Part One is here.
The “helper” is good at her job. She tells me to get in the shower and she’ll deal with the guard. She’s been efficient thus far, so I head off to the shower with my arm-full of stuff and my bag of soap and multi-sized towels.
After my shower, I feel like a new woman. The helper returns and we wipe down the stall until it looks good as new.
When I’m dressed, I return to hospitality suite alone while my helper goes off elsewhere to, I guess, help other folks in need. She tells me there’s yet another hospitality suite down the hall, one with food. Good, I haven’t fed myself in about 14 hours. She tells me when I’m done with my make-up, I can meander on down that way. Perf.
I hole up in the bathroom, spreading my “tools” out on the counter, then climb up onto the counter and sit cross-legged on it to face the mirror. A make-up artist wasn’t in the budget and it wasn’t coming out of mine. I can’t beat my face with the skill of a good professional yet, but I can manage to look better than presentable if I have enough time. This time, I have two hours. (I won’t need all of that.) I blast Raheem DeVaughn on my from my iPhone while I get the job done.
Fast-forward. It’s almost showtime. The helper returned to take me from the hospitality suite to the convention center. My hair’s still big, so I’m immediately recognizable*, and from a distance. People begin to swarm around me and ask for pictures. My helper politely declines for me and promises there will be an opportunity when I’m on the step and repeat, where I’m headed.
The step and repeat is occupied by some folks who are locally famous, but I don’t recognize. I’m left off to the side, outside of the ropes, and I’m being swarmed by people who want to take pics. Saying “yes” is the right thing to do and I usually don’t mind. The only time I do is when I’m either a) out with my mother and certain friends who get highly annoyed by it; or b) when I’m about to go on stage. Striking a pose and the right smile 20x can be mentally exhausting and throws me off my game. Here’s the issue: if you take one, you have to take them with everyone who asks. I haven’t been doing this long enough to learn how to decline politely and without someone getting offended. I don’t know that there is a way to so.
My helper, helps… until a major black male bonafide celeb shows up and trumps my “I got next” spot. He’s a tall, wide, strikingly attractive man in a room full of three thousand women. My helper gets a little star struck by him, as does everyone else. It’s like I’ve been doused in a cloak of invisibility, and I am thankful.
The actual appearance on stage goes well. The audience is engaged and laughing, and for the Q&A, there are plenty of questions. That means my colleagues and I killed it and the organizers are happy. There will be no conversations about duties unfulfilled when it’s time to pay the balance of my check.
Once I’m at my actual hotel—way off site for reasons I don’t understand-- things go well enough. My friend, a New Yorker living temporarily relocated in the South for school lives an hour away and is on her way to see me. When she arrives, we drive around until we find a Cheesecake Factory and binge on avocado egg rolls for my only meal of the day.
We stuff ourselves into –itis territory and she decides to crash in my room and drive home in the morning. Fine. My flight is at 9AM. The organizers are sending someone to pick me up from the hotel in the morning and I’m sure I’ll be up before her so I remind her to check out on her way out. I promptly pass out.
My alarm goes off in the morning and my girl is in such a deep sleep that it doesn’t wake her, which is good. She’s got her own stressors, notably mid-terms and she’s been studying non-stop. I shower and dress with as little light as possible and head down to the lobby at 7:30 AM to wait for my ride— who never shows up.
I text my contact for the event at 7:45AM to ask about the driver. She says she’ll find the person. She texts me back to say she’s really sorry, but she doesn’t know where he is. No solution for how I will get to the airport. This isn’t New York where I can just step outside and hail a cab at the closest corner. I have to call for one. The hotel attendant says they usually come in about 15-20 minutes. Um… I don’t have that long. I’ll miss my flight.
I go back upstairs, wake up my exhausted friend and ask her to drive me to the airport. Of course, she can. She throws on her clothes in a hurry, stumbles downstairs half-sleep— I know that feeling too well— and speeds me off to the airport.
I make my flight with time to spare. (Thanks, boo!) I never found out what happened to that mystery driver. And this time CBW shows up on time, and at the right airport. At least that part of this journey was a success.
*For anyone wondering why I’ve had braids so long, it’s a (not-so-great) "disguise". Most people don’t recognize me without my hair. I love meeting readers and viewers, but I’m also an introvert and it can be overwhelming.