The late 90s were a difficult time for my family and me. It was the onset of my neurological and mental health challenges, and I was hospitalized on and off while receiving test after test to hopefully approach a diagnosis. In early 2000, at the end of one of my hospital stays, my older sister Morgan presented me with Annie on DVD as a “welcome home” present. There have been many versions of Annie, but the 1999 TV movie stuck with me forever.
I remember being anxious about the pending results of multiple medical evaluations—and everything else in the world—and sitting on the couch with my sister to watch a musical that would go on to become my favorite movie all of time. This version, a collaboration with the ABC network and Disney Studios, stars legends Audra McDonald, Kristen Chenoweth, Kathy Bates, and Victor Garber as the adoptive father of Annie, Mr. Warbucks.
Garber sings the classic solo, “Something Was Missing”, about how his life was always full yet somehow empty, and how until he met Annie he didn’t realize that being a father was what he had been missing all along:
My speeches are greeted with thunderous acclaim
At two universities bearing my name
Yet something was missing each time I got through
That something was someone — but who?
The lyrics always stood out to me because there have been many moments in my life when I have realized I am where I’m supposed to be, and I arrived exactly how I should—yet there was still something more. . . Two specific scenarios come to mind, times when I’ve hoped for something without knowing exactly what it was.
The first scenario revolved around a question: What’s your type? It’s a common question among friends, typically to the single one(s) ready to fall in love. And throughout my early 20s I struggled to answer it aside from the beautiful yet seemingly generic bullet points of “sharing family values” and “similar faith-based moral compass.”
I could never narrow down a personality type. I had no preference when it came to race or even where he lived—if he had been married before or was a single dad. I don’t want to paint a picture that I was boy crazy or desperate (but sometimes that was the appearance, ha!), I simply detested the idea of creating my dream guy in my head knowing the dream had yet to come to life. I desired marriage and admired healthy unions I saw among my friends and family members, but I knew that I didn’t have the tools to cultivate that on my own. So I seldom spent time attempting to plan ahead.
Fast forward to 2017 when I saw my husband for the first time and I knew. In an instant the blank spaces where my “dream guy” MAD libs floated around in my mind made sense. I fell in love with everything about him: character, demeanor, personality—it didn’t hurt that he’s 6’3, dark, and handsome. I was in love. And through every season since, I still am.
The second scenario was professional, but the love was no less real. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 15 years, full time for 10 years. I’ve had amazing opportunities as a musician, actor and director, and all, of course, have been preceded by numerous meetings. I’ve sat at long conference tables with every seat filled, in corner offices that overlooked the city, and had production meetings with a handful of colleagues in a home studio.
Yet it wasn’t until the fall of 2021 that I sat in a room filled with us.
It was a virtual room, and it was the inaugural meeting for the writing community with Mahogany.com. We’d all gathered via video chat. I had just had wisdom-tooth surgery, and my husband and I had both missed work due to our toddler being under the weather. I needed to rest my jaw and hadn’t intended on having my video “on” until I realized I was in a meeting that was filled with Black women.
In all my years of meetings with my peers, I never saw this many Black women in one room. Virtual or otherwise. So, I pushed through the four wisdom-tooth-less holes that enhanced my occasional lisp and joined the conversation. Months into being a part of this community, I am still so glad I did. There have been seasons of my life and artistry when I didn’t realize my magic was sitting on the sidelines, and until that virtual conference call I hadn’t seen the curtains pulled back. I sighed, I laughed, I felt a welcoming presence that I didn’t even know I was missing.
Yet something was missing,
But dreams can come true
That something is no one, but you.
I didn’t know what kind of man I would love until I met the man I would love forever. And I didn’t realize the sisterhood I was missing out on until I was exposed to it. In various ways, this happens to all of us. We may feel comforted and confident in our present, but there’s something about the future that’s anticipatory—like something missing, like a dream you have that has yet to come true.
So, how do we choose to hold onto hope, even when we’re not sure what we’re hoping for?Leave a Comment