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goosepimple(d) s k i n

The Nature of Horrible Things

And how they still sneak up on you sixteen years later

a man looks down into an almost empty glass of beer
Photo by Jimmy jimmy via Pexels

We meet the afternoon chill in the air with our bodies tucked further into warm clothing. Jernee steps out before I do and I hear my neighbor briskly skip down the stairs. The faint scent of liquor speaks to me before he does. I nod — say “Good afternoon,” and attempt to mind my business by watching Jernee search for a proper spot in which to relieve herself. He is the type of person who does not understand personal space. He comes closer to us and, unlike Jernee with him, she growls under her breath. I step back from him — putting at least three more feet between us.

I recall the time and it’s just barely 1:45 p.m. He is home on his lunch break. He smiles. He sends his “Heyhowyadoin’” to me within seconds of stepping on the final stair. It’s all mumbled together — glued, yet I am fluent in slurred speech. I know this speech just like I know the smell. I know the smell. I know the smell. He has tried to hide it with Old Spice and two gulps of water but to no avail. I cock my head to the side and whisper to myself, this cat is drunk and is going back to work. Hell . . . naw.

He tells me his grandchildren have been staying with them. I know this. I speak to his wife — to their little ones. I see them as they come and go. They are beautiful mini models of their mother and father — his son and his son’s girlfriend’s children. He says as erratic as a functioning alcoholic can, “They get up at 4:30 in the morning sometimes, see. And you know, I don’t get up until 6:30 and that throws my day all off, you see?” I do see. I understand. One’s sleep is important.

He steps closer again. I step back. He holds up one hand and quickly says, “I ain’t gon’ keep ya. I know you gotta walk ya dog.” I thank him. He wanders off toward his car and away from us. His wife knocks on my door five nights later. She has a flier in her hand — an invitation to her church for some sort of celebration. It is the same church she drags him to on Sundays. And I understand — I get it. She is looking to God to save her husband. Just like I was looking to God to save my mother — to save me.

I don’t have the heart to tell her I do not do large gatherings — even if they’re outside. I do not do well in crowds nowadays and neither would I want to. I take her flier. I smile at her. I tell her to have a nice night and to be safe. She smiles back and thanks me.

I ran to the church for so many reasons in my early twenties. I ran even harder in my mid-thirties. So much of me wanted to heal my mother and so much of me needing healing of my own.


I drank because I couldn’t get my mother to stop drinking and doing drugs. I drank because I was afraid of coming out. I drank because I was going through a series of harsh breakups and couldn’t find the answers why. I moved out of the townhouse my best friend and I shared. I left. I gave no reason — only a 30-day notice and paid my half of the utilities and mortgage for the next two months, or was it just the following month? That detail is foggy.

She faced me the day I told her with tears in her eyes, asking me to please talk to her. And I couldn’t. Here was a woman who would cause me to stop drinking. It would occur several months after I moved out. The night I knew I wouldn’t drink anymore, my best friend and I had attended a work-related party at a small pub near her place. Her colleagues — her comfort zone. I am told I had too much to drink. I am told, on the way home, she had to pull over to the side of the road so I could vomit. I am told she had to help me up the stairs, get me into some pajamas of hers, then help me to the toilet so I could vomit some more.

I awakened the next morning in her bed and could not remember what had happened and why I was there and not at home. She was sound asleep, but her expression had seeped in worry. I got up to use the bathroom, and this caused her to stir. I asked her what happened, and she told me. She calmly said, “I was not going to take you home where I could not keep an eye on you. You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And that was my “A-ha!” moment.

When a person loves you enough to ensure your safety in your inebriated state — when they care enough to make sure you’re not sleeping in the clothes you upchucked in the night before — when they clean you up, change your clothes, and guide you to their bed so you can sleep; there is nothing else that can match that. Cold turkey is what they call it, yes? I stopped drinking.

I could not imagine what she must’ve been feeling to do all of that for me and not completely cuss me out, as I had done so many times with my mom. She cared about my life — she showed me. I don’t think no one ever had before then or I had forgotten it if they did.


