On the convention premise there were whiteboards where anyone could write down anything to create community at the conference (for example, “Asian lunch!”) On our way out of Starbucks, Adrienne said she had responded to someone who needed a haircut, can anybody help? So off we went to make new friends, even as we bid Sydney good night.
Erin and Meghan greeted us and welcomed us in to their room for this zany haircut session. Being welcomed in to that space, I felt affirmed in my identity, safe, and loved. Yet, knowing this would be my last night here, I couldn’t fully be present in the sweetness of this moment. I didn’t want it to end. The feeling of meeting new friends. This moment of reverie.
In the hotel lobby, Adrienne and I made our final goodbyes. “The clock had struck twelve.” And I didn’t want to go. Because I knew I would miss my friend. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to shoulder the burden again of living in a constant state of ambush. As if one wrong move could betray me to the world before I was ready. The handshake would have to be stronger. My smile wider. Voice deeper, but just enough. Just enough to convince you I’m your everyday cishet man who’s signaling, “Good to meet’cha! I’ll be your friend, but you better not tread on me.”
I called a Lyft and Adrienne saw me off. She grew smaller out the car window as my Lyft vehicle sped away, me prisoner with it. And here, I would face an ambush of another kind. A baptism by fire, as it were. As if the Universe was saying, “Had fun at the little hair cut session with those other girls, did we? But, I’ve got one more souvenir of an experience for you. Before you go.”
After having waved goodbye I turned my attention to my phone.
The driver decided to make conversation. “Is your name pronounced ‘so-FEE-ah’ or ‘so-FAH-EE-ah?’” he said.
Annoyed by his attempt to make stupid conversation, I spat out, “It’sÂ so-FEE-ah,” my voice a whisper.
“My phone was pronouncing it wrong,” he explained. Strange. Do Lyft apps do that? Read aloud your passenger’s name before you pick them up?
Then he fiddled with the locks, unlocking and locking the car doors. “Sorry,” he said quickly.
I gripped tighter onto the taser hidden inside my bag and I watched intently at my phone screen as my Lyft app tracked our route and vehicle location.
As we approached my hotel the driver asked where my hotel was. Is it straight on through where the sign is? Feeling apprehensive as to why he would ask me such a question when the navigator on his dash clearly showed where to go, I said, Yes. It’s right there. There’s going to be a roundabout in front of the entrance where you could drop me off.
To my relief the car pulled into the hotel roundabout. Hotel staff opened my door for me as they welcomed me with professional and cheerful courtesy. I stepped out of the vehicle then let go of the taser inside my bag.
I suppose it was paranoia. One thing was for sure, it was annoying as hell, the driver trying to make conversation with me.
This is the fourth in a series of five about my trip to the Q Christian Fellowship Conference in January 2018. Read the first entry here, the second entry here, and the third entry here