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Emotional Aunt Mae. I Get You Now

I may have mentioned my Aunt Mae a few times throughout this blog.

I really loved this woman. Anyone who knew her loved her.

She passed from cancer back in 2010, and I just feel it. I loved being around her. She mostly lived in apartments, until eventually purchasing her own home, and she seemed to make any place big or small seem just teeming with love that you can’t even bridle. I mean, you didn’t want to, you just wanted to feel it all the time and she just brought that with her.

I loved the fact that she had a gap, just like me. She was always so funny and could rock a low-cut fade just as wonderfully as an afro, or a bunch of two strand twists. My Aunt Mae was natural before it was a movement.

But style aside.

One of the things I have been determined about, in terms of keeping her legacy of love alive is how she hosted her family and friends when they visited her home.

She worked so hard to keep her visitors happy, well-fed, and entertained. She was so serious about showing folks every cool thing in the city of Atlanta and the surrounding areas and sharing fun restaurants and activities.

I’ma keep it real.

My mom has always been a super private person, and not really big on hosting even before she got sick. So people came to visit, but we didn’t have a whole lot of folks staying over a lot or coming to dinner.

My Aunt Mae, on the other hand, made every gathering an event. She was particular and she wanted everything to be juuuust right.

As my friends can attest, I get the same way when I do decide to throw gatherings at my home, or when friends come to visit and they stay with me.

My friends can also attest that I’m going to take you to all of the restaurants, and walk you to death, so you can see whatever attraction in D.C.

Another thing that I’m finding I’ve inherited from my Aunt Mae is the overwhelming emotion she used to display when it was time for people to go home.

I mean she’d hug you and start tearing up.

My Aunt was a single woman for a large part of her life. And as a single woman, living alone, just from this week and other times family and friends have visited, I didn’t realize how lovely it is to have someone else in your home to talk to, or not talk to. To have breakfast or dinner with, to comment about things on television.

My dear best friend will be leaving tomorrow and I’m already sad.

We’ve had a low-key week. She actually instructed me not to go nuts with trying to find us things to do everyday. She just wanted a break. And that’s just what we did.

We went to a Korean BBQ, and then went to a Karaoke spot with private rooms, and proceeded to sing an array of interesting songs. “Thong Song,” “Can we talk?”, “I Believe I Can Fly,” and I attempted to sing “Love On Top” and frankly folks are trippin about Beyonce lip synching. That girl starts out on really high keys– I was struggling…I would have done it too. Even my friend saw what song it was and said, “Yeah girl, you got this one.”

Anyway, just sitting around and talking about life was fantastic. There are a handful of other friends who when they visit, I have these moments with them too and it’s just so special to me. Sometimes there’s cooking involved and a little bit of wine, ok. A lot of wine. And it’s just great.

I’m super, super fortunate.

Another friend who attended my inauguration/Ravens game party mentioned how she enjoys my gatherings because I tend to “collect” the coolest people. I agree. I was on cloud nine surrounded by friends, who were eating, drinking, having fun discussions and just getting along with one another even if they’ve never met or have seen each other before.

I was thrilled.

I’m going to really feel it when my friend goes back. The house tends to feel super lonely and not as fun when my loved ones return home. Then I get super sad.

So I understand why my Aunt Mae would hold us close and often cry. My dad would always make fun of her (Honestly, he shouldn’t even talk. He can get misty too and so does my uncle. We come from a long line of softies). But I get it.

I understand the joy and the thankfulness and how precious it is to spend time with the people you love, and those who just get you. On a larger level, she understood life and love and how fleeting these great moments are in time and that in an instant all they can evolve into is just a memory.

The folks who REALLY understand you…I mean, you can do anything, say anything, look any kind of way and they get you. They don’t judge you. Or if they do, they’ll tell you they are judging you, and everyone laughs.

Then they can also call you out about why you keep so many plastic bags, or why you’re trash bags don’t fit the big garbage can you bought, or why you’re original kitchen garbage can was way too small to begin with. Yes, this happened. My friend intervened and we cleared out a bunch of bags and returned them to the grocery store.

When you have people so in tune to who you are, and can make references to how far you’ve come, it can sometimes be embarrassing, but it can also be so refreshing, because they were indeed, right there with you, growing and evolving too.

