Springtime in New York is the stuff of urban fairy-tales, the stuff that made me fall in love with this maddening metropolis in the first place. For some, New York is all grit, all concrete; hard; cold; relentless, and never fair. Brutal winters, crowded subways, cramped quarters, and suffocating fumes that cloud the gray skies. Harsh accents and even harsher words flung at you everyday, with reckless New York drivers rarely braking for pedestrians or fashionistas in irksome heels….
Ah, the reverie of a tropical vacation: I remember it well.
My skin accepting a well-appointed kiss from the sun, drinks before noon customary, the ocean pouring itself over my new bathing suit, fresh seafood satiating my appetite and sending me into a luxurious afternoon nap, I stirring only at the chirps, hisses, bellows of the indigenous fauna. Plenty of nighttime hijinks were to follow, with me whipping around the narrows and bends of a tiny island in an open-roof jeep, the roads only lit by the glowing moon above.
If we are to believe the late, great Michael Jackson, Liberian girls have a history of coming and changing one’s world. Unsuspecting suitors and laymen, alike, fall susceptible to the enigmatic personas and ethereal allure of these “precious pearls,” forever altered. Certainly the stuff of love songs, but in so many ways, Jackson’s tale was pointed and true.
I never met the very Liberian girl I was named after. She was to make her homegoing years before I was to make my entrance, but my parents assured me she was a woman to know.
Whip smart, popular, outgoing, friendly, a presence; she was putting herself through law school and was the only woman my parents could conceive as my namesake. A feat, as I come from strong lines of matrilineal descent on both sides of my family tree.
The making of a woman–a Black woman at that–is a challenge. There are several odds that may deter our growth, mostly all of them social constructs (gender, race, class: man-made stratus), nebulous and arbitrary forms of difference that are enforced without any merit or grounding. Differences that suggest we cannot do or say or be (or wear) whatever we so choose: that biologically, pathologically we are benign to self-edification.
Somehow, we withstand the odds, because quite frankly as much as I do not want someone, something to totalize my being, I certainly do not want them totalizing my look. No, no that is so much apart of my own identity, and most certainly an autobiography authored at the tip of my own proverbial pen.