I’m Turning Into Them

There I was, hunched over the left, lower drawer of my desk. I like to call it “the desk” because it is so substantial that it both fills the room and emptied my purse when I bought it.

When it was assembled, the rack for the hanging file folders were put into the wrong slot. I have used the desk this way for almost a year. Tonight, dizzy and nauseated from what I believe is the making of a migraine, I decided to do something about it. I have no idea why.

I held the Phillips’ head screw in my left hand, and said “lefty loosey, righty tighty” aloud before proceeding to unscrew the three screws that needed to move. I was wearing slippers, working diligently and silently, with an air of mechanical confidence that I do not usually enjoy. It was just unscrewing a few screws and moving a bar, after all.

But, right then, I felt it. I felt, for a moment, like an adult, like adult versions of my mother and grandmother.

Today is January 8, the date my grandmother was born way back in 1921. If she had not passed away back in 1998, almost 20 years ago, she would have turned 97 years old today.

It has been a long time since I have seen or spoken to my grandmother, at least in this realm, but I cannot remember a single day, in almost two decades, that I have not thought of her.

Her and my mother represent the parts of me that I wish I could cultivate more. My mother is feeling, empathetic, concerned. My grandmother was stoic, upright, moral, serious. Sometimes she was gentle, but I remember her as being pretty serious pretty much most of the time. I am more like my grandmother in personality, but I admire my mother’s warmth.

Tonight, sitting at “the desk”, I felt a like a little bit of both of them. My mother is so knowledgeable about cars that she could be a mechanic if she had any desire to get dirt under her nails. My grandmother was seemingly so unshakable and confident, it seemed that very few things or people could get her riled up. The stories that I have heard from her life really inspire me, although I am unsure how she was able to still have a hopeful and faithful heart, having grown up poor and in the Jim Crow southern United States.

Both share an affinity for houseshoes and a “can-do” attitude. Perhaps that’s why I felt a connection to them both tonight, as I sat there unscrewing the screws, feet nicely snuggled in a pair of sling-back, fuzzy, striped slippers.

As I have gotten older, I have started to release some of the expectations that I have for myself to be like my mother and my grandmother. It’s a hard thing to do, to let go of the dream of your heroes and realize that your own life is worth living in its own way. And, that things are worth doing YOUR way, no matter who your role models have been.

For me, I realize that I am light years behind the skill set my grandmother had as a baker. I have been rudely reminded of this fact for the past decade, every time I attempted to make a red velvet cake. However, this year, I think I got it right, but in my own way.

I realize that I honestly may never have the high levels of emotion and empathy for others that my mother has. I am beginning to accept this as just a part of who I am. Perhaps I can spread love through the world through cake instead?

No matter how I phrase it, or how I think about it, at least some parts of me are turning into parts of my grandmother and mother. And that’s pretty awesome.

Happy birthday, Lula Bee ❤

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Kale and Change

This morning, standing in front of my Vitamix, half-awake, having just gotten out of bed after a raucous night of watching YouTube videos and waiting to reply to “Happy New Year” texts, I realized what I wanted to write about for the first day of my New Year resolution: CHANGE.

I tore the three stems of kale into small pieces and fluffed them into a delicate arrangement before turning on the blender. I do not know why I do this; I know that in a few seconds, all of it, the kale, the banana, the protein powder, will all be blended into a cheerful sludge that can be sipped through a straw. As the blender ran, I thought of how change happens constantly, and inevitably, to everything and everyone around me. I thought about how even though the kale went from its original state to an almost microscopic chopped version in less than a minute, its values remained unchanged. I thought of myself, and how even though my core values have not changed, life has taught me many valuable lessons over the past two years of my life, even though I often felt as helpless and beaten as I am sure the kale did whirling around a high-powered blender.

Change has been both my best friend and my worst enemy. Change challenged me to see myself in a new, brighter light. But, sometimes change crept into my relationships with others, and dimmed the light, leaving behind heartache and disappointment. Change has made me feel so powerless, and then over time, taught me the power in letting go.

What will this new year bring? I have no idea. I no longer speculate about the future very much. I no longer try to manipulate every moment of today into what I think will be something great tomorrow. So much is unknown to me and out of my control. Life is full of things that I can’t even fathom how to control. The prevalence of change in the past 2 years of my life has taught me how silly it is to even participate in the illusion of control.

After watching the blender whirl around for a few moments, I smiled that very slight smile that your face does when you aren’t really thinking about anything, and I decided that this is what I’d write about today. Perhaps this isn’t the most eloquent thing I will write all year, but it is honest, authentic, and a little strange, like me.

Happy New Year

See ya tomorrow!

P.S.

In my opinion, this is one of the best songs written about change. Tupac talks about how change affects different people in his life, including himself, and the repeated line, “I ain’t mad at cha” conveys his easy and accepting attitude about how change is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Rest in Peace, Tupac, and thank you for sharing your life and poetry with us. Enjoy the song by clicking the link below:

2Pac “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” Video