You don’t have to like me.
I like me.
I love me. 😉
You don’t have to like me.
I like me.
I love me. 😉
This has been on repeat since like August…. That bassline tho…
Trenton, New Jersey March, 2002
Stephanie walked through the front door of her home, dropped her umbrella on the front porch, took off her damp trench coat, and kicked her shoes off there too. They were soaked and wet and her hair looked miserable. She took a deep breath, perhaps a sigh of relief from such a tiresome day on the job. She shut the door behind her and stumbled over to the kitchen table where a sheet of tablet paper was folded neatly there.
The lights were on.
The TV was on.
It was as if Derrick had never even came home. Or did he? She couldn’t remember. Maybe he didn’t and she just forgot to cut everything off again. Damn. She sat down on the couch, unraveled the paper, squinted and began to read:
I left early this morning for Los Angeles. This isn’t a vacation though, this is where I will be living from now on. And no, it wasn’t a job offer. And no, I’m not seeing another woman behind your back either. I’ve decided to follow my dreams. I’m sure that you understand, we’ve had this conversation before. I am only reiterating these things, because I don’t want any confusion in the coming hours when you come across this letter. Don’t you remember? We were parked in the Barnes and Noble parking lot? We had bought all those books (most of which were for me– I was never successful in sparking your interest in reading). You must remember. Remember when I told you that I felt that I was being held back? And how I wasn’t living up to my full potential? And how for so many years, out of all of my siblings, I was the subject of ridicule? Everyone else ran full throttle on their dreams, and I stayed behind and got married. I don’t mean to speak of marriage in such a burdensome way, but can we be honest with each other? We’re not successful together, babe. We’re miserable. We never argued, we never raised our voices towards each other. I never thought once of lifting a finger to harm you. But things have gotten much, much worse as time has gone on. Your mood swings have intensified. Don’t you remember how I would always drop you off to work in the morning? I assume that you do. And how we would hug and kiss before you got out of the passenger seat? When was the last time we hugged and kissed? Lately, you’ve just been waving at me, and sometimes I wouldn’t even get that. I’d lean in for a kiss sometimes, and you’d lean away from me and give me this look of confusion as if you forgot who I am and what I mean to you.
Or what about that time we invited your mother and father over to dinner? We were all sitting at the table watching Family Feud. Your mother asked you what we had planned for our wedding anniversary. You paused and looked away. Your mother asked you again. You looked at her, smiled, and then looked away again. Your mother squinted at you and called your name rather firmly. You turned back towards her and screamed at the top of your lungs, “WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?!” Your mother told you that she wasn’t even yelling at you, and that she asked you a simple question, which was what is our plans for our anniversary? You paused again and looked down at your plate. I got up out of my seat and wrapped my arms around you as you wept, and told your mother that we had planned on going to New York for a few days.
Or what about that time that I was at work (this had to have been about 3 months ago), when I got a call from the police telling me that you called them crying because you got lost driving home from work? I had no problem picking you up, but how could you forget that easily where you live? Do remember any of this happening? I’m positive that you do.
I shouldn’t even have to mention that time you left the stove on one Sunday morning in our old apartment when you went to church, and when you came back…….
Stephanie crumbled up the letter and threw it on the floor. She couldn’t take any more of it. She grabbed a handful of hair and sunk to the floor crying uncontrollably. She screamed and cried, screamed and cried. She banged the hard wooden floors with her fists, she raged. She pounded her fist against her forehead over and over again, rebuking herself in the process. She screamed out “Why! Why! Why! Why! Why!”
She was livid. But who was she upset with? Herself? Or Derrick?
Was she as far gone as Derrick made it seem? Surely he had been exaggerating on some of that, right? “How dare HE try to play the victim in all this shit!”, she thought.
She got up off of the floor and ran upstairs to the bedroom. As she expected, all of his belongings were gone. She tried to think of when she saw him last, because here was no way that he could’ve packed everything that quickly. She thought long and hard, but couldn’t remember.
She walked towards the bed and leaned in to see a shiny ring sitting directly on the center of it. She felt her heart drop. In utter frustration and anger, she went into yet another rage, this time knocking over the nightstand, the picture frames on the wall, the bookshelf, the drawers and dressers. The room was a mess. she fell to her knees with her hair in her hands yet again and screamed and wailed in agony and heartbreak. Her eyes landed on the ring on the bed. She got up and grabbed the ring and ran over to the bathroom. She put the ring close to her face and examined the ring, all of the little details. Before she could even begin to weep, she threw the ring in the toilet and flushed it. She thought that she would be satisfied with seeing how quickly the ring would vanish after she presses down on the lever.
