I throw my bags in the trunk, jump in my pony, slide in my Nneka, “Concrete Jungle” Cd, roll down my windows, and let the journey begin. Music is important on a road trip, unless you’re in dire need of silence, so my playlist was strategic. Until, I couldn’t find my Erykah Badu cd. Urrrgghh, hoping this wasn’t a sign of times to come, I frantically looked through my cd book only to stumble across Nneka. I found this Nigerian indie artist when I first began my natural hair journey. As if I knew her personally, I proudly watched her work the crowd with her fro blowing in the wind, as her soul baring lyrics spoke to my heart. One of my coworkers overheard the music and came to see what I was watching, when she saw Nneka’s hair she said, “I love her hair! You should totally wear your hair like that.” At this point in my hair journey I was desperately trying to find the nerve to begin to wear my hair natural. Other than looking at photos and watching videos of black women who had already confidently stepped out in their natural glory, it was a white girl who gave me the push I needed. Yes, there is a strong presence online of black women encouraging each other to step out into your natural self, but I had no one in my life who supported the natural hair movement. I was completely surrounded by creamy crack addicts who joked women who embraced their natural hair. And while I’m usually not the type of person to care what other’s think of my decisions, wearing my hair in its’ natural state made me nervous.
Well, this has become the making of another post. The point of Nneka’s music being the soundtrack of my road trip to the beach is the significant role that she played in my natural hair liberation journey. As soon as I heard the first beat drop I was taken back to a very liberated time in my life. I felt so free driving down the highway with the wind blowing through my flow. My mind was free and I was able to just be. 40 minutes later as I crossed the Wright Memorial Bridge into Kitty Hawk, the smell of salt water flooded my nostrils with excitement. I am at the beach!!
My first stop, and really the only place I decided I had to be, was at Outer Bean Juice and Java (http://outerbean.com/ ). I entered into this cozy little café through a screened in porch type of door. As it slammed behind me I thought of my childhood summer days at my Grandmother’s house in the country. The air inside is filled with aromatic fragrances of coffee and foreign spices. Outer Bean Juice and Java also sells lunch and dinner with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free recipes. There are a few chalkboard full of various organic juice and coffee treats. And your juice is made from right in front of you allowing you to know every ingredient in it. Local artists’ artwork can be found on the walls throughout the café. This place instantly becomes my new favorite spot. At first I’m overwhelmed with the overflow of options that I can choose from, but my eyes repeatedly fall on the Lotus Juice. So Lotus Juice it is! My first sip was filled with smooth tangy deliciousness; the tanginess of the strawberries with bold flavored blueberries smoothed over with soy milk and sweetened with honey. This berry bomb of a smoothie explodes deliciousness all on your taste buds. My stomach grumbled as I inhaled exotic aromas of something cooking. I ordered a Veggie Panini and as I waited, Necla (pronounced Neshla) brought me a sample of her homemade Red Pepper Soup. This soup is made from scratch, so Necla tells me all the organic ingredients she’s used, all veggies and spices. My mouth is in love with the food and drink and my soul is delighted with the ambience of Outer Bean. The dark wood tables and chairs and vanilla colored walls create a warm and calm atmosphere while the splashes of bright colors from the art work and the fruits and veggies and plants leave you feeling vibrant and alive. I could have listened to Necla (Outer Bean’s owner) for days as we laughed and talked about traveling and finding light thru experiencing life. Her accent made me feel as if I was home in a foreign land. Soon I am served with my veggie Panini, my mouth waters at first sight of it.“Veggie Panini: Spinach, kale, squash, eggplant, roasted red pepper, Chipotle Gouda and olive-roasted red pepper tapenade, sun-dried tomato pesto on focaccia bread.” I swear this Panini tastes as if it was specifically made to caress my taste buds with delectable goodness. I experienced light at Outer Bean Juice and Java and my taste buds were indulged delightfully. Travel, expose yourself to creative and inspiring places, listen and engage with new people, move outside your comfort zone.
The next stop was at De’ja’ New, an unplanned stop at a cute little artsy store next door to Outer Bean. This space was full of creativity with eclectic finds, hand crafted items, and refurbished furniture decorated in beachy pastels, bright bold colors and intricate patterns.
