Meditations: Farewell, Goodbye & Moving On

This post is written at two separate points in the process of moving on. It journals my last few days in Providence, Rhode Island and my first day in New York City before flying to Los Angeles. The music video is a song that I’ve been listening to this summer and I love.

Whoever said that the twenties were turbulent definitely had something going on. I’ve been talking with a lot of people recently about their twenties. I love talking to those who have passed the twenties and lived to tell the tale. They seem oddly empathetic but also so very glad to be clear of these woods. My cousin told me that in preparation for Los Angeles, I should be ready for the highest highs and the lowest lows. I’m writing this post on my last night in Providence, Rhode Island. I move to New York tomorrow and then on to LA in two weeks. I used to wonder if this year was ever going to end, and now that it’s here, I find myself in shock. Is this actually happening? Am I actually ready to start the next chapter of my life? I don’t have a job or car or apartment yet! What am I in for? Did I really sign up for this?!

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Saying goodbye has been a month-long process. It started slowly, with long walks at night and late nights at bars with friends. Trips to Boston included long looks around a city that I couldn’t trace the moment that I started to fall for. Pictures of sunsets and summer selfies with friends are the classic staple of short goodbyes. I don’t know that I ever intend to return to New England. I currently don’t see any strong reason to besides graduate school, but it is interesting isn’t it? This life is at times characterized by the strange nostalgia and utter joy that human beings have the ability to feel at the same time. Dual feelings war with each other and make a perfectly sane person feel like an alien. Have you ever stopped to look at the place that you’re leaving after you pack everything into the car? For me, it’s so very odd that this place that only a few hours ago was filled with my energy, my things, my life, is now empty and waiting for the next person. It shocks me that through time, humans come and go and yet the monuments remain, just as they were when we were there.

These last few weeks have been integral to making me wake the heck up to the world around me. Hilary Clinton became the democratic nominee and I realized just how many people support this woman, which is scary as I currently live in the world with a black female body. The new Ghostbusters came out, sparking conversation and animosity from various receptors. I started to pack my life away and move on from the space that’s been mine for exactly a year.  I lost friendships that were once so dear to me. Value of the materialistic kind tends to fade as huge life changes approach. What is near and dear to me are the relationships, the people I’ve interacted with, the work I’ve created that lives on. Below is a collage of some of the gorgeous children that I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with.

Is there a real difference between Farewell and Goodbye? They are two very similar phrases and in the world of Merriam- Webster, they have the same definition. But somehow in the past few days of hearing them, they mean something different.

Farewell:

Used to express good wishes on parting

 

Goodbye:

Used to express good wishes when parting or at the end of a conversation

In my mind, “Goodbye” holds a certain finality. To say goodbye is to say that I won’t be back, that this is truly the end. “Farewell”, in my mind, is saying that this moment is only “See you later” or “See you soon” and remains open-ended. Although I’ve had tons of practice in moving on from places and people, it somehow never gets easier. I’ll always miss the time I’ve had. Isn’t that so human? We always miss the places we never thought we’d leave. Throughout the day, my mother was adamant: “You aren’t leaving. You’re just moving on.” Now that I think about it. There was a point to her stressing that I was moving on. Leaving requires no looking back, a fleeing energy that comes from disparity. Moving on requires maturity, heart and soul and even some tears within the firm understanding that this is for my good as I take with me, the trials, tribulations and successes of a year fully lived in.

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This and last summer, I taught theater at a theater summer camp here in Providence. I met some beautiful brown girls, who worked their way into my heart.  All year long, I got to mentor them as they came into the theater to take various theater classes, expand their artistry and just sit in the office and talk to me about their lives. Saying farewell to them was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But, as I looked in their deep brown eyes, and they asked me with tears, “Why do you have to go?” I realized that this moment was oh so familiar. As a young girl growing up in New York, I had so many brown women come into my life and leave to pursue their dreams. I would ask the same question with tears filling my brown eyes and they would say something to the affect of ” I have to leave so that you can be some other girl’s beautiful brown woman and mentor.” As I looked at the future dead in the eyes today, I said those same words. ” I have to go, so that you can be some other beautiful brown girl’s mentor.” They bestowed upon me the same Black Girl Magic that I bestowed upon them. They changed me just as much as I changed them. They needed me just as much as I needed them. What a gift.

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To Freedom, Family & Wanderlust

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Hello Blogosphere! It has been a busy weekend! I am currently writing this as I wait for my train back to good ole New England. I hope you enjoy the supplied photos! This post is in homage to Roots as in my family roots, the fight for liberation and of course my realized need to travel!

This weekend, I went to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with my mother and brother for the Spivey Forshee Family Reunion. Recently, planes have become a source of inspiration for me. I love the in-between stage of moments in life. The long drives, the plane rides, all seem to be symbolic for life in a way. There are many destinations: birth, graduations, new jobs, family reunions, death, etc. If we don’t learn to enjoy the in-between than how do we appreciate the destinations? I grew up in New York with my mom and my brother and for the most part we stuck to our little family. I always wanted to be closer to my extended family and now as adults, I think it’s fun that I have cousins that have become friends.  But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back to the beginning or at least, what my family could find as the beginning.

