“Oh my God!!! Cint! What are you doing here?! Are you moving into this house!? Please say yes!” Racquel is super excited about seeing me and I am just as happy to see her. I am a little overwhelmed by her excitement. This is simply because her grabbing me, hugging on me, and screaming how happy she is, is making me tick with anxiety. She doesn’t see that I am not myself and I am doing my hardest to make her see that I am ok. Chico comes downstairs and sees all of the commotion. He has never met my cousin Racquel and he is trying to figure out who is this that is so happy to see me. Cam and Baylor go off in the yard chasing each other. At this point, I don’t know what to say. I am not sure if I should tell her what is going on or if I am just going to tell her that we decided to move back. I go with the “we decided to move back approach”. However, I do tell her, that I haven’t told anyone in the family yet and I am trying to make it a surprise. I plan on throwing a coming back party and that should suffice.
“Marquis!!! Come here, I want you to meet your cousin Jacinta.” Marquis is the spitting image of Racquel. She had him after I left to go to Hampton. This will be our first time meeting each other. He looks amped that he is meeting new family. I go on and introduce Chico to Racquel. She treats him as if she has known him all of her life and hugs him down too. Racquel’s grandmother and my grandmother are cousins. We didn’t grow up with each other, but we would see each other as often as funerals. It is sad that our family doesn’t celebrate great times anymore.
When my grandparents were alive. Our house was “the” place to be. I don’t know too many people that either had not been to our house or at least knew where it was. We lived on Waterford Road in Collier Heights. Because the majority of my cousins were female, it seemed as if every teenage and college boy in this town was trying to get invited over or at least given the opportunity to ask my grandparents if we could go out. Funny enough the answer was always “NO”. We had a strict upbringing. My grandmother would tell us that all we had to was be “good girls and go to school and everything else would work itself out” She was right, but this ask translated into the following:
- Drop out of school and I will kill you
- Make a “B or C” on your report card. Explain to me why underachieving is important to you…
- Get pregnant and see how that works out for you.
- No! You can not cut your hair into 15 different “stacks”!! You will never cut your hair. You got good hair.
- This house needs to be cleaned from top to bottom.
- Set the damn table!
- Make up the damn bed, so that the cover doesn’t look like it is running our of your room.
- Wash these damn dishes by hand! That’s Noritake, not no paper plates.
- If I am up at 4:00 a.m., then everybody is up at 4:00 a.m. I am not going to be the only one up working around this house. Get your ass up!
- Iron EVERYTHING that comes out of that dryer! EVERYTHING!
- NO! You can not go out. Wayne Williams is killing black kids. Go in the basement and skate.
- “You can’t go to school because you are sick?” Throw up right now and prove it! If you can’t…. then you taking your ass to school.
- Laugh while we are in this funeral and see if I don’t slap the shit out you! (This rule was the hardest to comply. Till this day, I will laugh my ass off at a funeral… But hell said they been waiting on me, so no surprises there)
It was all in love though. All of the above put the fear of God in me and the worst thing in the world for me was to disappoint my grandparents or my father. Jordan and I moved to Atlanta when I was three. It was supposed to be temporary. My mother decided to go on a cocaine binge while she left Jordan and I locked in a closet for three days. My dad was overseas on a Navy ship. He had no clue that my mom had picked up a habit. We were living in Virginia Beach at the time. How my mother fucked up a good thing is beyond me. It was our weekly housekeeper Ms. Burrus that found us. We ended up having to go with social services until my father could get back to the states. This is way before beepers, emails, or cell phones. It took him two days to get back. He called my grandmother in Atlanta and she was on the next thing smoking to Norfolk.
We called my grandmother Goodmomma. Everyone did and she was that and more. She took us back to Atlanta with her. My father went to look for my mother to try and get her straight. Too bad she had made up her mind to leave us for good. We never got over that, even now. However, Goodmomma made sure that she and my father made up for what we didn’t get from our birth mother and till this day, neither my grandparents or my father have ever said anything bad to us about her. As you can tell my mind has wondered off from when the last time I saw Racquel up until now. My grandmother’s funeral was just like the “Imitation of Life”. Everyone was there including Racquel’s grandmother. It was the worst day of our lives. Even having gone through the “Doom Room”, was better than laying that casket in the ground and watching the grave diggers throw dirt on her. I still have nightmares about her funeral and all I see is somebody who didn’t know her throwing dirt on her. This heightens my anxiety.
