Jazz, Wine, and Poetry.
Medicine for the lonely at heart <3
Jazz, Wine, and Poetry.
Medicine for the lonely at heart <3
While getting of the train after an incredibly long day, I looked around my neighborhood and realized I loved it. People were on the street, the sun was low in the sky. Warm, more like an urban movie set. I was in my own world trying not to bump into anyone, when I noticed this nicely dressed Black man behind me. I try to hurry so that he doesn’t think that I’m slowing down to get his attention. This continues for a block or so. Eventually he comes beside me and say your hair is really pretty.
Now this really isn’t that big of a deal, but my springy nappy twist out was ecstatic. A return to the root of who we are perhaps?
Nappy and Proud
It has been close to a month since I’ve arrived from Ghana. Believe it or not it has taken me this long to understand what I had just experienced. When I first came back I felt very uncomfortable. As if I had just woken up from a dream about a utopian world of no pain or responsibilities. Disembarking the plane in D.C. was when I was greeted by reality and heartbreak.
So a month later, in my new Chicago apartment, I feel/believe/see the blessings in my life. Proud of the growth I’ve undergone as a person. Excited for what has yet to come. I recognize the love of family even if we don’t always understand each other. I’m aware of the importance of friends who are positive and dependable.
And in regards to the state of Black/African Americans (descendants of slavery) we truly have a long way to go. In a world that encourages the constant shedding of an ethnic identity, we are too often the first to do so. Having the opportunity to witness firsthand the slave castles and full proof evidence they took the best of best (because only the best would have been able to survive such a horrific passage) is a cry for help. How did such a strong people with an amazing song stray as far as we have?
Let us not forget but remember, and continue.
I think to travel the world is truly a skill. I’m not sure if I would ever be able to go from place to place with no emotions or feelings. I came to Ghana trying to discover what my mission in life is and learn to let go of the past. For the most part this mission has been accomplished.
The human error of my summer has been honesty. Not just on the part of others but perhaps myself as well. At times I have foolishly fought everything inside of me to have an experience that I believe I need or deserve. And in all cases the others involved prove to me why i should have let that one go. At my expense of course and often through lying.
My impatience has made me to rush into less than perfect relationships time and time again. I think I should learn to be patient or continue to be disappointed. Not in all aspects of my life, but some.
With one week to go I’m filled with so many mixed feelings. I’m excited to be connected with my family/close friends, to hug my mommy, to sleep with my cat, and eat cheese. But I’m devastated to leave all of the amazing people I have met here. The question now is how do I maintain this happiness and equilibrium when I return home? Yoga or meditation? Read the bible everyday? Sob while I look at pictures of Ghana? I’ll take the last option.
Without a doubt there has been some culture shock, but not nearly as much what I think will happen when I return. It’s all good though. My view of the world has changed greatly. I don’t always agree with how my proffessors teach but the wisdom they have shared has me all topsy turvy.
The people here, not just Ghanaians, but from all over are soo special. I hope I stay connected with them always.
Though I never like to admit it whenever anything crazy happens in my life my first instinct is to run. Though I hardly ever get the chance to do so. Coming to Ghana has revealed to me the surreal feeling of being abroad. No true connection to your home or responsibilities, just straight chilling. Like your on some reality tv show or something.
When I get bored or just want to make my life more interesting I act like the International Student Hostel is a season the real world. In all honesty they should make it one. I don’t want to be on it though.
Anyways back to my point, I’m starting a rainy month fund. A fund which will allow me to escape for a month when life just gets to become tooo much. Like that unbearable crying every day kind. Just so I can go, put my head back on straight and dance. For a month.
Today my social delivery systems class visited Kama pharmaceutical company. It was founded by a Ghanaian man who went to school in the U.S and brought his business back home. He is now providing pharmacies with medicine for a decent price and giving scholarships to needy individuals in rural villages. From the little time spent with him he appeared to be a lot of fun and genuine.
In the beginning of his presentation he went on about how Ghana was the most amazing place on earth that acted like a magnet for those who came to visit. His proof was a girl who came and fell in love. Refusing to return home until her parents and Universities called their lawyers and forced her return immediately. Only by force was she able to leave. I thought for a moment of the reaction of my family if I were to not board my flight next week. I have no idea what they would do. So, Mom if your reading this. I’m not coming home. I know this is slightly awkward for all involved.
