Day 30 – Believe

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I met Jason for coffee at Qualia in Petworth. Homey place. Good coffee. We sat outside and talked about church: how it’s changing, what it needs to adapt, and what part I might play. After an hour of brainstorming, I realized that he was encouraging me to see and to value the gifts I bring–as a teacher, a Hill staffer, a talker, a thinker. I came expecting to talk shop. He came to affirm me.

I don’t know where any of this leads in terms of future career. So far, I think it means becoming a priest. But I do believe he was right. All the experiences I’ve endured, the heart aches and triumphs, the skills and the doubts, could be drawn together in giving myself to something greater. I can take the next step in a direction not fully known, trusting that I have something to offer.

Later that night I met a group of friends at Compass Rose on 14th Street. What a madhouse that strip is now. Compass Rose, though, is delightful. The restaurant serves international street food in a renovated row house next to Saint Ex. Over a bottle of Georgian wine and khachapuri, we had a spirited conversation about travel, hymns, and sex. Mostly we talked sex. Imagine that, among a group of gay guys.

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I left buoyed by the conversation, not just the wine. It was a full day, full of the really good stuff that makes this world splendid sometimes: bread, wine, God, sex, laughter, friendship. I am grateful that people shared these last 30 days with me. And they shared more than the new coffee shop or restaurant. They shared a part of their story, and the things that make them tick, including the tragic and the sublime.

I come away from this month believing more. I believe that this city is full of tucked away places and unknown neighborhood spots. I believe that people have so much to offer just by sharing their thoughts and their fears. I believe that there is depth of spirit in everyday occurrences, waiting to be discovered if you’re willing to slow down, reflect, and maybe even write about what you have experienced.

This world is full of splendor and pain. All of it is worth savoring until it yields to that infinite, creative possibility that lies within it. Open your eyes, Jeremy. Think and feel. Taste and see that this world is good.

God, what a life you have given me.

 

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Day 16 – Eat Latin, Drink Russian

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Last night began downtown at an upscale Latin steakhouse. It ended uptown at a Latin drag show. In between, my favorite people in DC helped me celebrate my birthday. The night was full of good friends, good food, and good several drinks.

Toro Toro is a new-ish restaurant in McPherson Square, and it was my first time there. The food is South American, and the vibe is New York lounge. For dinner, three friends and I shared small plates — what else in DC? — and a bottle of Spanish red. The empanadas, the scallops, the short rib flatbread, and the grilled octopus were delicious. The ceviche was confusing, the guacamole disappointing. While the service was spotty (still working out kinks?), I left very satisfied. New place with old friends. That’s a great combination.

Afterward we went to Nine, where several others joined for drinks. I was late, of course. Contrast that with my punctual friend Ben, who texted me this gentle prod, “So are you coming to your own party?” He cracks me up. For me, birthday gatherings are a gift, because it is rare for all my friends to be together in one place. It was a parade of favorite hits. I am fortunate to have good people in my life.

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A few Stoli sodas into the evening, just a few hearty souls remain. Joe, Clayton, and I decide to cab to Diego, a Mexican restaurant just north of U Street. They host a gay party on Friday nights, and none of us have been. We arrive in the middle of a show, which appeared to be a mix of drag and a random guy lip syncing. Some people were watching, some were dancing, and some were just drinking. It was like a big living room party, way more laid back and informal than the stand-and-yell-to-hear feel of other bars.

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Now after several Stoli sodas, it was time to head home. As I walked up the hill to my house, I was nothing more and nothing less than content. Just happy.

Today, as I look back on the night, I am struck by a few things…

  • My friends are generous.
  • My friends are an interesting assortment, who don’t really form a group but came together for me.
  • My friends, especially after the death of my parents, are “presence,” and they orient my life in ways I don’t always recognize.
  • My friends are people I have to invest in. Friendships don’t just happen anymore.

Now I’m off to a friend’s birthday cookout. We’re swapping parties this weekend. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Day 7 – Drink with Friends

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Benjamin Franklin

 

 

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I first discovered the Iron Gate 10 years ago when my boyfriend and I walked past it on our way to the Tabard Inn. It has a small, discreet entrance set back from the street, giving it a feeling of seclusion and mystery. Through the narrow vaulted bar lies an outdoor courtyard and carriage house that are both ideal for a late Spring happy hour. I met two friends there after work. It was my first time inside the place since first stumbling across it a decade ago.

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Both friends know I’ve been blogging about my “different” experiences, and they wondered how drinking with your friends qualifies as different. I decided the new location counts for something. Plus, I don’t remember the last time I’ve lingered over wine (and fried fetta) on a Wednesday. Not to mention some fun, punchy conversation about gay life in Washington.

Eating and drinking together is such a basic act, a fundamental part of being human together. We probably often take it for granted or ignore its deeper dimensions. But sharing food and drink, meeting our basic needs together, keeps us alive and keeps us animated. We talk and laugh and open up to another, and in so doing are fed, nourished, enlivened, by more than just the food and drink.

“More than just.” This is really my 30 day challenge, to experience new things as more than just experiences, but as invitations to discover what is deeper, broader, truer, and more beautiful, what may be hidden in plain sight in things like wine, cheese, and good conversation.

 

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