19 July 2009

Alan's Amazing Sunday Adventure

Well guess what folks. Here I am back in the Bay Area again. That project I thought was over? Well, it's not. The client called suddenly last week, "can you come back for another 3+ months and how quickly can you be here?" So here we go again. I love the steady predictability of corporate life.

I had a rare commitment-free weekend so decided to spend it playing in San Francisco since I was going to need to be up here anyway. And it turned into quite the party. First of all was the guy I picked up on the street in the Castro on Saturday. Yes, I'm serious. We had a rollicking good time and that's all I'll say about it other than don't jump to conclusions. This guy knows about my blog so I'll let him disclose details if he wants.

I stopped by the HRC shop and picked up a few things, including a membership. If you sign up, they give you this way cool polished stainless steel ring with little HRC logos on it. I normally stick to a watch and nothing else on hands, neck or ears, but this was just too cool to pass up. A small but subtle signal. Those with eyes to see will do so. Got HRC logo shirts for the kids too which I'm sure they'll wear proudly.

And today I joined a group of professional colleagues for the annual AIDS Walk in Golden Gate Park. Sure, walking six miles through one of the biggest and most beautiful urban parks in the country is a great thing anytime. But when I turned the corner toward the field with all the registration tables and saw thousands and thousands of people all gathered for this event, I felt something I'd never felt before. I've been trying to figure it out all day, how to describe it and compare it to, say, the feeling of walking into church.

Lately walking into church has been less than inspiring. Standard pandemonium, mostly from the adults who should know better, prelude music ignored, a few talks on the topic du jour which more often than not has nothing to do with the Savior. I admit, I'm getting tired of it. I'm finding less and less inspiration from what seem to be increasingly rote sacrament meetings. I have to look elsewhere for sustenance. It's sad, I guess, but it's reality for me right now. Everything there is pro forma, scripted external sensory input designed to evoke a response. And I'm tired of the re-runs.

But walking round that corner in the park today and suddenly seeing 25,000 people all together to show solidarity and walk to fulfill pledges for fundraising for AIDS research--wow. (Don't let those few glum faces in the front of the photo fool you, this was a HUGE party.) All those people, gay, straight, every skin color of the rainbow and every ethnicity, silver-haired seniors to infants in strollers and every age in between, didn't matter, all were equally welcome. Out and proud? Great. Straight and proud? Great. In a wheelchair? No problem, we'll help push you. Kids' little legs getting tired? Friends will help carry them. Here, let me share my snacks with you. It was the biggest microcosm of the entire world's population I'd ever seen, all happy and helpful and supportive, all there for a common cause, and one which I have become increasingly compassionate about.

It was chaotic and boisterous and pulsing with energy and serious and celebratory all at the same time and when I first saw it something erupted out of the center of my heart that said "YES! This is where I belong! These are MY people! I want to be a part of this!" My face lit up and I was grinning from ear to ear as I practically ran into the crowd and soon found my friends, and off we went. It was more than just excitement. It was a feeling that just burst out from the deepest part of my heart. Sort of like wandering in the wilderness for decades despairing of ever finding home again and then suddenly turning a corner and there it is, but more than that. Sort of like starving for a week and then filling up with shrimp cocktail, steak, mashed potatoes and then some outrageous dessert, but more than that. Like being told you'd inherited a fortune from a relative you didn't know existed, but more than that. Like coming out in front of thousands of people and having them all cheer for you, but more than that. Put all of that wonderfulness into one big flood of elation, add a beautiful sunny day, a magnificent park, and several thousand people to share it with, and imagine it just bursting out of you in a split second completely without warning. That's what it was like. Absolute, rapturous delight.

Normally Golden Gate Park is shrouded in clouds because it's so close to the ocean so I didn't worry about sunscreen. Oops. Fortunately I had a hat, and we all got matching t-shirts so I hung my own shirt around my neck as a shield. So I have oddly shaped sunburn patches here and there, but I don't care. It was an amazing experience and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I wish you all could have joined me. Next year perhaps?

4 comments:

Pomoprophet said...

I recently became a member and got a cool canvas tote. A ring would have been cooler. Prop 8 caused me to support gay causes much more than I ever thought I would have. (im sure Christians will be happy to know their money want to a good cause...) but I do hesitate continuing to support HRC with some of the questionable things they're doing in DC.

Chris W. said...

Something rubs me the wrong way regarding AIDS awareness and AIDS research. This disease is largely preventable, but the amount of public funding that goes towards AIDS research is incredible. I have much more sympathy for people who suffer from cancer or MS.

I am okay spending public dollars on preventing HIV at home and abroad. But the amount of public funds used for HIV research—at the expense of other debilitating, preventable diseases—is immoral in my opinion.

Ezra said...

Oh Alan, you're such a tease. You're going to put your readers in that position that you won't tell them about the hottie you picked up? You're just CRUEL, that's what you are.

Joe Conflict said...

I wish I could have been there too.