Non-fiction Saturdays

Photo by Adi Goldstein via Unsplash

I Still Travel With My Late Grandmother

She Loves A Good Trip

I was nine years old the first time I ever rode a train in New York. My grandmother was taking me shopping for training bras and one of our form of travel for that day was the subway. I peaked well before my time according to her and undershirts were no longer enough. I needed protection. I needed coverage. So, off we went to Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s. Neither of these stores was new introductions to me as my grandmother did most of her shopping at both, but I had never been shopping with her for something as simple as a training bra and the event itself turned out to be quite an adventure.

I recall a hushed dressing room, two or three training bras handed off to me, and my grandmother knocking at the door for entry. I have always been a big fan of privacy and did not want my grandmother watching me as I figured out how to put these foreign-to-me objects on, but having her there for guidance proved to be sufficient.

She tucked and tugged, pushed and pulled, and adjusted the straps until I felt comfortable. Standing there in my Gap jeans, frayed at the seams — complete with holes in the knees (think Salt-n-Pepa, circa 1987) and a fresh pair of white socks, she eyed me up and down. She approved.

The first bra was a keeper. We put it to the side. I tried on another then another and another. We left Lord & Taylor with two training bras and headed for Bloomingdale’s. Our next form of travel was a taxi cab. Have you ever watched a fashionably aware woman hail a cab? There is an art to this — something of which I had no knowledge. My grandmother could hail a cab with the best of them. If it were not for her exceptional career at a top-notch theater in downtown Manhattan, “Professional Cab-Hailer” would have been a nice addition to her résumé.

When I was a child, my grandmother was the world to me. She had exquisite taste, wore the finest clothes, had the nicest shoes, but was still down to Earth. If I had to come up with a full-on description of her, I would say — diva.

diva (/ˈdiːvə/; Italian: [ˈdiːva]) is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatrecinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna. Diva can also refer to a woman, especially one in show business, with a reputation for being temperamental, demanding, or difficult to work with. — Wikipedia

She was attitudinal but for the right reasons. She was opinionated but whenever it mattered most. She could cut you down to size with just a glance, yet she had so many people in her circle. A cab ride wasn’t just a cab ride with her. She entertained the Cabbies, quipped about and directed the best way to get to our destinations, and often held political and societal discussions with any of them willing to match her cultural expertise. I admired her.


As I grew older, my source of travel from Georgia to New York would be by plane instead of above-ground trains. We flew Delta. With my grandmother, it was always Delta. She would fly down to retrieve me and we would fly back together and my summers would be full of shopping, trips to the library, museums, swimming pools, local basketball courts, and shared visits with other members of my family.

I would find myself on the train to Harlem or Brooklyn with her. Whatever our day’s plans, it would coordinate between taking the train and the cab and I would be delighted to hang by my grandmother’s side as her traveling companion.

I loved the train the best, though. There was something mesmerizing to me during those years about being on a train underground. No one speaks. Everyone has something occupying their time. It was not uncommon to see people reading books or listening to music or the off-to-the-side person who smelled of scorched coffee and day-old hash browns.

On average, New York’s subway trains travel at about 17 mph and had an annual ridership of just over 1.72 billion in 2017. — Wikipedia

As you probably can imagine, my grandmother had a knack for finding two seats next to each other and I was to sit by her at all times. She was adamant about my safety, however, she wanted me to experience the real world of getting to where I needed to without depending on anyone else.

By the time I was fifteen years old, I was allowed to travel by train or cab with my friends from the neighborhood but within a certain time of day or night. Her rule was: “I have to get you back to your mother in one piece.” She stuck by this rule. I never disobeyed her curfew and could only stay out later if I was with my aunt (her youngest daughter).

I miss her wild spirit. Her uncanny ability to adapt to her surroundings instantly. Her calm and casual way of speaking her mind. Her incredible sense of fashion. It is often hard for me to travel sometimes because I still feel her near.

I fly and look to my left or right and something in the person next to me reminds me of her. I take a train and a woman may be wearing a perfume that smells similar to hers. Someone requests a drink for which she had an affinity. We pass by a bit of scenery that I know would have sparked her interest.

Perhaps she is still keeping watch over me after all these years. She did love a good trip and an even better travel buddy. I don’t know what I will do the moment she’s not conjured up during my travels. Having her near makes me feel safe — makes me enjoy getting from one place to another. However, I am fully aware of knowing how to travel because of her and this is something I will not forget.

A training bra shopping spree changed my heart— changed my life too.


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

shift

I sat with my feelings for a week
and took a chance on shifting from
5-8s to 3-12s, rotating weekends.
Everything in my body says,
“Pray for this job, two days off
during the week one week, then
four days off during the week the next
is what you need.”

A smooth transition. Perhaps?
An easy transfer. Who knows?

