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I Met Angels in Phoenix

One in particular left a mark.

I just got back from a trip to Phoenix for a screening of my short film, Utopia, at the 2019 Phoenix Film Festival. What an amazing festival this is! Great films, sold out shows, great people, panels, and warmth everywhere... I was and felt loved, cared for, protected, and inspired. But, my trip didn't begin this way...

I lost my wallet.

Yup, I decided to make this one a #roadtrip. I was to drop off my little guy at his doggy daycare home, first thing in the morning, and just as I pulled in to his daycare, my check engine came on.

After a few tries, I found a Pep Boys that didn't have an insane wait. The sweet man running the service desk, Rafael, offered to just plug in this gadget and see what the code was. That would tell him and me if it's even worth it--my waiting to get service.

In the meanwhile, I am missing an online Sundance Co//lab screenwriting course, this was Thursday by the way, and it was our last class. I really wanted to be in this one, so I sat in the Pep Boys parking lot after getting the diagnosis from Rafeal with his instructions to take the car back to the dealer! and got on the Zoom call for class: 30mins in.

I cried on the call.

Don't know if it was just being overwhelmed with all that's happening at once in my world, or what? But, I cried and my classmates were so sweet about it... I am going to miss being in that class, it was such a great learning experience.

Then I called my dad (he does know everything) and he told me what to do: fill the coolant tank with coolant and get on the road. The light may remain on, but if I just keep an eye on the tank itself and make sure that blue liquid does not get below the line, I'll be golden. He was right: it was the sensor that had an issue, not the tank itself. So, I bought coolant, the salesman -- a sweet older Hispanic man, helped me mix and fill and all that and I was on the road.

I stopped at a gas station.

Feeling a bit encouraged, I filled my tank with gas. Got some snacks out of my trunk, and resigned to arriving in Phoenix a bit later than I had hoped for, I got on the road. My instructions (from dad): pull over every hour to check on the coolant. Secondary instructions (from my husband, who's currently on a long stint in Singapore) make sure my gas tank is full, period. So, my plan was to stop every hour and change to fill up my tank and check the coolant.

I stopped an hour and a half into my trip at a mall just off an exit on the I-10.

That's when I realized it, at the counter of the restaurant I went into to use the bathroom and order fries... I had lost my wallet.

I ran outside, and turned my car inside out -- no wallet.

I called the gas station and asked them to check for me -- no wallet.

I retraced my steps from the car to the counter to the bathroom and back to the counter (where I apologized for wasting their time) and back to the car -- no wallet.

Then, I called dad: he knows everything -- no way to get my wallet back, I needed to figure out how to continue the trip. It sucked hearing this, but he was right.

So, big girl pants back on: I cancelled all my cards as I tried not to scream at the fact that I had $125 gift card in that wallet that was now gone. Plus, the cash too.

I had an almost full tank of gas still, so per my guru dad's instructions: I was driving an average of 55mph all the way to Phoenix (actually, Scottsdale), Arizona. F*ck everyone else on the road, just pass me please. I kept my hazards on, it helped. I called the hotel, luckily I had prepaid for my room, and they were ok with checking me in after I explained my no driver's license situation.

I prayed not to get pulled over.

So, needless to say -- when I arrived in Scottsdale, I was not a happy camper! Though my girl Rasheda and I talked for a bit on the phone as I was driving and she thought I was in good spirits... considering. I was in shock, I think. My first night was rough. I was rude, I was upset, I was hungry, I needed a drink (which no one would sell to me without an ID) and I wasn't feeling the love.

But, that all changed the following morning, when this queen: Denita, our Liaison, invited me to breakfast with the other filmmakers in my block: the African American Short Film Block and she insisted I came (she's got me, she said) and I went. This is the important part: I didn't feel like going, but I went.

Everything changed from there...

I met such amazing people, words can't express... My tribe.

I wanted so much to thank them: to wash their feet, dry them with my kinky hair; to kiss every part of them, sit them at my humble table and feed them soul food made with as much love as I could muster.

I will cherish this experience for a while, I think I will.

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