2020, I’m Not Sad to See You Go

But I appreciate what you taught me

Dear 2020:

I could start this letter by saying “I’m glad you’re leaving,” “I’ll hold the door open for you,” or “I’ll even grab your bags, walk you to your car, and make sure you get home safely” happily but I’m choosing to let you know even though you have nearly taken me out, I am still here. And many of us can say this.

You tried, you almost succeeded, but we’re powerful enough to deal with you.

Coronavirus COVID-19 is raging with a significant increase every day of those who have contracted the virus. Pharmaceutical companies have introduced rushed vaccines for a thing that constantly mutates and brings about different strains periodically to shoot into faithful believers of being protected against it. Government officials delayed help, knowing human beings were suffering, had been suffering, and were going to continue to suffer, then threw loose dollars for us to catch.

Racism, divisiveness, bigotry, and an overwhelming number of things that paint hatred and insensitivity corrupted you and you allowed them to fester; to dig in deep into the hearts of man, burn their spirits, and press upon their minds. We learned that you harbored endangerment and only waited until now to show us your true colors.

I remained steadfast. I knew my place. I had support. I was not alone. You did not defeat me.

We learned that you harbored endangerment and only waited until now to show us your true colors.

2020, were you lingering in the air waiting for the perfect moment to swoop down on us and attack at will? If I were to question you professionally, would you answer truthfully about your hand in what has been the demise of thousands upon thousands? I would bet you will not confess openly and if you did — you’d lie through your teeth like a certain someone still trying to hold on to a presidency that is quickly flashing by before his eyes and continues to throw temper tantrums because his way is not the way.

You came with everything you had. You thundered into our lives in the beginning with hopeful appearances and a grandeur we had not seen before, and lo and behold — you rocked us by stabbing us in the back. There are many of us who are fighting. There are many of us who are conquerors. There are many of us who will ready a proper shoe and place a swift kick upon your ass sooner than later to get you out of the door.

We want you gone.

I remained steadfast. I knew my place. I had support. I was not alone. You did not defeat me.

Although you came for us with fire in your clutch, we are persevering. We are standing strong. You have taught me I have far more fight in me than I believed I did. You opened my eyes to a vast number of people who will take care of others and give their last to a fellow human being in need. You showed me that even when the depth of the belly of the beast is staring us straight into our eyes, we can overcome, we can stand firm, we can press forward.

You aimed to kill at will and you have succeeded — we have lost so many all around the world with thousands dying each day by your hand, however; you have not bested us. I have learned, am learning your weakness lies in the beauty togetherness can bring — the strength of a people immovable even as they fear what will be next.

2020, you came . . . You rattled us. You shook us from within ourselves. But you have not won.

We won’t let you.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.

My Christmas Morning Smelled Like Hope

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Hanging On|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My Christmas Morning Smelled Like Hope

A break from the everyday grind lent me peace

I woke up Christmas morning to a blustery icy wind and the invitation from the corners of my home to get up and get out with Jernee in tow. Just before 07:00 a.m., I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active. We walked around the complex, toward the wind, our faces kissed by nature’s undeniable presence, and attempted to make our walk as productive but short as possible.

The air smelled like buttered biscuits and honey — so sweet; a come-hither-ish enjoyment that no one could deny. I was content. I felt loved. I knew the days after this special holiday would also be tests, but I had the feeling they would not be hard to pass. I can only hold fast to the idea this will be so. Jernee bounced about as if a new spring was in her steps — she sashayed ecstatically, happy to be out in the early morning air doing what she loved to do most.

I released myself from the grips of a warm bed, prayed, layered up in clothing, and gathered my four-legged love so we could tour our neighborhood before everyone got active.

I braced myself for each brush of the wind, tightening up my jacket every few moments — checking my gloves, fiddling with my pockets. We did not linger on for the usual mile; we didn’t even do a half-mile. Christmas morning’s walk was truly about business — handling it and getting back inside as quickly as we could. The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life. I aimed to keep my health intact, and I foresee success in that area.

I opted to spend the holiday alone. I even began celebrating it Wednesday night by turning off my cell phone, but not before alerting my most loved humans of this change. I had it in mind to enjoy every single minute of my mini-vacation, and this included as few distractions as possible. There are holidays I revel in spending alone, and there are holidays when the pain of spending them alone hits me like a freight train.

