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

18 August 2011

Thanksgiving in August: Mark

Mark and I met at a graduate student meet-and-greet event in 2008 that I described here. One of the things I discussed in that previous post is the extraordinary way we become fixated on certain people while we neglect others. It has been my (happy) experience that those people whom we don't notice at first, whose energies don't immediately draw us, can become the people on whom we come to depend the most.

I did have my eye on Mark, though, as I always have my eye on potential gays in my midst. (He's going to love that phrase; who doesn't love a gay potentiality?) And I remember deciding that even though Mark was shy and apparently showed no interest in me at all, I was going to make him be my friend, like that beautiful line in Patrick Marber's Closer where Alice says "I will give all my love to this charming man who cuts off his crusts." So, Marko and I weren't going to be in love, but I decided I would love him all the same.

I feel like our relationship was cemented completely during a road trip to Atlanta with the amazing Maria Gerbino. We shared family stuff and political opinions (atheist blessings and a supportive shout-out to Mark's wisely leftist politics) and had a blast all the way there.
We also had an amazing time while we were actually in Atlanta (joined by our friends Joel, Kate, and DayRon) watching a truly genius production of Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel directed by Susan V. Booth. It was so good, in fact, that at intermission for the Saturday evening performance, we all went to the box office and bought tickets for the next day's matinee. We hadn't even seen the whole show yet, but it was just that brilliant. Recognition of our mutual latent religious fervor, combined with a love of gospel music, and an appreciation for theatre shifted something in our relationship. On the way back to Tallahassee, Maria spent a lot of time laughing at us as we performed duets from JRB's Songs for a New World and "It's All Over" from Dreamgirls. Mark sang Effie and I sang all the other parts. Hilarious.

He moved in to my house the following year and Meghan and Bill and David and Mark and I became pretty much inseparable. We spent loads of time together, processing things together as a household, playing cards, drinking heavily, advising each other on all kinds of nonsense. There was a running joke about the house only running on four cylinders until I brought someone home and it could run on all six at the same time. Meghan and Mark were pretty merciless about my lack of a sex life. I deserved it, obviously.

Marko moved to D.C. last year and we spent tons of time on the phone – mostly whenever we needed relationship advice, and whenever Mark felt like gloating about meeting Justice Sotomayor or Annette Bening and Warren Beatty or Justice Ginsburg. This has continued now that he's moved up to Boston; he loves to call me to report that Norm Lewis said I was cute (I am keeping that in my heart) or that he talked to Suzan-Lori Parks about how dumb white people are about race. (We are).

There's more. There's so much more. There is with all of the friends I have written about this month. I won't tell any more anecdotes about Mark though there are a million, but I will say that when I think of how supportive of me he has been, particularly as a gay man and with my love life, I get a little emotional. Marko is always there to listen to whatever ludicrous relationship drama I am having. He is always able to talk sense into me, to remind me to be positive about the feelings with which I am struggling, to encourage me to take emotional leaps of faith. I appreciate that more than anything else. ...Even more than doing P90X with me that first time around.