How I see It

i USED to

I used to infuse you into my fantasy,

         A PHENOMENAL future.large
         One where we’d FLAUNT and FLOAT, on clouds of FINESSE,
         Our heads held HIGH in six-inch HEELS and HAUTE couture,
         And CONFIDENCE to make {them} quiver.
         I would be QUEEN and you would be QUEEN.
         Our REIGN would be indivisible,
and w
e would DOMINATE this world of money, men, and matters of the heart.

***

Key words; “used to, infuse you”.
The fantasy is the same, but void of you.

I have met Mr. David Pasquantonio a handful of times.

He always has the most charming smile that reaches his eyes.

He looks no taller than 5’11 and has dusty brunette hair with gray strands that are evidence of his late 40s.

Today, he walked to my concierge desk and we played a game of catch-up. Ok fine, we didn’t really play that game. Still, it was very cute that he tried so hard to remember my name, while I tried to remember his unit number to sign out his mail delivery.

The first time I met him, I was sitting in for the regular evening concierge at his building. He walked in all smiles and said “I haven’t seen you here before. Are you new?” I smiled at him and answered all his questions. When I told him my name, his face lit up! “That’s such a beautiful name! My wife and I actually considered naming our baby girl Gabriella.” While I’m used to people admiring my name, I have never had anyone tell me they actually wanted to give their child the name. I know there are thousands of Gabriellas in the world but it still felt special. I’ll never forget the tale of how after much deliberation, he and his wife settled on another just as beautiful, if not more beautiful name. “That’s O.K. though, because now we already know what our next little girl’s name will be.” he said.

Shout out to all the Gabriellas out there!

His easy spirit, friendliness and genuine personality are what caught my attention. He showed me photos of his little girl, several photos – one of her sleeping next to her mom, another of her smiling and another in which she had the cutest funny face, just to cite a few. I saw in his eyes, an unmistaken pride. A genuine father’s joy.

He came home from work tonight and when he stopped by my desk, I could see the exhaustion in his eyes, yet his smile never wavered. I knew just what would bring him to life even more. I asked about his daughter. He lit up! “I’ll show you a photo. You’re gonna find this really funny.” He practically laughed through the words and proceeded to explain the backstory of the most adorable baby picture I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

This man to me is a representation of the good American dream. He’s a happy father, loving his wife and child and working hard everyday for them. He genuinely looks happy to come home every night to the life he’s built for himself.

I want to be like Mr. Pasquantonio when I grow up.

P.S. I knew he’d be cool. I mean come on, even his last name is cool! And now, I won’t forget it again.

-Gabriella A.

Spiritual Breakthrough

Breakthrough

Last week I decided to finally do something I’ve pondered and mulled over for at least half a dozen years, but never mustered courage to go through with it. I decided to fast and pray.

fastingI’ve coasted through most of my teenage and young adult life, not really knowing God. Don’t get the wrong idea; I have been a christian, but only in title and rarely in practice. I never really sought to deepen my relationship with God or even try harder than pray a couple of times a month and go to church once in a year or two. In other words, God just wasn’t a priority in my life, except when I needed something from him.

Isn’t it amazing that despite our human nature to seek God only for favours, he still helps us and loves us unconditionally? That in itself is our small miracle each and every day, but I digress.

Like I was saying, I decided to fast and pray 12 hours a day, for a week. Why? Well, true to nature, I needed something from the man upstairs. I needed him to bless me with a few things I’d rather not name in this blog.

I couldn’t eat or drink anything from six a.m, to six p.m. everyday. While those were some of the most excruciating hours of my life, I felt the closest I’ve been to God in a long time.

Many times I found myself fantasizing about a mouth-watering steak dinner, feeling hungrier by the minute. I would imagine how much face stuffing awaited me, how my stomach would magically surpass its natural elasticity to accommodate enough food to last for the entire next day. Yet the clock literally crawled through every second. Everyone at work seemed to think that was the best time to ask me if I wanted anything to eat from the store. My stomach made growling sounds loud enough that I’m sure our Canadian counterparts across the border heard. I never thought that week would end.

In those moments, I reminded myself of why I was giving up my comfort and what I stood 27232772717193915_uszqkn87_fto gain. I said several payers for grace and strength, peace, love, family, and so much more. I read scripture after scripture on morality and living in Christ. I started to look beyond myself and to see God in others. I found myself making efforts to be slow to anger and rich in mercy, to love and live the golden rule the best way I can. P.S. It’s not quite an easy thing to do, I’m learning that now. But faith the size of a mustard seed, Jesus says, can move a mountain (Matthew Chapter 17, Verse 20). I believe.

That was my breakthrough, my miracle.

And now that I’ve felt the Spirit work in me and the hand of God touch me, I want more.

