The Boy from Virginia Follows Through (Part 3)

When I last wrote, I had every intention on completing this series of “following through”. However, since I’ve started it, I have been either too busy to dedicate time to this, or have been too lazy to sit in front of the computer. Either way, I haven’t followed through and completed one of the only things I possibly care about, which is writing, and communicating what’s going on with me while I’m living in Scotland. So today, I begin again…

Since the last time I wrote, which was in April, I have done the following things:

  • Planned and performed my one man cabaret, which I names after my blog “The Boy Virginia Made.”
  • Finished my classes.
  • Started rehearsals for Jerry Springer the Opera to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
  • Also started rehearsals for Rocket Science, a new musical for the Edinburgh Fringe festival.
  • Performed in Elgin, Scotland with my classmates.
  • Filmed a short student film called “Slag”
  • Been approached by an outside venue here to do my cabaret again in October (Yay!)
  • Made some new friends outside of my college.
  • Heard about Michael Jackson’s death.
  • Saw Thriller Live, a musical tribute show that included ALL of MJ’s hits.
  • Celebrated July 4th (again…no fireworks)
  • Been broke.
  • Watched Michael Jackson’s memorial service.

So as one can see, the past couple months have been a blur of activity. However, it took Michael Jackson’s memorial service to bring me into focus. I actually cried yesterday when they sang “We Are the World”, and “Heal the World.” And Stevie Wonder singing “I Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” will always bring a tear to my eye. I never thought I would see MJ’s pass before I turned 25. But then, seeing his coffin yesterday, as well as the thousands of mourners who were at his home-going, I knew it was the end of an era. This man, who despite his flaws (and everybody who criticizes him, needs to stop acting as if they don’t have any. One’s personal opinions of that man have nothing to do with the music he made and the impact he made on this Earth. Not a lot of people can say that they affected people around the world), still found a way to give his heart to those in need of love. He got me to thinking about myself and the field I’m in. I have now asked myself, in this career, where performances are being forgotten with every new movie, song, or music video, how does one remain relevant? My first answer would’ve been: make a comeback! But after the memorial service, I’ve realized, you will always remain relevant if you live how God wants you to live. By staying true to yourself, and acting with God’s love, you’ll never go out of style.

I have feared, lately, that I might be going out of season. The people who I once used to be friends with are scattered across the US or the globe. I’m disconnected from people I used to talk to all the time. It may seem to many that I’ve forgotten them, but I haven’t. I’ve been working my butt off to ensure that my future will be a secure one and that I will soon –hopefully- change lives through the medium of theater and cinema. In many ways, writing this blog is my comeback and I have every intention of sticking around! And in an effort to stick around, I will finish what I started so long ago… (There are about 2, if not 3 entries left of it and I NEED you all to know what happened…so I can finally put it to rest.)

Friday’s Flight Home

      Everything was in order for me to come home that Friday. I’d packed enough clothes for 10 days (including extra shoes just in case I went somewhere special.) I made sure to wear the boots my grandmother said she liked when I was home 2 weeks prior…when she was still alive. I was going to arrive in Norfolk, Virginia in style, because not only would my grandmother have wanted it that way, but it would also shock the many family members who hadn’t seen me since I left Virginia at 14 years old.

God had a different plan for me, however.

I’d left my house that morning (around 7 am) realizing that I didn’t have taxi fare and I had to get the cabbie to pull over at a gas station so I could pull out the past 30 pounds I had. Whatever, I thought; at least I’ll make it to the airport on time for my flight. I ate breakfast at Starbucks, boarded my plane…and arrived in London where I had to wait until noon to depart. We left London late…2 hours late meaning when we’d pull into the Philadelphia airport my flight would either be boarding or taking off. I hadn’t made any contingency plan for something like this happening and I was panicked.

Back-story: I was supposed to arrive home at around 7 or 8pm. Once I got home, I was going to be zoomed to the funeral home, where my grandmother’s body was on display and I would also see my family who had been convening together at the funeral home and my grandmother’s house all week. But get this: the funeral parlor was to stay open late that evening because everyone knew I’d be arriving a little late. Of course…someone upstairs was having a laugh.

As soon as the plane touched down in Philadelphia, I knew that this city would burn me as it did when I was living there. It was quite warm for a march evening, but I couldn’t relish in the weather. I had running to do. I hurried off my flight and zipped in and out of people to hurry to customs and grab my luggage which I’d have to recheck anyway. Everything was checked…immigrations knew I was American…cool. Keep running. I get to baggage check and I ask quickly, “Has the flight to Norfolk left yet?”

