I probably won’t get to go again
I admit it’s been a while since sharing any stories. I suppose I was processing… Or procrastinating.
Over the summer I flew back home to visit with family for a bit. Seeing my mom and siblings and a few other relatives and friends was good. It soothed me. My visit was the first since beginning this series of stories and rants. Before arriving, I was bracing for something. You know that feeling when you’re helplessly being pushed in a crowd, like a plaything or some inanimate object, being flung about without care? You know when in a crowd, sometimes an elbow digs into your side or a jacket sleeve is flung at your face? You just wanna get out before you burst right? I was bracing for that from my family. But I don’t think there was a script for what I was about to experience. It just had to happen. Here’s the story:
My grandmother must’ve heard through the grapevine that I was coming to town. When I touch down in L.A., I let everyone know I’ve arrived safely and let the homies know that I’m in the building.
My adventurous auntie contacts me and says Grandma wants to do breakfast before we take our road trip to San Fran.
“Oh?” I think. “She does want to see me. Some of my anxiety subsides. The arrangements are being made through my auntie.
My grandma, auntie and I are supposed to meet up one morning, but it won’t work out. Time is too short and we have 6 to 8 hours of road to eat up. So, it’ll have to wait.
We return to L.A. from our trip. My adventurous aunt backs out of planning the breakfast. So I let Grandma know I’m back and have time and maybe I can just stop by the house and come see her. Grandma says no and keeps suggesting these terrible diners. I say to her I can cook blah blah blah. Still no. She lives with my chatty chatty auntie.
I mention this to my mom. That’s when it’s revealed.
“Auntie Chatty Chatty doesn’t want you over her house.”
I’m stunned. “Oh? Why,” I wonder, for a moment or two.
“I guess because of your blog or something.”
(Blank face emoji)
“Wow really? I didn’t even mention her name. I didn’t even…” It doesn’t matter. I’m hurt by the notion, but I take a few minutes (really weeks) to brush it off. Rejection is tough. And she has a right to be upset. But I have to move on.
My visit is coming to a close and there’s but a few days left of my two weeks in my hometown and I still haven’t seen my grandma.
Over some texts I ask, “How about this day? How about that day?” We finally settle on a meet up. I say, “I can pick you up and drop you off. I have a car.”
She writes, “Well, let me see if Auntie Shop A Lot wants to come. Will you’re mom be there?”
It dawns onto me. She doesn’t want to be alone with me.
Breakfast is after church.
Mom is pep talking me as we walk into the restaurant together. I had shared my revelation with her a few days before. She says things moms say that are supposed to be reassuring, but they’re not.
We get inside and Grandma and Auntie Shop A Lot are facing the window we just passed. Auntie waves us over. I say hi and hug everyone. It’s fine for the moment, except for a snide comment my aunt makes about my earrings. In my family, I’m apparently a bit flamboyant.
My mom is sitting across from her mom, my grandmother. And I’m sitting across from my auntie in this four-seat booth at a Coco’s by the freeway.
How’s the weather? Did you see the latest Denzel movie? Superficial conversation makes this whole thing even more awkward and unreal. I ask my grandmother something with a smile, hoping to engage her in conversation. She begins to answer, but looks at my mom the whole breath, as if my mama asked the question for me. Perplexed, and starting to feel a way, I awkwardly listen to whatever is being said at the table – nonsense. Then I ask another question to verify that what I experienced earlier was no a fluke.
She does the same thing. No eye contact. Not event a direct response to the question.
And there it is, that thing I had prepared for. That feeling of being in a crowd, all alone, pushed and bumped and slapped and elbowed and stomped on and ignored. I am being ignored by my own grandmother. She doesn’t engage with me. She is cold. Ice. If L.A. had a real winter, she’d be it.
The conversation quickly fades into the background with all of the restaurant noise. I am officially checked out. I say nothing else. I eat my food, staring into the abyss of my thoughts, my hurt feelings, my sense of rejection, my loneliness, my blacksheepness. I joked about it before. But this, this awkward moment right here, this complete disregard of my humanity made it official. I’m the blacksheep.
I had idolized my grandmother growing up. I admired her perseverance, her spiritual focus, her tenacity, her quiet humor, her motivation, her presence, her leadership, her motherhood. But in a short, 40 minute breakfast at the Coco’s by the freeway, all of that was crushed like a semi truck hitting an unsuspecting doe. I feel like road kill.
The waitress takes plates and graces us with the bill. Praise Jesus in heaven, it’s time to go. I’m more than fucking ready. My mom turns to me, while we are all still sitting there, gathering our personals and says, “Well, your grandmother still loves you.”
For some reason, that was the bit that pushed me over the edge. So you noticed huh? And didn’t say anything about this … silent assault.
I am empty. No breath left in me to give to this moment. Hugs, the kind you give to someone who smells real bad, were given all around. I’m the smelly one.
Some smiley sunshiny pictures are taken outside. I don’t want to be in any of them. I don’t want to remember this moment, as it wasn’t.
My trip ends and I’m thankful to run away because all of Cali was beginning to feel claustrophobic. Dealing with this level of rejection was more than I expected. In my mind I had prepared for it. But I didn’t know it was going to be this hard. One of the most important women in my life crushed me. But here it was, the righteous are also human and ugly and scarred and hurt, far from perfect. Unhealed.
I reach out to her after a couple of therapy sessions and some advice, months later.
I ask via text when she’d be available to chat. She explains that she needs to know why I want to talk before we get on the phone, but this is after she says I need to be serious about changing my lifestyle and that my soul is in danger. Fine, that’s her perspective. She’s my Christian grandma.
I explain that I want to talk about our last interaction. She says there’s nothing to talk about. I apologize to her if I did anything harmful to her. But also explained that it’s my responsibility to have a relationship with God, and that I do.
She further rejects my desire to engage and ends it with “sharing has rules. I love you graddaughter.”
What do white people say? “What a mind fuck.”
Yeah, that. Since that last text message, we’ve not engaged one another much.
Since that visit, my grandmother fell ill. She’s not dying or anything. But I’m curious about how our next visit (if there is one) will go. Coming soon.