A year and one half later, I brought Jernee home. I was determined to shield myself from the past evils that attempted to drag me down with them. I needed this four-legged creature to keep me safe — to give me joy. I had something to do when I awakened — something to train, to feed, to nourish . . . to love. I had a feeling of purpose again just barely two years before — I felt I hadn’t, and I did not want to go on.

So when I see my neighbor and he is running away from whatever demons chasing him — I understand. I may not know the cause. I may not know exactly what’s beating him day in and day out and pulling him toward drowning his sorrows in tempting liquor mid-day. I don’t even know why he feels the need to talk to me — to step into my space, but I can listen.

Had it not been for my best friend, I would’ve been following the paths of my maternal great-grandmother, grandmother, great-aunts, aunts, and uncles — my mother. I understand because I can still see the bottles of Hennessy and Tanqueray and Old English my mom kept stored in her home. I can smell each one of them while they’re still locked in their casings. I can see her struggling to piece back together a broken home — a dysfunctional family — unruly boys.

I see myself trying to find a way out. I hear my best friend’s voice . . .“You were pretty fucked up, Tre.” And I understand.


*No one’s shit smells like roses and honey, baby. Everyone has a stench.©My late maternal grandmother.


Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

You Should Take More Chances

A letter to myself from a moment of clarity.

Image created with Canva. Words, ©2021 Tremaine L. Loadholt

If you were to ask me what more do I wish I had, I would tell you . . . courage. Courage to face my fears. Courage to be uninhibited in the face of love. Courage to give more of myself in my writing — to denounce holding back. True, I do share myself with the reading world and true; I find it important to be vulnerable, but some things I wish to lie out and which are completely bare, I . . . hesitate. I shoot for the moon but always miss — my aim isn’t what it used to be. I’ve lost my touch.

There is a woman — there’s always a woman or a man, yes? Isn’t that how most stories go when we’re reminiscing or thinking about what we could have done differently or what we may have missed? There is someone or something perfectly placed within our path to mislead — misdirect us. But, there is a woman. She is new. And she could be someone on loan to me for a short while to lend what my life needs at this moment. Or, she could remain here for an entire season and a few more seasons to come, but who knows? She is here now, and I am terrified.

I wish I could explain what the issue is or how I have merged into this lane of fear, but these days, building new friendships is harder for me than they’ve ever been. I am debating with myself daily on what I should and shouldn’t do and the sanest part of me is louder . . . I should take more chances.


The worst isn’t always the outcome.

What do you have to lose? Everything you’ve gained has had struggle related to it and this should not be any different. So she doesn’t know the biggest parts of you yet — that’s life. These things arise and gift themselves to our newest members with time. Day by day, bit by bit, reveal who you are. It’s scary, yes! It’s completely and utterly horrifying, but she will do one of two things . . . Stay or leave. And you will not know which one it will be until you open up your mind and break down the wall to let someone else in.

The thing with new people is, when you’re queer, coming out is a constancy — something that doesn’t disappear. New people will get to know that aspect of you and you will have to remove the cloak and make the big reveal. There is never any fanfare and no one is around to throw confetti and play your favorite 90s rap songs, but . . . it will happen. And when it does, the moment you fear most, the “will they stay or leave” moment you shiver down to your toes about will introduce itself. Will this person be a lifer or will they shift away from you without the tiniest bit of acknowledgment?

I am debating with myself daily on what I should and shouldn’t do and the sanest part of me is louder . . . I should take more chances.

Of course, you think about the worst that could happen because there have been so many situations with the worst outcome in the end, but then again, there have also been outcomes of acceptance — of love — of understanding. Every new person isn’t a test drive dummy to see how strong they are in the face of the sweetest taboo. Stay here in the baby steps of things for just a while longer. If she’s ready to walk and you’re no longer afraid to move away from crawling — get there, but . . . don’t rush.

Everyone doesn’t need the biggest parts of you. You can give them morsels. They’re easier to chew.


You are a strong enough writer to do more.

And what do I mean by more? Those children’s books your friends and family members keep suggesting you write — that type of more. That one creative nonfiction essay you’ve been meaning to pen and submit to The New Yorker — that type of more. The poems you have built up in your heart, leaking out of your mind, and filling up space in your soul you state will be your next collection to publish the traditional way — that type of more. You can do this! This is what you do! You write!