She wasn’t satisfied though.
She paced the floors. She walked in every room in the house, upstairs and down. After pacing the floors, she sat down on the bed– HER side of the bed. She wanted so desperately to seal the deal, to permanently erase him from her life– whatever was left of him, that is. If he was really gone, why should she have to live with anything that would remind her of him? If he walked out so easily on her, she wanted to delete his entire existence also.
She had thought of flushing down her wedding ring too of course, but she couldn’t remember where she had put it last.
Eyes open. A long stretch. A glance at the clock.
She sits up, peel back the layers upon layers of covers and sets her feet on the wooden floors. She scratches her head, as if to make sure that she is indeed awake, and makes her way to the kitchen.
Fear. Misery. Loneliness. Sickness.
She opens up the refrigerator door and peers in. She’s got one last Seagram’s left. Flavored beer always tastes the best at this time of the morning. It’s the Strawberry Daiquiri one. She cracks it open (using the hem of her nightgown for some assistance) and takes a long gulp…
Sadness. Paranoia. Bankruptcy. Anxiety.
She suddenly stumbles back and spits the drink out of her mouth. The beer bottle escapes her grip, but she recovers it before it shattered in a million pieces on the floor. She walks backwards until she gets to he sink basin and spins around, looking out of the window. It’s a full moon out. A gentle breeze. She can hear some pigeons cooing somewhere in the trees. This brings her peace almost instantly, and as a result, finally makes her way to find the mop to clean the spill.
She could see one big moon, but really wanted to see the millions of little stars. There were none tonight…
Anger. Confusion. Heartbreak. Betrayal.
When she’s finished, she grabs an apple and a knife and some napkins. She drags herself back into bed, grabs her journal from the nightstand beside her and she writes for a little. She doesn’t want to read. Tonight isn’t a night to read words belonging to others, but to have her words read for once. With the knife, she chips away at the apple; she never ever bit directly into an apple. The napkin of course, was for her tears. She cried tears of longing, tears of suffering, tears of misunderstanding. It wasn’t a wail, but it was a moan, a moan of dissatisfaction… surely, she hoped that one of the stars would come from hiding and pay her a little visit tonight…
Shame. Torment. Deception. Depression.
But none ever came.
–The Coldest Winter Ever, Sister Souljah ——————-⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ –To Be Young Gifted & Black, An Informal Autobiography of Lorraine Hansberry ————-⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
–The Art of Stopping Time, Practical Mindfulness for Busy People, Pedram Shojai————— (currently reading)
February: –The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli——————⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
–JoJo, C-Love——– (currently reading)
–Balm, Dolen Perkins-Valdez—————-(currently reading)
The days blended in altogether for Tiffany, because her to-do list was always the same. Wake up, take a shower, get dressed, feed her two children, get them dressed, take them to school, go to work at 9, clock out at 6, pick up the children, then head to the hospital to see her Mama. Her mother has been in the hospital for 4 weeks now, as she’s been battling pancreatic cancer. After two unsuccessful surgeries, Tiffany decided to keep her mother in the hospital; she felt that the kids didn’t need to see such a gruesome scene. I mean, all they’ve ever seen was their Grandmama happy. All they’ve ever seen is their Grandmama strong. All they’ve ever seen is their Grandmama being the strong Black woman that she was, cooking for them, washing their clothes and giving them a place to stay at night, while their mother got drunk and partied all night long. Besides, they’d always be able to visit whenever their mother deemed it appropriate to bring them by the hospital. Their father had died in a car accident while in route to the hospital while Tiffany was in labor— all they had were pictures and an obituary.
The role of the mother, and the role of the grandmother became severely distorted within the household. It had gotten so bad, that they eventually started calling their Grandmama, Mama. And when both their Grandmama and their ‘actual’ Mama would turn their heads in their direction, they would correct themselves by saying, “Sorry, we meant to call Grandmama.” For all they knew, the only mother that they had was the one who had actually attended their play performances. The one who signed off on their permission slips for their school field trips. The one who make sure that their Christmas was the best Christmas yet. The one who always baked cupcakes for their birthdays, and would make just enough for all of their classmates to partake in the festivities. It was devastating to think about for Tiffany. “Two kids, one son and one daughter. Twins. Both of ’em are 9 years old and they don’t even know how to call their mama correctly.” It became too much to think about, so she’d tuck that in the back of her head and think on other matters.