But, I didn’t want to
fight myself later
for not taking a chance
just in case I actually get it.

I’ll never know unless 
I try.

Right?

Young Minds of Medium Featured Writer: Niharika Gursahani

Niharika Gursahani (via Medium)

Niharika Gursahani  (via WordPress) is our youngest contributor. She found out about the Young Minds of Medium How Do You Sing The Blues Call via A Cornered Gurl on WordPress and emailed me to see if she could contribute even though, she is slightly younger than the minimum age requirement for YMOM. After reading a few of her pieces on WordPress and her draft for this call, it was BEYOND easy to make an exception. And now, the featured piece:


The Rhapsody of The Blues

Young Minds of Medium “Blues Call”

Photo Credits —Gary Blonder

An archaic tune plays over the dusty radio,
Reminds me of a dwindling duet I almost forgot a second back,
Every cosmic binder of the universe,
Wants me to never forget the rhapsody of our love.

Our rhapsody was melodious,
The tune was full of life,
And the lyrics of this rhapsody,
Were the loving letters I wrote to you.

This rhapsody hit me hard,
But somewhere in the lyrics, we drift apart,
And the bridge we built with committed chords,
Collapsed as you broke the guitar strings.

This rhapsody was our lovers’ call,
I sang it and it beckoned you to me when I needed you,
And you followed my voice and sang along and gave me comfort,
But now when my ears sense this tune of the Blues,
They bleed a stream of shattered love.
And I scream louder than breaking glass.

Pillows don’t comfort me the way I was comforted,
When I cried into your arms and soaked your shirt in those tears,
My pillow only absorbs my pain but doesn’t relieve me of it,
The way you did when your chest was my only pillow.

I can hear your voice hiss through the corridors of my brain,
Corridors painted your favorite colour with our pictures hung up on the walls,
With this now irritable rhapsody playing in the ballroom of my mind,
Which is my destination to be in hallucinations,
When drowning in insomnia,
Dreaming of you in my arms,
Dancing an endless dance.

I can’t sing a note anymore,
My throat is blunt of unspoken words,
The rhapsody of our love burns me down to a soulless spirit,
And this spirit can’t survive with her soul anymore.
You are my soul.
I can’t sing the Blues anymore,
Because you tore apart my vocal cords.
Pain is the only note I can produce,
But now I have a heart of stone and a spirit devoid of love,
Which has no voice of its own.

I can never cease my love for you,
You are my life and you are my death,
And now that the rhapsody has lost its life,
I dream of only death,
As I gulp down a handful of pills,
Drug me of a faraway fantasy,
This fantasy which I can only achieve,
With the sacrifice of my present life.

And the pills start their deadly effects,
As my body slowly turns into stone-like my heart,
I am nothing but a mere corpse,
As grim darkness crawls up to the ceiling walls,
And as the noises intensify of the dead spirit’s desperate insanity,
I still hear over the drunken voids,
Rhapsody which still plays over the dusty radio.


Originally published via A Cornered Gurl on Medium.

l’amitié

The Powerhouse – used with her permission

a poem for friendship

how’d I get eighteen years with you?
what resolve must it have taken
for you to watch the years pile up
and embrace us without flinching?
I am not the easiest person to love,
but can’t we all say this?

can’t we all confess that loving,
truly loving someone through
the thick of it all takes patience
and a will that cannot be broken?

I thank God for your resilience —
your ability to trip an off-putting person
in three seconds flat without batting
your eyelashes.
your words attacking them, but not
cutting them down.

you don’t do low blows.

you hit them where it hurts
while offering them the opportunity
to rethink their actions and govern
themselves accordingly for future rapport.
it has been an honor to stand by your side
and watch you take flight each year —
shifting into something new.

you wear change well —
a human chameleon coloring
up my world.
the battles I fight now come
fully equipped with love,
guidance, and understanding.
I am never alone.

the task to grow with someone
and allow yourself to morph
into what you must become without
losing the bond created years ago
is a hard one.
friendship is a gift — an
ever-blooming present that
is priceless, but . . .

there will be obstacles.
there will be setbacks.

how strong will you be when
the fists landing on your nose
are liable to break it?

I pose this question to anyone
thinking friendship is easy — something
you achieve without work.
don’t be fooled.
nothing worth keeping
is easy to obtain.

the best of friends show you
who you are when others
only want to remind you
who you were.
they pull the chair out
for you in your corner,
splash your aching face with water,
gauze your mouth, and tell you
there’s more fighting to do.

and if they have to,
they get in the ring
with you: fists up, feet swiftly
playing the canvas,
arms extended — punching alongside you.

they invested in you
when you made a full withdrawal
on yourself —
they see your value.

she knows my worth.


“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” – Plutarch


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.