We are one…
No matter what the facial features, the texture of hair, the skeletal frame, the proclivity for a particular undertaking. Maya Angelou said it best, artistically, when she poetically expressed that we are more alike than we are different. Across the globe, we believe in a Higher Power, we want the best for ourselves and our families, we want to love and be loved, we thirst for work about which we are passionate, and we want to leave the world a far better place than we found it—or, at least, many of us do!
And in so saying, I recount the experience of the Oneness of Spirit, again, on the Sunday evening of November 9th, when my knee-baby sister is celebrating her 46th birthday, an occasion for which we dance our first Pow wow! Yes, Miss Know-It-All and I add flavor and spice to those Pow wow prancers! The recapping looks something like this…
The Indian village, replete with tepees and simulated cooking fires, is located on Stone Mountain, on the spacious lawn of the plantation house. Excitedly taking in every detail of the Wild West, I wonder if authentic Indians manned the tepees, or if non-Natives only simulate Native Americans and leave the Real Deal in photographs on the pages of history books. Since I rarely encounter our Natives brothers and sisters in my everyday existence, I long to see them, the full-blooded sort, and especially so after meeting a wonderful Wampanoag family on Martha’s Vineyard back in September. (Now that’s a coming blog I can hardly wait to write, as they were delightful!)
My crew and I excuse our way to the front of a chattering crowd waiting to see the final Pow wow dance. Behind us is our entourage—Colette, my new friend; Shirley Rebecca, my beloved college classmate; and Shanice, my new daughter. The festival’s 30 minutes from ending, but we can’t tell it from the still talking drums and the chanted hum-hum-hums!
I laugh inside. We’re about to experience one of those moments, when saying yes usurps fear and leads to adventure and joy. We wait, excitement lodged in our throats, like the rest of the audience, I suspect.
Then Glenda and I gaze at one another, eyes saucers and mouths open. Amazing! I could write for the remainder of the year about the glittering, fancy, studded, fringed, multicolored garments. The masterful headdresses. The blacks and whites and Mexicans proudly proclaiming their Native blood ties. And Lil Sis’s (my baby sister, Athera Everlener Pascascio) words would later ring in my recollection: “Tootsie, Grandma Moss said Granddaddy’s mama was full Blackfoot Indian.” And even later, Daddy’s comment: “Her name was Claudy. We carry her name.” My father is Claude, Sr. My twin is Claude, Jr. And I am Claudia, my father deciding to dress my name up a bit by giving Claudy the classic touch to get Claudia.
Thankfully, I am deep in the mix! Admiring my blond suede pants with swaying, swishing fringes shimmying along my sides, my African-American hips gyrating on their own recognizance, I am ready for anybody’s Pow wow. And so is Glenda, whose inquisitive brows furrow then straighten.
Meanwhile, I look from Glenda to the short blonde standing beside us, intercepting our expressions, and then leaning over, gently suggesting we join the revolving dancers. Now my arched brows probe Glenda, “She didn’t say that, did she?”
“You mean we can get in the line-up?” Glenda clarifies. “Go out on the field?”
Our brows steeple, and we require nothing more as we leap the lower-than-knee-high cord separating the audience from the dancers, and the rest is history. Colette joins us, but Shirley and Shanice bow out gracefully.
Miss Know-It-All and I wiggle, hip shaking and hopping, stepping and snaking, skipping and shimmying, until an older Indian in full regalia pulls up beside me and parks when the Pow wow singers take a quick hiatus.
“This is how the step goes,” he offers, his rainwater-colored eyes kind and teasing. He hops on one worn moccasin, then the other, and putting the rhythmic hopping together, choreographs the dance for us.
I practice until the music and singing restart, after which I copy his fancy footwork and make my way up the field to Miss Glenda, who is on about her business, down at leaping to the African-American conductor in her head.
We dance like that, laughter wreathing our heads, and circle the field so many times, I stop counting. With each revolution, the sun slides lower and lower down the horizon.
Our timing is perfect. Had we arrived sooner, we’d have paid full entry fee for 45 minutes. Walked around, comparing prices and dancing and people watching and asking this one and that one about their Native blood and where they were from and complimenting their dress. As it was…stray streaks of sunlight illuminated the evening’s clock face. The crowds thinned, creating more shoulder room. Pow wow dancers lulled into a more sedate, dry-the-sweat-on-your-brow kind of dancing. The Welcome Dance. Which only a few condescend to dance.
At the end of our dancing, I walk off the field with Colette, clocking the reaction of the crowd watching us, when I catch a glimpse of Miss Know-It-All. She’s in the new line-up, a semi-circle of 8 dancers. This time they dance tin-soldier stiff to the left, then pause and bob in place to wait for a dribble of Pow wow-goers to come up and shake their hand.
Uh huh. I can do that. So I sashay over, post up beside a sepia-toned Cherokee elder with one waist-length braid, a broad nose, beautiful outfit, and a pretty smile and I get to stepping and shaking hands along with the others.
When I do so, a tiny hand latches onto my right forefinger. Bending low, I shake politely, thinking him one of the number to be welcomed. But the miniature grasp does not disengage. I look down disbelievingly. A teeny tiny warrior dressed in sky-blue garb and rhinestone moccasins stares up at me. I smile. He smiles. I shuffle to the left. He does likewise, forcing me to shake with my left hand, as my wee warrior tightens his grip on my right. We dance this way for a while, content in our Oneness.
Then my daughter jumps up and down on the sidelines as if the ground is suddenly electric. “Mom! Let’s go and check out the vendors before the sun disappears!”
“Okay!” I return, then smile down at my new extension. And Wee Warrior understands, his fingers slipping away from my hand. I watch as he scurries off across the field towards a squaw with pencil-thin, silky braids.
For the rest of what’s left of the evening, Birthday Girl, my crew and I finger exotic wares in the falling darkness. Our purses fill with leather hair ties, business cards, marriage proposals, warm blankets, a sexy white blouse, and serpentine and turquoise jewelry.
The evening is a sensational success!
It ends with dinner at Two Urban Licks, a restaurant Birthday Girl tells Shirley, Colette, Shanice and I she’d rather not visit again. “When you invite a sister out again, make sure it’s to One—the sistah restaurant to this warehouse, as Tootsie says—being their ambiance is prettier, classier, even the bathroom, and, most importantly, the food is better!” She grins, does a little dance, a leftover Pow wow move, and grins, “But I appreciate everyone for coming together to make my special day memorable in so many ways!”
Our bevy of cars pulls out of Two’s parking lot and onto Ralph McGill Boulevard. On the early November breeze, I inhale the fresh blessings of Spirit. It is in the memory of Pow wow dancing and flashes of my beloved knee-baby sister dancing and relating merrily with all who came into her space. Of friends enjoying a wonderful experience together, one I intend to see segue into a visit to the Cherokee Nations of North Carolina. Of food and family and friends.
Of sisterly love.
Of the Oneness in Spirit, as the Asians say, in the world of the 10,000 things….
The Golden Goddess
Wednesday, November 12, 2008