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Funerals and Weddings and Life’s Wild Path

April 25th, 2013 9 comments

The last time I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas, it was to be a pallbearer for Enoch “Trey” Tims III. He is the man you see pictured far left. He was buried on February 6, 2010.

Today, I board a plane to Little Rock, Arkansas where I will be a groomsman for Harold “Jhirmack” Eichelberger. He is the man you see pictured in the middle. He is getting married on Saturday.

photo (4)

In August, 2000, I met both these men for the first time at Howard University. We stayed in Drew Hall, the mandated freshman boys-only dorm on campus. Harold moved into the dorm room directly across the hall from me, Trey was in the dorm room right next door. As evidenced by the photo, the three of us would go onto graduate together, and along the way become like brothers not only with each other, but a handful of other men who were pallbearers at Trey’s funeral, who will be groomsmen at Harold’s wedding.

Me, Jhirmack, Trey, Harold, Cliff, Weaf, Antijuan, Hank, Hakim, Zach, and Coop, have done our best to stay close post-college. These days many of us live far apart from one another, some across states, others across oceans. Some of us are in touch with specific people more than others, but we have never forgotten how close we all once were. We still remember the unspoken promises we made that when life gets to be the most real for one of us, as many of us as possible will form together.

I don’t know if it was a funeral or at a wedding where I first heard the saying that it is those two occasions that bring the most amount of people together. But I have learned it’s true in ways that are both sad and joyous.

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Categories: Friends, weddings Tags:

How Do I Deliver the Reading at my Friend’s Wedding?

April 18th, 2013 6 comments

In nine days, one of my best friends, Harold, will be getting married to Christina. Long time readers know their story, and for those who don’t, you can read about it here.

In addition to being one of the groomsmen, I was also asked by the couple if I could do the honor of delivering the reading. Here is what they asked me to read:

The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithlessand therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day,and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Now I’m not nervous about reading out loud or in front of a bunch of people. I was one of those kids who was always volunteering to read in class because, frankly, I’m damn good at reading. I’m also not afraid of public speaking, especially at emotional ceremonies like this. When our friend Trey was killed in a car accident in 2010, I spoke at his funeral, and many of the same people who were there, will be here at Harold’s wedding, so there will be many familiar faces.

There is nothing for me to worry about, I know I’ll be fine, but I want to make this reading great for my friends. Even though I’m not shy, I don’t know if I’m the most gifted public speaker, so I have some questions I’d like you all to answer.

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Categories: Friends, weddings Tags:

Does Race Matter…on a Blind Date?

April 16th, 2013 9 comments

On the questionnaire I give to all my Meet Market applicants, there is one question I immediately skip to upon receiving it.

47. Are race, religion or age important factors regarding who you date? (This won’t be published, but is important so we know who you’re looking for)

Of all the answers I look at on the questionnaire, this is the most important because it’s the most specific. The person’s answer helps me figure out how to group them.

A lot of answers focus on age; they give me a range they either want or don’t want. Every now and then, their response is religion-specific; some will say they don’t want someone who is too religious, or they’d like someone who is the same religion as them. Then there’s race, which is always interesting.

Some people will say they’ve never dated outside of their race, which makes me have to clarify with them, Does that mean you want to keep it that way? Others will be more blunt and say they prefer not to date anyone of a specific race or outside of their own race. The answers never bother me. The way I see it, the more honest they are, the easier my job.

The most problematic answer is the one I probably get the most: Race doesn’t matter.

People like to make a point of saying that, and I assume they’re telling the truth, but how truthful is that truth is the question I find myself asking whenever I get this response.

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Categories: dating, race, Work Tags:

Have You (Yes, YOU) Ever Been A Bad Date?

April 8th, 2013 3 comments

There’s nothing like a good bad date story. The best ones are so good they become a part of someone else’s storybook collection. We’re glad it didn’t happen to us but we’re also jealous we don’t have a story just as good to tell so we crib it, and tell that story to other people who don’t know you.

I don’t have a bad date story to share myself, which is weird. Some would say I’m lucky to be able to say such a thing, but I feel like I’ve missed out on some rights of passage only the realest of single adults have been through. I could talk about the dates I’ve been on where I ended up not going home with the girl. There’s also the times I foolishly spent more than I can afford wining and dining a first date, only to never get a return on my investment, not even in the form of a second date. Both of those situations have happened to me more times than I care to admit, but not to the fault of the women involved. I either had bloated expectations, assuming a woman would be so smitten with me, a perfect stranger, that she would be willing to take her clothes off just a couple hours after learning my basic information. Or, I didn’t bother devising a plane, thus letting her pick the restaurant or the activity, and ended up secretly checking my balance on my phone while she went to use the restroom.

So no, I’ve never been on the receiving end of a bad date; never can talk about the time I was out with a girl at the movies and everything was going so well until a child I didn’t know about ran up to her, grabbed her leg, and started screaming, “Mommy,” with a man much bigger than me following behind said child, talking about, “Where have you been and who is this guy you’re with?”

The worst I can say about any date I’ve been on is they’ve either been boring or anti-climatic. Bad though? No story here, but every time I hear a woman telling me about some guy who failed on a date in spectacular fashion, I wonder, is one of the many women I’ve been out on a date with telling a similar story about me and I just don’t know it?

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Categories: dating Tags: