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Goodbye at 17 and 27 (a melodrama)

I remember leaving the Sunday School Convention with a car packed with all my stuff. I remember move in. Shopping at Wal-mart (before I knew it was the devil) and Target for all the things I thought I would need. I remember Sanchia, Dorian, Fabian and Kristin and the excitement that we all had to start classes. Meeting my roommate Layla, who would later go on to fuck my crush and accuse me of being racist. Going to church with my parents and hanging in their hotel room. Buying books and eating in the union.

It’s been almost a decade since I started college and consequently my journey into adulthood. Despite my memories of the excitement leading up to that first summer semester, what stands out to me right now- is the feeling that I felt when they left. I was having so much fun those first few days I never really thought about the fact my parents wouldn’t be in a hotel down the street forever. They hugged me, climbed into the green Ford Explorer and left.

They left me. Their baby. All alone in Tallahassee. The eager and cocky 17 year old girl suddenly stopped feeling so eager and cocky. I went back into Dorman Hall and cried. What was I to do now?

At 20… the same feeling came when he left me in Philadelphia. And at 23 when they left me in Arizona. Despite the fact that it was my decision to move those places…I still felt abandon.

Years later I leave them way more than they leave me. I guess I am grown and that’s the way it is supposed to be, but I would be lying if I told ya’ll that I didn’t break down and cry every time I leave and not know when I will see my parents again. They worry about me and I don’t blame them. I worry about them too. They are the loves of life. The phone maintains our bond. As much as I miss them I know I can’t grow living in the same city as them.

I miss them so much I don’t see them. I don’t want to be reminded how comforting a hug from my mom is or how much I enjoy just being in my dad’s presence. So I stay away until I forget how much I miss them and how much they are a part of me.

I am not 17 anymore. I know eventually things will change and they will leave me again….at some point it won’t be back to West Palm but it will be a permanent departure.  Mercedes tells me despite my attempts I can never prepare myself for their final departure. 

What I am trying to say is I went home this weekend. I saw my parents. Good-byes are hard at 17 or 27.


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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Where should I begin? A lot has happen since my last post. I will venture to say for a variety of reasons this has been one of the most emotional months I have had in a long time. But through it all I am blessed. Summers have always been the time that I grow the most and with growing comes a certain amount of growing pains. There is no progress without struggle.  I defended my dissertation June 28- I passed with minor revisions. I turn in the revisions on Monday.

Dissertation Defense

I am humbled and grateful for the feedback of my dissertation committee. One of committee members told me how impressed she was with the amount of work I was able to accomplish in 9 months while also teaching. I am often my biggest critic and it is hard for me to take time to celebrate my accomplishments in the way that other people do. Its far easier for me to focus on my inadequacies. I have a PhD at 26, but yet I am still unemployed, searching for the next step in my life. At times I feel like I am not even close to where I want to be. Creating the life that I want is way harder than I imagined. As  happy as I am to say that I am not a student, I know I will miss the structure of that life. I excel in collegiate and graduate environments not because I am so smart, but because I understood that world. I knew what the requirements was to finish and I methodologically charted a plan to complete those requirements in the most efficient way. Within the first 2 months of undergrad I planned what classes to take and when in order to finish in 3 years…I finished in 2.5 years. So while my defense was a celebratory event, it triggered anxiety and depression.

Last Saturday my little brother got married to Brittannie Stanley in Florence, Alabama.



The trip was beyond interesting and extremely draining. I maintain that I do not ever want children of my own. If you ever catch me pregnant, either my birth control slipped up or the condom broke. I did not drive the children back, but I am pretty sure they made it home safely. At one point I was dreading attending the nuptials, I am not good around people especially church people.  Weddings tend to bring up all kinds of emotion for people, not always good ones. As a safety precaution I invited 3 people, none of whom had met the bride and one person I hadn’t even met before. But thankfully I didn’t need it. Brittannie’s family was beyond amazing and welcoming. I am in awe of how beautiful her family was to me, my friends and my family. I felt a level of acceptance and love that I rarely experience.

I was a bridesmaid in the wedding, the only bridesmaid that didn’t go to college or grow up in Alabama with Brittannie. I packed a dress to wear to the rehearsal  and rehearsal dinner. Since my plan of buying new sandals and getting a pedicure didn’t happen I ended up wearing a polo button up, some pink gap chinos and Sperrys. Mercedes said I was cute. I showed up to the church- all the other bridesmaids had on dresses looking like southern belles with their pretty permed hair. I immediately felt out of place, even though the boys looked like they had just fell out of bed. I realized then that I wasn’t as comfortable with my gender performance as I thought I was. Let me be clear my discomfort was not caused by anything other than my own insecurity. I wanted a dress on so bad in that moment. But by the next day it was my shaved sides and my differences that made me not only stand out but made me beautiful. Being comfortable with who you are is always a process.

IMG-20130719-01130 IMG-20130720-01139

I told the lady who did my makeup that I did not need waterproof mascara. There was no way I was going to cry. Damnit I am a THUG. I have seen 4 seasons of The Wire ( my summer project). But I will be damned if my eyes did not start watering and my lips started to quiver when Brittannie walked down the aisle to Jeremiah. I don’t think I ever seen my brother so happy. It was like he transformed to a man in front of my eyes.

That was Saturday, Sunday my grandfather made his transition. His health had been declining but he was doing better when we left Florida. He was my last living grandparent. I am grateful for his life and that I got a chance to spend sometime with him in June.

Granddad and dad

He kinda remembered me. As with both of my father’s parents they left me years before they died. The loss of memory is a hell of a thing. The funeral was today but I am in North Carolina for a conference. I feel like I am absent too much sometimes. At some point I am going to have to face what  I am running from. Three weeks has been the longest period I have spent in Florida since the move back…I could barely take it. Just itching for an escape.  Maybe I am running from my parents love. I have never really been able to believe in the concept of unconditional love. There is always conditions…

This is long. There is more I should share. Mercedes came for three weeks. I am not moving to Philadelphia. Maybe Charlotte though…still figuring things out. Remind me to tell you the story about how I officially became a heathen. My heart is a little frozen now, still deciding if I want to thaw it out.

Until the next time…may the peace and light of Blue Ivy’s smile be with you.

-Just Tab



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