Jordan is still pacing around the room. I can tell that she hasn’t been given her meds. I ask her where her belongings are, hoping that I can just give her the meds that she needs from her own stash. I don’t see anything that says that she is who she says she is. She has no purse, no identification, no cell phone, nothing. It is just her and this over monitored room. It sucks. I ask her where can I get her things. She doesn’t know where they are. This is frustrating. I know that she knows, she just doesn’t want me going through her stuff or looking through her house. Jordan still lives in the house that we grew up in as children. It belonged to my grandparents. “I am going to get you some clothes and toiletries from Target. I will pick up Daddy from the airport and then we will be back to get you out of here. In the meantime, I need you to at least get in the bed and stop pacing around here naked where the whole lobby can see you.” Nothing of which I have said has phased her. I grab my things and I head out of the hospital. The smell of this place already has me nauseous. The nurse is more than glad to buzz me out of the double doors that lead to the empty hallway of elevators. She ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait until Daddy gets here. He is going to wear them out!
I decide to go to Jordan’s to pick up a few things. I am hoping if she has he own things, she would be most likely to wear them. Not to mention, it saves me from having to go into a Target and be around a group of people. As I am driving down I-20, I realize that even though I have visited Atlanta frequently while I lived in Virginia, home doesn’t look like the home I grew up in. I am saddened by the condition of the houses that I pass and the neighborhood is looking like no one gives a shit any more. Collier Heights is a Historic Black Neighborhood. In 1964, there were 27 black millionaires in the country. Twenty-five of them lived in Atlanta. Fifteen of them lived in Collier Heights. It was built by blacks for blacks and was considered to be the premiere neighborhood of its’ time. My grandparents made significant sacrifices to move here and they were one of the original owners.
I pull into the driveway of what used to be my house. I am stuck. Part of me is scared to even go inside. Nothing has changed since my grandfather died. Jordan decided to move back home right after college to help take care of him. I still carry a stone of guilt in my stomach for not moving back home when I finished Hampton. The problem was that I did not have a job in Atlanta. As much as I applied for positions here, nobody was willing to give Jacinta a shot. I remember calling home to tell GD that I did not get a job in Atlanta and that I had two offers, one in New York and the other was in Virginia Beach. I was scared to have this conversation with him. He made it real easy. “Jacinta, I didn’t raise you to come back home. I raised you to take care of yourself. If taking care of yourself means that you have to go to New York of Virginia, then this is what you have to do. I will be alright. I didn’t raise you to take care of me. I raised you so that you could take care of yourself.” I have played that comment over and over in my head so that I wouldn’t be so hard on myself, but I always find myself feeling bad for not coming home anyway. I am sure that my estranged relationship with Jordan has a lot to do with me not coming back. As much as she loves me, I know that she resents me.
I put my key in the door and honestly I was surprised that the damn thing still worked. I put my keys and purse on the kitchen island and I cry. I am literally all to pieces. Nothing has changed in this house. It is as if my grandfather is about to come into the kitchen and notice me standing there. His hat is still hanging on the door by the pantry. Why Jordan has decided to keep things the way they were I don’t know. It is extremely depressing. Especially if you know for sure that neither he or my grandmother are coming back to greet you. As I look around, I can only imagine what this atmosphere is doing to Jordan’s psyche. I know that it would be an ongoing battle to come into this house everyday. I wish that she would make it her own. This is what my grandparents would have wanted for her. It shouldn’t look like a shrine in their honor.
I walk into the family room, still weeping. All of the pictures are still located precisely where my grandmother hung them over twenty years ago. She died when I was fifteen. All of my cousins, uncles, aunts, and even our pet dogs are plastered everywhere in this room, but mostly there are childhood pictures of Jordan and I throughout the house. I look at each of them. I am trying to figure out where did my family go. It seems like when my grandmother died, our family went right along with her. No more Sunday dinners. No more dancing in the basement. No more season passes to Six Flags. This house staggered with nothing else to look forward to. Just thinking about these things makes my emotions run crazy.
