You Should Probably Thank Sherie

She had this dirty blonde uncombed hair, and was wearing a plaid wool skirt and combat boots.  In August.  I wanted to be her friend.  I can’t remember how our friendship came about.  Most probably in the awkward ham-fisted way I begin most of my friendships: “You’re [enter desirable characteristic here].  Let’s hang out.”

At least once a week, that was her plea for me to grow an afro.  She was working on locking her hair, but would always tell me how she wished her hair could grow “up.”  (“Please?! Seriously! It would be awesome.  Come on *huge grin* do it for the white girl.”)  My refusal to let her live vicariously through my follicles was deemed selfish.

When she bought her first car (a 1976 Skyhawk), we ditched school perpetually (every class except English, and – oddly enough – Russian History).  Mushroom Records, Ted’s FrosTop, The Fly, and Taco Bell were the preferred destinations.  My senior year was the most tumultuous, since that was the year my mother’s health really began to decline.  My mornings and evenings were dedicated to setting up for nurses, cooking dinner, cleaning and church.  She worked not one, but two jobs on evenings and weekends.

I had plenty of friends who I would have considered “closer” at the time, but when I think of the best times of that year she was right there.  We’d trade stories loaded with events far too heavy for our adolescent selves to rightfully carry.  Climbing into that old Buick and blasting 90s alternative and punk was the only real opportunity we had to feel like normal 17 year-old girls.  Neither of us were terribly preoccupied with sex (though I was the only one of us who still had my v-card).  We just wanted to feel like kids.

In high school, you think your friends will always be there.  You’ve been young forever, so forever is the only concept you truly understand.   I saw her once after high school.  And that’s it.

It’s weird when people impact your life in such a way, then vanish.  I’ve searched for her here an there over the years, but no luck.  Not through high school friends or Facebook.  She’s just in the ether.  I like to think that I’m “okay” after Katrina, but when people just disappear, avoiding morbid thinking is hard.  So I try to think positively.  She’s married somewhere in the Midwest, to a big, strapping corn-fed husband and a couple of kids.  She’s still wearing combat boots and refusing to brush her hair.  Everyone has that thing they can’t bear losing.  My thing is hope.

When I moved here, I decided that finding a new stylist to relax my hair was my line in the expatriate sand.  I’d been toying with the idea of going natural for years.  As I looked in mirror and weighed my options, I thought, “Maybe Sherie was right.  An afro would be awesome.”  As the sections of shorn hair fell around my face, I couldn’t help but giggle and think about her.

Even now, when I’m choosing whether to go for ringlets or a blow out, I hear her voice in the background.  Come on.  Do it for the white girl.  On those days I reach for my pick and style the afro that you guys seem to love so much, thinking about my friend smiling the whole while.  I bet she loves Nebraska.

The Goodness

One of my favorite media personalities, B Scott, once discussed what happened when your steps are ordered.  Basically he said that when your steps are ordered, nothing can stand in your way.  Taking on a person whose steps are divinely ordered is so much bigger than you or that person.

I feel that, after years of bucking against the unknown and short changing myself, I am finding my purpose.  You can’t begin to understand how that feels.  Every small step feels like a magnificent journey.  It’s progress after years of stagnation.

I’ve been extremely busy with writing projects.  I don’t mind being busy, but I will never abandon my blog.  I just ask that you guys continue to be patient with me here.  I have some great ideas that I know you’ll love.  I won’t make you wait long.

Love all ya’ll!

B Jack

A Few Things

Let’s start with the most important matter:  In 2011, you STILL can’t mix dark and light liquor.  Post-racial America, my behind.  Al Sharpton does not get his hair laid for me to heave after a wayward swig of Jack Daniels after I’d been drinking vodka.  No.

You’re going to see my name in print.  Again. This is actually starting to get awesome, ya know.  Check me out here.  I’m realizing that I want to get that overwhelmed excited feeling every time I see my name in print.  Every time.  It’s crazy how good that feels.  To be fair, this is technically more important than the dark/light liquor thing, but I just felt a little silly.

You ever wake up and think, “It would be way awesome if I was tangled up into another person?”  If your answer is no, I can only imagine either already woke up tangled up into another person, or you’re confused about how awesome that is.  To each his own though.

Oh, Jonathan Vilma and his magical smile, Goapele, Melissa Harris Perry AND Kim Coles all follow me on Twitter.  These are each people I consider talented personal heroes.  Yes, it’s just Twitter, and I won’t be at the family cookout, but it’s an awesome thing to me.  If Donna Brazile ever follows me on Twitter, given that she is my aunt in my head, I’ll be intolerable for at least a week.

I also wanted to give you this awesome thing:

If the sloth can believe, well so can you.

God, I’ve built my wings.  Please bless me with the wind to soar.

Amen.

Tax Man Cometh

I’m in a whirlwind.  I have a lot of great things going.  I’m actually struggling to manage them all.  We should all have these problems.  “Which dream do I catch first?” 

That being said, I’ve been less than kind to myself lately.  As usual, I’ve plowed through it, in an effort to still be there for my folk.  I love y’all, but I need to take a break from lots of stuff. I doubt it will be long – a week, maybe two – but I’ll come up for air when I’m ready – not before. 

I feel like announcing this obligates me to the people who love me.  I still plan to be around, just not nearly as often for a while.  I’ll be in the background, dreaming red beanily.

