Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Creemos

Due to a series of unfortunate events. I couldn't make it home this year for Christmas. That makes two in a row. And Mom let it be known...she's counting!

A few of my friends here in the L.A. area offered to bring me along to their respective gatherings. Each of which sounded intriguing in their own special way. However, I settled on spending the holiday with one of my bestest friends...Summer, who resides out in Ojai. The decision proved to be just what the doctor ordered.

I trained out to Ventura where she picked me up and escorted me to this quaint little area. It was night time when I arrived, but she let it be known that the surroundings were absolutely gorgeous. "Wait til you see this place in the morning," was a recurring theme.

As for Christmas Eve, it was so familiar that it felt like I was back in New York with my very own family. Mom wrapping last minute gifts. Egg Nog with your choice of liquor to choose from. Pumpkin bread was an added bonus. One I wouldn't have minded scooping up the recipe for and making a part of the Gary family tradition. But best of all was the conversations unfolding between all those present. More than anything our chit chats set the tone and confirmed the already obvious, that I was amidst good people.

And the good people only multiplied the next day. Not long after I rose, did the family start pouring in. Uncle's, Aunt's, cousins, Grandma! It was a scene I'd witnessed many a times before yet had it's own unique flavor to it on account of those in attendance.

As promised, the natural surroundings attested to beauty beyond words. Summer is an avid gardener. One who is constantly grabbing a flower, or random leaf and saying, "Smell this." Each time leaving me shaking my head in disbelief... 'How did you know that?" Strolling around the premises shed light on just where all of that natural appreciation and gardening ability came from. Her mom had the place decked out. Whether it be the actual plant life (cactus/cacti) or even the unprecedented placement of bowling balls throughout the garden, the whole place had a very zen feel to it.

And that was just the immediate surroundings. As my gaze zoomed outward, I took in the sights of nice sized mountain across the way, which inherently gave birth to the valley which lied between us. More than anything, it was the peace here that struck a chord.

I searched my memory in attempt to recall the last time I'd felt/experienced peace and quiet on this level and I was hard pressed to do so. It was so quiet I could hear the dog barking from across the valley. This alone shed layers of mental chatter and concrete jungle-isms that I was previously unaware of. And as my mind attempted to clear itself of the typical rants that had plagued it, I surrendered and simply basked in the presence of it all. Hurrying not, to speak, move or distract myself.

Eventually more humans arrived, and so began the dance that is Christmas. The gift exchange was not as pronounced as it is in our household, but it was really awesome to not only have a card to open from my "family" in Tokyo. But even have a gift complements of Summer's mom.

By early afternoon there were upwards of 30 people in the house, each weaving our way in and out of conversations, food and Spirits (of each kind.) It was a beautiful collection of souls. One in which seemed void of judgment or any of the family dramas that plague many a gatherings.

Prior to the guests arrival, there were at least 10 guitars in random locations throughout the house. A sight that seemed a bit excessive at 1st, yet sparked a degree of curiosity as I wondered, what in the world could someone do with ALL these guitars? The answer soon presented itself as the jam session of a lifetime commenced right before my eyes.

There were some truly talented musicians amongst us. Each of which graced us with a few tunes from within their arsenal. What amazed me was not only their musicianship, but also how well they fed off of each other. Although I 'dibble dabble' in the realm, I was a bit intimidated by the where-with-all they exemplified.

The most recent addition and pleasant surprise for all involved was the arrival of a couple of English girls who have their own band Athena. This was their 1st time being in the States for the holidays, and they lucked up and found this haven for musicians in which they fit right in. Their songs were moving and I had to make an extra effort to not appear too interested :) Cool may be the death of me!

As it turned out, they just happened to be staying in Hollywood, not far from my hotel. As fate would have it, I ended up riding back with them which gave us the perfect opportunity to reflect on the magic of the night. The people, the food, the feelings, it was all indicative of a great holiday experience. One that could never be duplicated.

So...I apologize Mom for not making it home. But please believe your boy was in good hands when it was all said and done.

Divinity continues to align with perfect timing and placement. Can't wait to see what comes next.


Monday, December 21, 2009

The (B)east Coast

After almost a year to the day, I find myself back in DC. And more importantly, back at my brother's place. Which for the 1st time in a long time gives me the sense of being HOME. It's been so long since I knew where the dishes were, where the snacks were, and how to work the remote control!! All these subtle simplicities create a momentum of appreciation for not only the surroundings, but above all, FAMILY.

To my surprise, upon arrival, my brother informed me he wouldn't be needing his car, so I could take it and do what I need to do. Oh what a difference a year makes. The last time I was around, he was protecting that ride with his every breath. You would too if you were pushing a BMW 645 Ci.

