Of Weather Balloons and Mustard Seeds

Photo: It’s done! It’s done! It’s done, it’s done, it’s done! My first foray into hand-piecing! Hooray! Now, you’re probably confused: “It’s not symmetrical! It’s also sorta small!” You’re right! Because it’s not gonna be a square! It’s gonna be something else. Stay tuned! I’ve gotta buy some tracing paper before I can do the next part…


Another Monday, another snow storm… oh goodie…

I spent my Sunday fielding calls from concerned Marylanders. The first question was always, “and how are those boys doing? Are they dealing with things ok?”

As if they are the ones capable of slowly sinking into madness! “Those boys are fine. They are driving me crazy, but they are fine,” I would explain.

“Oh, you poor thing…” would be the next words to come through the receiver. Then the talk about the snowblower, and the thanking of God for our power staying on for all of these storms, and my goodness, how are we going to keep managing with no four-wheel drive? My grandmother was very kind to listen to all of my whining. She’s such a good woman. Whining soon gave way to advice-giving and talk of kinklings. Next week is Mardi Gras, dear reader! Did you know that?? That means it’s kinkling weekend! My husband is already salivating with anticipation. I just made my list of people who I’m going to invite over here to get some: 40ish people! What!? We know too many people… for seriously…

Anyway. I called my mother after calling my grandmother, and she did a most interesting thing.

“You know, you don’t have to live this way. You don’t have to do these winters. It’s such a burden. You are going to have to decide you don’t want to live this way anymore.”

Uh oh.

Now, you have to remember two things: Mom never loved her time up here. Not at all. And she certainly didn’t love the weather. But every day she wakes up in Maryland is the best day ever in her point of view. Keep that in mind.

So I told Mom about the long-duration snow over the weekend and the snow they keep hinting at that is due toward the end of the week… and the fact that the boys have barely been in school, and I moaned a little bit about the car. She listened (more than she usually would, actually), without interruption or instructions to “get it together.”

No, no. She blew my mind with this: “You know, you are going to have to wake up and decide you don’t want to do that anymore. Living up there is hard. That weather is hard. That culture is hard. I mean, I thought you were making it up when you first moved there, but now I understand it all. And when you come back from it and you realize that it’s just not normal up there, you shed it all and you feel so much better, Kyra. So much better.”


It isn’t that I don’t agree with her. All of her words are true. Living in New England as a Non-New Englander is a difficult thing to. You have to learn to bend, compromise, even shed some of your non-New Englander values in order to function here. And after you do all that? You’re sorta a “pardoned” non-New Englander. Like a secondary member of a very exclusive club. Like, you can come and sit at the bar, but you can’t order from the top shelf and you can play rounds of golf but you can’t host a wedding at the clubhouse. You get me?  And to be Black in New England… well, you’ve read the blog. The little moments grow into big moments…

but then again, a little part of me felt like: hey, we’ve been here, we are here, and we’re making it. It’s hard, yeah, but that’s half the fun. Us against the region, no? We came up here with ambition and can-do, and now we’re trying to thrive, maybe? I can’t tell if this is accepted or “learned” oppression on my part… maybe I’ve just been groomed at this point to swallow the bullshit and press on. Because, hey, what the hell am I going to do? Maybe “pardoned” New Englander status isn’t so bad? Gimmie some credit, Mom?

“I mean, Kyra, I go into meetings and I am reminded that I am an equal person. People don’t look at me like an outsider, like a nothing… they don’t look through me here, Kyra. I’m a full person here. Real and normal sensibilities actually still exist here.”

Lordy. Ok…

“And it is going to be hard, you know? For the boys. It’s hard to be Black in New England… I’m sure that being Bi-Racial is going to be just as hard, if not harder. Kyra, you don’t want that to be their experience, do you?”

I mean…

“I’m just saying. You’ve always been the catalyst for change in your relationship. Your husband goes with the current. As long as he’s comfortable… as long as he wants for nothing… he’s never going to change. Your husband is never going to wake up and say, ‘Kyra, it’s time to move.’ He’s going to go through life until you make him change. So it’s you who is making the decision to stay there. Only you can get yourself down here if you really want to.”

Wow. Damn, Mom…

Ideas matter. Words matter. I know exactly where I get it from.

That whole entire paragraph is true. I’ve been the one driving this train. “So, what are we doing here? Are you taking me to the movies or what?” “Hey, I got into Harvard and I’m moving to Massachusetts. Let me know if you’re coming with me.” “So, um, we’ve been doing this for 5 years now. Are we getting married or am I going home?” “Hey, so, um… I am pregnant.” “Well, do you know we can’t afford a house, or are you just guessing?”

When you’re the change-agent, you own the victories and the failures. When you’re the change-agent, your partner’s sufferings take own a whole new kind of pain for yourself… On the bad days, the dark days, I wonder if I’m the worst thing that ever happened to that man. On the good days, the brilliant days, I tell myself that we have been making the right decisions all along. But then again, I wonder, what is the tipping point? What happens if I go one change too far? What if I put up weather balloons for going home and he looks at me and says, “you can go. I’m not doing another crazy thing?”

I often write the I try to listen to when the universe is speaking to me. But the Universe and my Mother are two completely different beasts. And I know what my mother did here: this wasn’t the rallying cry that would push me into action and set me on the path home right away. This was both the weather balloon (let’s see how Kyra will receive this message) and the mustard seed (I’m going to just put this in her ear, and then I’m going to come back to it now and again. Inception-style. Like a ninja.). Mom is on a mission.

But am I?

When we were in Maryland during Christmas, it was a totally different place. There are way more people, it is entirely too busy, and some of my favorite haunts have been turned into luxury condos. Going back to Maryland means being close to my family, yes, but it also means because closer to his family, too! In-laws every weekend? No, thank you! I think I’d slit my wrists. And don’t get it twisted: remember when Mom lived up here and she babysat maybe twice? I mean, being near family might not net me any positives at all! Going back home means a house hunt and a school hunt all over again. The thought of it… my heart just skipped three beats.

Then again, it’s ain’t snowin’ in Maryland at the moment!!

I’ve been saying this a lot lately: there are no easy choices. Not a single one. Especially now, when all decisions seem to be high-stakes. I am reminded how much I miss having a close friend to laugh and cry about this sort of thing with. It makes it easier to pop weather balloons before the leave the ground, you know?

Anyway, it’s another week, dear reader! There is so much to do, despite the snow! Sing me songs of far-flung and warm places. With pretty flowers, perhaps. And singing birds? And curried chicken…and fried plantains… and roti.

I need a vacation. And some lunch. 🙂

See you Wednesday. Stay warm!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Snow blows and blowing snow blows.

    On the other hand, you’re in the heart of American history, surrounded by lush landscaping, close to shopping and schools…oh no wait, wrong brochure…oh yes:

    You are your own–where you are now, shaping the plan that includes all plans.

    Right now, you ARE home. your home, that YOU made, one square, stitch, loaf, drape, drawer, root, and nail at a time. You’ve made the most wonderful home for Husband, the bears, even for us just hanging out for the adventure and laughs.

    When you’re done, you can return to your past, better prepared with thicker skin and demon-free.

    Until then, remember hard shoveling builds badass bikini boobs 😉

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I just want you to know that “shovel bikini boobs” has been in my head all week and I can’t stop myself from giggling at inappropriate times. So thank you for that!

      And for all of the truthiness in this post. I needed some truth tellin’ and you really delivered. Thanks for the reminder that this is home because I decided it is. No one can take that away from me, not even my mother.

      1. My work here is done.
        I accept cookies as payment.

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