But as much as she tried to tuck those thoughts in the back of her head, the would always return like a leg cramp, after many attempts at finding a position that would alleviate the pain. What was so natural for her mother, was so arduous for her. The kids just didn’t seem to connect with her the way that they connected with her mother. They didn’t laugh while they were being tickled by their grandmother the same way that they would laugh when their mother tickled them. In the car headed to work, Tiffany recalled how deeply enthralled their laughter were when they were being ticked by their grandmother, and when she tried to join in on the fun, they would look at her as if she’d lost her mind. She just couldn’t connect, and with that brought on jealousy and utter anguish. “What does Mama have that I don’t have?!”, she’d wonder. “What is it about her that they love so much?” “Don’t they love me too?”
Tiffany clocked out of work, picked up Zion and Alainah from school and headed for the hospital. THIS part of the day was the worst for her, because she absolutely hated the smell of hospitals. To her it always smelled like… like death. Like hopelessness and despair, dressed up as something else. Hospitals to her are the equivalence of a bouncy house on the outside, with corpses and bones on the inside. How could something so big and immaculate like a hospital be so dark and lowkey sinister on the inside? She took the elevator to the 8th floor and knocked before entering. She pulled back the curtains and sat in the chair beside the bed. The kids stood on the opposite side of the bed, observing their Grandmama’s slow, deep breaths while she beautifully slumbered. The room was rather small with dim lighting, and the window in the room permitted visitors to see a slab of brick wall–no clouds, no skyline, nothing but brick. She pondered on the negative effects of limited healthcare perks, and how where they place you and how they treat you, all depends on the kind of healthcare that you possess. She’d wished that she could’ve done more to secure a more decent room, but Mama had stated over and over that she was content with the room that she had, and that she was blessed to even have a room to be in.
“Mama, is Grandmama going to be alright?”, Zion asked. He looked on with a face that shared both curiosity and concern for her, and he stroked her leg as if somehow he could send healing power into her. “She’ll be A-Okay”, Tiffany replied with a smile. One thing that she knew about her children, was that they were great at detecting false hope or lies. So when she said it, she smiled really, really hard in hopes that they would find sincerity in her promise. Grandmama made some slow movements, and suddenly, her eyes popped open. She had a few seconds of confusion, but once her eyes focused, she smiled and said with delight, “Oh yes!, I knew my babies would come to see me.” Zion and Alainah both yelled “GRANDMAMA!” in unison, and hugged her tightly. She couldn’t move her arms, so she just took the hug that they gave her and smiled a big ‘ole smile. Her wrinkles on her Hershey, brown skin were emphasized, but Tiffany thought that she looked good anyways, despite her predicament.
“Grandmama, we thought about you all day”, Alainah said with a smile. “Yea, Grandmama, and we even told our teachers about you too”, Zion said. Grandmama, still smiling, replied, “Oh yea? Well, what did you tell them about me?”, she asked in response, looking rather nervous, as children are notorious for saying outlandish, embarrassing things. “We told them that you’re the best mother in the world”, Zion said, before then correcting himself by saying, “I mean Grandmama.” Tiffany leaned back in the chair and pressed her two lips together, as if to show some sort of expression of frustration or agitation.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. A doctor stepped in. He was a tall, handsome man, with skin the color of milk chocolate covered almonds, neatly kept dreadlocks that flowed down to his shoulders. He wore clear, rimless spectacles, something like the young looking ones that the college art hipsters like to wear. Tiffany was impressed with his size and his body type. He wasn’t muscular at all, and that was fine. She had always felt that muscular men were overrated, and how so many men today fought too hard to try to mimic those bodies just for the sake of mimicking. He smiled and said, “Good evening, Ms. Tiffany. I see that you brought the kids today.” He smiled, turned to the children and said, “I’m Doctor Hansberry. What are yall’s name?” Zion and Alainah both said their name, and he said, “you both have nice names! Zion and Alainah.” He said their names in such a way that caused them both to smile. He was a natural with children, and Tiffany could easily observe that. They smiled at him and laughed with him in similar ways that they laughed and smiled with their Grandmama. This made Tiffany even more jealous and concerned.
