The first time I decided to pick up and leave my life in search of something else, I was 19. I was in a dark and disenchanted place. Although I had an amazing job (making jewelry in this boutique of global treasures in Union Square) and rich friendships, I was a deep empath and I spent a lot of time with someone who was worn down by the burden of life. We also happened to share a room. After a few months, her lows became mine. I absorbed all of it. I had lost my will, or perhaps it was my reason to, live. Coupled with the bone chilling cold and the filthy patina of a New York City winter, any remnants of the joyous person I was had vanished (S.A.D. is real, ya'll). I had good days of course, there will always be good days, but as a whole I was a zombie on autopilot moving through my life. Something was hemorrhaging inside of me. I was shrouded in blood.
When my friend was back on her feet and in a better place, I, still in the haze of my Dark Night, decided I needed a drastic change. The day I locked it in and told my manager Joe I would be leaving the next month, I didn't know how it would change me but everything took shape. The transformation started immediately, filling my last days in New York with wonder. I developed soul friendships. I experienced life outside of my sheltered norm.
I got accepted to fashion school to study Textile Design in the Fall.
I met my best friend Getty the for the first time and just ended up staying at her house the whole weekend with our friend John, laughing, sharing music + films, and taking about what the months to come might bring.
Safia folded a miniature origami boat out of my tea bag remnants and it was a charm, an amulet of protection and light over the days that followed.
My last days in New York were my birthday and the following. It was 4/20 and though I didn't smoke, I joined some stoner friends in search of the perfect Weed Day adventure. We ended up in Central Park in a Fort made from a series of flower bushes planted in the most precise way that it formed a tent large enough for all 7 or so of us to fit inside and be concealed to anyone walking by, and tall enough for us to sit upright. To this day, I am still awed by the perfection of that memory/moment and the photos I took don't do it justice.
On my last day, a colorful elder artist from London who was a frequent customer at my job, invited me to her New York apartment by the river for tea and to go antiquing, which was the most perfect induction I could've ever received into my future membership in the Eccentric Woman Society. A gift to my spirit yearning for color, light. The assurance that my I can build my life in all the ways I imagine. I could also create the map with the examples I found around me. Her whole home was covered in treasures and art, her walls painted with vibrant hues of turquoise, scarlet and yellow. It was the last sight before I said good bye to this city that, though I had known it for the whole of my existence, revealed a few more it's secrets to me.
In truth, I needed magic. I needed to be disrupted. I needed to be afraid. There is no greater conduit of magic than the dark of the unknown. The resonance of the certain "Yes." Many thought leaders believe transformation lies in the decision. I began receiving all of the things I needed the moment I made the step towards them.
On the four and a half month trip that followed, I went on a date with a saxophonist in Wisconsin, made a soul sister over heart-to-hearts and tea. I bought a garbage bag full of incredible thrifted goods for under $20 in Illinois with my friend Chanel. I spent time with the most magical artist and mama, Nami, in her home filled with miniature dessert shrines and her paintings. I went to a night club probably walking 20 deep with international B-Boys and Girls while wearing rhinestones and purple lipstick.
I went strawberry picking in Logansville, Georgia with my Auntie Donna (before that, I had never known strawberries grew so low to the ground) and to Martin Luther Kings house with my Uncle Dale.
I met my birth father and two sisters for the first time in Texas. I cried and cried and cried for everything I had known and everyone I would become. I journaled almost every day. I went crabbing in the Sabine River in Louisiana with my cousin Herman. I lived in the South with my new grandmother and paternal family. I also faced many demons, wrote through it and learned lessons I still carry today.
I made a tearful return, shaved my head a second time and charged at my life with renewed vigor. The week I came back I sat on Erick's stoop in Flatbush with Camille and Meech and had one of the most magical New York summer nights of resonance and connection. I went back to school that Fall and went to the Women & Power Conference at Omega Institute where I met my friend Kalae on the bus back to the City. It really set the tone for the magic I experienced in the years to come. Picking up and leaving again two years later to go live in a tent in the woods at Omega for 5 months with Ninon and Aja. Even this present moment in my little apartment in Brooklyn, was only a dream I imagined for myself during those days of adventure and seeking.
A friend was talking to me about natural hair and she said I really started to grow when I embraced mine. Honestly, had nothing to do with the hair. It had everything to do with my having the audacity to dream. When I embraced life. When I took the risk of leaving it all behind (when I left my job, the owner said he loved me and I could always return. When I came back I was told he was upset that I left because it was an inconvenience having to train my replacement. Shits not going to be cute. Bridges may burn). I made difficult and uncomfortable decisions, usually abruptly and out of the blue, and my spirit accelerated rapidly each time to internalize the new life experience. Time away gives the mind the opportunity to refine what it is you want from this life. It adjusts the compass and gives clarity to your direction. One of the greatest gifts this world has to offer is the space between you and all you've ever known, and all you will learn before you return.