Hibiscus, Honey, and Jazz will not only be the biggest birthday celebration I’ve ever given to myself, but it will also be the enactment of a dream. . .If I were a café owner, here’s what the atmosphere would look, smell, feel and taste like. The physical space would exude creativity and be situated in the very community that I live in. Tendani Art Place, a swanky gallery in Historic Anacostia where my celebration will be held is such a place. On one night, I might be carried back to Memphis by some down-home blues played on a box guitar, and on another I might be whisked away to a Caribbean island by a steel pan. The Reginald Cyntje Group, a jazz quintet that will transport us to the islands on my birthday, is complete with a lead trombone, bass, drums, piano/voice and, guess what? a steel pan. At the café of my dreams, guests dine on delicious, ethnic, life-affirming food, like the West Indian delights I plan to make for my birthday party. I’m talkin’ patties, callaloo, curry and more. To my dream café, guests bring their authentic selves, and on nights that have a theme—like Hibiscus, Honey and Jazz—they bring an extension of themselves. My dress for that evening might be the color of a Hibiscus flower in full bloom, but the spirit of the party and all gatherings at the venue of my dreams, will be that of the deep, red, dried Hibiscus flower for this is how I feel right now, like a woman in full bloom whose experiences, especially those that threatened to wither, dry, and destroy, only worked to intensify passion and healing.
When they hear my birthday plans, some people ask, “Is this a big birthday?” Like every birthday you live to see ain’t a big ass birthday.
Sometimes I share, “Yes. I’m turning the age that my mother was when she transitioned.” Preoccupation with my own mortality has subsided. I’m HERE still standing and much taller at that — healthy despite a breast cancer scare, wide-open to love though I am divorced, and committed to a Divinely-inspired and purposeful path despite what have seemed like detours. Grateful. Humbled. And Blessed.
At Hibiscus Honey and Jazz, as in my dream café, I am surrounded by good energy, the kind that transforms. My sisters Carla and Shawnette help me plan and implement my vision for the gathering. My daughter Niara lends ideas and helps me prep food. My daughter Yetunde, a talented photographer and artist, documents the affair. My sisters–Ashley who lives nearby and Dawn, who will travel from California—bring love, support and finishing touches. Childhood and college friends journey from the places they now call home. Neighbors, new friends, poet friends, scholar friends and more help bring my dream cafe to life.
Learn more about Levita’s birthday wish at A Zen Landscape, The Perfect Birthday Gift.