I first saw Houston in the 1980s. I was given a tour of the city and distinctly remember the Mary-Tyler-Moore-Show-throwing-her-hat-in-the-air feeling of being a small town girl seeing the really BIG city for the first time. I thought there was an abundance of "downtowns" for instance, and since I lack any sense of direction, had to be told that the Medical Center skyline was distinctive because of the two hypodermic needles puncturing the sky.
But I'd forgotten, until last night, the trip down Westheimer I was offered. My host told me that the moment we were on that street, we were on what was the most highly populated gay hangout in the second most populated gay city in the nation.
At the time, I couldn't have told you the name of one gay person. I might have suspected a few here or there, but with assurance, I couldn't have conjured up one name. And, if I' m honest, I must admit to wondering if I should lock my car door . . . or try and be moderately cool about the open mouth "can-we-feed-the-animals-in-the-zoo" gaping I was doing.
Last night, I rode my bike through Montrose. I saw the sweet little piano bar where I play pool with my guys, the Vietnamese restaurant with the swishy-est waiters I've ever encountered, the path to the hospice where I volunteer, the galleries and shops proudly displaying rainbows outside. And I thought how far I've come from that first journey.
No wonder I'm so grateful for my life! I've been blessed -- flooded even -- with the knowledge that now I not only know some gay men by name, I know them by heart. Sure there are still some odd (for my world) looking characters on the streets, but they are not the people I know. No, the people I know are ministers and parents, priests and teachers, talents and administrators, actors and . . . friends. They tell me their stories and let me read them my poems and we understand each other -- I don't even have to change the pronouns!
So a bike ride reconnects me to the world of gratitude once again. Thank you God for my life . . . Amen, Amen, Amen.