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Many papers and information were damaged regarding the sale of Africans in this country. I’ll probably never be able to go back far enough to capture the life of the original Africans that came to this country and became my ancestors, but This weekend, I learned this.

1865, the Emancipation Proclamation is signed granting freedom to all enslaved persons. My Great Great Grandfather, Nathen Spivey is six years old in Georgia. He is the son of Tom Spivey a slave owner from England and an enslaved woman of color, Frances. Master Spivey, as he was called, owned he and his mother Frances. Before freedom, his family is separated and sold, and as far as Nathen and Frances knew, some were sold deep south to Waco, Texas. When Emancipation came, we know that one of the first things formerly enslaved people tried to do was to find their families. Nathen and Frances were no different. With searching to no avail, Nathen grew and started his own family. What did he do? He began to name his children after the family members sold, so that if they found them, they would know family by their names. When I heard this, I wanted to cheer. How incredibly brilliant. I’m named after my Great Aunt Catherine. That’s where the tradition came from! I wonder how many other traditions we still have?!

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Nathen married Sarah Kelly, another descendent of slaves and masters and together they had 12 children. My Great Grandfather Elijah had a twin Elisha. Elisha and 10 siblings moved to Oklahoma, while Elijah moved to New York City. We in NYC knew that we had cousins in Oklahoma but had no way to contact them. Because of Facebook believe it or not, my mom found a cousin, realized a family reunion was in the plans and off we set to the family reunion. I haven’t had a chance yet to really absorb it all, but even typing this, I feel myself getting tearful. This weekend I saw where my family lived in an all black town by the name of Clearview, put flowers on their graves and got to start to know my cousins who are AMAZING. Twins are rampant in my family. At the reunion, there were 3 sets, one in each generation. Also, there are a set of twins in NY that weren’t at the reunion that fit into a gap. Dear God, do not bless me with twins. Haha But seriously though, this weekend was exactly what I needed. It was fulfilling, affirming and wonderful. Also, I come from a family of seriously good looking people. I’m just sayin.

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I feel so lucky. It was like coming home. This is liberation. Knowing that even though life is crazy, there’s freedom somewhere, somehow in family. It seems as though there was a missing piece that somehow fit. I remember watching Roots as a child and my mother said it was so important to know where we had been to know where we were going as a people. At this family reunion, learning so much information about who I’m descended from, I watched myself learn who I had been and who I want to be. I come from amazing, intelligent, resilient, learned people. I feel myself walk a little bit taller now than I did a few days ago.

As I said, I watched the original Roots growing up and when the remake came out I at first refused to tune in. Why would I want to re-live all that pain? But I did watch, and I cried all the way through. There was a visibility in the story. I wanted, no needed to know my family history. I needed to know that I was not just a mistake as the truth of my history is not taught in classrooms. Black and brown people need affirmation of their personhood, their history, their worthiness. I cried because I found it. Now, to do the work to keep and expand it.

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Moving on, I realized that the more I get to travel, the more I learn of myself. Growing up, I was a selfish snot of a kid. I was spoiled and awkward socially and alternative black in a world where that wasn’t quite understood. But as I’ve grown and challenged myself to move out of the comfort zone that is NYC, I’ve learned that I possess a hunger. I used to always ask myself, “What are you hungry for, dear girl?” With confidence, I can now say travel. Traveling is one of those necessary things. I never got to travel much as a young person because of money. I still have no money, but I do have a lot more friends, the ability to drive and the will to make it happen. Living in other places, seeing how other people live and survive takes us to a place where the ego cannot thrive. It is wholly human. Whenever I talk to well-travelled people, there’s a wisdom present that is always so very gorgeous. I wouldn’t mind having some of that, but I also just want these eyes to feast on the possibilities. My world is not just America and the states I’ve been to.

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My generation is very unapologetic, we don’t adhere to respectability politics and we challenge the world and each other in new and calculated ways. This weekend, I realized just how much I challenge not just the status quo, but those around me. I realize how much love is elusive.

I continued to read Alice Walkers’, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.” Being in a different place, the midwest, and discovering stories of integration of the area from cousins’ experiences, I came to so many questions about my work as an activist. I came across one question this weekend of rebel vs. revolution that stuck. A rebel can be crushed as they are singular with views that can be silenced. Revolution involves more than one, thereby making it a movement. Which do I take on? How? Have you ever tried to predict the year ahead and failed drastically? We can’t predict life. The pitfalls, the highs, the curveballs. I feel different after this weekend. I feel more in tune with my ancestors. With time. With past, present, and future. The older I get, the more I’m finding that Family, Freeedom and Wanderlust feed my hunger and if I keep hunting for those, I may just get somewhere.

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To end this post is an Alice Walker quote from “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” that this blog was inspired by. Following the quote are Facebook statuses from the three reunion days.

Guided by my heritage of a love of beauty and a respect for strength- in search of my mother’s garden, I found my own. And perhaps in Africa over two hundred years ago, there was just such a mother, perhaps she painted vivid and daring decorations in oranges and yellows and greens on the walls of her hut; perhaps she sang- in a voice like Roberta Flack’s- sweetly over the compounds of her village; perhaps she wove the most stunning mats or told the most ingenious stories of all the village storytellers. Perhaps she was herself a poet- though only her daughters name is signed to the poems that we know.

-Alice Walker

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