...The saga of Cousins A and B continues.
Today I decided to get over myself and focus on keeping peace amongst my cousins. Because what's more important than me getting my tourist kicks, is everyone leaving with a modicum of sanity at the end of this trip. So yes, keeping things calm and peaceful was the goal today.
But somebody just refused to let that happen. I guess if she was going to be miserable, she wanted everyone else to be too.
Long story short, venomously petty and hateful things were said and done that shouldn't have been said or done. As a result, everyone who hadn't been directly involved in the original debacle yesterday was now implicated in some way, and we were all varying degrees of upset about it. And so while the rest of us were enjoying the Civil Rights Museum and the LGBT celebration/rally that blossomed outside it this afternoon, Cousin B sat at the house probably stewing, sulking, and talking bad about us to her folks. But we had a wonderful time regardless.
The museum (or as it's known by its official title, The Center for Civil and Human Rights) happens to share a lawn with the Coca-Cola Museum and the Georgia Aquarium, so not only did we get great views of their facades but we also got to take in spectacular views of downtown Atlanta. Inside, the museum is divided into three floors. The first focuses on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which was hard for me to get through. Though the exhibit was organized and presented exceptionally well, walking through it was triggering for me, especially since I was still emotional and slightly angry about the above-mentioned hateful pettiness that'd transpired earlier today. I turned a corner and saw the display dedicated to the four little girls who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and almost broke down in tears because it reminded me of the Charleston 9. From there I walked up a set of stairs to a section about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and memorial, and as I watched footage of his funeral I couldn't help but think of Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney's funeral, which was held today. Part of me was proud to have an entire floor of a museum dedicated to my people's fight for equality and justice (and to have so many visitors there to see it), but another part of me hurt because I felt everything so deeply.
Last but not least, the bottom floor of the museum holds a special gallery containing various documents and personal items that offer some insight into the private life of MLK. This exhibit was organized with the help of Morehouse College, Dr. King's alma mater. This exhibit is also the only part of the museum in which visitors are prohibited from taking pictures; everywhere else you can take as many as you want without flash.
From the museum we went to pick Nay up from work, and she took over the wheel. She'd been craving beef patties from this roadside Jamaican food truck called Scotch Bonnet all day, so we stopped by there on the way to the house. But they were all out, so we went to Popeye's instead since Neesh was craving chicken. Even though we have Popeye's in Michigan, this was my very first time trying it so I was kind of excited! I got the shrimp po'boy with green beans and sweet tea. It hit the spot and wasn't too shabby for fast food (they used a real baguette!). On our ride from Popeye's to the house I got cajoled into telling all the girls what I've learned about them this week. (Since I live so far away and am not around them all the time, they thought that what's transpired may have soured my view of them. I told them my opinion hasn't shifted in some majorly negative way, but rather that I've learned a lot about of all them. Then they asked me to go down the line and share what I'd learned.) For example, I learned that my cousin Jess, though the baby of the group, is a lot more mature and self-aware than I'd pegged her for. And Trish, who has a temper and a tendency to clap back, also has a kind heart that's helped her endeavor to be more patient and considerate even during times when she might want to fight. And Neesh, well. Neesh may seem like a goofball on the outside, but she's actually got a lot of depth to her and has acquired a lot of wisdom due to the trials she's been through. Oh, and Nay? Nay lucked out because by the time it was her turn, we were almost pulling up to the house. Plus she didn't ask, so I didn't tell.
We mulled around the house for a few hours before heading back out at around 11:20pm to go to club called The Mansion. We were all tired but we'd heard one of their radio ads saying it was free for everyone all night, so we decided to take out chances. People's emotional wounds were still raw and two of us were justifiably "over it", so they stayed in the car while the other four of us got in the "free line".
And let me tell you, this free line was the longest line of life. We stood as the line literally inched along for two hours, from just after midnight to just after 2am, witnessing all manner of chaos, stuntin', and ratchetry. We finally got in and you know what they say, you get what you pay for. Curiosity was the main thing that'd kept us patient while we'd waited outside, and while it's a nice place on the inside, with the same loud, aggressive, danceable but nearly indecipherable trap music ("I want a smart girrrl wid a dumb bootay...") that's ever so popular down here in the A, this club just wasn't that great. At Opera, people came to dance, drink, and have a great time. At Mansion, people just came to post up and be seen. And that, my dear, is the definition of a waste. We stood looking around and taking in the place for all of 15 minutes (maybe 20 tops) before we left. I only took one photo on my cell phone. I'd had my camera with me but couldn't use it because one of the female security guards confiscated my the battery before letting me through. Thankfully she was pleasant enough when I went back to retrieve it from her. All in all I don't regret going to Mansion. I already know clubbing isn't my thing; I was just going to experience the scene and see what this club was like. Another ultimate people-watching opportunity, you could call it. And though it didn't last as long and wasn't as entertaining as Opera, let me tell you. I saw some thangs (yes, "thangs"!) that I'll never forget.
We were all back at the house by around 3am. Before going to bed I spent some time talking Cousin A down from the ledge of wanting to rehash the beef with Cousin B and potentially start a World War 4. Lord, tomorrow's our last day. Please let us all make it through in one piece.
More photos from the trip: