[Quiet Thoughts] Of Family


Photo: I haven’t taken any pictures this week. I am living for my time on the beach, so I’m putting up this photo of the beach in Maine.


One of my favorite podcasts is called Helga, and I highly recommend it. It fits quite snuggly between my other faves, Levar Burton Reads and But That’s Another Story. I’ll get with The Paris Review when it returns again.

Helga Davis is an artist in New York who seems to know the most interesting people in the world. Her podcast feels like walking in on an intimate dinner conversation, being invited to sit at the table and listen to the soothing sound of wise people talking. She has interviewed many different types of people, but many of them have been Black women. Listening to her conversation with Jacqueline Woodson made my heartache for home and the opportunity to gather and speak with other Black women. On the other hand, the conversation made me feel like, at least for a short period of time, I was in community with people who I understood…. even from far away.

Anyway, I highly recommend her podcast, especially if you’re in for a long drive or if you’re settling in for a good session of crafting or cooking. Her words and thoughts are soothing and stirring. She’ll find your heart muscles and make them work.

I caught up today as I was driving into the city to go see a dear friend. Helga’s conversation about Jacqueline Woodson was about Family: what it is, what it means, how it is define, how it is made. Helga starts the episode with a significant thought about “found” family, the family we made for ourselves. As I was driving into the city to see this one particular, significant person, the words really hit home for me. Perhaps its the season of my life: dealing with the discomfort of in-laws I feel like I’ve never actually understood, looking at a husband I’ve known since high school who suddenly feels like a stranger… having Father’s birthday come and go without sending a card, text or calling… dealing with the upcoming complications of Father’s Day. Celebrating Grandy’s birthday with a lit candle and a few tears on the next Monday… Family got really weird in the 30s. The blood stuff feels confining instead of liberating. I know that in these times of uncertainty and looming dread we’re supposed to hold onto something. We’re supposed to draw people closer to us. The question is, who?

There are easy answers for sure. Mom and my Uncles made a miracle happen so I could salvage my beach vacation. Old friends from work who knew me when I was young and stupid (and still probably see me as young and stupid!) have returned to my life in a phenomenal way. I’ve made new friends at church who share their stories, make me laugh and force me to grow inwardly. I love that there are people who see me in the right here, right now. Then again, I miss the anchoring people who knew me when I was just a girl. I think I’m mourning the transience of those people in my life. It always feels like someone is just coming and going.

Maybe that’s why I joyfully smashed my calendar to pieces in order to spend time with this particular friend. Perhaps he was more indulging me and my impulsive need to do things for him. He probably could have gotten along just fine. But maybe not… I don’t know. All I know is that I got to spend significant time with a loved one who has been with me through multiple iterations of myself. It’s nice to be seen, and then seen again, and again… and know that I’m still worth seeing. My evolution, it would seem, is worth watching.

My Quiet Thoughts this Friday are on the grace that comes with choosing people to see, to know, to love whole-heartedly. I’m not sure that it’s possible to let everybody in, but I do know that there are people who I have encountered in this life who have seen me and therefore love me, and those are the people I hold onto as tightly as I can. I have found something sacred in them that seems to endure with a sustaining strength that feels, at least at the moment, to be stronger than other ties. Perhaps that feeling will change as I transition from this season to some other. But for now, this is what I’m here for.

It’s a sticky, humid, muggy, hot Friday night here in Massachusetts. You should have seen these New Englanders melt this week over the heat! Southern Black woman that I am, I put on a hat, put my locs in a bun and let myself glow. “It’s Mer’land Hot!” I declared with a grin. The ladies at the school office I was crazy. Like I said, when you pray all winter for the heat to come, you’ve gotta embrace it when your prayers are answered. Strip off some clothing, put on a hat, and glow in this weather, Dear Reader!

On this Friday, I wish you time with someone dear. May you find yourself in the loving presence of family of any type: family you’ve found, family who’ve found you, family of birth, family of blood. Be in their presence and feel their loving spirit wrap around you, feeding you and warming you, building you up so that you stand stronger against the crazy world. I wish you food that’s a part of your story. I’m craving crabs because of the heat. Cook something or get something that’s part of your culinary narrative this weekend. Bonus points if you share it with someone dear. Food is always better with good company. I wish you time alone in your thoughts, not going down any rabbit holes, but working things out. Silence is sacred. Be in it and let it help and heal you this weekend, Dear Reader. I wish you a strong hug, a kiss on the cheek, a knowing and sincere “I love you.”

As ever, I wish you the wonderful feeling of knowing, way down deep, that you are loved. There are people in this world who love you so profoundly that there are no words to quite articulate it. They love you from near and they love you from afar. What you do matters and means know than you’ll ever know. Because of you, Dear Reader, there is someone else in the world who is brave enough to be their best self. Knowing that, how could you possibly do anything other than shine as brightly and powerfully as you possibly can?

I’m taking a break next week. The entire week. After two rejection letters that really broke my heart, I haven’t written for over 6 weeks… my novel is still stalled in Act One (it was supposed to be done and turned into my coach on the 30th!). I need time to reintroduce myself to my characters and find out what the hell I’m writing for. I need to read, I need to write, I need to decide that I’m a disciplined artist who actually wants to accomplish something. So I’m out for one week. I promise I’ll return.

So, until Monday, June 11th, shine on, love deeply, reach out, and take care.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Trish says:

    As a New Englander whose brain melts at about 83 degrees and all but loses the will to live at 85 degrees, I salute you. I picture you grinning from ear to ear in the sauna of summer and I am convinced you are a magical being. Enjoy!

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