reflections on south africa, part 2

i have been sitting with this post, wanting and needing to write it out, and also needing to reflect on the impact of the last portion of the trip, which was all about looking deeply into the race hatred and suffering of south africa. the last few days of our journey through southern africa were all spent in joburg. i had taken in a lot of metaphorical sugar – beauty, beaches, elephants and gorgeous space – in order to have the capacity to swallow the biggest pill: the history and legacy of apartheid, and what it looks like today.

it’s not that it wasn’t everywhere. apartheid was, and it is. there is a simple blue uniform that signified a safety to white people during apartheid – ‘i am here to work for you’. it is still worn by many black workers today as they crowd into vans to venture to work, often in the gated communities of owning class whites who got wealthy off the land resources. in nearly every venue we entered, save for fro lounge and afrikan freedom station, the owners were white, the servers were black.

seeing it everywhere was one thing. studying it was another. as a whole, modern and well-documented system of horrors, apartheid is utterly overwhelming to take in. it absolutely evokes the same disgust and exhaustion with humanity that i experience when tuning into slavery, holocausts and genocides, sex crimes, abuse of children, industrial complexes, capitalism. it is true, it is possible, it is present – it is NEVER in the past, it is always moving, finding new front lines, changing scale and shade. it is ever so complex, but it is also like the nothing in the never ending story – we keep making the case for our extinction. this means that work that ‘respirits’ us, gives us any sense of future and hope, is incredibly radical. more on that later.

over the course of three days, my partner and i went to museum africa, the workers museum, the alexandra and soweto townships, the apartheid museum, the hector pieterson museum, and mandela’s home.

all of it was important.

the most impactful museums for me were the workers museum and hector pieterson, mostly because they each honed in on one devastating aspect of apartheid. the single story lens made it possible to see apartheid intimately. the workers museum used to be a ‘hostel’ for workers coming to mine gold and other precious resources up out of the earth. it is a preserved space that feels like a prison where the bars are made out of debt. solid and wooden bunk beds intact so you can feel the tiny space workers were given to hold their whole lives, the open lavatory and shower rooms, the room where workers were chained up overnight for breaking one of the many many rules designed to control their eating, drinking, cleanliness, work.

i laid on one of the uncomfortable bunks and tried to imagine having all my earthly belongings in the bed with me, living under rules put in place by a people who loathed and feared me. i stood in the lock-up room and wondered how these workers stayed sane, if they did so, if it was even appropriate to be sane in such an environment. i thought of our modern prison systems with their cells and solitary confinement rooms, and how our capacity to do that to other humans instead of treatment and transformative justice is such evidence that we continue to not know how to be on earth together.

the hector pieterson museum, in the heart of soweto, looks at apartheid through the story of a boy murdered as a bystander at a protest. halfway through the museum, they artfully unveil that you are looking at the site of the crime. they have stunning footage of life in the soweto township where the mandelas lived, and where hector’s life was taken. in the footage of weddings, people dancing, working, playing, looking fly, cooking, protesting, caring for and loving each other, i recognized faces and feelings of loved ones in the u.s. – there was something so universal in those captured time traveling people on the screen, about the ways we continue to practice love and celebration and ritual in the face of oppression and fear.

a friend’s aunt offered to drive us to alexandra, the largest slum i have ever entered. i have a few pictures of the place – i felt both a desire to share the experience with the people in my life who don’t have the same access to travel that i do, and the desire to respect the people i was interacting with not as subjects but as humans. so there are images, but the things which moved me most i couldn’t take pictures of – my eyes were blurred with emotion. my eyes were constantly on the children. my eyes couldn’t look away or make sense of what they saw. everywhere were children the age of my nephew, five, three, eight, walking the streets with independence, confidence, playfulness, swag. we came upon three children no older than six sifting through a huge garbage outside a rat infested police station. when the children saw us they wiggled, danced, smiled. they were being children. as we pulled away they were climbing back into the garbage. these are children i cannot fully comprehend or explain myself to. same planet. roughly everything else is different. what could i say, offer or receive other than the smiles? i didn’t come for charity or to change anything, i came to listen and learn. i still, at this moment, can’t quite tell you the mixture of feelings evoked by their circumstance and their energy – khalil gibran speaks of ‘the pain of too much tenderness’, and those words kind of get within the feeling.

