Among the Stars: Part I

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I am going to tell you the story of me,
as I am,
right now.

But before I can do that,
I’ve got to tell you the story of Blastoff,
as it was,
back then.

And before I can do that…
I’ve got to tell you about a man named Jud Meyers,
how we met,
and how it changed everything.

<>

I moved to North Hollywood in 2015,

-marriage rocky
-church leadership questionable
-family ties uncertain
-abandoned by friends loyal to being cool over being friends
-jobless (ubering)
-depressed

and had no idea there was a comicbook store 5 minutes from where I lived. Had not the slightest clue that the decision to move just outside the Noho Arts District, motivated by being closer to her family and mine, was actually being driven by an engine beyond mortal design in a vehicle tailored solely to Divine specifications.

I didn’t even look for one, to be honest, because I didn’t care to. Comicbook stores were, up until then, private affairs. A sort of socially indulged selfishness.

I went in, for me
Comicbook store owners would talk to me, for them
There was no bond, other than being the place where nerds gathered
There was no personality to these places
These were not homes
They were businesses

And that’s just the way it was.
How it had always been.
Until the day it wasn’t.

DC Comics and I had been doing a little work here and there together, and right around the time I moved into the area they contacted me to come in for a video they were shooting to present at Wondercon. “You always give good answers.” What a thrilling compliment! And where were we shooting this time? That was my inquiry. One of the studios, DC HQ perhaps, one of the sets from DC All Access…

NOPE.
They wanted me to come in to a little comicbook shop that I googled and found was 5 minutes from my apartment.

Blastoff.

Even though I hadn’t been looking for a shop, I was still kinda surprised I didn’t know it was there. And as I walked in, three things immediately captured my attention.

1) I had never seen a shop this well lit and non-warehouse looking before!
2) Mind boggled at the official looking nature of the equipment DC was using
3) The pretty red head in the business casual dress who caught my eye once I walked in a little more, who seemed to be familiar with the establishment

This was also the point where I realized I also might still have a tiny bit of sexism (in not the positive way) snorkeling through my system.

“Excuse me, do you work here?”
“I’m the manager.”

I tried not to gape with shock, without making it look like I was trying not to gape with shock. Not so sure I was successful (sorry Harley, you know I love you). A NICE looking comicbook store? Where a woman was in charge? And darn knowledgeable? And the owner trusted her to handle this, even though he couldn’t be there?

What kind of magical wonderland WAS this?

I was distracted all during the shoot with a single, repeating thought.
I have to come back here.

Which I told to Harley.
That I would be back often.
And I was.

And then one day, I walked in and met a man by the name of Jud Meyers.

You know how in every romcom, or romantic novel, there’s always this underlying notion of finding “the one?” That person you’re supposed to marry. Spend the rest of your life with. Who gets you. Who you intuit clearly.The person who is as much a part of everything you are as the waves are part of everything the ocean is. Your other half, your hakuna matata, your lazy Sunday, your deepest fountain wish, your perfectly shaken not stirred martini, your soul mate.

The day I met Jud, something dark and cynical that had begun to crystallize in my veins suddenly- and without warning- suffered a deep fracture. This was a different kind of man. With an extremely keen and nuanced worldview that I instantly recognized, despite its zealous rarity, because it echoed the energetic consciousness and spiritual diaspora I carried within my own self. Something that, to this day, I can count on one hand as having personally encountered in other people.

We were soul mates of the distinctly non-romantic variety.

I didn’t buy any comics that time.
Or the time after that.
Not because of any profound reason- I was just broke. Hahaha

And also I don’t like feeling compelled to do things- I did not want to feel like I had to buy a product in order for this man to be interested in me as a person.

But somewhere around the third or fourth time… I went in with the express purpose of having a full conversation with him. I needed to know if the spark was real. If I had really found another diamond in the rough. It’s that Into the Spiderverse moment of “you’re like me!”

However, I still do retain an impressive cache of social awkwardness and I fumbled the moment. Just totally kept it surface and did a lot of waiting for him to dive the conversation deeper, and then my comics were purchased, and I was out the door. Berating myself. Upset. Battling between self loathing and assuming he didn’t really care about me anyway.

And then I had two thoughts.
Moments rather.
One of them a memory.

His eyes.

Jud has this way of looking at you that shows he’s doing more than just looking at you, the same way John Williams looks at a piano and sees more than just a bunch of keys and polished wood. When Jud looks at you, I mean reeeeaaaaalllly looks at you-

He sees music.
And you begin to hear your own song.
That’s how he had been looking at me.

And the second moment was this explosion of internal awareness.

I don’t want to be this way.
Hesitant. Scared.
Running.

So I turned myself around, marched my narrow behind back into the shop, and struck up a conversation that would continue on in various segments for the next 4 years. In those conversations I began working out the bloodied, knotted portions of myself. I [slowly] learned to grapple with and navigate the world I lived in, the world inside me trying to get out, and the process of evolution I needed to undergo to become that bridge.  Even watching him switch between comicbook fan, professional, businessman, and lover of people was something to behold.

We had so many late nights closing out the shop together, where it would just be he and I. So many afternoons loaded with discourse exhumed revelations. Many silent eye contact moments as things we had discussed and hypothesized materialized unexpectedly before us in the presence of other people. Our friendship, for me at least, has been a masterclass in flow and divine living. My last night closing out Blastoff for old time’s sake, Jud summarized it all in a way that made my heart smile.

“You and me, we’ve learned a lot of lessons in this place,” he said as we embraced with the song and soul only men unconcerned with pretense and appearances are capable of, “had a lot of revelations together.”

Jud has been one of the greatest treasures of my entire life. That perfect blend of friend and mentor, with never the slightest ounce of condescension. I know Jud’s not perfect. He’s got flaws, just like we all do. But the flaws do not maketh the man. The man maketh the man, and his flaws become the tools he slowly teaches himself to work with as he carries on this courageous, foraging expedition we call life.

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Jud was a safe place for me.
And Blastoff was my home.

He has moved.
The shop has closed.
My heart huddles warmly around the memories.

Even though I am happy for him,
I miss my friend.

###

Thank you so much for reading!

If you want to continue the conversation,
you can find me right here on twitter,
waiting for you. 🙂

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