What are you really waiting for this time? What else needs to occur to allow you to move forward with making at least one of these things happen each year? What?! That good old friend of yours, yup — fear. Listen, didn’t you say a couple of years back you would not allow fear to take up residence in your mind anymore or in your heart? What happened to that person who was coming out of her shell, refusing to be cornered? I had a great time with her. She was cool. Bring her back.

I find it important to be vulnerable, but some things I wish to lie out and which are completely bare, I . . . hesitate.

Life isn’t always going to be this fresh and this full of hope and ready for you to spelunk and take full advantage of it. You must strike while you can. Go explore the caves of this world — take your laptop.


“Fifteen minutes at a time.”

You still carry this phrase with you from one of your older cousins. It helps. It works. It gets you where you need to be each day, and I want you to use this phrase to help turn things around in your life for the betterment of it. With her — let her in. Give her a chance. But, accept what will be with things: a friend or a partner or nothing. . . Go into it knowing you are learning a mystifying yet beautiful creature and you have every right to.

However, don’t search for anything you don’t really want to find. Fifteen minutes at a time each day — you never know, maybe this is what you need to push you out of the pit you dug for yourself of late. “Slowly. Surely.” If love — any form of love is there, don’t walk away from it.

Write through it all — that’s what you do, isn’t it? Write it all out in a way that connects with the masses — that fuels their very souls. Pitch a publication here. Submit an article there. Don’t let the past rejections continue to board up your creative walls. You must keep them free from shade. Do what you know you can. Write your broken, loving, misguided, disruptive, combative, and intense heart out, child. Write it out!

Go get what is yours and what has been designed for you. Stop reviewing it in your head and allowing it to slip away from the tips of your fingers. Bring it to life. You can do this. You can. You were born into this world for “such a time as this.”

What happened to that person who was coming out of her shell, refusing to be cornered?

Now, pull yourself back, shake off the dust of the past, breathe in deeply, and shoot for the moon. It’s time.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.

“GINGER! You lookin’ cute, friend!”

My best friend shared the following video with me a few days back when I was not feeling like my normal self. The day had pummeled me and I was just trying to find the strength to cook dinner and enjoy it afterward. As soon as I opened up the link, I awaited the goodness bound to attract me. I mean . . . A video call, a dog, dog’s best friends, and comedy too. What’s not to love about this video?

I have watched it at least twenty times now and each time, I laugh heartily. Ginger reminds me a great deal of my Jernee–forever giving me attitude when I want something from her but would have a royal fit if I ever ignored her. Lol.

Dog owners, I can almost feel you agreeing with me.

Let this video loan you a little sunshine.

When Death Comes Like a Thief in the Night

I miss them. I do.

Photo by Lucxama Sylvain via Pexels

I woke up crying a couple of nights ago. My head was aching. My stomach had knots in it I could not reduce or massage away. Their voices rang in my head — each one of them begging me not to forget them. And how could I? I have not. I never will. When death comes, it enters like a thief in the night — snatching up your last breath. Death has one agenda; kill you. It will complete its task. When it’s time — your time, it will prevail.

You cannot fight it. If you do so, prepare to lose. And you will lose horribly.

As much as I wanted to silence them, it felt disrespectful not to let them speak — not to give them the floor. I had to step aside. It was time I stepped aside. I am sharing my beautiful friends; once here, no longer here, with all of you.


Marlene was a burst of sunshine — a blossom of hope and beauty. She had this infectious laugh that would seep into your bones and stay with you for years. I can still hear her laugh echoing in the corners of my mind. She had many talents — many gifts, but the two that drew people close to her were photography and writing.

Her Flickr page is still up. After all these years, it has survived. No one shut it down. I am both happy and sad about this. Why? Happy because people still get to see how incredibly talented she was. Sad because my friend will never create tons more of these beautiful images for the masses. My friend is no longer here . . . No longer here . . . My friend.

I reached out to her ex-husband when I found out. He was a friend of mine as well. But not as close to me as Marlene was. She was in the throes of a violent asthma attack in the middle of the night. She called him. He didn’t answer. She called 9–1–1. She died a few hours later. Her breathing would not stabilize. She took her last breath. She would never see thirty-five.

