All posts filed under: Columns Archive

How the Fuck Did I Get Here

I devoured Donald Goines’ Dope Fiend right after I put the grilled cheese on top of the radiator, a griddle’s sizzle loudly absent. It had been 24 years since I last read those short chapters. The day before, I read Black Girl Lost. At this point, reading was my only escape from plentiful tears.  How the fuck did I get here? I was a good Catholic school girl, a good daughter. I ate my vegetables, I worked hard. When Mommy left to meet the ancestors a few years before and I was a lost soul, I took care of my little sisters as directed in “The Oldest Child’s Responsibilities Handbook.” Trying to figure out adulthood without my shero was more than a challenging task. Mommy left me with a treasure trove of knowledge, but I had no idea where and how to apply it. The number of people I trusted dwindled to almost zero.  It was lights out and I tried to fall asleep. Reading was no longer an option.   How the fuck did I …

La Curacíon (The Healing)

To my angels, I carried you inside me for seven months, for two hundred and twelve days, for five thousand and eighty-eight hours. I felt you two grow as my body nourished you. I felt your feet dancing in my womb to the songs I’d sing. I loved you both more with each passing day. Your daddy may not have wanted you or cared for you in the same ways as me, but I know deep down he loved the idea of you, too.  It pained me to know I couldn’t bring you into this light. I prayed for you, for myself, for the answers to why this must be. I didn’t have all the monetary things to give you, but my heart had all that you would ever need. When your kicks became taps and your taps became none, I knew that our time was up. That I wouldn’t get the chance to hold you in my arms when you cry, to watch you crawl and take your first steps, to hear you call …

Lost Daughters, Losing Mothers

Pulling my charcoal peacoat tighter around me, I trudge the short distance from the train to Ma’s house. January’s cold nips at my bare fingers. I shove my hands into the coat’s pockets, bow my head to the ground, quicken my pace as I near the brick elementary school that shares space with Ma’s housing complex. School has ended for the day, but its resource officer still sits guard in the police cruiser. He watches me approach the beige and green townhouses, a stark contrast to the lemon yellow I grew up in. Nearing the parking lot, I notice Ma’s gray Honda Civic isn’t parked in her usual spot. The breath I don’t realize I’m holding breaks free. Before her empty parking spot came into view, I anticipated Ma greeting me with her trademark scowl and silent treatment. It’s been two days since I was last home. It’s been less than three months since I left a post-prison halfway house, and, already, I’m spending nights with a man I hardly know. I enter the house …

Beautiful Dreams After Tiny Wings

I knew something was amiss. My intense craving for anything covered in tikka masala sauce had disappeared overnight, and my entire body felt…off. I stood in the mirror rubbing my tiny belly whispering, “Please don’t leave me. We can do this. I love you so much.” I was pleading with this little life to stick it out with me, trying my best to hide the panic in my voice from their tiny ears. After all, tomorrow we would celebrate our first Mother’s Day together.  That same night, I had a dream that my sweet nugget, who was a warm addition to my body, would leave me soon. I shared that heartbreaking dream with my husband, Jamie, and we began to pray for our baby to live while Jamie also tried his best to comfort me. But receiving comfort felt absolutely impossible. I wanted to believe God would answer our prayers but, in my gut, I knew my dream was, in a sense, God’s grace in preparing my heart for what was to come: an unbearable …

When Race, Culture, and Dinner Collide | Marion Ruybalid

“Mom, can we please go to the Indian restaurant for my birthday dinner?” my daughter Ellianna begged. Turning twelve had awakened a desire to experience her Bangladeshi side. “We’ll see,” I said. My husband Tim smiled at me. I tried to smile back, but I felt sweat pooling in the palms of my hands. I had dreaded this moment because going there would reveal that, as a Bangladeshi adopted woman raised by white British parents in the United States, I knew very little about my own culture.  My parents told me stories about their life in Dhaka. My dad worked for Save the Children helping starving mothers and their children. My mom enjoyed white female privileges. At dinner parties, the men and the women would culturally be separate, but my mom ate with the men. Their lifestyle was more comfortable than the one they would have had in England. They had a Hindu cook and Muslim gardener. If my parents requested chicken for dinner, they would work together  to protect the Hindu cook’s religious practices. …