She Rides Shotgun

Jernee, riding shotgun, post a Groomer’s visit on Saturday, July 10, 2021. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Not to beat an already dead horse regarding Coronavirus COVID-19, but it appears, normalcy is trying to sashay its way back into our lives—at least, this is taking place in many cities and states in the United States of America. New variants, notwithstanding, people are venturing out more. They are making plans to seal deals on various flight tickets and jet-set their way into post-COVID happiness. I won’t lie to you; I feel a deep stirring in my body to regain my shoddy confidence and get back to traveling. However, the kind that involves flying is not yet on my list.

I am interested in loading up my car with various selected items, encouraging playlists, a full stomach, my partner-in-crime; my dog, Jernee, and whisk away to the majestic mountains of Western North Carolina for a few days or a week. The beauty of nature and its luring embrace is calling me. I much prefer a scenic drive to my places of interest as opposed to the “friendly skies.” If I can get there in about one to six hours, I will make the drive to that destination. And with a buddy who sleeps most of the drive to that place and hasn’t the verbiage to “backseat” or “passenger seat drive” to accompany me, it is usually something to which I truly look forward.

According to Julie Hall, APR:

More than 47.7 million Americans will take to the nation’s roadways and skies this Independence Day (July 1–5), as travel volumes are expected to nearly fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. In fact, this will be the second-highest Independence Day travel volume on record, trailing only 2019. Overall, just 2.5% fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019. This represents an increase of nearly 40% compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million.

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

With those estimated numbers, many Americans have moved from isolation and are back to what they find to be most appealing—the freedom of living. I have been toying with the idea of rising from the deep and heading toward the surface just as many others, but a familiar fear still hovers over me. My plan: to go about things slowly regarding this transition but eventually catapult myself back into a familiar world; a pre-COVID-19-like world . . . baby steps, though. Baby steps.

Jernee, my four-legged companion, is easy to please. As long as I accompany her, she will travel to the edge of the world if it means she can still have her daily walks and favorite treats. I mean, with those additions to an already spoiled life, why not? Having her beside me as I tackle the come-hither calls of an adventurous world, awaiting my attendance and participation, is welcome. I don’t think I could get the look of sheer contentment from anyone else in my car as I sing loudly to my favorite songs. No one else would be willing, I’m sure, to appreciate my sometimes alto, sometimes tenor, singing voice. But Jernee?! Jernee glances up toward me as if this voice of mine was made for her and for her only.

Another point from Julie Hall’s article, explains:

“Travel is in full swing this summer, as Americans eagerly pursue travel opportunities they’ve deferred for the last year-and-a-half,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “We saw strong demand for travel around Memorial Day and the kick-off of summer, and all indications now point to a busy Independence Day to follow.”

AAA Newsroom, June 22, 2021

Traveling was on an upswing as we headed into the Fourth of July weekend. The travel bug had bitten me at that point, but I did not take the plunge. I still played it safe here at home with my favorite cuddler—oh, but I dreamed about blazing a few trails. The next holiday on the calendar for which many intend to travel is Labor Day. With September just around the corner, I long for a hike or two or three in the fresh mountain air but first . . . I have to get there. If I were a guessing person, which on most occasions, I am, I’m willing to bet Jernee is ready for a bit of adventurous action too.

Wouldn’t it be grand if I could actually interview her regarding this topic—regarding any topic? The mind of a dog has to be an exceptional place. I create an internal dialogue between myself and Jernee sometimes. I am not ashamed of this; it’s entertaining. So, on those semi-long driving trips we used to take, that internal dialogue could look a little like this:

Jernee: “Mommy, are we there yet?”

Me: “No, sweetness, not quite.”

Jernee: “How much longer?”

Me: “According to Google Maps, 1 hour and 23 minutes.”

Jernee: “That precise, huh?”

Me: “Well, what were you expecting? A guess?”

Jernee: “Not really. I thought you were going to just reach on over here and hand me another treat.”

Me: “Touche’, sweetness. Touche’.”

I tell myself the trips I’m meant to take with my favorite road dog are waiting patiently in the near future. All I have to do is to succumb to their welcoming arms once again. Regardless of when those road trips will take place, there is one thing of which I am certain, my traveling buddy will ride shotgun. It’s the perfect place for a traveling woman’s best friend.

