My New World
The reality of the hot season took on a new meaning this year. My glasses are always fogged. It is difficult to know which person is speaking. Facial expressions are missing. Lipstick and gloss usage are on a serious decline. We are in the era of the face mask.
Unlike the majority of my age group, I am single and childless. My sole household fear is based on my own health. FaceTime is an activity. Regular visits to the local farmer’s market are a major event. I became the hostess of virtual happy hours. Socializing and just being around people have been forsaken in the name of safety.
The large gaps of time without interaction weigh heavy. Frequent trips to the local park give a glimpse into a community of walkers. Green parrots squawk and talk in the trees as the sun gives way to my newly acquired jogging practice. Contactless coffee runs to DD round out the morning prior to another contemplation of the meaning of life.
Cooking and sips of water take place in between zooms. Daily afternoon naps get longer and longer. I text random friends to inquire about the phantom storm before yet another Netflix binge. Endless snacks run amuck in support of the COVID fluffy.
Gone are the days of the carefree travel and simple meandering. Everyone appears as a talking head. True connection now depends on your Wi-Fi signal. Hugs are banned. Thoughts of acquiring a Labradoodle pester me. This is my summer of 2020. A new world is forming, and I am learning how to move.
Delia knew that she would have to get a divorce. Her husband was obviously cheating on her, and she could not just stand by in complete oblivion. Her job was another issue. She was unhappy working from 9-5 for someone else without any hopes of making her own dreams come true. One lonely night, she grabbed her keys and drove to her mountain cabin for some fresh air. When she woke up, she took a stroll down to the river and made herself comfortable. It was to the tunes of the babbling water that she devised a plan that would change her life. She would return to school.
She had an undergraduate degree in liberal arts with a minor in African-American studies. She did enjoy working at the museum, but there was nothing that belonged to her. She did not make major decisions and was simply one more person on the staff. She wanted to build her own museum from the ground up and tell the stories of the local people. A graduate degree in Anthropology/Sociology would put her in a better place to do just that. Funding was not even a problem as she had already started her non-profit. She found a local university that had a wonderful program.
Her application was accepted, and she was invited to attend an orientation via zoom. Delia’s nerves were shaken. She was 50 years old. What in the world did she think she was doing? She had been away from school for well over thirty years. Was she out of her mind? She settled on the fact that she had been accepted to the program. Why not listen to what they had to say?
It was not going to be easy. There were many papers and presentations that would have to be completed. All of her free time was taken away. Weekends were spent at the library. Friends became FB faces instead of actual people. Her daughter continued to encourage her throughout her studies. Coffee became a new morning staple. Work became more interesting because she felt more dynamic. She was finally taking the necessary steps to truly do something for herself. One fateful night changed everything.
She came home late from class. She noticed that there was an Uber waiting outside of her house. A tall woman got out of the car in a trench coat. She went inside Delia’s home. Moments later a shot was heard upstairs. The woman ran outside to the Uber and sped off. She quickly took a picture of the license plate before it was in the distance. Afraid to go inside, she called 911 for assistance. The police and an ambulance appeared almost immediately. Her husband was pronounced dead in their home. In the days that followed, Delia learned that she was not considered a suspect. A midnight dogwalker saw the entire ordeal and reported it to the police. The new widow was at a loss. It was time to return to her cabin.
Instead of returning to physical classes, she opted to continue her schooling online. She was going through a terrible time. Apparently, her husband was killed because he refused to marry his mistress. She wanted him for herself and would no longer allow a marriage to Delia. It was easier for her to keep it together if she stayed in the cabin for a few months versus entering the place where her philandering husband was killed. In the evening, she would go to the river for meditation. It was such a comforting spot for her to gather herself. It was a special type of healing.
After three months, Delia felt ready to return to her home. She was almost finished with her degree. She wanted to prepare for her graduation ceremony in her primary residence. Her daughter offered to come stay with her, but Delia knew that this was something that she would have to conquer alone. The front door creaked as she pushed it open. Everything was in its proper place. The upstairs was properly handled so that she would not encounter gruesome memories. She turned the radio to her favorite station and made herself a cup of tea. She thought it best to contact a spiritualist for a house cleansing. There was no need to act as if her husband would not attempt further damage simply because he was no longer in his body. When she heard Prince on the air, she got up to dance. A slow smile crossed her face. It was good to be home.
Friends and family attended the graduation ceremony. It was such a good feeling to get that degree after such obstacles. A Moroccan dinner complete with belly dancing rounded out the evening. It felt good to experience fun. There was an odd fellow that caught her eye. Delia soon found herself chatting with the assistant director of a local gallery. They exchanged numbers and agreed to talk in a few weeks regarding potential collaborations.
As the resignation letter graced her former director’s inbox, Delia put together her board of directors. As the founder and executive director for her own museum, she was the boss. The final decisions in all matters were finally hers. She wanted to show the beauty of the African diaspora in the local people. It was a refreshing change to the community were diversity was often a misunderstood word. An opening gala would be in order complete with entertainment and catering. It was a special event that would be the talk of the town.
