Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We Meet Again, Over Yonder Psychic Horizon

I had a strange experience this evening. I finally made time to check out the free introductory meditation class at Psychic Horizons. I arrived at 7:05, thinking that it started at 7pm and that I was late, but I was actually early because it didn't start until 7:30. I left for a few moments and returned about 15 minutes later.

When I walked in, a woman whom I'd never seen before asked me I'd been there before. At first I said "yes," but then I asked her if she meant had I been there earlier that night or had I ever been there. She meant if I'd ever been there. I said no. Then she asked if I was sure because I looked really familiar. I said I was sure, but as I was looking at her, I realized that she looked really familiar to me—yet I'm positive I'd never seen her before. She joked, "Oh, it must be a past life thing," and since we were in a room full of psychics, it got a hearty laugh. But it was weird because she totally reminded me of this woman I used to see all the time at Osento, the one whom I consider my "teacher"—the one who has disappeared.

Anyway, when I was leaving another woman was about to walk past me when she stopped and said hi. I greeted her back. Then she asked me if she'd seen me before somewhere. I shrugged and said, "I dunno." She said I looked familiar. Deja vu, right? I left. I stopped at Valencia Whole Foods to buy a carton of soy milk. At the register, the owner, who sees me all the time, asked, "Were you in here earlier tonight?" I said no. He looked puzzled. I said, "Well, I come in here all the time. Almost every day. Sometimes even more than once a day, but not today." He said, "Yah, I know, but for some reason it seems like you were here earlier." It didn't strike me how odd that all was until I was crossing the street.

It's weird that in a short span of time, three people thought they'd seen me before, and it's particularly weird that the store owner said "it seems like you were here earlier." That's downright bizarre. I may have unwittingly invoked the magic circle; maybe my doppleganger is making the rounds.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Niggerati Manner

I am dark,
Black on the face of the moon.
A shadow am I
Growing in the light,
Not understood as is the day,
But more easily seen
Because I am a shadow in the light.
—Bruce Nugent
excerpt from "Shadow"

A few nights ago I watched the film Brother to Brother, which came out (no pun intended) a few years ago. The film is about a young black gay art student who encounters an older black gay "nobody" who turns out to have been a member of the Harlem Renaissance. The movie is entirely fiction, but the artist and writer—Richard Bruce Nugent—is a real persona. He kicked it with Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston among others back in the day. It's not brilliant filmmaking, but it's a very sweet-hearted film. It also impacted me in an unexpected way: having lived in SF for nearly 7 years now, I'd forgotten that I'm Black, and I'm gay.

That's a bit inaccurate. I'd forgotten that it matters to other people that I'm Black and gay (and a woman and a first-generation African American to boot). These societal "deficiencies" or "handicaps" aren't any less identified as such in "we're all liberals" Northern California—but it's not as "in your face" as it is in the midwest or out east or in the south, I'm sure. So without getting into the whyfores and wherefores, suffice it say that the film gave me pause. In the process of taking stock of my present, I realized that instead of applauding myself for having made it this far and viewing the sum of my experiences as the basis of the strength that will carry me forward, I've been judging myself quite harshly, as of late, for all the things that I haven't accomplished in this lifetime so far.

In summarizng that all so nicely for myself, I also gave myself the opportunity to take stock of my values and how my life has played out against those values—the choices I've made (regardless of whether or not they have all felt voluntary) and the outcomes to which I've complicitly agreed (simply by virtue of having decided on "a" as opposed to "b" or "none of the above" or "c" only if "d" etc.). So while it's true that I don't have my own family, a real home, a career (let alone a job at the moment), it's also true that I have known since I was five years old that I didn't want kids; it's only in recent months that I've had thoughts of having a "real home," however I define it; and career notwithstanding, I have a "great resume" and work is likely right around the corner. These are very big realizations for me.

Something else I don't have is a partner—either in the romantic sense or in a collaborative, creative sense. (This is one of those instances in which I would opt for "a" and "b," if at all possible.) So many great duos and collectives from Gamble & Huff to ... the denizens of the so-called "Niggerati Manor" to ... I dunno maybe Obama & Clinton—chuckle—have been greater together than alone. I have wondered time and again why I don't have that sort of community or single partner. And again, I look back upon the whole of my life and see how that has never been a realistic part of the picture for me—at least not as a child. I was always too much other, and if I wasn't treated that way directly, I was conditioned by my environment in such a way that it ceased to matter if my outsider experience was imposed or self-imposed. But now I'm solidly an adult. Not a kiddie adult of 20-something, or a reluctant adult of 30-something, but I'm poised for the next decade of my own time on Earth and now, for real, anything that's held me back in the past, has held me back in the past. If it holds me back in the future, it's because of what I make happen in my present—not because of the past.

I know this is all heady, but somehow it's taken a great weight off my shoulders. It's all made me realize that the "problem" isn't how to make my life right, but how to rightly view my life. I want to do so much, and I have the freedom to do it, and that freedom is gold. It's not all the gold I need because I need cash, I need an uninterupted flow of ideas, I need to take action on those ideas not just sit around and lament what hasn't happened in the past. But I see now that I can do it. I know also that it won't be easy, but hell, none of it's been easy.