How Watching “Luca” Made Me Want to Live Again

Maybe I am ready for the surface

Photo by Tiago Ebisui via Unsplash

On Saturday, June 26, 2021, after my fingers tapped away feverishly at my laptop and my eyes scanned several articles to which I set free into the world of vigorous reading, I slouched in my favorite chair — my heart at ease and mind ready and succumbed to the gift that is Luca. Disney+ has become my refuge — my place of entertainment and subtle peace.

Over the last few months, I’ve enjoyed viewing Raya and the Last Dragon, Soul, and various Pixar “Shorts” that have placed me in a state of sheer calm, maniacal laughter, overwhelming sadness, or complete satisfaction. But it was Luca that reminded me of what it feels like to want to get back out into the world.

Without spoiling the movie (too much), I will tell you it is of a young sea creature who befriends another and the two of them leave their home in the ocean’s deep to temporarily live on land among humans. Both of them yearned to scratch away at the surface and explore a world about which they had no actual knowledge.

Trying to meet their goal introduces them to a town of avengers who make it their life’s work to rid their waters of “sea monsters” and they find a friend in a young girl who has a goal of her own. Giulia/Giulietta gives the two friends a spark they needed and through no fault of her own, causes Luca and Alberto to fall into a verbal brawl that opens their eyes and changes their hearts.

But it was Luca that reminded me of what it feels like to want to get back out into the world.

If you are a sentimental being, then I assure you, this animated film will pull at your heartstrings. There is a connectedness to truly living and the longing to explore everything the world offers at every angle and from my chair — I felt the need to get up and out into a once locked-down-and-plagued-realm and live — seriously live. I haven’t felt this way in a long time.

From the deep, I saw myself swimming to the surface, gathering my pre-COVID-19 self, picking a place on the map, packing, and getting in my car to head straight to that very spot. I envisioned traveling again — more importantly; I wanted to travel again.

I wanted the fresh air of the mountains hovering around me. I wanted the expansiveness of the unfamiliar to reach out to me. I wanted . . . to feel free again and to act on it with no regrets.

I felt the need to get up and out into a once locked down and plagued realm and live — seriously live.

I wanted to be Luca.


As life would have it, things are slowly trying to reopen and people are re-familiarizing themselves with their favorite places — if those places are still up and running. They are taking flights to see family members. They are reconnecting with friends and holding newborn babies. Many of them are seeing and meeting with relatives who they have not seen in over a year.

While watching Luca, I wanted to be among this crowd too. I want to shed a bit of skin and drive back down to Asheville, North Carolina, or Southern Virginia or the tail end of Georgia. I saw myself with my carry-on, phone, earbuds, and books, boarding a plane to Alaska or Washington or Texas.

I think I’m ready to live.

I wanted . . . to feel free again and to act on it with no regrets.

The movie has a variety of quotes sure to stick with me as the future introduces itself. A few of my favorites are:

“Look me in the eye. You know I love you, right?” This is from Luca’s mother, Daniela, as she tries to make him understand why she does what she does for him — his safety is of the utmost importance in her eyes.

“Silencio, Bruno!” A mantra/motto for Luca to say — gifted by Alberto to get him through his fears — sort of a way to speak to that inner voice inside you that constantly hounds you and attempts to get you to not do what you intend to do.

“You got me off the island, Luca. I’m okay.” This is also from Alberto as he bids farewell to Luca right before he takes the train to go to school with Guilia.

“I’m not crying, you’re crying!”

I didn’t think an animated film could reach its hand out to me, lift me from my disillusioned state, and show me I can live again and I should at least try. Trying is the hardest part, though, isn’t it? I am one step closer to willing my body to press itself against the world. I simply have to put on my shoes, tie them, and place one foot in front of the other.

There is a world out there slowly opening back up, ready for me to take a damn chance. Maybe it is time I emerge from the deep and make my way to the surface. But then, I learn about new variants of a virus that blows through every system it touches, leaving people forever changed, and I am hesitant again.

I don’t want to be. I just am.

And then there are days when I shake myself free from my prison and say, “Let me just grab my mask, hand sanitizer, and various supplements, notepad & pen, music, and Jernee. I have places to go, people to see, and living to do.”

