Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.
Over the last 30 days, I have driven 1800 miles across the Midwest and Southeast visiting family. Admittedly, I am tired as hell and do not want to drive up or down I-95 until 2020, yet I am the happiest I have been in a while. While in Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina, I drank a lot of beer (follow @TheIPAWay on IG!), while learning more about myself through introspective reflection, crucial conversations, and unconditional love. This family reunion tour started with the youngest member of my family, Brandi.
June 4 – McLean, VA
My sister turned 20 earlier this year and has been one of the smartest people I know for the last decade. No cap! A rising senior studying civil engineering at Vanderbilt, she is increasing access for Black women in STEM simply by being herself. I had the opportunity to drive across DC to Virginia to meet her for dinner while she was in the DMV and though our time together was relatively short, it was extremely influential.
Every time I am with Brandi, I remember how proud I am to be big brother to my youngest sibling and only sister. Our relationship is truly one of “challenge and support.” I challenge her to think differently, outside of her comfortable STEM box and she supports me as I look up her conversational vocabulary on my Dictionary app. It is difficult to articulate how much I learn from Brandi, though I am unequivocally confident that our relationship is special.
June 21 – Cincinnati, OH
I finally went home! While in Cincy, I ate all of my favorite foods, visited my favorite brewery, and completed every single chore my mama and Nitamom (my grandma) told me to do. (Like I even had a choice J) While spending time with Nitamom, she emptied her memory bank and shared childhood memories that naturally transitioned into life lessons. Meanwhile, Ms. Bryson and I were on the move! We went to go see Toy Story 4, meandered around Trader Joe’s looking for grass-fed meat and alkaline water, and listened to the new Kirk Franklin album on loop for about 3 hours straight – 10/10 recommend!
My favorite memory while home was going to the FC Cincinnati soccer game with both Nitamom and my mama. It was hot as hell and our team lost, but it will forever be one of my favorite memories with these queens. My mama tried my favorite beer of all-time, while Nitamom’s unfiltered play by play commentary made our upper-deck tickets SO worth it.
July 3 – Wilmington, NC
Y’all know Brian. Yes, he is still single and I would like nephews soon, so ladies – y’all are strongly encourages to flood his DMs after this hot girl summer. HAHAHA
To be honest, I teared up when I first started writing about Brian because this man is my best friend for life. From sharing our first cell phone to pledging different fraternities to graduating with our Master’s degrees together, we have always had each other’s back. My trip to Wilmington was important because it emphasized the importance of peer mentorship. Though he is younger, I call Brian my “big bro” because I learn so much from his discipline, work ethic, and resilience. He is a straight shooter and for someone who has literally watched me mature into who I am today, I am thankful I have his perspective and love to fall into during difficult times.
Together, these three trips reinforced the importance of legacy. As the oldest grandchild, I have led the wave the majority of my life, whether by choice, force, or birthright. But generational legacy is more than just “being the first.” I have the honor of carrying a torch that has brought my family out of slavery and through the civil right movement into a promising future of generational wealth, global perspectives, and peace of mind.
I am thankful my mama and Nitamom have been preparing me for this moment.
I am grateful I have Brian and Brandi to lean on as we accelerate forward together.
Mr. Michael – You are always with me and every day I am committed to doing my best work, being my own person, and doing good unto others.
No matter where I live or how far I travel, Ohio means Ohana.
Ohana means I will drive across I-70 and down I-95 in rush hour traffic (again) to ensure my family does not get left behind or forgotten.
Encourage somebody to be great today!