For the past several years, December 28th has been devoted to this man with the guitar who, since meeting him, has rocked my world in so many ways. I feel lucky to share his life.
As I look back on this past year since we last celebrated his birthday, I have many mixed feelings. Not about my guy, but about the world.
For us, it has been a remarkable year on many fronts; I started grad school, found and met my long-lost brother, and have enjoyed the continued companionship of this good man and so much more. He continues to work on his music full-time and is doing so with great success as we both continue to pursue our creative passions. Our life together affords us each peace of mind.
But, clearly, the world around us has not been so unswervingly blessed. Former colleagues died in a plane shot out of the sky – tragically another plane went missing just today – wars rage on, Ebola continues to ravage West Africa where many of my friends work and live, and much closer to home – three blocks to be exact – racial tensions piqued when two cops were executed while sitting in their patrol car. My heart hurts for their families, as it does for all of the families who lost loved ones this year.
The systemic injustice of racial profiling continues and while I can’t claim to understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of racism, I witness the ugliness of it on a daily basis. It is all around us.
I believe that in my first 9 years back in the States – after 7 years of living abroad – I was in a bit of a bubble because I worked for the United Nations. Certainly, things are not always perfect there, but the workforce does truly represent the globe and we become a bit blind to what happens in the real world where not everyone is comfortable interacting with people from varying backgrounds who may have different cultures, values and skin tones.
Since leaving the UN three years ago, I’ve spent more time in my neighborhood paying closer attention to what is really going on around me and it isn’t always pretty. We live in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, and for that, I am glad. But I see the difference in how people are treated based on the color of their skin.
I have never been stopped by the police, for any reason, in this country…not once. And yet my partner gets harassed regularly for things like sitting on his bike in the park. When he meets me at the subway when I’m returning home late at night, he is watched. Sometimes we joke that perhaps I should meet him at the subway, instead. It isn’t a very funny joke.
And so I look back on this year with personal pride and joy for our achievements, but with a heavy heart for our community, this country and for the world. I pray that in 2015 things will shift more solidly in a positive direction.
Above all, I look back and give thanks for this extraordinary man – my partner, my love – who has been by my side and continues to help me grow as a human. He is a very private person so I’ll keep this to a minimum, but today I wish him a very Happy Birthday and as on all days, I wish him a lifetime of blessings.