“Fifteen minutes at a time, though. Fifteen minutes at a time.” Deep down — in the wells of my wavering spirit, I plea not to pressure myself. And I won’t. But maybe, just maybe, it is time.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

After 6 Years, My Hairstylist Is Breaking Up With Me

Photo by Ismail Hadine via Unsplash There’s just so much beauty in this one photo, it’s truly mesmerizing.

I’m not ready to let go but I have to


It happened on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, around 5:45 pm. I texted my hairstylist to see what her next available date and time for a Saturday morning would be so that I could make an appointment. Her response to me was, “I’ve stopped doing Saturday appointments altogether.” I was walking my dog, Jernee when the response came through. Instantly, I stopped. I re-read the text.

Did I just read what I think I read?!

I did. I re-read it again and the response did not change. She was no longer taking Saturday appointments. This meant my routine of every three to four weeks of a wash, cut, and style would go right out the window. This also meant all the bonding, growing, intense conversations about faith, love, and gainful employment would crawl behind my routine out that same window. My other place of peace will possibly be no more.

The boulder had been drug out, rolled toward me, and it landed . . . hard.

After I gathered myself, I responded by informing her that her new schedule, unfortunately, doesn’t work with mine and I’d have to take a day off to come and get my hair done and at present, my next day off is Tuesday, August 03, 2021. I asked if I could go ahead and lock an appointment for that day since I felt as though many of her clients are having to move their schedules around and her weekdays will probably fill up sooner than later.

This meant my routine of every three to four weeks of a wash, cut, and style would go right out the window.

We agreed on that day — 12:30 pm. It is safe and secure in my digital calendar as an “event” I don’t want to miss.

I applaud my stylist for being able to make a decision to move away from doing something that essentially eats up her entire Saturday and having the courage to step forward in another direction. But without saying it, she has broken up with many of us and for those of us who will not be able to consistently keep up with her new schedule, this means I would have to find another hairstylist.

It means moving on.

My intention is to seek a recommendation from her to another hairstylist within the salon who can manage my hair. It’s unruly and thick and wavy and grows funny in the back and I have a blonde patch that she has trimmed so perfectly over the years that is now shading itself a dirty grey. All of this, I love, but who else will?

I trusted her with my hair. Who can I trust to do what she has had the full capability of doing for six years?

But without saying it, she has broken up with many of us and for those of us who will not be able to consistently keep up with her new schedule, this means I would have to find another hairstylist.

Finding a hairstylist who proves him or herself worthy of taking your time and money is a hard task. It can also be a stress-filled one and I want to avoid any new stress factors at this time or in the near future. A recommendation from my current stylist is what I feel deep down, will suit me best.

I feel like I’m being asked to sign divorce papers and I didn’t even agree to a divorce. It feels like another act of abandonment. It reminds me of the pain that comes with leaving bits of yourself with someone you have come to love, respect, and look forward to seeing but now . . . now you have to act as though none of that exists. You are beckoned to put on a happy face, suck it up, and allow these new changes to comfort you.

Eff these new changes.

This is what I want to say but the adult in me knows acting like a three-year-old will get me nowhere. I implore myself to make note of the positives:

1. I’ll get to meet new people.

2. I can work on enhancing my trust meter.

3. I could get new hairstyles.

4. I would still be able to see my old hairstylist and chitchat with her from time to time if I agree to stick with the current hair salon.

5. I can take back my Saturdays as my regular hair appointment days.


As I call these positives within earshot, I feel better. I am not a fan of change especially when my comfort level is secure and I feel safe in the bubble designed for me. The moment that bubble is deflated is the very moment I have trouble seeing what could be beneficial for me behind my cloudy vision. I have to be reminded of previous positive changes. I have to remember how much their influence and impact had on my life and how I have grown for making those changes.

You are beckoned to put on a happy face, suck it up, and allow these new changes to comfort you.

After six years, my stylist is breaking up with me. There will be no fanfare or party or gifts exchanged. I do not look forward to inquiring about a recommendation — it feels like stepping over a line — like perhaps, maybe I should not ask. But she is also the perfect person to ask since she works in the same building with the same women and men doing exactly what she does on a daily basis. Someone there should be open to taking on new clients and perhaps they will be interested in taking on me.