But with COVID-19 looming its ugly head around every corner and hitting us harder than anything we’ve ever seen — it felt safer to remain at home. It felt safer to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and be in a heated space while doing so. According to a British study, they found — one in four adults feel as though they would spend Christmas alone this year. And while this is in the UK, the US is facing the same restrictions in various states because of a virus we cannot (and some do not want to) control.

When we found satisfaction from our walk, we came back inside. I fed Jernee and began prepping for my breakfast; sausage patties, buttermilk biscuits, grits, and a glass of eggnog. I savored every bite, thankful for the blessings of shelter, food, and the ability to adapt whenever necessary.

Christmas can be about more than survival. It can be an opportunity to learn to thrive in your aloneness. — Stephanie Foo, The New York Times, December 2020.

For those of you who have had to experience this holiday alone for the first time because of so many drastic changes this year, I can imagine your sadness. I understand your discontentment. I have been there — done that. Before COVID-19, I had learned how to properly love myself and be with myself without feeling as though I needed physical accompaniment from another. Having someone around to take in the wonders of Christmas is a beautiful thing, but this year — I needed the alone time. I wanted it more than I ever have.

The cold had been enough to lay anyone out for a week, and I refused to be a contender in that game of life.

Christmas dinner|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

After breakfast, I began making my crockpot chili, which I paired with garlic-cheese cornbread. As the sauce blended with the seasonings, the smell wafted throughout my home and I only felt happiness. I could only feel happiness. My Christmas morning smelled a lot like hope. It smelled a lot like new beginnings and purposeful opportunities. I delighted in watching Christmas-themed animated movies and a few other movies too. I finally sat down and engaged in Hulu’s Happiest Season, which was shortly followed by On-Demanding Ip Man: Kung Fu Master. I read, wrote, watched more animated cartoons, ate heartily, and enjoyed snuggle time with Jernee.

I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more. This was the perfect holiday — I needed the rest. I earned the rest. My mom and I planned to see each other the following day instead, and Saturdays every other month are usually our meeting days. This should be no different. I look forward to our time together and I know she is looking forward to seeing both me and Jernee too.

The best thing about this Christmas for me is the non-rush of it all. I did not tackle any crowds. I kept it light on any shopping, doing it all online, and sent the parents of the babies and little ones in my life, money via CashApp so they could bear the weight of getting gifts for their children. Many will probably venture to say their holiday spent alone makes it a lonely one, but I will testify — this year, I welcomed the alone time. It provided me with seconds, minutes, and hours I should have found earlier on to do what I should have been doing, which is — truly enjoy myself in the comfort of my home.

Instead of remaining home out of fear and disinterest in the uncivilized, I remained home because it called to me. And I answered.

I experienced life in small doses and drank in the glorifying goodness of it all without feeling pressed to do more.

I woke up on Christmas morning and the air was different — it was fresher and crisper. There had been a newness to every cloud and a hint of love in every gust of wind. There had also been hope as the silver lining on what we could consider a gloomy experience for others and a sprinkle of selflessness lurking in the bushes. Peace wrapped itself around me and reminded me of what it looks like sitting with oneself and admiring what I see.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spent Christmas alone and doing so opened my eyes to what they had been closed to for a long time — we are, in fact, gifts to ourselves.


Originally published on Medium.

Sometimes, I Feel Like I’m Losing My Voice

A Writer’s Lament

Photo by Arantxa Treva via Pexels

And I know it’s the overwhelming year that’s nearly behind me and feverishly thinking about the one ahead of me but as a writer, I cannot lose my voice. I am not talking about the physical sound from the use of my vocal cords but my writer’s voice — the authenticity that is me.

There’s pressure all around us. As creatives, we strive to pursue a place in the artistic world where we can be heard, but in a sea of sames, how can our differences stand out? The one thing I do not want to lose as it pertains to my craft is my uniqueness.

I do not want to lose myself in the sea of sames. I have worked hard to carve out space in this world for myself and my way of giving people the ideas that come to me as I toss and turn at night.

This — this writing thing is my freedom song. I write about my life. I write about what I wish my life was. I write about the beauty of the lives of others. And I write about the untruths and could-bes and would-bes of this world. There is a space of peace that shows itself when I am writing.

There’s pressure all around us. As creatives, we strive to pursue a place in the artistic world where we can be heard, but in a sea of sames, how can our differences stand out?

I lose myself in the words.

Of late, I have felt as if I am pulling words from the pit of my stomach, stretching them out to their true length, and delivering them to a wholesale warehouse for direct manufacturing. What I’m trying to say is, it’s been hard.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement, I wish I had the answer. What I have told myself to do is, “Practice more. Stress about things less. Just write, Tre.” It’s working. Little pep talks have become my friends.

