FOLLOW ME TO|The Maryland Seafood Festival Me

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Look up, Sherry! Say “cheese”! Bus ride to Maryland.

Do you remember when I relaunched this blog and I stated “2014 was the year that I found myself”? I’m ready to begin opening up about what bought me to make such a powerful statement. No, you’re not reading the wrong post. My trials, tribulations, and revelations of last year are precisely what brought me to Maryland for their 48th Annual Seafood Festival.

In my post Gratitutde|8.19.15, I briefly introduced a woman named Samantha Murdock; owner of the New York-based, women’s social group, Just Us Girlfriends (and it’s subsidiary, Travel Chicks). Samantha was a godsend and her influence all began with a proclamation I made to my cousin, Gerrmaioud (good luck trying to pronounce that)… “I need new friends!”. You see, a series of unfortunate events had left my life in shambles over a year ago: months of constant emergency room visits finally led to me losing an organ and a brutal recovery… then my family’s business was shut down after over two decades of serving the Bronx youth… then my dream job filed bankruptcy and I was laid off (now 100% of my family is unemployed)… then my 3 of my closest friends broke my heart; all in unrelated incidences… then the final and hardest blow was having to walk away from my relationship of five and a half years. I’ll let Paul tell that story one day. I had unintentionally cleaned house. My life got flipped-turned upside down in a matter of months; but after overcoming pretty much the same 2006 as Britney Spears, I let go of everything toxic without resentment and decided that I wasn’t slippin’ under. I took Gerrmaioud’s advice and joined Meet-up.com. *Samantha Murdock enters stage left*

Lord, I’ve never had so much brunch in my life! Actually, I’ve never had brunch before I joined Just Us Girlfriends. Us diamonds in the rough do exist, but coming from where I’m from, it’s not everyday you come across women of my demographic, free of the responsibility of young children, like-minded, and with disposable income. Now, I will always have love for my ‘day ones’ and I’m not above sipping on a nutcracker in Soundview, but my palette & patience had screamed “get me the hell out of BBQ’S and get me a crème de la-anything and a mimosa!” for years. The first time I attended a meet-up, I wanted to hug Gerrmaioud so hard. These women were professionals, articulate, well-traveled, gorgeous, educated, and used urban vernacular too. The most important thing that we shared was that we had all overcome the guilt of outgrowing the environments handed to us and weren’t ashamed to say “I want to make friends”. For once, I had nothing to contribute to a conversation; my passport is blank, lol, but I was filled with inspiration. Samantha told the story of her first meet-up being at an airport to travel across the world with strangers when she could no longer allow others to hold her back. I also learned that she was a full-time model for 7 years which afforded her to open a brick-and-mortar boutique… and holy sh*t, to my right is a black female engineer… a real, live, vegan to my left… and hold up, wait a minute, there was a PHR in the house too *hits Dougie*! (I’m a Certified Professional in Human Resources as well. This never happens!) How could I not go into my next job interview with the utmost confidence after being surrounded by all this black girl magic?

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Samantha Murdock (right), Claudia, and I… brunching & slaying.

So now that I’ve completely ruined this post about the Maryland Seafood Festival, lol… I’ve been to many more brunches, and movies, and a Broadway play, and museums, and private shopping events; I’ve done charity work, and I went to an Indian celebration where I got covered in colorful powered paint from head to toe (how it got in my bra & panties in beyond me); my association got me that invite to Le Dîner en Blanc… and more brunch! Damn, I missed my fallen soldiers, but I was like “what’s a Paul?” while I was taking over New York City and finally taking the time to get to know me. I’m about to just start direct-depositing my paycheck into Samantha’s bank account because I’m all booked for Dubai & Abu Dhabi (January 2016) and Turks & Caicos (September 2016). Samantha and I have gotten really cool outside of the group and she invited me on her personal trip to Cancun (March 2016). I’m so excited to finally take my passport out of my safe. Don’t get it twisted though, in true South Bronx-sceptical fashion, I had to make sure this group was organized and alert before I start running around the world with them… so I grabbed my best friend, Sherry, and we all headed to The 48th Annual Maryland Seafood Festival for some domestic travel.

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… where I pretty much just ate my life away for 2 days straight and went into seafood comas.
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… and channeled my inner Jack Dawson eating ice cream (or maybe that was the cream of crab). “I’m the king of the world!”
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… and cheered on a corn eating contest. That small woman beat them all, lol. #girlpower
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... and I got introspective at a pit-stop at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
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… and marveled their historic seaport.
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… and of course I found a bookstore. This was the most beautiful Barnes & Noble I have ever seen. I must have an aquarium at Lit. BookBar!
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The moral of this story. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Well yeah, I could have; the grammar is a mess, but you get the point.

It was a smashing good time and I look forward to more travels & adventures… and more brunch, lol. I’m grateful for all the rock-bottoms that bought me here and the lessons in perseverance and forgiveness along the way. I embraced an opportunity for self-discovery and at the same time my fallen soldiers were growing at their own pace. Every… single… last… one has reached out to me. All is forgiven and I’ve even invited half of them to continue with me on my life’s journey. My life is full of love, I am healthy, and I found a new job even better than I had dreamed. As I stated in my re-intro, this blog isn’t just another way to ‘follow me’. This blog is the thousand words behind my Instagram pictures and I hope to inspire my readers to be resilient and live their best lives. Thank you for reading (next post: The Godmother: Part I).

~1st Noëlle

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