Press play to walk down memory lane
Today was my bon voyage party. What a special day. I can't believe I said goodbye to most of my family today. This is the the last time that I will see most of them for awhile. This is also the last time they will see me as Dom Baza. Next time they see me, it will be as someone else. I have been crying all week. Not sad tears, but happy tears. I'm really emotional. Today I was just a wreck. It was a beautiful party, but saying goodbye really hit me hard.
I think it really started to hit me when my god sister Poppin walked in the door. I asked my mom to invite all my god siblings. Most of them came. I don't see Poppin often. It really made me feel emotional seeing her walk through that door. Her mom was my godmother. My nina passed away in 2012. I was very close to her. She was my mom's own Courtney. They did everything together. I really wish she was still here with us on earth, but seeing Poppin walk through that door really struck a chord in me. It made me think about my mom without her Liz by her side. Now it's time for me to experience that without my siblings. It really hit me hard. I'm so thankful she was there to hold me today. Her and her girls, really made me feel like my nina was here with me, on such a special day. I really needed that, because I know my nina would love what i'm about to do, and who i'm about to become.
More and more of my family began lining up and arriving. That's when it suddenly became more real for me. I grabbed Courtney, Dash, Jamie and Braeden. We had a group huddle. I wanted to do this with them, and really thank them for being here for me. I lost it. Looking at them in this different light, it makes me so proud of where i'm leaving them off in this story. This ending would not have been possible, if it wasn't for them being by my side. I see these 4 often. Hell, my Courtney and my Dash, we have basically lived together this year. We spend so much time together. It really hit me hard, as I started seeing them as my siblings that live far away, and not near me. Whenever I need something, and vice versa, they jump for me. Now, I will be living across country. I can't jump for them anymore. I still can, but not in the way I am used to. I'm used to taking care of them. I love taking care of them. The idea of me away from them just feels so weird. It makes every part of my body feel off.
After my large cry session of a group huddle, we said grace. This was the first time that I got to see who exactly showed up to my party. Wow. That felt like another punch to my soul, because it just felt so surreal to be able to say thank you, and share what has been on my mind. Obviously I filled in the gaps and caught everyone up on the last 5 years. It's important to continuously bring up everything that has happened, because I would not be leaving California without everything that came before this moment. As everyone began to get their food, I stepped away to go cry a little more. No one but my mom knew that I was away in my old room bawling my eye out. I don't even think my sisters and brothers knew that. I did step away, because that's when I started feeling, I really am letting go of all that I have and had, for a new untouched life that is completely unknown to me.
I composed myself, I went downstairs and cried more. I saw my cousin Ang, and my nephews and nieces. God, they have been through a lot. Seeing how far we have all come in this 5 year span, really hit me hard. My cousin Angela deserves the world, and so does her kids. Now that i'm about to go live in the world, I want nothing more, than for the world that I am leaving behind, to take care of them and keep them safe. They really do deserve the world.
I walked outside and sat with my cousin Nellie for a little bit. She held me as cried more. I literally cried the whole duration of this party, so you'll probably say, when the hell are you done talking about crying? Lol. I'm glad I got to share a moment with her and her partner, my bro, Josh. I've been thinking a lot about our childhood. It was me and Nell against the world. Hey Nell, remember Nellie's News? lol. I did so much with my cousin growing up. Now we are older and so much has happened. I wanted to make sure she and her sister, Lolie, who I love just a much, I wanted to make sure that they know, i'm always going to be their family, no matter who or what I become. Those girls, their brother, Mama Nell, and Uncle Joe, mean the world to me. They just lost their dad a month ago, and I want them to know they are so loved by my parents and I. I really love you, my cousins. Wherever I go, you'll always be apart of me.
I got called away to greet more people. In the process I saw a familiar face... My old classmate, and dear old friend, Kaitlyn Carney, showed up to my party. Let me tell you, it really meant a lot to see her there. I invited a lot of people who I was once close to in my life. None of them, BUT, Kaitlyn showed up. Me, Dash, and Jamie grew up with her. Dash, Kaitlyn and another girl named Nadia, we used to do Laurel Creek Idol back in 5th grade at the playground. Oh man, I always smile when I think about those times. We go way back. It really touched me that she showed up. I love that girl. I loved growing up with her, and I really hope that even after this move, I can keep in contact with her. She has and always will be a special person, and she will always hold a special place in my heart. I have so much respect for beautiful souls like that. Thank you girl, for never making me feel anything less than I am. You have always supported me, and I will always support you. Really, it meant a lot to have her there. I love you, I always will.
After briefly catching up with Kaitlyn, it was time to entertain my guests. I don't think they knew they would be treated to music and speeches, but i'm so damn extra, and like I said, I have a lot to say. My sister Courtney was the first one up to sing some songs for my guests. I'm so proud of her, going up there and singing songs. She doesn't do that often, i'm glad she let loose and did her thing. When Courtney wrapped up, it was time for her, Jamie, Dash and Braeden to speak. Aka time for me to cry an endless river. Walking down memory lane, from their perspective, was everything for me. When I saw Jamie cry, it really hit me. Look how far we have come. He saw me cry when my world was breaking. He took my hand, put it on his shoulder, and helped me to walk forward. When he spoke, it brought me right back to that moment. Damn, it really made me see how far we have come. Braeden brought it back to when were just children and represented my childhood. That is so important for me to have sprinkled in my life now. So much of that influenced certain things that I do now as an adult. The girls. Dash. Like I already said, this year was so shitty for both of us. It just made me so emotional, knowing that i'm gonna be across the country, and no longer living close/living with her. It really hit me when she was speaking. It just felt like one completed circle. 17 years with her by my side, that's my sister. To hear her talk about those last 17 years, it would get anyone feeling the feels. Last up was my Courtney. My baby sister broke me into pieces. With her, it's different. Our relationship is such a huge part of our life. We are so closely connected. To have her up there crying for me, oh god, it really broke me. So much of the last 2 years revolved around us. Now we are going to be apart, and honestly that is going to be a huge test for us. I have a gut feeling she is gonna end up near me, in the near future. We are kind a package deal, a good one of course. Separating ourselves, is really hard for me. I really do feel like i'm leaving a huge apart of myself here, within her. Within the 4 of them, I leave behind different parts of myself, and it's really hard for me to remove myself from their storyline, and to remove them from mine. I have to accept that this story is done. It's been a mixed bag of emotions, but this story really is almost finished. I have to let every part go, so we can grow on our own for a little bit. I just know they will pop up again when the time is right. They leave apart of themselves within me, and that's what I take away after crying a river through their speeches.