Lol I wouldn’t dare. I’m totally kidding.(this is really the only way I communicate with anyone back home)
Any who so back to the guys presentation. There are these long chains of beads that women wear around their waists. He claimed that these beads were so amazing that they if put on a young girl she would grow up to have an S shaped body. A step further, the mere sound of the jingling beads would have men lining up. With no need for Viagara. Hhaha sooo uncomfortable.
I bought a pack of ten.
Okay I’m done
As soon as women can truly come together and stop selling each other out for the fleeting attention of men, there will be no more need for feminism. The men will know whats up.
I’m gonna try something new and give a rundown of my night out. As usual I’m such a weirdo about everything in life. Blowing the world out of proportion. Last night the plan was for us to go to Champs, this restaurant/bar place to sing karaoke. At first I was crazy into it, but then I realized that its a place for tourist and mostly serves an older white crowd. My thought was, why would I pay 10 cedi to hang out with a group of ppl that I don’t even at home?
After mad fussing, and a promise that we would go somewhere else I get ready and we all headed out to leave. The tactics people use to get me to do things is unbelievable. As we walk out the door, comes the announcement that we are actually going because everyone will be there. Poor Zion, she puts up with so much from me. I pouted the entire walk across the field, not having it, only to get into the cab.
I must have a horrible gage (or however you spell it) of how nights will go because it actually ended up being sooo much fun. With the lights turned down low and decent music playing the place sort of transformed. I really like to dance and more specifically alone. I kept doing that annoying tossing of the hair thing because I didn’t have a hair tie. Being so dramatic I scratched a layer of skin on my forehead off. Very unattractive.
The first things most of the girls noticed when we came was the way men and women interacted. Well more importantly how men pursued us foreigners. Aggressively but a little sweeter than in the U.S. A smile and a million follow up questions about what we were doing here. The entire time hand in hand or on the shoulder. Some type of touching is involved. As opposed to the “Baby, how you doing can I get yo number?”
Last week when the girls and I went to Ethiopian food we talked about how the Ghanaian men were raising the standard for the rest and how we should be treated in the states. At first I agreed wholeheartedly! Here I was a beautiful queen greeting her subjects each day with a sly smile. At home I was the brown thick girl. Not easily able to separate lust from love. Eventually I realized its the same story just wrapped a little differently. During the past week we traveled up north. The first day one of the girls was groped at the waterfall. Three days later my friend and I were in the middle of a market. Out in the open in front of everyone. Where is the standard?
Yesterday one of the guys that always make me laugh with his crazy antics (such as the claim that he saw me walk off the bus the first day and knew instantly I had good vibes) had a very interesting book on his bed. The gynecological guide to women. I doubt it told him to fill out an application for my heart but he is doing it anyway. I just wonder where men learned to do/say such ridiculous things. And why did we start believing and liking the mess? My real questions is what do I think is the proper way to court a women?
Whatever it is, men don’t understand.
Time and time again the world proves me wrong. The queen of drastic decisions, I jump to conclusions constantly in order to protect myself. Foolishly believing I’m a step ahead, instead of the self-fulfilling prophecy I truly am. As of now I’m attempting to seek the best in people.
Dramatic as this may sound, coming to Ghana with 30 other strangers to stay and live with for six weeks has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had thus far. Those who know me know that underneath my constantly smiling face and friendly demeanor is one that is very suspicious of the motives of others. Trust issues that go beyond making friends but even at times people in authority. Rooting from my the occasionally horrible experience in high school I adopted an unrealistic me against the world attitude. Blaming of course everyone else for not recognizing the gem within myself.
Ghana has taught me otherwise. Letting me know that I’m not as fierce as I pretend to be. I want to open up giving everyone a fair chance. Not judging them on past experience of those who have wronged me. In the same breath I have come to terms with everything that has happened thus far in my life. Forgiving those who hurt me beyond words, at times literally taking away my spirit.