the woman showing us around told us to keep our devices out of sight cause they’d get snatched in a minute, told us how the government keeps trying to get rid of these slums, building houses and moving people in, but they come back home. they sell the houses the government gives them, and they return to these shacks with walls of aluminum siding, car doors, sheets, run through with sagging and elicit power lines that electrocute babies who haven’t learned yet not to touch, marked with rivulets of human waste. she couldn’t understand why, said it felt like they did it to spite the government.

i doubt i understand why either. but there were a lot of heads held high in those streets. i noticed a distinction between the townships and the city, the gated communities – in the townships i saw black people offering clear direct eye contact, curiosity, overt assessment. i felt the presence of an immense culture truly unknown to me, and recognized a lot of hustle and surviving and intimacy. i saw black people not in service, at least for the moment. the power dynamics were liquid, we were visitors of unknown but obvious privilege in a territory that had it’s own rules and systems and didn’t need anything from us, but who could make brilliant use of anything and everything we had.

the staying in soweto and alexandra made me think of three periods in my life.

the first was when i lived in an illegal ‘studio’ apartment in brooklyn, basically a bedroom in a family home with no stove and a shared bathoom, walls ceiling and floor the thinnest barriers to the battles and sicknesses and sex and lives of other humans. i felt so proud of that space because it was my own, i felt proud of how i made it in that city where there were so many of us navigating each other, living up on each other. to this day when i speak of the space available in detroit to my new york family, i often see the look come over their faces that shows how, in some unspeakable way, they love the press of new york subway/apartment/sidewalk life. the eyes of community.

the next period was full of ruckus action camps in the woods. one camp in particular found all of us in tents sinking into the mud in southern minnesota while cold rain flooded the campsite every day. there was no liquor available for miles. we cursed a lot, laughed a lot, spent a lot of time sitting around the campfire saying warm things to each other, grateful for the hot coffee and rare moments of sunshine.

the third period has been these last few years in detroit. people still look at me with incredulity when i say i chose to move here and have stayed in large part because of the people. in spite of the material hardships and in spite of the fact that as i get older, my recluse tendencies get stronger and stronger, i meditate more and seek out company less. still i love the people here, the efforts here, the stories here fill up page after page of my writing. i love how it feels in detroit, the kind of quiet that comes from having abundant physical space, enough to grow food or get lost in. and yes, i am curious about the dignity of surviving against great odds – does it actually make for a more interesting life? more wisdom? more connection?

in all of these spaces, and in the study of apartheid overall, i was/am aware of the privilege of privacy and comfort, in contrast to the ways that a lack of privacy is often a measure of oppression. i was/am convinced i need those things – but can’t deny it can feel ok to give it up – at least temporarily, of my own volition – for the beauty and safety of co-surviving in community. in a way it’s some of my hardest work, navigating between my love of being alone and quiet in a lot of space and my love of living with other humans, learning to be part of networks of resources, of abundance that is possible because it is shared.

i am trying to experience more reality and less romanticization, really sitting with how shared suffering can both strengthen and wear down the bonds between humans.

on one of our last nights there, lynnee and i got to speak at the afrikan freedom station. she spoke about the migration of house music from the u.s. to south africa during apartheid and her deep curiosity about the whys and hows of that migration, which is so much about the ways we generate diasporic beauty and celebration and joy and love as our most radical output at crucial moments in african/black history. run to see her speak on this if she is ever discussing it near you.

