Evening, and I'm sitting on the futon bed upstairs with Nicholas, watching the live stream, on my phone, of the celebration of life for Darcelle XV at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. I hadn't meant to, didn't know there'd be a live stream, but I sat down to rest after helping Stephen move the furniture around in the living room downstairs, and glanced at my phone for a moment, and there it was, and so I clicked in.
The celebration is tiny in my hand, a little square on the screen, most of that square just the bright amber color of theater lights. A tiny figure in the center, a man giving reminiscences on stage.
Years back, when Portland was newish to me, my aunt Kathy was all about going to Darcelle's. I kind of loved that it became our family tradition, that for a while whenever someone came to visit from out of town, we'd go to Darcelle's. Kathy always getting us front-row seats and shoving our hands full of dollar bills, especially for when Darcelle came out in the assless chaps to sing "Rhinestone Cowboy."
Sometimes in the early part of the pandemic, I'd think, when all of this is done with, I'm telling Kathy we have to celebrate by going to Darcelle's again.
It's been just over a year, now, since Kathy's been gone.
I lay my head back against the wall and look up through the skylight to the block of evening light that hangs just over my head.
Stephen's voice from the bottom of the stairs, calling my name. I get up and go over to stand at the top and look down.
He says, "I had an idea."
He draws out the word idea. And the smile on his face is sheepish and hoping. He wants me to help him move the furniture again.
He tells me he thinks the table in the basement would fit perfectly in that one empty spot by the couch and if I wouldn't mind, just a little more...
I say, "Sure!" Somehow this tiny square of tribute on my phone feels too sacred to turn off or leave behind, so I take my phone with me. Down the stairs. Down into the basement, where we heft the table and carry it carefully up and out the back door, into the evening air, through the backyard gate and heading to the front of the house, the Portland Gay Men's Chorus singing from my back pocket.