It was no mistake that we ended up in Atlanta. I was three and Jordan was eighteen months. I can remember that day as if it were yesterday. Some people argue that I was too young to remember, but we had been through hell. I don’t give a damn how old you are. When you have gone through what we had gone through, you wouldn’t forget that shit either. Coming to Atlanta was the first and only time that I saw my grandmother cry. You could tell that she was extremely hurt and overwhelmed. I am staring at the chair in the family room where she was sitting when she had this breakdown. My two aunts and my grandfather were there to console her. My uncles were also there along with their children. We were sent in the room to play, but I came out to see what the fuss was all about. I am sure that this was their first time seeing my grandmother in an upset as well. It had to have taken her off guard. I will never forget her face on that day. I will never forget how she had rescued us. I will forever be grateful to her. I am just sorry that our circumstances had let her lose herself emotionally. She had good reason to be.
She saw me walking into the room and just like that her tears were gone. She just wanted to hold me in her lap and plant kisses all over my face. She continuously told me how much she loved us and she was so happy that we were here in Atlanta. I didn’t realize that she meant that we were in Atlanta for good. I just thought we were there for a visit, but I would learn sooner versus later how this turn in our lives would shape the women that Jordan and I are today. I am brought back to reality with the sound of my phone ringing. It is Chico. “Babe, I am just calling to check on you. Are you ok? Are you still at Grady?” I try to sound as if I haven’t been crying and I tell him that I came to Waterford to pick up a few things for Jordan. I also announce that I am leaving from there and going to the airport to pick up my father. Pause!!!! I hear the hesitation in Chico’s voice. This is not his idea of getting shit together. We haven’t even told Daddy that we have moved from Tampa. This is going to be a big one. I know it and so does he. Clearly neither one of us are prepared for it, but it has to be done. There never would have been a “good” time to announce our move anyway.
I find myself grabbing a few of Jordan’s things and make a note to pick up some other things once I get Daddy so we can take them to Jordan. I look around the house just a bit more. Both of my grandparents toothbrushes are still in the cup on the sink in their bathroom. It is like being a part of a séance. On that note, I am off to get Daddy.
There is never a “great” time to pick someone up from the Atlanta airport. It is the busiest airport in the world. This is sometimes a good thing and then it is sometimes a traffic and people nightmare. I am already nervous to be around so many people at one time. I am finding that even just sitting in my car with the doors locked, I am a nervous wreck. I can’t even focus right. I hear a loud whistle coming from a police officer who is doing a horrible job of directing traffic. The noise alone sends me into a different zone. One I can not explain. I find myself nauseous and sweating. My head is hurting. My chest is heaving from breathing so hard. The officer is blowing his whistle again. It seems as if it is louder and he is definitely directing it towards me. My foot is still on the brake and now the cars behind me are starting to blow their horns. I can’t take it. I open the door and I throw up any and everything that is in my system.
The police officer starts to walk towards my car. I am sure to just be nosey, not that he had intentions on helping. I close the door and pull off almost hitting a group of people that are walking across the street to get to the terminal. I see the officer in my rearview approaching me at a fast pace. Fuck him! I am out. I take off again and pull up at the end of the south terminal. Luckily, Daddy is there waiting with his luggage. I pop the trunk and get into the passenger’s side of the car. My father looks at me. I tell him that I am not feeling well and I need for him to drive. He doesn’t argue and we continue our journey onto Grady.
I take some Kleenex from the back seat and I try to clean myself up a bit. Daddy seems to be more concerned about how I wasn’t able to get things straight at the hospital with Jordan. “What the hell is going on at Grady? What is wrong with Jordan?” I explain the details to him in length. You can tell by his face that he is pissed. The only response I get from him is “They really are messing with the wrong one. Don’t worry, I got this!”