In Atlanta XXXII… Chapter 32

My life was not always this way.  I wasn’t partying like I am now.  I grew up in a very strict environment.  My mother always had a husband,   ALWAYS.  Each husband came with their own set of rules.  My mother never budged or took the reins in defending me or my younger sister.  I had to dress a certain way, act a certain way, go to my room and stay there until I was asked to come out.  When I graduated high school, I went on to Norfolk State University for college.  Because it was around the corner from our house, my mother made me live at home to help out with all of the chores and “Cinderella” things.  To keep myself out of the house, I decided to get a job at the airport.  My friend Cynthia was also working there part time while we were in school and she said that she was making a decent amount of money.  I applied for the job at Hertz Rental Car and was hired on the spot.

Cynthia was right.   I loved working at the airport, sometimes when it was slow at the rental counter, I would people watch.  I even brought my sketch pad and I would draw the scenery.  I always wondered how each person knew each other.  Were they family, close friends, or business partners?  I wondered where they flew in from and how long would they be visiting the area.  What impressed me the most were the flight attendants.  They were so well put together.  They would come through the large glass doors as a group and it was almost as if they automatically put themselves in sync with each other.  Their makeup was always perfect.  Not a strand of hair out of place.  The scarves that they wore seemed to flow in the wind as they walked through the terminal.  They did all of this in high heels as if their feet never hurt.  I wanted to be one.  I was determined to be one.

I had one more semester of school left before it was time to graduate.   I went ahead and applied for a flight attendant position with Delta.  The following week, I was standing at the rental counter sketching out some things in my sketch pad when a robust man approached the counter.  He had on a Delta uniform.  I honestly thought that he was there to rent a car for himself.  Instead he wanted to know how soon would I be able to go to Atlanta to train to become a flight attendant.   I was overly excited.  “I can leave today!”  The heavy man chuckled and his belly moved along with his laughter.  “I see.  Well first we need to have an interview.  If you answer the questions to our liking, then we will see about getting you down to Atlanta to start the program.  Does this sound fair?”  It was more than fair.  I was ready to walk away from that rental counter and follow him home like I was some sort of lost puppy.  “All of this sounds great!  Just let me know when you want me to interview and I will be there”  And with that, I was on a track to becoming a glamourous flight attendant for Delta Airlines.

I had my interview a few days later and the heavy set gentleman said that he would be booking my ticket to Atlanta for flight attendant school.  Delta had it’s headquarters in Atlanta and that’s just about where everyone went to train for any position that Delta had.   I was set to leave in two days.  I thanked the manager of the rental car company for allowing me the opportunity to work there.  I hope that there wouldn’t be any hard feelings.  I was going to be in Atlanta for six weeks.  Six whole weeks on my own!!!  I couldn’t believe my luck.  I had never visited a city like Atlanta.  I was too excited to be out of Virginia.  School could wait.  It wasn’t everyday that just anyone became a flight attendant.  I hadn’t told my mother about my new plans.  I am sure she was going to explode when she found out.  This was my first experience in asking for forgiveness rather than asking for permission.

When I got in, I found Mother fixing herself a cocktail in the kitchen.  Her cigarette was lying in the ash tray awaiting her next puff.  “Well Julianna, you are home mighty early.”  I felt like I was already caught doing something bad.  Mother didn’t appear to be upset or mad.  She just made the comment as a matter of fact.  “Hi Mother, I got a new job, so my hours are going to be different now.”  She takes a sip of her concoction.  She closes her eyes which is an indication that she mixed her cocktail just right.  “A new job.  Huhhh….  What will you be doing at your new job at the rental company?”  My eyes dart around the kitchen to see my best escape route.  So far, the back door from which I just entered is my best escape.  She is now leaning against the kitchen countertop.  She has her cocktail in one hand and her cigarette in another.  I make a decision to answer her question while walking past her to get to my room.  “I quit the rental company and I was given a job as a flight attendant with Delta.  I leave in two days to go to Atlanta for six weeks of training”  I hear her high heel house slippers on the linoleum floor following me through the kitchen and into the hallway towards my bedroom.

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“Young lady have you lost your damn mind?!!!”   I know it sounds crazy, but in that very moment, I was waiting on something to hit me.  I didn’t know if it would have been her hands, a belt, a chain, and electric cord, or a chair, but I was ready to take the beating that I knew was sure to come.  I closed my eyes, hoping that my mind would take me to a different place mentally.  This usually helped me with getting through it all.  But the beating didn’t come.  Instead, I open my eyes only to see the hate and rage that my mother had in her eyes.  In a very calm voice she starts to speak to me.  “You ignorant ungrateful bitch!  I have put clothes on your back and food in your mouth and this is how you repay me.  I have been paying for your tuition at Norfolk State for four years, you have one more semester to complete and you will have your degree.  Never mind the fact that you actually majored in Art.  Art!!!  Who in the hell gets a job as an Art Major?!”  I am stunned that she knows this information.  Whenever she would talk with her friends, she would always indicate that I was at Norfolk State studying Early Childhood Education so that I would become a school teacher just like her.

This is probably the one thing that I did inherit from my mother, we didn’t care too much for kids.  So why in the hell did she think that I would want to be a school teacher.  She was a school teacher because that was the socialite thing to do.  It wasn’t because she had a passion for the work.  Mother continues with her rant about how much of a disappointment I am to her.  How I can be a disappointment is beyond me.  I hadn’t done anything wrong.  In fact, even if I had done something, she wouldn’t notice.  All she gave a damn about was her current husband and ‘”keeping up with the Joneses”  She finally marched off in search of her cigarette and her drink.  I closed my door and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep.  When I woke, there were pictures cut out of newspaper and magazine articles of airplane crashes taped all throughout my room.  Angeline was definitely a piece of work.  None of these pictures frightened me in the least.  In fact, it reminded me that I only had a short time to pack for six weeks.

I thought my own mother was a character.  If she was a character what the hell will people or my own children think of me?  They must think that I ain’t shit.  I feel like shit, look like shit, and I am starting to smell like shit.  Pocket is driving down Virginia Beach Boulevard headed towards Newtown Road.  I know that we could only be going to Lake Edwards.  This is where he has a dope house.  I have a cousin Joan that lives in Lake Edwards.  She has a real laid out crib.  Joan works for Ford and she gets paid big money.  We are like sisters.  Her mother is my mother’s sister.  It is a serious rivalry between the two of them, but not for Joan and I.  Joan is the most giving person that you would want to meet.  She is also one of the smartest.  I just hope that she can help me find the kids before Joseph gets back.  I know that Joan will know what to do.

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