Updated: Aug 29
An ode to my sisters-in-dance and Love Jones.
Have you ever seen the movie Love Jones? Of course you have. As a matter of fact, if you’re from an urban area and was a teenager in the 1990’s, it’s written on some faded, yellowed piece of wide ruled notebook paper with torn edges and a stain from a red kool-aid spill that holds the list of your all time movie favs, right up there next to The Best Man and Brown Sugar [“When did you fall in love with Hip Hop?”].
However, if the aforementioned attributes do not describe you...well, okay then you probably won’t get where I’m coming from in this writing and I, therefore, encourage you to Youtube it [it’s got a young Larenz Tate in it if he's your cup of mocha].
Scene from the movie Love Jones, circa 1997
Anywho, the point is that all I wanted for my adult life was a cast of friendships in the shadowy form of Nina, Darius, Savon, Josie, Sheila, etcetera…etcetera. I didn’t think that was too much to ask for. I am black American. I am from Chicago. I was a poet and I surely considered myself to be deep. Therefore I concluded that a circle of intelligent and cultured brown-skinned friends were someplace just waiting for me to come along and signal their completion.
But in 1997 we were long gone from the Chi.
Welcome to Minnesota.
Now one may assume that a place like the Land of 10,000 Lakes would be drowning in fairer faces – and one would be correct. Where might I find a Love Jones crew in the likes of St. Paul, Minnesota? Surprisingly, I found a facsimile of it when I started to date a guy, who I later married, named Glorius L [of the mighty Abstract Pack]. But they were his friends, not mine, evidenced by the fact that he won them in the divorce.
Ever since 1997 when I sat in a movie theater with some nameless/faceless person or peeps, envisioning myself as being part of some formidable click of associates who I could sit around a living room with, talking mess while playing a bongo, I have wanted this group of friends – prayed for them even, but never had my wish granted.
I suppose I got close here and there, especially when Hurricane Wilma winds blew me back home and into the company of the InC [Inner Circle]. But what did I do? Gave it all up to follow a path that led me right back to that arctic place that I vowed to never return – Minnesota.
InC crew members Ronnie, Miki, Rahsaan, and Omar [not pictured, Felicia and Bobby], circa 2010
Time and again I still dreamed of the clique I believed to have been deprived of, but by my late 30’s the realization that this fantasy friendship would never happen began to settle in. But I was not forsaken. One inactive day in heaven above, God sat upon a wispy cirrus cloud going through a list of prayers to grant and up pops my name, and beside the dash that followed were the words, Love Jones and girlfriends. And He looked down upon me in a little studio in a large gym in the city of Saint Louis Park and the resources available to Him and did the best He could with what He had – He gave me a group of white girlfriends [and a Mexican and a Native American and three Jews].
What the cuss?!
There were no blonds in Love Jones! There were no blue or green-eyed homies at the coffee house or wherever the crap they spit their poetry! No Journey playing at the clique gatherings! These chics seemed cool but they were no Love Jones, no sir! And it isn’t even because they aren’t black because my only ever best friend, Mags J, is a blue-eyed blond, but they weren’t even…idk…“black” [well except Lindsey, maybe]!
But the thing that I quickly realized is that they don’t need to be. My being pro-black isn't tantamount to anti-everything else. They've satiated my need. Perhaps I don’t crave Love Jones anymore because I have The Real Housewives of Lifetime Fitness [they’ll remember that afternoon at Lagos Tacos]! And better still I have…Love, and I appreciate my friends for exactly who they are.
And who they are, are:
Bridgette, who is funny and sassy and despite not having the pleasure of her company in a long while, she's still a sister to me.
Danielle, a proud and giving educational leader in the Native American community who is most supportive to her colleagues and her friends.
Emily, who is thoughtful and compassionate and so much fun to be with.
Jenna, who I find to be impressive as an engineer and has the best conga line or little-engine-that-could inspired dance moves!
JJ, who has a glow that either comes from fresh-faced youth, or possibly that bright light shining from within [I think it's the latter] :)
Jess Rodin, the ubiquitous party planner that makes every event special and experience unique.
Jess Santos, who livens up the party [when she can make it, lol] even while pausing to take a selfie.
Jill, whose warm, rich laughter and pleasant demeanor makes you feel like you've known her always.
Katelyn, [aka Kate Lunch] cheeky and unafraid to take a stand when she sees wrongdoing, while keeping us organized when we need it.
Katie, who is humble, at times to a fault, with an honesty that is refreshing and heart that is pure.
Katy, low key and sweet, thoughtful and just a joy.
Leah, who is always there with encouraging words, great advice, or just an ear to lend or shoulder to lean on.
Lindsey, who I can only sum up as, mos def, the homie and the one that welcomed me into the fold.
Michelle, exuding sexy with her long, lustrous hair and crazy tales of misadventures.
And...Mollie, who reminds me of self. The curator of this community. The choreographer of our connection. One who brings joy through DANCE and helps make life an even greater experience.
Mollie Krengal surrounded by [l-r] Jill, Leah, Jerika, Danielle, Kately, Jj, Miki, Emily, Jess, Katie, Jenna, Lindsey, Kim, and Ashley at 514 Studios in Minneapolis. Circa 2015
Okay, so I never got my Love Jones crew…no colorful dashiki headwraps and living room galala dancing. No Blues for Nina while she's ...Looking at Music [but no cigarette smoking either]. And although I am not Hopeless that I will meet someone who understands precisely why this dream of mine had ever been a dream of mine, I understand that just maybe I have gotten something better...something greater.
For us, the Awesome Ladies [formerly of Lifetime Fitness], we have become friends at a time in our lives where most of us already are who we are going to be. Perhaps we are better for it. For while it may have been Mollie's Zumba and Barre classes that brought us together in the first place, it’s the Dance Parties [with and without choreography] that will keep us going for years to come!
Darius performing Brother to the Night [a Blues for Nina], from Love Jones
Miki Starr is an author and digital content creator by profession. She has published 9 novels and co-authored a book of poetry. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she now resides in Hopkins, Minnesota with her composer spouse and their cat-babies, Hendrixx and Ella.