Now it was my turn to speak. My turn to sing. My turn to say what I needed to say. Everyone that I love, loved, and lost in one room. Yes, I know the ones above were in the room with me. I could feel them. I could feel their presence, I always do. My music of course does most of the talking. I have written so much for my next album. Sometimes, it's too much, but It is my story. Everything that I have gone through within the last 5 years is documented in my lyrics. Everyone just sat and listened to what I had to say. I'm glad I was able to make it through the set, with my emotional self just crying for majority of the songs. Listen, my next album is an album that you need to find yourself crying to. It's been rough, and that is all showcased in my songs. As my set began to wrap up, I sang a song that I always wanted to sing with my mom. "Teach Your Children" is and has always been on my bucket list of songs that I want to cover. I'm so glad my mom agreed to sing it with me. I changed the arrangement at the last min, so that way we could feel the lyrics more. I wanted to make sure I said, "mom and dad, i love you", at the end. I did that because this song has such a deep meaning, and describes our family dynamic, so well. Every time I hear it, I think of my parents. To be able to sing it with my mom and have my dad right at the front watching, that really hit me hard. It was the perfect lead in, to my final song, a new song I wrote after I got hit by the car. "Memories That Will Stick With Me For Life", is a song I wrote a few days after getting hit by the car. This song poured out of me, within it was my life story. Not just the last 5 years, but all 24 years. Everyone that I love, loved, and lost is alive and well within my lyrics. That song is my gift to my family. I won't go into detail, because obviously I want the world to hear it one day. It's a really hard song to sing through, it hits you right in the feels. I never not cry when I sing it. Seeing everyone around me cry, made me feel like I did my job, and did it right. When I finished the song, I said my last round of thank you's. I cried a lot more, and took it all in, as this was my last time performing as Dom Baza.
Everyone came up to greet me and hold me tight, as we each cried. I shared a moment with everyone in that room. It's was surreal for me, because this is now the last moment that i'll see most of them. As my family all came up, greeted, took photos and hugged me tight, it was my sister who made me feel okay to let go of it all. My older sister Tani, is not one person that I talk a lot about. But she is very important to who I am, and why i'm the way I am. You know, she took care of me growing up. She was a big help to my parents when I was a kid. She drove me around, introduced me to shopping, and literally every cool thing from the 90's. Hence, why I love the 90's. My sister introduced me to all of that. She introduced me to the idea of the world, via the movies she would take me to, the shows she'd make me watch and the music she sang along to in her car. All of that really shaped me into me. Now as an adult, her kids have done the same thing for me. My sister and I, our memories live on within those boys. It really shows and i'm so glad I got to make our relationship come full circle, with the kids. When she came up to me in the hustle of it all, she told me it was okay. We're all gonna be okay, it's time. God man, that right there, in that moment, I knew she was right. I'm done, there's nothing else I can do here. It's time. I didn't need to hear that, but it was nice to have that reassurance. I worry a lot about my family. I worry about their safety and well being. I just want everyone happy and healthy. It's been a really hard decade for us. Yet here we are celebrating, the good and the bad of it all. Because like she said, we're all gonna be alright, we're gonna be okay. In my heart and soul, i know we will be. I wouldn't be taking this jump if I didn't believe that.
I will always be so grateful for every good and bad moment. Tonight was a night of goodbyes and it was a celebration honoring all that I have become as Dom Baza. Tonight I got a lot of the closure that I needed, in order for me to fully move forward as who I want to be, and who that person will become. As the party went on, one by one everyone started leaving. Dash left first because she is headed back east. I'm so glad we aren't going to be parted for long, and that i'll see her in my brand new story, very soon. After Dash left, everyone else left. The night ended with me and Courtney going down memory lane, crying about the memories (good and bad), that will stick with us for life. It was quiet, just us two looking back at what has been created. It's been a long day. It's now 3am. I've been looking over these pics, thinking about everyone and everything. They all wrote me messages within my diary. I don't want to read them until i'm in the plane, so I won't comment on them yet. What I will say is, today was special. I'm so thankful, grateful, and beyond blessed to have been blessed by everyone who showed up to send me on my way. Every step I take, every move I make, every single day, every time I pray, I'll be missing you. I truly will. Thank you to everyone who made today possible. I'm ready now, i'm ready to fully let go. It's time. It's time for saying goodbye.
Photographer: Courtney Johnson
What I'm Wearing: Shirt - Vintage Find, Pants - Uniqlo, Shoes - Puma
Stories From My Life - CHAPTER 16: THE FINAL PAGES
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Stories From My Life
(APRIL 17- PRESENT)