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A Celtic Cross Charm part 2

July 3, 2011

If you’ve ever found yourself among a plethora of coincidences then you’ll understand what lies at the core of part 2, A Celtic Charm Cross. Recently I posted an article where I lost this charm of a necklace that I’ve had for 25 years. This story is not one to encourage attachment to the material but rather remind of the sentimental and simply to speak to the nature of this understood thing we call “coincidence.”

One week ago today I sat post show of More Than You Expected hosted by First Congressional Church (otherwise known as First Congo) in Memphis, and the symbols throughout the church floored me. I was exactly where I was supposed to be, somehow. Somehow, once again at home in a church. I haven’t been inside of a church (with one exception) within the last five years. Why? My church is all around me and I’ve suffered enough condemnation and imposed judgement to serve the rest of my life.

Yet, let’s not get preachy. It’s the night before I leave for Memphis and I’m doing laundry. Slinging my clothes on the folding table, pulling out my sheets I hear a little ping. Looking down I see my lost charm. This cross, that a friend so duly noted on my Facebook status after publication of the aforementioned article, was no longer mine to bear. Questions rattle in my head. “How did it make it back with me?” “How did it end up in my sheets?” These questions aren’t mind boggling but I searched myself at the Underground Lounge like an airport security officer would search a hot stripper and found nothing but my twig and berries. Yet here it was. The next morning I start my long bus ride down to the home of blues.

It’s only a ten-hour bus ride but a lot can happen in ten hours and evidently a lot can happen in four hours. While cruising I read The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. This was my first assignment for my first freelance writing gig with company AndiamoCreative, to review the book that is, and I’ve never reviewed a book that I haven’t read. Around two hours pass and I meet a fellow passenger who worked for Tyler Perry at some point and gave me some contact information that hit a dead-end. More than 4 hours pass and a former lover, the best of all, sent me a flaky text backing out on picking me up. Another 4 hours pass and I’m being picked up and staying with my best friend in the city, Natalie Jones. Things are all good from here.

I settle in at the Poplar Lounge for a drink or two before my first long day. Sun rise, morning coffee, helping Natalie move some remaining things from her old place into new, more morning coffee, cereal and juice and I’m off to the church. Receiving the tour was like the first day back in school. I saw the hostel, downstairs storage, a couple of the offices where I met some of the staff. Entering the sanctuary was one of those things that made me go, “hmmm.” I’ve never been inside of a church where the symbol was anything other than what most Christians know as a “traditional cross.”

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Memphis doesn’t fly by for me. I’m enjoying and savoring every moment of my life. Natalie and I tackle the Memphis Zoo (only one of the best in the country, just sayin’) and it’s a blast! We also do Boscos with our former boss and friend Kell Christie Gary, do Sakisui Midtown and jump into Theatre Memphis to revisit Kell and the gang. The South reminds me that it’s O.K. to take a slower pace and set on your porch late into the night enjoying the company of amazing people. Shout out to Natalie’s family for being those people! While Chicago holds many near and dear people close to my heart, the hustle and the bustle of the city sometimes makes me forget my head is attached. Here, I’m working as quickly and efficiently as possible with some amazing dancers and singers to basically mount a show in 4 days. What!!? That process is an entirely different article, maybe a new category all together. Nonetheless, to turn a southern phrase, being there, I remember, “I’m blessed.”

Each time I visit the city it’s a new story but always the same fabulous display of Southern hospitality at its finest. While helping my best friend Natalie Jones one night behind the bar at the Poplar Lounge, I spotted Craig Brewer (director of Hustle and Flow & Black Snake Moan). The Bluff City BackSliders, a band of blues, jazz and American flavor, were playing the lounge that night and as I remember the lead singer is either his brother or half-brother. Being the social media nerd that I am, I recently started following Craig on Twitter. So, in a timely manner that’s not overly intrusive I approach saying, “Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt. I’m Nicholas Taylor.” Craig shakes my hand saying his name. “I really appreciated your last tweet about The Tree of Life,” I say. “Really? Have you seen it yet?” he replies. “No, I haven’t…” and we exchange one or to more lines. He introduces me to his friend and I give them both free tickets to the show on Sunday and give them a heads up about a flashmob at The Memphis Zoo that will be filmed in the morning. “Really, what time? Where in the Zoo?” Craig asks. “I have no idea,” I reply “They won’t tell us anything until after the rehearsal in the morning. All I know is that it’s between 11:00 and 12:00.” I say goodbye and go back inside to my best friend, a new friend, and an old flame (and a hot cop) who shall remain nameless.

Life is so good. I make Monday my lazy movie day and see The Green Lantern, Bad Teacher (love Cameron and the cameo callback to Michelle Pfeiffer), and later in the evening catch Tree of Life where I run into one my old professors from U of M, Suzanne Chrietzberg, catch up with my old best buds Marques and Aliza only later to discover my cop had been involved in a hostile shooting where I gasped to thankfully find him to be just fine.

While veering from this little lost symbol of mine, driving all over memories of Memphis, I’m recall how all these little “coincidences” or turn-ups are nothing but miraculous… the way they all line-up the way they do… touching all of these different lives across time and borders. Hollywood director, bar mistress, professor, professional choreographer, preacher and or starving artist we all cross common threads. All religious, dogmatic arguments aside it is always an awesome thing when you can be genuinely grateful for the life you have and all the life around you, even if it bears a cross that you may not find charming.

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