Date Night with Wrinkles

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Nestled on the wall in a small courtyard in Wynwood lies the entrance to O Cinema.  Passing the adorably artsy  open space of a couple picnic tables walls covered in surrealist art – see exhibits A and C – my boyfriend and I were not sure if we were going the right way. We stood, awkwardly between the might-be-locked-can’t-possibly-be-the-entrance door  facing us and the hippie-meets-hipster couple to our right. After a beat or two of uncertainty we asked them to confirm that we were, in fact, about to enter the theater the correct way. And true to Wynwood style the man smiled warmly and said, “Yeah man, you got it.”

We entered into a small foyer and were asked if we were there for the exhibit or the movie. What? I thought, There’s art here? Then I kicked myself. Of course, this is Wynwood. We turned a couple of corners, ducked under a red divider that led into near pitch blackness, handed a man our tickets and settled in for our viewing of Wrinkles.

O Cinema is by no means grand. The theater isn’t state of the art and one’s footsteps are much, much louder than in a typical theater. But it feels, in the best way possible, like watching a movie at home. It may be that O Cinema features indie films which draw a crowd that has more respect for the art. It may be that it was a Thursday night and wilder folks were busy with weekly routines, saving their strength for the weekend. Whatever it was, the want to ask people to stop kicking your chair, or to dim their phone screens or to just be quiet, was nonexistent.

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Wrinkles, for its part, was not what I’d expected it to be. I’d thought it would be an adventure. More comedy than drama with old folks escaping a nursing home and killing aliens. There was an escape, and there were aliens. But the presence of each was to bring to light what we face as we approach our last years, how our mentality can shift and how we cannot control our inevitable mental deterioration. In the film we follow an elderly man and his adventures in a nursing home with his friends. Naturally the film gives the audience the same emotions one will encounter when visiting a real life nursing home: awe at the adventures some people are able to go one in one lifetime, but a sense of melancholy because, in the end, the nursing home is where someone looses their life nearly every single day.

Kyle, my boyfriend, stayed awake. He said he thought the movie was horribly boring, but he did stay awake, which is more than I can say he’d done for Taken 2. Or 47 Ronin. Or The Hobbit.  I thought the movie was incredibly touching and immensely eye-opening. If we’re lucky we will reach their age, but if this film taught me anything it’s that I will try and be there for my parents as they age. I won’t give away anymore than I already have, and I apologize if I’ve ruined it for you. Watch it anyway. Visually it’s one of the best animated films out there and the cast of characters is top notch.

 

When we left we marked the chalkboard painted wall with our signatures, as all the patrons are invited to do upon leaving. His the Arabic “humility” and mine a princess flying a kite. We stopped to appreciate the art pieces in the cozy lobby. There were cookies on the counter baked by Somebody’s Mom – the company name – and each of the staff said goodnight as if we were friends leaving after a party. Both of us quite content in our date night choice. Well, both of us content with O Cinema and one of us with Wrinkles.

 

Overall, it was a good night and a Miami gem. I can’t wait to go back. But I think I’ll let Kyle choose the next film.

 

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‘Round these parts

I know that tree. My cousin’s dad used to play dominos and cards under that tree with all the other older men in the neighborhood. He’d sit there, in that white fold away table, one leg crossed over the other in the same shirt he wore every Saturday since 1985 – I know because I have a photograph of him in that shirt at my first birthday party.

That park? There? That one? Yeah, I scraped my knee chasing another cousin while we were playing tag, It was after some party or game or another and our families were piling into our respective cars and neither of us wanted to go home being “it”. After I scraped my knee he came over, helped me up, said I could tag him and when i lifted my hand to do so he jooked me and jumped into his mama’s van yelling “SIKE” as they pulled off. It’s also where that dude in the Chevy, the box, with cornrows and a grill on his bottom teeth spotted me my first summer home from college. Told me he’d missed me and was glad to see me. Then his girlfriend’s sister pulled up in her Toyota, looked me in the face and said I see you Ed, then pulled off. Laughing it off we sat on the hood for another hour or so – even as the sister came home and eased us, because my best friend and his best friend were also making up for lost time.

That store, Sto’, where I first learned to count change and had my first, and last, pickled egg and where one of my favorite friends from school still works, was also where we used to meet my sister so she would come over to our house for the weekend. Her mom and our dad pretending they were old friends rather than two people who had parented a child together.