i spoke about octavia butler and emergent strategy. and i had a lot of questions – primarily, what is the next vision for liberation in this post-apartheid moment? one answer that came from the room was that this was the last generation to be born into apartheid, that there is a work of story telling and legacy holding now. chills came over my body at this. i felt the weight of a ghost, the ghost of a system, a system that iterates itself throughout the economy even as it fades from the laws and street signs.

i saw so many similarities, and so many differences in the history and economy of south africa and the u.s….capitalism and greed and slavery, yes. a need to walk with the legacies of the land we are in because the legacies are still living and holding invisible boundaries in place. but also, the differences – home of the cradle of humanity, south africa is a country where the oppressed people are both the majority and indigenous people. what is possible when people are on land that they know the story of, know they came from, have a narrative inside of that predates violence?

and what does that imply for black americans – how many generations must pass before we feel at home enough to not only hold political positional power, identify who is to blame for our condition and make demands? when will we be able to feed detroit, end the slave system of prisons and free mumia, get r. kelly et all on a mental health plan, and/or stop white washing our hair and skin and culture? how many generations before i can learn to drive stick shift in any city in south africa and never be on a road named smuts or botha?

as usual i have more questions than answers. but i know there is a connection worth all of my curiosity between the babies playing in the garbage in soweto as winter crystalizes bodies in detroit.

on being invisible in the airport

we had all missed our connecting flights due a delayed inspection crew in detroit, so the crowd coming off the plane in salt lake city was grumpy, and american about it. pushing each other with forearms, just a step more ‘accidental’ than elbows, racing past wheelchair bound and elderly passengers, upstreaming the hotel shuttles.

the delta help area was a wreckage of human kindness and human waste. i was waiting in line for a man who looked like half of siegfried and roy, shellac hair fanning up and away from his head, something akin to alien ears, bulbous nose. he looked at me a few times while helping the previous customer. when that person turned away to elbow over to the hotel shuttle, a tall white man stepped around me to sir bulbous. and they started talking about mr tall’s situation.

i knew immediately what had happened. i dropped my bag and screamed out, ‘HELP!! HELP ME – CAN ANYONE OUT THERE HEAR ME?!?!?! I’VE GONE INVISIBLE, HELP HELP HELP ME!!!!!’

as dr suess would say:
‘here
i fear
i cannot be

here
my dear
they can’t see me!’

sir bulbous and mr tall looked at me in shock. mr tall said, ‘ma’am you are not invisible, please calm down!’
‘i’m…i’m not invisible?’
‘no ma’am, not at all.’
‘so you saw me standing here?’
‘yes, i saw you there and see you there.’
‘and you just walked in front of me?’

‘…’

‘somehow that’s worse.’

just kidding. it went more like this:

they started talking about mr tall’s situation.

i stepped between them, emboldened by my leather jacket with fringe on it. in that second of tight sausage sandwich awkwardness that results from thickness stepping between two much taller men, i thought i might not survive this stunt. the men stepped apart.

‘are y’all lovers?’

mr tall and sir bulbous looked at me incredulously and scoffed. ‘we’ve never met!’

‘so you aren’t long lost family? or returning soldiers who were POWs together somewhere? you aren’t from the same kickball team?’

giving me the official you-are-an-irrational-woman look, mr tall side eyes me, ‘we just said we just met.’

‘well i’m just saying that y’all being family, or lovers, or soldiers, or being from the same victorious kickball team, those are about the only reasons you could justifiably cut me in line right now.’

a woman behind me said oh snap, and literally snapped her fingers. i turned with her and we sashayed away, dropping mics all around us.

no really, really it was more like,

me: ‘he cut me!’
mr tall: ‘i did not.’
me, barely audible: ‘grumble…america…grumble grumble patriarchy asshole grumble grumble.’
me centering, extending compassion at these two assholes, thinking of them as kids. me holding my ground.

finally sir bulbous, with the tolerating-an-irrational-woman look, mr tall sucking his teeth and rolling his neck in the background: ‘sorry ma’am how can i help you?’

the end. really.

way of the healthy nomad

i mean nomad here in the sense of one who travels for food, or to make a living, and one who is home in the journey. i am noticing the things which help me stay healthy and grounded while spending the majority of my life traveling.

leave no trace behind – beyond joy.

