Hopefully, by now, we have all experienced what it’s like to go to an amusement park and ride on a roller coaster. Generally, there are two types of people out there when it comes to roller coasters…those that seek the thrill in them and those that fear them. But the one thing we all have in common when it comes to riding the roller coaster is that we all must wear that safety bar around us to protect us from getting hurt. After this past couple of intense months, I guess that’s why they say that life is like a roller coaster…
The last entry was about my body literally breaking down due to all the stress that life was throwing my way. I’m happy to report that as of today, with several doctor visits and rest that my body is in much better condition. Something that I’m very grateful for and thankful for all the support that I got along the way.
Also, since my last entry back in early April, I’ve been fortunate to have had some amazing highlights that have helped balance out the low points that have occurred this year. A month ago, I took two of my friends to Lincoln Center to see the one and only…Lynda Carter aka WONDER WOMAN perform at the Jazz Center.
Two weeks later, I left my job early, got on a subway that took me deep into Brooklyn and sat in a chair waiting for my tattoo artist to prep me. I had decided a month prior, that to honor my friend, Panda, that had passed away back in February that I would get a tiny tattoo of an actual panda in his honor on the inside of my foot. I wasn’t nervous and for some reason, it didn’t hurt at all. It felt like he was with me the entire time. I left knowing that I did something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
That very same day, I changed clothes and rushed down to the Chelsea area where I would have the highest of privileges to see another close friend of mines’ movie showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival. He produced it and as I saw his name appear on the big screen, I could not have been prouder of him. The film is called, After Parkland, and what an impact that movie made.
A few weeks after those amazing experiences, my good friend, Feathers, asked me to attend a concert with him. I agreed knowing that we’d be seeing Cher, but I had no idea where we’d be sitting. After a party bus took us from the city to Brooklyn Barclays Center…we walked into a side entrance and had champagne before the show while Better Midler was behind us casually talking to someone. Once the show was to start, we entered, and I quickly realized that we were going to be sitting THIRD ROW from Cher. It was an insane experience but for me, it’s always been about who I am with and the fact that I got to do this with one of my oldest and dearest friends meant the world to me.
Two days after hanging out with Cher in the third row, I found myself putting on a maroon suit, placing my custom-made gardenia boutonniere on and getting ready for a very, very special event. I was invited to attend the GLAAD Awards that evening, and I wasn’t sure if my body was going to handle all the excitement. All I knew was that Sarah Jessica Parker and Madonna were going to be in the same room as me. I was going to be breathing the same air as them and I did not feel worthy to be there. The evening was spent with amazing friends, the speeches were touching, and I was on cloud nine.
I went home and quickly got out of my monkey suit and went down to the East Village to celebrate a friend’s birthday. No matter how tired I was, I wouldn’t have missed that for anything. By the time I got home that night, it wasn’t that late, but I was drained. I knew how lucky I was to be on this earth. To have the people that I have in my life and how fortunate I am to live in such an electric city.
Now, with all those events, that is when I really discovered the “roller coaster” meaning. Here I was, feeling better with my body, running all over town with these unbelievable events and at the same time, helping plan my friend’s memorial. It was months in the making, tons of opinions, tons of revisions, tons of text messages and of course…ups and downs with emotions.
The memorial was this past Saturday, however, the weeks leading up to it were exhausting. I can only speak for myself but ever since my friend passed away, it was like a roller coaster ride that I desperately wanted to get off. However, I got on the ride, put the safety bar on, and I continued my very best to climb to the top where I knew, eventually, that I would be able to go down this insane ride and move forward.
But this ride came with much more than I knew I was bargaining for. I discovered new things about this wonderful person that he never shared with me over the past twenty years. I was honored to meet his family and how they became an extended family to me. I discovered that as hard as I try to bring peace that sometimes I will be faced with failure in doing so. And that I can’t control anyone else’s’ roller coaster ride other than myself. I will never give up trying to bring peace, but I must learn that it will not always turn in my favor.
The night before the memorial, I had taken the day off. I needed it and I was allowing myself to come to terms that the roller coaster ride that I had been on for the past couple of months was finally reaching the top and I was needing to prepare myself for the drop. I got up, cleaned, ran errands, went to church and lit candles, took myself to a movie, followed by a spin class and the day ended with a date! My first date in several months. I hadn’t even thought about a date because I was consumed with everything else.
Suffice to say, the man I went on the date was very nice but not THE ONE. That was alright by me because I needed to dust myself off and get myself back in the dating game. Toward the end of the night, my date asked me what I was doing with the rest of my weekend and I told him that I would be attending my friends’ memorial. He said, “Oh, well, that explains why you look so tired.” I couldn’t be pissed at him because when I looked in the bathroom mirror at the wine bar that we were at…I did look tired. I was tired of everything. I walked him to his subway station, and I walked home forcing myself to get some rest.
On Saturday, I woke up not even knowing how to describe whatever it was that I was feeling. I went to a spin class and right before the class started, I prayed for Light to give me the strength to get through the class and to make it through the hours ahead. It was one of the best classes I had in a long time and I left feeling a little lighter. A few of my friends’ and I got to the venue ahead of time and began setting up the memorial service, as I watched everyone working so hard, I felt Panda’s presence. I knew he was monitoring us, making sure that we did everything right.
Finally, it was time for guests to start arriving. By the time his family had arrived, everything after that was somewhat of a blur. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much in my life. It was waves of tears, laughter and a million conversations. We had speeches, singers, stunning floral arrangement, candles, pictures of him everywhere and people came in from all over to celebrate his life. By the time I blew out the last candle after it was all said and done; I could barely comprehend what we all just pulled off. The family told us it was one of the most beautiful things that had ever seen. Once I heard that from them, I knew we all had done right by our friend.
When I woke up yesterday, I thought I would be lighter but instead, I felt like I had still a bit more to go on this roller coaster ride. I didn’t leave my apartment, I responded to a few text messages, called my mother for Mother’s Day and that was about all I could do.
Today, however, I feel like I’m in a better place. It took so long to get here but I’m grateful that I finally arrived. The roller coaster ride is starting to drop me down and I’m ready to climb the next hill.
Roller coasters were designed to provide thrill, excitement and that stomach-flip feeling. I guess we can say that is also what life is about. For every thrilling moment, we must face a stomach-flip moment. I can go on and on with the puns for the “ups and downs” that a roller coaster provides but the one message I do want to get across is to wear your safety guard, never stop climbing the hills and never stop searching for the thrill!!
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