Monday, October 16, 2006

Our time

They say some of the hardest things to go through in life include losing a job, looking for a job, moving, being homeless, and losing your nice belt but finding it again a few days later. I don’t know who the hell “they” are or how they knew about the belt—which is actually pretty creepy when you think about it—but they missed something. Something that can be very difficult to survive when you don’t see it coming.

I’m actually surprised how well I’ve managed this period of epic transition in my life. I owe a lot of it to the boyfriend, who has brought me such unexpected joy and unrelenting optimism (not to mention a delightful mix of giddiness, serenity, support, smiles that melt me in my tracks, text messages that make me laugh out loud and obscure Sondheim trivia that—quite frankly—gives him more sex appeal than he could achieve with a spray-on tan, a giant bowl of ice cream and two spoons) that for the first time in my life I see my future as more of an exhilarating journey than just an inevitable destination.

I also owe a lot to my friends Jim and Jeff, who welcomed me into their home when my house and my job suddenly disappeared beneath my feet. (Before you take up a collection on behalf of my poor downtroddenness, I should clarify that my house disappeared because my old place sold sooner than I expected and my new place is STILL not ready for me to move in. So I am not homeless out of destitution. But I did lose my job in a round of layoffs. And I am not too proud to accept donations of large bills.) Aside from giving me a lovely place to survive the stresses of moving and job hunting, they’ve also insisted on making me (and the boyfriend) actually live in their home with them—having dinner, relaxing in front of the fireplace, making conversation … the things I’d otherwise completely overlook in my concentrated mission to find a job and become a productive citizen again.

Wow. Somehow I blathered myself off on a tangent. Embarrassments of riches can have that effect on a guy.

In any case, I have honestly viewed this whole period of transition as more of an adventure than a burden. Aside from some basic frustrations, I have felt no emotional collapse. I have cursed no gods. I have shed no tears.

Until last night, where I found something unexpected that was actually quite hard to get through. And it wasn’t any of the abovementioned traumas; it was the lyrics to a song and the love of two parents.

I sing in the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, and in addition to our three-show subscription season, we perform around town for things like mayoral events and Cubs games and conferences and private parties.

Last night was a private party. But it wasn’t the kind of party whose hosts you’d expect would bring in a group of gay men for musical entertainment. It was a birthday party. For a gay 18-year-old. And the hosts were his parents, who hired us to surprise him.

The party—in a private dining room at a restaurant—was in full swing when we arrived, and we marched in with the cake, singing in 12-part harmony as our surprise entrance. The birthday boy, who was a fan of ours, recognized us immediately. The look on his face was priceless.

He sat there as we sang, lost in his own reverie, his eyes closed and a half smile on his face, basking in the music and the obvious love of friends and family members who had spent the evening helping him celebrate.

And as I stood there, a gay man among a choir of gay men, hired by the parents of an out and proud gay teen to help him celebrate his birthday, I marveled at how far we’ve come in my lifetime alone. I watched his parents, who were obviously pleased with the love they had created in their family and had spread among their friends and community. I watched his friends, who were enthralled by our music instead of cracking jokes at our expense. I watched the wait staff, who stealthily delivered slices of cake between songs so as not to interrupt our performance. I watched the world changing. For the better.

And when we got to “Our Time,” a song of promise and hope and great optimism for the future—a song the boyfriend and I intend to have sung at our wedding, with the hope that by the time we get married our relationship will enjoy the same legal and social standing of heterosexual relationships—I couldn’t make any sound.

I had found the one thing among everything that’s happened over the last few months that could break my composure. It wasn’t being fired. It wasn’t staying relentlessly upbeat through endless interviews and waiting games and thank-you-but-we-aren’t-hiring-right-nows. It wasn’t living in temporary housing and wondering if I’d held onto enough winter clothing when I put everything I own in the world in storage.

It was love. Love that transcends a hostile zeitgeist. Love that eclipses legal and judicial discrimination. Love that outmoralizes a nation’s self-appointed morality police.

It IS our time.

Something is stirring,
Shifting ground … 

It’s just begun. 

Edges are blurring 

All around,
And yesterday is done. 

Feel the flow, 

Hear what’s happening: 

We’re what’s happening. 

Don’t you know? 

We’re the movers and we’re the shapers. 

We’re the names in tomorrow’s papers. 

Up to us, man, to show ’em … 

It’s our time, breathe it in: 

Worlds to change and worlds to win. 

Our turn coming through,
Me and you, man,
Me and you!

Feel how it quivers, 

On the brink …

Gives you the shivers,
Makes you think 

There’s so much stuff to sing! 

And you and me,
We’ll be singing it like the birds,
Me with music and you the words, 

Tell ’em things they don’t know! 

Up to us, pal, to show ’em …

It’s our time, breathe it in: 

Worlds to change and worlds to win. 

Our turn, we’re what’s new,
Me and you, pal, 

Me and you! 

Feel the flow, 

Hear what’s happening: 

We’re what’s happening! 

Long ago 

All we had was that funny feeling, 

Saying someday we’d send ’em reeling, 

Now it looks like we can!
Someday just began …

It’s our heads on the block. 

Give us room and start the clock. 

Our time coming through, 

Me and you, pal, 

Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!

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