You were doing it together, all along.

I know my friend needed a break. I was happy to offer my home and my company. But she gave me just as much by just being right there filling my house with silly laughter. Besides, she cooks and cleans too. I ain’t mad at that.

Like my aunt, I feel emotional. I’ll miss having that access to my friend. And I won’t look forward to the sting of how lonely I know I get. I even slept better with my friends in my home.

So Aunt Mae, folks called you emotional. They may have even said you were a bit dramatic when you had to say goodbye. But now I see. You weren’t. You were honest about how you really felt about people you loved and you weren’t the least bit afraid to show it. And now that you are gone, I don’t have to ever wonder if you loved us. Because you gave it all you had when you fluffed a pillow, fed us, took us to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, or the Zoo. You gave it all you had when you hugged and kissed us goodbye and told us something funny in our ears, that was just for us.

I don’t think I’ll ever be quite close to the hostess you were, but you’ve certainly given me something to aspire to.

I love you and thank you.

Ok, let’s get it over with and just weep… lol. Patti LaBelle, “You Are My Friend.”

Happy New Year!!!

We made it folks! It’s 2013.

Most of us have been enjoying the holiday, spending time with family and friends, making memories, making resolutions, breaking out our gym shoes and renewing or starting health club memberships.

We cleaned out or closets and we gave stuff away for donations (and a tax receipt). We spent time reflecting on what we did wrong and hopefully what we did right this year.

Me, I did a lot of that and I have a larger list of things to do. I did some praying, I did some cooking.

Actually, a Lot of cooking. I had this feeling when I got back from visiting my family and friends in NY that for New Year’s weekend, I would cook.

So I made my pork barbecue, homemade potato salad, mac and cheese and I was determined to defeat an old foe.

Sweet potato pie.

There were times I’ve nailed it, and other times, where I had to throw them away, they were just that bad. I’m so proud to say I made two awesome pies this weekend thanks to a little of patience, love and an awesome Sharper Image hand mixer!

I enjoyed sharing my food with my friends who may have been away from loved ones for New Year’s too.

Lately, my close friends have indulged me in just straight taking time out to play. I mean literally.

I spent time with some friends touring my local brand new boys and girls club and it’s an amazing, beautiful facility, one me and my friends would have never left if we had such a place growing up. Seriously, these kids have an amazing opportunity in front of them with a great staff, there is no excuse not to be excellent! I was so proud to visit and show my support.

The night before Christmas Eve, I spent the evening with my best friend, exchanging our gifts, laughing our heads off and wrapping gifts. I taught her some of my tricks for the perfect wrap. Then after finding a defective roll with a gaping hole in it, we proceeded to play in the paper, wearing it and having sword fights with the cardboard roll. We covered ourselves with bows and posted them online. Our friends started to comment and we were even challenged to build a fort! So that’s what we did! Old school.

Blankets, chairs, sofa cushions and two grown, well-accomplished, well-traveled, degreed women, 30-years-old, were building and taking pictures in a fort! We were giggling and laughing and rolling on the floor and I asked if it was crazy that I enjoyed doing that at 1 a.m. rather than being in someone’s night club.

Another wonderful friend joined me this weekend, who I invited to eat my massive amount of food. She brought over paints, brushes and paper.

We painted, drank wine and cackled. I loved every moment.

So, if nothing less, I learned that for 2013, I need to have a moment to play. Just play, have a good time, do something that seems immature and silly, like build a fort or draw a picture or paint with watercolors on your living room floor.

I have to write another post to describe New Year’s Night with New guy/aka boo thang. It was fabulous!!!

My hair was pretty awesome!

Happy New Year folks, go out and play!

Breaking Up With His Family Hurts Too

I tend to regularly talk about the evils of Facebook on this blog.

One of the cardinal breakup rules, if you want to maintain closure and not lose your damn mind is to de-friend your ex.

I didn’t do it. I waited to see if he would do it, so I could go off about it.

I’m guessing he did the same.

I’d occasionally stalk his page for new developments, but my ex generally doesn’t make a whole lot of moves on Facebook, so I figured I’d be safe from going nuts that he’s living this wonderful new life without me and flaunting it.