The day we drove to Cape Cost I prayed the entire time. Asking God to speak through the ancestors and lead me in my path. As weird as this may sound to some, I felt it was one of the first things I needed to do in the country of my origin. A sort of paying of homage to those who died and survived the horrific journey of the middle passage. I think they told me to let it all go. Leave the pain and take the lesson learned. No longer is my burden to carry the emotional pain/suffering of those before me or even in my walk. But to instead allow god to smile through me. And I’m doing just that.
I hope that from now on, in all that I do I offer the best of me. Not the battered, scorned or bitter. The best of me, the cream of crop ensuring that there is nothing left to winds of shoulda coulda woulda. The best of me.
Last Thursday I went to this club Aphrodisiac. It was much nicer than a lot of the clubs in Chicago. The dance floor was freezing, which was good because you know a girl was working up a sweat dancing. Beautiful people were everywhere, towering above me in their stiletto heels. In my black/white sundress and embellished sandals I was beyond under dressed. I don’t know how/why they let me in. But of course you know a girl got it like that ;)
My friend and I danced all night long. I think my moves made up for the fact that I looked crazy. On Saturday the group went to Ada beach which was also a lot of fun. We took a boat down the river. Joe kept teasing us that we were going to where the ocean and river met. When we did that in Papua New Guinea it was horrific. Thank god it was a joke.
Last night me and a few of the other Black American girls went to eat Ethiopian food, which was also amazing. I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating everything but I’m on sensory overload. I really enjoyed eating from one plate. Made me feel a certain kind of way ;)
This weekend we are traveling around Ghana. Pray for safe travels.
More to come
There is this little spot I like to go to. Sort of like a cafe, it mostly serves breakfast food. They have an amazing iced coffee that reminds me of the coffee milk my Granny used to make me. Often I will go by myself, attempting to blend in and perpetrate like I’m Ghanaian. Everyone knows what I really am though.
This morning, a man came and sat next to me. The first thing that he said was, “Black American, am I right?”. Since I cant speak twi without an accent I had to admit. We began talking and he told me a little about himself; Ashanti, a law student, used to be in the seminary, and wanted to marry a Black American. The last bit was a shocker. I asked him why, and he said our complexion was a beautiful mix of the races. White and Black coming together, Beyonce was proof of this.
The idea that we are a mixed race is one that for many Americans is foreign. We usually see ourselves as just black, nothing but a color. After first coming to Ghana this stuck with me even more though it eventually went away. Where do I fit in the world? Can I really be classified as African without any designation of a country, ethnic group, or language? But what does America even mean? And after years of being here, I highly doubt that my people have finally completely assimilated. Why aren’t we considered a separate ethnic group with our own culture, music, food, and language? For once can we make claim to the contributions we have made to American society? Jazz anyone?
We are the original tragic mixed race. Created through hate and oppression we have still been able to overcome it all. The problem now is that we have forgotten where we came from in our attempt to assimilate. We have let so many of our children follow false prophets and worldly idols. Since being here I have prayed for answers about my next move. I’m trying to free people that don’t even know they are imprisoned.
Since being in Ghana every once and awhile I stop and pause. Thinking am I really here? Sort of like the boy when he came home from the dentist, is this real life?
I lived my existence in the anticipation of the next move. Not really enjoying any moment. Right before I came here I learned the beginning steps of loving where you are. Here its as if the lesson has been learned. Initially I was nervous and hoped for the six weeks to go by as fast as possible.
This past Sunday I went to an open mic with a friend from USAC. It truly was out of this world, like a romanticized scene in a movie. Outside on a stage with a colorful mural as a background for the poets. The audience sat on lawn chairs on the grass. The live music was the icing on the cake. As the sounds lulled me into a state of consciousness I don’t often visit, I found out what it meant to be content. I am 100% okay with staying in Ghana for the next 4 1/2 weeks.
As if that wasn’t enough last night a group of us went to celebrate a friends birthday at midnight. Reggae on the beach was the only thing worthy enough to do. I swear these are the types of experiences that I have dreamed of since I was little. Picture this: a huge stage on the beach with a live band, a cleared area of sand for dancing, and off to the side, chairs/tables for those drinking under the midnight sky. The atmosphere was amazing. Cool air breezed through my long twists as I twirled around and around. In my own world.
