Okay, it’s official — we can all come out of hiding. Masks are optional, but in case you haven’t heard — the government has ended the pandemic. Shuttered plans are now reimagined and happening.
In just a bit, I’ll tell you more about how I reunited with some much needed laughter and joy — away from the old normal.
No planes or trains on this hip trip — a six minute jaunt cross town — full of some unexpected surprises.
And that’s where we’ll start. Somewhere in a central Pasadena neighborhood within arms reach of a not-to-be named prestigious STEM academic institution.
Up 26 steps into a living room that allows a 90 degree eye level view of elite research University.
About a month earlier, an unnamed friend and colleague sent out invitations to an intimate afternoon at their rather spacious townhouse with a floor plan familiar to the area.
Something she and her husband called ‘The Pasadena Bohemian Society’…
I didn’t take the host couple for dope smoking, acid tripping hippies. At least, not the contemporary versions of how they show up in the world.
I’m like, ‘WTF is a Bahamas-themed soiree!?’
It was a good thing they included a message on the summons. “There’s Something’s Happening’ Here – so join us, we can’t wait to see you!!”
I’m thinking the same society at the party can’t differ from the same people in society — what’s the point?
And, besides, the safer at home and social distancing – kinda worked for me.
No I’m not a recluse nor am I souring with age, but the intimate social scene with folks that I’m unfamiliar with — has the potential for me to clear the room out.
Let’s see how I can explain this?
One of the most generic and sometimes qualifying questions strangers ask each other is “What do you do?”
Culture Honey readers already know my writing on Travel and Culture — infused with cynicism and sarcastic fare. I wouldn’t consider my pen as a critic, but I defiantly do mark the subtle notes of Traveling While Black and the regional Black Tax tacked onto the bill.
And trust me, at times, an unlimited line of credit is a must. I often wonder if Ken Chenault had me in mind when he rolled out the American Express Black Card? Either way, ‘I never leave home without it.’
Over here in Culture Honey it’s all chill. But my writing elsewhere is heated. Readers can, no doubt, pick up on my feeling a boiling sense of emotions. None of the stories have a happy ending – because they start off in tragedy– racist terrorist acts of violence and far too often, a loss of life.
Trauma Journalist…’I gotta story to tell’
Around this time last year, I accepted an assignment that I was professionally equipped to execute. But, extremely underequipped mentally to handle the payload of heavy emotions packed into the mission I was commissioned to take on. I showed up to embed with the Black Lives Matter Grassroots rapid-response team as they provided support in the communities of Buffalo, Akron, and Tampa — backpack with a camera, microphones, digital audio recorder, and a few different tripods for just the right shot all in hand.
My work had been bringing me into intimacy with the traumatic stories of countless Black folks for years – frame-by-frame in some cases.
….A boy’s father is told his son is dead on a back road near the highway. Blood-stained grass… and me, walking through a grocery store where 10 souls had been executed.
These tragedies are classic tales of the Black experience — a white supremacist terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York; the police shooting of Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio; and the death of 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III in police custody in Tampa, Florida.
Not exactly pleasant party conversation. Especially with a crowd that could genuinely feel that the ‘police keep us safe.’
Try explaining that you’re a Trauma Journalist to well-intended folks that might believe ‘the police keep us safe.’
The ‘Story of OJ’ is one murder that plays well in any crowd. But, unnatural death of Black folks — in most cases — is caused if for no other reason than — because they’re Black.
Let me clear my throat. I hope you don’t mind?
Reading through the invitation yet again, the gracious hostess offered more context to the soirée.
“Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people and with few permanent ties. It involves musical, artistic, literary, or spiritual pursuits. In this context, bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.” she elucidated.
The persuading language had eased my weird suspension.
Curious and aroused — and satisfied there was a seat at the table and we weren’t on the menu — I informed my retro honeycomb colored Air Max 95 rocking Queen Khalifa resembling wife about gracing me with her company and companionship.
Something was different here. It was a mash up of creative people.
A Sneakerhead who’s penmanship is as fresh and stylish as the retro Jordans he was sporting. We swapped story ideals before sharing our love for Dear Momma docuseries.
A former child actor with an impressive list of memorable roles alongside blockbuster stars. He now shows up in the world as an award-winning journalist — recently nominated for more prestigious LA Press Club awards. We go back over a decade and served together on a men’s health non-profit board of directors.
Ms. Peaches. Sweet, bursting with juicy energy that she somehow managed to share from one end of the room to the other. Prancing around, occasionally humming a tune with an angelical pitch that surly led me to believe there had to be a cobbler in the oven oozing with the goodness of molasses, cinnamon and a doughy inside baked to a crusted perfection.
Naw. That wasn’t the case — at all. It was a wishful imagination on my part. Peaches had shown up with a dish straight out of a La Costra Nostra made for a TV movie. Though there was a pricking of fingers or burning of saints, we were asked (loosely) to swear an oath and promise to keep her family secret — AND absolutely never mention ‘Italian Man-n-Cheese’ What I can say is — one bite of the gooey three-cheese blend is so perfect — you might react as I did and stand up to ‘Shake Your Groove Thing’!
The guy – by day he’s an undertaker and a talented party planner for dearly departed’s last hooray. Although, he stated he didn’t have any talent and like my wife — they were both there with their husbands for a good time. His laugh had the power to change the atmosphere of a party — in a good way. He chuckled all evening, his big, brassy laugh filled the room with sound — setting the mood for the party.
Who needs streaming music when there’s few tunes only available on wax. The groove was 60’s and 70’s. Buffalo Springfield’s – “For What It’s Worth” called out and then Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” echoed back….
Jetsonian in Bohemian Rhapsody – the invite and the future…
Phew, that wasn’t so bad after all. The aerospace engineer and travel maven hosts showed us an authentic piece of themselves. Hosting and curating is much more an art than an exact science. The whole vibe felt natural and congruent.
Corney alert… ‘hostess with the mostess’
Here I am, the Trauma Journalist in a room of creative friends – writers, film-makers, content-creators, musicians, cooks, fashionistas, producers. All cross-pollinating and watering each other’s creativity and individualism.
Since I had successfully navigated conversations or was just lucky enough that no one asked what I write about, I left the cozy gathering bubbling with joy.
I can still hear Peaches singing the lyrics from the 1978 Billboard number 1 hit record— ‘Reunited.’
And, it felt so good — being reunited with myself.