I literally just finished washing the remnants of my kenkey, shito and sardine dinner from my fingers and decided that instead of learning how to wine (my latest goal) I will crank out a blog post.
I have been on the road for 12 days and just arrived back in my apartment. I went from the Berkshires to Toronto to Rockville, MD, to Marriottsville, MD to Columbia, MD to Boston. I love traveling so it’s not a big deal but after 12 days I was ready to be in my own apartment and not living out of a suitcase. I arrived in Toronto two Thursdays ago intending to stay for 4 days and ended up staying for 7. I had been promising to visit my bff from middle and high school for years, ever since we’d both been in the North America. So I finally just packed up my car and headed up north. It took me about 8 hours to make the trip because of pit stops. Anyway, when I arrived I went straight to the hospital where my friend worked. We screamed and hugged for a while and then we went into the nurses break-room to catch up. We’d known each other almost 24 years; that’s a long time to know someone! I’ve lost touch with most of my elementary/high school friends and so it was a real treat to be with one of them. I’ve lost touch because of distance for some, and for others because we no longer have anything in common. But this one was different. We had been through SOME things and hadn’t had a chance to have a real tete-a-tete since we graduated high school in 1995. She also happens to be one of the few long-time friends to whom I am out.
Each night I was there was filled with activity. We went to bed after two am, almost every night. Clubbing one night, drum festival the next, a cameo at the Suya Spot in North York, and dinner at my cousins’. Even my last night saw me doing Azonto and Alkaida at the African Explosion a display of musical talent from all over Africa, sponsored by G98.7. I met some interesting artists. Fun times!
The one night we went clubbing was a refresher course in club politics. End result: I am getting too old to be partying with the kiddies. Almost every guy in there wanted to grind into your backside while you, the woman, wined your waist like you were made of rubber. Of course, I must confess that I fail in this department. My first U.S. boyfriend is from the Bahamas and he taught me, among other things, to wine my waist. However after years of not practicing, I don’t possess that skill any longer. So was there some jealousy? Maybe a tad bit. But as for the grinding, I think I’ve had enough to last a lifetime, especially since it involved grinding on strange men who felt they had a right to your body because you were in a club. After all, what’s a woman in a club there to do, right?!
The clubbing experience also gave me some other things to ponder. First of these was how gendered the space was. Men had to perform gender by grinding; women had to perform gender by wining. Of course, there were folks in between these poles but for the most part, the majority seemed to be performing prescribed gender roles. The space was also very heterosexual. The women generally danced with men. Those who didn’t, danced in little circles, around which stood men lined up, ready to disperse these circles whenever they had a chance. The women dancing in these groups were often grinding or play “whipping” each other. Thus turning the men on. Halfway through the night, a man whom I later found out was 20 asked if he could dance with me and when I said yes, he immediately spun me around so I was leaning against his dick. I released myself from his grip and turned back around. We kept playing this game for most of the night. Clubs seem to be where you went to get freaky and hopefully pick up a woman. I had two men ask if they could take me home after a couple dances. Really?! We took tons of pictures with silly poses, and it reminded me of my early days in the U.S. when I was fully ensconced in the Afro-Caribbean dance culture with tons of House Parties. My days of performing gender in a heterosexual way were so far away from the woman I was now. Overall though, I had a great time and it felt great to think I could party with the youngest of them all. My two friends and I were told we didn’t look a day over 25. Now that made my night!
In Toronto, I also met up with two cousins that I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting. We gelled instantly. Our mothers were delighted of course and said they were not surprised. I also acquired more nephews. This aunty gig might not be such a bad idea after all.
I headed to MD and it took me 12 hours to make the drive because I stopped for an hour in Niagara Falls (breathtaking doesn’t say much), stood in Border traffic for 45 minutes and stopped on several other occasions because the weather was quite intense with floods on some of the major freeways once I arrived in PA and MD. I also stopped at a Public Library in Ellicott City and ended up shopping from their paperback collection. It was a grueling trip, especially on my back. But I arrived in Rockville to my mom’s best friend, her daughter and husband, and their newborn. I was fed some amazing Jolloff Rice with grilled chicken. It was exactly what I needed after such a long day. I stayed up catching up with my aunt whom I hadn’t seen in a year and playing aunty again to my cousin’s newborn. I left them and went into my retreat with Catholic lbtqi women. It was a quiet weekend and my room faced the pond; the frogs sang me to sleep each night I was there. It was peaceful. When folks asked what kind of retreat I was attending, I said a Catholic women’s retreat, which was true, but more importantly it was a queer women’s retreat. In the moments leading up to it, I felt stifled because I couldn’t really come out about one of the key components of the retreat. I realized that it is becoming so much more difficult to hide. More on that later. It was a calm weekend. I got to do liturgical dance to my favorite piece of music: Great Is Your Mercy. It meant a lot to me because I haven’t danced in almost four years. Those of you who know me, know how much of an integral part liturgical dance played in my life for most of my formative years in the U.S. To not have danced in so long was difficult. I thank the women for embracing me and giving me the space to bring all of me.
I stopped by to visit a couple more aunts and a seminary friend before I made my way back to my palace. 😀 It was so great to be home.
I am off to NYC in a day, for the Interfaith Youth Core Leadership Institute with one of my students. I will fly out from there to Caribbean for seven weeks and I will spend the rest of my summer working on the memoir, cooking when I can and getting browner 😉
I’ll keep you posted.