…unless i find a place i want to return to. mark it with a pair of sweatpants or a beloved book.

then, let go of attachment to materials and plans. i am this journey.

remember the sacred space is inside – it is my body, and it is worn on my face.

that said, a little bag of items that feel grounding can’t hurt. currently mine holds a bunch of gifts including a tiny ganesha statue for removing obstacles, zen tarot cards, a stick of palo santo to clear bad energy when i am in a new space, and a print up of my favorite sutra, which i am making into a song to remember. i add my mala when they come off my wrists each night, like they are getting recharged.

the most important resource i carry is water. keep water carrier full and flowing. immerse myself in water wherever i find it, remember its all of one place, one system.

pack based on weather, such that i can layer up and down and still look fly. know exactly where along the journey i will clean my clothing. fabulous minimalism = happy style. very few people look cute with too much baggage.

the right piece of cloth can be blanket, scarf, coat, hair wrap, baby carrier and decoration. it should be beautiful.

learn practices to center and strengthen myself. practices to do anytime, anywhere. meditation, prayer, yoga, aikido, etc have all persisted for a reason.

gather up instances of kindness, always notice when a human is being with me.

cultivate compassion, there are so many mysteries.

eat what i am given enthusiastically, with gratitude. carry fruit to avoid desperation.

articulate what i need shamelessly, with self-love.

a walk tunes me into the pace of the place where i have landed.

delays are opportunities to create and reflect. or write. or meditate. or discover new music. or catch up with my loves angelina and beyonce. or chat with my many collaborators in the life. or call my mama.

and if in all of this i feel homesick, if i feel lost, if i am exhausted, ear plugs and a good book can still transport me wherever and whenever i need to go.

—-

p.s. my homey leah wrote a piece on travel tips for folks who are chronically ill – check it here!

i know i been changed (travel reflections)

Revolution begins with the self, in the self. It may be lonely. Certainly painful. It’ll take time. We’ve got time. That of course is an unpopular utterance these days. We’d better take the time to fashion revolutionary selves, revolutionary lives, revolutionary relationships. If your house ain’t in order, you ain’t in order. It is so much easier to be out there than right here. The revolution ain’t out there. Yet. But it is here.
~ Toni Cade Bambara

“On the Issue of Roles” in The Black Woman Anthology (pp. 133-135) (thanks janine for sending me this on time!)

i love time.

if there is a constant in this world, something that i feel deeply grateful for on a regular basis, it’s the passage of time and the capacity to see it passing, and see my self changing.

i am home after another week with the babies. i have technically been home 4 days this year. i have felt home every single day though, in montreal, ny, cali, denver, new orleans, dc, and of course that little house in the woods in central minnesota.

i have been so at home out in the woods with the babies, feeling the beautiful ease with which they give me their trust and their rage and their vulnerability – it’s creating in me a really tender different way of being present, with my body and my creativity and my patience. they have such unabashed longing to know and control and destroy and create. it is deeply inspiring to see the level of human emotion that we all learn to manage, for better or for worse.

home with them means waking up to wet diapers and toilet lessons, breakfast, starting fires, playing, cleaning, negotiating, reading, planning adventures and surprises and treats, holding and bouncing and rocking and dancing and feeling both my limitations and my unconditionality and then falling into bed at the end of the day exhausted and delighted with life.

i have been at home in long late night talks with some of my oldest friends, and with new friends, all of whom are intentionally caring about me and moving closer in my life.

i find i need each interaction i am having right now. i am learning that the quality of my presence shapes whether something useful happens in exchange for my attention. this lesson is emerging from work i am doing on my relationship with mortality…in the meantime i am growing my commitment to wasting none of my life and energy.

