(“Me in one of my favorite Marimekko dresses goofing off in front of one of my favorite murals in San Francisco’s Mission District,” says Faith Adiele. Photo credit: Ronald Palmer; Mural credit: 1998 Mosaic mural of Aztec goddess Tonantzin by Colette Crutcher.)
Basic bio: Faith Adiele is a travel memoirist and essayist, teacher and host, storyteller and speaker who likes to say YES! She was a writer for A World of Calm (HBO Max), and is teaching two upcoming classes.
Beyond the bio: Last year for my sabbatical, I brought a one-way ticket to Europe and told my husband I’d be back in no less than 100 days. It was the kind of spontaneous travel I did in my 20s, so it felt terrific to do it as a grown-ass lady, with greater personal power and a rich bank of historical and cultural references to pull from.
What makes you a grown-ass lady? One evening in Italy, a young woman staying at my AirBnB asked to make dinner together. This very accomplished traveler, who could have been out partying, was asking me about life and career, and texting her friends to look me up. And I realized that she saw me as knowledgeable and my ordinary little tales as wisdom. I remember thinking, Oh wow, she thinks I’m grown!
1. On the nightstand: Water carafe, Lavender cardamom lip balm, artificial tears, estrogen cream (the downside of grown-assery), highlighter and pens, tiny notebook with husband’s handwritten wedding vows, fish-shaped nail clipper.
2. Can’t stop/won’t stop: Traveling the world and dragging home handmade textiles and earrings.
3. Jam of the minute: Lady Donli’s Corner is catchy, as well as a primer on Nigerian music and cinema. The video by Shaun Kalu is a Nollywood-style mini-film celebrating women and Nigeria’s young #MeToo movement. Janelle Monáe’s Turntables is a political anthem with amazing video footage meant to inspire and rally us for this very moment.
4. Thing I miss: Themed dinner parties on long tables that last long into the night. Living in a real neighborhood and stoopin’ with my neighbors.
5. ’80s crush: Roland Gift, frontman for the Fine Young Cannibals.
6. Current crush: Everybody associated with Afropunk.
7. Latest fave find: Matching facemasks and headwraps made of Ankara fabric. African fashion is killing it right now, so a pandemic ain’t nothing.
8. Last thing I lost: What haven’t we lost under the current regime? Good thing my name is Faith.
9. Best thing that happened recently: After 7 straight months of co-hosting BIPOC Writing Party, a free weekly virtual writing community that Serena W. Lin and I co-founded in response to the pandemic and BLM, we decided to hand over to the members and walk away. The community cheered our decision to focus on our own writing and rallied to put on an amazing celebration, at which Serena totally surprised me. She had written a beautiful testimonial about working together AND met up with my husband to give him a bottle of champagne from a black woman owned winery. While I and 60 folks on Zoom were sobbing at her speech, he snuck up behind me and popped the cork. It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced.
10. Looking forward to: A fat book contract, hugging people, international travel.