March 1, 2020
“Welcome back.” Mohamed hugged me more tightly than he ever has in our lives, and we’ve spent quite a bit of time hugging through ups and downs, bliss and stress, personal and professional moments over the years. When we finally pulled away, there were massive tears in my eyes and a smile bigger than I may have smiled in six whole months across my face (baring my new teeth!). He didn’t let go. At long last, I had the opportunity to thank him in person for the life-saving texts, the poignant videos, the powerful ways he has continually shown up, the conscious shifts he’s made in his life for me, even with everything going on in his own world. We rocked back and forth and talked and hugged and smiled right there in the middle of everything. He spun me around in something of a debonaire dance move, which I didn’t expect and made me supremely light-headed, yet he held me up. I melted into his body, feeling 100% safe in his arms. This all came to pass amid a crowded room, where we both knew many people — celebrating a cause, a mission, a board on which I’m proud to resume serving: Zioness — but it was like time froze and the space emptied when I saw him and stood up for an embrace.
My best friends — Mohamed and countless special souls — are welcoming me back into their lives, our lives, the world I once knew and loved. And with their arms wrapped around me, perhaps I can come to do so again.
The majority of the event, I spent tucked in a booth along one wall of the venue, away from the craziness of the entrance, bustling bar, photo wall or dance floor. I locked eyes with people from afar—many of whom then came over to see me, hug gently, engage in conversation. People were so incredibly thoughtful in their wording, phrasing, genuine excitement. Some didn’t know what to say, and simply said as much, wherein we laughed and hugged, for all was right in that moment. I met new people, who didn’t know of my accident, and apart from an occasional stutter, with my thick makeup in the dimly lit room, there were no other clear indicators of the unimaginable damage it caused. Six long months to get here feels like an eternity in some ways, and there’s certainly much more necessary recovery ahead, but I am definitely coming along.
The booth was filled with a beautiful array of humans I adore from many walks of life and distinct spheres: my fierce Sudanese political activist soul brother Mohamed, a researcher friend from Texas, a finance friend from New York, a videographer friend from Israel, a news producer friend from the district, a lawyer friend from SF, a publisher from Baltimore, a Rabbi friend from DC, and other phenomenal people who inspire me for who they are, what they do, why they do it, and how they go about it at both the day-to-day and macro levels. They made me feel so spectacularly normal, yet also understood, cared for and protected. I really did feel welcomed by each and every one of them (and numerous others!), as Mohamed so aptly said as he nodded ecstatically and looked me square in the eyes. “Welcome back.”