I met Robert Adams today. He’s a tall African American man with dread locks that reach the small of his back, pulled in a low ponytail. When I first walked into the historic looking high-rise building on Vermont avenue NW, Washington DC, he greeted me with charm and eloquence. He had been typing an email.

“Hold on a second, I’ll finish this email and I can be out of your way”. Just a moment later, he asked – looking down at his computer screen; “So are you in school? Or…” I smiled and told him my education spiel and how I’m working a new job now in addition to this concierge gig (updates about this in a new blog coming soon).

In the few minutes we talked, I found out he’s been playing guitar for 40 years.

“OMG that’s crazy cause I sing too!”, I said, gushing as he pulled his guitar from under the concierge desk and put it in its bag.

“Well then, you should come to our Live Music Monday shows in Silver Spring” he said, the sound of his guitar bag zipper subtle but noticeable as he spoke.

For a moment, I did consider it. I mean, I’ve been thinking about a venue where I can sing with a live band and just have a relaxed time on stage, sharing this gift that God bestowed upon my vocal pipes. As I processed his invitation, he pulled out a card and handed it to me. I looked at the card thinking; I’ll keep this. Maybe one of these evenings. Who Knows? 

“I wanna learn to play. I bought a guitar once, and my fingers just wouldn’t cooperate.

“Hah! see? You know what they say… when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”, he said in response. I smiled at his subtle invitation be my teacher.

A few minutes later, his girlfriend came down to meet him in the lobby for their lunch date. As she stepped out of the building, he stayed back, pulled out a black newsboy hat, the kind with extra room for long locks like Bob Marley’s, and he put it on.

In that moment, I saw the artist in the man. He had gone from a suited up, prim and polished look, to an approachable lover of the arts, just by adding a hat and removing his name brooch.

When he finally stepped out to meet his woman, no sooner had they taken 3 steps before he extended his left hand and placed it on the small of her back; a gesture of protection, and affection. I smiled in admiration as they disappeared down the rather quiet street.

I met Robert Adams today and I saw the meaning of simple happiness. I saw love, passion, art, and life in his eyes and heard them in the words he spoke. It was my pleasure Mr. Adams, and maybe I’ll visit and listen to your show one of these Mondays.

 

My Weave Life

I’d always dreaded the sew-in weave. There was just something so western about it that I didn’t quite appreciate -not that I have anything against the silky western hair. Thus, for the majority of my young adult life, I didn’t indulge in the bliss that most black women feel when their hair extensions sway in the wind, the way typical course and curly African hair doesn’t. I didn’t mind at all.

Braids have always been my thing. Hypocritical right?  Yes, I know. Installing those requires using western synthesized hair. To me, however, the feeling of picking out small chunks of thick, sponge-like, curly hair and plaiting them to create long single tresses that echo a lock-like natural African look, somehow makes a difference. In my mind, the African-ness of the style makes using synthesized hair not so western. Somewhere in between, the straight, silky locks become an African thing.

I had a crochet braids phase. One of my closest friends talked me into doing that. She said; “It’s not like weaves. You crochet them into your cornrows with a pin. They come out looking like single braids but a lot fuller. To the eyes looking at you, the hair looks like regular braids.” Yet, I still dreaded it so much. I mean it’s practically like sewing in hair extensions, except you don’t sew them in, you crochet them in. Still, it involved covering up my natural hair and wearing fake western hair as if it naturally grows out of my head. Even the convenience of how little time it takes to install and how gorgeous the curls look, did nothing to soothe my fear of looking inauthentic. But at some point I gave in at her insistence, and I’ve tried it twice before.

Please don’t think of me as some high and mighty girl who thinks she’s so much more African than the next weave wearing lady out there. If we’re being completely honest, my dislike for weaves and hair extensions in general was more rooted in my fear of looking too mature. I mean, I’m a 24 – year- old who looks like a teenager. I love it (to a certain extent). Plus, I’ve used hair relaxers and texturizers before. Those are western products that make course hair straight and silky. I’m definitely not innocent of western influences on my hair-care routines.

Perhaps it was that guilty feeling that led me to finally give the weave thing a try. Well… that and the persuasion of my best friend, who completely believes that I can totally pull off any hairstyle regardless of its ethnic affiliations.

I let his praise seep into my subconscious and riding off that high, I dared the dreaded weave-on. I took the plunge into the cold depths of the sew-in sea. I was bold about it too; the extensions I picked have a light-brown, borderline blonde color. I also chose a stylist I believed had experience installing such extensions and I explained my non-existent weave history to her, as well as my concern about what I’ll end up looking at when I stare into a mirror everyday for the next month or two.

