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.

Non-fiction Saturdays

Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

There Is No Power In My Hair

They Must Have Thought So


M
any of you know that I cut my hair about eleven years ago — 7 inches and 1/2, to be exact. I love it short. I love being able to brush and go if I choose. If I want to curl it and give it a little flair, I do. I don’t spend hours under the dryer at the salon and maintenance and upkeep are minimal for me. I was reflecting on a time when I caught up with an ex-boyfriend who hadn’t seen me in a few years and as soon as I saw the look on his face, I knew he was going to say something about my hair. He did.

I could have sworn there was a light gasp in his words. What he said, I’ll never forget: “I liked your hair longer. What brought this about — this change?”

The same goes for an ex-lover of mine who peeked in on me during my Facebook days and saw a few pictures of me flaunting the cut. She sent word through a mutual friend of ours that she did not like it.

I Don’t Speak To Either Of Them.

There is no need. Not only did their reactions confirm who they thought I was yet who I am not, their actions told me that my hair is what made me, me. It didn’t. It doesn’t. I did something I had been wanting to do for years and never did it and one day, I did.

Some people seem to hold these insane beliefs about long hair. Some think it makes a woman more attractive — sexier. I beg to differ. Sensuality and sexiness are not linked to the amount of hair on a woman’s head, not to me.

Research from the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology indicates that a woman’s hair length doesn’t really affect her attractiveness that much. Study participants even judged short-haired figures as being more fertile, which contradicts the evolutionary-psych notion about long hair being an advertisement for reproductive suitability. — Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

Attractiveness to a woman is based on several factors for me: Can she read? Does she excel at what she does? When nude, does my mouth water? Does she strut in high-heeled shoes like a model, collecting the catwalk as her very own? Does she pay her bills on time and treat others like she’d want to be treated? There’s a whole lot of sexiness in those descriptions of a woman. Notice . . . her hair is not mentioned.

A woman who very much feels like a woman on the inside, 24 hours a day, can have short hair. I know—it’s hard for some men to wrap their minds around that. — Julia Austin

I drew the conclusion that both the ex-boyfriend and ex-lover had their personal preferences, just as we all do. One of the things that made me attractive to them was my long hair. Hindsight is truly 20/20. Did I want to be with anyone who clung to me based on the amount of hair on my head? Suppose I did stick it out with both of them and during our relationships, made the change? Would either of them have walked away because of it? Thankfully, I did not have to live out that scenario.


I had many trials during the years that led to me cutting my hair, relocating, finding a better job, and getting a dog were all major changes I assured myself I could do. I did them. Moving through the tumultuous time before my relocation from Georgia to North Carolina took patience, prayer, and perseverance. I told myself a bigger change would come my way.

Changing your hairstyle is not brave, and saying that it is is not a compliment. In my opinion, we all need to stop telling people that making conscious decisions about their appearance is “brave.” — Amanda Montell

There Is No Power In My Hair.

There never was. There never will be. I do believe that we can hold past pain, hurt, etc. in our hair — as we age, we need to shed a few things. To me, the weight of our hair is one of them. As you grow up, everything on your person, grows with you, including your hair. When I think back to the heaviness, thickness, and long “crown of glory” I had, I do not miss it. This is not to say that as I continue to age, I won’t gravitate toward letting it grow out once more. This is to simply say, I am comfortable with it short for now.

Having short hair has not changed the core of me. I still have the same eyes, lips, heart, and mind. I still want to be held when I am afraid. I yearn to be loved and understood in my deepest, darkest moments. I get emotional during sad movies. I am a badass cook. None of these things have changed.

If you are debating on cutting your hair, but you are pumping the brakes on that change in your life, think about why you’re debating. If another person’s view of you could change or you could offend your elders with your drastic leap away from long hair, how important is their satisfaction with you over your own?