On the corner there? That was my Uncle David’s house, back when he was with his second baby mama. And he was with her for a while. I used to go there every afternoon he and my father wanted to go have a drink, or a smoke, somewhere. I’d play in the backyard and wait for Michelle to come out of her backyard and since neither house had a fence – it was a community after all – we had a whole lot of playing space.

We never actually lived in Perrine, no, my folks and I lived in a cheap duplex on the good side of the high way. That I was at nearly every Saturday jam or MLK day festivities means nothing. That my grandfather, the only one I’d ever know, was the guy everyone went to for motor issues and sugar canes, lived there and his was one of the many houses I knew like the back of my had means even less. These and the fact that my school was ridiculously disproportioned and my high yellow, almond eyed ass was about the only black in my advanced classes and so I never really saw these kids at school make me foreign around these parts. This neighborhood is tied to so many firsts, and lasts in my life, it raised my father, and holds a special place in my mind.  But still, when I come here – formal English and features that hide my African blood almost completely- I am a stranger.

Whoa, woe, whoa.

*People who speed up the moment you turn your signal on to get over.
*Hispanic Miamians who believe you challenged because you don’t speak, or refuse to speak, Spanish.
*Part-Time Jobs where you drive for one hour TO work for thirty minutes OF work.
*Losing out on a job opportunity because you dropped, and broke your laptop and didn’t get the email in time.
*Wanting to eat healthy but too rushed and too poor to afford non-dollar-menu items.
*Bladder refuses to let you make the entire drive to work without stopping to use the restroom thereby making you late.
*Paying for parking, at work.
*Having to buy a $3.85 coffee to get $4 off aforementioned parking.
*Working in an area where gas is 1 entire dollar more expensive than the station on your block, not having enough gas to make it home.
*Seeing your significant other long enough to say three things: good morning, goodnight, and I miss you.
*Job/ Insurance cover medical needs, boss “lets you go” one week before your treatment is finished making the price of the medicine quadruple and your income vanish.
*Dog owners who’s unleashed dog attacks your own then get upset when your beast nearly kills their bold brute.
*Paying for internet and having Netflix say “screw your movie night” right before they name the killer.

So…yes. These are but few of my most current woes. And most woeful of all is the dropping of my laptop. I feel like Carrie in that episode she Sad Mac’d and lost her mind. My photos, videos and yes, my writing, may well be lost forever. And now there is no more Netflix, frozen or not, until I can either procure another or magically find someone who can save mine. Wish me luck good people.

Tomorrow is my lucky day, so here’s hoping.

Storytime Sunday – “The Shot Heard Round the World” – Non-Fiction.

I had prepared for your reading pleasure, a short about the Lillith. However, in light of the jury’s decision of Not Guilty for Zimmerman I have a really, REALLY short story to tell you.

My mother and father worked odd hours, and sometimes whole days, and sometimes, even, whole weekends when I was a small child. This called for me to spend a great amount of those years at my Aunt’s home, which was full of children so I, the ever lonely only child, didn’t complain. My cousins then became like my brothers and sisters. And for all intents and purposes I will refer to them as such.

Deon and Fay were my oldest boy cousins. They’d discipline me as if they were extended hands of my father. If there were girls who got caught in the company of boys, doing a little thing we used to call hunching, Fay and Deon would locate me on the playground, make sure I wasn’t one of those kids and then spanked me, to make sure I would NEVER be one of those kids. I’d sneak into their room with their little brother, Larry and we’d play Mario or go through their things (which I can only now safely admit).

The girls, Nicole, Toynell, LaShonda, Robin taught me how to dress myself, tie my shoes, speak up for myself, count the change I got from the man at the corner store, taught me that change could be dollar bills, too, not just coins and they taught me to be a lady. To not curse, to close my legs, and to not give a worthless boy the time of day.

These are the people who really raised me. But this was a time not meant to last. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew swept through Miami, in particular Southwest Dade County, where I’m from. There was nothing left, in our family, maybe one or two homes were safe for dwelling. We had to separate, and I lost daily contact with my cousins forever.

But months later, to my extreme happiness, Deon was coming to live with my parents and I in our new apartment, 20 minutes north of where  most of our family was now settling. I was excited to have him near. He was the coolest and most annoying big brother a girl could ask for. He’d never let me do anything alone if he could prevent it when he was home: play a game, watch a television show, or eat chips, he always stole my chips. He even listened as I talked about my favorite books, and convinced me that he actually cared about Dawn and Kristi’s problems within the Babysitter’s club. When his girlfriend came over, he didn’t shoo me away he allowed me to sit on the couch with them. And when I was scared to fall asleep, he’d sit with me and my Grandmother eating Reeses chocolates and watching shows my parent’s didn’t allow me to watch like In Living Color or Martin.