Chico picks up on my mood and Racquel doesn’t. I don’t believe she knew the real story as to how we ended up living with my grandparents in the beginning. At the same time, living with your grandparents back then was normal. No one really questioned where your real parent were. As long as you had some food and kool aid on deck, your house was considered the bomb! I tell Racquel, that I am going to come to her house after I get these movers situated. She is pleased and says if we need anything to just walk next door. As soon as we are in the house. Chico is all questions. ” Are you ok? How is she your cousin? You seem to be a little spaced out? Why don’t you go and take a nap on the sofa?” This sounds like a game plan.
I go to the sofa and even though I am trying to close my eyes, all I see is the ass crack of the cable man hooking up our TV’s. This is a nightmare waiting to happen. I grab my phone for the first time to really pay attention to it. I haven’t seen any text messages or calls for that matter since I was in the “Doom Room”. There are tons of messages. My voicemail is full. I delete the entire voicemail file without even listening. Most of the calls are from my manager at Coke in Tampa. He can eat shit and die. I look through my text messages and notice that a few of my people have reached out in concern for me not answering. As I am scrolling to see what they want, “Nicole Binion” flashes across the screen as an incoming call. I answer on the first ring. “Mrs. Binion? What’s the word?” She chuckles. “How are you feeling?” She already knows the answer to this. “I feel like shit Nicole. The question is how are you? Stop worrying about me. My god son is probably begging to come into this world so he can stop hearing you roast everybody.” Is he still kicking when he gets hungry?” The whole time I am asking her this, tears are rolling down my face. I am not jealous of Nicole. I could never be. However, I am thinking about the fact that Chico and I can’t catch a break and to get pregnant now would be a disaster. Without my knowing, I find myself walking upstairs and sitting at the bottom of my new closet to talk to her.
Chico is looking for me, thinking that I decided to relax on the sofa and doesn’t find me there. He starts to look through the house to find me. From the master bathroom he can see that I have settled into the corner of the closet floor and I am on the phone with tears coming down my eyes.
“Hey, hold on. I have a call coming through on the other line. Don’t hang up.” I click over and of course it is Chico. “Nicole, I got a problem. Jacinta is sitting in the bottom of the closet again on the phone and crying again. What am I am going to do about this?” Nicole sighs into the phone. “She is on the other line talking to me. I figured she was crying. I could hear it in her voice. She is trying to pretend that she is better than she really is. She is asking me about the baby and I am sure that having a baby is getting to her. Chic, we need to get her some help without putting her in an environment where she feels like she is going to get locked back up.” He agrees with me. I yell at what’s her name and tell her that I need a new bag packed and a flight booked to Atlanta for the morning. “Chic, we gone get through this. I will be in tomorrow.” CLICK.
Damn! He we go again. I decide to distract Jacinta by walking into the closet and asking her if she would go to the store to get us some groceries. She gives me a look that says I am crazy as hell. She is on the phone with Nicole and she will talk to me about it once she hangs up. She wants me to give her a minute. Cint finally gets off the phone. She grabs me by the waist and is crying into my chest again. All I can do is console her. This frustrates the shit out of me. Not because she is crying, but because of what this situation has done to her. Where is my feisty? I need her right now to help keep me strong. I know that sounds selfish, but it is the truth. I don’t bother asking about the groceries again. I am sure that when Nicole lands, the clicking of her heels in Publix is and Whole Foods is going to have people staring at the both of them. So for now, I let it go. I get Cint to lay down again and for once she closes her eyes.
“Hey Ma! We are good. Guess what?? We have moved back to Atlanta…..”
My eyes are closed, but did I just hear this fool tell his momma that we are here? Fuck!