At some point, I was floating on a giant pizza slice in the middle of a huge, placid, brown body of water. In my hand was a plastic bottle filled with Savanna cider. It was a Sunday afternoon, my mind was spent, my heart was full and my body was tired.
There was a light wind blowing and I could feel myself floating downstream. I could hear familiar voices. There were accents of many varying kinds. The deep, lazy, liquid composure of a male, Zulu storyteller. The excited, quick youthfulness of 25 – 30-something-year-old English-speaking middle-class black, brown and white women. The quiet, yet authoritative and calculated tone of a British Royal Marine officer. My mother. My sister laughing.
I was full, I had been fed on love. Food made by people who had come to see us and celebrate themselves with us. I had been fed on honesty and truth. I was filled to bursting with pride. And so I floated. Half awake, half lifted. I floated.
For a moment I looked at myself through the eyes of a stranger. I saw a black woman lackadaisically sprawled across a giant slice of floating pizza, channeling her inner queen or maybe her inner seal. I saw white British people with Zulu people, with Indian people, with Kenyan people, with Xhosa people, with Afrikaans people, with Cape Coloured people, with mixed-race people, with white South African people, with old people, with children, with interracial love, with homosexual love, with heterosexual love, with cross-religious love. I saw families and friends of all different kinds, structures, colours and design.
I spend a large portion of my professional and personal life creating discourse around race and cross-racial relations. Race, in my mind, with my logic and experience is always a thing. No matter how many years go by, no matter how much you might love, trust and admire a person, race and the socially created norms associated with it, will always be present. It cannot be fought out, erased or forgotten.
I found myself floating, thinking not about how different all of the people that I loved were, but about how safe they made me feel. I thought about how much love had been shared, how much truth, laughter and how many tears. I thought about how much time and effort had been made, for me, for us, for this. And I began to question my logic.
5 days of wedding celebrations. 5 days of safety is more than most people get in an entire lifetime. 5 days of honesty and openness is definitely something that I have never experienced before. 5 days of being witnessed in my, our most true forms, most beautiful, most exposed, most vulnerable, most happy. It was more than anything that I have ever known to be real.
As mentors, coaches, counselors, therapists and psychologists, we are taught that everything is better when facilitated. This world is filled with so many different temperaments and personalities. It is almost impossible to create a safe space for all people with all people at all times. My inquisitive, academic mind wants to pick through this memory with a fine-toothed comb. I find myself wanting to analyze, critique and theorise my own and the experiences of others.
But my feminine, heart or soul mind ( if there is such a thing) wants to hold this memory as it is, perfect, bizarre, ridiculous forever. I want to have it in order to go back to when everything in the everyday world becomes too much to bear, too ugly to know, too bloody to trust. I want to hold onto this experience in order to share it with those who might want to know it for themselves, for their families, friends, for my own children. I want to hold it and share it in the same way that I was held and shared by people that I loved and trusted and who loved and trusted me.
There is so much that one can walk away from a wedding with. I had never imagined that this would be my taking.
What a life-changing slice of pizza.