A Greek Boy in Wales, and the Beat of a Different Drum

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“Sweet dreams buddy.” I say to the Welsh botany student I’ve been talking to. I’ll type while he falls asleep and we’ll leave the video on. It’s like I’m watching over him. He’s so beautiful it takes my breath away. I’m madly in love with him and he with me. We spoke for the first time yesterday via WhatsApp video after having chatted about a week ago on Scruff. The call lasted much longer than either of had expected and by the time it had ended we were both in love. Aberystwyth University is safely 4,445 miles away so the distance at least will serve until prudence steps in. Did I mention his twenty-five? Twenty-four maybe. The French rule dictates that the lower age limit for applicant to be my Other should be—let’s see, it’s half plus seven. Thirty-two. This cat falls short of that by almost a decade. And he has a mustache. Did I tell you he has a mustache? In the first picture I saw of him, the one on his dating profile, he had a beard. I’m so much of a pogonophile I usually won’t even look at it if it doesn’t have a beard. He rocks the ‘stache like it should be named for him.  I’d be in love with him if he had no hair. Speaking of hair, Dom’s hair (did I tell you his name is Dom as in Dominique?) is a thick shock of black confidence that betrays his Greek heritage as much as his last name (3 to 1, consonant-to-vowel ratio). His eyes are so dark brown you can’t see where the pupils stop and the iris starts; the whites of his eyes are like snow. In our long twenty-four hour relationship he’s really opened up to me and I love the way he looks at me. I’ve told him of my transgressions and he loves me just the same. Our relationship has grown over time as I watched him tidy up his room yesterday and brush his teeth this morning. I got to see him interact with other humans when the realtor lady came in to show his place. Polite and kind. Friendly. That’s important. His seductive Welsh accent is everything decent and proper found anywhere in the Isles but forged solidly in the water-soaked stone of Wales.
He’s drifted off to sleep now. He’s there on my phone beside the computer. His beauty is life-affirming. Before shifting tracks and heading off to university to study plants, he was in a punk band. He’s either my husband or my spirit animal.  I want nothing more right now that to be with him in Wales, waves crashing against the bluffs with his back pressed into my furry chest as my heartbeat deepens his sleep. I want to protect him. I want to flow into him and have him flow into me. I want to know everything about him; I want him to be mine. I want to make him smell like me.
Today my buddy Dennis Kyne went to drum in Congo Square. Dennis and I met while protesting outside the Bush Ranch in Crawford, Texas in 2014. He’s been at this activism thing a long, long time and the wrinkles around our eyes weren’t there when we met. I love him. I’ve invited a lot of people to come along for African drumming on Sundays. Few have taken me up on it but I think Dennis was glad he did. The experience of three hours of drumming on that sacred land can be transcendent. Congo Square has been a spiritual gathering place since before the European colonists arrived. On Sundays, during times of slavery, Free People of Color and in some cases slaves were allowed to gather there to sing and drum and dance. They’d make and sale wares. To look up into those ancient oaks while we all drum together takes me to another place and I can hear the voices of all those who’ve gathered there before us.
I just got off a Skype call with Max who, over a relatively short time, has become a very good friend of mine and has been about as successful at getting me to actually write as any who have endeavored to help me with my befuddling resistance to doing that thing which I actually think I was put on the earth to do. He is writing a screenplay and we trade pages at the end of the night. It’s a sweet form of support and accountability and I appreciate him.

After I hung up with Max I called up my buddy Joe in Seattle. Joe and I talk at least a couple of times a day. Over a few years now, and with the exception of being in each other’s presence twice, I think, our entire friendship has been conducted on FaceTime and we have talked with each other for a thousand hours. I’ve listen to his story of past disastrous relationships with women and he’s watched me build new disastrous relationships with men. He walked with me as I was taking care of my dying parents and now I’m walking with him as he has brought his elderly mother to spend the rest with him; she is well past the point where most people would have sent her into a nursing home. He walks The Red Road and demonstrates what that should look like as I am a man who claims to do the same. I walk The Red Road, imperfectly. I guess my prayer is my prayer. No one can bring this particular prayer but me. I bring it in the Circle on behalf of others like me. Their prayers are my prayers.
I’m humbled by the fact that Lakota people had such grace and forgiveness within them to offer so freely to me and others what my ancestors viciously slaughtered theirs in an attempts to take not only their land but that same spiritual culture from which I have benefited so immensely. That is a testament to the beauty of the soul of the Lakota People.
Similarly, when I walked up to that circle of mostly Black people, gathered under those oaks in Congo Square asking, “Can I play with y’all” they were wise enough to see through to what I was really asking, “Can I pray with y’all” and you know what? Black people don’t owe me shit. In most cases these people are descendants of people my ancestors kidnapped and enslaved. They were then forced to work for hundreds of years under immeasurable cruelty to the benefit of not only the slave owners themselves but all the beneficiaries of the economy all that “free” labor was creating. And guess who the chief benefactors of that system are— White People. And it has never been made right. My great-great grandfather Doc Clifton Key died wearing the gray and fighting for slavery. He’s buried in a Confederate war grave in Ohio somewhere. His widow was buried 300 yards from the house I grew up in. My ancestors died for the cause of slavery. Black People don’t owe me shit. Still I was made welcome and even gifted a drum (after time and some demonstration of serious devotion). This speaks to the heart of the teachings they gather there to sing and dance and drum about. It speaks to the good heart of this group of people.
Come drum with us some Sunday. Or let’s find our way to an Inipi Lodge together.
The Welsh Boy coughs and stirs a bit in his sleep. I glance to my phone to see he’s rolled over, his velvet smooth back, half draped in his blanket has formed a flesh-shaped heart. I take it as a sign. In a moment I’ll post this blog and take my new lover into the bedroom, place him on the bedside table and join him in his dreams. I’ll keep my mic muted so that the Netflix doesn’t bother him. New Love or not, I’ll still need to be lulled to sleep by a space or nature documentary which is my wont.
He just rolled over to his back. His sleeping mustache lines a gently gaping mouth.
And then he begins to snore.
Whatever resistance there might be left in my scarred-up old heart just fell away. I’m done for.

 

 


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