“It’s boarding now sir. There’s no way you’re going to make it.”

But my grandmother just passed away and I’m supposed to be at her wake. (and I’m wearing the shoes she liked I wanted to say.)

“Well…at least you’ll make the funeral.” (Side note: this bitch didn’t hafta say that!)

“WHAT?” I had two choices. I could’ve acted a fucking fool…or calmly figured out an alternative. Unfortunately, I dejectedly chose the latter. (Had to. I was wearing dress clothes and suspenders. “Acting a fool” clashed heavily with that ensemble.) “Um…ok…so where’s the terminal and how do I get there?”

I was directed to where I could catch a bus to the terminal. A looong bus ride later….I knew I’d missed my flight, but something in me still hoped! I prayed hard and then looked at my cell phone for the time. According to my phone, I still had 10 minutes until the flight would take off, which meant that they could still be boarding.

I raced from the bus, past the food court, and rushed….to an empty gate. I knew the surly, young chick at the counter wouldn’t be at all helpful, but I had to ask.

“Did the flight to Norfolk just leave?” It was a stupid question and I was pissed I’d even asked it.

“Yeah,” she didn’t make eye contact with me…nor did she try to calm me down. She nonchalantly gathered boarding passes and prepared to leave the gate.

“Is there another flight I can get on, then?”

“Go down there.” She turned her head in the direction of a very long line. I would’ve loved to tell her that customer service means greeting people with a smile or trying to keep customers feeling secure, but I decided not to bestow any wisdom upon her as it was evident she didn’t want anyone’s help, nor did she want to be truly helpful. A head turn was as much help as I was gonna get.

I got in line and asked the woman behind the desk what my next step was. She and the woman from the gate must’ve gone through the exact same job training because she pursed her lips and looked at me like missing my plane was my fault. She gave an exasperated sigh. “I can book you for another flight that leaves at 8. (Yes, I thought), but since that flight is overbooked (Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you), you might not get a seat. But I will also book you on a later flight that leaves at 10.”

I didn’t say anything. I accepted my overbooked tickets and went to Sbarros. Pizza, one of my favorite foods, couldn’t even comfort me in my time of need. I was so close to my family, yet so far away. And there wasn’t a word for how I felt. I called Treasure and she was pissed to know what I had gone through. Then I called Rena, my homegirl from Philly.

“Well, you know how Philly is, Tommy,” she said, being a real as ever.

“I know which is why I promise to never book a flight that has a layover here again!” She laughed. I was feeling a little better. My new gate was being announced and I rushed over to the overbooked flight.

After waiting in that damn line…someone else who booked their overbooked ticket after me got a spot on the damn plane…I’d have to wait another 2 hours until 10pm.

I questioned God again…I wanted to know what his purpose was in making me wait to see my grandmother. Why was I being punished? Why Philly!!!! Was Philly taking its revenge on me for leaving and not saying goodbye? I didn’t get it. I called my homie, J, to chat with him. He calmed me down as I headed to another terminal. While I chatted with him, I noticed there were a lot of people waiting her, including some intimidating athletics brothers. Turned out, they were part of a college basketball team from South Carolina. Their plane was supposed to leave at 9. When I looked at the board again, their plane was delayed until 9:45 and five minutes after I saw that change…I noticed that their flight had been cancelled. They were pissed…I was finally happy that my plane was not cancelled in any sense of the word. 10pm came; I briskly walked onto my flight.

Arriving home at 11pm was not what I had in mind for that Friday.  But seeing the smiles of my little brother, and my sister and my mother brightened my heart. I was home with family at least and even if I didn’t see the others until the next day, my core family was all I needed to be happy. I could now join the grievers and not have to do so from afar. We had some familial banter as we went down to the baggage claim and once downstairs, we realized…my baggage hadn’t arrived. None of the clothes I packed were there. But because Momma and Grandmomma didn’t raise no fool, I had to thank God for remembering to pack my funeral suit into my carry-on luggage. I may not have had all my cool clothes (and I ain’t gonna lie, I was kinda salty about it), but at least my grandmother would see me decked out in my best as I paid tribute to her the next day.

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3 comments on “The Boy from Virginia Follows Through (Part 3)

  1. Breena says:

    Love it!!!!! 🙂 Fav part, “I may not have had all my cool clothes…” You are too fly for flying!!!!

  2. This was a really great read, I am very glad I came across your site.

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