Wrote my name in neat little block letters on the professor’s attendance sheet — making it look like I belonged there — like it was meant to be. Just wanted something different — an escape from poly-sci and econ. Plus — I really liked the smell of turpentine. The whole art department reeked of it. And I loved it.
Second semester — sophomore year — I followed some paint splashed, costumey-looking students into a very large, open studio. It was freezing in there — never could figure that out. But it had huge floor to ceiling windows — that let in the most exquisite natural light. I had to stay.
When the professor sat next to me — pointing to the DIY name on his list — I started gathering my things.
Stay, the professor said. Nice name. Stay.
I was the only one oddly giggling — when this guy and girl — I called them Adam and Eve — started taking off their clothes — the girl kept her socks on — always.
Draw what you see, the professor said.
By the end of the semester — I had quite a collection of very highly detailed, anatomically correct renderings of mostly apples and carrots.
Leave them alone, my mother said. Let them be.
But I couldn’t. My great grandmother’s crystal balls — needed to be cleaned. Cleansed is a better word — I think.
Mother Adams — my great grandmother– Frank and Lucinda’s daughter– was clairvoyant and worked as a medium. Smoke and mirrors, my mother says.
Mother Adams had nightly seances and redeemed spirits in her basement church. A racket — a scam, my mother says.
But — ever since the cleansing — things are different — quieter even.
It’s a good thing. I am happy about it. Truly.
But — I do miss those orbs of light — especially the demurely lovely, serenely beautiful purple ones — the ones that would just show up — gently floating — unannounced — out of nowhere — at any time — but, mostly at night or when people came over.
Everything ok? My mother would say — with a wink.
My eyes always popped open whenever I’d see one. But — not now — not after the cleansing. Now — we just have feathers showing up — unannounced — out of thin air. Should probably clean Mother Adams’ china cabinet.
It doesn’t need to be cleaned, my mother said. Let it go.
Cleansed is a better word — I think.
It wasn’t the snickerdoodles — it’s just — the wording — Cookies for Satan — on those big, giant, huge posters — gave the wrong idea. We didn’t sell any. But — at least — that homeless man standing next to us — on the corner — near the bus stop — had a nice snack. And — at least — that reporter lady — getting off the bus — stopped — and talked to us. Thanks to her — two weeks later — in rural, southern Maryland — Satan was saved.
Nobody will know, my twin sister said. Could be fun, I said.
We were both wrong.
Not about the whole twin-switcheroo-thing — that’s just what twins do. It’s a fact! It’s just — we should have started with something simpler, less complicated — something that would not make the evening news or the morning paper.
Satan was an unbelievably HUGE-GIANT-ANGRY-MEAN former Park Police horse. Probably should have warned my twin sister about that triple bolted gate. But — my 8th grade Work Internship — at the stables — did not normally involve cleaning the stalls or the horses.
Metal does not belong in the microwave.
Trust me — it doesn’t.
Not sure why I thought that can of Beefaroni was different. That’s how the microwave — in the kitchen– at the nursery school — where my twin sister had her 8th grade Work Internship — went — KABOOM!
I was spying on the handsome new alley cat — while listening to a redbird — singing. Sounded like the blues to me — only because that song left me feeling sad.
That’s when I noticed another redbird limping — underneath the peonies — the pink ones. All the petals have already fallen off the white ones — from the rain last night.
That handsome new alley cat was still at the neighbor’s house — crouching low — on those crumbling, old steps — watching a huge black bird — maybe it was a crow — eating french fries out of the dumpster. The dumpster that gets filled and hauled away on Tuesdays — since last November.
I knocked and knocked and knocked — on the window — when I saw that alley cat — his name should be Houghton — such a haughty, snobby boy — getting closer and closer to the peonies — the pink ones. He stopped and looked at me — in the way that only cats can.
I should know better by now — should’ve just turned away.
