It has been a tumultuous two weeks. I needed to step away from doing much typing, meaning unfortunately my East Coast Classic 2019 wrap up post was delayed.
It’s been almost three years since attended the East Coast Classic as an instructor and judge-longer since my first visit there with one of my first big performances with Groove Merchant! I had a ton of fun and have loved all my trips. It’s just been tough to get back down due to the weather and other events. But this year it was on like Donkey Kong as the Salimpour Collective DC was headed out to perform there Saturday night in our new collective costumes and Soul Armor custom made jewelry.
The weather wasn’t expected to be optimistic but after many hours travelling we arrived Saturday and made our rounds and settled in to the hotel. We spent some time shopping and catching up then went and got some banging Mexican food- then came back to to get ready for our photo shoot with the Dancers Eye (Shout out to the amazing Carrie!) and then tech for the show.
It was a pretty epic and efficient show Saturday. We got to watch the close of the show and it was AMAZING. I was so grateful I got to spend some time soaking in the talent and the after party. Wisely we ordered some pizza and while we waited hung out at the after party getting our jam on. Pizza and bed time was had- everyone had a bit of an early morning with workshops and I had a full length photo shoot to prep for by 9. I think it was almost 2 by the time we crashed- which was way to late for us chickens.
Sunday morning: Can we talk about this gorgeous lady Carrie of the Dancers Eye who got up early with me to make some motherfucking art? Also- whose excited to see nekkids officially in pictures?!?! Don’t tell her- I have a major girl crush.
Once the photo shoot was done- all hell broke lose as packing up and getting food is always a rodeo. We had plans- almost none of them happened. Breakfast was supposed to be brunch but we declined the selected location based on the 1.5 hour wait time and located another spot that had room and no wait time- it turned out to be a win win win food and the owner were delightful. This of course meant we got back late- and missed any workshops we had in mind- and then pushed back our departure time. So yeah- good fiasco- but best laid plans of mice and men they say. Saying good bye from events is probably the hardest and takes forever. But eventually we got on the road- I think got back around 6:30 or 7 and the temperature had dropped from 60 to below 30 during the course of the day so it was a bit traumatic getting out of the car again.
I packed myself all up and headed back to NJ once we had had a good warm meal and rested up. I could have easily stayed but I was afraid I was going to lose my Monday to lounging and not leaving. I got home around 11-11:30 and got to peep the super blood moon that was happening that Sunday night. Monday was planned to be a clean/unpack/laundry work on costume day. And I leisurely got started doing all the things and unpacked my bags and drank my coffee.
Unfortunately that was all the good news for the day and the weekend. My full heart was shattered with an unexpected call that a friend had died tragically early that Monday morning. I walked around for a good 10-15 minutes sputtering in tears not really believing what I had heard. There was a memorial service that night- the wake planned for Wednesday and the funeral Thursday. I spent the week in a bit of a daze- not quiet believing he was gone.
It’s been one week since we buried Romario. It’s been one week since we wailed and cried and I watched his devastated mother throwing herself on his coffin, begging them to bury her with her boy. He was an only son- and he was 18. Only 18 short years he lived on this earth, only 18 years where he made friends and laughter and trouble.
Only one week. Exactly 7 days. And life has moved on. You go back to work. You go back to the gym, you wake up drink your coffee and life some how moves on. I wondered that weekend how I was going to find the space in my broken heart to perform to people who had know idea was was going on and who was missing from our lives. I am still shocked that it’s happened and we’ve already moved on. The whole think breaks my heart all over again.
You see Romario was a big personality- he was larger than life. He lived for living and the good time. We paused to remember all the good times, all the annoying times and crazy parties we had with him. The ridiculous things he would say and do.
My dear friend and rock through this tragedy shared a vivid dream of Romario that Monday. He came to work to find Romario seated upon a chair and telling my friend “everything is okay- be at peace- I am home.” It’s given me comfort that the message has over and over again been he has found rest and peace from some of the stress in his life. They say the people who are the happiest, who joke the most and laugh most often are frequently the most in pain in their deepest heart of hearts.
It’s been a hard week. I have not lost a close friend personally for a very long time, and this is the first one here that I’ve known where I live. I was always deeply fond of him and it’s hard to go back to the restaurant where we shared so many hours- so many nights of laughter and glee and feel like everything is okay. it’s not okay. he’s gone and he’s never coming back.
This is a deep loss, and while I know I’ll “recover” in the traditional sense of the word- a part of me will always be with him in that tiny back room with shouts and coals and hookah bits flying.
Why do I share?
Some of my own selfish needs to type the words- inadequate as they are, to witness the life of someone special. To mark that it’s now gone. And he is to be remembered. I share so that collectively we can take a moment to remember our friends gone ahead of us to secure seats in glory. And to take a moment to thank everyone who has been so incredibly supportive. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am to have the family and friends around that I do. I lacked for nothing the past week other than my departed friend. I had food and friends checking in on me and giving me space and hugs and not pushing me. I truly am blessed by amazing people and I couldn’t live this amazing life without you all in because you ARE why it’s amazing. Bless you and thank you for your love, trust and support.
So I will remember my friend. I will remember him and honor him as best I can. I will never listen to El Hantour without thinking of our dear Romario shouting from the back of the restaurant and CAN I GO DANCE BOSS??!?! CAN I CAN I CAN I CAN I?! There will never be another Romario. And I hope that this tragedy gives me purpose with my relationships and a continued zest for life to live it the best I can. To take the pain, to take the joy and make fucking art- so that a dance never goes to waste. A breath is never “just a breath”
I wish you all to dance with abandon-to text your friends you’re safe home after you drive. Stop texting while you drive. Live your life while it is yours to live. Smile when you want to smile. Laugh when you want to laugh- cry when you are sad or happy. Don’t stay angry- apologize to your friends, cut the people out of your life who make it too hard- and make room for new people. Compliment people, tell them why you love them. Life is short- and you never know when it will end.
So dance. Dance for life- dance for death. Live it all out the best you can- because it’s all you have.
Rest in peace Romario.