As of August 2018, the category of What’s On Jenn’s Head, is going away. I know right! I have started a Patreon, and it would be dope if you would … Continue reading Wanna Know What’s On My Mind? I Know You Do…
There are always these worlds that break open when women die. When my grandmother died almost five years ago, it was surreal to go the home she had … Continue reading Legacies & Lighthouses: Living As Your Own Woman
I heard of this story last year, and thought it incredible. Stories about passing are always fascinating to me. From Passing by Nella Larson to Devil In A Blue Dress … Continue reading July Book Review: WHITE LIKE HER
I have been told my whole life how I look like my mother. Eyes, skin tone, face shape. At one time, I hated hearing that. Now, at 37, I embrace … Continue reading The Best Of It-Part II
You want to know what the best, lost art is?
With Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and its filters, and the followings of throngs of invisible people on the Gram, few people know how to keep things to themselves. No one remembers what it was like to be entrusted with something, to be able to hold something within themselves.
There are apps rather than conversations. We have more followers than friends. Rather than real spouses, we find them on Instagram and have them during working hours. We’ve lost what these devices and applications are supposed to foster: connection.
When I say, to die with it, there are things that are not meant for public consumption, things that people outside of your immediate circle will understand. There are things even with explanation, will remain unimportant to other people–only because those experiences aren’t theirs. Some things are just beyond the capacity and reach of other people’s entity.
My grandma, and women of her age and ilk would call it ‘being able to keep yourself.’ The idea of being able have a sense of self that is almost medicinal in nature. Being able to understand what indeed has happened to you, and accept that which no one may ever understand.
The hearts of people, especially women, are these deep, cavernous places. These places that hide and house and hunger. These places that hide memories, and tears and things it hurts to think about, let alone discuss with other people. This goes beyond the testimonies that help other people overcome, and remind them of the life that will come after.
These are the places that we rarely let light into, that we grimace over and lie about. The portions of our personal history that are not for public view, report or consumption. The things that haunt us, the thorns in our flesh. The things that keep us humble…and quiet when asked about them.
Now, believe me…there are things in my history I have divulged, purged, and been released by God about. There are things I have shared with my husband only, and few close friends. But I know there are some things, some demons (if you will) that I continue to wrestle with–and those fights are never meant to be public.
Those fights are never meant to be public.
There are some things that are part of you, that will remain a part of you. They developed you, scarred you, make you run or mad you mighty to fight it off. They keep you alert where you were lulled. This emotional armory.
Dear ones, I hate to break it to you…but there are some things, some stuff that you have to overcome, that you have even conquered, that you may never be able to emote properly, let alone speak to people about.
However, don’t run from that.
Don’t hide from life in that.
These things, too, have made you. I won’t tell you they are easy, I won’t tell you they heal fast, but I will tell you–those are the definite parts of you. The parts that offer yes or no without waver. Remind of you what you know and knew and will never fall for again. The things that tell you the truth about yourself…
The one thing apps won’t do, and no amount of followers will do…and the things these magic devices have stopped us from doing sometimes: do things ourselves.
My grandmother had this power of being quiet. She had looks, and mannerisms that let you know she was not for chaos, havoc or foolishness. And with that persona, it made her impenetrable when I got older, and really wanted to know more about her, and how to navigate through this life, using her wisdom as a vantage point.
I would see her, no matter what was going on, there was this strength that made me fear her, especially since I only had 1 set of grandparents left-my maternal set. As I grew up, I noticed how intent and focused she would be when she cleaned, or how she cooked, and when she would garden and snap beans.
After I gave birth to my oldest daughter, and she began to decline only because of age, I noticed that persona was an armor. I wanted to ask her so much, I wanted her to speak to what I was facing as a mother of daughters.
I was jealous of people that had relationships with their grandparents, and could talk to them about anything and everything, and gave of themselves in those conversations.
I was jealous of the stories that other people’s grandmothers told, and how they treated it like it was nothing special. I wanted that from her, but realizing once, sitting across the table from her, there was this wall I could not breech. I thought of the quote biographers added to the myth and truth of General Robert E. Lee: “safe from the pick-locks of history.”
As I added birthdays in the three years she has been gone, I recognized why she was or had to be quiet: personal space and peace. Sometimes you have be to able to cultivate peace in yourself first before you can have it anywhere else.
I know very little about the formative years of my grandmother, only know what I know from my own mother and other aunts. What I do know, what I think I hang on to, I cannot reveal here–but what I will say is this.
There are things that we go through in this life that you can only process, handle or accept when and unless you’re quiet. There things that you cannot even come to peace with unless you’re quiet.
There is a place your mind travels when you process. There’s this peace it fights for when all Hell is breaking loose–this anchoring energy that reminds you, of you. The need you have for your own self, and what you need. There are things that you deal with, I deal with, she dealt with, that you cannot or may never be able to share with other people. Or, perhaps, ever share with other people because they won’t understand or understand why you aren’t dead.
I’m learning to cultivate that quiet, harness it for a base for that same strength. That place in my own self that is safe and appreciative of what it is that I want and need. That appreciates, and seeks to digest the things that have made me what I am, whom I am, and demands that I do something beneficial to myself.
This advantageous quiet…this necessary intrareflection we discount. We think don’t need it, can take it later or think, ‘My mama aint talk, and she told me that black women gotta be strong.’
Let me tell you something–even mules get tired.
I’m a woman, not a mule.
I deserve space to process, space to breathe, and not let people in to preserve the integrity of that space. I get to do the things I enjoy that help me decompress, and breathe deeply. I owe myself, to myself. My grandmother, even with her silence, she gave me all she could: the stoic nature, never let folk see you sweat, and you do what you have to until other things happen.
In doing that, preserving myself…when my daughters and granddaughters come to me, wide-eyed over a kitchen table, I can open my mouth and release that same blessing and hope that my grandmother tried to give to me.