Every so often, I have to remind myself that no matter how many clones there are touting the same advice, using the same template, and running around after each other to see who can push out the most articles per week, I must remain who I am.

Of late, I have felt as if I am pulling words from the pit of my stomach, stretching them out to their true length, and delivering them to a wholesale warehouse for direct manufacturing.

And who I am is my voice.

I have lasted five, almost six years on Medium and fourteen on WordPress, growing each year and giving a little bit more of myself at the same time too. I refuse to follow a cookie-cutter pattern or waddle behind a crowd chasing too-good-to-be-true outcomes.

I want to stand in line by myself, but I also want to share that line with others who will not strip the beauty of themselves away to put on the skin of those who lose themselves just to get ahead. I am here. I work hard to keep my presence pure. I don’t want to be like anyone else.

But sometimes I feel like I’m losing my voice. And should it seem like I have dear reader, I urge you to tap me on the shoulder and bring me back to earth.

Please.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.

The Beauty of “Different” and What I Learned From It

Growing up, I was encouraged to have friends of various races and ethnicities

Community art in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I was fortunate to have grown up in a household with a mother who welcomed all my friends. No matter their race, creed, ethnicity, or culture, the people who drew me near to them found a home in our home because of my mom. And since my father and later, my stepfather, agreed with her stance, by default, they welcomed them, too.

I had Black, Mexican American, White, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Puerto Rican friends. Boys and girls alike ran up and down our stairs. My mom, on her happiest and most sober days, cooked for us. She would serve our favorite fatty foods around dinnertime, and if a few of my friends wanted to spend the night (weekends only), she’d reach out to their parents and seal the deal.

I was aware of our differences, but they held no weight when it came to love. I had a responsibility in my pre-teen and teenage years, and that was to love everyone. If I showed even an inkling of hatred or a small amount of disdain toward anyone, I had my mother to answer to. Trust me, I wanted no parts of her when she was angry. So, I walked the straight and narrow. I appreciated being able to befriend anyone and learn to love them, too.

No matter their race, creed, ethnicity, or culture, the people that drew me near to them found a home in our home because of my mom.


Me and Susan, so many years ago. Savannah, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I have held some of these friendships for fifteen years or more. I’ve watched these beautiful people get married, have children of their own, and move through life with the gusto and persistence needed to tackle anything coming their way. I am so grateful for constant reminders of embracing “all God’s children” and carrying this info into my adult years.

Me and Theresa (I love to hear her oldest daughter say her name: “Te-Ress-ah.” It’s beautiful.). Atlanta, Georgia, 2016. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

Even if we haven’t seen each other or been around each other physically, we remain in contact with one another. The beauty of technology these days is an intriguing thing. I can swipe a few words into the text message screen of my cell phone, click send, and communicate with all of them in moments. This beats our older ways of communication, which included the cord or cordless phone, letters, and a hop, skip, and a jump over to each other’s place.

Me and Vic being our silly selves. Atlanta, Georgia, 2016. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I see my friendships as stepping stones into a blissful life. These beautiful people have seen me at my worst and love me just the same. We’ve had our debates, arguments, and extreme disagreements, but we’ve pulled through and came out unscathed. If I can appreciate the word different and what it entails, I am sure every human being in America can learn to do this. I don’t think we’re meant to be each other’s enemies.

I don’t believe we’re meant to stand for purposeful things alone. It is my understanding and unmoving stance to stand together and rise together, too.

I am so grateful for constant reminders of embracing “all God’s children” and carrying this info into my adult years.

What we must do is shake whatever harmful actions and thoughts buried deep within us and move forward to a positive outcome. I would love to embrace everyone, no questions asked — no research performed, but during these incredibly divided times, that would not be wise.

I have to be smart in knowing who I can turn to and why. I also have to be as equally smart in those I seek to make allies. They must be equipped with the knowledge of striving for equality by any means necessary. Solidarity should be as close to them as the color of their skin.

If a girl raised in the deep South, brought up by a woman with a fierce love for all people, can love the differences in anyone she meets, surely you can, too.

Start today. It’s never too late.


Originally published in Our Human Family as a response to the Finding Gratitude Prompt via Medium.

