Considering my previous blog post was about the grounding found in chronology, excuse me as I go out of chronological order and skip about four months of my travels.
I know folks are eager to hear of my adventures abroad, but I am presently holding sacred space for the experience I had in Senegal. I have dedicated my life to improving my mental health and elevating my personal experience in ways that resonate with me. Sometimes that looks like me completely disconnecting from a place or thing (or country) for as long as necessary. And because I'm so open with my life, it's important for me to process all my large feelings before bringing them to the collective. I'm a sharer, so sis gon share.
I’d love to share stories of tangy mango bliss and getting to just be for the better part of four months but the truth is, I didn’t go to a spa resort. I didn’t go on vacation. I didn’t go for fun or just for travel's sake. I intentionally went to Senegal to do deep-seated emotional work and that shit was hard. Overall though, it was an amazing trip where I met wonderful people, ate delicious food daily, and literally got a new dad.
I do the difficult emotional work to address not just my personal trauma, but systemic and historical traumas as well. I find power in awareness. I like to know what thinking/behaviors are mine, and which I need to let go of. A lot of times folks be walking around mad at the world not realizing they are just carrying generations of hurt. I'd much prefer to carry generations of rest, emotional security and adventure. So, I do the work. And a part of my present work, is holding my Senegal trip close to me until I've done all the processing needed.
I've been back in America for two months now, and I will catch ya'll up on that, though. In this season of giving thanks and spending time with our loved ones, I want to dedicate this post to all my people. Every single person in my life who holds me down in some capacity--I am thankful for you. If it's a text to check on in me, a care package abroad, dinner, a night out, shared memes or shared glasses of wine, or shared memes over glasses of wine--I am thankful for you. The life I lead would not be possible without all of those who support me being a dreamer and adventurer. I love you and appreciate you.
After four months of more isolation than not, I was eager to squeeze on, surprise and visit people I love.
My first stop was to New York.
The first thing I did after dragging all of my luggage up my homegirls' steep ass Queens second floor walk-up, was take my behind to the bodega down the street. I was a tad bit concerned (re: terrified) how my body would respond to adjusting to the major shift in my diet. Going from super organic, grass-fed, non GMO blah blah blah to straight preservatives and questionable processed meats could have given me G.I. issues. My fear wasn't enough to skip on my bodega grub though. Of all the food I missed while being abroad—I was really just feigning for a turkey sandwich, some chips and a soda. I can't even front, after the first few bites I'd stop chewing to gauge how the food worked its way down my belly. My body had no qualms. So, I had a deli sammie for breakfast/lunch and also dinner.
Stephy was at work when I arrived and thought the three of us were going to have a FaceTime call that night. To her surprise, she came home soaked from the rain and shrieked when she saw Xena excitedly greeting her at the door. The next day, Jeanette and I hopped on a train to Times Square for rooftop drinks and grub. I was set up on a blind date for shits and giggles until Stephy was off work. It felt incredible to be back in a place where navigating a stifling language barrier wasn’t the core of my conversations. Easily maneuvering social interactions with my peers had been greatly missed. Although the blind date was just because, it felt nice to sit next to a man who had stars in his eyes for me. My homegirl has this unspoken thing with her "friend" so my date was dude's homeboy. And while they oogled at one another, I cracked up at my blind date's nonsense. It's important to note these men were Jamaican and just about everything that came out of their mouths was hilarious to me. It was a good ass time.
When Stephy got off work we changed locations and laughed and joked and ate and drank until our heart's were content. I was in bed by eleven and up and up before five.
Jet lag, alcohol and my general disposition for limited social interaction had me not wanting to be outside the next day. When asked what I wanted to do while in NYC I said, "Can we just stay inside and watch TV and eat things?" Happy to oblige, for two days my homegirls and I made roots in the couch and watched a mix of old Halloween horror films and Black classics for nostalgia's sake. One of my love languages is cooking, so I made us brunch of grits 'n eggs, potatoes, bacon and my now internationally famous fried chicken. I felt home with them, eating, drinking, laughing and reciting lines from old movies. Those Black classics definitely hit different in your thirties, okay!
The days flew by and it was time for me to give my hugs and be off again.
Second stop: Detroit, Michigan.
A good number of my close college friends reside in Detroit, so I flew there to love on them and meet some of my nieces that turned my friends into mommies. I also flew into Michigan instead of my birthplace because I knew I needed an emotional buffer after Senegal, and Ohio was def not it. My boo, Ari hosted my stay and let me be a hermit crab for the majority of the time, even though it goes against her outgoing-always-wanna-be-outside-ass nature. My first day in Detroit, I arranged for my girl Ashley to have a "dinner out on me" to congratulate her on a year of her business and get her out of mommy-mode for a few hours.
The plan was for Ari and Ash to have dinner together and send me pictures. The look on Ashley's face when I walked up to her melted my heart and gave me all the happies. She said, "What are you doing here?" Ashley over the years has been amazing at validating my feelings when I'm overwhelmed and checks on me no matter what she has going on.
To be able to squeeze and love on her in person hit a lot different this year. Because of the pandemic and general adulting, sometimes years go by without getting to physically be with your loved ones. I was grateful to be able to have dinner with and love on two more of my sisterfriends who I completely adore.
For the next few days I got to meet and love on a couple of my nieces (and try to hold back tears while watching the little humans my friends created simply exist). My friends definitely showed up and showed out for me while I was in Detroit. There were lots of laughs and hugs and little finger squeezes that filled my joy cup way up.
At the end of the week, I managed to pull a surge of energy out of my behind and felt in the mood to go to my HBCUs "diet" homecoming. Poor #HC21 got called all types of bootleg because the football tailgate and other on-campus events were cancelled due to the panoramic. I realized that COVID didn't in fact ruin homecoming for me because truth be told, I hate large social gatherings. I prefer low-key, one-on-one, super vibey settings where I'm intentionally spending time with people. So, the idea of Ari and I just kicking it and taking pictures while cracking up all weekend was something I was super game for. Ari and I packed up her car and hopped on the road for a three hour sing-along to Ohio.
Feeling re-charged and ready to get into some good trouble, I couldn't wait to see and be seen. The only thing was, I knew I couldn't be in Ohio for a few days and not visit my mother. While in Senegal, my Uncle Eddy instructed me to visit my mother since two years had passed since I last saw/spoke to either her or my grandmother. Prior to Senegal, I would not have considered it all. I respected Uncle Eddy and had grown into a place comfortable enough to entertain the idea of contacting my mother and her mother while abroad. Anything sounds good and doable when you're across the world and in a place you feel safe enough to feel and process big feelings. The reality of doing was a whole lot scarier though.
It sucked because all I wanted to do was enjoy being back in the US with my friends and feel all nostalgic with other alum. I just wanted to have fun. After being in a different country doing intense healing work for an entire summer, I just wanted to get a little litty and touch on Somebody's Son(s) for the first time in five months.
I was tired of doing healing work, I was tired of grazing old wounds, I was tired of how heavy forgiving felt. I was tired. I wanted to give the work a rest. I was trying to avoid doing further healing work like...(dang I can't even say a plague anymore. Crazy times.) Seeing my family was this huge ass hurdle I knew I had to leap before being able to let my braids loose and have some good old fashion college fun that weekend.