This didn’t last long either.

One night, Deon was out partying and my mother and I were in the living room watching television. My grandmother and father were both sleeping. There was a sound I’d heard before, but never here, not where we’d moved to, not with all these old white people. A gunshot.

My mother told me to stay put, she dressed and was out the door in a flash. I stood by the window looking out, police lights trickled in through the green of the trees and bushes, a crowd gathered and I could hear their mumbling.

My mother returned sometime later. “They wouldn’t let me close” she said when I asked her what had happened. “But they say it’s OK. They got the bad guy.”

The next morning we found out that the “bad guy” was 16 year old Deon on his way home. Shot dead, point blank range, by a white off duty officer, who wasn’t charged for a thing in the murder of my big brother.

RIP Trayvon.

The Mourning After

I didn’t think this through, admittedly. But I was hurt. Wouldn’t you have done the same? I mean, who’d have thought?  Childish though it was, it was cathartic in my mind and well, I put into play all that she deserved.

Evana awoke with a headache she had never known the likes of before. She attempted to sit up, but all she could manage for the time was to roll onto her back. Gazing around the room lazily,her mind still fuzzy from the night before she smiled to herself. What an amazing twelve hours, she thought. After a few minutes, she was able to stand and walk to the window. The view of the ocean was impeccable, and though it was mid-August in Miami, there was hardly a cloud in the sky. This is what life was supposed to be, this was what she deserved.

All I had to do was call in a favor. One of the spring breaks I’d spent at home while at FSU, I made a connection for him. I also allowed the 5 lbs of ecstasy pills to ride in my trunk with me all the way back. He’d made a nice profit, and I’d asked nothing of him. We went our separate ways, but always kept in touch. He was just what I needed, a man with cash to burn and the morals of Loki. All I had to do was ring him up, tell him what I needed, and boom, just like that he agreed to take her out. That’s what friends are for, right?

After she’d had her fill of the sights below, she turned her attention to the reflection of her naked self in the mirror. True her face looked more and more tired, and her once athletic, statuesque frame was bordering on hefty, even masculine; nevertheless, she felt sexier than she had in the past few months since her breakup. And feeling sexy shows. It showed in the way she wore her same old blue dress with a dazzling smile, and tits bigger than Texas. The few pounds she put on recently had her closet staple fitting snug in all the right places. She thought of the previous night with relish. Her latest client, a handsome A&R, had wined and dined her twice now. They got along well. He seemed to know what she liked, and didn’t like on her plate as well as in her bed. And it made her work much easier. She felt his hungry eyes on her all evening. Even if he hadn’t paid for anything but the food, she’d have treated him like a king, just as she advertised.

This time a year ago she didn’t imagine herself in this position. But, she thought, this time one year ago she was in an unhappy relationship, and a dead-end job. Her neighbor and closest confidant had been in the business for years and it took little for her to convince Evana that this was a power move. She’d told Evana how she made her own hours, worked just a few days out of the week and was now ready to put a down payment on a new home at just 25 years old. That, thought Evana, is an ambitious woman. And so casting aside all common ideals of morality, knowing them to be beneath her, she took up this new career. And she was happy, and making money, and that’s all she’d ever wanted, right?

All I asked of her was to leave me alone. To leave us alone. I never lied to her, disrespected her or taunted her. This girl was a master of manipulation and all I wanted was payback. To laugh. She sent me an old sex tape of her and my soon to be husband and told him how she missed him, how she wanted to see him in private, how she loved him still. And all this after she told me she would leave us alone. But it wasn’t until she gave her word she’d let us be that she started her real harassment. 4 am phone calls, coming to our home unannounced. Questioning our friends and planting rumors. I handled it like a lady. But when the opportunity present itself. I did what I felt needed to be done. At least, what I needed to feel closure.

Rather than allowing her to park on her own and walk the blocks from the lot to the hotels entrance, Malik paid for her car to be valet parked along with his. When the valet boy brought the 10 year old, rusty and dented Honda, it seemed rather out of place perched between the 2012 Camaro and the all black Bently. But head held high, Evana climbed into the drivers seat like the princess she was. It was, after all, her very first car, and she was proud. The fact that she hadn’t actually worked for the car did nothing to dampen her pride. It came to her like most things, as a gift. But it was hers, her own, and that was something to be proud of wasn’t it? This time last year, she thought bitterly, she was sitting passenger seat to her unemployed boyfriend’s Chevy. She was the one who paid for his gas and her rent on her check from the beauty shop. How shocked and angry she became when she found that he not only had one, but two jobs now. And was paying for his new fiance’s car with his money, because she, his fiance, was unemployed. Fine, Evana thought, he can have that unemployed bitch. Her degree obviously didn’t count for nothing, and she definitely wasn’t sexy. Her little skinny ass.