To slash a long story in half, I will say this; My stylist did an OK job yet my best friend is completely in love with it. I’m neither thrilled nor turned-off. Don’t get me wrong, I think it looks fine… strange, but fine. Maybe I’ll be more ecstatic about it when I get used to seeing myself wear weaves – if i do it again. My brothers laughed their lungs to the floor when I stepped in the house yesterday. They thought I looked ridiculous. My mom isn’t too thrilled about the ‘do either.

I went natural a year ago, so my hair is short. The black ladies out there rocking their natural curls would understand how essential it is to keep natural hair protected and healthy. Protective styles are key and sew-ins happen to be one of the best options. It’s either I do that, crochet or single braids, which I’ve done so many times already. The other option would be to get a sassy Halle-Berry-like haircut, which I’d rather not do, considering I’m still recovering from my ‘big chop’. That said, it’s either I get with the weave life, or stick to the single braids/crochet look for God knows how long, until my natural hair is long enough to be style versatile.

Oh the struggle!

 

I Wore Heels

Added inches give a confidence boost (most women would agree). I woke up this morning feeling energized and ready to conquer the world. So when I took my shower and wore my pencil skirt and white flowy blouse, I knew I had to wear my favorite pair of chunky black sandals. I was feeling on top of the world.

I work as a concierge in the District of Columbia. The hustle and bustle of city life is what keeps me entertained as I waltz down the streets on my way to work. But today, I couldn’t really waltz. Today, I was in a mad rush. In what felt like 99 degree heat, it was no fun. And the heels did NOT help.

I’d planned ahead of time. I knew I had to take the metro then walk a few mins to my first desk. I’ve been doing whats called a “lunch run” these days.  That’s when a temporary concierge covers for the main concierge while they take their lunch break. I love the versatility of the lunch run. I meet new people almost every hour and i get to relax on my walk to the next desk which is usually about 10 mins away.

I got into the train and it was about 9:12 a.m. I’m thinking “35 minutes tops and I’ll be at Farragut West Station and then I’ll just work it in my heels and have all eyes on me and all heads spinning.” Well, 10 minutes later, we’re only 3 stops in and I’m now thinking “this has got to be the slowest train ride ever.”

Anyway, I got out another 23 or so minutes later and I can swear to you that my legs in these chunky sandals, were going a few seconds faster than my brain was thinking. I had confidence alright, but it didn’t feel as great knowing I’d be a few minutes late for work.

Oh the chronicles of a woman’s life.

 

CHAPTER 1

“I love you.”

Karen stopped dead in her tracks, the 95 degree heat suddenly feeling hotter. In slow motion, as though afraid to see sincerity in his eyes, she turned to face him. They stood on the sidewalk in front of a small french bistro two blocks from her apartment complex. Here she was, the six-foot-three, broad shouldered Darien King towering over her. This dark-haired, brown-eyed, ruggedly handsome Darien King. The same one to whom she’d given her heart. The same one who’d, so coldly, shred it in a million tiny pieces and flushed it down the toilet. She had pinned for this day for about 5,475 days give or take – not that she was counting. Yet here she was, speechless. The words she’d rehearsed so many times, couldn’t make their way from her heart to her lips. All she could manage was a weak and confused sounding chuckle.

It felt like the bustle of the people and cars rushing and swooshing up and down the road completely stopped. He looked so intently into her dark brown eyes, searching for something he knew was there. She gave him her coldest glare and watched him die a little inside. In fact, she almost wanted to celebrate the fact that he was hurting. So what was that thing in her heart still tugging at strings she thought she’d cut long ago? She would deal with that later. For right now, she had to get out of there before she said or did anything she would regret. So she turned away from the one man who will always have her heart. As she sashayed away, she knew he was breaking just like she had that day.

***

Karen Sway had never looked at him like that. Not even when he had told her she wasn’t good enough for him, and turned his back on her. That was the first time he really saw the pain he’d caused the only person he never ever wanted to hurt, and he wanted to slap himself for damaging her like that.

Now he was back and more in love with her than he’d been before he broke her heart. I had no choice.  He kept telling himself this, hoping that if he said it enough, he’d convince himself that she’d understand. Would she understand? Would she ever even let him explain? He wondered about all this as he watched her walk away from him. The love of his life was walking out of his life! What are you doing you idiot, follow her NOW!

“Karen, I’m serious. I love you. I always did. Please stop!”. She turned around so abruptly and started to say something. As he closed the gap between them, he saw her catch her breath like she’d decided not to confront him after all. She still couldn’t bring herself to say one damn word? He saw the tears start to gather in her eyes and then it hit him. She hadn’t moved on. She still hurt deep down and now here he was, bringing all her buried pain back to life. He now understood that she wasn’t ready to face him. Who could blame her? When she turned around and briskly walked away, this time he let her go. He’d have to wait.

CHAPTER 2