Follow a young woman from D.C to Ghana on her journey of adventure, love, humor, sadness, and learning how to overcome life’s hurdles. Stay tuned, a new story will be posted each week.
Part 1: The Awakening
The summer of 21, I was a broke and aimless college student, squatting in my mother’s uptown rowhouse. Now before you get confused, know that I’m talking about the “other” Uptown. The off Georgia Avenue Uptown, the Uptown in the 4th district, the Uptown that your Grandma or your auntie lived in before prices got too high, and gentrification started to eat your city. I’m talking about the Uptown near KDY that had not yet caved in because of the cavernous hole that would start to develop when all the soul started to leave the city. I’m talking about pre gentrified Washington D.C, the one we all remember and somehow can’t seem to forget. This was the D.C I used to come home to. This is the D.C that will be forever apart if my heart, the one that showed a young empress love…no matter what.
This love would always prove valuable, considering the tumultuous flow of University life. Considering that I had found a summer job in Bmore and lost it in a week because I was late to orientation. I couldn’t find another one and finally resorted to just coming back home. I knew that I didn’t have the resources to feed myself. And the Bmore apartment I shared with one of my sister friends, was hot as all hell! not to mention our unpaid cable bill meant 90’s cartoon reruns……all summer. Nah, I wasn’t having it. Squatting and raiding at my momma’s house was the only way, and ya girl intended to survive the sweltering heat by any means necessary.
Temporarily settling back into my momma’s house was easy enough. I didn’t have good money like the summer before(shot outs to Marion Barry and D.C summer youth) but I was making a way, I could eat good, and even found ways to party like an animal until the wee hours of the morning, much to the chagrin of my mother, who believed I was living recklessly.
I would hit up the warehouse loft with my homeboy Danny on the weekends. Twirling my body under the sporadic lights and lasers, my soul would have the opportunity to get free, and my mind would be able to focus on something other than being broke.
When the party would end, I would find my way to the 70 bus and ride back up top, locks smelling like smoke, Chuck’s sticky on the bottom because of the dirty dance floor. I would watch the sun rise and pray that my momma was at her boyfriend’s house. I didn’t want her to witness my disorder, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was broke, but I was still freshly legal. The turn up was real.
It was one of these mornings that started the day that would ultimately change my life forever. With plans to go to the beach with my girls, I sluggishly forced myself to slide in the back of Keva’s Black convertible. Sleeping most of the way up, I would wake up every so often to take shots of hard lemonade and pulls of a flimsy Jay that predictably, kept going out. It was a chilly day for the beach, but we didn’t care. The summer was almost over, and this was our sole opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Of course my homegurl Stink, didn’t have her ID during this time, so 21 and up activities were out of the question. We didn’t care though, we would take what we could get.
Arriving at the beach while the sun was at its highest point, we splashed around in the water like little girls. Photo op ready, wild, carefree, it was refreshing to say the least, and ultimately cathartic for me. The steady flow of the waves had always brought me great peace; the ocean itself had always scared and excited me. Since I was young and had almost drowned in a family friend’s pool, I had never forgotten the mercy of the water, and how it spared me. I knew that she was ravenous, but essential. A mother with many different names. I had started to accept this energy as an ancient one. One with multiple origin stories, one whose journey parallels my ancestors journey, and as a result, mine too.
So used to being inland, the ocean was a much needed retreat for us that day. And when we were sated, we dragged our bodies out of the water and started to pack our belongings up. The sun had started to set, and we needed to hit the road. Shaking the tiny morsels of sand out of my hair, I felt a warm sensation on the back of my neck. It felt like someone was gently holding the area where my neck and shoulders met. Then all at once I felt something pulling me back to the shore, and the soft caress of a woman’s voice in my head. Spiritual, weird to some, always bordering dimensions because of the circumstances surrounding my birth, I listened.
The voice told me to go back down to the water and to wash my body. Leaving my homegurls to their chatter, I clumsily walked back to the ocean and slowly stepped into the water. Standing knee deep in the gentle tide, I dipped my body in the water once more. Cupping water in my hands, I closed my eyes and heard the woman’s voice say, “wash your hair.” Listening for reasons unknown to me, I begin to clean the sand out of my locks, and felt the strangest sensation come over me. It felt like a flower of energy had bloomed in my heart, and in that moment all I could hear was “Africa…Africa…Africa.” Opening my eyes and looking at the darkening sky, the ocean, and then the sky again,I thought to myself it must be my time to make that pilgrimage, but what does that mean? Africa is a continent, its huge! Born and raised by two pan African scholars, I knew this day would come. I knew that one day the motherland would call, and that the matriarch would change my life forever. What I didn’t know was to where it would call me. West, South? Perhaps the East, I really didn’t know.
“Don’t worry, just start” something said inside me. Turning my head, I saw that my friends were ready to go, and I was too. I needed to see what was on the other side of the Ocean. I needed to go home. I needed to go to Africa.
Riding back to D.C, I was wide awake. The thickness of the night surrounded me, and I felt like a new woman. I knew that my junior year(I was in that extended plan ya’ll) in college was going to be unique, I knew that it was time to stop Dilly dallying (as momma would say) and to get my ish together. I had to get to Africa! How? I wasn’t sure, but I knew that I would. I always get what I want, I’m an Aquarius.
Closing my eyes, I allowed the gentle movement of the car to rock me to sleep, It reminded me of the ocean. The mother from which I came. The mother I would follow…..back to Africa.
To be continued…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]