To New Beginnings…

I sit in the terminal at JFK International Airport, the heavy rain and gray skies reminding me of the city I’m returning to. But the gloomy weather isn’t enough to dampen my spirits. Indeed, as the events of the last five days play in my head, I’m overcome with a sense of tranquility and gratitude.

On Thursday October 19th I caught a red eye flight from Seattle to New York City. My significant other lives there and it was important for me to be there to celebrate his birthday with him. As I sang happy birthday with my best friend Raquel’s family before heading to SeaTac International Airport, it occurred to me that  some of the closest connections I’ve had are with Libras. Indeed, in a particularly fascinating quirk my significant other has the same birthday as my deceased mother.  I was excited to be able to celebrate this significant day with him.

After a six hour flight with an hour of turbulence that was so intense I thought I was going to meet my maker, I arrived safely in my destination. That hour of terror aside, I was pleased with my decision to just take a direct flight and a layover. When I got off the plane I was fully alert and ready to enjoy everything that the Big Apple had for me!

Aside from getting quality time with my baby and spending his birthday with him, this trip marked amilestone in our relationship: my introduction to his family. While I was nervous about it, my worries were totally unfounded! His mother and I hit it off instantly and naturally, and she spent hours filling me in on the history and connections of the family that I’ll eventually be a part of.

As Ms. Lulu shared stories of her childhood, my man’s upbringing and their life in Harlem, I was filled with an even deeper respect for her and admiration for the man she raised. When he was coming of age, it would have been easy for him to get caught up in the game. Harlem was one of many urban areas across the US that was hit hard by the crack epidemic, the flashy lifestyles of dope boys luring many a young man into drug dealing and crime.  There were relatives who were generations deep in it. But even with everything around him, my guy adhered to the teachings of his Mama and chose another route. That choice sealed his fate and spared him from the tragic ending that befell others. Mama instilled a deep sense of autonomy in him, imparting the faith that a new beginning was possible.

The idea of new beginnings was a recurring theme in my trip. From Ms. Lu’s stories to the extended family welcoming me and toasting to a new beginning, the spirit of renewal and change was in the air. The words “new beginning” are quite familiar for me, as they are both a part of the name of my church and a guiding element of my philosophy.  One of the saddest experiences of my life was a conversation with a loved one who didn’t believe it was possible, viewing flaws-in her case complete financial irresponsibility-as indelible parts of her character that could never be changed. I tried to reason with her but none of my words could penetrate her lack of faith in herself.

I resolved to never do the same, to always try and strive for improvement, and to believe that as long as there was breath in my body a new path was possible. Out of all I experienced during my trip, being surrounded by people who believe and exemplify this as well touched me the most.

At the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture earlier today

I’m still sitting in this terminal, my flight delayed due to high winds. Aside from my child, I’m not terribly excited to be returning to Seattle. For me it pales in comparison to New York both literally and figuratively. Yet I’m encouraged and grateful, for I know that when the time comes for me to permanently close the Seattle chapter of my life, I’ll already have a loving, warm, and wonderful family ready to receive me and rejoice in our new  beginning.

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