Regrettably, I am neither as exciting nor mysterious as my chosen pen-name implies. I’m just me: an average middle-aged woman trying to extend my off-the-shelf-life.
Life, in my experience, is a perpetual motion machine. As long as you are alive you are – by definition – doing something. It may not be much, it may not look like much, it may not have a lot of intrinsic value, but in life there is motion. So, last year, after stalling out at the gym yet again, I decided to give bellydancing a try. I mean, I have a belly, so I qualified, right? I’ve actually found it to be quite fun. I’m not the lithe, sexy figure some of my classmates are, but I’d like to think I make up for it with attitude. I’ve got lots of that.
On my road to fully developing my bellydance persona, I decided I needed a bellydance name. Not all bellydancers have them; not all want them. But why do something halfway? I poured over many internet articles on the topic until I finally found a rather comprehensive list. I painstakingly read through the list, pronouncing each name (as best I could); contemplating how it sounded rolling off my tongue, if its meaning had any connection to me, and if it stirred any feelings in me. I felt pretty confident I’d select an African name. Seemed the logical thing to do: along my trek I had come across a couple of articles about bellydancers of color and how we need to celebrate our uniqueness. So I had already made up in my mind that, come April recital, I would step onto the stage with my blown-out, free-form ‘fro and my fabulous African bellydancer moniker.
No African names made my eventual short-list. The two names I kept coming back to were Turkish: “Seyyal”, meaning “traveller”, and “Edibe”, meaning “writer.” My life has been quite the journey, and I started journaling when I was 15 in an effort to sort it all out. So it seemed only logical that I would become Seyyal Edibe.
In this blog, I’d like to take you on my most recent and certainly most meaningful journey on which I have ever embarked: the search for the missing half of me: my maternal half. This journey lead me to an insect-infested tract of land in South Georgia known as Butler’s Island, where it appears my maternal line originated in this country. What started out as a search for a few birth and death certificates has resulted in my meeting a number of fascinating people who share my heritage from and my interests in Butler’s Island and the discovery of some alarming, delightful, maddening, saddening, and puzzling information which I must somehow piece together to understand my maternal family quilt. I hope you will join me on my journey, and I hope you will find as much satisfaction and joy as I have here.