Mid-conversation, I see him.
He sees me.
I tighten my grasp on my phone, and hightail it across the street.
He quickens his trot down the block.
“JESUS! JESUUUUS! I JUST WANT TO SAY HI, JESUS!”
But the light changes in my favor and lines of cars drown out his messianic entreaties.
“Sorry, I just had to outrun that Jesus guy.”
“One of the reasons we need to move.”
Living in a big city has already taught me a lot about people — how much we can be pushed and pulled in a given day, how we can sometimes lose our humanity. It’s made me appreciate the rough beauty that accentuates urban landscapes — like rouge on ruddy cheeks. And how transfixing people can be.
I see things that move and disturb me, and make me wonder where in the hell decency has gone.
But it also makes me appreciate how we all come to determine where it is that we belong — feel comfortable, want to put down roots.
And K-town is most definitely not it.
In fact, it’s our albatross — a scarlet K. Because it seems like we missed yet another gay memo. Which I imagine to be a glittery scroll that reads something like, “Foolish gays live in K-town. Gurl, just sashay right on by that shit hole, mmmkay?”
As absurd as it sounds, it’s sort of true.
The three gays we’ve seen here look haggard and spent, and seclude themselves in the nicest buildings. And any others just look scared, like they’ve ventured into a haunted house where you can eat Korean barbecue to your heart’s stop. I mean, content.
Every other day it seems like five dorms exploded on the street, with particle board desks, blankets, and broken televisions sprinkled down the block. Sometimes stuff sits there so long, it becomes a reference point. Like during our nightly jogs, I know we’re almost back because we pass the upended chest of drawers that’s been sitting there — tagged with graffiti — for nearly three weeks.
But then, we drive to West Hollywood. Take a deep breath. See the mo’s walking around. Drink caramel mochas. And exhale.
Homos on the range.
Anthropology taught me to learn from and respect differences — not to judge people, and take things in context. And, above all else, try to understand. But you know what? Sometimes, I don’t want to understand.
Because I’m at the point now where I’m a damn proud curmudgeon when it comes to certain things.
That I prefer people clean up their messes; that I can’t stand trashy neighbors; that condoms should stay on dicks, not caked to sidewalks; that parents actually do something proactive about their screaming children running up and down the hallways.
That I want to live where everyone surrounding me is mature 98.5% of the time, and the closest thing to trashy is a daddy wearing sequined workout shorts.
In that hallowed place where the scarlet K can be exchanged for a “Haaaaaai!”