Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

21 August 2011

Thanksgiving in August: John

I'm not sure when I met John, but I know when John and I became good friends. It was the summer of 2008. All of the other graduate students leave in the summer – most go to summer-stock jobs or internships in places across the country. Not me. I work nowadays at Endstation Theatre Company in the summer, but I also always teach classes. This means that I am in Tallahassee when everyone else is gone. And when everyone else is gone, John is still here. Since he graduated from the Communications department in '08, he has been making a living in Tallahassee. So John is my year-round friend, but even more importantly, my summer friend.

The thing is, he's a great friend. He is always hugely encouraging, always giving me new music to listen to, always telling me about new books, stories in newspapers, art I should check out. He designed the gorgeous poster for my production of Crave in 2009, and he is constantly pushing me to try new things.

His work with the Mickee Faust Club in Tallahassee has proved particularly fabulous. He's an excellent director of work there, and has contributed superbly to the quality of that theatre's work. Even though he's straight – yes, I do speak of that like it's a disability – John is fiercely passionate about queer issues and about disability issues of accessibility and enforced able-bodiedness. Having an ally like John for the queer and disabled communities in Tallahassee is really exciting to me. I think he got more excited about the Trevor Project than I did!

John and I did the P90X program once, and because he is a regular practitioner of yoga, we have also done yoga together a couple of times. Doing yoga with John is one of my favorite things to do, and he is one of my favorite yoga partners. I am not a competitive person when I do yoga, and though John is über-competitive about most things, when it comes to yoga, the two of us just jell in a cool way. It feels supportive and encouraging and almost exciting – like exploring new territory together.

John has also been the person in Tallahassee most proud of my accomplishments, most ready to celebrate the things that I manage to get done, most excited about my work. I find myself looking forward to telling him when I finally send off an article to a journal for publication or finish a test. And he always treats these accomplishments like real work, with an eye for how much time I have actually put into them. It's a really generous approach to work that isn't his own and to which he doesn't have a relationship. The important thing for John is being my friend and that he knows I've spent a long time working on something.

I want to also say that John introduced me to the only television show I've watched in the last five years, HBO's The Wire. He insisted that I would love it, and I became duly obsessed with how brilliant it is while drinking white wine at John's old house on Sharon Drive. John and I have shared such times in Tallahassee while waiting for everyone else to come back to this town, and I know that I am being honest when I say that those have been some of our favorite times in Tallahassee. The summer is sweltering here, but it has been great for our friendship.

I think I should also mention how fierce of a defender John is when I tell him about my guy problems – when I have guy problems, which is not that often. I don't know anyone who dislikes my last boyfriend more than John, and he has been able to steer me clear of several very bad mistakes when it has come to relationship drama. I am eternally grateful for this support and affection. It means a lot knowing that someone is defending me against bad-boyfriend behavior and convincing me that I am a good catch even when I am not willing to defend myself. For this, and for all of our friendship, I am very, very grateful. Happy birthday, buddy.