Over the next few months, I continued to visit Wired as the common meeting ground for several friends, but we never stayed long.
A concert took place around New Years, which was one of the more uncomfortable times for me. I was unaware that bands played on the weekend, and being in a room filled with numerous people with only one friend by my side was incredibly bothersome.
Once my other friends arrived, I felt much more comfortable, and eventually my own energy seemed to much into the place.
Next I discovered Open Mic night, which took place on Friday nights; I began to visit Wired on Friday, Saturday, and then I discovered, Sunday as well, because Sunday nights featured the potluck, one of my first venues for displaying my cooking skills (which were at the time still quite terrible.)
Spring Break 2004 rolled around, and I intended to visit Wired every single night in so far as I could- and I did.
The people at Wired were different; they were unique. When one walked into Wired, there was not an atmosphere of judging, nor an attitude of superiority among any of the people. Rather, the people were accepting, tolerant, and embracing of differences among individuals. One’s sexual orientation, one’s race, one’s background- none of these things mattered to Lily or to anyone at the coffee house, for we were a caravan of love, love, and more love.
This bring us to Rumi and Sufism. Turkey is a Muslim country, but Lily practiced Sufism, a form of mysticism highly influenced by Islam. Poetry and stories of the great Sufi and poet Rumi filled Wired.
One of my friends from California had been practicing Sufism at the time, so I was familiar, at least in part, with the tradition, but Rumi was new to me.
Sufism treats the relationship to God as the relationship between a Lover and his Beloved. It said that Sufism began as a heartache, and from my own experience, I would deem this to be accurate.
Rumi’s poetry was and is magnificent. He speaks of longing and love, he speaks of God and the joy of reuniting with the Beloved, and all-in-all, I understood him, perhaps too well. Rumi’s poetry speaks not only to Sufis but to the whole world; his Love poems blaze with an energy that is not of this world and is surely of the next. If you have never read anything by Rumi, I suggest you go do so right at this moment, as his words will affect you quite a bit more than my own.
Lily had a set of cards comparable to Tarot cards, except they were actually poems written by Rumi, and a few different times she read my fortune. One particular poem has always stood out to me:
“Hold me in the fire, and although I die, I know for Whom and Why.”
Another card in particular that I could never find struck me infinitely.
“Love smells sweetest when found where least expected: in detachment.”
Sufism is replete with imagery of the fire of love and passion transforming base materials of lead into gold, with the colorful idea of one’s polishing the heart to reflect the Light of God, and with dream interpretation and the sharing of parables and stories.
Needless to say, this energy permeated Wired, and thus to Wired were drawn the Seeker and the Enlightened, the Artist and the Poet, the Broken-Hearted and the Lover. Wired drew together a number of people who did not fit into the mainstream society in the South, who did not share the typical mores and folkways of the Alabamian mentality. Here, there were no rednecks, no country boys, but if there had been, they would have been equally welcomed to share themselves and their lives with the rest of us. No one was turned away; this was the nature of Lily’s kindness and hospitality (incidentally another Sufi trait.)
Wired is where I met the many kinds of coffee, and I picked up small pieces of the Turkish language that I can pronounce like a native speaker even today. I learned that I enjoyed mocha a great deal (even though in reality a mocha is chocolate milk mixed with coffee) and also that chai was a favorite. I discovered the delight of Lily’s chicken salad sandwiches and had a few incidents of overdosing on cheesecake (though many of my readers just gasped and asked aloud how it is possible to overdose on cheesecake.)
Wired is also where I met a good majority of the friends I have now and then ran into people I had known in high school but with whom I hadn’t exactly been friends.
Wired also saw my attempt to be a vegetarian, including no fish. That lasted for a little over a month or so, then I gave in.
This entry has become quite long; let’s take a break her, shall we?