Abhayam is back with a correspondence from Staten Island!
“[I] Like that bag!” said a woman exiting the salon.
‘I like your hair!’
We both dug each others weave.
Holy sweetgrass. I can’t stop giggling inside…as I try to write about standing outside a salon on Bay St. in Staten Island… I sit here incapable of getting it together because…
Have you ever in the wee hours of morn sat envisioning your nature-phobic, germophobe flatmate picking grass from Central Park and trying to braid it?
Well, you know one man’s weed is …another woman’s weave.
I’m going somewhere with this. Hair? Grass? It’s so early.
And as I sit in the airport trying to go somewhere with this–I realize it’s been gone, because someone threw it away.
“O, what was that?” “It looked like braided weeds!” “Listen I’ll braid you up some organic Central Park grass from the park and it will be here when you get back.”
‘Taste it before you pick it,’ I told him.
‘YES.’ ‘You threw away…’
It looked like a braid…
of grass… an earthy grassy green braid of weaved sweetgrass that I had to have the moment the owner of La Sirena (awesome shop that’s like a portal to the origin of all its wares–Mexico! found in East Village.)
gave me the holistic run down on its uses.
“And you burn it?”
‘I was going to burn it.’
“Don’t forget to bring me a souvenir, but not grass…I can obviously get that here.”
(Writer thinks: Why must it be so expensive to live ALONE in New York?)
IT WAS A SIGN!
You know those It was the Universe–I was ‘sposed to be here at this second of this minute of this hour to see this sign’s sign sign everything’s a sign type people?
I’m not one.
The two of us–me and that precious new little rope of sweetgrass tucked away in knapsack hopped a Staten Island bound ferry that day looking for Liberian food.
S/O to all the S.I. Liberrigrants —till we eat again!!!
At that moment, after that meal, if the sign was a sign it would’ve read:
But it didn’t.
This one read
A sign with the most boring three
words since “I LOVE YOU” caught all three of my eyes–but mostly the the 3rd one.
Now, don’t let the black girl fool ya this hair’s as virgin as Guadalupe, esé.
Never been weaved, bonded or sadly even beaded. Nor am I interested in artificial hair integration or beauty shops. But the connection that my African hand made as it reached down inside a colorful Wayuu mochila (knapsack)
to find the device that would snap the above photo deactivated the superficial and activated the Akashic (ok–pardon the NEW AGEY sound of that.) Man every thought that searching “beading weaving bonding” on Google doesn’t return is what I found in that sign–fumbling in that bag. The bottom of my mochila (say it mo-chee-la), handmade by hands of indigenous brown women folk who inhabit parts of Columbia and Venezuela, look like all the beautiful intricately woven baskets by Bahima women of Uganda
that look like baskets woven by… beaded by…
It was during the closing reception for the Indigenous Women’s seminar that those hands spoke hugged and grasped and held onto each other around a conference table displaying handcrafted goodies from participants who’d come to participate in The United Nation Thirteenth Session of the Permanent Forum.
That evening was magic.
Ever wonder if beading and weaving traveled out of Africa with “Lucy?”
And as I sit typing, still in disbelief that it’s 5:45 A.M. and I’m not silently snoring in my chair, or using my mochila as a face pillow… I’m trying to remember the point of writing this.
Perhaps there is no point.
Perhaps THIS is what you’re s’posed to be reading so that you’ll be inspired to buy and support indigenous art, study history, learn about how weaved baskets have been around since they’ve needed to be–transporting, gathering, shielding… OR perhaps you’re supposed to get yourself a sweetgrass braid? Me–I’m going to learn to weave in a land where weave is as in as its always been.