Over the weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh to pick up my babies and bring them home, and enjoy the first family reunion that I’ve been to in nearly two decades. Keith, the girls dad, decided to come along for the ride which was great because anytime we get together it’s like we’re back in middle and high school all over again. On the ride to Pittsburgh I chuckled to myself as I envisioned the reaction of my family once they laid eyes on him. We were the couple that was supposed to be together forever, so when our relationship ended after nearly six years, they were sad to say the least. The good thing with him and I was that we never lost sight of the value of our friendship and our commitment to parenthood. To this day, he’s my best friend and confidant, and a wonderful father.
We arrived at my mom’s house and were greeted shortly after with screams from the girls who were excited to see us both. They had no clue that he was coming along so they were quite surprised–Arionna especially; she’s a daddy’s girl.
We were scheduled to hit the One-10 Bar and Lounge in downtown Pittsburgh for a night full of partying with family so since my mom didn’t plan to stay there long, Keith and I decided to spend sometime at the house with girls until she returned.
Okay, so I’ll admit I fell asleep shortly after sitting down on the couch so it was more so daddy/daughters time.
I drove the whole way and I was beat, so judge as you please.
By the time I woke up to start getting ready, the girls had been fast asleep and tucked in. We dressed and soon after my mom had arrived and we were out the door. The younger generation of my family hadn’t been able to manage to get everyone in one place at one time in who knows how long so I was really excited to see everyone. As soon as I got to One-10 I was greeted like a star who had returned home.
“Come here movie star!”
“Oh you BAD!”
Various family members–who had already swam a lap or two through cups of Ciroc, Rum and Cokes and Vodka and Cranberry juice–said as they hugged and kissed me; I was overcome with joy just at the sight of seeing them all. Needless to say it was on from that point: the deejay–who coincidentally use to work with me back in Philly–got the party going and we all enjoyed ourselves in our private room.
There are mostly women in my family so to see all of us dancing, laughing, falling and acting a fool was hilarious. The few men who did attend set up shop near the bar and watched the Olympics while stopping to pose for pictures with us and laugh at all of the craziness we were engaged in.
I was especially happy to see my big sister, Brandy. We’ve been through–and grown through–so
much in the past two years; somehow we’ve managed to emerge still standing by each other’s side. We laughed, we hugged, we said I love you who knows how many times…we just enjoyed each other. I remember how much I looked up to her as kid–I wanted to be just like her; you couldn’t tell me I didn’t have the flyyest (yes, two ‘y’s) sister out here. So to be able to party with her in what seems like ages, ugh…it did my heart so much good. I love you, B!
My sister from another, Sareena, also came out. She always shows me SO much love, especially when I come back in town. This is precisely why and how I swam those same laps that my family had before I had arrived. The night
continued on well into the morning and it ended with me falling into the deepest sleep I’ve had in who-knows-how-long at my mom’s house. The last thought I had–and I’m not sure why (or how) I remember this of all things–was “I love my family.”
At 10:45 the next morning the first thought I had was for Jesus to give me strength.
My mother was screaming my name throughout the house–as she does (and has always done) every morning that I’ve ever been in her house. It’s her way of waking me up. There’s no subtle “baby get up”, no, it’s “SYREETA GET UP!”.
You know how hard it is not to catch an attitude when you’re hung over and someone is screaming your name like they’ve just witnessed a murder?
Apparently, the family reunion was scheduled to start at 12 p.m. and my mom had taken it upon herself to undo the girls braids so that she could redo their hair.
THIS WAS AN HOUR BEFORE WE WERE SUPPOSED TO LEAVE.
She then announced that she had to make a quick run and that Keith and I had to finish the task that she’d started.
I love my mother.
That’s all I’ll say.
Keith took Ari’s head and I took Gigi’s. Between the two of us, by the time my mom got back, both girls were ready for whatever she had planned for their heads. We all quickly dressed and headed out the door to the Bennett-Thornton family reunion.
The reunion was amazing. Although most of the family members who engaged in the previous night’s activities were a bit hung over, we were all glad to be there. I met family members I’d never seen in my life; black, white, young and old…we all enjoyed each other and shared the pieces of our family history that we each carried. I found out two of my cousins actually live in Philly and one goes to Temple.
He’s lived two blocks away from me for at least a year.
What the hell?
You know, between relocating enough times and family feuds among the adults, I wasn’t able to get as close as I wanted to with my family; I think as a result, my perception of family wasn’t as close-knit and warm as I would have preferred it to be. However, the older I get, the more I realize how much power I have in defining the relationships in my life and the more my family seems to realize the importance of keeping us all connected.
Have we been through our shit? Yes.
Are we perfect? No. But we’re still family.
I’ve witnessed us at some of our ugliest moments, and this weekend–this weekend I witnessed us at one of our best. This weekend I left for Philly in peace; I left with my children knowing that although we’re pretty much in Philly on our own (as far as blood relatives), part of our family is back home rooting for us, loving us and
supporting us in all that we do. While it isn’t anything that they haven’t said or expressed before, this time it hit home in my heart like it never has before.
I don’t know if I’m simply getting old as hell and more sentimental or what, but when I hugged and kissed my grandmother, mother, sister and the rest of my family goodbye, I was overcome with thanks. There are generations of love, ambition, perseverance and strength running through my blood–running through my children’s blood.
On the ride back to Philly, I couldn’t help but to continually give my thanks for such a fulfilling weekend. It was everything that I didn’t realize I needed. Having this time to myself for the past month and a half allowed me to do some growing and self-exploration as a woman, so to reach a new height personally and then do the same in other areas of life is a gift. And my babies…my goodness they’ve grown so much in that short period of time.
I accomplished everything that I set out to do during the time we were apart. I look forward to entering this new step in life–the new step mainly being the tremendous growth of Sincerely Syreeta in just a few short months and my new position through AmeriCorps. There were a couple of times where I second-guessed the time we spent apart but I must say, both me and my girls made great use of the time. We came back stronger than ever, and ready to turn things up in Philly yet again.
Okay…well after much-needed rest of course. —————–>
So here’s to being strong enough to follow your dreams even when they take you into the unknown; appreciating and loving your family even when you want to kill them [you're stuck with them you know] ; and embracing your roots–your history.
The point of it all–of all of the craziness in life and family matters especially– [I think] is to simply love, learn and grow.
That’s all you ever have to do.
Love, learn and grow.
- Sincerely Syreeta