Love you ferociously, 

Melli

“Dark Morning”

I’m thankful to God for early mornings.  My mom instilled an appreciate for “dark morning,” in me the first time she woke me (just me) up at 4:30, and dressed me.  We could see our breath in the station wagon as we waited for it to warm up.  She took me to Tastee Donuts and we sat at the counter.  It was just us, a few truckers, the waitress and her red bouffant.  I can’t remember what we talked about, but the feeling of camaraderie stuck with me.  When all is still, and most still sleep, I feel slightly more connected to other early birds.  That’s the time introspection is most effective; when I’m most primed to come to terms with who I am and who I’m not.

I like my morning vulnerability.  I’m more likely to reveal my soft underbelly of thoughts before sunrise.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t had coffee.  Maybe it’s because I have a fair amount of faith in my early morning kindred.  Maybe it’s because, sleep is a great experience for me.  I don’t own the recently popularized “no-sleep” mentality, adopted by so many moguls in training.  Sleep is the good stuff, so when I sleep, I go IN without apology.  Apparently, in addition to snoring, I contentedly moan in my sleep.  I can’t attest to that.  What I do know is that when I wake up, there’s a lot of cat stretching and lip smacking, as though I had the finest of canaries as a snack.  Waking up that way, I can only assume, makes me more open.

When you go out to mill among other early birds, there are always a few more doors opened for you with an extra good morning thrown in.  You’re far more likely to get extra butter on your biscuit or cream in your coffee when you’re at the right place early in the morning.  You speak softer and lean in closer, because you want to preserve the stillness by not waking the “others.”

But don’t call me a “morning person.”  I most certainly am not.  I have a healthy appreciation for all of life’s moments and secret joys.

Felt Like Forever Pt. 2

Even relaxed, I had fab hair

If you would have told the girl in that picture, “Next year, this life will be a memory,” she wouldn’t have believed you.  If you would have told her, “There are people here now you’ve hugged as a neighbor for the last time,” she’d have been equally dubious.  But that’s what happened.  I went away.  But this isn’t a story of “before.”

This is a story of everything-ever-after.  My first day of work in DC, when I crossed F Street, I wish I had a hat to throw in the air, just to see if it would freeze.  I would sing the theme from Alice in the shower. “THERE’S A NEW GIRL IN TOWWWWWWWN, AND SHE’S FEELIN GOOD!”  (I did it very Broadway, except I’m not a singer, so it sounded…yeah.)  When you leave behind everything, and you have everything ahead of you, you’re emboldened.  That carried me for about six months.  I had an awesome crib, I was dating an awesome dude, I cut my hair, beginning the path to the awesome fro.  It was amazing.   My mother described homesickness as “feeling so out of sorts, you just want to sit in a corner with your knees over your shoulders and rock.”  It crept up overnight.  I was so at odds with everything.

I powered out of that shit.  It was hard, and I had to become used to being a woman with two kids AND a need for a social life, but I managed.  I fell in love. HARD.  I fell halfway out, back in, then out again.  There have been days where I felt like I was on top of everything, and days I thought I’d never stop falling.  But I’m still here.

And that’s due in part to picking amazing friends; old and new.   There is so much love in my life, at times, I can hardly process it.  I can’t even begin to tell you how it feels to be overwhelmed by love; some of it from people I didn’t know six months ago.  Not everything goes the way I would like, but my life, is charmed as hell.  I am blessed, lucky and light.

I’m not saying this because anything earth shattering is going on.  I just need the people I’ve embraced into my circle to know that I don’t take them lightly.  They are infinitely appreciated.  Some of you, my day doesn’t go right if I don’t speak to you.  That’s love man.  I’m glad I love you.  This unfortunately means you’re stuck with me.

Don’t worry though. I pay in gum.

I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…SCARED!

I always feel primed for flight.  When I think about where I want to go in my career, my only obstacle seems to be the teetering I do on the edge.  I’ve always grabbed life by the balls.  It’s scary to have your heart weighed and validated by people who have never met you.  So I stop at the edge.  Because once I put myself out there, I’m out there.

I’m scared of the thing I’ve done longer than anything.  I’ve always written.  People have always enjoyed it.  I’m not worried about not being deemed “good.”  I’m worried about resting on my laurels and becoming pedestrian.  This is the thing I’m meant to do.  What if I fuck it up?  What if after all these years, I get lazy and become another “almost was?”  I can’t really bear the thought.

And I feel just a little isolated.  I almost feel guilty about it, because I have great friends who are always kind and encouraging.  Seriously, my people are phenomenal.  But what if I want to roll over and be reassured without having to dial a number or email someone?  For me to even admit that, as a woman, is all but viewed as a crime in 2011.  Arguably, our society has never been more advanced than it is at this moment; but the ache to lay in a tangle of limbs and secrets is treated like a crime.

Tomorrow morning I’ll wake up and remember that I can do this.  I’ll remember that I’ve always done this.  I’ve faced losing my mother, a divorce, and a hurricane and never gave up.  My friends will read my blog and encourage me.  I’ll brush it off as being emo, and tell some joke that helps people remember that I’m still pragmatic and pulled together.  I’m working on a few projects,which hold amazing potential.  No matter what has happened, I’ve never given up, and in the back of my mind, I know that will take me…somewhere.  I don’t need to be a star – just appreciated and respected.  Tomorrow, I’ll remember that.  Tonight though, I’m just wishing for the luxury of vulnerability.  One day the universe will decide I deserve it.