortune telling, artists painting, etc… we were transported to another world just twenty minutes from the hotel.  We could buy ‘authentic’ Argentine crafts made in China as souvenirs.

On the way to the restaurant, we drove through neighborhood after neighborhood of McMansions: each with large SUVs parked in the drive.  Occasionally you’d see the armored Hummer taking up more than its fair share of the driveway.  Endless suburbia stretched before us, disrupted by the occasional strip mall. The way was paved smooth.

I arrived back to Chicago late in the evening at O’Hare to find myself amongst other weary travelers, looking for their luggage. Conversations swirled around me in Hindi, Spanish, Polish and Greek. People pushed and shoved each other out of the way, children cried, husbands got short with their wives.  The taxi driver spoke little English, the cab was filthy and smelled from an overpowering air freshner.  He weaved his way through traffic at breakneck speed, bouncing this exhausted passenger from side to side.  Nausea ensued.

We drove through the Pakistani neighborhood where you can buy halal meat, then the Indian neighborhood where saris glittered the shop windows. We wove our way to my building through the West Indian and Ethiopian districts where the tang of Injera hung in the air . The doorman was not at the front desk and I had to wait several minutes to be let in.  The night air was cold.  The mail box was jammed with the week’s correspondence, much of which was balled up in the back of my box.  My apartment smelled musty and the cat litter needed changing.  She’d thrown up on the carpet in a couple of spots.  She greeted me with loud complaints about my absence, all the while rubbing cat hair all over my legs.

I was home. And I loved it.

Fan Fare and Waving Palms

X is one of my closest friends and is a gay man. We’ve known each other for years (since high school)  and we’ve seen each other at our best and worst.  I love him dearly.  But I hate going out with him.

X is a sexual predator: not in the illegal sense, but rather in the sense that every interaction is a potential sexual encounter.  This is the lens through which X views the world: there are women and there are potential sex partners.  I’ve discussed it with him multiple times over the years, and his outlook and behavior have not changed.  I’ve learned to live with it, and placed some limits and demands on him as a result.  For instance, when we go to a restaurant, I make him sit facing the wall or position him so that his line of eye site is limited to the fewest people possible.  Otherwise I find myself largely ignored as he scopes the surroundings for potential prey.  The worst experience?  Try going to a gay bar with him: not only does he ignore you, but the wait staff will as well.  It is hard for a woman to get served in a gay bar.

X took me out recently for my birthday.  We walked to the restaurant Saturday evening and I found myself contemplating the Palm Sunday services at my local church.  As I rambled about the festivities, I realized he’d broken stride with me and was busy flirting with a young hottie on the street.  This continued on the way to the restaurant various with men he’d make eye contact with: that knowing gaze and sizing up of one another.  At dinner X flirted with the wait-staff and eyeballed the crowd for cute men.  I said something about it to him, and his response was of the “wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity” ilk.

There is no jealousy in me: I’m not a stereotypical fag-hag, hoping to change him.  I have no need to be the object of flirtation or affection.  But I couldn’t help but feel that just for once, I’d like for someone to wave palm fronds because I walked in the room…

We all want to be honored occasionally and to not disappear into the crowd. I am not one among many: I am one; singular; someone to be celebrated, even if just a little.