i have been at home holding space for black women’s reproductive justice with someone nearly twice my age; we recognized each other as kindred. homecoming can happen between two people, in groups, regardless of all the history or distance between us.

i have been coming home to forgiveness, of myself and others. i am cultivating the level of forgiveness that allows closed doors to meld into the wall of memory, allows new openings and possibilities to emerge. i am balancing light that nourishes when it falls on the truth, darkness that is fecund instead of concealing.

time is everything in the work of forgiveness. intentional days matter. and years matter. and then decades matter.

now i find i am different than i thought i was. i am not sure if this is actually change, or just radical remembering. fortunately the effect is so magnificent that i am not sure it matters, the distinction.

i am remembering how to soften my edges enough to move against a tantrum and bring solace, to be in a moment without trying to narrate it, to be honest about how i feel in the moment, to be with people, including – especially – my family. to be WITH as my whole self, the responsibility of all i am in any given room.

i am coming home to feeling my beauty, my spirit and my health in my body…whoo child. i promise to only use my powers for good.

i am lit up by the small miraculous experiences i am having, remembering how to be important to one person at a time, as opposed to feeling i should be important to many.

and of course i have been at home in rooms that were equal mixes of beloveds and strangers, smiling at each other, intoxicated by the erotic scent of brilliance that octavia butler has left all over our lives.

an email from jeff perlstein led to an event in oakland, and now it feels like some awesome octavia butler and emergent strategy world tour with new orleans, dc and minneapolis already touched.

the events have been SO different – in oakland it was a revival. in new orleans it was a close sweet circle of people at the neighborhood story project, really longing for time to read and think together. in dc, at bread for the city, it was more quiet, with reflection on what it means to be radical in that city of extremes. there, a homeless man brought the current apocalyptic parallel universe into the room with us along with a set of challenges on how to hold cross-class conversations that shift us away from charity and towards power in the face of actual hunger and need.

in minneapolis we were in moon palace, a bookstore opened four months ago that quickly filled up with parents and their babies, including my nephew and nieces, who provided the energetic and musical background to our conversation – i got to watch the way parents can be present with two things at once in a way that doesn’t feel diminishing, but is a skill of loving people who need you for their safety.

i am hoping these conversations spark lots of reading of octavia butler’s work intentionally, politically. and that a lot more cities want to have events – in the next few months i’ll be in new york, new mexico, buffalo, back in oakland and minnesota, and of course home in detroit. hint hint.

it feels like i’m home from an accidental second sabbatical, this one focused on connecting with friends, family and soulmates as deeply as last year was about connecting deeply with myself. each of these people and places are growing the pattern of my life, scaling up as i step into myself.

and of course there’s been a soundtrack:
– kendrick lamar
– bruno mars
– ellie goulding – ‘anything could happen’
– rihanna – ‘diamonds’
– kimbra
– miguel
– martha wainwright

and of course audre lourde on the uses of the erotic (listen and let your life be different):

and of course stevie nicks reminding me it’s all good, it’s my wild heart.

and kimbra has been singing me through the journey, over and over again, ‘home is here.’

not all love is requited…

yesterday was full of intersection. i spent the morning wrapping up facilitation of a circle of black women focused on black reproductive justice. i spent the afternoon in the company of my friend and her 1-year-old, a precious baby black girl from new orleans. in the evening, i watched the oscars with my twitter feed open.

and i can’t help but feel it’s all connected somehow.

because what does it mean to be 1 in new orleans now, and be a black girl – when you can call a real live gifted little black girl from the south a cunt as a joke in public?

because that black baby starlet was in a movie that swirls around in the actual climate crisis truth of what it means to live in this region at this time (where when it rains i feel an undercurrent of…terror? memory? foreshadow?).

