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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hungry for Mississippi Morning

The sunlight creeps through my grandmother's bedroom blinds, and gently kisses my face. I rub my eyes, stretch, and rose from my great mother’s waterbed. I would often find myself floating on her waterbed when nightmares kept me awake or I just needed extra comfort.

 The aroma of fresh buttermilk biscuits and coffee are swirling through the house. It's seeping from underneath my great grandmother's bedroom door. She is a second mother to all us kids, cousins, and neighborhood kids. We all called her ‘mother’, and often ran to her when moms, the women who carried us for nine months, weren’t giving us what we wanted.

 There is a sizzle, a crack, and pop. I know that's bacon cooking on my Mother’s old black, burnt frying pan. This is a Mississippi morning, and where some of my fondest food memories live.
After lingering in the bedroom for a while, my senses overwhelmed with the breakfast that is cooking down the hall, I wake up and start following the aroma.  My cousins are anxiously sitting at the table, and Mother is at the stove smiling. Her caramel life-worn face shoots me a smile. I'm only eight, but she pours me a cup of coffee. I go to the pantry and reach for the generic creamer, and sugar. I've tasted a lot of different coffees since those Mississippi mornings, but this coffee will forever be my favorite. When the biscuits finish baking, Mother brings the piping hot pan to the table. Me, my cousin, and young uncle are eagerly waiting for our turn to pick a soft, moist biscuit from the pan. No KFC, Church's Chicken, or any fast food joint can lay a finger on Mother’s biscuits. We pour this rich, thick maple molasses that came in large mason jars on our plates. It’s so rich and thick it takes what seems like forever to seep from the jar to the plate. With our hands we dip the biscuits in the syrup. This was the kind of food that fed more than your stomach. It fed something deep inside of you, something intangible. It’s like I could taste the love and attention Mother cooked into the meal. At the old circular table surrounded by my kinfolk I felt part of something, part of something lasting.

I've been thinking about these early Mississippi mornings a lot lately. I'm riding another weight roller coaster, and after way too many highs on the scale, I'm starting to wonder how I ever got here. Some nights I’ll lay on the couch, miserable, homesick, and alone. Then I feel a hunger rising in my stomach, punching, kicking, and demanding for something to fill the emptiness inside of me. It compels me to venture to the kitchen, and stand in front of the refrigerator. What I am really hungry for? I grab a coke, a few cookies, and head back to the couch. After my late night snack is consumed, my stomach is happy, but something else is still empty.

The sugary mix of caffeine and chocolate are not filling the loneliness or take me back to those mornings where I felt so whole and complete.  Growing up, food was not just about nutrition or fueling the body. Food brought my family together, it comforted us, and it was love. I've carried these feelings about food from childhood.  I realize now that sometimes when I overate I'm really trying to fill my soul with the same warm feelings I got on those Mississippi morning.
When I can't fix anything in my world at least I can fix a good meal for myself. The food cure doesn't fix the problem, but for those few seconds I'm lost in a haze, trying desperately to feed the little emptiness in my heart.

Our family is so far away. I’m living in the mountains trying to start my adult life. My sweet, warm Mother is now in a nursing home with little memory of those post sunrise meals. She has lost her youngest child, my aunt, and it’s caused a rift in the family that can’t seem to be healed.

My cousin and young uncle can barely relate anymore. The last time I went down South, I sat at that table where we had those sweet, rich, fat inducing breakfasts. I’m hungry for that feeling again. But, as I sit there in a house my Mother can’t call home anymore—I know no meal can fix where life has taken us or transport me back to those days that started with the feeling of sun on my face, and the smell of a family that loved deeply.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#LOLOS LOVE LIFE: The Boston Bear

For the past three years I’ve been lied to, hustled, lusted after, used, but rarely have I been admired by a man. They called me a bitch, crazy, ugly, and so much worse. So when I heard that a guy in another department at my job had a crush on me I didn’t really know what to make of it, and it made me wonder if I was really worth of someone’s admiration again.

When I met the Boston Bear I remember thinking he had kind, inviting eyes. Nothing about the encounter suggested anything romantic. We exchanged names. I explained I was fairly new to the company, and after that I didn’t see him again. Weeks later one of Boston Bear’s coworkers stopped me in the back office.

“So what do you think of the Boston Bear?,” he asked.

“What do you mean? I met him like once. He seems nice,” I replied.

“Well he thinks you’re really pretty.”

Pretty, I thought.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Boston Bear needed his eyes fixed. My work uniform makes me looking like I’m carrying an extra 15 pounds on my already voluptuous frame, and since we can’t wear bright makeup, more often than not I look rather plain. Nonetheless, the compliment felt nice. Pretty was one of those words I always wanted to hear from the opposite sex when I was younger. I didn’t see much of the Boston Bear anymore since we worked in different departments, but his co-workers never missed the chance to tell me I needed to give Boston Bear a shot.

“He’s a super sweet guy. You should reach out to him,” they would say.

Love was the last thing on my mind. For the past year, I’ve been struggling to escape a life of homelessness, and despair. So many days I felt broken, less than, and hopeless. A part of me had given up on finding love again. But, I took a leap of faith and sent the Boston Bear a Facebook message. I was touched the Boston Bear read my blog, praised me for my strength in adversity, and didn’t flinch when I shared the heartbreak I had endured or the depression that nearly killed me. The turning point came when the Boston Bear heard I had no way to get to work because my driver's license was suspended. For weeks, he'd take me home, and take me work. On those trips down 264-W on the 40 minute trek to my house, I fell in love with the Boston Bear’s northern accent, his love for his city, and his welcoming brown eyes. One night home, he put his hand on my knee, and I felt flutters in my stomach. I found myself taken back when he opened the car door for me, carried my work bags, and greeted me everyday with, “Hello beautiful.”
When your new boo is a Patriots Fan- you just go with it

The Boston Bear and I have been dating for two months now. He is one of the most selfless people I know. He is kind, patient, hard-working, funny, affectionate, and an amazing listener; so many of the things I prayed for in a partner.

When I was homeless, it was hard to feel safe with a man. Most wanted me physically or were enamored with the little celebrity I had as a television reporter. I thought every man was out to get something from me, and I was always waiting for them to disappoint me.

The Boston Bear didn’t pressure me for sex, or immediately ask to Netflix and Chill. He read my blogs about my suicide attempts and didn’t run. He laid awake with me for hours sharing pieces of himself and his history that few know. He holds my hand in my public, and blow kisses to me from across the room, and he believes in my dreams. He encourages my speaking career, gushes me about to his family and friends. And, when he holds me I feel home, a feeling I’ve wanted for a really long time.

To my Boston Bear….. Thank you for sharing your life and heart with me. Here is to new beginnings. May we grow as lovers, partners, and friends. May we build each other up on hard days. I want to be your harbor in the storm, your biggest cheerleader, and best friend. Thank you for giving me the type of love every good girl deserves. I can’t wait to see all your dreams come true.