Wednesday, November 21, 2012

You Will: A Grateful List

You will listen to Nina Simone's "Young Gifted and Black" on repeat. You'll still be able to smell the remnants of the extra bacon and jalapeƱo pizza you threw away in the trash. A final cupcake from the bakery on Newbury Street, the one you think about at 9p.m. when you are watching the shows on your DVR, will stare back at you with temptation swirling in its frosting. You will have just rejoined Weight Watchers after a quick reflection in the mirror made you ask, "Where did those hips come from?" You'll finally understand why your favorite dresses just don't fit the way they used to and you'll have to make a change about it.

And yet, while this is happening, you will still be nothing but grateful for who and where you are. On your couch with knees crossed and the curtains drawn, shielding daylight, you will be proud of the sanctuary you have built. It's a place where a woman can think, read, and exist. Virginia Woolf would have been proud. Books sneak up on you when you're looking for a pair of scissors. Paint brushes are in abundance like fallen bobby pins.

You will be disappointed that you couldn't find the proper baking pan to make the pull apart bread that has been on your to-do list for weeks, and the dough will remain rising in the fridge until the master chef (your mom) comes home and finds it. You'll answer some emails from work and get a little bit frustrated. You'll take a sip of water; might as well hydrate. You'll hope that your bladder will somehow empty itself so that you don't have to get up. After six days of vacation, even using the bathroom has become cumbersome. You'll ignore your bladder.

You will keep avoiding having to write a "grateful for..." list because you know it will make you cry. So much has happened this year. So little has been forgotten. You'll look at the time and see that you still have a whole lot left to do before Thanksgiving tomorrow, and therefore it is time to write it.

Here you go...

You will be grateful for...

A mother who cannot read or write English, but speaks the language of love better than anyone you have ever met. A brother who is happy again after the birth of his daughter. A brother who can cry over love while smoking a cigar and drinking dark liquor. A father who has kept his distance during a difficult time. The impeccable taste in decor and fashion you inherited. The job that pays you. The babies who come with the job who give you hugs, eye rolls, and reminders of what it is to be innocent. The final months with your cousin that makes your lip quiver when you think about them. His mom and his dad (your aunt and uncle), who just months after the passing of their son, welcome you into their dining room for home cooked meals and conversation. The cousins who picked you up to go out for a drive. The cousins who let you cry into, not just on, INTO their shoulders. The cousins you held your hand. The cousins who danced. The cousins who were open about the pain. The cousins who hid it. The cousins who were optimistic. The cousins who kept it real like hip hop in the early 90's real. The cousin who is still fighting the good fight against cancer. The people who donated to the walk you did in honor of your cousin who had and died of cancer. The friend who gave you their NYC Marathon medal. The friends who took you away on a vacation into the mountains to rest. Your boss who let you cry in their office. The job that gave you time off to recuperate. The people who said, "I'm sorry."

(Space left here where the author needed to finally go to the bathroom and cry.)

The trip to Disney World that made you feel like a kid again. The books by Junot Diaz. The privilege of spending a summer running a sports camp with an entire staff made up of brown and black staff members with all brown and black children. A friend who made you fall back in love with your curls. Your curly hair that came back with a vengeance. The restaurant you found in Providence with the delicious macaroni and cheese. The Beats by Dre headphones. The "Losing You" song and video by Solange. Her big sister, Beyonce, who supplies you with enough music to make every morning a dance party before getting on the bus. The friends who commiserate over and celebrate the single life.

The friend who understands the micro-aggressions that occur on a daily basis by the privileged and exchanges a glance and a joke when you're frustrated. BARACK FUCKIN OBAMA. Your black president. Standing in line to vote and the tears that trickled down into your scarf around your neck. The pride you felt. Your immigrant mother who cheered over his victory.

The little baby who came into the world on October 14th, who taught you that love can grow exponentially. The little baby who reminded you that your only purpose in life is to make this world better through teaching and kindness. The little baby's cry that doesn't bother you, but reminds you that a girl's cry will someday transform into desire. Her cry will someday become a protest. You will be grateful for this hope.

You will be grateful for the things you do not remember; for the strangers who held the door for you and said, "good morning." You will be grateful for the knowledge and grace, which allows you to accept that during this year, you have not been at your best. You will be grateful for the forgiveness you grant yourself.


  1. This is so beautiful I almost nearly cried reading this. You have such a way with words.
    I hope that all the pain you are feeling right now disappears soon.
    Callie x

  2. So touching and honest, I only aspire to be able to take a moment and take stock of what and who I have in my life as you have done. Love your writing, an inspiration x

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  4. Writers read. It's a part of the job, the joyous part. Today I am grateful for Soundbites because your honesty inspires me. "The cousins who let you cry into, not just on, INTO their shoulders."
    And that's just a piece of the magic.

  5. I am grateful for my life... What it is and what it isn't.