I can still hear her laugh echoing in the corners of my mind.

I let the tears flow upon finding out. I did not hide them — locked myself in my apartment, sulked, took time away from work, and buried my pain in the blank pages of my journal. It’s still there. I am afraid to read those words.


Zulie (Ricka) was a powerhouse of a woman. She was independent, a single mom, an artist, and one hell of a writer. We would spend hours chatting on AIM or MSN messenger or texting or talking on the phone. She was five years older than me and always seemed ten times stronger.

She had two handsome boys — eleven years apart. I enjoyed watching them grow, learning of their happy moments, and understanding her care in managing their down moments.

The culprit? The what-seemed-so-unfair demise? Cancer; metastasized from her breasts to her bones. She’d fought it and escaped its grip years prior. But it came back for her. And it attacked her, bled her dry, and left her young children without a mother.

She was five years older than me and always seemed ten times stronger.

I mourn her still. It doesn’t get any better. The pain just gets older. She would never see forty.


Nikki . . . Really, I don’t think there are any appropriate words to describe her. She was the last day of school before the summer break. A freshly made coconut icie. A feature film in the movie theater with a medium-size popcorn. She was lively and always ready to love you . . . If you needed to be loved.

But she could not best her demons. She tried her hardest, but past trauma invaded her head and her heart and on many occasions; I found myself (as many of our mutual friends did), pouring love and words of encouragement into her to get her to see just how much we wanted her to stay with us. Just how much we needed her to be around for us to further enjoy her incredible presence.

She was lively and always ready to love you . . . If you needed to be loved.

But she knew what she could and could not take. And stick around with us, she just could not do. She took her own life. She would not meet thirty-five.


I lost my first friend when I was just fourteen years old and entered my first year of high school. Jason, who met his demise by bullets meant for him, was only fifteen. We grew up in a neighborhood that either pulled you into its gruesome grips or pushed you away from it when it felt you wouldn’t/couldn’t survive it.

We’d known each other since before kindergarten. He was an unruly kid who was one of the first people I would ever know to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder before it became a term I would hear more and more. We clicked. I was “The Girl No One Could Mess With.” I had been protected (by him).

The life he shifted away to lead was one that frightened me and upset me. He was intelligent; brilliant, even. We would have word battles and cartoon-themed inspired conversations that turned into debates. He would sometimes walk me home from school before he dashed into the streets to do what Street-dashers did.

Another friend of ours, Nicole, found me in one of our high school hallways the day he died and looked at me with worry in her eyes. She pulled my hands into hers and said, “Jason, he’s gone, Tremaine.” And I don’t know if it was me who screamed or her, but I felt like my soul was going to jump outside of my body. I felt like the world had kicked me in my chest and dared me to breathe.

I know I told my mom because I remember her hugging me close to her and rocking me as I cried, but I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember if I came straight home and told her or if I did my homework first because I was so hard on myself and disciplined. But I remember she had known.

Our next-door neighbor told her. News like that spread like wildfire. Everyone knew. I stood with that pain. I sat with that pain, slept with that pain. My first real boy friend. Not a boyfriend, but a friend who was a boy . . . had left me.

I can still see his smiling face or the sometimes sly smirk he would have plastered across his lips when he was up to something.

I felt like the world had kicked me in my chest and dared me to breathe.

That pain has grown with me for twenty-seven years and I hate it. We don’t chit-chat. We don’t share friendly words or have tea time. I spend most of my living days trying to continue to forget about it.

But it’s still here. That pain will never leave.


Who am I to silence these voices I hear? The ones of the people I loved, love. There is no past to love, correct? Once you’ve loved someone, deeply loved someone, love stays present. Doesn’t it? I have holes in my heart and I still have extremely bad days, but I move through hell as best as I can.

I move through this hell not trying to forget them — my beautiful friends, but simply trying to be rid of this damn pain.


This isn’t something I am all too eager to talk about. I just sit with it from time to time whenever moments of despair and intense pain about losing these beautiful people hit me. I still tear up immediately upon mentioning any of their names. It isn’t easier. It is just older — the pain, that is.


Originally published on Medium.