I write this blog on July 20th, a day of infamy for my family and me as this day - in 1994 - is the day that my mother died. I plan to choose something other than sadness as a feeling today, but naturally, I can't help but channel what that day looked like; felt like; was like. I remember when the call came from my brother, alerting me he had found her breathless and that they had rushed her to the hospital. I remember having to call my sister to tell her that we needed to get it together and get on the road for a four-hour ride from Atlanta to Savannah inside of this emergency. I remember as my sister and I made it to her home in Lithonia (so she could quickly pack a bag before we got on the road), her husband Vincent and best friend Jackie coming to the car (from which I refused to move as I wanted us to get on the road as soon as possible... and hold on --- strangely --- to the possibility that Mom would be okay). From outside the car, Vincent and Jackie both were telling me to unlock the door and come in (because - though they didn't say it - it was too late). I recall reluctantly surrendering to the inevitable and agreeing to go inside my sister's home --- boxing my hand into the wall of the building structure in the stairway leading to her apartment because somehow I knew that it was too late (and once I walked into my sister's place, her shrieks and cries corroborated my worst fears). Fast forward five or so hours, I recall awaking from a grief-stricken sleep in the back of my sister's car (as her husband drove us into Savannah) and hearing The Commodores' "Jesus Is Love" playing on the radio (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7WW9uLKr0E)... and somehow feeling as protected and loved as I felt sad and victimized in the lyrics and melody of this song. My life would be forever changed and I cry today for what that loss continues to be. But I'm wiping the tears away as a smile creeps through to what GOOD THE PAST WAS... but most importantly to what TODAY is and will be as I navigate through it.
Truth be told, I have been waxing nostalgic all week long as TV-ONE (www.tvoneonline.com/) aired "ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATIONS" - the mini-series/saga that continues the story of the family of Alex Haley from the time of Reconstruction to Haley learning about his family history and tracing it back to Africa. (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roots:_The_Next_Generations) In addition to being moved by the telling, I was enamored of the star-studded cast - from Beah Richards to Diahann Carroll to Irene Cara to Dorian Harewood to Kim Fields. All my favorites from the '70s found their way into this mega-serial of such a compelling and heart-warming story of a family's resillience, one that I'm sure is echoed throughout the respective family trees of our own clans out there. Ruby Dee portrays Alex Haley's paternal grandmother QUEEN, which is the name of my mother (QUEEN ELIZABETH BELLINGER) and - as we should all know - just after Alex Haley died, his book on her story was released in 1993 (followed by a mini-series starring Halle Berry in the role). (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen:_The_Story_of_an_American_Family). I know many of us have seen "ROOTS" many times (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roots_(mini-series))). For those who have seen its sequel before (likely only once), I recommend revisiting it as I truly re-discovered many things around HISTORY and POP CULTURE as I enjoyed this piece.
Speaking of ROOTS and how important it is that we pay homage, Anthony and I went to support our Tata, whose man Jules Sawadogo, presented his collection of artwork for the first time at the The New York Art Festival (www.nyartfestival.com). The theme of the collection was inspired by his home land of Burkina Faso, West Africa (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burkina_Faso). The New York Art Festival is sponsored by The New York International Independent Film & Video, that supports independent artist, in the Genre of Art, Film and Entertainment. The club Pacha was the location (www.pachanyc.com/). Jules just glowed as our friends, members of their respective families, and other attendees enjoyed his first public showing of his work. I am so proud of Jules and Tata inside of the stand for her man. She takes care all of the business. CONGRATS to you both! Anthony and I also had the opportunity to meet some great guys at the after-party, including a very handsome model/actor DA-DA who is one to watch. His childhood friends from Long Island joined him for the party. One of them, DJ LYVE and I, had a long conversation about what he does (as a DJ) and what he wants to do to expand on his brand (www.djlyve.com). More on these guys another time.
The night prior, Anthony and I went to TRACE Magazine's party: BLACK GIRLS RULE (www.trace212.com/). Though I had RSVP'd, there seemed to be a challenge at the door. Fortunately, my friends Karu (AOL/BLACK VOICES) and Kevin-Anthony (Black 2: Broadway fame) made sure those in charge knew that I needed to be on the other side of the VELVET ROPE. THANKS GUYS. As paying it forward goes, I made sure TONYA MILLER (www.hangtagsforhumanity.com) got in with her escort as - like me - she was having a challenge at the door. (By the way, Tonya graciously sent me the pix that she took of us at the BLEU PROM last month. We had a great time!!!). Once we walked in, all was well and it was great to see the mix of old friends and new, including Iman's hairstylist Q, who said some kind words to Anthony and me as he religiously reads "A DAY IN THE LIFE OF RILEY". THANKS Q!!! He did Iman's hair for the evening and though she was leaving as we arrived, I could see fabulous hair floating pass me into a limo. Q also introduced me to one of Diddy's "glam squad" folks Vincent Oquendo (www.vmoquendo.com) - my Georgia homeboy (He's from Columbus. I'm from Savannah). He is such a warm spirit. Wanna make sure I shout him out.
Oh! And by the way, Anthony and I did go to TWEETY's hip hop dance class at Alvin Ailey Dance Company (www.alvinailey.org). And what can I say???? I still HAVE IT!!!!!! LMAO!!!!!!! It was quite the sweaty work-out, but as Beyonce says in "Get Me Bodied", "... a little sweat ain't never hurt nobody...". We learned a routine that we played with a little bit on the dancefloors of our respective outings. I'm still feeling that class in my thighs today... and think I'm gonna go back very soon. THANKS TWEETY!!!!
What else? I'm a little scattered in my telling today... sorry! But there's lots to CELEBRATE on the MOMENTUM tip (www.momentumeducation.com). Anthony just graduated LEADERSHIP - LT 35!!!!! He is a RESPONSIBLE, AUTHENTIC, and COURAGEOUS LEADER and LOVER! I am SO PROUD of HIM!!!! And our dear friends Camille and Mario have graduated the BASIC. CAMILLE is CREATIVE, LOVING, and POWERFUL... and I know this work will help her access that in a way that will take her life (and the world) to the next LEVEL.
MARIO is ENROLLING, DRIVEN, and RISK-TAKING... and seeks some tools to have POWERFUL results show up in his career (and relationships). He's on his way... Just TESTIFYING a bit about this GIFT that's changed so many of our LIVES... for the BETTER! It's a GIFT for those of you still looking to explore your INFINITE POSSIBILITIES! EVERYBODY GETS TO GO!