But the idea of it being “fine” didn’t occur until she met Lawerence. An ex-marine who appeared in all lights to be her knight in shining armour. He proved even easier to manipulate than her last boyfriend. At the beginning of their affair, while Evana still pined over her ex and continued to text him requesting secret hookups, texts that were only responded to with phone calls from his faince, Evana thought it was time to stir things up. After a morning of taunting the new girl, Evana was thrown off course by the threat of her sex tape going viral should she continue to harass them. She quickly thought to have Lawerence drive her to confront the bitch. She’d sent the tape not thinking it could possibly… no, it could never. She’d go and convince her ex that she was too innocent to have herself slandered like that for all her friends to see. With one call Lawerence did what he felt was the chivalrous thing to do. Nothing was settled, of course, except it was now out Evana was seeking extracurricular attention. After the encounter, however, Lawerence convinced Evana to move on, and the sex was so amazing, she did. So when anyone asked why she kept insisting she meet with her ex she stated, plain and simple, she’d simply wanted closure.

Oh, she’d call all times of the night. I was nice to her, at first, I made a real attempt to be understanding and to speak with her respectfully. When I, in tears, asked her why she chose to disrespect me when I had done nothing of the sort, she laughed. Cold and calculating. Then she replied “We’re not friends, doll. I don’t need to respect you. I don’t need to give you any type of courtesy, you do nothing for me.” She’d told me that it didn’t matter that he and I had only been romantic after their breakup, she’d never stop until he left me. So, when I found out she was selling herself, I concocted a plan. Malik would take her out, tape their time in the room, and email it to every contact in her phone, including her mother back in Trinidad. Childish? yes, very. But who ever thinks of reason when they are given but a moment to hurt someone whose hurt them? It is only after time we think with maturity, and oftentimes, that is too late.

Stopped at a light before she got on 95 south Evana hastily checked her bag for her phone. But something else in there made her skin crawl. Fuck it, she thought, it’s too late.

And so it was when Malik had told me the exact extent to which he went. To which I went. Not only had he succeeded in wining and dining her. Not only had he gotten it all on tape and was currently putting it on the internet. He had also succeeded in consummating their business deal condom-less.

There nudged between her I-phone and her knock-off Michael Kors wallet was the wrapper to the Magnum. Unopened. DAMN. She’d been so drunk they made love condomn-less.

None of us knew then, not until months later that Evana or Malik, or both, were HIV positive. Truth be told we can’t even say they gave it to one another. This is, after all, a great big world.  I could hardly blame myself.

As the light turned and she took off, she adjusted her rear-view and thought, I just had the time of my life. Take extra care not to get too messed up next time. I mean, I can’t blame myself.

kahmsahmnida

**khamsahmnida**

 

There exists and infinite amount of possibilities.

Realities that could’ve been and just never came to be,

but in this one, you came for me.

and i’m not talkin no

“white horse” shit here.

this ain’t no romantic poem

about some knight in shining armour coming for his fair maiden.

shit,

we ain’t even dating.

this is about a kindred soul

and how you showed me a clearer vision of myself than i ‘ve ever known

and i thank you humbly

for ignited a flame once thought lost to the night

and so,

 for you,

 i’ll write

because yesterday you were a stranger

and although i could hardly count you as more than that today

i really love the way

you motivate  me

during that late night excursion into each others mind

you reminded me that i

was something

D*I*V*I*N*E

i’d like to thank you for finding me in the rough

and thinking that was enough

to make me more EPIC than anything you had ever heard before

and i take it from you as truth cause you’re beautiful

souls like yours are the only reason God lets us go forth.

and i dunno how many people have been blessed to make your acquaintance

but your cadence is amazing

i’d give a penny for your thoughts and all i have for conversation

…i digress…

i simply wanna recognize the beauty of all you’re comprised of

and i say that since you’re giving me my voice

i have no choice

but to put your name down for eternity

“for behold, michael, the chief prince came to help me”

and ignited i’ll go forth

sheep amid the wolves

cause now, thanks to you

I’m ready.