Cue a-ha, Take on Me (this is still one of my favorite videos, btw).

2021 has been full of surprises so far. I guess if there was any year to jump into a sea of changes, this one is the perfect one in which to do so. Good thing I usually don’t have much trouble swimming. Let’s hope I can stay afloat long enough with whoever will be my new hairstylist — let’s hope I won’t have to change again after landing the new one or in the near future.

The moment that bubble is deflated is the very moment I have trouble seeing what could be beneficial for me behind my cloudy vision.

Six long years have come and gone. More are ahead of me if I am lucky. Six years from now, maybe I’ll even have different hair or a different way of addressing what my hair needs and what I want for my hair. For right now, one step at a time.

New hairstylist, here I come. Please, be gentle.


Originally published via Medium.

The Lingering Effects of Parental Divorce

It Changes Everything

Big sky. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

He used to call me baby, that was his way, until . . . Until he had to leave. I was twelve. Twelve years old, wondering what I did wrong. No one could tell me. I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults. And as a Southerner, you listen to your elders. You heed their advice.

So, I thought my light had faded — if Daddy wasn’t calling me baby anymore . . . Who else would? Who else should? Was I even still deserving of that term of endearment?

My mom had been piecing together our puzzled lives. We had become the church feature — the company billboard for broken homes. They wanted me to tell the boys. To let my brothers know our family had collapsed. But how could I? I was still trying to figure out who was going to call me baby — still trying to find the reason why he had to leave.

I had an inquisitive mind so naturally, I wanted to know what went wrong and if I was it—the wrong that suddenly swarmed our home . . . was I it?!

I turned to my mom as I so often did during times of distress to perhaps pull the truth out of her . . . “Mom, what did I do?”

In the funk of a lead-ridden home, my words were useless. They did not exist.

I did . . . I did.

I still lived amongst the shadows of decrees and halves—“You’ll get them on this weekend, I’ll get them on that weekend . . .” And so on and furthermore. We were split in two. Halves of a whole. Soon to be halves of a half. Quartered. We had been made into pieces — cracked instantly on direct impact. No one would put us back together again.

I wasn’t old enough to be in the middle of the conversations birthed between adults.


Time shifted — we all grew up and out of our old selves. When I was nineteen years old, another girl was born. This one, you know very well. When she was sixteen, I realized, you had more years with her. You don’t forget her age. She doesn’t have to remind you. You’ve been to every recital, every honors night school function, and every church-affiliated soirée. I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.

She could turn a corner and find you right there — waiting . . . waiting to hug her. Waiting to hold her. You had been the pillar in her dreams — strong enough for her to lean on — safe enough for her to discard her fears. I wish I had that. That . . . security and assurance. I dream of it to this day but it is not within my reach. That ship has long since sailed — I stand at the dock battered by the untimely waves.

I wandered far away, lost myself in the clouds above my head, searching for the years before the when that stultified my efforts in loving you and scattered all of us away from what was concrete. Nothing has been what I hoped it would be. Growing up without you—salty taste lingers in my mouth, a hint of envy . . . A bit of jealousy.

She had the traditional family unit— nuclear . . . Functional.

I’ve often thought, it is better this way. She gives you purpose. She doesn’t question why you left — she doesn’t have to.


The funny thing is, I say I am grown — I am mature. But truth be known, I still can’t talk about this without breaking down into a tear-consumed toddler who isn’t getting what she wants. And this, I am told, is normal or expected. Divorce. Divorce. Divorce squirms all up in my bones. I twirl the words on my tongue and the tears fall. They fall . . . I wonder if it does the same thing to you—it does not. It cannot.

And maybe, that’s why we’re estranged. That’s why we’re still holding on. No . . . That’s why I’m still holding on to pain and the moment you’ll once again call me baby.


©2016 & 2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

This essay originally began as a narrative poem that had been published in In Two Minds on April 24, 2016. Its revision is now hosted at Age of Empathy via Medium. Thank you for reading.

I Am Afraid of the New Dating World and Think I’ll Pass for Now

Even if summer’s on the way, I’m still not ready

Photo by cottonbro via Unsplash

Nowadays if you’re not on one of the following dating apps; Tinder, eHarmony, Match, or Hinge (just to name a few), chances are, you’re still clinging to the traditional way of dating just as I am or I’d like to be. I did not have many miles behind me regarding the traditional way of dating prior to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 — it was the method with which I was most familiar.