A complete change took over Delia. She hired a personal stylist that redid her entire wardrobe. Instead of dressing in a conservative manner, she was now a woman that was often clad in bold African prints. Her colorful frocks were complemented by large gold earrings and a bald head. The long expensive weaves were no more. Her feet used to find comfort in store brand sneakers. Now, they found style in Louboutin. Pilates and pole were both added to her physical fitness. A wonderful business coach attended her graduation party and was hired shortly thereafter. Everything was smooth sailing for her. It was well deserved. However, it felt as if something was missing.
She returned to the mountain cabin which served as the ultimate solace. Once again, the river welcomed her presence. As she closed her eyes, the answer came to her. How much longer would she be a widow as opposed to a single woman? The marriage to her husband ended long before his ultimate demise. At that very moment, her mind fell on the gallery director. She smiled and gave Harold a call. A small orange fish jumped out of the water at that very moment.
LADY IN WHITE
I can't believe that prom was just a few months ago. The strains of Pomp & Circumstance linger in the distance. It was hard for me to decide to go away to college at the last minute. However, I felt that it was the right thing for me to do. If I do not leave this place, my mother will never let me be my own person. She wants me to get a liberal arts degree at a local college and get married. I want to travel the world and experience different cultures. There are exchange programs in Europe and study opportunities in Africa. My academic scholarship will be transferred and Dad said he would get me a car. Of course there is the issue with my boyfriend or my former beau.
He went away to college last year and was sent home because he did not have time to study in between partying. It was then that I started to pull away from him. Now, he is here living with his parents doing nothing. He wants me to stay in town so that we can be together. We no longer want the same things. I do not want to be restrained by anyone or anything which caused me to say bye. There is such a big world out there, and it is waiting for me. He did not take the news well, but he needs to figure out his own life; without me.
It will be nice to make some new friends. Since graduation, a lot of us have just been doing our own thing. I miss hanging out with the others. Janet got pregnant and will start in a few years. Keisha left early for a trade program. Janet went to visit her grandmother in North Carolina, and then there is Melissa. She wants her own everything: car, apartment, and two boyfriends. The fights with her mom escalated, and she left the house. She has been living with her aunt, and working in the local strip club. She did not disclose this info to her family. I saw her going home one morning as I was walking in the park. We had a nice long talk about it, and I promised not to say anything. I did beg her to be please be careful and not to make stripping a career. It did make me wonder.
What type of a God would allow such a thing to take place? Melissa isn't perfect but she shouldn't have to twerk for a living just to get a decent dollar. Am I even worshiping the right God? I am saved. My acceptance of Jesus Christ came at a young age. It was simple for me. I did not want to go to hell. The baptismal pool felt like a potential drowning, but now I won't burn to death. I have questions about God; about Jesus. Everyone around me seems to be so set on their spiritual path. Part of why I want to visit other countries is so that I can see other religions. There has to be something else to suit me. Church does not seem to feel right anymore. I would not dare tell my mother. She would just tell me to pray about it. I do not want to pray about it. I want to take action.
I did tell Melissa how I felt. She shrugged her shoulders and took a puff of her cigarette. She told me that I had to follow my heart. If it did not feel right, go explore other things. She invited me over for dinner one night with her Aunt Maria. She was dressed in all white. The cloth looked so pure that it glowed. There were flowers and beautiful pots everywhere. She told me about how I was feeling. It was obvious that Melissa did not tell her because Aunt Maria told me things that I never told anyone. She told me to try meditation as a way to connect to something greater than myself. It was a great evening. For the first time in a long time, I felt as if someone truly understood my point of view.
There was no judgement. There was no listening to respond with her opinion. She heard me and responded with gentle guidance. Have I ever had that before? It was very comforting. The meditation really helped me. I felt so together. Aunt Maria began inviting me over on a regular basis for dinner. Her white clothes intrigued me. She said that she wore white to purify herself. It helped to keep negativity away from her. Apparently, she would do spiritual readings for people. They would seek clarity for issues in their lives. That was the first time that I saw a tarot deck. It was not long before I had to have my own.
At first the cards just stared back at me with their strange pictures. As I shuffled, a vibration went though me. One by one the cards began to reveal to me what was light and what was dark. Melissa helped me practice before working one night. She said that I was really good and should take them with me when I start college. Each day I would pull one to say hello to the deck. Each day, it would respond to me. The frequent trips to Aunt Maria did not go unnoticed by my meddlesome maternal unit.
She asked what I was doing there all of the time. There was no way that I could tell her the truth. Lying did not sit well with me either. I told her that I was learning how to meditate and clear my mind. She wanted to know what cluttered it. She questioned Aunt Maria's interest in me and implied that her time would be better spent on Match.com. Is she one of those women? She went on to say that she was single and childless. She is a stain on society. She felt as if poor Aunt Maria never got a real job and instead lived off the kindness of others. My eyes blinked.
It was then that I realized that maybe I should leave for school sooner than later. Daddy agreed to buy me a plane ticket and would buy me the car in a few months. It was time for me to escape my mother and her antiquated view on life.
August 9, 2020