One look into those crystal cat eyes — and I was lost, for sure — nowhere to be found. Next thing I knew — that alley cat — named Houghton — had that redbird in his mouth — and he was still staring at me — underneath the peonies.
Every time I make this shrub — especially cherry shrub — I think about my great, great grandfather — on my mother’s side — grandpa Frank.
I bet it was a night like this — around midnight — when grandpa Frank ran away. Looking up at that moon — so huge and so full — it was probably, nearly, almost close enough to touch — if he reached for it — if he stretched — a little. And with all those stars so bright and so big — I know it was easier to see — just had to be.
Maybe he planned it that way — maybe he didn’t — don’t know for sure — but either way — my great, great, great grandfather Ambrose owned a lot of slaves — fathered quite a few — including grandpa Frank. It was a crazy, tangled business — that Kentucky plantation.
Eventually — grandpa Frank went back to that same plantation — back to his father, Ambrose — who then hired him to run the plantation. Grandpa Frank was always good with money. He could read and write. His father taught him — early.
Grandpa Frank was in charge of the slaves — on the plantation. He even bought some of the slaves — for his father — for the plantation. It was a crazy, tangled business — but grandpa Frank knew it well. He married one of the slaves — on the plantation. She was my great, great grandma Lucinda.
She liked strawberries. He liked cherries.
Bet they were married on a night like this — around midnight — somewhere — on that Kentucky plantation — moon so bright — stars so big — it was probably even easier to see.
I rarely, hardly ever get sick– but when I do — the widdle baby in me– always turns everything into a soap opera. Last week– my simple, little sniffles snowballed into a major head cold with severe post nasal drip. The coughing fits were frightening. And then–this crazy lady– in the midst of one of my coughing spells said, I like your curls. Then she rummaged her big-giant-clumsy hands through my hair.
I was in a bad mood after that. A really bad mood–complaining about everything–especially at dinner–these potatoes are TOO SALTY! I was just mad at myself for being such a wimp. I wanted to scream at that crazy–horrible lady. But I just stood there–speechless– with my frizzy-puff-puffs. I should have just pulled my hair back in a bun–but I was stubbornly determined to play it cool. Yep, I styled it like this– ON PURPOSE! That was my fake attitude in the grocery store. Well — I had to have an attitude with hair like that— plus– I had no choice—suddenly– I needed my monthly supplies. No wonder I was in such a bad mood.
In the beauty aisle– a sales clerk was telling another shopper all about something called Wild Yam Root Cream. It takes away menstrual cramps and curbs irritability quickly. I highly recommend it!!! Don’t forget to rotate application sites though! I had no idea what that meant-– but I bought it anyway. Turns out I am highly allergic to wild yam root cream. Highly allergic. Didn’t know it was humanly possible to vomit like that. Okay! I clearly just died!
Now that I am on the mend– I truly have a new level of respect for my mother. Stroke recovery is rough. But she has found a way to stay strong. So much easier said than done.
My mother is the real deal– a true superstar!
Our online chocolate class ended early–then my twin sister, Akwelle, shouted from downstairs, Ha-Ha! That was so funny. You totally shut down the whole class! Didn’t you get my text?
I looked at my phone. No text.
We were supposed to be learning about the health benefits of chocolate–the real chocolate–the food of the gods chocolate–instead–unbeknownst to me– I became the main attraction- talking non-stop about another webinar attendee named SumoXL123deParis.
Akwelle started it though. I like his hair–but–his shirt is way too small and he has fatty-fat hands.
Embarrassing. But at least she knew when to turn off her mic.
His name ain’t Sumo for nothing, I said. And look at those cute, chubby-chub cheeks! I probably shouldn’t have drawn that picture, though. And that rap song I made up–Alone in a Food Truck–went way too far.
That’s when the class ended. Abruptly.
The next day– my twin sister’s text– finally– came in.
Dummy! Mute your mic!
I should get a new phone.