Tag Archives: Maya Angelou

a story i’ve not often told

30 May

I didn’t know who she was until she introduced herself, but  I knew that she knew who she was – she resided within herself in a powerful way, it was clear, enough to stop conversation in the whole space when she entered; she moved with a cloud of presence that extended many feet beyond her actual body.  She was tall and her voice was deep and layered (as you know); every word took on weight.

She ordered a shot of whiskey at the bar and joined us at our table, explaining that she was giving a speech on the campus and that her ritual was to have a single shot for her nerves before she gave a talk.

I felt quiet and humbled in her presence, and when she took the time to talk to me, I felt shame that I couldn’t remember all of the details of her memoir, which I had read in high school.  My friend was all over the knowledge that day,  knew just what to ask and say. Yet she didn’t care about what we knew.  She asked  us personal questions about who we were.  She created intimacy with immediacy, because moments pass and we can command them, it seemed to me that day.

She poured liquid fire down my throat;  she made me want to feel awake, to be a present human being.  I felt a big contrast from who I was at that time compared to my own potential for being.  She embodied that growth wasn’t about knowledge or accomplishment, but something else, something powerful and mysterious – yet open and loving, too.

How many people like this show up in our lives?  I’m beginning to think that the answer to this question is this:  as many as we need.  I must have needed a famous, intense, sparkly one, at that point. 🙂

She toasted us goodbye like old friends, as she walked out in her sequined floor-length gown.  We watched from the window as her driver ushered her inside a limo, our eyes unwilling to let go of  her enormous, smiling face.

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