At 7 p.m., I dress, apply my make-up, and style my Sisterlocks. Within the hour, I am stepping into a star-draped night, on my way to my first Moxie Cabaret starring the beautiful, burlesque diva, Atlanta’s own, Vagina Jenkins, and other local burlesque talent. I am ready, directions on paper. The gala is 21 minutes from my Clarkston home, precisely 10.38 miles away.
I access Highway 78W and begin diligently looking for Parkway Drive, in the dark. In no time 78W fades into Scott Boulevard, and, somehow, Parkway is just a smear of ink on a page in my journal. So I keep riding, dressed with no where to go and bent on making good use of getting out of the house on a Sunday evening. To put it bluntly, I’m breaking out of a staid routine—reading or writing or exercising the weekend away. By the time my black Jag races down Ponce de Leon, I am silently bribing God or my angels for clues to my destination, as I have no friends, who reside near the downtown area, to barge in on at such an ungodly hour.
Beyond my windshield, the night is friendly. Enticing me onward.
Am I heading to Belissima and their Sunday night salsa party? So what. I’m not wearing a swing-hem skirt and stilettos; I yet intend to salsa and tango even if the evening doesn’t end on Amsterdam Avenue. Ummm. Piedmont Park will be too dark and eerie to adequately people watch. I don’t know if Kat’s Cafe, my favorite haunt, is open on a Sunday, although I’m fond of Thursday nights, when the musicians jam and scat my heartbeat.
So imagine my SURPRISE when the Jag pulls into the Midtown Art Cinema’s parking lot. Even though I have all faith in the Divine, I glance out my window at passers-by and leave my purse in the car, under the brakes. Parked in a muted spot near the building’s entrance, I glide, still puzzled, and a bit reluctantly, to the box office.
I have no problem admitting it—I haven’t been to the movies since before the dinosaurs. Which is why I’ve missed quite a few films, one being Sex and the City or Sex in the City (see what I mean?).
Nonetheless, I get to the window and am shocked to see movies are $10.00, my ten dollars. Inwardly, I smile at a gentleman who gladly whips $7.00 out of his bruised wallet for his senior ticket. The cashier does not ask to see proof of his discount, his face, I gather, being validation enough. Huh uh! I’m 10 years off. Count that out for tonight. Okay! What to do? The glassed girl stares at me and smiles. A line forms on my right. That’s when I remember my purse is in the car. Brilliant. And all this despite Shirley saying she’d heard the movie was a must-see.
Fine! I retrace my steps to the car. God is speaking to my attention-deficit pocketbook. Tickled, thinking how I’ll laugh about the night’s adventure with Miss Know-It-All and Shirley, I grab my big green bag and return to the cashier, to inform Miss Girlie I’m seeing a movie alone, for the first time.
“Great! Nothing like a first, honey. Enjoy!” she spouts.
I match her smile and take my ticket receipt. Say, “Thank you!”
Inside, “Bees” is nestled on the right, near the theatre’s entrance. I stroll towards a set of tucked-away double doors. The room is empty outside of a cute couple, snuggled into one another, seated towards the front and an older gentleman in a wheelchair in the rear. I slip into a cushioned seat behind the snuggling girls and snuggle darkness.
The movie begins. It’s South Carolina, 1964. Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) is adjusting the antenna on the television. A history-making, civil-rights decision is being televised, and Rosaleen and 14-year-old Lily (Dakota Fanning) sit galvanized by the news: Blacks have the right to vote. Thus begins a string of events that leave me wrenched with emotion. I cry a little, laugh a little, and even yearn to fight a little.
Scriptwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood has breathed life into Sue Monk Kidd’s 2002 yawning bestseller (which sits on my shelf yet unread, although after seeing the movie, I shall make time to read it soon).
I am wholly enchanted, following a take-charge, fast-talking Lily and spunky Rosaleen as they make their way to Tiburon, S.C., where, unbeknownst to Lily, her dead mother, Debra, made her way to the same farm years before, fleeing Lily’s abusive father, Owen. Debra’s keepsakes point to the Boatwright Farm and beekeeper August Boatwright (Queen Latifah), locally renown honey entrepreneur…literally and figuratively.
Before August, Lily lies about how she and Rosaleen come to be there, but August Boatwright, who can hold water, as my Grandma Moss used to say, welcomes them into her loving, well-organized, family stronghold, a secret, no doubt, to whites who haven’t yet figured out how to take the Boatwrights‘ 20-plus acres and bee empire.
In the shadows, I marvel at Sue Monk Kidd’s audacity to write about a family of beautiful, cultured Black women, who not only survive (unmolested) but also flourish in a time of hate and lynchings. And I love them! There is the matriarch, August, who teaches Lily about beekeeping, family, faith and love. The fiercely independent June (Alicia Keys) is a social activist and cello-playing sister, who masters love lessons, i.e., family is about more than biological kin. Then there is May (Sophie Okonedo), the beloved sister of the exquisite facial expressions that own my heart! Kudos to Prince-Bythewood for trusting her knowing to cast Okonedo in the role of a character younger than her lovely 39 years. May, an easily excitable beauty, shoulders the sadness of the times by writing what hurts her on slips of paper and sticking them between the stones of a symbolic Wailing Wall in the sisters’ yard.
It is safe to say, in the event you don’t know, I am famous in the Moss Clan for retelling a story or movie you may wish to read or see to the nth degree, although I shall not be guilty of it here. So snap up $10, your ten or somebody else’s, the latter is preferred, and treat yourself to a memorable movie. But I forewarn you. Tears may trickle, if you’re like me. Laughter will bubble up from your soul. And you will praise the cast royally, with that little Dakota rendering a captivating performance with those saucer-size eyes and womanish ways. Tis true, Lily “brings the outside world in,” as she rather aptly puts it in the movie.
“Love is all around you!” August tells Lily, who longs for someone to love her. It is another part I adore. The words serve to remind me that no matter what happens, I am always loved. For I am love, as we all are. Therefore, yes, I will continue to serenade myself and go to the theatre alone, if need be. After all, are we ever really alone, and aren’t we worthy of loving ourselves so that we can better love others?
But that is a horse of a different color. Right now, we return to our regularly scheduled movie review.
Rosaleen and May become fast friends and play girlishly, while Lily works alongside August. Yet I love it when the two women delight in playing, something from which we could all benefit from time to time. One afternoon, screaming their pleasure, the women draw stern-eyed June into their good time. She allows herself to laugh, and, eventually, to cry, though not without a battle.
Before I lie in these lines, I’ll stop and rest my laptop keys at 3:47 a.m. In parting, I wish you close listening to the Voice Within. It will allow you to live richly, lovingly. And as much as possible, say YES to life, considering on the other side of a YES is usually the adventure your soul seeks! Don’t ask me why…it just bees like that!
Trust yourself and the splendor of your life will unfold like secrets in the night.