because i sat in the room with all these women talking about how far we still need to go to transform reproductive health for black women and girls. because of rape and sterilization and shackles and domestic violence and population control and poverty and the other ways we get hurt. and when they wept i felt them unleashing a hurricane like wood releases the sun. such pain, how can we use it for anything but room to build – build joy, build pleasure, build the power of belonging to no one.

because i am getting used to seeing kerry washington cry for white men, and she still has a dignity, she is so fierce to me. is that acting?

because so recently, in this region, you could put a black woman in a hole in the dirt, and no one would come in blue satin and save her. and part of me needed to see someone show up once, even with all that pale ego behind it. because part of me suspects you can still put us in a hole, as long as you put in our babies and lovers too, or as long as you put a whole city in.

because i am working to transform myself, but i can’t ignore the hole black women are in, if i look at us mathematically. which i tend to check into around this time of year.

because if you look at us mathematically you might see why we want to protect our little girls.

because we want them to be held, to grow up and win oscars and sing louder than anyone else at the oscars, and be beamed in to the oscars from the white house, and then we want so many more radical things.

because i want to see more black everything – days of the year, and faces while driving around this city, and honored on the screen. it is hard coming out of a loving black space and seeing how unseen we can be.

because you know it’s not like i expect much, and i think i have a sense of humor (i don’t get mad about most pothead white dude humor), but 900 people reposted or favorited a sentence calling a 9-year-old black girl that.

because i want to invite quvenzhane to come over into the circle of black women i was co-holding for the past few days and get to soak up how brilliant she is, how people are rooting for her life and her health, not her fame. and rihanna, and jhud, and shirley, and kerry, and halle – and salma too.

because black women are coming together to ‘conscious study how to be tender until it becomes a habit, because what was native has been stolen from us, the love of black women for each other.’ (audre lourde)

because i woke from a dream where someone on the internet wished me dead and wondered if that was a cultural or racial dream, maybe for all women. maybe a dream for a species. i started thinking about what becomes acceptable if we let people go too far without an apology. we become jokes – domestic violence survivor jokes to open the night, genital jokes to close it.

because we have to see when someone doesn’t have the capacity to do better, and have the compassion not to depend on them for our liberation.

because look how much i love hollywood, i love the movies and tv shows and the glamour and fashion, and the photo spreads and red carpets. i go see everything, i notice, i just want to enjoy it, i just want to love it.

because not all love is requited, and what gets us through the heartbreak of being black girls in this country is loving ourselves more tenderly, and comprehensively, and unabashedly. and then continuing to create our own stories, visions, writers, directors, executive producers, academies, networks, foundations, communities and definitions to honor our uncompromised and non-monolithic brilliance.

sometimes it takes years: travel journal nyc

i came of age in new york. i think places really shape us – i came here as a teenager to go to school and ended up staying for a decade.

i remember strutting around, ‘dressed’, walking the length of the city as an afternoon’s entertainment. here i learned fashion is a liberating force, and food has a hierarchy that had nothing to do with how a place looks, and i learned how to party and what to read. i grew up moving a lot, so i loved that this city felt larger than american, that i could lose myself in neighborhoods that felt like i had transcended borders.

yet by the time i left i felt like i had been worn down, that the city was always sweeping past me, pushing me aside, hurting people i loved, abundantly unjust, offering both too much and too little to sustain me.

being here during 9/11 was traumatizing in ways i didn’t understand, and i couldn’t shake the feeling when everyone else seemed to be moving on. when my life in the city felt too dark, busy and lonely i packed up what could fit in a rental minivan and drove to california and sunshine.

when i would visit these past six – nearly seven – years, from cali and then from detroit, i would spend much of the time in a crochety complaining place. ‘there’s too many people, too much energy, they closed my favorite this and moved my favorite that, and barclay what?, and new tower huh?’, and so on. i only came because people i loved were committed to being here for some reason, even though i explained over and over that california was sunny and detroit more affordable.

