I am simply amazed that I have crossed the state line. It’s truly like running through the finish line tape at the end of a track meet. I am remembering what Aaron from the “Doom Room” stated about getting a legal transfer to another state and he will never see the state of Florida again. I feel as though he did his the right way. I definitely did mine the “black back” way. I feel as though I will highly regret this later. I am not the one that counted regrets. My grandfather told me that . His exact words were “You have to pay taxes sometimes”. I lived by this creed as well. I call Chico and tell him that I have already made reservations for the Westin by the airport and we just need to get there.
I pull into the valet and the valet says, “Welcome back Mrs. Daniel. I see that you have more bags that usual. Should I load them and have them sent to your room?” I am glad that there is someone that is finally treating me with some dignity and respect. That small statement made me feel like a real person, not someone that somebody else pitied. I tip him $20 and tell him that I want to take Baylor’s suitcase and two others in the trunk. He will park the car in the garage as I always request. I let Chico check us in and I can not get to the room quick enough. The bellman has agreed to take Baylor on a long walk and bring him back to our room when they are done. Thank you Jesus!
I sit on the foot of the bed looking around at the hotel room and the window that looks out onto the I-285 expressway. Believe it or not, Chico is in the best mood that I have seen him since this whole situation has occurred. I tell him that he should call some of his friends and hit up Camp Creek for a few drinks. He stops and turns around to look me in the face. “Babe, I’m not leaving you”. “I didn’t ask you to leave. I asked you to call some of your friend and get some drinks. I will be fine”. His face is uncertain, and he is wondering if there is some reason that I am encouraging him to go out. Well, there is a reason I want him to go out. I want him to get some of the edge off of himself. This was just as hard on him. Most importantly, I need to be by myself for a minute. I have to digest all that has just happened and I have no clue as to what is going to happen next. I just know that I need a minute. I am too scared to go out in public or be around ANYONE. Right now, this is just not in the cards for me. I can’t be in a crowd. I tell him that I plan to take a hot shower, wash my hair, and get in the bed. So for now, just go and have a little fun, even if it is only for a few hours. He abides and starts to get ready to go out.
I know that Cint is trying to get me out of this room. For what reason I don’t know. I pretend to text some of my friends and I head to the shower to rinse this Penske truck off of me. Cint is busy ordering room service for her and Baylor. I am clearly not invited to dinner. Part of me is disappointed. I was hoping that we could get here to Atlanta and she would be more relaxed and we could just be with each other. I could hold her while she sleeps and that way she knows that no one is going to bother her anymore. But here she is hurrying me off to hang out with my friends. I don’t think that she is up to something bad. I hope not. I am just surprised that this is what she is asking me to do the minute we get to Atlanta. I am too siked that we have finally made the move back to Atlanta. Jacinta should have listened to me in the first place and we wouldn’t even be in the situation that we are currently involved. I quickly take that thought out of my head and regret that I brought it to the surface of my thinking again. I begged Jacinta to move to Atlanta and she refused. The only way I was going to make her my wife was if I moved to Virginia and that is exactly what I did. I left. Sometimes, I find myself resenting her for this decision. I gave up my great career in Real Estate at an Acquisitions firm because she had more tenure at her job. Big mistake. I have got to learn to let that go, but it will take me a minute considering all of the shit that she and I have been through.
The truth is that I never wanted to leave Atlanta. Jacinta and I have been knowing each other since she was eight. She lived with her grandmother. A lot of people lived with Jacinta at her grandparent’s house. There was never a such thing as no one being home. Someone was always there. I am six years older than Jacinta, I did not know the age difference at the time. She had several cousins and during that time, it was a race to the finish to see who could get those older cousins to go out. My friend Chuck was smitten and he wanted me to ride with him to meet this cousin of Jacinta’s. I didn’t know if Jacinta and her sister were just younger sisters or just family members of the cousin that Chuck was trying to see. I just knew that this little eight year old was feisty and too grown for her age. They were outside playing kickball. I waited on the car port while Chuck went to see about her cousin Melange. Too bad the ball rolled my way. Now, I am being told by this little girl that I might as well play too because Melange was no where near ready to go out. Since I had to wait, I went along and played pitcher. Every time Chuck and I went to get Melange, this pitcher role was automatically my job and Jacinta and Jordan made me know it.
