Oh, my. This church is absolutely beautiful. Ornate wood carvings, gilt work on the altars, and a spectacular main altar. Six, count 'em, SIX confessionals.
The Mass itself was in Latin, but it was the ordinary (Novus Ordo) liturgy, not the extraordinary form. Even so, it was wonderful to hear Gregorian chant and hear the priest say the Gloria, Creed, and prayers of consecration in Latin. I will post a Mass Appeal entry about this later.
After Mass, I drove up Halsted to the Briar Street Theater, near Belmont Ave. I had nearly four hours before the Blue Man Group show. Rather than driving all over the place, I just parked the car and decided that I would check out the neighborhood.
The first thing I checked out Giordano's for lunch. I'm a New York boy at heart, but I do love a good deep dish pizza. I ordered one with mushrooms, but they brought me one with broccoli instead. I like broccoli, so I didn't make a stink, but I did mention it to the waitress. Lo and behold, she gave 6 bucks off my tab, so a good lunch was made even better.
After wandering around the Lakeview neighborhood (and realizing that at some unconscious level, I just naturally gravitate to the gay district of any city), I went back to the theater for the show.
The show was great. I'd seen BMG once before in New York. This theater was a lot bigger, but the show was basically the same. They've added a few new bits in light of their rock tour (and I really would love to see that), and the streamer party at the end was a blast. I treated myself to a BMG cap, and took a few pictures of the performers.
It was now after 6:00 Central time, and I still had a long drive home. I jumped on Lake Shore Drive and started heading south, completely oblivious to the fact that there was a triathlon finishing up at Grant Park. After sitting in traffic for a while, I cut across and picked up 90/94 south. You saw my entry last night when I got home.
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My biggest fear was that I would be alone on my birthday, and although there was no one physically with me on the actual day, I realize now that I am far from alone. I spent the last week and a half hanging out with family, old friends (and one new one), I spoke with people I haven't seen or heard from in years, and I even got a birthday kiss.
Sure, I would like it if there was someone special in my life that I could spend time with in the evenings, and snuggle up to in the wee hours of the morning. You know what, though? I'm not going to feel sorry for myself that there isn't. In the past two months, there have been three women I've spent time with who have made me feel more like a man, whole and complete, that I've felt in over two years. Each one, in their own way, gave me back the spark and vitality of life that I had been denying myself.
I can say without any reservation that this was the best birthday of my life, even better than when I turned 21. I went where I wanted, did what I wanted, spent money like it was burning a hole in my pocket, smoked more and drank more in one night than I usually do in any three month stretch, and have no regrets about a damn thing.
That being said, now I have to come back to my regular life. For the last week and a half, I've given Big Bad Bill free rein, indulging in vices and behavior best left in the past. I've enjoyed it, but at a price. For all of the fun I had, there was a fair amount of guilt as well, and I spent a lot of time in that little confessional booth. By the grace of God, I am back where I want to be, where I need to be in my life.
Big Bad Bill has to settle down and live with Boring Bill once more, but I think I've figured out a way to let them both coexist. The trick is to stay in balance, not going from one extreme behavior to another.
No masks, no hiding behind some persona I put on, no trying to assume a different role depending on where I am or who I'm with. Somewhere between Big Bad Bill and Boring Bill is just plain Bill.
I like who I am right now, right this second.
I'm a 40 year old man...
...who has made a lot of mistakes in his life, learned from most of them, and would like to apologize to anyone he has wronged,
...who lives in a house that somehow has become a home for him as well,
...who wants to be free from sin, but when he falls (often, and sometimes hard), knows enough to ask God to help him back up,
...who likes his ex-wife, despite the advice of his friends,
...who enjoys the company of women (particularly the feisty ones) and doesn't see that changing anytime soon,
...who isn't ready to hide away from the world,
...who may not like his job but knows he is damn lucky to have one,
...who is finally comfortable with his appearance,
...who is in good health and knows he needs to take care of himself if he wants to stay that way,
...who knows that life is short, so there no point in dwelling on what you don't have and better enjoy what you do,
...who is happy.
Happy birthday to me.