Well hello, Beauties,
It's been a minute. Loads of things going on professionally as well as in my personal life. On the professional front, among other things, out before the end of the year, I have an essay which will be published in an anthology of protest essays, in June Ropeadope Records will be releasing our album with Jazz legend Gianni Cazzola, and production is beginning in earnest for our follow-up to the NoteSpeak album. Please do sign up for our newsletter for more on all of this. But for now, a bit of the personal...
I went to Florida to meet my recently found birth father, Isell. Meeting him was poetry and magic. Tenderness and joy. Laughter and pathos. This is the man who, for 55 years, has been thinking about me, looking for me, loving me, and imagining where and who I might be.
We’d been FaceTiming for a month or so before I went to meet him in person. From our first conversation, I felt such a connection. He’s an incredible storyteller, and at 85, he has plenty to tell. Growing up in Alabama in the Jim Crow South. Making his way in the Air Force as a civil engineer and giving back to the community through so many good works. He’s spry and funny, and I was already captivated by him before we even got to Florida.
I had my first face-to-face conversation on the dock outside of Rosemary and Jeff Bloch’s house on Siesta Key. There was a riotous animal party as we sat and told one another stories from our lives and dreams we’d each had of one another. Ducks and turtles and cranes, and all manner of other birds, clamored around us. A huge iguana swam across the lagoon, climbed out, and lounged underneath the table at our feet for most of our five-hour conversation.
For years, I’ve been an enormous fan of the transracial adoptee advocate, mentor, consultant, and educator Angela Tucker. As luck would have it, we had our first face-to-face conversation shortly after I found Isell. She proposed that perhaps we ought to document it. She and her Emmy award-winning husband Bryan Tucker joined me in Florida, and we set out to make a documentary celebrating devoted Black fathers. Isell and my birth mother Shirley, who haven’t met since I was born, both graciously agreed to participate, and so we found ourselves on Siesta Key.
You know that feeling when your body and mind are working together in a way that seems to be effortless? Say you’re writing a story or a poem, composing a song, walking out in nature, cooking a meal, playing with your dog, whatever it is, and your monkey brain just goes quiet. The to-do list has been temporarily put aside; your worries, your fears, your ambitions have all disappeared. They are no more than dust motes in a beam of sunlight, and you just are.
That cliched expression to go with the flow, what does it mean? To me, it’s a feeling as if the universe is revealed in a glittering path that is laid out before me. It feels as if all is right in that instant. That my steps contain power and purpose, and whatever I’m doing is for the greater good.
The entirety of my recent trip to Florida felt like that. Every person I met, every conversation I had- felt as though it were a product of a larger design. When I returned, there was, as my friend Michael Buonocore refers to in his fantastic podcast The First Michael, a wicked twist. Don’t bother skipping down to the end of this essay because I’m not revealing that quite yet.
I just wanna say I’m in love. In love with the generosity of my friends Rosey and Jeff in facilitating my journey...
Jeff and I waiting on Isell's arrival
Bryan and Angela Tucker
I was much moved by the time spent with my birth sisters, brother, and cousins, who all flew with my mother to join in...
From left to right my sister Cassandra, birth Mom Shirley, cousin Gwen, sister Kathy, my brother Dwayne's wife Rose in the back, their children Hoshi and Nia, Dwayne in the back sister Rhonda and cousin Jai.
— absolutely smitten with Isell...
What a cool cat!
... and his son Effren who has been hearing about me all of his life.
I am. All of it. All of it felt ordained.
There is a LOT more to this chapter that I'll be sharing soon enough but for now, I’m basking in what was an extraordinary experience. If love were visible during those two weeks, it manifested as the golden hour light that comes with sunset, and every moment was suffused in it. If love were nourishment, all those birds and beasts who came to us fed upon it. If we could hold love in our hands, there it was, a shining beam in every touch my parents gifted me.
The birth family search in order: