“I’ve named them, you know?” “Who?” “The squirrels that keep coming to the stoop. I’ve named them.” “You have, have you? Let’s hear the names!” “Darryl & Delilah.”
MacKenzie’s older sister shoots her an odd look — one that questions her name-choosing skills, but the younger sibling stands her ground.
“Darryl & Delilah!? Mack, why on earth would you . . .”
“It’s simple. Remember that song Mommy used to sing when I was like 5? The one by Billy Joel, ‘Just the Way You Are’? I hear that song every time I see them running around, gathering acorns, and hoarding them under the flower pot on our stoop. Their names fit them. They seem like a happy couple — one that can’t live without each other.”
Misha stares at her kid sister in total disbelief. She can’t believe what’s coming out of her mouth, but then again, she thinks it’s best not to question 11-year-old girls whose parents recently divorced. She continues to listen without judgment.
“I see Mommy and Daddy in them. Mommy rushing to gather all the acorns. Daddy hustling to the stoop to lift the flower pot so Mommy can place the acorns there. They make a great team!”
And then the tears fall. Misha watches her kid sister turn into a mush-mouth full of anger and resentment and pent-up sadness on the corner of Circle Way and Todd St. Divorce isn’t simply dividing their family, it is changing them in ways they never thought it would. MacKenzie is anthropomorphizing the squirrels in the neighborhood now. What’s next?!
“Mack . . . it’s okay to cry. You know that, right? It’s okay to just cry. You don’t have to make up stories or see Mom and Dad in the squirrels that use our stoop for storage. You can just . . . cry.”
MacKenzie shifts her thinking head to the left, bats her lashes slowly, and leans into her sister’s personal space. She whispers . . .
“I know. But it hurts less when I make up stories.”
Misha pulls her sister into a tight embrace, smooths back the wispy hair from her eyes, and kisses her forehead.
On Sunday, May 07, 2023, my cousin had the tedious task of washing, re-sectioning, and interlocking my hair. I am no stranger to these methods now; I am a soldier on a familiar battleground, and the war is almost at its end.
Just under two months after my last wash and interlocking session, I am greeted by more length and a fuller head of hair.
There is peace in the calming hands of another
My cousin does an incredible job with my hair. When she washes it, my soul is moved. I can feel the cleansing process while it’s taking place, and my mind is at ease. She scratches it in sections and pays attention to the dryer spots.
She is like a surgeon — the way she dances around my head with her fingers; plotting the best ways to relieve itching. My hair always feels ten times cleaner and lighter after her hands have massaged my head.
She is thorough yet gentle with just the right amount of force to push away dirt and dandruff buildup. It’s fascinating — the washing process. I am not only in an impeccably relaxed state, but I am also overcome with serenity and joy.
When my hair is clean, I know the next steps are to interlock each section and pull any new growth into its rightful places for continued growth and locking.
With every session, my anticipation heightens
During every interlocking session, my anxiety builds. I am anxious to see the outcome. However, there is also an intense amount of patience — knowing that this process provides added length and replenishes the hair as well.
I wish I had the words to describe how I feel walking around with an ever-changing head of hair. I do not.
We started this process as microlocs, but my hair has loc’d in a way that is clearly its own. My locs will probably be bigger than microlocs or even sisterlocks, and I am all right with this.
Whatever Ájá wants to do, I am on board with it! This transition is one I signed up for and perfection was not in the cards.
I want to see what the end of the year will bring when we make it to a full year of interlocking and patiently waiting.
I want to know what December 2023 Ájá will look like. And I know with my cousin’s hands creating, washing, and maintaining my crown of glory, the sight will be one to see.
I marvel at the length, and I am in love with every strand
My hair is growing. It flows on its own and lands just above the nape of my neck. There are sections that are longer than others, but this is to be expected, as I am also growing out a short haircut.
I stare at myself in the mirror. I gaze at my graying edges and perimeter, and I am wooed by these changes.
I am not the same woman. I am changing along with my hair, and every day brings a newer side to me which I am eager to embrace.
The Powers That Be promoted me at work. They have invited me to be a part of our Engagement Team. These novel happenings are keeping me sane and giving me hope for a brighter future.
There is still a deep pain from the loss of my beloved cousin early last year, but I am moving along on a happier note.
I no longer carry grief in my pockets. I hold her memory close to my heart, sit in my favorite chair, and twist my hair because of a new habit.
And with each twisted strand, I think of Chrissy, and I wonder if she’s enjoying this journey with me, too.
I am happy with Ájá’s growth. I admire the length of my hair, and I long to see how long it will get before I become tired of it being too long.
I don’t foresee this happening. I have happily embraced every phase so far. I am positive this will continue.
December 11, 2023, will be one full year
At the end of this year, I will share where my hair journey has taken me.
One year of growing locs and maintaining them is steadily approaching. I am patient as I mark each day off on my calendar.
I have a few pieces of hair that have already locked and my heart flutters at the sight of them.
I am on my way to loving a full head of dreadlocks, and my soul can do nothing but smile.
Transitioning hair is a topic I love to discuss now. There will be more to come.
I won’t claim to know the depth of love a mother has for her children; how she will war for them without hesitation, disciplines them when it’s necessary, and sacrifices to keep them sustained.
She is a queen who does not own any crowns except the one on her head, yet she dazzles the earth with her power.
I can’t say I know what she has had to do in order to make $15.00 last until the next payday with two other mouths to feed, but I know the glow around her as it shines to reach the rest of us.
And as we stand outside of her realm, us … the mothering ones, watching her and taking notes, we can somewhat understand.
If you are a nurturer, caretaking for someone who needs an extra hand, I see you. If you race toward the overtime offers to pull in additional funds for a senior pet, a niece or nephew, or your neighbor’s neglected twins, I see you.
If you haven’t slept in three days because your dying cat’s medicine cost more than your groceries, I see you. If you are an older sibling putting your sisters and brothers ahead of your wants & needs, I k n o w that place.
And as we all catapult ourselves into a constantly taking world, we give and give and give until the last bit of us is dried up and gone.
And even then, we’ll give some more.
For the mothering ones; Your plight is one that cannot be denied, and with every piling day, may your existence be praised from the pits of full bellies, from the mouths of babes, and from the people who need you most.
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