It Takes Two
Steve died four months ago. Sundance 2018 would have been our 40th Anniversary—still is to me, for I am forever Steve and Murray.
I am staying busy and am proud of the good work we have done, and continue to do, to move CAMP Rehoboth forward even in our grief. I’m humbled by the extraordinary generosity of family, friends, and a community like none other.
I miss him with all my heart and mind and body and soul. I miss his talents and his gifts. I miss his weakness and his need. I miss the way he could make me laugh when I felt more like crying. I miss the way we could argue over something until we wrestled a compromise out of it—and I miss the lessons he inadvertently taught me in the process. I miss the way he could drain anxiety out of my body with a simple smile. I miss the way he would send me a secret signal when we were in public—and how he was so obvious about it that it wasn’t secret to anyone.
I miss our relationship.
For many years now, CAMP Rehoboth has partnered with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington to bring their cabaret show to the beach—as we did back in January of this year. On July 14 the GMCW cabaret show, It Takes Two, returned to the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center stage for two more performances.
It Takes Two is a show of duets—and therefore, a show about relationships. Like all relationships and all good cabaret performances, there was laughter and tears.
Relationships are not inherently good or bad, and are simply defined as a state of being connected. On a personal or professional level, most of us want to create good relationships with the people in our lives. Toxic relationships are exhausting, and sap our strength, creativity, and happiness.
Relationships are powerful teachers; the way we interact with others shows us a mirror image of ourselves. Relationships allow us the opportunity to test our reactions to one another, our feelings about what’s happening to us, and our opinions about everything from politics to personal hygiene.
Over the course of my life I’ve learned lessons from all kinds of relationships and situations, but none more important than the 40 years I spent with Steve, and the almost 30 years we spent growing CAMP Rehoboth into the organization it is today.
I was 24 when we met; he was 28. We both had a lot of learning to do. From my family I had a deep sense of justice—and strong opinions about right and wrong. I also had a temper—especially when I felt that an injustice of some sort had occurred. I was not aware of that bit of self-knowledge until shortly before I met Steve in 1978. An incident took place in the theater company where I worked. I saw red. Literally, I felt like my eyeballs were filling up with blood and that I was standing outside of myself and witnessing the transformation. It was eye-opening in more ways than one.
That incident, while it did enlighten me somewhat, did not cure my temper. Steve did—though not intentionally. Over our years together we learned how to navigate the rough waters stirred up when two strong personalities have differing opinions—just as other couples do, I’m sure. It was a gift to both of us that served us well in our later efforts to build CAMP Rehoboth. Together we learned to trust, to negotiate compromise, to be kind to one another, to be patient. We were not perfect at any of them, and that was okay too. Most of all we learned to be quick with forgiveness and generous in love.
Love Story was a popular movie in the ‘70s and gave us the tagline, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
Every day of our lives we humans trespass upon the hearts and spirits of those around us—most of the time unintentionally. Even the non-religious among us are familiar with the line from the Lord’s Prayer—“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Sorry, my Methodist is showing.
Something that became obvious to the two of us after years of involvement with CAMP Rehoboth was that none us can know what’s happening in the mind and life of the people who walk through the doors of CAMP Rehoboth. In many instances there is stress, worry, loss, pain, heartache, family troubles, or relationship issues—private matters that we know nothing about and never will, but are of upmost importance in their lives. Sometimes they share—Steve was good at getting visitors to open up—most of the time they don’t.
All any of us can do is offer a warm welcome and guide them as best we can to whatever help is needed.
From CAMP Rehoboth we learned perseverance. I’ve said for years that 90% of our success was simply not giving up. We failed all the time, but from each failure we learned something. We also learned that none of those lessons made us wise for there is always more to learn—and it can come from the most unexpected places and the most unlikely people.
In our efforts to live fully into the mission and vision of CAMP Rehoboth, both of us were challenged to push ourselves to do things we might never have learned to do. I still vividly remember the first time I was invited to a party to speak to the guests about CAMP Rehoboth. We were, at the time, still struggling to find the words to explain what we were doing to ourselves, much less to a room full of people. I felt awkward and nervous, but I did it—and the words came, and I heard in myself the first seeds of the deep passion for CAMP Rehoboth that would carry us both through all the years that followed.
Steve possessed a natural understanding of politics. He told me Donald Trump was going to be president long before I would even consider that thought. He had good instincts for dealing with the people in all walks of life—though his sense of humor warranted the occasional apology. I have my own strengths and weaknesses. Together we found a balance that worked for our relationship and for CAMP Rehoboth. For us it did take two.
One of the GMCW performers in the It Takes Two cabaret show of duets sang a solo. In speaking about it before his performance, he explained that he had come to believe there was no such thing as a solo performance, depending as it does on composers and accompanists and all the people it takes to bring a piece of music to life on the stage.
As we move CAMP Rehoboth into the future, we must continue to celebrate the diversity of the world around us, and to build strong relationships with those who will bring new perspectives, new inspirations, new leadership, and new talents to the work that we do.
A solo? A duet? No. A full orchestra and a choir! ▼
Murray Archibald is an artist, CAMP Rehoboth Co-Founder, and longtime President of the CAMP Rehoboth Board of Directors. He is currently serving as CAMP Rehoboth Interim Executive Director and Editor in Chief of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth. Email Murray.