[sommaire-chapitres livre=2 affiche_infos=true]
The climb up Monsett Blvd. was steep; causing Liza’s legs to burn by the time she was halfway up, even though she made this trek 5 days a week. Today, the schizophrenic wind was battling itself: blowing one way, then just as ferociously the other. The virgin leaves on the newly planted trees, and the retired brown ones on the ground tossed, whisked and twirled erratically. The wind ladled tears from her eyes, causing a stream of water to settle in and around her ears.
It seemed as if she weren’t a suburban bag lady–weighted down with her large, black, computer bag, her workout bag and two cloth bags filled with groceries–she would be whipped around herself on the sidewalks, amongst the frenetic brown leaves.
Nature’s chaos settled her mind’s chaos momentarily. She had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, on making it up a hill literally; instead of all of life’s figurative hills.
Cars and busses swept past her. A dedicated jogger or two skipped by. Every time she saw one of them running on days like today—when Mother Nature clearly was telling everyone to stay inside—she wondered what got them out there. Were they running because they were dedicated to health, were they fanatics, or were they like her—did they do the same things every day without consideration or thought? Were they on auto-pilot too?
Liza, slightly out-of-breath, climbed the 8 stairs up to the front porch of her brownstone and kicked the door, so someone would open it . Almost immediately, she heard the quick thumps of her 13 year old, Desiree, running down the steps to let her in.
“Hey Mom,” she exclaimed as she flung open the door, quickly turned around and ran back upstairs.
“Well hello to you too,” Liza thought but instead said, “Hey there young lady. I know that you are rushing off to get back on that phone of yours. Come back here to help me with these bags.”
Liza had gotten better at simply ignoring the constant teenage eye rolls. A woman experiencing menopause-induced hormones crash and middle-schooler experiencing puberty–induced hormone spike shouldn’t be allowed to live in the same house—especially now.
When John came home Liza was leaning over the sink rinsing the cherries she bought that evening on the way home. They were colored various shades of wine, bursting with all of the quiet work of the winter and all of the possibilities of spring. He came behind her, kissed her on the neck, quickly grabbed her butt , and said, “ Hey Lee Lee,” a name he had called her since their first date (said Liza was a old woman’s name,–not an 18 year old’s name. So, he took it upon himself to start calling her LeeLeeover a night of pizza, root beer, pac-man, and careless, clueless first night sex).
“Hey John, Liza said without looking up.
John put his briefcase and keys on the kitchen table, started undoing his tie and went upstairs. Liza could hear him and Desire’s laughter and conversation coming from her room upstairs. Theirs was and easy, natural dance since Desire had her first cry and the doctor placed her in John’s arms..
When Liza thought about it, even she and John had always moved fluidly through life together: never stepping on each other’s toes, knowing when to slide left or wiggle right. In the beginning, it was more of a waltz—him guiding her in a boxed-like fashion—both of them playing life by the rules while trying to get ahead and get through graduate school.
Then it turned into more of a tango: John led her in playful, passionate dance as his confidence and medical practice grew. Yes, there were some issues, some abrupt pauses, but they were brief and seemed to add to the intensity of the dance.
The appearance of Desiree incited an energetic Lindy Hop; and then they seemed to fall back into their waltz. But lately, while they still weren’t stepping on each other’s toes, they weren’t really dancing together either. Sure, they were moving: John always kissed her when he walked into the house and right before he turned off the light at night; but the kisses seemed rehearsed—part of a memorized routine that had been performed far too many times. Gone was the natural groove, the impromptu dip or kick, the organic way your body responds to your partner and to the music when you are present, aware, watching and listening.
And she wanted to dance again.
He could see Liza through the large bay kitchen window when he pulled up—natural, black ringlets of curls falling into her face as she focused on something over the sink. Lord knows that woman could hyper-focus on anything—something he adored about her when they first started dating. She had a way becoming great at anything she set her mind on doing.
When he finally earned enough to buy them this brownstone in one of the best neighborhoods in the area, he felt momentarily like a king. The long hours, the humiliation he sometimes had to take from white patients asking to see another doctor as he walked into the emergency room stalls prepared to uphold his oath, the years and years of studying had finally allowed him to buy her a home in a neighborhood they were scared to drive through when they were dating for the fear of being stopped for looking suspicious.
Their first night in the brownstone, he bought a bottle of champagne and plastic cups. He imagined them sitting on the steps, reflecting on how far they had come, getting a little tipsy and finally making love on the mattress on the floor.
Liza, the color of melted milk chocolate, was actually already sitting on the steps when he pulled up that day. Before he could produce the champagne out of the bag, she says, “you know, John, I’ve been sitting here thinking—we really need to get these steps redone soon, there are cracks in the brick; and I definitely want to put some planters out here like our neighbors have. And don’t you think, honey, we need to change these outside lights? I mean what in the hell were the last owners thinking? These lights are so dim that even the moths ignore them. When was the last time the previous owner did ANY updates to this house?” John just listened. They didn’t drink the champagne that night; nor did they make love.
Since then, Liza had continued to focus on creating the perfect house. And it was— seemingly perfect. Liza liked perfect—at least perfect- looking.
John parked the car, walked in the house and kissed Liza on her neck. As always, she smelled so nice, like honeysuckle or something, John thought. As always, she didn’t kiss him back or lose her focus from what she was doing.
As soon as he went upstairs, however, Desiree ran into his arms. Her smile full of metal and rubber bands monopolized her face and her eyes danced. Her eyes always danced when she saw him. With him, his daughter, he felt like a king momentarily.
…to be continued
[sommaire-chapitres livre=2 affiche_infos=true]
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more