After toying around with various possibilities, I've decided it would best to just storm right into this joint, Cosmo Kramer-style. So, here goes...
My name is Del and I've been a friend of Kayla's since I thought I was straight. (Which translates to a little over 12 years.) I'm fat, black and the proud papa of the best damn dog in the world. There's more, of course, but that'll do for now.
I, and the author of this blog, have known each other since we were 17; there are virtually no secrets between us. Between dishing out sage advice, being the most beautiful woman in the world, and smacking me upside the head, Kayla invited me to contribute to "Black Girls Don't Shave Their Legs." We've have some amazing conversations over the years, and disagree as much as we see eye to eye. It is our hope that our differing, yet somehow cohesive, opinions will be of as much interest to you as we have been to each other.
Today being Sunday, I attended church services earlier this morning. (There's one more thing...I'm a Christian.) I'm usually five or ten minutes late, so I grab a seat in the back, so as not to disrupt service. Fortune smiled on me this morning, and I was able to grab a seat directly by the stairs with out making a spectacle of myself.
That's usually how I go about life; stealthily, almost squirrelly, aiming never to rock the boat too much. For reasons too numerous to list in one blog post, I have admittedly become the kind of person who aims to never really be noticed. Having social anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, and a tendency to be a misanthrope makes this pretty easy.
I think that's why I like church...it's quite literally a safe space. Especially my hippie congregation, where Peter, Paul & Mary and Bob Dylan songs are as likely to be sung as are standard hymns. We have something called "the passing of the peace," where we're forced (okay, maybe not "forced," but definitely coerced) to greet each one of our neighbors and wish them well. These sorts of things don't go over well for the too cool for school set. I should know; I used to be one of them.
There are still remnants of that cheeky, insecure college kid however. I never hang around after service, partially because there is not enough Adavan in the world to overcome the accompanying anxiety, but also because I don't make myself at least try. I had a bad experience at a church social group meeting, and haven't been to another once since; there's at least 20 of them. And, most prescient to this post, I never sing out loud during service.
I have a bad voice. I am tone deaf, possess the traces of a nasally Queens accent, and have no volume control. If you're a friend, my vociferous, unsteady baritone is an endearing quirk; if you're a foe, my voice is like nails on a chalkboard. I get it, totally. Ever since I was told to lip-sync in middle school chorus, I have never even attempted to sing in earnest.
But today, something monumental occurred. Somewhere towards the end of "If I Had A Hammer," I got caught up in what I guess what the Spirit. But not in the "get an usher, he's speaking in tongues," snake handling way. It was more like a genuine, rapturous glee. Having lost my cell phone, being passed over for a promotion and feeling unsure about my future suddenly didn't matter. I honestly almost wanted them to, because I was afraid of what would happen if I actually let myself "go." I thought the dude next to me looked ridiculous, clapping and stomping like a meth-ed up wind up toy. But by the time I was "hammering peace across this land," I was well...hammering. I sang, and I clapped, and this was new territory. I fucking sang today. And I didn't give a damn how it sounded.
So, why am I sharing this meandering, not quite anecdote as my first post? Well, because it speaks to everything that I'm "about" right now, namely progress. I'm interested in others' journeys and want to make it clear that I'm a man in search of answers, not someone who claims to have them. But also, because maybe I'm soliciting help? Feedback? Eh, I don't know. But that's the whole point, right?