I felt as if I was on a treasure hunt as I looked through the various items on display. One treasure I found, that would be the keepsake of my journey, was a necklace with a box trinket that said “Love U” on one side and
“More” on the other side
It was the perfect piece. This journey of finding myself and allowing myself to just be; allowing myself to only be involved with my thoughts, desires, and direction. I need to be mindful of who I am, who God created me to be. As an individual, God has a purpose for me. I am a member of the body of Christ with my own gift and function that I must nurture and master to operate for His glory. My failing to do so not only affects me, but the other members as well. In loving myself, I love who God created….Me. And so I have found the path to loving me is knowing and understanding how much God loves me. He has desires that I live in abundance, that I am fruitful, that I have peace and grace and favor; that His love for me is endless. God is love and in order to find myself and love myself, I must first loose who I am now, in Him. Complete surrender to God and His love; that is the true journey, the true path, the true treasure. Experiencing love with the Creator is the greatest awe-inspiring moment of your life. Love you enough to experience Him.
By now, I’m ready to succumb to the beckoning call of ocean waves and warm sand! But first I have to check in. I reserved a king size suite at Best Western Ocean Reef Suites, much to my delight, I was upgraded to the Penthouse Suite. After joking around with the front desk guys, who made me feel like a celebrity on a business trip, I was off to explore my room
and the roof access.
I checked everything out, threw on bathing suit, grabbed my beach bag and towel and ran for the sand. Northeastern North Carolina’s winter had been brutal, so a warm sunny evening at the beach was simply paradise. Although the water was still chilly, I was able to layout and absorb the energy of the Sunday (vitamin D is a necessity).
At the beach, I’m able to turn the rest of the world off. I have no thoughts outside of the present moment. No stress, no worry, no need for solutions because, here, there are no problems. I played Bob Marley as I attempted to read a chapter of Thich Nnhat Hahn’s, “The Path of Emancipation.” It’s a conversations from a mindfulness retreat that Mr. Hahn conducted. Although he is Buddhist, his teaching of mindfulness has given me an understanding that has been most valuable in my walk with Christ. However, I couldn’t focus enough to read, as if my mind just wanted to be; no thinking, just be. So I did this, mindfully. I watched a father throw a Frisbee with his toddler son, which was very entertaining; watching him trying to catch and run away from the cold icy waves. Some of Blackbeard’s crew staked their flag and convened for a while not too far away. That was interesting in a weird kind of way. I say weird because I didn’t realize that pirate men dressed in corsets and skirts. But hey, whatever floats your boat. LOL. Ocean waves and singing seagulls inspired written words and I indulged until hunger demanded I make a move. The sun was setting as the wind blew in a crisp air chill, so I had to jump in the Jacuzzi for few minutes to warm up on the way back to the suite.
I showered and headed out in search of food, and ended up at Dirty Dick’s Crab Shack. Their calamari, seafood pasta, and corn hush puppies more than satisfied my seafood craving and ushered me into the ultimate food coma. I spent the rest of the night in my suite being lazy, watching tv, and dancing to Bob Marley. I sat out on the balcony gazing at the beauty of the night sky as the stars and moon’s light shimmered across the ocean. I fell in love with being able to just be. I went to bed feeling refreshed from my day and allowed the sound of the waves crashing against the shore to lull me to sleep.
Morning came fast and I missed the sunset (typical me). But the day before was a day well spent. I went back out to bond with the beach for a few more hours before heading back home. I loathe leaving the beach, but I missed my family, so you give and take and head on home. My weekend was awesome. I ended my beach trip having lunch at Chili Peppers Coastal Grill, my OBX version of a jungle hut near the shore. It’s the straw roof hut I envisioned myself to be at as listened to Necla’s accent at Outer Bean. When I walked in and saw the rooster on the wall, I knew it was meant to be (because I love roosters). Usually I’m anti beef consummation (I’m a wannabe vegetarian), but I ordered this huge beef burger with mountains of caramelized onions, mushrooms, oozing with gouda cheese (which seemed to my weekend’s theme cheese), and the thickest slice of hickory smoked bacon I’ve ever had. I can’t claim to be a burger connoisseur, but this monster burger has to be one of the best ever made!
On the way back home I jammed out to Jr. Gong and Nas’, “Distant Relatives” album. I felt like I found a gem the first time I heard this reggae/hiphop infused album. When I read these two were collaborating I was so excited. This album’s significance is that it I found it during my time of liberation, and so it felt meant to be when I found it stashed in the inside pocket of my Nneka’s cd case. This weekend was liberating for me. A time of embracing freedom, bonding with God, and introducing myself to me.
This weekend Run Away was not about running from problems. It wasn’t about abandoning family to indulge in selfish acts. It’s about spending time with yourself. No expectations, no opinions, no suggestions, no input, no catering to others; it’s all about you! In the silence of just being, you may actually hear what God has to say.
So pack light and rUn!!