Featured Writer for March

Photo by Tess on Unsplash

Askia Shantel:

When one receives a piece of writing from a family member to host in their publication, there is no describing it. Askia is one of my older cousins — one, I have always looked up to; she encourages me and has always supported me and reads my work regardless of where it appears. To see her share with all of us here makes my heart smile. Please, encourage her, beautiful people. It takes a lot to jump back into something you have neglected for such a long time. She is our Featured Writer for the next two weeks of March. And now, “Watchful Eye.”


Watchful Eye…

Leaving out of the dress shop, my brain is swirling — I just bought a formal dress for my daughter to attend the military ball at her high school. So, everything seems to be fuzzy because I’m feeling fuzzy all over. As we walk to the car, I see a little bit of a commotion that sort of snaps me back to reality.

A young guy and a very young girl having a bit of a confrontation.

Not really a confrontation — an altercation. He’s pulling her. She’s pulling away.

At first, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Lover’s quarrel. But she’s begging him to leave her alone.

So, now I have two options. I can pull off and mind my own business or I can make sure she’s ok. I choose door #2. I don’t leave because my heart aches for her.

Now I have another decision to make. Should I call the police and get them to help or do I put my window down and give the girl a ride? This time, I go for door #1. As I start to think clearly, if he’s bold enough to assault this young lady outside in broad daylight, he may be in fight or flight mode himself.

So I call the police. I’m moving my car from parking spot to parking spot. I want them to see meI want them to know that someone is watchingI want HER to know that I am there. It doesn’t seem to be deterring him — he’s still pulling, pushing and shouting at her. Another passenger sees this too and stops near the couple. I make eye contact with him and let him know that I’m calling the police.

The dispatcher eagerly asks for a description and a location. She is very helpful and thorough. I feel like she wants the girl to be safe and smart just as much as I do. I’m following. The dispatcher is questioning. The man is yelling. The girl is crying. My heart is breaking.

Just when I think she’s about to really walk away and find help, he grabs her around the neck in a hug/choke. He’s whispering now. Whatever he says works for him. She willingly gets in the car. He glares at me as they speed off.

I feel sick. I can’t believe my eyes.

I am trying not to cry. I want her to get in the car with me so that I can take her to safety. But she’s gone.

I get a glimpse of my daughter. She’s stunned and in disbelief. I can’t help but wonder if my daughter would know what to do if she were in this situation. I wonder if she’s ever witnessed anything like this. I wonder…would someone stop and check on her well-being. I pray someone does…


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

The Caretaker

Does She Ever Need A Break?

Jernee, stepping back to take a look at me after she’d licked my face and pawed away my tears.

Recently, I thought it would be a good idea to get Jernee a little sister, a new puppy to romp about in our bigger space, but that was swiftly shut down by my Little Monster. Jernee is a jealous girl. Now, I was not 100% aware of this until we opened up our home to the little ones for a visit. The foster mom brought both puppies over, the one for which I had interest and her sister and they had a blast running throughout our apartment. Jernee Timid? Not so much. She stood her ground at each station in our home and barked her disapproval at both pups.

The reaction to these little ones that she displayed made me incredibly sad. I was also a bit angry with her as she has never been mean to little ones before. She is generally a sweet girl, but she is a protector. She has one goal in mind — keep me safe. And to meet that goal, I am now thoroughly aware that she will do anything. Realizing her disdain, the puppies avoided her, they played with each other instead and Monterey, the puppy that I wanted for us, also played with me.

Noticing the discomfort written in the body language of Jernee disappointed me. I wanted her to feel my happiness, to welcome something new into our home, another baby for us to love, yet she clearly indicated that she was not having any of it. The foster mom leaned over to me and said, “I usually tell people with senior dogs to get older dogs as their companions, not puppies. In a sense, they feel as though they are being replaced. Maybe an older dog, close to her age will be a better fit for Jernee?”

At the shelter, holding Monterey one cold & rainy Saturday morning in December 2018.

And I instantly thought about Nala, who is Jernee’s best friend/big cousin. They grew up together and the two of them are like Frick and Frack and I said to myself, “Why is she so happy with Nala but will not let any other puppy in? Why the wall?” There used to be three: Reese, Nala, and Jernee. Both Reese and Nala are older than Jernee and we lost Reese two years ago. They went from The Triple Threat to Double Trouble. Now with only Nala in tow, she clings. I notice how she affixes herself to Nala when we visit or when I am dog-sitting Nala. She wants her close.

