Wondering how to start this blog entry – with so much to spout about; writing the date alone solved that minor problem. August 22nd. On this day in 1970, I was 19. I stood and said I do; That I would love, honor, and obey, the 29 (30 in September), year old man I was standing beside in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Catholic Church in Southampton, NY. There were six or seven bridesmaids in yellow summery dresses and wide-brim straw hats standing behind me as I stood beside my groom in a long, white fitted sheath I designed myself.
Needless to say, after a few years of loving , honoring and obeying, I left!
But, CHUTZPAH! Sure, I had that at 19. Truth be told, it was the best option I could think of at the time to give me a home and a sense of family. I dressed it up to look like a fairytale love story. My father had died a year earlier and my mother five years before that. To say I was lost at sea, what is that term? Out to sail without a rudder? Is that it; would’ve been correct. My high school grades were all over the place. I was terrified of the whole college application process and would’ve been clueless as to how to go about it. But not so with my sweet, Nubia, who’s just completed her first week of freshmen orientation at Yale University.
This gorgeous smile belongs to Nubia, whom I met when she was 13. She is sensitive, shy, fierce and brilliant. She would’ve been the first African American, female, valedictorian of her high school if it hadn’t have been for the B she got in P.E. in 9th grade. This was due to constantly being late because she didn’t want to change in front of the other girls in the locker room because she was living in a car with her mom in the 9th grade and didn’t have clean under things all the time. This is the only non A she received during her entire 4 years of high school no matter where or how she lived. When her mentor approached her high school principal about changing the B due to the circumstances of her life during the 9th grade, she was told by the principal, that if she changed the grade for Nubia, she’d have to change it for far too many with the same story.
If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a nation to support one through the high school and college process.
Friends of mine who know of Nubia and her story, from living in a Jeep to receiving a full ride for all 4 years at Yale, have congratulated me. Have said I must feel so proud, or said how wonderful for me. The truth is, there is an amazing, totally different joy that comes with knowing you’ve had a positive effect on someone’s life. I believe that is what we are all here to do. Or at least I am. And to be living what one is here to do, causes a massive heat rush emanating from ones heart through the entire body. I can’t explain it but it fills your every corner, there’s not an empty spot in the house.
Working with teenage girls in the foster care system has seriously been, “no skin off my nose.” On the contrary, it has taught me, and given back to me much more than I have given it. It breaks my heart that those Nigerian school girls are still out there, in God knows what condition. Sending Nubia off to Yale, knowing she will use every new door that will be opening for her to make this world better, helps mend it.
It’s wild out there folks!
Getting a girl an education these days is a costly, and life-threatening venture. But it is the venture that could save the planet. Seriously, read your Nicholas Kristoff and Thomas Friedman, read all the others who’ve written about it far better than me.
BUT FIRST… Please read what Nubia wrote in writing workshop with me when she was 14:
The scariest heart I know is my own.
It’s filled with loss, with memories of a past
life, one that all fell apart. I can smell the
cigarette smoke wafting through the air, and
my father is talking to me, a puff of smoke
blowing from his mouth. I can smell food
cooking, the sounds of my mother cooking
dinner: the water running from the faucet,
the clang of he pot and spoon, the sizzle.
Back then everything was constant; it was as
if nothing could change.
But then everything did. And slowly,
slowly the heart grew numb. How could it
not? There’s only so much a person can take.
I think back on those last days when I was
still with my mother. I hear the sounds of
passing cars, feel the warmth of the sun on
Whenever I see a homeless person, I can relate to them;
I know what it’s like not
knowing where you’ll be the next day, not
knowing what will happen next. When I see a
jeep, my mind goes back to that same
summer when a Black Jeep Grand Cherokee
was what we called home. I can still hear the
rumble of the engine, feel the wind against
my face, as if I’m still in the passenger seat
next to my mom in that car with our
belongings piled high in the trunk and back
seat. The heart felt loss, it was numb.
But eventually that heart began to heal,
though the memories still stayed; they could
never be erased. They just became one with
that hurt, a small dark patch in a patchwork
of colors. The scariest heart I know is my own.
This morning during a meeting about foster care, a woman I respect a lot, both for her being-ness and her degrees, said to me “I’ve been thinking about this for so long, but the best I can think of is if we all, all of us, treated each other and all of each other’s children, the way we want to be treated and the way we want our children to be treated, how different it would all be?”
I’m still thinking about that one.
Sharing and Caring about two important links:
This next link is from my friend Marilyn’s extremely talented, daughter,Zoe; a young entrepreneur who’s eager and willing to change your look and outlook by helping you create or update your style. FOR FREE! https://keatonrow.com/zoeportanova
That wraps up all the sharing, caring and what we’re wearing for now!
Oh wait! Another good share, Naomi Fertitta’s book , In The Spirit Of Harlem
Now, I’m sending love XXXX AS