Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Mile High Tales In this Big World

I'm in first class taking food orders and drinks and I see the name, "Mary Wilson," before I make eye contact with this person I say, "wow, you have the same name as Mary Wilson from the Supremes." I look up and see that it is indeed the legendary singer sitting pretty and elegantly dressed in black on her way home to Las Vegas.
Another time I'm standing at the bottom of the jetway awaiting a seat on the plane and at the top of the jetway I see the silhouette of a coke bottle figure, slightly bow-legged, and a little pigeon-toed heading my way. She gets closer and I see that it's Ms. Bey, the bootylicious queen herself clad in black spandex wearing the cutest gladiator sandals en route to New Orleans to perform at the Essence festival.
At the height of their career, KCi and JoJo sipped Courvoisier on a flight from Midland to Houston. The 90's group, "Sugar Ray," were on their way to El Paso when one of it's members decides to join the mile high club with a girl he just met on the flight.
Mike Tyson must've ate a whole cabbage because he had the whole first class lavoratory stinking like it. Although I've never attended her personally, I hear Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee can get a little stinky herself. I believed she was banned for a short time after flight attendants complained of her harassing them with her haughty demands.
Jazz vocalist, Al Jarreau has to be one of the sweetest guys. He and I talked about his upcoming show and he was gracious enough to autograph a CD for my father. Jermaine Jackson was cool even though he sat in a center seat in coach and had what seemed to be a million kids traveling with him.
Broadway actress, Bernadette Peters was sweet. Cornell West was engaged in a book about Antigone. Basketball Star Rashard Lewis and his homeboys must've partied all night because they slept the entire four-hour flight. But the most poignant and proudest moment to date for me when was I sat with George Mitchell, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. He had just gotten an award for his bravery and he was on his way home to San Diego. Mr. Mitchell was 83 years young, soft spoken, and a very proud dad. He carried a little brag book with him and inside were old pictures of himself and other airman from their WWII days. There was a picture of his wife, who was now deceased and a picture of his son, Tony award wining actor, Brian Stokes Mitchell. I could tell he was a very proud dad.
Celebrities, politicians, athletes, I've come across them all and I am remembered of the day I sat and talked to former NAACP Ceo, Kweisi Mfume. He had just left the funeral for James L. Byrd in Jasper, Texas. We talked about my travels and his travels and I told him that since I was a kid I had always dreamed of traveling the world. He said calmly, "It's a big world." To that I replied, "Yes, it is."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another snippet from "Spring Cleaning"

Just listening to the recorded conversations I had with my Instructor gives me a headache. Everything about him was big and loud. He had big hands with a tumor the size of a grape growing on one digit. He was articulate and you could tell he came from one of those families where both parents were educated and they associated with others of similar backgrounds. He graduated from Princeton and worked for a brief time on Wall Street. He moved to Los Angeles and started writing specs. He eventually sold a script enabling him to kick down a door and land him a job as a story editor for a short-lived sitcom. For fourteen years he wrote and sold scripts that never made it to production. Discouraged with the whole Hollywood scene, he packed up and moved back East. He got an idea for a story while sitting in the Barber’s chair listening to some guys reminisce about the year their high school’s football team captured the state title. What made the story even more dramatic was that the coach was African-American. The icing on the cake was that the coach won with an integrated football team, a feat unheard of in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

His script landed on the desk of one of the top producers in Hollywood who happened to love sports themed movies. Even with his backing the script appeared as though it wasn’t going anywhere. Hollywood studio heads only green light one inspirational story a year. They eventually got the movie into production and it became a hit, grossing over 100 million dollars at the box office. The message was its appeal. The script was compelling bringing even the President at the time to tears.

I look over my notes and try to make sense of his writing. He can’t understand his own cryptic markings yet he expects me to decipher them. I work until my words cross up and none of what I typed made sense.

My phone rings. It’s Jeremiah.

I answer by the third ring. “Hey you.” My computer clock reads 8:30 p.m.

“I was thinking about earlier today. I told my co-workers that I had a date with an angel.” Even over the phone I can sense he’s smiling.

“I was thinking about you too. I loaded the pictures on my computer. They look very nice.”

“I wish you were here right now.”

I wished I were there too, but not tonight.

“If I were there tell me what you would do?”

“You sure you want to go there with me?”

The ice has melted and the water is steaming.

“Let’s go there.”

“If you were here I’d take off your shoes and massage your feet.”

“Go on.”

“I’d massaged those beautiful calves of yours in a slow circular motion and work my way up to your thighs.”


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Unforgettable Events

There are some things in life that you just don't forget and surprisingly enough you remember exactly where you were and know exactly what you were doing.  Take Marvin Gaye's death, for example, it was April 1, 1984 and a bunch of our relatives came into town to visit.  We all gathered at my grandmother's house.  That night, the anchor on the 10 o'clock news announced, "Marvin Gaye dead at 44."  Both my parents were huge fans of his and I remember my dad playing his "Midnight Love," album and hearing Marvin sing those famous words, "wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, let's make love tonight."  Even as a 9 1/2 year old I understood the way Marvin died at the hands of his own father was tragic, and up to that point I never recalled anyone killing someone they supposedly love.
I remember the space shuttle challenger disaster.  I couldn't forget because it was the day after my great grandmother's passing.  I was in fifth grade and the news kept showing it going up and exploding right before my eyes.  There was a school teacher onboard and an African American astronaut named Ronald McNair.  JET magazine featured an article on the family and I recalled the caption reading, "Disaster while touching the face of  God."  He left behind a wife and two little children.  Subsequently, the death of my great grandmother shifted the family dynamics.  "Mama" as we affectionately called her was the glue that held everyone together.  When she died the family seemed to scatter apart, like pieces of a puzzle.  My great grandfather grieved himself to death.  He died the following year on the same day.
There are other events that I recall vividly like the death of JFK,  Jr.  My mom and I were sitting at a hotel in San Francisco and although it was in the middle of July, the temperature outside was cold enough to dun a wool coat.  When the tragic events of September 11 occurred, my plane had just landed in Houston from Cancun, Mexico.  The Captain called us via interphone to tell us that a plane had flown into the Twin towers and another plan had flown into the Pentagon.  When I arrived inside our crew room, all eyes were glued to the television screen and there was a hush inside the room and looks of sheer horror on the faces of the some of the flight attendants.  I remember driving home and hearing it on every station on the radio.  I remember seeing it on every channel on tv.  That event changed the scope of everything. The America as we once knew was heading in a different direction.
The election of the first black president was something I thought I'd never see in my lifetime.  But on the night of Nov. 4, 2008, my husband, my 6 month-old daughter and I watched a new chapter in history unfold.  The excitement, the euphoria, the adulation, the mania.  I didn't shed a tear but I felt vindicated for once and I realized that through God all things are possible.
I was combing my daughter's hair when I received this blow to the gut, "Michael Jackson has just been rushed to UCLA medical center after suffering a cardiac arrest."  When I heard the words, "cardiac arrest," I immediately thought of my 16 year-old cousin taking his last breath.  The doctor wrote cause of death, "cardiac arrest," which meant his heart stopped beating. I admit, I cried and my 13 month old daughter cried, mainly because I was crying.  I felt  hurt, like Michael never got the chance to redeem himself and prove to the world that he was not the "Jacko" they made him out to be.
All of the events run rampant through my mind and they all played a part in shaping me creatively.  I am more determined to get out and complete the task I've been designed to complete.  Tomorrow isn't promised.  My time under God is now.