She wants to be sure that Nala is okay, just as she monitors my safety and happiness, she keeps an eye on her best friend too. But, when does the caretaker get her break? When can she rest and let us be without fully being on duty? I do not think that she’s programmed to step away from her job. Jernee is my safe place. She is who I turn to when I am overwhelmed by life — when things weigh me down and I feel like I will break. I can put my trust in her, it is in her, she will love me back to a place of peace.

Of late, there has been a mountain of things that have tumbled down and landed on my shoulders and I can feel the weight pushing into my skin. This is too much for Jernee. I know it. I feel it. I recognize it as a sign to call in bigger guns. I am seeking the help of professionals and have submitted my request for an appointment with a psychiatric practice in our area.

Thelma & Louise, the dog version/Nala & Jernee back at our old place.

was detailed in explaining what has happened, what is happening, and how it is affecting my daily life. I left a brief biography and description and also my preference in the therapist who will handle my care. The place in which I submitted my inquiry comes highly recommended by several people, including my cousin Akua (an operating room RN, now a board-certified Nurse Practitioner)who was apart of referring some of their patients to this entity while she was doing clinicals.

It feels good to share my feelings with my cousin regarding my heart health and my mental health as well and to hear her say, “This is going to be really good for you. I am happy you recognize that it’s time.” The Powerhouse is empathetic, wishing that she could share her therapist with me, but we are an hour and fifteen minutes away and convenience is a must.

I want to be myself again. I feel that I am not. I know that I am not. Jernee was/is a gift from God because he matched me with her when I was going through the same battle with emotions nearly eleven years ago and she has helped tremendously, but I feel the pull in my spirit and I am moving in the opposite direction, away from wellness and that must be rectified. Realignment of heart and mind must take place once again and I cannot rely on Jernee alone, although great therapy for me, this task… it is one that is too big for her. I am giving her a break.

I love myself enough to know that I need myself back and seeking professional help is the answer. This will be our new journey.

It is time.


Originally published in The Junction via Medium


Author’s Note: When I begin therapy, I will begin a nonfictional series about my journey back to mental wellness and a healthy heart. I wanted to share this here too just in case you’re in my shoes–just in case you needed someone to say it. Thank you for reading.

Nectar

Aging and Loneliness

Maria Mekht|Unsplash

In the South, if you are somewhat of a loner and you do not surround yourself with what is new and improved or… what is, who is, and how things are trending, it is easy to fall deeper into the grips of loneliness. Ten years ago, I had a knack for busying myself with things that did not matter much, with things that seemed to fill a pressing void, but as I age, there is no nectar sweet enough to ease the ailments that I have grown prone to feeling.

I cannot lean back into the memories of what got me through the horny nights and draining days. Let me be frank, the other side of the bed is colder than a polar bear’s shoulder and I have forgotten how to right that. Every once in a while, I will poke my head out, look up, down, and all around to see if anyone meets my gaze. I cannot find my half. There is no Adam, no Eve, I am no one’s rib.

I am no one’s end-of-the-day highlight.

The older that I become, the easier it is to see that I have settled into a place where rejection often sends the damned for taking chances in trying to find love but have given up. The cause remains a cause but fighting for it weakens me. I want to feel sweet all over, taken… pressed into like a perfect pitch. I want to be a home run. I want to be sizzling bacon, the welcome smell of soul food in a packed restaurant. Is my tea no longer sweet?

Am I lacking sugar?

I want to be and I don’t want to be all at once. That is a conundrum that renders no solution. I have my own shoes to fill and they seem bottomless. Human beings want to love. We want to be loved. We want to share our lovely love with others who love. This shit should not be hard, but it is. And I digress. I want the taste of pineapple dripping from my lips, the delicate corners of apple slices sticking to my fingers, and buttermilk pancakes loaded with maple syrup. I want the ickiness of it all to drown me then pull me up and out of the water, and guide me safely to shore.

Black women are not attracted to me. Black men are intimidated by me. I am too this or too that to be loved by my own and I have no home anywhere else. I am trapped within the ins and outs of aging with no my place of sweetness to call mine.

I am nectar in waiting.

Someone whole enough will come around to take a bite out of me. I know this. I also know that when the heart is dead-set on shifting gears and loving, it wants what it wants.

In the South, I do not stand out. And what’s worse than any of this…

I don’t know how to.


Originally published on Medium