What happens when you get a group of strong, independent black women in the same city for a week? Some of the best family memories are created. Just ask any of the women I traveled with.
So here’s a little backstory: last year, my sister, my mother, and I drove up to North Carolina to spend time with my mom’s family. While there, my Auntie Annie paid for the four of us, plus my cousin Terra, to see a movie. We chose the movie Girl’s Trip, and we laughed until we turned blue. We all decided that something like that should be an annual thing for us. So what did we do? We created a group chat and bounced ideas off each other about how to make this happen. Possible cities were tossed around, what time of the year, where we would stay, food we would eat--we had to think about everything.
Finally, we all decided that Chicago, Illinois was our first stop. We met up with an aunt and three cousins that already reside there. And let me tell you...it was phenomenal! I hadn’t been to Chicago in seventeen years, so it was kind of like I was seeing it for the first time. But for me, I had only two things on my mind. Of course I was excited to see family, but come on. When people think of Chicago, what do they think of? Pizza! I had some authentic, deep-dish pizza and my tastebuds are still in awe. I’m the type of person to devour an entire half of a pizza with no problem. But this was a different story; I had to stop after one slice. The deep dish slice has so much pizza to it, that there was no room in my stomach for another slice. Okay, so maybe it was because my sister and I shared mozzarella sticks as an appetizer, but it was still hard to even finish the one slice. Giordano’s, I thank you.
My favorite part however, has to be the day we traveled to Indiana to visit the city of Gary. Anybody who knows me knows why I had to go there. If you cannot tell, I love Michael Jackson. There’s no question about it. I adore his music and the type of person he was, so for me to be presented with the opportunity to visit his childhood home...how could I not be excited? It’s Michael Jackson! Anyway, we all piled into the rental minivan and set out for the one hour drive. Along the way, someone just had to use the bathroom. My mom, who was driving, found a rest stop and that was probably the best idea ever. We go inside, because now everyone has to use the bathroom and we see what looks like a portrait of the Jackson 5. But once you get closer to the portrait, it is clear that something is different about it. An employee informs us that the entire thing is made from recycled Mardi Gras beads. That one portrait blew my mind, but it gets better. There was an extra room, maybe the size of a cafeteria, with wall-to-wall canvases decorated with the different storefronts of Bourbon Street and every tiny detail of the mural was constructed by gluing on teeny tiny mardi gras beads. Everything was so detailed and looked like it took a long time to complete and as we were admiring it, the creators were still creating and adding to the mural! They even let us add a couple of beads, which I thought was pretty special. The impromptu attraction as the rest stop had us giddy..and we hadn’t even made it to Michael’s house yet!
To keep from rambling, because I will find a way to make this post be at least ten pages, I’ll sum up with this. I know I had so much fun, my heart was full, and I will really cherish all of the memories we created during the week. I know I’m not alone, so I decided to ask the other ladies what they enjoyed most and this is what they said:
Auntie Carolyn (Chicago) - everyday that we had fun, laughed, ate and took shots!
Christa (Chicago; Carolyn’s daughter) - visiting Buckingham fountain(pictured) and having dinner at my mom’s.
Terra (Greenville, NC) - creating memories and seeing CJ (pictured; hadn’t seen him in years).
Auntie Annie (Greenville, NC) - family time, meeting up with old friends.
Mother (Atlanta; my mom) - visiting MJ’s house and seeing everyone.
Bri (Atlanta; my sister) - seeing everyone's relaxed personality and seeing how much fun we can have together!
Me - trying deep dish pizza for the first time, visiting Michael’s house and laughing until my sides hurt.
I think the common thing among all of us that we can all agree on, is being together and enjoying each other’s company. So I highly recommend traveling as much as you possibly can! Whether it be with family, or friends, explore the world and create priceless memories. I promise you won’t want to trade it for the world.