I am not sure why I have not written in a long time. I try to dissect my feelings. To open up the bloody mess and follow the veins of my thoughts and explore the chambers of my heart. I get lost every time. I must accept that I will never find my way through the clutter.
Of course, I miss Ibrahim. I have learned that I will always miss him. I miss him in different ways everyday. Most days, I miss his smell or even the smell of the sterile hospital. His now-yellowed white hospital hat, which I store in two Ziploc bags and smell daily, no longer has his scent. So instead, when I visit people at the hospital, I pump the possibly carcinogenic hand sanitizing lotion twice, close my eyes, and breathe it in deeply. I am immediately taken back to his bedside- his pink abdomen moving rapidly and his lips cracked around the breathing tube. I don’t feel grief ,rather, joy for the short moment with him. I open my eyes to see my husband, the only other being on earth who knows why I do this, looking at me. I avoid eye contact and rub my hands together as if nothing happened.
Yes, it’s complicated.
My roommate and I sat side by side on our couch, hunched over our respective laptops.
“Are you sure about this?” I asked her.
“Yes, I want to go to Cape Town,” she said.
I showed her my three Kayak windows, open in separate tabs before me. “Buenos Aires costs about the same to get to from New York, but everything will be way cheaper when we’re actually there. And look at these flights to Istanbul: they’re half the price, half the length, and nonstop.”
“I want to go to Cape Town,” she insisted. This being 2012, I don’t think I’d ever heard a broken record, but I imagine this was what it might sound like.
My roommate had seen a friend’s Facebook album from Cape Town the year before, and ever since we’d talked about traveling together, she’d been hell bent on getting there. It had always figured on my list of places to get to eventually, probably with a safari tacked on when I had kids someday, but wasn’t something I’d consider a priority destination. Not like Argentina, which I’d been trying to convince friends to accompany me to for years, or Turkey, which I was ashamed to admit I had yet to see. But she was adamant.
“OK then, if you’re sure. Bismillah.”
I clicked Book.
I am estranged from my father, and no, I don’t like talking about it. Why bring it up in the public sphere? Because I get too many intrusive questions about him in the private sphere, and this is my way of setting the record straight.
My parents’ love story went terribly wrong. They knew each other from school and got married when my mum was twenty-one, and my dad was twenty-four. I’ve seen the wedding photos, slightly yellowed with age. My mum looked demure and beautiful in her white dress, and my dad looked dashing in his suit. Their honeymoon took them to spectacular locations around the globe – impressive, given that this was over thirty years ago – but their marriage ended up in what I have coined “The Best Decision Ever.” My parents’ divorce, instigated by my mother, was the reprieve that gave us all the chance to heal after decades of waxing and waning heartache. I am the oldest of many siblings, and each of us has to negotiate the scars we all earned along the way.
Most parents mean well. I know mine certainly did. But the lesson I learned from was how much love can hurt. My dad warned me against the foolishness of women marrying their high school sweethearts. My mother warned me that men never change. They gave me so many warnings against love and trust. I grew up imbibing so much of what can go wrong, that it took me a very long time to be open to what can go right.
“It’s because you’re black.”
He repositioned himself in the chair, then looked down at his cup of coffee and grabbed the handle. I could tell this conversation made him uncomfortable.
He was from the subcontinent but had the swag of a black brotha. He said he was having a hard time find a sister from his background because he couldn’t relate to them.
“I’m sorry, it’s just my family wouldn’t be happy…” He said this apologetically while taking a small sip from his drink.
I looked at him from across the table before proceeding to give him a piece of my mind. But then I stopped myself.
Why was I shocked?
I was on the platform waiting for the morning train. I looked down at my watch then quickly stuffed my hand back in my pocket. “Four minutes late…” I muttered to myself.
Anyone from Chicago can testify that our winters are horrendous. No matter how long you live here you will never get used to winter in the Windy City. I always complain about how my “African blood” can’t handle this harsh weather, yet through all my fussing I can never leave the city that I love so dearly.
Read the rest of this entry »