Nikki Giovanni at Main street Library in RVA - GaptoothDiva.com
Nikki Giovanni at Main street Library in RVA – GaptoothDiva.com

I was unyielding about seeing her, knowing good and damn well I should be in the bed. With a little over three weeks on the count down, I ignored comments from friends about me trucking through the heat to hear her speak. I don’t go to concerts often, I’m not too keen on paying money to listen to some trendy artist just because. Therefore, when a literary bombshell comes within a few miles of my home, I plan to make it my business to see what she discusses. I love Nikki Giovanni. It may be a cliché’, but she is right up there with Maya Angelou, Oprah, Iyanla, Michelle and all those other bad-ass black woman I’m dying to meet. A friend of mine mentioned that she is right there at UVA so it wasn’t a big deal, but I didn’t care. In my eyes, she was not as attainable and I didn’t want to miss my chance at seeing her.

My sister was kind of enough to drive me to the Main Street Library, considering my feet were swollen, and my stomach was making it very hard to reach the steering wheel. I dragged little Prince A’veri with us, doing that old school “I’m going to tear your ass up, if you embarrass me” speech. I was serious and everyone knew it. We parked a block away, never considering the distance I would have to walk as we hurried inside. I immediately ran down the stairs and into the auditorium, filled with kids from 4 years old and up. There were small sprinkles of adults, some sneaking to watch during their lunch breaks. I remember those days, and laughed to myself that I had the freedom to stay as long as I liked. Thinking about it now, I probably would’ve stayed anyway regardless if I was still at that dreadful 9 to 5, but I digress.

I prayed that the presentation was going to be fulfilling, never seeing her live in person before. I didn’t know if the presence of the children was going to water down the effect, considering I heard she was as “off the chain” as I would have loved. This elderly woman had a “Thug Life” tattoo on her forearm, so I was looking for the most. Fortunately, the children being in the room didn’t matter one bit. She had a message and she delivered it, never wavering from her reputation of being straightforward and direct. She even cursed a little, something that tickles me when it comes from public figures (I know…I’m sick). Her message hit home like arrows piercing water balloons. Just when I thought I had heard enough, she came even harder than a Church Pastor in Sunday Service.

This event was meant for the kids, but lets be real… some of them were sleep, most of them were bored and not paying attention, and the ones that looked alert were dead-faced and unresponsive. My own offspring was knocked out sleep on my right, as I thanked God for this equivalent of good behavior. Nikki “preached” about self-acceptance, never looking for validation from others, and told stories about the times of Jim Crowe, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She drilled into our minds the importance of “doing you”, remaining true to what you believe and feel. I couldn’t dissuade my eyes from this tiny woman as her tone sent palpitations through me. She was a pint-sized genius in a bottom up shirt and grey TWA (teeny-weeny afro) and I wanted to adopt her as my grandmother as soon as possible. She spoke on writing life down, on traveling and seeing more than just our backyards, getting an education (whether paid or self-taught) and being free to be yourself.

When the presentation was over, I felt alive again. It was as if I held my breath while getting new life pumped into me, and I could now settle in relief. My time was not wasted, and I yearned to sign up for a class or something. She took questions from audience members, but that line was excessively long for my pregnant belly to get on. Besides, I had the little man with me and my sister had places to be as well. So reluctantly, we left the building discussing the lecture the whole way to the car. I told my sister, “I want to talk to people like that when I get older and drop gems on them about life and my experiences”. My sister looked at me with her big cheesy grin and said, “You mean… More”. Confused I looked back and questioned her…“Uh?”

Shanice said, “You already do, I’esha. But if you ask me, I think you should do it…More!”

She was right. Nikki Giovanni inspired my pregnant ass.

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