Updated: Jul 31, 2019
Too Deep for the Intro:
Here stands the African American Museum of Galveston, Texas. A sturdy bright green house decorated with the vividly painted portraits of African American pioneers who broke through many glass ceilings. Written captions couple the portraits with intricate stories of the accomplishments that each one of these greats achieved in spite of the horrendous obstacles of systemic structures that stood on phobias of race, gender and creed.
According to galveston.com, the portraits on the outside walls of the green colored house depict some acclaimed black Galvestonians, painted by artist E. Herron. The museum opened its doors in 2003 through the efforts of James Josey, a born and raised native of Galveston, Texas.
What brought me to Galveston:
I drove down from Atlanta to Houston to witness my dear friend succeed with surprising his then girlfriend with a surprise engagement displayed among a crowd of loved ones onlooking as witnesses to the proposal and culmination of 7 years of love at the Houston Hobby Center for Performing Arts. I was very drained from the road trip but happy that I made it right on time (#wrightontime) to be in attendance. Having to keep my trip to Houston anonymous and under wraps from the Surprised was a feat but I was proud of myself for being able to maintain the elusiveness in my Snapchat and Instagram stories!
After saying my his and byes to a few, I dipped off like a ninja in the night to find a plush hotel to rest my weary head. Because of my friends’ planned event, I didn’t deem it fit to share the difficult season I was going through, making their joyous occasion a priority. But when I withdrew into my typical isolation, an emotional wave hit me like a sledgehammer. I recently moved to Atlanta to share life with my then boyfriend but our relationship came to a reluctant end in January right around the time I was informed of the surprise engagement to happen in February 2019.
The Tears Takeover:
Due to my sleep deprivation, my emotions overcame me in a HEB parking lot while hitting the Googles for super clean and bed bug free hotel stays. Ironically in tears, no one was able to answer their phone. When in emotional jams like these with no one to reach, I tend to record my voice and counsel/encourage myself in the spirit. I had a Black History Month state of mind at the time, so I often called on my ancestors and African american greats who did awesome things in the midst of systemic and emotional struggles. I thought to myself, “If they can push through, I can too.”
So, I wiped my tears, booked my stay at a snazzy Holiday Inn in between Houston and Galveston and laid my body down on a comfy queen size bed. Sleep hits different after you cry your eyes out.
An Artist’s Spontaneous Reprieve:
The next morning, once I realized how close I was to Galveston, I decided to take upon a spontaneous day trip to the island. I even had dreams the night before driving in that direction and water flooding the roads causing them to disappear as I drove onward. Like the floodwaters (maybe symbolic of overwhelming emotion) wouldn’t let me turn back from going toward Galveston. Thus, I drove there in real life!
The plan was to do yoga on the beach, charge my body & crystals, as well as eat some delish breakfast tacos. The weather was forecast to be dismal, but the weather pulled through for me in real life. While I was searching for a place to park near the beach and jamming Kanye’s The Life of Pablo (pre-public Trump support), I was suddenly driving on Sealy Avenue and came across a bright green house.
It was a Sunday, so there weren’t too many cars around and of course the museum was closed. I pulled out my camera and started snapping photos of the beautiful portraits of the young gifted and black gracing the outer walls of the museum, as well as the surrounding scenery.
One portrait that particularly stood out to me was the portrait and caption of Annie Mae Charles, the first black female City of Galveston officer. Her caption read her quote,”The secret to success is to learn to accept the impossible, to do without the indispensable and BE PATIENT.” I reflected on how often I played the role of the fool who rushed in.
Rushing into new loves, new cities, new jobs, new cliques and the like based on part whim part intuition. I believe intuition drove me to all this newness only to provide me with life lessons that I tend to learn the hard way. My whim for novelty, travel and adventure is exactly what it is. A whimsical drive at best that I don’t always follow through on on my end. So my lessons have culminated to one big resounding callback to always consider: BE PATIENT THROUGH MY TRANSITIONS. MY BOUNCEBACK ABILITY IS SOLID BUT PATIENCE IS KEY TO AVOIDING CONSTANT EMOTIONAL WHIRLWINDS. BE A SAGE WHO CONSIDERS INSTEAD OF A FOOL WHO RUSHES IN.
The Rest and Reflect:
All that to say, it is amazing how so much life can happen in a matter of days when you let the spirit of Travel and TBI (talking bout it spontaneity) lead you. Road trips across America have proven in my life to clear my mind and bring me unspeakable Joy. After an emotional breakdown catalyzed by a devastating break up, I used that emotional fuel to drive myself 12 plus hours from Atlanta to Houston to celebrate my friends’ engagement union. Only to follow that night with a day trip to Galveston to be inspired by portraits of greats who have lifted my spirits during many dark nights of the soul.
THM=Take Home Message:
Travel and life comes full circle in that special way. Big waves where crests and troughs, emotional highs and lows, can occur simultaneously. Traveling to off the road spaces in the U.S. to be a witness to the integration of culture, inspiration, food and kindness has always served as a type of therapy and escape for me. And to think, this one island of Galveston, TX doesn’t begin to elaborate the multifaceted nature of the many different terrains and cultures of the United States of America. A beautiful kaleidoscope of cultural breakthroughs, indeed.