If I wanted to, I could go to my local coffee shop, set up my mini workstation, order my favorite blend, and subtly eye God’s gifts that walked through the doors of the venue.

If I made eye contact with a woman or a man who sparked my interest, a small conversation would start and the two of us would simply enjoy one another’s company as we sipped our brews and meshed with our surrounding environment. If the connection was intense enough, we would exchange numbers. If not, of course, we parted ways. No harm. No foul. We were adults and acted accordingly (thankfully).

Today, I feel the stress and overwhelming disdain within me that comes with the idea of even signing on to a dating app to get back out into the not-yet-virus-free world. I could do it that way but I’d still have to meet up with the person after getting to know them online, shoot the shit, and hope the connection is as decent a connection in person as it potentially was online, eventually.

I’m a cut out the middleman kind of person, so . . .


I’d like to trust you, but I don’t.

With summer right around the corner, I would rather visit the various places I used to frequent during the pre-COVID-19 days, however, I don’t trust the people out and about mask-less since the CDC’s most recent update to their guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals.

If I have to go to the store (Instacart has become my best friend), I wear my mask, rush in, get what I need, keep my distance from others, and get out. And I’m a fully vaccinated healthcare worker who now works from home.

There is still a substantial amount of fear dwelling inside me as it pertains to this virus. When one has faced what I have dealt with (prior to my transfer to my current position) — fear is probably not going to subside soon.

Screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms and frequently coming in contact with patients who were positive was enough to keep me aware of the severity of thousands of cases and the seriousness of this pandemic.

Eager to start but afraid to begin.

I would like to get back to the life I had, but I also don’t want to rush into anything stupidly or hurriedly without weighing all safety options. What scares me the most is befriending a person who is not honest about his or her practices and precautions. Are they really fully vaccinated if they say so? Do they keep their visitations to and with others to a minimum? Are they cautious about who they allow in their home? How are their cleanliness and hygiene?

I don’t want to become that person who asks you to show me your COVID-19 vaccination card as proof . . . but . . .

I am not jaded. I would not find it fair for me to hit up my favorite spots or find new ones with this fear still lingering as deeply as it is. I would not want to subject anyone to the possibility of an early dismissal without a proper chance at developing something from nothing.

Kicking digital game isn’t my thing.

The horror stories I’ve heard from many of my friends about this new dating world via the world wide web are enough to keep me single and celibate forever — summer, be damned . . . Constant ghosting. Swiping left or right. Matching only to be swiftly unmatched. Breadcrumbing. Stonewalling. And the list goes on.

Is this what we’re now facing if we somewhat wish to give dating a try again? Impatience and the ever-changing world of I want what I want and if you aren’t it, I won’t stick around to grow with you? “Lies you tell.” — Tamar Braxton

When I was in my mid-twenties, I had signed up for one of the dating sites that had been popular around that time. I want to say it was Match, but I can’t be certain.

Met a guy. We hit it off. Things were good for about four months and then . . . things started taking a more serious turn, and he did not want that. I’m sure it doesn’t need stating that we moved on from one another. It was for the best. I’ve had a few summer and autumn flings here and there — with a few of those individuals scooped up from a couple online platforms I frequented. That’s as close as I have gotten to “online dating” since the previously mentioned guy.

It isn’t my comfort zone.

Summer is right around the corner. Should I come out of my shell?

I have a burning feeling welled up in me to stick my big toe in the water (so to speak), but I also know I’ll probably tip-toe to the water, overanalyze it, hesitate, and cringe instead of attempting to become one with what used to be familiar to me. I’ve seen so many people crowded together poolside, hosting barbecues and family functions, and jet setting without a care in the world, and although it is rather appealing, I can’t move . . .

I want to, I just can’t.

And this tells me I still have much work to do within myself and about this pandemic before I am ready to see what the new dating world has to offer. People can be more work than I am cut out to put in and well . . . I’ve been single for a long time, I’m in no rush.

But what will the dating world be like when I’ve finally given fear a run for its money?

I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.


Originally published in Prism & Pen via Medium.