Things I Hope are Not News


I met someone through Tinder. I guess the pitch for Tinder is “swipe to like and get some”. Maybe for the younger/hornier/less inhibited. The universe of people for whom it’s just a party and it’s just sex is consistent whether it’s 1965 and free love or 2016 and hooking up after some wine & weed. I was never part of that universe. I’m with the dorky/nerdy/geeky bunch who hungers for the Varsity Cheerleader Captain and ends up with Kim, who has braces, is legally blind, more pimples than face and tits that aren’t the same size. Kim, though, finished the entire calculus with statistics book in half-a-year and is schooling the physics teacher. Making out with Kim . . . right, family-friendly site. Ok. moving on.

She mentioned deal breakers. She doesn’t like roller coasters and wonders if that is a deal breaker for me. Back then, when I was mostly pimples and fears, there were few deal breakers. Maybe discovering she has a penis and isn’t a she like I like. After that, if she’ll get nekkid and . . . you know, that. Sorry, family-friendly site. Yeah. Anyway . . . I barely know this Tinder liking me woman. I do know the things I fear are deal breakers. Being formerly homeless, more than once, being a convicted criminal, being a wife-beater, divorced, [shocker] insanely Christian, having more than a few who point to me as the reason their life sucks.

So, I find myself once again tempted to say that although I am my past, I am not only my past. The usual mode for a post like this is to run through the list of reasons why I must apologize to someone more time. Except . . . I’m not stuck there. I moved on. I found a way to move from despicable me to impressive me. I’m 14 years down a road less traveled by those who attach themselves to the miseries of the past and center their lives on historic pains. I keep appearing to be near peril and then et voila, not in peril.

It’s time to acknowledge a few reasons why I might be a catch. No, those days, when I stopped being *all* pimples and fears, those days are gone. I don’t have pimples and most of the fears are gone. Ray(Rob(ert))a Bob lives in Toano with his Mayan girlfriend Itzel. I don’t see as much of him as I used to. I’m typically mid-fifties round and visibly greying. My face wears the stories of all those years between Kim and cherry orchards and my Dad’s 1970 Chevy Impala and today as I type this in the Libbie Mill Library of Henrico County. I’m an old leather coat that fits so nicely now after all these years. An old hound dog who smells the game hens and yawns while the puppies leap from the porch to chase after unseen rodents and birds in the cornfield just across the yard.

There was a weekend some years after leaving my family where I was the token white guy at a seminar in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The topic of the seminar was, “A Beyond Dialog Weekend”. The task was to air all the grievances some African Americans had with my ancestors. So, for eight hours over three days I was harangued as the cause of the ills of thousands of children and grandchildren of slaves. Funny thing about “getting it out“. It doesn’t make you feel better. It makes you hungry for more “getting it out“. It leaves you empty and exhausted. By day three the taunting of the facilitators to the African Americans that they had not been fully forthcoming about their unacknowledged anger toward me began to lose its impact. Mostly everybody wanted a bucket of KFC and some peace & quiet. The answer? We were told we had to clean the house of the woman who had provided her vacation home for this Beyond Dialog Weekend. Brilliant.

I was asked by one of the women in attendance why I had not blown a gasket and left. One, because we were an easy two hour walk to town on strange country roads. Two, I was asked a decade ago to give grace first, to be a gentleman to my ex-wife and others regardless of what they did. Three, along the way to learning how to live that promise I discovered that forgiveness, mercy and compassion are more difficult and more powerful weapons in the fight against racism and tribalism. I did more to advance the cause of race relations vacuuming carpets for an hour than 3 days of harassment by the facilitators. I haven’t forgotten that.

Christians didn’t win against Rome the day Jesus was crucified. For the first three days after his death it looked like he was yet another rabbi claiming to be the messiah who was a fraud. Then he rose again and disrupted everything. Even then his followers were a handful who were persecuted by the church of their heritage and hunted by the Romans. It wasn’t until 4 hundred years later than Constantine gave his deathbed confession. The Nicene Council didn’t happen until Constantine insisted on it. Loving enemies is hard and time consuming. It can seem like absurd failure. Yet it continues to prove itself as the better way.

My dedication to living as a disciple of the Way is one reason why I am a catch. Another is this: who would you rather have alongside you during the Zombie Apocalypse? The fear & pimples kid who cowers on seeing the approaching hoard? Or an old hound dog like myself that is war weary and round? I’m going to survive the apocalypse because I’ve already survived four iterations of a personal apocalypse and recovery. I know how to make ends meet and thrive even though things seem desperate. I am the repentant sinner who is more than my past. That pimple & fear kid hasn’t found his strength yet because he hasn’t been tested. I’ll get you through the hard times.

These last five months as I have looked for work and struggled to pay bills could be a reason to cower in the face of the oncoming hoard. I could do the expected and sign up for TANF and SNAP. I probably will call FeedMore this week and get a referral for a bag of church food. I’d have plenty of company if I made my claim to be entitled to being coddled and pampered because I’m crazy and my family is crazy and . . . you’ve heard this before. There has been some of that. There has also been a job search, an application to drive a cab, two months work to build a prototype of RVA Resources, a trip to see my son, some job interviews, and more. I haven’t sat at home and sulked the whole time. Ok, maybe some of the time. But I’ve kept busy, kept trying to move things forward. I hope that makes me a catch to somebody.

Because of my story I have to live an intentional life with rules meant to keep me and those around me safe. These rules can be deal breakers for those who are still in the “fuck you, all of you” lifestyle. That such folk drift away from me is a good thing. The people I want around me are also former/current hot messes who have made some headway on keeping things stable while also living authentically. It’s not an easy life. It has become my life. I hope she, whoever she is, can join me in the rest of the story and a happy . . . ok, you need to not . . . crap. Ok, family friendly site. Stop giggling. Happy ending. I know about that. Knock it off. The “happily ever after” of a fairy late, stupid. Not what you are thinking. Jeeze.