Two weeks ago I ventured out to the east coast for a well-deserved vacation. Traveling to New York City and DC in just eight days, I visited notable museums, award-winning restaurants, and had an excellent time with friends who lived in both cities. In DC, I was privileged to see the art of Lalla Essaydi, a Moroccan artist who centers on womanhood and who troubles the West’s view of the East, within the Smithsonian’s African Art Museum. An enormous exhibit, I found myself dwelling on each of her works because of the power each contained (and I plan to blog about this soon). In NYC, I rubbed shoulders with Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Keith Haring at the MOMA. I was in awe of how so much art that I had only read about was in one, beautiful location. The Studio Museum in Harlem greeted me proudly with the African-American flag and did not disappoint me – a scholar passionate about black art. In both NYC and DC, I shopped, sipped, and shook my thang. Calories of no concern, I enjoyed perfectly-sweet cupcakes from Crumbs, Indian cuisine from Rasika, and Brazilian cocktails from Miss Favelas. I made new friends, including talented artists, social justice advocates, and students, and deepened old friendships. Did I have an unforgettable time on my trip? Yes. But was I heartbroken to leave either place? Not exactly.
You see, in the week that I’ve been back in the Twin Cities, the place I will always call home, I’ve had more precious moments than I can count. I went on a bike ride in the hot, summer sun followed by tasty, organic smoothies and a too-long game of dominoes on the lawn of a close friend. I returned to my apartment on Friday evening greeted by the sweet smell of burning lavender and three, beautiful women who shared prayers, spiritual wisdom, and backrubs with one another. I listened to the album of a local hip-hop artist, and friend, and was reminded of the enormous talent that resides here. I made and shared a make-shift, but tasty, meal with a soul sister. On Friday night, in extending my personal curfew one…two…three hours later than it should have been at Eat Street Social after a long, but enjoyable afternoon and evening of style and beauty, I connected with friends old and new. A taxi driver graciously helped me find my car one night simply because – thank you, Minnesota nice. I celebrated Bastille Day, not for the original meaning of that day, but because it’s a tradition with another good friend of mine; our scavenger hunt that we created over glasses of wine and laughter ultimately went uncharted, but creating it on a rooftop was the most fun anyway. Over the past eight days I’ve had more laughs, created more inside jokes, and shared more intimate moments than should be possible. In her song “Little Things,” India.Arie sings that she’s been around the whole world and “still ain’t seen nothin’ like my neighborhood.” That’s so real to me. So I’ll keep traveling. I may even live elsewhere again. I find it important to note that the friends I stayed with in New York City and DC were all originally from the Twin Cities. And, like me, I believe each of them shares a similar love for their roots in Minnesota.
I invite you to consider the following, this Monday afternoon: “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” Azar Nafisi shares these words and I encourage you to not wait until you leave your place, whether it’s Minneapolis, New York, or Rome, to reflect on who you are and who you are surrounded by. Don’t wait for that strange moment to remind you. I suppose what this all boils down to, is the timeless message to be here now.
Until soon, L.