If there’s one thing I can tell you, it’s that you won’t turn into a superhuman nor will any of what makes you who you are diminish. Nothing will be drained from your body and carried off to a shaman thousands of miles away to be concocted into a sacred serum for Hollywood stars to use to ward off aging.

You are not a fountain of youth. Take the leap if you want to. Forget what everyone else thinks. You have to live with the decisions you do not act upon just as you have to live with those you choose to make and see manifest into fruition.

A change could suit you.


Originally published via Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this piece is behind Medium’s paywall. Thank you for reading.

The Journey Back To Mental Wellness

Will Rogers’ paraphrased quote, located in my therapist’s office. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Part IV: Releasing Tension

“So, do you think you’ll take the job with your old supervisor?”

“I am still weighing my options with that. I’d have opportunities afforded me there that I do not at my current job, plus — no weekend work and more holiday time off. Did I mention that the practice is closer to where we live?”

“So many pros. Cons?”

“Well, if I took the position, I’d be leaving a team of great people and I love where I currently work. I’d put them in the position of trying to replace yet another person. I just wish things had not taken place the way that they have, but I have no control over that and I am trying to find a way to deal with each blow as they come.

“You said it best. You have no control over these things. I have a feeling you will choose what you believe to be the best option for both you and your current place of employment. Remember, self-care is important and if transferring will possibly aid you in maintaining self-care, do not deny yourself that.”

Jarred seashells. My therapist has collected these over the years during her visits to various beaches. Just seeing them made me want to start collecting shells too. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

won’t deny myself what I know is best, but I will not live in the world of a “possibility” or “probability,” either. The job offer comes as an “if.” The facility is new and building a name for itself while marketing its existence and gaining a few new patients each day. I could be a big part of this as I do love telling people about where I work. Our organization has proven to be one of the top organizations in North Carolina. I also believe that I could advance a bit more with this new facility and it would be such an honor to watch it grow and shift and take on new phases in operations as they come. I also know that there is a big chance that other people may be hired even if my old supervisor is currently the Clinic Administrator. She has power, but the higher-ups of our organization have more.

I am waiting, but not waiting at the same time. “Whatever will be, will be.” I tell my therapist this and she commends me on my ability to go along with what is taken place without emotionally breaking down.

“You are moving closer to your center, Tre.”

I hope she’s right. I tell her how I feel myself holding in so much tension and it is all piling up in my neck and shoulders and she stands up and shows me a method her chiropractor introduced to her since she tends to hold tension in the same area. She signals me to rise from the couch and follow her in motion. I do so. We center our heads, hold our arms out horizontally, spread our fingers, and then push our arms down, centering our elbows, and touching our hips with our hands. I could feel the relief in my neck area as the method ends. I tell her that this method will be a useful thing to do right before bed. She agrees.

There were brief moments where I teared up — just thinking of possibly leaving yet not knowing what lies ahead, frightens me. I want to be able to make a difference wherever I work and I get the opportunity to do this daily at my current job, however, roles have shifted and some people are clueless to their roles and that can be a harmful thing. I fear another toxic work environment, but I also believe that I can prevent it from becoming one.

That is too much pressure for one person, Tre.”

She’s right. She is definitely right.


Originally published via A Cornered Gurl on Medium.

Part I

Part II

Part III

I loved a woman once…

Audio Prose

Odilon Redon|Angelica on the Rock–1904

And, I thought that perhaps, she loved me too. We find out the strangest things when we confess–when we reveal our feelings to others. What seemed to be a connection built from words and learning the backgrounds of our lives’ pasts was just… two people sharing a oneness and the similarities that surrounded us were not meant to be taken and held up to a promising light. There would be no romance, no spinning of the times, no eruptions of heart-throbbing, pulsing love-making, and nothing else that would classify in the realm of labels, a relationship.

