An inspiring woman on many levels. I met her once...
It was September of 1979, and I was on my one and only East Coast Grateful Dead tour. In a week's time, I saw shows in Glens Falls, N.Y., Rochester, N.Y., Augusta, ME., and then 3 nights at Madison Square Garden. (Ah, youth!)
My friends and I had just seen the final MSG concert. We had been staying with a deadhead friend in Manhattan. He wanted to drag us California kids to Greenwich Village for our first egg cream. We happily complied, and were soon chattering excitedly at a busy joint in the village. It had been lots of fun for all in the big apple, but we were ready to go home. As we verbalized our homesick thoughts, a woman in the booth next to us turned around and with the most beautiful smile said: "Oooh, I love San Francisco!" We then all conversed about the many things we loved about that city by the bay.
There were introductions at some point... And when she said her name was Maya Angelou, I was electrified-and not just because I had just seen my favorite psychedelic band kick ass at the Garden!
Being a big reader and wannabe poet, I immediately recognized her name. Not so sure whether the deadhead dudes I was with understood my giddiness or the prowess of this woman. I most certainly did! I've never forgotten her warm smile and kindred words. Thanks for inspiring, always, Ms. Angelou.
More than a decade later, I was at home in La Selva Beach with my 7-month old daughter, watching the inauguration of William Jefferson Clinton on t.v. It was a celebratory time. I had worked for his campaign in my precinct, and life felt pretty damned hopeful. As I sat with my nursing daughter, watching Maya Angelou read her now-famous innaugural poem, tears of joy streamed down my face and onto my brand-new child. I will never forget that memory. The poem was published in small paperback form and I promptly purchased one for myself and one for my father, who also loved words and was hopeful about our newly-elected president. I still have mine, of course. Hoping to read the poem aloud to Glen later, when he is home from work. (He was forewarned, HA!)
Maya Angelou shares this date with my father. Today marks two years since he departed, leaving an emotional crevasse I am just beginning to understand. I mourn what was... And even more so, what was not.
Here's more about her San Francisco ties: