"You look the way you do because you're special
Not the short bus way, I mean that God's gonna test you
And all of this pain is training for the day when you
will have to lead with the gift God gave to you
Grown folks don't see it but the babies do
And there's a chance that you can save a few"
And time would prove that, [s]he started my movement
[S]he didn't tell me to take it - [s]he told me to use it
-Brother Ali, "Picket Fence"
Phone calls, emails and text messages flooded in after the last blog post. Many people had no idea my mom was sick. Professional mentors were worried about me. Friends thought I had gone over the deep end.
After the words escaped my fingers, hit the screen, and were permanently christened by the "send" button, I felt a sense of relief and peace that I hadn't since I started the shop. There's a lot of pressure, sometimes it makes you crack, and sometimes you just let a little vent open and the steam comes out and the pressure lessons.
Let me clarify something.
I do care, deeply and passionately, about my longarm service and about my entire shop. Remnants is not shutting down and I am not moving back to California. In fact, I am here in the shop as we speak, an hour early to work for once. I am sending emails to magazines and haunting my friend Tula with emails and tweets. I'm steadfastly planning our next fun event, and trying to get my classes filled.
This trip back home changed me permanently. I got a chance to look my past in the face and blow it a kiss goodbye. I had been haunted by all the things that make me human- mistakes I made, people I hurt and people who hurt me. I got a chance to redeem myself. I didn't speak to my sister for almost seven years, and in this trip, not only did I say I was sorry, but I had the time of my life with her! God forgives. That's all I can testify to at this point.
In times of tragedy and triumph I turn to the music that raised me. By chance I was cruising Facebook yesterday and Sage Francis's good friend and fellow rapper Brother Ali was doing a press appearance at Waterloo Records. He spit a few raps and told a bunch of really funny stories about Sage, Atmosphere, touring and how much he loves Austin.
I happened to be standing almost directly in front of him. Thruout his performance he looked me in the eye when he was spitting his rhymes. I have never made connection with any one of my mentors/idols in that way before. He looked not just at me, but thru me, deep into my soul.
Maybe he could tell that I desperately needed to tell him something, and that I felt like even though there were hundreds of people inside Waterloo he was speaking directly to me (and Mike) and nobody else.
After the show- 3 songs, all new ones- he stepped off the makeshift stage and was about to walk to a table to do a signing. I had already closed the shop down at 3:30 that day and I knew I should probably go back to the shop and finish quilting. But I felt compelled to speak to Ali. So I grabbed his arm and I said "Ali I need to tell you something."
He turned around and pierced my soul with his icy blue eyes. His snow white eyelashes fluttered and my heart skipped a beat, but I didn't stumble over my words. I told him, Ali, I've been waiting eight years to tell you thank you for writing "Picket Fence", because it's gotten me thru every tragedy and loss and pain in my heart. I'm overcome with emotion to tell you this.....thank you.
He looked at me and I knew he could feel my heart pouring out of my mouth, tears in my eyes, just wanting to show him that I too feel the connection with God and that I also feel a responsibility for social change. He told me that he was overcome with the same emotion when he wrote the song, and maybe I'm narcissistic but I think I touched him too by the sincerity and the passion by which I spoke to him about his music.
Brother Ali is a white albino who grew up in the slums of Minneapolis, tortured by the perfect pearl skinned suburban children that bullied him because of his unusual absence of color. He turned to hip hop at an early age and overcame his own demons to rise above and become one of hip hop's most critically acclaimed. I may not be albino, but I can certainly understand how it feels to be living in a world that doesn't welcome you with open arms.
Ali, if you stumble upon this, I meant what I said and I want to send you a quilt-the offer has no expiration date.
Quilters, I'm letting you know right now- I'm back, and I'm better than ever. I'm filled with peace and joy. I'm no longer angry or insecure about that I'm doing or where I'm going. I'm ready for whatever God places in my path, and I'm grateful for every message you have sent me thru this catastrophic time. I'm grateful for your support, both financial and emotional. I'm grateful for the lessons I've learned and what I know not to do as much as what I know TO do. I'm grateful that you have chosen Remnants as your full service modern quilting source, and I will continue to expand so that I can provide you with more.