Needless to say, I was delighted to receive such an offer. Which led me to snatch up those keys and get out the door before he got a chance to reconsider!

DC on a whole really didn't feel so magical.(not that I expected it to) It was nice to stop by my old job and see a lot of the people and spirits I've missed. But the overall vibe wasn't one of "I've missed this so much." But rather a sense of, "Hey, what's up? Nice to see you again"..and that's about it.

The lone highlight came in the form of one Mia Jael Flemming. Born just 5 days before my arrival, it seemed rather fateful that I just happened to return in time to say a few silent prayers and extend Divine Light around My God Daughter! A title that was often given and taken away by her mother in the months prior to her arrival, whenever I got to acting a fool!! :) However, now that she's here, there's no turning back!

And she's a cutie for sure! And I say that reluctantly, because I'm not one to shower newborns with too much affection. When friends send those fresh outta the hospital pictures to everyone they know proclaiming, Malcolm Paul Little, 6 lbs, 8 ounces. And at least 10 of those people who have yet to discover the difference between reply to sender and reply to all write back.."Ooohhh..he's so cuuuuuute!" I'm like "Nah. Not really!" In my opinion, it usually takes a good month or so before that cuteness factor arrives. But perhaps I was a bit biased in her case. Regardless, she was great. Let me hold her with no crying. And that's about all a brute like me can ask for...ha haaaa!!!

From DC to upstate NY, my brother and I drove. Well..he drove.. I relaxed. The trip was a cool one. We dove into the depths of being bi-racial. And how distinctly different our set of challenges are from those of black or white people. My bro made the point that it is an injustice to attach the label of Black to President Obama because that is discrediting the uniqueness of his/our plight. He has learned a certain skill set as a result of being both black and white. And to simply group him into the sweeping generalization of being a black man is not only a mistake, but also an indication of how ignorant Americans' remain in terms of race relations.

This is an element I witnessed 1st hand, as numerous people asked me "Why do they keep calling him 'Black?" when I was in Japan. "Isn't he mixed?"

I'd roll my eyes and say..."Yeah, but in America (and seemingly only America) we're considered black."

It was almost comical to me at 1st but eventually educational to see outside of the American framework and realize many cultures on Earth recognize the distinction quite clearly. There was actually a time in Jamaica, where an elder (Black Woman) hollered out to my friend, from her porch "Who da white bwoy wit ya?"

I got offended as hell! And pleaded to my man..."Who's she calling white boy? Can't she see I'm black?" He gave me that nod like, Yeah..yeah..shut up for a minute, I'll explain later. :) Big deal at the time...hilarious now!

As for our family the spectrum could never be more evident. Although born unto the same parents. And brought up under as similar a conditions as one could conjure. You'd be surprised to see how distinctly different our personalities and tendencies are.

I'd be the 1st to tell you there is no such thing as acting Black or acting White. But I think we can all identify with certain qualities and modes of being which we'd usually attach to one race or the other. (gotta throw that disclaimer out there so folks know I "ain't ignorant!")

My brother admitted that he leans more toward the white side, while I seem to have more of a black disposition. An idea which was reiterated by a friend of mine here in L.A. who proclaimed despite his vast number of fully black acquaintances, "You the blackest friend I have!"

But ultimately, as a child I was never fully embraced by either. WE were always different. And often reminded of our difference from both sides. And that makes for a pretty lonely upbringing in terms of having a point of reference or role models.

But you better believe I studied my older brother's every move in hopes of gaining any insight on the path that lied ahead. A move that was often times beneficial.

Although I thought I may be ranting a bit, I just realized that all of these thoughts were a part of our conversation. Which was a doozy I promise you that.

Just to paint a picture for you non-New Yorkers who continue to hold the illusion that New York STATE is the same as New York CITY. It was a great surprise for me to see the Welcome to New York sign while still on the highway on this trip. See Route 15 has been a country road that takes you through small town after small town, offering litte more than gas and Dunkin Donuts at each stop. Yet somehow, someway, they managed to circumvent the villages and navigate the farmland without pissing off the cows in a fashion that kept us aboard the highway. A beautiful yet tragic accomplishment.

Beautiful for the obvious reasons of convenience. Yet tragic on account of remembering when they said, that was gonna be a 15 year project. Yikes. These days are mounting!

Not long after, we pulled up to Mom's place. A welcomed sight. But even greater... a welcomed FEELING! As these days turn to years and many of my priorities shift (drastically.) There is one that remains atop. And that's Mommy!! So good to be home!