1 pack unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1 cup champagne
1 cup Alize Gold
Boil water and dissolve gelatin. Allow to cool then add spirits.
“Back in elementary
I thrived on misery
Left me alone I grew up amongst a dying breed
Inside my mind couldn’t find a place to rest
Until I got that thug life tatted on my chest.
Tell me can you feel me”
— Tupac Amaru Shakur
Entering college was both exciting and scary. I knew it marked my journey into adulthood, but I did not feel prepared at all. Although I went to private school, and they were constantly shoving the idea of college down our throats, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. Senior year was all about testing and applications, and I waited to the last minute to do all of it. Despite being really good at school work, I actually hated school. I always felt school was arbitrary. A design based around conformity and hive mentality. And I didn’t give a sh*t about that. If I had to choose a theme song for my high school journey, it would be Fight the Power.
Much of my high school career revolved around me asserting myself as a black student attending a majority white school. My disposition was radical at times, but always righteous. I aimed to prove no black student should have to assimilate to be accepted. I became somewhat of a Black Panther in my own right. I started writing for the school paper to express my thoughts to shed light on the plight of black students and people. However, the other black students didn’t carry that fire. In fact, they were okay with just getting along. Not me though. My stance often landed me in “counseling,” and that one timeI received an in-school suspension for standing up for those bird brains. Once again, my morals were putting me in a bind.
I did not realize I was gathering chips at the time. From the bullying I experienced throughout elementary and middle school. The powerlessness I felt when my classmates were too spineless to stand up for a just cause. (I’m not calling them spineless to be a b*tch, well maybe. But they would talk a whole lot of sh*t about what they would do, but when it came time to stand on it, I was often standing alone.) That feeling go defeat, those chips, would follow me all the way to my college experience.
Going to college was this new and exciting experience for me. It meant I was an adult. Well almost. I was only 17 when school
started. Nevertheless, it meant I had an escape from home life. (I had responsiblities as the oldest of four. I was the third parent. If you are the oldest you know exactly what I’m talking about). I had an opportunity to reinvent myself. I opted to go to school at a local university. In retrospect, I should have left if I was really trying to escape. But I was afraid to leave home and oh yea for the first time in my life I had a real boyfriend. SMDH!
Having a boyfriend helped to bandaid some of my long suffered insecurities. I was too black, hair too nappy, and not nearly enough ass and titties. Oh yea and I had no sense of style. Him being in my life made me feel desired for once. (Probably also didn’t help that my dad thought making jokes about my appearance was funny. We have a cynical joke in the family about building insecurities early. He a wild boy!) I remember there being adults along the way who always told me how beautiful I am, but I did not feel that way. In school, someone was always making a comment about the way I look. I recall another black student, child of a judge, commented that I was
“blacker than the new exchange student from Africa.” (Now that I’m older, it’s like so what. Is being associated with African supposed to be bad? I think the f*ck not.) Being dark skin in the south felt like a damn set up. Since I didn’t accept myself, I found someone opposite of me. Light skinned and loose curls. That sh*t sound so dumb now!
There was a teensy problem with this relationship. I didn’t really like him. Once we entered college, I started to wonder what is the actual f*cking meaning? I recall venting about this to two people who would become my best friends. Helen and Chanel. We became close after only a few conversations. We shared similar taste in music, and we were out of the box thinkers. We were known as the awkward
black girls of college. Many people assumed we were gay too. (It’s probably because of the men’s clothing from time to time.) We were looked at as lame, because we were never on trend. Oddly enough, the styles we were being judged for, ended up being the trend that the masses would later follow. I call that innovation! They were my confidants. They were my tribe. That part of me that longed for acceptance and understanding began to dampen. Being part of that fold made me question the purpose of my relationship altogether.
I wanted to break up! I questioned why I was in relationship with someone I had nothing in common with. And I was young, I didn’t need to be tied down when I hadn’t experienced the world
to even know what I required. I didn’t want to lead someone on knowing I didn’t want anything more. Why start a relationship or anything based in insecurity? I had to tell him, right?