Of course there were it set backs. The more than a little to aggressive men. Some of which who are old Rastafarians. One who followed me around until I had my guy friend attempt to put him in his place. Leading to an even more intense argument. As the night progressed I learned to dip and dive, not staying in one place so as not to invite unwanted attention. After, the birthday boy and I played in the waves. Getting just close enough for it to touch our ankles. Occasionally there was the large waves that wet the bottom of my purple dress that went just below the knee. We laughed all the while.
I hope that I remember every part of this trip. It just keeps getting better and better. The only thing I wish is that I could share it with my close family and friends.
Life is good.
So easy is it to become caught up in the daily paper chase. Easily do we lose ourselves, our responsibilities and duties when we place the meaning of who we are as an individual in material possessions. What happens when the battery dies? Or water spills on the touch screen making it unusable? The value of what we spent months saving up for instantly depletes, faster than a new car after driving off the lot.
And who/what is to blame for our insatiable need for materials? Who knows but since its advent arguably millions of lives have been destroyed. We no longer are content with our current existence, instead we are stuck in a constant state of fulfilling a certain image. And not one that will better the world, but one that we read about in a magazine. In six months time we will have to upgrade ourselves.
I’m not against any one, I’m just trying to find myself and life mission in a foreign country away from those who know me best. I figure now is the best time for such an endeavor. Without judgment of those who know my past ways. The slave castles at Cape Coast really did it for me. Walking through the musty dungeons and seeing the walls scratched by the shackles of my ancestors. Scared in the rank darkness that consumed them. At times sitting in a foot of their own human feces. Even in the fear of the unknown and promise of death a few attempted freedom.That truly did it for me.
That night we danced on a beach with a bonfire. Playing limbo with fellow Americans. Teaching the Ghanain girls our games. Laughing and smiling all the while. So easy was it to put the slave castles in a different part of our minds. Away from anything that we would want to think about on a regular basis. As of now, I think about it quite often. How close the beach that we swam in was to the water many Africans felt better to sacrifice themselves to, then go with the strange white men.
What is becoming quite clear to me is that nothing in this world is cut clear and dry. There is no such thing as black and white in any situation. Those who were once my enemies and nothing else may have a new role. Those who I was sure were my friends may not be.
Pray for me and my journey.
1) Washing Machines: Yesterday I washed my clothes with cold water in a bucket, a sink, and by hand. Seems easy. I used the sun to dry them. Unfortunately it doesn’t shine on all of my balcony. Making some of my clothes mildew. Sort of like the shorts that I have on now. Leaving a slightly sour smell. Lesson learned.
2) Hot Water: Each night I take a cold shower. Not by choice. I turn the hot water knob but cold comes out. Though it is refreshing for the first 30 seconds I eventually want hot water. However its not necessary either way I’m getting clean.
3)Refrigerators: The water from the faucets are cold, the kind in bottles are hot. Every time I buy a liter of water I know that I only have an hour until it will go back to being room temperature if I’m lucky. Once again no matter the temperature it gives my body nourishment.
4)Fast Internet: At home I just switch on my computer, upload ten different web pages and I’m good. Here I pray that if I give each five minutes to load that they will function properly. (lets hope it lets me upload this post)
5) Food: No matter where I have been in the states I can always find something that to eat. Never is food an issue. If I cant buy it then i will try and cook it. Here is a different story. Stuck in my spoiled ways I am hesitant to try new things. Though I”m realizing that i cant eat fried rice and vitamins for the next five weeks and will probably have to add fried fish. Lol just kidding.
6)Cell Phones: being the cheap skate that I am, I did not think it necessary to buy a cell phone. Not talking to my mom every five minutes its difficult on its own. Add trying to connect with Ghanains and schedule lunch with friends. Nearly the most frustrating/liberating experience ever.
7) Transportation: I have never owned a car in my life. But my parents do and in Chicago i just walk or take public transportation. Here I am at the mercy of taxi drivers with fluctating (yet reasonable) rates, Tro-tros (private vans that make certain stops around the city) and walking in the sun that leaves me shiny with sweat. Ha I better get skinny!
This is truly the life, no pun intended ;)