The Blackest moment I’ve had all summer came not from rage but from #BlackJoy–for this, I am grateful. #Husbae and I were child-free all week courtesy of my parents giving Bean a Florida vacation. Winning! So we drove north of Atlanta to see a friend of ours who was in town and ended up laughing deep into the night.
I realized I don’t often write about my personal good times being Black and loved in Atlanta. Maybe I am protective of those who allow me to be myself in person so I can be myself online. My network of friends is a bit odd; we mostly hail from Florida and are all transplants to the Atlanta metro area. In our own ways we have all settled and are settling here. We have made each other family just as we have made Atlanta home.
My good friend Bee, whose home we visited, is a gardening guru. She’s planted everything from roses to bougainvillea to tomatoes and hot peppers. A Tiger Swallowtail butterfly flit around kissing flowers and flirting with the ladies. I like to call the backyard Narnia because it’s filled with hidden treasures and nooks to explore.
Summer gatherings are the best when they are impromptu, seducing you with the magic of serendipity. Four of us arrived almost at the same time on Saturday–around 5:00PM when the Georgia sun had not yet relented its blaze. I could still feel beads of sweat forming into a trickle at the juncture where my bra straps hooked. But Bee’s little backyard Narnia had plenty of natural shade. I sat in a barn-red metal chair and rocked a bit, chatted with the homie visiting from Abu Dhabi, sipped apple juice, snacked on sweet fried maduros and homemade boiled peanuts.
Bee brought over some crawfish and urged me to try it. Let me get one thing straight. I am a Florida girl, make no mistake, but I am not keen on eating animals with intact eyes. It’s…creepy. Despite being raised in Florida and born in Houston, I have previously avoided ever eating crawfish because I prefer my food to not stare back at me. Guilt-free eating and all that. But I tried crawfish this weekend, watching Bee shimmy the meat out of the tail and suck the juice from the head.
Yes, yes, I did just say suck the juice from the head. And because I am still 12, we all giggled at that obvious joke for far too long. I liked it, although the red pepper sauce was so spicy my new friend Lib thought she was having an allergic reaction to it. My lips tingled for an hour.
Bee’s husband, whom we affectionately call Shadow, decided to grill. Mind you, this was all impromptu. He grilled up salmon, chicken, and corn, threw in some King’s Hawaiian rolls, some Sam’s Club corn muffins, and chopped up an armful of watermelon into chunks.
He. Threw. Down. By the time we ate, the sun had waned a bit and a cool breeze wafted over us. Some of us were not well acquainted but laughed like bosom buddies. We munched on our food with the hum of crickets swelling in the background.
You cannot have an outdoor party without music. Shadow and Bee are Nigerian-American, so there was plenty of Afrobeat mixed in with dancehall, azonto, R&B/neo-soul, and hip-hop. There may have been some mock twerking. Blame it on the Hennessy and Pinot Noir? Blame it on the good company and good food. We played Taboo after 10 and realized nearly every “answer” for the descriptions on the card could well be “Vagina.”
We were all Black and enjoying it. Plenty of laughs to go around, but also introspective talk about how to equip ourselves and our children for a better future. We are teachers and travelers and writers and creatives. I love those conversations. But the very Blackest moment of the entire perfect night? It wasn’t the red-orange stain of crawfish juice underneath my fingernails. Nor was it the gush of sweetness in my mouth when I stuffed it full of watermelon cubes and spat a black seed to my left.
This Black moment right here: When UGK’s “International Players Anthem” came up on the radio and 8 people chimed in unison, outdoors, “Hey keep your heart, 3 Stacks. Keep your heart. /Man these girls is smart, 3 Stacks, these girls is smart / Play your part. Play your part.” Our laughter carried over the fences into the woods. I felt free, I felt happy, and I felt full. This memory will warm my heart for a long time to come, against autumn’s chill and the winds of change sweeping across America. This, this is my safe place: love.
What has been your happiest moment this summer?