It’s been over a year since our split, and a series of new photos he recently posted unexpectedly made me feel quite emotional.

Ironically, it wasn’t photos of him hugged up with a woman who was better looking than me (or not better looking than me).

It was a photo of him and his adorable nephew, his mother and his sister, having a ball at his nephew’s birthday party.

He’s five already. He’s getting tall and he looked so handsome.

My ex, who was just as afraid of having kids as I was (to the point of even saying he decided he didn’t want to have any at all), seemed to be a lot more comfortable with his nephew in those photos. He looked happy. He looked like he was right where he was supposed to be.

He was smiling hard in another photo where his nephew was being baptized too.

It was almost scary. Was this the same guy?

Looking at the photos, I was proud of him and happy for his family. They’ve gone through more than their fair share of difficult times and to see them all together, looking happy made me feel happy.

But then I felt a shooting pain across my heart.

I wasn’t there, I wasn’t a part of that and it dawned on me that somehow when I wasn’t looking, while I was falling in love with him, I was falling in love with them too.

Flaws, drama and all.

I realized in us building our relationship, I was also building a relationship with them. Me and his mother hit it off famously and we even had phone calls with one another without him being involved. The first time she met me, she didn’t hesitate to say how happy she was that we were together and she was beyond thrilled when we got engaged.

She was just as heartbroken when it ended. She apologized to me and she told me she loved me, and I told her I loved her too and I thanked her for always being nothing but sweet to me. She said she wanted to keep in touch if I felt comfortable enough, and even though I told her it was okay, eventually she faded away.

And then I saw her photo. She’s so sassy and fun, and she always speaks her mind. Seeing her again made me smile.

I nearly fell out one evening when she was talking about my figure and said, “I know my son. He likes big butts, well you know what I mean, she has a lovely figure.”

I was amazed at how much my would-be nephew-to-be had grown. He was like a baby when his uncle and I first got together. He would get on the phone to say hello and I’d love to hear about the latest cute things he’d say or do.

I didn’t get to personally meet his sister, but we’d say hello over the phone.

Either way, I felt just as invested in his family as I did in him and even though that’s a given when you decide to marry someone, it kind of hit me hard when I realized what else I had lost when our relationship ended.

I was going to be a proud auntie to another great child, a daughter-in-law and sister-in-law.

That was another very real loss.

Killing Me Softly: “The Wiz” Gets Me Everytime

Over the years, “The Wiz” has become one of my favorite movies ever.

There are a million reasons to love it: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, amazing music and dancing and very cool, yet sophisticated references to black American urban culture.

But the thing that resonates with me most is just Dorothy’s transformation. She was a quiet wallflower, doting on her aunt, uncle and doggie and pretending to be satisfied with her super ordinary life. So much so, the elementary school teacher isn’t even considering a job offer to teach at a high school outside of her Harlem neighborhood.

Eventually, in order to find her way back home from the very strange world of Oz, she’s forced to pull it together to slay evil witches, meet the mighty OZ and help her new friends she’s made a long the way become better, eh, lions, tin men and scarecrows.

I love to watch this movie over the holidays, but I’ve found when I’m going through a tough time or I know I’m in need of a serious change in my life and I end up watching this movie, I’m crying like a baby when Diana starts singing “Home.” Then I need someone to pick me up off of the floor by the end of Lena Horne’s song, “Believe in yourself.”

I feel like Lena’s Glenda the Good Witch was literally willing me to get it together, when she throws in that “whoo” and a “yeah” in there. Tell me you won’t want to change the world after watching this!!!

For some reason, those parts of the movie in particular, hit me like a ton of bricks. There have been times in my life I have been stuck in situations that I didn’t like, but I stayed out of fear of trying and failing even more miserably.

All throughout the movie, over and over, each character had to stand up, be brave and just try something new and step out of their comfort zone. It’s almost like the times I decide to pop that DVD in– on some subconscious level– is when I need to hear those messages the most.

I’m reminded to reconnect to the people who love me so they can recharge me and I need to gather up my confidence again to do something– anything bigger than what I’m doing at the moment. Happy holidays, yall!

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