Theodore Owen Alexander
I met Teddy the way every queer of the new millennium meets another queer – the internet. Originally, he told me his name was Terry. I laughed because when I started using dating apps, I told people my name was Isaac. Maybe I should have said “Travis?” I was also like, “shit,” because my boss’s name was Terry. It was cringy in the same way realizing that someone cute has the same name as your dad. Fortunately, his name was Teddy.
When we met I thought Teddy was really cool. We didn’t hang out much, though, not at first – maybe one other time. Oh, and once we ran into each other at a night club. I’m really big on New Year’s resolutions. When I was younger, they were very specific goals, something like: “I will get a six pack” or “I will have sex for the first time.” (Quick check-in: Never got a six pack and the sex was a few years late.)
Over the past five years or so, my resolutions have become more like intentions of feeling, rather than hopes for acquisition. In 2019, it was about being happy. In 2020, it was about self-discipline.
Last year, I had a really hard time formulating a resolution. A lot of my life felt upended. How do you set an intention dizzy and in the dark? Who/what/where is an intention in that liminal space? Usually, my intentions coincide with a good deal of journaling and a public post declaring my intention. Last year, the journaling was lazy and there was no declaration. As the new year approached, I wasn’t sure what the hell to intend, but I landed, rather nebulously, on the word yoga. I wasn’t really sure what I meant by it.
Yes, I wanted to do yoga, but yoga, which translates to “joining,” is a spiritual path. To do yoga is like doing a river. I know what you mean when you say, “do yoga,” but yoga is never really “done,” never really finished. The verbification of yoga objectifies something that is fluid and non-static. It was created as a path to liberation, a vehicle towards union. It involves much more than the fitness class and corporatized aesthetic. I suppose I wanted to deepen my spiritual practice in a way that felt embodied and integrated. As 2022 dawned, I didn’t have faith in anything but faith, and – even then – walking in faith felt more like abandoning belief, the belief that you’d be okay if you did nothing different. I tend to wax philosophical and that’s because I’m a Virgo. But sometimes my pontifications come at the expense of doing; thinking comes at the expense of action. I have often felt that I spend too much time analyzing, trying to piece together right and wrong, attempting to see things clearly, and in so doing bypass my own experience, the experience of my body.
What’s the difference between a lesson and habit? A lesson is only half-learned.
I needed to turn my wisdom in to a habit, my ways of knowing into a way of being. For me, yoga, was the word that best described my intention, even if the ambiguity of the word was a bit unnerving. I wanted to feel embodied.
Teddy is a dancer. He is an amazing dancer. On Facebook, I had seen him perform and travel the globe. He has a gentle way about him. Graceful, but funny and fearlessly queer.
“Dance,” I thought, “is yoga.”
I hit up Teddy’s phone and invited him to hang out. We caught up. I told him a little about the turnings in my life, and I asked him if we could dancer together. I started paying Teddy for weekly dance lessons. He didn’t disappoint. It felt like the yoga I had done before, combined with improvisation, meditation, and spirit.
During these weekly lessons, I found myself catching feelings for my dance teacher (which is a sentence I have always wanted to say). He would stay for dinner after our lessons. I read his Tarot. We would share poetry. Some of my poems I wrote for him. He invited me to an open mic hosted by his friend Mecca. I read a poem about excavating a library of memories deep in the woods and I won a cash prize. That felt like the affirmation I needed. It was my first live performance since the pandemic and my first time sharing a poem in a public. I started to fall in love with Teddy and feared the depth of my feelings, emerging from a tumultuous year, navigating a stressful time, and being painfully unsure about where my future lied. Teddy is someone who you can speaking honestly with. I’m at a point in my life where I have no interest in being anything less than honest about what I’m thinking and feeling, about what happened, what hurts, and what I hope. Feeling these feelings brewing, I shared them with him, and the passion subsided. The intimacy, though, remained and remains.
A few months ago, Teddy needed a place to stay and I invited him to move in with me. I had an extra room that I wasn’t using and my apartment had become a lonely sanctuary, less than a bachelor pad. Now he’s my roommate and this year he has been my closest friend. It’s nice to live with another radically queer artist. Most of my friends are not artists. Well, I believe everyone is an artist, but most of my friends do not claim that creative identity for themselves. That is all and everything Teddy claims to be – a creative, cosmic spirt. He lives, breathes, and dreams his art. His words are synesthetic. Everything is a texture. Everything is a metaphor. I remember he came over once and was surprised by how orange the space felt. His ideas are galactic. He views dance as medicine and movement as our most sacred ancestral technology. His aspirations are bold. Sharing space with him elevates my consciousness. Teddy reminds me to be kind to myself. He tells me to have a good day on purpose. He affirms my experiences and listens to my ideas, generously, if not with an eager smile. I do the same with him. Conspiring about design, strategizing our careers, contemplating the depth and scope of the system we find ourselves in. We joke that capitalism has turned us all into cows. We cook together and sometimes we cook for each other. We watch Sense8, ogle at excellence, and critique when art misses the mark, mostly because it misses the heart. We talk about family, and I find myself in awe at how quickly he has become part of mine.
Teddy, thank you for being my friend. You’re one of the most magical people I’ve met and I have nothing but gratitude for the spells you cast.
This article is part of a series called "A Month of Gratitude," about the people, places, and things that I am thankful for. You can read the first post here and all other posts here.