this time, though…this time i felt that original tingle, i felt the generative spark of nyc, and the style inspiration and the independence amongst millions.

this time i spent several days in harlem, and i thought:

oh i don’t want this blackness to end
harlem to the horizon
in four directions, in seven
til we remember
we are already whole

years ago, harlem gave me a first taste of what i have come to love in detroit: self-aware blackness.

i was staying just off 125th street and walking to the national black theater each day past the familiar smells and sounds of black space – isley brothers, michael jackson, public enemy, offers to braid my hair, opinions on my appearance, frankincense, egyptian musk.

i ate, slept and worked in harlem and was reminded of that aspect of new york, where you can live in a particular borough or neighborhood and be somewhat unaware of the rest of the city. the sub-island of harlem is invigorating.

getting to work for soffiyah elijah and the correctional association just blew me away. they are doing incredible and brave and meticulous work with currently and formerly incarcerated people, including a collaboration with an old columbia colleague, bryonn bain, of lyrics from lockdown at the national black theater. that space is living history! getting to facilitate there was inspiring, and i hope to be back.

when my work in harlem was done i went to the russian baths on 10th, for women’s day. as always, i wanted to be a skilled photographer allowed to capture this sort of stranger intimacy. there is so much beauty in watching women care for themselves and each other.

i had a special moment there, i saw a woman who had a similar shape and color to me, and literally gasped at how beautiful she looked in the steam in her nakedness. there is a fine line between ego and healing self-love, and i’m on it…but this felt so reaffirming – i wanted to applaud her hips and her belly. something about the experience made me blush, but we ended up speaking of it, of our beauty, and it was good.

i haven’t found places quite like the baths in the other u.s. cities i frequent, so remarkably unbougie. it feels more like the hammam i go to in paris, very old and singularly focused.

i saw some music in the city, including a piece by a new friend, nico muhly, which was inspiring and interesting. it was classical music played by this group ymusic ensemble which is working to take classical music into nontraditional spaces – they were lovely. nico has an opera opening in october which i am committing to return for.

my balancing of old friends and new isn’t quite perfect, but it’s getting better – i saw lots of evans and sofia, shane, adriana, tanji, idelisse, inca, jen, a quick taste of dream and nina, nico, natasha, sam, and reconnected with monifa.

each time i come to nyc the dance card is full, but this feels like a good problem now.

i made my way to brooklyn, generally my borough of choice. my friends have migrated as neighborhoods gentrify, and its hard not to experience microshocks to see my old neighborhoods of ft. green and bedstuy these days. some of my favorite places are closed…but there’s this app called seamless that unveils a plethora of new places…change, change, change.

for instance tonight there are so many options. one is to see karma mayet johnson singing songs from indigo. i got to see this show a couple years ago and it was stunning and powerful – a slave era lesbian love story with time travel and gorgeous music. her voice is honey.

there’s also an astrea foundation night of performances featuring the divine imani uzuri, whose album gypsy diaries was one of the best of the year, and firebrand poet staceyann chin.

if you are in ny you should definitely be at one of these events tonight. and maybe hit up freedom party after. after my big fall in december i needed to actually get walking shoes to be here – it would be nice to see if they are dancing shoes as well.

we’ll see – i have to pack, and see a few more people, and am already feeling quite satiated and delighted by this trip. i am realizing that when i came before i was trying to resist that this place which shaped so much of who i am had changed, was changing.

but in these past few years i have begun to learn, just begun, that change is a sacred and constant force. partially this is from my octavia butler scholarship, partially from grief and loss and heartbreak getting somewhat normalized, and partially from seeing all the opportunities and blessings flowing into my life as i loosen my resistance, lean into the changes.

i don’t think i will live here again anytime soon, detroit still suits my pace and titillates my movement dreaming self more than any other place. but i feel at peace on these streets again, and excited to visit often.

if octavia was right that change is god, i’m sure god keeps a residence in nyc.