Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou


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: 
http://blog.sfgate.com/stew/2014/05/28/maya-angelous-san-francisco-connections/






14 comments:

JoJo said...

I was surprised to see the news all over my newsfeed today. :(

Annie said...

It's a sad loss, but 86 is a great run! And she inspired!!

Kay said...

Oh wow! You got to meet Maya Angelou! That is truly a treasure of an experience. I'm sorry we've lost this wonderful poet and writer. I'm sorry for your other loss too. It's hard to lose our beautiful loved ones. I'm glad you were able to do a message to your dad on the floating lanterns.

Annie said...

She was a remarkable woman, poet, teacher, and so much more! Thank you for the kind words regarding my father... I really loved knowing my message of love went out with the tide on Oahu. Such a beautiful ceremony.
It ould be something to see it in person one day!

ain't for city gals said...

Wishing you peace and joy...

robin andrea said...

How wonderful it must have been to meet and talk with Maya Angelou. She really had quite a presence. It is sad to lose such a profound and eloquent voice.

Annie said...

Thanks, wishing you the same.

Annie said...

It really was exciting, to me anyway! Not so sure about the hippies I was traveling with, though. Maybe they weren't raised to love books and poetry, but I sure was. Thanks, parentals!

Tara Crowley said...

great memories! I honor her life and work -- a truly inspiring individual. Though she has left this world, she leaves us with her beautiful ideas and words, forever to be read and pondered and aspired to.

Annie said...

Learned yesterday that she spent time in Hawaii, singing in cocktail lounges there! This was right after Malcolm X, her good friend was murdered. A relative on Oahu thought a break in Hawaii would lift her sad spirit.
She was a treasure, and will live on, thanks to all she left.

Hattie said...

She meant a lot to a lot of people. You were lucky to encounter her in person.
I was reminded of how I felt about Clinton's election and how I worked for his campaign, too.
Yes, there have been big disappointments, but many of us got a chance to thrive and survive in the 90's.
The Bushes were such terrible presidents, and the damage they did may never be overcome.

Annie said...

She was indeed a phenomenal woman. That election held such promise, and so much bad stuff has happened since those days...
Stuff we may never see the end of, as you say. My belief in the political system has dwindled significantly since my days as a precinct leader!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Lovely that you met this amazing woman! I met her too, in 1994....I plan to write about it.....If I can get my pictures together.
Besides everything else that was incredibly special about her, she was such a warm and caring human being.

I don't have a lot of Hope for the future of our country or the world----Everything is so screwed up and GREED is the word of the time we live in.....As we lose these "lights" like Maya Angelou, our world gets dimmer and darker than it has ever been.....I hate that I feel this way, but I'm sorry to say, it is true.

Annie said...

Aloha! I am not surprised you met her, since you have met and known some incredible humans. I imagine that Maya Angelou touched many lives in her 86 years of life. What a phenomenal woman.
I agree with your sad-but-true assessment of this country and the world. It is heartbreaking to watch greed take over, and I fear for my children's future in this ugly, hostile environment. Silly me, I believed that their world would be a much different place, back then. Thank you for commenting here!