Jacinta lived in Collier Heights. Her street was what we called a “cut-through” street. It allowed you to skip all of the lights and traffic to get to either I-20 or I- 285. Years had gone by and I was maybe twenty-two at the time. I was cutting through their street trying to duck traffic and I decided to stop to see if Melange or the two little girls still lived there. If nothing else, I really wanted to speak to their Grandmother. She was awesome and always had something good to eat. I ring the doorbell and I swear I hadn’t seen anything like what I was seeing through this screen door. I was sort of struck which is rare for me. I mean, I’m Chico Daniel, baby. At that time in my life, I was living it up and every girl in the city was on me. I never had problems being without one or two at the same time. However, I am standing at this door looking stupid with my mouth shut. “Excuse me, you selling something, cause we damn sure ain’t buying it.” This woke me up and I stopped her from closing the wooden door. “I was wondering if Good Momma or Melange were home?” She stopped when I said the name “Good Momma”. Her face turned a bit, but she opened the screen door and asked who was I. I told her that I was Chico and that my friend Chuck and I used to come by to see Melange. She looked me over once and asked if I wanted to come in from the heat. I went in and she led me to the family room where her grandfather was sitting and watching television. My question still remained… Who the hell was she??!!
She asked me if I wanted something to drink. I asked for water, she brought me some sweet tea. Jacinta has her ways. Another chick comes from the back and it isn’t until I hear the grandfather refer to the other girl as Jordan that it clicks. “Are you the two little girls that I used to play kickball with?” They both laugh at that one and in the feisty little person that I remember her to be, “Yes darling, but as you can see we are not that little any more. I am sorry that Melange is not here. She has already left for work and for the most part, she stays with her boyfriend most days. If you want to leave your number, I can pass it to her for you. As for Good Momma, she died last year. Breast Cancer.” I can see the hurt on her face as she recalls her grandmother and I apologize for their loss. Her grandfather says that he can slightly remember me, but he is not sure. Jacinta tells him that I am a friend of Chuck’s. Any friend of Chuck’s is a friend of her grandfather. He is ok with me sitting in this family room and he continues to watch the “Price is Right”.
I ask if Jacinta has a piece a paper and I will write my number down. I give it to her and she says, “I will give this to Melange when she comes home and I will let her know that you stopped by.” In my head, I am thinking, that I NEED Jacinta to know that I stopped by. As she walks me to the door, I tell her that she doesn’t have to give the number to Melange. “You may need to just use it yourself.” She takes this as slick talk, rolls her eyes and escorts me out of the house. I am damn sure wishing that she is going to call. Problem is, I wanted to stay. I had no reason to stay over there. I mean, they barely knew me, but it seemed to me as though they still kept in touch with Chuck. I’m definitely calling him when I get to the crib. Keep in mind, this is before cell phones were even a thing. People had car phones and they were expensive. I wasn’t that slick, but I did slide her my beeper number and I was hoping like hell she would hit me up. Please let her be 18!!! Just my luck, I am on my way out to Emory to visit a chick I am currently dating. The whole time I am with her, as sweet and smart as she is, I am bored. I am sitting there thinking about how I plan on getting Jacinta out of the house.
Chico is finally out of the shower and I am hoping that he speeds this along. Baylor has finally come back from his long walk and I tip the bellman for helping me out on that. It seems like since all of this stuff has happened, I am not going outside for nothing, not even to walk Baylor. Baylor is my pride and my joy. He is my everything. If I am not willing to walk him, I must be freaked the hell out. I am thankful that other people are currently helping me with this task. Chico is not a good dog or should I say Baylor walker. He is in and out. Baylor needs time to be territorial. Chico ain’t feeling that. Poor Baylor. Chico is dressed and smelling good as always. He gives me a kiss and tells me that he will be calling to make sure that I am ok and he won’t be out for long. I promise him that I am ok and I plan to just relax. I remind him to tell his friends that he is just in town visiting. Nobody needs to know that we are back. He shakes his head in agreement and walks out of the door.