After I came back from Tennessee, working security at Bonaroo, I sent him a text. Don’t judge me y’all. I was an avoidant, non-confrontational person. I didn’t want to be the bad guy, and at the time he had been nothing but sweet to me. But he did the unthinkable. After I sent that text, he pulled up on me (well walked up, because he didn’t have a car.) He was teary eyed, and I just couldn’t take knowing I was the one putting him through that. So I stayed in that relationship, oh how it would come to bite me in the ass.
At the age of 18, just weeks after receiving the most devastating news of my life, I learn that I am 7 weeks pregnant. Ain’t that some sh*t!
It’s funny how when something tragic happens, you can remember everything or nothing at all. I was on the phone that night. Me and my cousin was chatting about all of the drama happening in our family. It was crazy y’all. Every time you look up, it was a melee. We also reminisced about our childhood and other things. The TV was watching me. My head was under the covers. I had just gotten off the phone with my cousin. She was going to call me back, and then we would call our grandmother. (My dad’s mom) That would never happen. I was starting to fall asleep, because I had school the next day and I didn’t think I would get that call back, my mama came in the room and tapped me with urgency. She was informing me that my uncle had just passed away while in prison. I wasn’t bothered by it, because I hadn’t seen him in years, and we were not particularly close. A few hours later, my mama came in my room with the same urgent tap, but this time with a shaky voice. She reluctantly said, “you’re grandma died.” I was so crossed from sleep I assumed she didn’t know what she was talking about. I assumed she meant my uncle again. I said a little annoyed, “no, you already told me my uncle died.” She said, “no,” this time more firmly, “you’re grandma, Mrs. Martha, died.” My heart sank. Immediately, tears had begun to well up. I started screaming and crying frantically. Rocking back and forth erratically, saying “no.” I assumed my cousin didn’t call me back because she knew. I soon found out she didn’t. Me telling her was the first she heard of it. She immediately hung up the phone to call our aunt. (See my grandma was her mother. She raised her. She raised a lot of us in some way or the other. That night was unreal. My daddy came into my room to ask me if I wanted to go to the hospital with him. I agreed somberly. It was a quiet ride to Slidell. As we got closer to the hospital, my heart was pounding. When we made it to the hospital lobby, we were met with red eyed family members. We were directed to her room. I thought I was going to pass out. Once the door was opened, the weight of the room washed over me. My heart shattered. There she was, seemingly asleep. Her skin the most peculiar shade of gray, and half way zipped in a white body bag. That sh*t broke my heart son. Like why was she already in a bag? She wasn’t dead. She just was not breathing. I stared from across the room, waiting for her to open her eyes or say something. She needed to prove she was immortal. The low weeps of my family filled the room. I just stood there like a fool, blankly, with tears falling.
The following week I would attend a double funeral. My grandma and my uncle shared a venue. If you knew their relationship, yo would chuckle at the irony. That day was a blur. Kem’s song would constantly play that rainy day. Sh*t didn’t become real for me, until they closed the casket. I felt so helpless and weak. I left a token of my love with her. I had bought my old gangster a new bandana to take with her in the afterlife.
The last conversation I had with my grandma played in my head. She was in the hospital for testing, and I believe she had injured something. She was in pain. Physically and emotionally. She said
she was ready to die. She wanted to be with her sons, because her family didn’t love her anymore. That broke me to hear. My grandma had always been my biggest hero. She was a soldier. She was the definition of love.
At the time our family was in disarray, still is. My cousin was being evil to her (I didn’t know how much of a raging b*tch she was, but I would soon find out. This is a different cousin from the one I was on the phone with) and the family was more concerned with choosing sides instead of coming together. I stayed in that room and held her hand while the doctors did what was necessary. I didn’t know that was our last conversation. That began an era. My own version of Thug Life!
“Now that I’m lost and I’m weary so many tears
I’m suicidal so don’t stand near me
My every move is a calculated step
To bring me closer to embrace and early death
Now there’s nothing left”
–Shed So Many Tears, 2pac”