It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down to write even though so many ideas have entered my mind since my last post. The summer is an insanely busy time for me and now that the kids are back in school and on a fairly normal schedule, I am able to take some time for myself. My four and a half year old’s latest obsession is the Disney film Tangled. She is a girly-girl and she loves all of the princesses, so that’s no shocker. I chose not to take her to the movies to see the film because I didn’t want her to become fascinated with long, blonde hair and turn against the beauty of her own. And at this young age it can be an easy blow to a brown kinky-haired girl’s self-esteem. However, after time had passed and she had joyously embraced her wavy brown double strand-twists and braids and provided us with numerous neck-jerking performances of “I love my hair”, I figured it was safe to let her venture into the world of Rapunzel. I have to admit that other than The Lion King, this is the only Disney movie that really touched me and almost brought me to tears. I think mostly because of all of the symbolism that I could so relate to in my life. She was trapped inside a tower for most of her life because she was taught to fear the unknown. Even though she made good use of her time there, and blossomed in her own way, she always felt a pull towards the light – specifically lanterns that she had a burning (forgive the pun) desire to see. She knew that there was a calling on her life just outside the castle, but she needed the right guide, and the witch, posed as her mother, was so afraid of losing Rapunzel and hence her own life, that she used fear to keep the princess within the walls of her domain. Once Rapunzel trusted her inner voice and ventured out, she found unconditional love and her true calling. What a great message for our children to receive.
I think it’s also why I’ve been thinking of my friend Beverly so much lately. She was a bright light that never had a chance to come into her own and I think her life also mirrored that of Rapunzel. She yearned to know what was behind those four walls and she got caught up in the glamour of the streets because she was still trying to find someone to love her without fear. Bev was my home girl from around the way. She lived on one end of the block and I on the other. It was a long block and I wasn’t even allowed to walk to the other end of the block when I was little because I was only allowed to go as far as my mom could yell for me. Most of the girls on the block didn’t like me or were jealous of me – I am not sure which was most true – because I stayed in the house, did my homework, minded my own business and they mistook my meekness for snobby and stuck-up. I can’t even remember the day that I met Bev, but I loved her for seeing past all of the rumors and assumptions and becoming friends with me because of what she saw in my heart. Bev was so much fun! She had the most beautiful smile and always found a reason to smile and could always make me laugh. I think she got such a thrill pulling me out of my comfort zone. I was such a goody-goody and she was the complete opposite – always on punishment for sneaking out to parties, bars and just plain never making curfew at night. Other than going to parties with my brother the DJ, I had no idea of what transpired outside of the the few blocks between 60th and Webster Street and Cobbs Creek Parkway. I was told that good girls didn’t do the things that Bev did, so until I met her, I didn’t. I had spent four years at a boarding school and never even tried to have sex with a boy because I knew my dad would kill me if I came home pregnant. I was so naive that I didn’t believe my mom when she told me that boys wanted to go all the way when they invited you to their house without their parents home.
Yet like Bev, I knew there was so much more to life and I wanted a taste of it. Her parents were strict Christians and I could always see an underlying war within her soul because of the household she lived in. I would meet her at her house and after we listened to the “sermon” from one of her parents or her sister and mother singing Gospel music, we would go up to her room and plan the escape route for the night. They figured that if she was with me, she wouldn’t get into trouble, but if they only knew! I just wished that she had not gotten all caught up in the illusion of love that awaited her in those dark bars, speak-easys, private male clubs and hotel rooms. She was so happy to introduce me to her friends and brag about where I went to school as if having a smart homie made her move up a notch and give her more street cred. I admit that I met some of the most notorious young gangsters, drug dealers and players in the area, but they were just men to me. Bev knew who they were and what they could do for her, and I was just along for the party. I didn’t do drugs and I knew when to put the drink down, so many a night I went home without Bev, because she didn’t. She got caught up in the fake love that she found late at night and in the drugs and wine that they were happy to offer her to keep her happy and performing as the life of the party. And she was. Bev could light up a room just by walking near it. She was destined for the stage, loved attention, loved to dance and sing and was ready and willing to try any new adventure. If she had not gotten tangled in her own search for unconditional love, she may have made it to the stage.
When I got the phone call a few years ago about my dear friend Bev’s passing, I was devastated. No one had even told me that she was in the hospital again and in such a critical state. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to the mother of my Goddaughter or even allow her to cry on my shoulder. All I could think about were the last few times I went to visit her to check up on her and I left each time feeling sad and powerless. The last time I saw Bev, the authorities had taken her children away from her, she was in kidney failure and even though she was supposed to be going to rehab, she told me that she just wanted to see what crack tasted like. That’s how powerful addiction is. It robs everything from you.
The next time I saw Bev, she was in a casket. Somehow, from the depth of my heavy heart, swollen with grief on the way to the funeral parlor, I wrote a poem for my girl Bev. I didn’t think I would even have the strength to read it but when they asked for comments, I felt compelled to share it. I don’t think I even saveds it because her son asked me if he could have it, but I remember the last line was “why didn’t you come my way Bev?”. Everyone thought that I would “rub off” on her, but when you’re caught up and it feels good to you, where else are you going to go? When you meet up with infatuation and it’s labeled love, why wouldn’t you want more and more? It was only through God’s grace and the fear of my father that I didn’t get tangled in that web of deceit. I searched for the light and I’m still captivated when I see the sun’s beauty and the bright moon at night. Bev never stayed still enough to allow these simple pleasures to consume her. If so, maybe she would have found true love within herself. Why didn’t you come my way Bev? I wish I could have saved you, but you didn’t love yourself enough to allow the unconditional love around you to brighten your soul. I love you for loving me unconditionally and miss you my friend. Rest in Peace Queen B!