Why Goodbye Really Isn’t Goodbye

And how I’ve learned to say “See You Later” instead

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Succulents (Luna, Venus, Mars, & Jupiter). Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

Ihave learned to say “See You Later” when I am leaving people or a place I love. It’s more accurate than “Goodbye.” Goodbye is final — an ending. Everything in life may not always require an ending, especially when bonds and love exist for the person/people/things. Friday, November 06, 2020, was my last day at my previous job. It was full of tearful expressions, gifts, social-distance hugs, and well-wishes. I have stated this once and I will state it again — I am not (have not) leaving people I hate, I left people I love. It is hard. It has been hard. But ultimately, this decision is still the best one for me.

This week, I have had patients cry, want to hug me, and talk to me longer than they usually do as they learned of my decision to transition to our Central Scheduling Unit. Patients have brought in gifts, written up remarkable cards for me to hand to my supervisor, and shared their respect and admiration for me. The one phrase I have heard more than I can count this week was, “Thank you for making us feel safe.” I will miss many of them and others I cannot be happier to get away from — to possibly never see again in a professional setting.

I have learned to say “See You Later” when I am leaving people or a place I love. It’s more accurate than “Goodbye.” Goodbye is final — an ending.

The law firm above our facility consists of a team of one man and three women. Each of the women I have grown to care for and respect. The three of them got together to give me a card with such heartfelt notes written in it that drew tears from my eyes as I read them. As Ms. Leslie approached me and readied her speech, I stood there — fully in tune with her words and thanked her profusely for such a kind gesture. She made sure I knew how loved I was and how much my presence meant to them. She asked if I would train my replacement and I informed her I would.

So, this past week was made up of me training my replacement and getting her ready for the week ahead. I was thankful we did not have as much traffic as we usually get in the facility so it made training her much easier, but we had several instances occur of which she will need to be aware and ready to tackle when they take place with no one else around to assist her. After our third day of training, her question to me was, “Did you do this by yourself?” and I informed her I did. Her response to that was, “This is not a job for one person.” I agreed with her.

The one phrase I have heard more than I can count this week was, “Thank you for making us feel safe.”

Some days I would screen over two hundred people for Coronavirus, COVID-19 symptoms, and out of that two hundred, I would probably have to turn away five to ten per day for having symptoms or refusing to wear face coverings/masks. The job is taxing, and on my best days, it completely exhausted me. I am sure it had to be pure adrenaline and the high-energy of my nature that kept me afloat.

My replacement is a bubbly middle-aged woman who has a cheerful disposition and a need to be around people again. She is transitioning from a remote position back to a clinical setting. I could tell this past week that perhaps she may have made the wrong decision. In the middle of a global pandemic and at one of the busiest facilities in the area, trying to get as much information as I could transfer from my brain to hers felt like an act of futility. The job itself is tough, but having to train someone in the midst of the job made it even tougher.

Mymost important piece of advice to her was, “Find a groove that works for you. This foyer is your baby. You will have to own it or it will own you.” I could also feel her level of discomfort too as some of my coworkers came out to the foyer to bid me farewell in front of her. They were emotional, they kept asking me to think it over and to not leave, and others wished me the best but let it be known they were sad I stuck with my decision.

Regardless of what I did to get them to curb the conversation for a later time, they went on. I am a fan of giving people the floor to express themselves, but I am also a person who is constantly connected to the feelings of others. I wanted this transition to be smooth for the new Screener and not one filled with anxiety of having to step into the shoes of someone else before her.

The job is taxing, and on my best days, it completely exhausted me. I am sure it had to be pure adrenaline and the high-energy of my nature that kept me afloat.

We made it through the week with her trained as much as anyone could be trained for a position such as this — questions had been asked and answered and she will have many more; I am sure. They will not be for me. I left the entrance space of our facility in her hands. I hope she takes care of it.

I worked six hours that day, knowing in advance I would need to leave earlier than my normal to rest up for the new job next week. Prior to my leaving, I went to each modality to see their faces and spread some love before I turned in my keys. The blessings that flowed from the mouths of these beautiful people reminded me of why this decision is such a hard one. The plant you see above as the cover image is just one of the many gifts given to me shortly before I exited the building. I instantly fell in love with it.

One of my coworkers, the one in which I am closest to, grabbed me, and hugged me, and I felt her body shake a little and I said three times, “Don’t you dare cry,” and she didn’t. I said to her, “This is not goodbye for us — it’s not. This is, see you later.” And it will be.

I have learned the difference between the two. You say goodbye to those people or places you never intend to see again. Goodbye isn’t reserved for the team I had the pleasure of spending nearly three years with — no, goodbye has no place regarding them.

Not one bit.


Originally published via Medium.