Communication, I was always told, is key and when I communicated to her my feelings, that proved to be my doom. It was not the only time, for I am a knower of rejection. It has laid up with me, it sometimes has a home when I do not seek its company. Yes, it was not the only time, but it was the last and it hurt like hell. I still see her in my dreams, hear her voice, know her words. When you love a Writer, you know that they have the power to build you up or tear you down, and they do not do it as a courtesy to you, in your face, it comes in their work. And you, being a Writer yourself, you do it too.

I loved a woman once…

And, she taught me that it is not always best to share one’s feelings, that the tides have various shifts and changes and if you are not careful, you will be swept up with the seashells and gritty sand. I do not know what it is like to turn off my heart. I wish I did. There are days where I wish I did not know her voice, did not know how common words such as “caress” and “safety” sounded as they rolled away from her tongue. We take things along with us from the hurt places. Unknowingly, sometimes we keep them and when they see fit, they raise up at the wrong moment, reminding you of just how sharp that pain was.

I loved a woman once…

And I have written fifteen poems about her, only sharing two of them when asked, and reminded of just how close I am to dying an early death in the game of love. She would have no remorse, and why should she? The line had been drawn and I watch where it lies, mindful not to cross it. What have I learned? That the heart wants what it wants yet the mind has to remind it that sometimes, it cannot have what it wants… And sometimes, without its knowledge, it is for the best.

I loved a woman once…

And she loved me enough to not love me back.

“But, You Speak So Well.”

Black Women Are Intelligent, You Know.

Nkululeko Mabena|Unsplash

My speech precedes me. I was raised in a home where reading was mandatory. I had to read. I had to learn. I was programmed to not only listen in grade school but pay attention and gain as much knowledge as I could. On top of all of the knowledge gained, I had to study longer, work harder, practice more, and not only be good, but greathad to be more than my peers and I had to do so because I was a girl, I was black, and we lived on the East side of Savannah, Georgia (predominantly black area). I spent time watching orators give long-winded speeches about education, the arts, culture, the need for funding in Downtown Savannah, etc. I had teenagers for parents who struggled to raise me and did not seek higher education but drilled it deep in my bones that I would, in fact, obtain a college degree.

Thus began my grooming for a world that would look upon a young, black girl and not only respect her but allow her to play on its field. Or, this is what was supposed to happen according to my elders. I entered spelling contests and won. I wrote essays, poems, and short stories and was encouraged to test the waters, no matter how deep. I spent the bulk of my summers in Bronx, New York with my mother’s biological mom and her baby sister. Oddly enough, I have this unique blend of accents — not quite Northern, but not all the way Southern, either — a mixture. I have often been told, “You are too proper,”You talk White (seriously, what does this mean?)”, and my favorite, “You speak so well, you enunciate everything.” Oh, really now? Am I not supposed to?

Black women are intelligent too, you know. We read. We study abroad. We not only enroll and are accepted into Ivy League universities, but we graduate as well. We are innovative. We are unique. We can take nothing, turn it into something and allow it to multiply because we have had tons of practice in being resourceful. The fact that I am clear in delivering messages to you when I speak does not make me special or you superior. It simply places me in a category you may not be familiar with and that is reason enough to ask yourself why. How many black women do you know? Do you venture out to be friendly with them? Do you listen, truly listen to what is being said by them when holding a conversation?

We have the words of our ancestors pouring out of us, why would you even think we would not be heard? What makes you think that what we say would not be clear, concise, direct, and appropriate? I do not want to be anyone’s common statistic. How you form your thoughts surrounding who I am and how I operate in life is between you and your current mindset. It does not have anything to do with me. I love to watch the look on the face of others when I open my mouth to speak, especially if there is an important topic to discuss at hand. I am tactful, I am steady in my thinking, and not only am I direct — I know my facts when I have to.

When I speak — I am showing you an entire race and the many cultures that make up who we are. When you hear me, you hear a woman — a black woman giving you her thoughts. If ever we have a debate, slight misunderstanding, or an argument, know that what I will say, you will not forget. “But, you speak so well.”

I do.

And I do many more things “so well” too.


Originally published in Atomic Babes via Medium.