Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

Philippians 4:6

The first time was the worst time. From that point on you improved as a poet, as a friend, as a listener. When was it — the fall semester of 2012 — when I persuaded myself to perform at a Slam Poetry Open Mic at the Shafer Street Playhouse. After registering and picking our names out of the hat (I was 10th out of 13), I forcibly sat in the cushioned seats and waited with the rest of the artists.

There you were, standing on the stage with a come-at-me-bro demeanor, a magnitude powerful enough to keep an 8.6 from quaking. When they called my number … let’s just say that my hands would never get that clammy quarterbacking a flag football championship game.

You recited a poem about a job you once had at Bojangles! and I will never forget the punch.

Bam! and my man went slam on the counter. Girl left her hat, would you give it to her?

I didn’t approach you that eye-opening evening, however I won’t forget the time I walked by you, sitting on the bench outside of Cabell Library, in your ugly, brown vest, and your fedora. … God, that fedora. Instant connection, fedoras were my thing.

I introduced myself to you and to my surprise, you said you remembered my performance. Your constructive criticism made me realize that I was more sensitive than I could handle. I wasn’t in this poetry thing to showcase my lyricism. Yes a message was conveyed, but the TRUE reason why I even took this leap …

was to strengthen my vocals. I someday wish to coach. I someday want to analyze a sport. I want to touch lives and through this cathartic, stress-relieving hobby, I knew that I could accomplish this personal goal by standing in front of 10s, 100s, 1,000s of listeners in a dark, crowded room.

You opened up to me and we developed a bond that exists to this day. We don’t talk much, no, but I know you’re out there in North Carolina grinding your buttocks off. I know that your sharpening your talents. We’ll connect later down the road, God-willing, and that lunch bro-date, or wedding, or possibly on a vacation with our wives and children, will be simply glorious.

Some may recognize these nights as an open mic night, but no, those late nights in the studio, or at Emilio’s, or at Addis, or at Kenn Tico’s, or at Aurora, or at VCU, or at your house, or on my balcony until sunrise, were moments that I will forever appreciate and remember.

Your friendship.

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