I’m not going to Camp Creek for drinks. There is a great bar with large screen televisions in the lobby of the hotel. I can sit there and be in my own little world while I watch the game. I am not sure that being too far from Jacinta is the right thing at this moment. I am still her protector. I sit at the bar and instead of my usual Coors Light, I ask for a double shot of Jameson. This first gulp feels damn good and smooth. I switch over to my Coors Light. I don’t want to go back to the room hammered. There are some chicks sitting not far from me and one is trying to encourage the other one to come my way. I hold my glass in the air with my left hand to the bartender to order another one. The two carats on my wedding band, puts them chicks at ease. This is how I know for sure that I am a changed man. Any other time, I might have entertained the flirting. But see, I was in love. I am sitting at the bar remembering Jacinta coming to that screen door with that feisty attitude and till this day, that is the thought that continuously turns me on to her. I fell in love with a fighter and a strong chick that didn’t think nothing about me being “Chico Daniel, the Epitome of the Hill”! Hell, I was a legend and she didn’t give two fucks about it. I realized that I was game for chasing that feeling. It is a feeling of knowing that you love the catch more than the chase. I start to miss her and I want to go back up stairs, but it has only been 30 minutes. I will sit here, eat wings, drink beer until the game is off and then I will head back up. I breathe, taking in the “Atlanta, I’m Back!!” air. I feel like this move is for the best.
As soon as Chico is out of the door, I am in the shower. I don’t think the water could get any hotter. I want these damn little red bumps on my face, arms, and legs gone. I can’t wash them off and this just pisses me off. The whole situation just pisses me off. I get out, dry off, and wrap myself into one of the hotel robes. My hair is dripping wet and I am going to give it a minute to air dry. I walk to the window of the room. As I look onto the cars roaring on I-285, I get pissed again. “How the fuck did I end up back inside this mother fucker here! Damn IT!” I scream! I scream as loud as I can. It is like I had something inside me that I had to get out. My screaming leads to a loud knock at the door. For that moment of screaming, I must have forgotten that I was in a hotel. It is room service and the waitress is looking at me mighty strange. She asks if everything is alright and I tell her to just set the table by the desk. I sign for the receipt and she wishes me a pleasant evening. “Good luck with that”.
When I left Atlanta, my goal was to truly leave. I had a ton of friends and even more family. I loved them all. It was the constant weight on my back after my grandmother died that got me never wanting to be in this place again. When she died, I literally took over. It was just my grandfather, my sister, and myself. All of this meant that everything fell on me. The cooking, the cleaning, and yes I can cut grass like no one’s business. If something went wrong, best believe Joseph was on the phone. Not one grade got passed him and if it wasn’t an “A”, he needed to understand why I insisted on underachieving. Atlanta started to feel as if it was crowding me. I had to get the hell out, see the world, kick it. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life making sure every one else was good. I was ready to put me first. The day I graduated, I was siked. It was only a couple of months before I was ready to go to Hampton. It is almost as if my grandfather read my mind. The day that I left, he asked me to do a thorough walk-through of the house. I truly thought he was trying to make sure that I had not forgotten to pack anything. When I told him that I was done, we were sitting in the car and we were on the way to the airport. “Listen, you see this house. This is the last time you will see this house as a place to live. You will never live here anymore. Today was your last day of this being your home. I need you to understand what I am trying to tell you.” Scared me straight. I cried. It wasn’t until I got older and out of college that I could understand what he was trying to tell me at the time. Best advice that anyone has ever given me.
Because I didn’t think that I had a home to come back to, I realized that I had to do what I had to do in order to live on my own. And that is what I did, whether if it was wrong or right. I did the damn thing. Looking out at this window again, holding this cold coke with extra ice, I throw the drink across the room. I am enraged to be back here. Being here means that I failed. How the fuck did I end up, “Back in Atlanta?”