I met Bob at the Schomburg in Harlem. He was photographing for an event. I was looking for the restroom. The second time I passed him, he said to me, “You look just like your mom”.
Really? And who is my mom?
What you mean, who is your mom?
You know my mom?
Yes, doesn’t she lead the student organization over at the-
I didn’t want to tell him my mom was indeed in heaven. He looked at me blankly.
Aren’t you from Eritrea?
No. I get that all the time. But I’m not.
You’re not the high school student whose mom leads the organization for high school students?
No, as a matter of fact, I’ve been out of high school for over 15 years.
Wow! You look just like her daughter!
He couldn’t stop looking at me. I thought the entire situation was kinda funny. When I told my friend, Kieara what happened, she responded, sometimes, when you have moments like that, it’s just to remind you about your mom and how often she would think of you.
Which I would love to always remember. I told her about the time the little boy in preschool, whom I never saw before, said to me.
Wow! You look just like your mom!
Really, little boy?
And where is my mom?
You look just like her!
He never told me where my mom was. He just kept telling me I looked like her.
She had just left Harlem Hospital where she worked for many years. I was waiting for the bus right outside.
We engaged in a small conversation and she allowed me to take her picture.
She gave me her name and phone number and asked me to deliver it to the hospital.
A week ago during the snow storm, I left my warm apartment and went to Harlem and volunteered with i, Too, Arts Collective which is a non-profit organization committed to nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. They are responsible for renovating the Harlem renaissance poet, Langston Hughes, home.
When I was in college, I went on a date with a young man who grew up in New Orleans. He was crazy about the Harlem renaissance because of his high school teachers. I, who grew up in New York, was crazy about Harlem because of the books I read alone (my high school curriculum skipped majority of my history…really America’s true history). In any case, he took me to Harlem for a date and I remember us standing outside of Langston Hughes home taking about his poems. Then we spoke about what it would take for his home to become a museum. Then, we stopped talking so the conversation pretty much died like a raisin in the sun. However, the dream didn’t because I am now apart of a team of people who are preserving Mr. Hughes legacy by opening up his space and reserving it for writers and other artist to gather.