“HOW could they feel so comfortable with a doctor, a damn STRANGER that they JUST met not even 10 minutes ago, and yet they act so disengaged with their own MOTHER!”, she thought to herself. She snapped out of her thoughts when she heard Zion say, “We know Mama will be okay”, with a big grin. Alainah followed it up with, “He meant to say Grandmama.”
Dr. Hansberry smiled. Grandmama smiled. Zion smiled. Alainah smiled.
Tiffany did not.
—— To Be Continued——
I can’t sleep, because I slept earlier today. All day. I have to be up in about 4 hours, which isn’t really a problem for me, because I’m used to it by now. But with the time allotted, I will type. Besides, it’s been a month since I last typed anything anyways.
Lately, I’ve been thinking [heavily] on a lot of things, but mainly loneliness and standing out. I’ve been thinking about purpose and meanings. Why are we here? What are we to do here? We’ve been given this task of “standing out” and “making a mark”. But what does that even mean? We all have passions, dreams, goals and talents. But, sometimes it seems like we are just in a long line, waiting for our name to be called. Waiting for that next “break”. Waiting for that “call up.” Waiting to “blow up.” And in the midst of thousands and thousands of people waiting in that same exact “line” as we are, we are given the challenge of standing out— somehow, some way, we have to be the only [or one of the few] noticeable ones in that line. Somehow, some way, we’ve got to prove that what we have is better or more significant than what the others have. We are thousands and thousands of fish in one big pond, and somehow, we’ve got to find a way to be the odd fish out.
In the middle of all of this, can come loneliness, frustration, confusion, heartache, depression and misery. So, I withdraw my game pieces from the playing board. I won’t play this game anymore. I don’t want to stand out just to stand out, and I don’t want to blend in either. So, I’ll just be all that I can be to the best of my ability.
I’ll just be all that I can be to the best of my ability.
I’ll take life by the horns and ride until I can’t ride anymore. I’ll go for late night walks and late night bike rides. I’ll read all of the books that I desire. I’ll love and love unconditionally. I’ll take my journal with me everywhere I go, and write for the hell of it. I’ll indulge quite heavily on Pumpkin Spice Latte’s, Cliff Bars, fruits, oatmeal and water. I’ll smile for no reason, cry without fear of embarrassment, and physically embrace whomever, womyn or men. I’ll dance too.
Scary is the day that we get so caught up with being the “different” fish in the sea, that we don’t even see the fishing net that is slowly creeping up behind us, aiming to capture us all.
“What is this generation to do?” -Mumia Abu-Jamal, Writing On The Wall
“…they are not so much as lost as they are mislaid, discarded by this increasingly racist system that undermines their inherent worth.” -Mumia Abu-Jamal
Much love to the children today standing on the corner of Eastern & Linwood Avenues today, selling ice cold bottles of water for a dollar. They demonstrated to me the true meaning of hope & of persistence. I give it to them, because today ain’t no joke! It’s hot out here. They had to have been under the age of 12, about four of them total. They were all melanated, with smiles that could almost cure any disease. They were enthusiastic, overjoyed & determine to sell those waters. I didn’t get to ask them what they were selling the waters for, but I was excited for them nonetheless, and said, “what the hell” and gave ’em $2 for one bottle. Oh, the exuberant looks on their faces!
It’s these kids that we should be advocating with. It is these kids that we should be defending and encouraging and uplifting. The potential is expansive & explosive. The drive is evident & illuminating. The desire is aggressive & passionate. Those kids out there, they have it. We owe them the world.
I am tired of talking negatively about our children. Mumia Abu-Jamal says, “If they are lost, then find them.” And I have. They are on the football field playing football with a ball that’s half deflated, but could care less, as long as it serves it purpose. They are on the sidewalk riding their bikes, with tires that are half deflated, a chain that’s severely rusted and brakes that fail them with loud screeches & delayed reactions. But in spite of, they ride. They are on the basketball court, with the court being their backyard with a rim without a net (my personal favorite way to play basketball), but nonetheless, they play. They are in the library, reading books that are duck taped together with pages missing, yet still they read.
We’ve found the children.
The question is, what are we going to do with them? How will we invest in them?
I love a child’s hustle. But let’s not exploit them, let’s challenge them. Let’s build them up. And let’s boost their confidence. For they are all “future revolutionaries, with the historic power to transform our full realities.”