Saturday, October 02, 2004

Seeing Maya Angelou was kind of like well-seasoned charcoal. It doesn't appear to be doing much, but then it keeps on cooking for a long time after.

She mentioned that audience members should go visit their librarian and ask for various kinds of poetry, and that the librarian would stare for a full two minutes before responding, as she or he would be unused to anyone actually asking for anything. She also adjured students to visit their instructors' office hours, because a good student can make a mediocre instructor great by showing interest. So I pretty much concurred with her on those points. She had some very interesting and personal things to say about her own life and how it led to where she is today.

I am thinking of little 16-year-old (but six-foot-tall) Maya standing outside the UN building, pregnant and unmarried, and how others must have viewed her. How do we see pregnant teenagers? Young Black women full of doubt and worry and defiance? And yet look how she came through that, not by denying or whitewashing anything about herself, but by putting it all out there for others to see and identify with. It's the weaknesses we're hiding that would make others love us.

Melanie and I left the building by the back door, at my insistence, as I wanted to walk across the sweet-smelling grass alone in the dark instead of across the pavement with the hundreds of other audience members in the halogen lights. The grass sloped precipitously down to a parking lot behind the Convocation Center, and as I waited for Melanie to inch down (she fell down a hill once and is now extremely careful on slopes) I realized that the bus in the lot was The Bus that Dr. Angelou now travels about the country in.

As it pulled away, I waved, silhouetted against the one light in the lot. Flickering lights appeared at the front of the bus for a moment, and then stopped. (So I choose to think that Maya Angelou's driver "waved" back to us.)

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