Once, when I was bartending, I waited on a 50s-something couple. They had returned from a move of some kind and had stopped off at the bar to sit, enjoy a few beers, and partake of the delicious burgers that we served at that place. I can’t remember if I knew them prior to this day…it feels as though I did…at any rate, we were friendly with each other during their service and they shared with me the story of their relationship.
They had found each other later in life. During the discussion, I got several whiffs of a relationship that wasn’t quite right. Worn around the eyes, with frayed edges of need, they clung to each other. They were that day a happy, if slightly mismatched pair. They were in some ways less desperate together, than they had been apart.
I grabbed at Adam with the same intensity. I found him after having been adrift for months if not years. In him, there was acceptance from the straight boys I grew up with. There was admission into a straight (or straighter) world that I had always wanted to be a part of, but for ever reason never felt worthy enough to join, although it may have been due, in part, to the jeering I often experienced at the entrance door.
When i was in Turkey, David and I met a young street kid, Mohammed. He was a child! He was 12 or so, but so wise for his age, so clever, but desperate. He insisted on being our ‘guide‘ and in the ensuing days displayed sudden bursts of selfish, grabbing need. He was quick to anger and to pout. He was a hungry kid, hungry for food, clothes, safety and love. Adam was like that. Adam is like that.
In my deepest self, I recognize the same anguishes that are inside the Mohammeds and the Adams of this world; the fear inside the broken boys on my hometown street.
But we differ in this way. After everything that has happened, I still have the ability to notice, to care and to reach out, however clumsily. After stormy, windswept years of mental anguish, there’s still a votive candle of light that remains lit and flickering. Somehow, mercifully, God has stayed with me, these many years that I have stumbled so pitifully. I think I can see it now, a lighthouse, however small, from which a rite of passage can be bridged.