I gave Rae a call on a random hot summer night in my studio apartment. I had no air condition and no furniture. I was young and trying to make it. The call probably lasted about five minutes. Rae answered the phone and I explained to her who I was. She acted like she remembered me but in her voice I felt she had no clue who I was. I told her I lived in NYC now and that next time she was in the city to let me know so we could grab dinner. She was very polite and agreed and we hung up the phone. I was so happy just to hear her voice. I was on total groupie status at that time
Rae’s transparency is something I had never seen before in another human being. I am from the south and in the south people say what they think you want to hear. Rae is from Chicago and speaks the truth ALWAYS! She is not afraid to tell you exactly what she thinks. With Rae you can expect her to be honest at ALL times. She often says “You can’t sugar coat shit” and that she doesn’t do “half truths”. For me, growing up in a place where people were so judgmental on everything from race to sexuality Rae was a breath of fresh air. I saw in Rae a fearless individual that was both confident and strong. I admired these personality traits that Rae possess and still do.
Since Rae and I became friends we have shared many great experiences together. Despite our age difference (We are 18 years apart) we hang out like we were separated at birth. We both have an affinity for the finer things in life (although I think Rae is way worse than I am in this area!). We have come to the conclusion that sometimes we are each others Kryptonite. Neither one of us really know how to say “no” when it comes to treating ourselves (or each other).
We were seated promptly and felt right at home. Great service, great views, and hanging out as besties. Rae and I decided to splurge and opted for the Chefs 10-course tasting menu. Each course was the size of a small saucer but we were blown away by the exceptional taste of each dish and how full we became after about the fifth tasting. We laughed and shared stories in between eating. Rae doesn’t drink (I do) so out of respect for her I never order a drink when I am with her. It’s amazing to me how I feel as if I’m high on life when we spend time together. Who needs a drink when I got Rae!? You can imagine my high deflated by the time the bill came. We are no good together when it comes to budgets but we have no regrets – it was worth it and a memory we both cherish.
As much as Rae and I like nice things she has shown me that she is humble enough to not be attached to them. When speaking engagements became sparse and few Rae downsized and moved out of her beautiful three bedroom condo to a small studio on the Gold Coast. She sold jewelry, furs, purses, and designer suits just to make ends meet.
I had a revelation at that moment. It dawned on me Rae was speaking truth. Here we were driving around in Rae’s Jaguar, yet she was selling personal items to survive. On the outside Rae looks like the picture of health. She is beautiful. Sharp from head to toe and no matter how she feels each day she still pushes herself to get out of bed and face the day like the DIVA she is.
She exposes personal and painful aspects of her life in hopes that her transparency will allow others to make better decisions. It hurts her to hear of new diagnosis of HIV because in 2011 people know to use a condom. At the time of her infection AIDS was not supposed to happen to a straight woman -- but it did.
As I got off the train I heard a mans voice ask for help. He was hungry and needed food. I tried to ignore him because I really wanted to eat this meal. I took a few more steps and heard him cry out for food once again. I stopped in my tracks and thought of Rae. I thought about how at a time when she had no money she was willing to spend the little she had to help someone in need and I knew what I had to do. I turned around and gave the man my food.
Thank You Rae for making me a better person.
Part One Click Here!